Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for April, 2009

The Soloist – second great film of 2009

Posted by shannonclark on April 30, 2009

soloist

I have been waiting for The Soloist for a few months now and this past evening I watched it here in San Francisco in a mostly empty theater, admittedly the last show of the night on a Wednesday, but this is a film that should be playing to packed houses. 

I learned about The Soloist by listening to an interview by Terry Gross with Steve Lopez, the journalist who’s articles and then book (The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music) were the basis of the film. 

The film stars my favorite actor, Robert Downey Jr as Steve Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Nathanial Ayers, the homeless musician whose story forms a core of the film. I say a core becuase this is a film with at least two other stories in many ways equally important. The obvious other story is that of Steve Lopez, a writer in the dying newspaper industry, divorced from his wife who is, however, still his boss and his struggle with telling Nathanial’s story and being his friend while also in many ways benefiting from telling that story. He wins an award in the film and as a viewer of the film I was uncomfortably reminded that the film itself is, in some ways, exploiting Nathanial’s story.

Which leads me to the third story which is key to the film and to why it is a Participant Media production, the plight of the homeless in LA and by extension throughout the US and the world. I’ve written about the corosive impact of the homeless or more specifically trying to at times ignore the homeless has on myself. Participant Media is Jeff Skoll’s business, they were the producers of The Inconvient Truth and Syriana. When they make a film they do so with a mission and a purpose behind it, their films are intended to both entertain and to inspire participation and action. 

As an outside observer, albeit one with lots of friends with associations with Jeff Skoll and his foundation, I greatly admire the Participant Media business model – doing good in no small part as a result of making money. They are harnassing the great power of capitalism and Hollywood to serve additional purposes, but do so while making entertaining films – at least for the most part.

But getting to the heart of the matter, why do I add The Soloist to We Live In Public as my second great film of 2009?

First this is a film which great benefits from being seen in a first run, top notch theater. Visually it has a crisp and specific look, though a few scenes are more light show visualizations than traditional film and the visual style of fluid, not fully realistic but I thought effectively representative of the subject of the film. But where being in a great theater adds most richly to The Soloist is in the music of the The Soloist. This is classical music done well and creatively. All of the cello parts are played by Ben Hong of the LA Philharmonic who had to play in three different styles during different parts of the film.

Second this is a film that confronts ugliness in our cities, an ugliness that we all to often avoid and ignore, but does not do so in a simple manner. The homeless in the film are characters, are shown as humans not caricatures and are shown in a range of human emotions – love, happiness, sorry and yes at times violence. But the film depicts all of this with a clarity rarely seen in films – fiction or documentaries. And it does not offer any simple answers or solutions – Steve Lopez’s actions are not morally pure, Nathanial Ayers is not simply mentally ill, the effects of Lopez’s stories (and I’m sure of this film) will resonant for years but unless they help spark structural changes in our cities and health care (and employment and more) they won’t have any easy answers either. Helping one man singled out by a journalist across a range of mediums would be the most traditional of Holywood stories, helping address structural problems in our cities is far harder. 

In short though reviews have been mixed, my verdict is clear, this is a film well worth seeing and pondering and I hope it inspires many different people to do small (and a few people large) steps to help address the problems that far, far too many people face in our country (and for that matter around the world).

For me the telling statistic among many was in the end titles of the film, that in the greater LA area there are over 90,000 homeless people. That is nearly two times as many people as the nearly 50,000 who live in my hometown of Oak Park, IL where I grew up. 

Or to put it another way, the homeless in LA could have replaced everyone I knew as a child, as well as the 1000’s of strangers in every home or apartment for miles all around my house with nearly two homeless people. A couple for every person I knew or met on the street.

A daunting and I find depressing perspective.

Posted in personal, reviews | 1 Comment »

Evaluating the Cloud – first impressions

Posted by shannonclark on April 15, 2009

In theory I am a huge fan of and proponent of moving towards cloud computing, in practice as I look at currently available options even I find the curent landscape confusing, a bit convoluted, and rife with decisions and options. 

Though I can program (in lots of languages) I am mostly an strategic consultant and business advisor, so while I do have specific technical requirements to look at, this article will mostly be written as a record of my process of evaluating cloud computing options from a business perspective. For a good, though incomplete, starting point for looking at cloud computing options from a more purely individual developer perspective IBM has a great article on current clound computing options

As I have noted many times on this blog and on my twitter I am not a fan of Microsoft Vista (I consider it the worst OS I have ever used in some 25+ years of using computers). Though I have managed fairly large scale Miscrosoft servers in the past, I am also not a fan of Microsoft centric solutions for web applications – I don’t use Visual Studio as my primary development platforms, I would never encourage a client to build a web application that requires IE. So while Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing option I am not going to consider it in this blog post.

There is a more practical reason for this as well, as I write this, Microsoft has not yet announced the costs of Azure and it is currently only a Community Technology Preview. Without this data or a production ready environment Azure is not a responsible choice for a startup nor for a new venture which will be used in production of a larger company. 

So what factors will I use to evaluate cloud computing options? And then what are my initial conclusions?

Factors

  1. Development platforms and options. Google App Engine, for example, currently only supports Python but will soon also support Java bytecode (which in turn opens it up to a range of other languages potentially). For some development needs and teams this is not a limitation at all, for others it removes App Engine as an option. Any cloud computing offering that allows for in essense virtual server instances will typically support a wide range of languages on those servers (as well as development frameworks). However other business concerns, such as how you plan on load balancing and scaling your applications may impact language and framework choices.
  2. Business tools included. This is more of a factor for a startup, especially a bootstrapping startup than it is for a larger company. A larger company may have preexisting payment processing systems established or may build an application for reasons other than direct revenue via the application. Not every startup either will need monetization or pass-through billing options. Here Amazon Web Services has a small lead over competitors at least in my initial research as they offer a range of options to handle payment from clients, including billing which includes the Amazon Web Services costs and only charges a small percentage on what you bill your clients over the costs of the client’s usage (currently 3% + $0.30 in most cases).  Salesforce.com for example might offer access into a pre-qualified pool of potential customers, customers already paying on a monthly, per-user basic for software-as-a-service. 
  3. Match to your business model. Different providers of cloud solutions have created those solutions based on a wildly different assumptions about the business model of their customers, understanding this and making best guesses (in the case of a startup or of a new project at a larger company) will help narrow down to a manageable pool of vendors. Some providers are optimized for the needs of applications which will store and distribute large amounts of data – here the costs per GB of data (stored and distributed) could be a key business factor in evaluating vendors. As importantly performance could be a key factor, some cloud computing vendors have already built relationships with Content Distribution Networks which can help with the delivery of large files to large numbers of people. But the same cloud vendors might not be a good solution for streaming options (depending on how they work with those content distribution networks and a range of other factors such as network topology). 
  4. External factors – a simple example, if you have the type of service which can (and should) be crawled by search engine robots, then it needs to be easily crawled by them at all times – this means that your service needs to be persistent and likely you need a static IP address for the web server(s) hosting anything which might be linked to via external services. A more subtle point, if you will be exposing your appliction as a widget in other sites or as an application inside of social networks you will likely need to ensure 24/7 access to your application and need to have very good response times. Add in a requirement to work with external 3rd party API’s and services (ads, web services etc) and you may need to look at hybrid approaches or base your business models upon an assumption that at least one instance remains up at all times (and then have to factor in how much time it takes for additional instances to instantiate when you are looking at how you will scale if demand spikes). 
  5. Your comfort with business partner risk – some cloud computing vendors seem unlikely to either go out of business or to exit the cloud computing business. Google and Microsoft for example are unlikely to go out of business any time soon, Salesforce.com has built a substantial and growing business on the cloud, and Amazon.com seems both profitable and deeply committed to their cloud services. Smaller vendors such as Rackspace or GoGrid or the dozens of smaller still companies present a bit more of a risk. In Rackspace’s case the risk is not so much that they will go out of business (they have prospered for many years now and are growing) but rather how/if they will consolidate a number of aquisitions. GoGrid has a compelling suite of offerings but presents a bit greater risk. For really business critical deployments (including for many startups especially once past the initial bootstrapping stage) I would thus recommend an exercise of exploring how to move from one cloud vendor to another as well as to stay aware of and have plans in place to use non-cloud based options. 
  6. International considerations – if your business is entirely inside of the US then any cloud vendor with a US presense is a viable option. However many cloud vendors have restrictions which may impact your decision as you look at global use cases. Payment processing, a key selling point for some vendors, is often restricted to only US customers. Some vendors have great pricing of data usage within the US but charge additional fees for international traffic (directly or indirectly). For example, Amazon Web Services has different clouds for the US and the EU, data transfers within a cloud (between EC2 instances and S3 for example) are free, but if you need to move data between the EU and the US then fees are charged. 

And these are by no means the only factors I am looking at, but are some of the initial ones I am considering as I research options. In follow up posts I hope to explore the current Cloud Computing landscape as well as my initial perceptions of each vendor I look at seriously. I will also, I hope, write up in more detail the technical requirements I have at the moment for the specific project which is inspiring this search. 

Please add other factors you would suggest I consider in the comments below!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, mobile, reviews, startupcamp, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Brunch menu for Sunday – inspired by Seder’s and Easter

Posted by shannonclark on April 11, 2009

Tomorrow I am having a small brunch, organized at the last minute, I’ve invited a bunch of friends over to have a good meal and to celebrate the springtime. My meal will be inspired by the overlapping holidays of Passover and Easter, though not a perfect match for either. Since at least one of my guests is trying to keep Kosher for Passover and others are vegetarians (well pescatarians) I have also used that as an influence in my meal choices.

I’ll try to update this post with photos or a follow up post about how the meal went, here is a quick run down of my currently planned menu, I may still add a few dishes or make other adjustments.

Menu

Hard boiled eggs – from a local farm, cage free, vegetarian feed birds. Simple but a tasty element of the season & a good starter. Served with fresh ground black pepper (from The Spice House) and a selection of salts – Black Hawaian, Pink Himalyan, French Sea Salt and perhaps a few others.

Matzoh w/local jams – I still have to obtain good matzoh, but the plan is to serve them with a selection of locally made jams.

Asparagus drizzled with local Balsamic & sea salt – almost too simple, but asparagus is in season at the moment so I will be lightly steaming some, then drizzling it with a fantastic 6yr old CA Balsamic and course French sea salt.

Roasted Romanesco w/hint of chili flakes – Romanesco is one of my favorite unusual vegetables, it is a relative of brocolli and cauliflower. I will be tossing it lightly with oil, salt, pepper & chili flakes then roasting until tender & slightly crispy on the outside. I’ll finish it with a touch of vinegar.

Roasted carrots – another very simple but always tasty dish, two varities of organic carrots (baby white & medium orange) which I will lightly coat with oil, toss with a touch of salt then roast. I may add a small hint of fresh ginger as well. This dish while simple rarely lasts very long.

Orach salad – Orach is a variety of wild, multicolored spinach. My current plan is to serve this with roasted golden beets, baby potatoes and fresh local Hass avocadoes. I may add a fruit, perhaps Bosc pears, perhaps a few local Zahadi dates. My dressing will be a light balsamic to contrast with the richness of the toppings.

Spicy Arugula salad – I will start with amazing local spicy arugula from the farmer’s market, I may mix with some other fresh greens. Then I plan on topping with strawberries and oranges. I may add a hint of green onion as a contrast and will use a mustard based dressing most likely.

Sauteed Golden Chard and beet greens – another very simple dish, chard and beet greens from the farmer’s market, washed and then sauteed with just that moisture & a drizzle of oil. I may add a hint of garlic as well. Simple but tasty (one hint – I generally remove the leafs from the stems and only cook the leafs)

Boneless leg of lamb w/fresh mint – Around 4lbs of leg of lamb, deboned by my butcher & tied. I will rub with light olive oil, pierce with a few bits of garlic, then rub salt, pepper, and minced fresh mint. I’ll roast this until done then serve with homemade mint sauce (fresh mint, hint of sugar, apple vinegar). Again simple but really tasty.

Fresh squeezed orange juice – I bought 25lbs of naval oranges at the farmer’s market this morning, to go with our brunch we will be using two hand juicers I have to make our own freshly squeezed orange juice.

A selection of wines – I haven’t decided which wines to open tomorrow and I suspect some of my guests may be bringing additional bottles, but the plan is to have some great wine to accompany our meal.

And that is my plan. I may add another appetizer or two, perhaps some sauteed chicken livers, perhaps a piece of fish or two, depends on the crowd. For dessert if no one brings anything we’ll probably have pears and  strawberries – but my intention is to have the salads be a bit on the sweeter side but I hope well balanced

UPDATE – for my pescatarian friends I’m adding some pan-seared true cod and may add some Italian anchovies to one of the salads (probably the orach)

Posted in personal | 1 Comment »

Tasks for a new startup – Radioki.com and Startup Weekend SF

Posted by shannonclark on April 5, 2009

Saturday was a busy day. Spent at Startup Weekend SF.

Today will be an even crazier day as in less than 24 hours I will be taking 4 pages of notes sketching out a whole application and putting together a mess of parts and web services into what will be a compelling and useful service for many people. After I post this, my evening (well early morning) will be reading API and data format specifications and working out how to build out our first functional pieces.

However just having a great working application is not all of the tasks that a modern, web 2.0, 2009 edition company needs to do to be successful. Here for my own use (and my teams) as well as I hope for many other entrepreneurs is a checklist of tasks we also will have to try to do this weekend. Please add anything I have missed in the comments below!

[and before you mention it – legal structure & incorporation, partnership agreements etc are indeed important and if as we hope it does Radioki takes off we will complete them, we are building this in the context of pre-existing friendships as well as the Startupweekend open & collaborative ethos]

  • Register your new brand domain. We did this Saturday afternoon. Nothing at Radioki.com yet, but that will change rapidly.
  • Sign up for Twitter for your new brand. I’ve set up @radioki follow us to get updates on our progress, access first and we hope a few other surprises.
  • Set up an internal tool for documentation and collaboration. We chose the very simple and easy to sign up for and use PB Wiki as a repository for our team notes, drafts, pseudo code, internally important data etc.
  • Establish a simple version control system. Even if you have just one developer, work with a version control system everywhere you can (which is pretty much most things). A wiki for internal team documentation gives you version controls & who made what change data tracking inherently (assuming you as I would suggest use a private tool for that collaboration)
  • Register for all of the relevant API keys your applications will require. These days this can be a very long list. In our case we have at least three major API’s which we will use, multiple web services, Javascript frameworks, web hosts, domain registrar and much more which we need to sign up for and use.
  • Establish early on (as in before we launch) customer support & feedback channels. Almost certainly in our case this means that we will create and set up a GetSatisfaction for Radioki (using the free version first until we have a business model to support more) – note, when we complete the next task, we have to go back to sites such as Twitter and GetSatisfaction and upload our logo there as well.
  • Design a logo and pick a basic design pattern. Be comfortable with this being basic and expect it to change, but to launch quickly create a simple (even text only) logo to use at your avatar image across the web, to use on your home page, and along with it a basic color palette and design style for your overall web presence. Expect to change this but spending a few minutes early on in the process helps you create a clean, consistent look across web services and sites.
  • Set up corporate email addresses. Even if all you do is have them auto-forward to your regular email, yourname@newcompany is useful and is used as proof of employee status by some sites such as GetSatisfaction.
  • Join the appropriate networks as the new corporation. In the case of Radioki this means Facebook but because we have a strong Music component also means active engagement with Myspace.com (and especially MySpace Music).
  • Update the personal sites and network profiles of all founders. When you launch your personal site and blogs should note this and the profiles of all of the founders (and early employees if you have any) should be updated to reflect involvement with the new company. This is a signal for people who follow you on each network or who read your blogs that you are working on something new.
  • Link back to and thank publically as well as privately all the services your new company uses and works with. Besides being just common politeness everyone who builds any service wants to see it used and welcome thanks and updates about how their solutions are being deployed. Also many API providers offer directories of applications using each API. Building relationships with each company your solution relies upon and works with can also lead to lots of helpful advice, guidance, updates about new features and opportunities for promotion.
  • Remember to add contact information and background to your new company site. Yes, focus on getting the service built and launched, but also remember to include who you are who are building the company as well as how to reach you and who to reach out to for any media who might want to contact you. Photos of the core founding team are great as are short bios. All serve to humanize what can often be a dehumanizing process (web applications for example). And yes, real names and a corporate mailing address do combine to give lawyers someplace to send stuff – but it also gives journalists, bloggers, investors and future business partners someone to talk with as well.
  • Build logging and analytics into your site and application from the beginning. Deploy Google Analytics or another similar product on your new domain from before you share the URL with anyone (hmm we’ve broken this one so have to fix this quickly) For your main application make sure that user actions are logged so you build up a history of interactions. In our case this means ensuring that every search query entered is captured. Ideally you also log what output (or if something failed what error messages) resulted from that interaction.
  • Reach out to your friends. A new project whether big or small is perhaps the best excuse to catch up with your friends old and new. In fact I love it nearly every time a friend sends me an update about new projects or companies. Often these updates are the first time I’ve heard from someone.
  • But don’t forget to also reach out to the media. Start with the media who are also your friends. If you friends also covers your space then reach out to them on a personal level. Don’t send your friends mass, blast emails if you can avoid it – if not, then follow up (or send in advance as well) a personalized note. Do not rely on your friends having your contact details handy – include a direct phone (cell phones are great) as well as your personal email address.

And those are just the relatively simple, basic stuff. When a new company is launched a whole additional set of tasks get added nearly immediately. A few things to think about relatively soon.

  • Corporate banking relationship. This will require legal incorporation in some form (or will require initially to work off a founder’s personal accounts – opening up reams of tax/legal complications. However such a relationship is a key part of being a real business – it gives you a way to sell to people via giving you a means of depositing checks.
  • Corporate legal relationship. Establishing a legal relationship, even if a relatively simple and low cost relationship is another part of being prepared to be a real business. A lawyer may early on be called upon to help with incorporation, reviewing various agreements and you hope reviewing customer contracts or investment documents (or best case both).
  • Building out the non-functional parts of your new site. What I mean here is collecting excerpts of blog posts and news articles & embedding audio or video coverage. This also includes keeping a new corporate blog up-to-date and continued use of the corporate Twitter account etc.
  • An ongoing PR relationship. Of course with a firm who knows your business area, with whom you can work closely and who gets your product as well as process. Great PR firms add incrediable value.
  • Telling a clear, updated and ongoing story. If you (or co-founders or early employees) are not great storytellers or public speakers then likely your PR firm (and perhaps other advisers) will need to help with this but especially early on it is vital to have a clear story about the company and your new, emergent brand. This story should be short and clear (oh and compelling)
  • Have a business model (or two or three or four). You do not have to implement the business model immediately, nor do you need to share it with anyone (though your co-founders should also know). But having a business model in mind can be exceptionally helpful as you evaluate what to use/not use, what to build/not build, what to track/not track

And yes, this list is long and incomplete.

I skipped over raising money, I skipped over legal incorporation (rarely a good reason not to just incorporate as a Delaware C corporation). i skipped entirely over office space. Until an income is generated a large number of boring but important tasks are delayed (salaries and benefits for example).

For now, sleep then back to work.

Posted in economics, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, meshwalk, mobile, time, web2.0 | 7 Comments »

Radio Schedules 2.0 at Startup Weekend San Francisco 2009

Posted by shannonclark on April 4, 2009

Back in Dec I posted about Radio Stations 2.0, an idea I had for a return of great radio schedules, updated and enhanced for the 21st century. My post attracted some great feedback and some comments as well as backchannel reactions. I placed my ideas out in public under a bit of a CC license and encouraged anyone to implement them (though I requested at least some attribution).

Friday night after the fantastic Web 2.0 Expo I arrived late to Startup Weekend San Francisco which this time is organized by many fantistic people (and friends of mine). As people went around the room offering up their pitches to the crowd (and to the panel of VC/angel investors who were offering feedback on the form of the pitches) I decided that I would offer a pitch myself.

So I remembered my Radio Stations 2.0 idea, since it is an idea I have already shared publicly, I don’t mind sharing it again, and there is the chance that by doing so at Startup Weekend (and of course following up with a great deal of work most likely) I may be able to inspire enough help from others to make it a reality!

I’ve updated my original post with some more analysis of the competitive landscape (in the comments). In the rest of this post I will set out our goals, targets and next steps for this weekend. Hopefully we will be able to cobble together something working by Sunday evening (and continue to refine it further after that).

Basic Idea

Finding radio content whether in a rental car in a new city, on a mobile device or at your desktop is frustrating. Radio Schedules 2.0 is a simple, lightweight, API driven directory of terrestrial, satellite and Internet radio shows. The API will allow for both write & read functionality and likely will be combined with a wiki(like) set of data (station ranges & descriptions, show descriptions etc)

Competitive Landscape:

Since RadioTime does exist (and is a commerical entity already) we are going to look carefully at what we can (and should) do to be different, lightweight, and add real value as a competitor (in some ways) or perhpas even as a complementary service in other ways.

Other competition includes PublicRadioFan.com which lists most public radio stations from around the world (with Internet presenses) and a project started in 2003 (and put on hold in 2003) do something similar.

Steps for the weekend

  1. Define a simple data structure(s) to store the data we gather. Of particular note this will likely include a geographic focused set of data – station data driven by actual tower locations & signal reach. Potentially this could include variations by time of day & date especially the case for AM radio in the Midwestern US. It will also include a temporal set of data – shows on a given station aired (or scheduled to be aired) at specific times.
  2. Design our data to build up over time – i.e. not just “what is on now” or “what is scheduled to air next” but also “what just aired” or “What was on this morning during my commute…”
  3. From the beginning expect to build & deploy on servers located in the Cloud. This means evaluating Rackspace, GoGrid, Amazon’s Web Services as well as others.
  4. Design for a data-driven business model. Perhaps surprisingly a great deal of this design will be involved in streamlining and simplifying what data we need to collect & store from people. But by design this will include storing a great deal of log data & anticipating using such data extensively.
  5. Stay and work openly. I will likely update my blog with one or more posts of our progress as it happens this weekend – probably including some calls for help in specific areas.

Current design thoughts (very early, very rough)

  • Stations – are associated with One or more “dial” positions For terrestrial radio this is the dial number (or numbers in cases of stations with multiple towers). Have a related schedule (or schedules in a few rare cases). Associated with a bunch of data about the station (probably in a wikilike manner that allows for versions)
  • Schedules – related to a station (rarely but occasionally multiple different stations). Composed of many “shows” and a true temporal dataset (with start & end times, times normalized to a single timezone) may occasionally also have further details in a wiki (but less often, though “source of data” will be tracked – could be API calls, could be web crawl)
  • Shows – A unit of a schedule, but shows can have a meaning by themselves (syndication). May have further data in the wiki.

When a request comes into the system that request MAY have the following:

  • a geographic location (which in turn implies an likely interest in Terrestrial radio schedules)
  • a range of time (blank may imply “right now”)

At some future point the system may do more with who makes the request (individual web user, individual web user w/tracking cookies, API called etc.). The system may also do some matching/recommendations (using Last.fm profile info or the like as a starting point) but that’s probably not in the first release.

Technology thoughts

  • Start with standards – ideally calendar data will be available in an iCalendar form, via standard means of access. Where microformats make sense we should use them to semantically market up pages we generate (ideally this happens in the background so if a given page is editable ala a wiki the microformats are applied on top of that where they apply)
  • Design for API use – ideally this means even for our own interfaces we use the SAME API’s we make available for third-party use. This then forces us to make the API’s simple and as stable as possible (we may of course use white-lists in the future to rate throttle some API access). It should also facilitate the use of other web standards – for example since we are starting from the beginning there is no reason we shouldn’t start using OpenID/OAuth instead of implementing our own Identity systems.
  • Focus on simplicity – there are many directions we could go and we will want to explore how best to compete (or not) with RadioTime. Almost certainly our best approach is to keep it simple, do something exceptionally well and iterate.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, mobile, music, networks, personal, startupcamp, web2.0 | 2 Comments »

We Live in Public – most impactful movie of 2009

Posted by shannonclark on April 1, 2009

Everyone reading this blog post MUST go see this movie.

If you live in NYC you can see it as the closing film at the New Directors/New Films festival at MOMA on April 5th.

While at SXSW this year (2009) I had the very great good fortune to catch a screening of the documentary We Live in Public.

(photo from the We Live in Public website, I hope they don’t mind that I’m using it here)

I left and was in a bit of a daze (and no, it wasn’t from sitting near The Dude though he was indeed just a few rows over) rather it was from just how impactful the movie is for any of us who are now, ourselves, living in public. I have been active online since 1991. I started this blog many years ago and deep in my archives you can find a great deal of highly personal stuff, my musings over time about life, relationships and more. Since 2007 I have been using twitter actively and have posted more than 9000 times, often inviting anyone who gets my messages to join me for coffee, lunch or as I did just minutes ago here at the Web 2.0 Expo invite anyone to join me for dinner. 

I live in public.

My friends, people such as Jason Calacanis, who are featured throughout We Live In Public have also been living their lives in public. The movie is, however, not Jason’s story but is:

 … the story of the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of,” visionary Josh Harris.  Award-winning director, Ondi Timoner (DIG!), documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade, to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives.

I will be pondering this movie for months, likely years to come. Weeks after I viewed it, I still feel the impact. It is a fun movie at times, a difficult movie throughout, and I’m certain my personal connection to many of the participants definitely shaped the impact which the film had on me as I viewed it. 

However if you are reading this post, if you follow me on Twitter, if you Tweet yourself, if you video blog, post status updates to Facebook, you too are starting to live in public, in ways which Josh Harris explored a decade ago. His story highlights the many impacts this life can have on us, the impact that pervasive surveillance can have on all of us. 

We Live in Public won the Sundance Grand Jury prize for Documentaries this year for a very good reason. 

 

Posted in geeks, internet, Movies, personal | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »