Searching for the Moon

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

Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

Ideas for the city and other end of week links

Posted by shannonclark on April 8, 2011

A few links and notes at the end of the week.

The city of San Francisco, or at least a few organizations here in SF have asked for ideas from residents. I submitted one suggesting that the Mayor’s office talk with BART about extending hours of service to at least one hour longer than the bars are allowed to be open. If you like that idea follow the link and vote for my idea or one of the many other good ones.

At the beginning of this week I had the pleasure of attending the Data 2.0 Conference held here in San Francisco, while there Twitter announced a new partnership with MediaSift to offer DataSift which offers powerful filters applied on demand to the full firehose of Tweets. As a new alternative way to filter and analyze Twitter at highly affordable rates DataSift will likely play a role in some of the ventures I am working on at the moment where the ability to search against Twitter and detect trends and perform other analyzes against the full firehose will be a useful addition to other research we are doing. I suspect that in the coming weeks and months many businsses will find creative and innovative ways to build on top of Datasift.

On a personal note I spent this last week unpacking from my recent move and on Sunday I will be having a garage sale with my girlfriend and some nearby friends. To see the updated listing for the garage sale take a look at my Craigslist post (link good until the post expires).

This has been a busy week my new venture is progressing well and taking on some exciting dimensions and I have been approached by an old client to do some consulting work ahead of a major event for his new organization.

Posted in geeks, San Francisco | Leave a Comment »

late night update on tools for a move

Posted by shannonclark on April 5, 2011

So as many of you may know last week I moved from my apartment of a bit over four years into my girlfriend’s home, still here in SF but a move is a move and requires lots of sorting, packing, boxing and unboxing. Most of that is behind us (though a few boxes remain to unpack) and I will likely write a longer blog post about the move process, this is just a quick post to highlight one service and one iPhone application which have both been exceptionally useful in this process.

The service – EcoHaul this is a service which for a fee based on the portion of their truck you fill will come to your house and haul away nearly anything which they will then sort and donate to charity or ecologically recycle. Sure you could try to get various charities to directly pick up your stuff, you could arrange for one to pick it up from your curb or you could just leave stuff on your curb. In the later two cases chances are someone not the charity you called will end up with some of your items which is, I guess, recycling of a sort but calling EcoHaul to come two days before my movers arrived was a fantastic solution for me. For a fairly reasonable fee (I think at least) they took away a whole range of items I had long wanted to donate to a charity, a bunch of older electronics which would be hard to dispose of safely and they arrived on time and were highly efficient throughout the whole process. Later this month I’ll receive an itemized donation receipt from them for the items which they could give to charities.

The iPhone Application – BookScouter they do have a website as well but it is the simple yet effective iPhone application which has been highly helpful over the past week. Before this move I owned over 2000 books. While I have been packing and unpacking those books I have been evaluating whether I want to still own a each book as I unpack it. With the books I decided I no longer needed I have been selling many of them at two of my favorite local bookstores for store credit. What Bookscouter does is scan book barcodes or look up by ISBN number a given book and then display for you the prices at which a number of different websites will buy back that book from you. Many of these sites specialize in textbooks so they will not buy many books but by using Bookscouter to scan my books I have pulled aside nearly 50 books and will end up seeing probably over $200 back on top of the nearly $300 in store credit I have received from the books I have already sold to local bookstores.

Posted in personal, reviews, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cool ideas and links – coworking, cooking and more

Posted by shannonclark on April 4, 2011

I have been slow to blog in the past few months so my goal for April is starting today (April 4th) to post at least one blog post to one of my blogs at least 5-6 times a week. Besides my personal blog here the other places I likely will be blogging include Slow Brand and the blog for wwbll my new startup venture.

Cool ideas and links for today:

  • New office space for startups in SOMA- Storetek Building – this looks to be a very nice new space, not the best of locations (but not the worst), no idea what the price of rent in the space will be or how many startups will be there but it is good to hear about another large space and venue possibility in SF
  • Speaking of new venue spaces – Cookhouse SF recently opened here in SF. It is a brilliant business (one that I had thoughts about myself a while back) – it is a fully outfitted serious kitchen and entertaining space located in North Beach here in SF where you can rent the space by the house, get help stocking the kitchen if you need it, and cook for (or with) your guests and entertain in style. A perfect business for an urban environment where many people do not have big kitchens or space for a dinner party for 24 friends. They offer rates by the hour, auctions for busy times around the holidays and a membership program which offers discounts to events and other benefits. One link to them I read today mentioned that they may also be offering a co-working space/wifi cafe, something I will have to follow closely but in general I love this whole idea and will be following this carefully (and fully expect to host a dinner party there sometime later in 2011)

I have spent the day at the Data 2.0 Conference here in SF. Which has had a bunch of interesting announcements and product launches amongst great keynotes and panel discussions. Two in particular stood out as services and applications which I will be using in the future.

  • which is a venture from one of the early investors in Twitter is now live and the founder gave a great talk and presentation on stage. They are a service which is taking lots of websites with postings of some kind and by considering that they are facts and thus can be considered public domain knowledge (which I suspect may lead them to some legal challenges which I hope they eventually win) are aggregating postings from sites such as EBay, Craigslist and many other places across the web. Turning these into a firehouse of near realtime updates. As a demonstration of their capabilities they have created an iPhone app Craiggers which offers search across multiple geographies of all of Craigslist, something which the actual website does not allow you to do. They have also launched a self-branded app 3Taps which offers full access to all of the datasets they are collecting. Both are very cool and I’ve installed them on my iPhone today.
  • Twitter and MediaShift got up on stage after lunch to announce the launch of Datasift which offers curated and filtered access, on demand to the full Twitter firehouse (as well as other data but that last bit wasn’t mentioned on stage today). Exceptionally cool and looks to be something I’ll be using as soon as later this week.

Posted in banking, geeks, internet, iTunes, San Francisco, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

the state of my media diet in 2010

Posted by shannonclark on January 5, 2010

As 2010 begins I have been taking stock of the media I pay attention to and am looking to add to my current diet, I’m looking for new flavors and cuisines, new forms to replace stale old ones.

At the moment my media consumption looks like:

No daily newspapers, no TV news of any form, no Radio (either over the air or Internet). I catch a few TV series, mostly at my girlfriend’s house (or via various means online) but not too many (mostly SF series & a few Food Network shows)


  • The New Yorker magazine – I have been a New Yorker subscriber since college in the early 1990’s, however as I write this I am nearly two months behind and all year have found myself increasingly disappointed in the quality of the writing and the point of view of most of the writers for the New Yorker (Malcolm Gladwell excepted).
  • occasional issues of Monocle and even less often The Atlantic Monthly – I may subscribe to both magazines in 2010 even though I am currently months behind on my Monocle reading

And that is it. Years ago I had a dozen of magazine subscriptions (including free technical publications) and would supplement those with local free weekly newspapers and often one or more magazines purchased from a newstand. But that is no longer the case, even when I’m in one of San Francisco’s many excellent newstands with literally 1000’s of magazines available to me I rarely see one I have to buy. I feel there are, I hope, magazines out there I really should be reading – but I do not know what they are!

Podcasts and video podcasts

Mostly a mix of music podcasts & some niche focused podcasts. Here’s the roughly complete list:

  • Accident Hash – CC Chapman’s long running podsafe music podcast, in 2009 this was fairly irregular but usually enjoyable
  • American Public Media’s Sound Opinions – One of my favorites, I have been a listener since an earlier version of this show was on commercial radio in Chicago
  • CO-OP – a video podcast from Revision3 covering video games
  • Critical Hit – a newer audio podcast from students in the Game Design program at Columbia College in Chicago
  • Critical Hit: A Dungeons & Dragons podcast – from the website a podcast of a group of players playing D&D 4th edition – a bit of a nostalgia trip for me – but also it has been catching me up on the new rules of a game I played years ago
  • Doctor Who podshock – for my occasional Dr. Who fan discusison
  • Dungeons & Dragons podcast – an occasional podcast from Wizards of the Coast, I subscribed for a series of episodes they did with Wil Wheaton & folks from Penny Arcade playing a series of D&D games. The website archive is a bit clunky – subscribe to this podcast via iTunes.
  • Games with Garfield – an occasional podcast from Richard Garfield on game design (inventor of many great games – including Magic the Gathering)
  • The Geekbox – a group of B ay Area geeks – fun even if I’m a bit older than many of them and have slightly different tastes
  • iFanboy – I subscribe to two audio and one video podcast by the iFanboy team (the video is with Revision3) these cover the Comics industry exceptionally well
  • KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic – one of the best music radio shows anywhere – live in studio sets of great music are what they include in their podcast, but every show is available for streaming on demand.
  • Major Spoilers – another comics (mostly) but also all things geek discussion podcast from a great comics review website
  • Monocle (videos & audio podcast) – great short videos and audio podcast series from one of my favorite magazines, Monocle
  • podcast – from the folks who do iFanboy an occasional podcast on movies & TV & other things geek
  • NPR All Songs Considered podcast – amazing music podcast from NPR – almost always stuff I really enjoy
  • NPR: Live Concerts from All Songs Considered – videos and audios of amazing live concerts
  • Only A Game – NPR’s sports weekly podcast
  • Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton’s personal podcast which he has recently restarted after his recent Memories of the Futurecast series
  • This American Life – another series I started listening to on radio, when it was first broadcast but now catch (occasionally) via podcast

There are a handful of other podcasts I still subscribe to but which haven’t been updated in months so are mostly archives in my iTunes.

It is worth noting that I no longer subscribe to any tech industry podcasts – I’m sure there are some which are engaging & well edited enough to be worth subscribing to? What are they?

Online Blogs & websites

I mostly use Google Reader – currently I have 211 RSS feeds I subscribe to, but looking at Google’s stats, I mostly only read a very small number of feeds – a few customized feeds (Craigslist searches and the like). They break down as follows.

for Politics:

  • The Daily Dish – Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic Monthly blog along with a few other Atlantic Monthly political blogs
  • Jack and Jill Politics – an African American focused political blog friends of mine run

for Tech news:

  • Techcrunch – I subscribe the main, full feed but am annoyed by the partial feed elements from other TechCrunch sites
  • Mashable
  • The Next Web
  • Scobleizer – I have been reading Robert Scoble since before he joined Microsoft
  • Venturebeatfull disclosure – I wrote for Venturebeat in 2009
  • Boing Boing
  • and really that’s about it – I don’t get to or read many other blogs and of the above I average only about 25% at most of any one of them – and usually closer to 10% or less of their posts. I subscribe to many other tech industry blogs, but these are the ones I read the most frequently.

for Food

But again I have some 150+ other feeds I subscribe to yet rarely, if ever, get around to reading. If the feed isn’t a full text feed, even if from a very close personal friend, I will almost never, ever read that feed. Since I read on my iPhone over 50% of the time I’m reading RSS feeds, a non-full text feed requires a crapshoot of loading another site which is rarely well designed for an iPhone (or which breaks the links as far too many mobile site’s versions do) vs the easy navigation between stories when all full text and in Google Reader which has a great iPhone interface.

So clearly I am missing a great deal – what would people suggestion I add in 2010?

Please leave suggestions as comments below – for print publications, podcasts, video podcasts or other forms of media I should pay attention to on a regular basis  in 2010. Please include areas I am missing as well as media in fields I am already following (so suggestions for business/econ focused podcasts are welcome). Even media which is niche & seemingly not likely focused for me – but which is a great example would be welcome suggestions. I’ll listen to or read everything suggest – at least once on the web.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, futureculture, geeks, internet, iTunes, music, personal, podcasts, politics, reading, San Francisco, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

first look to the future – my hopes for 2010

Posted by shannonclark on December 30, 2009

Over the next few days I will likely post a flurry of posts here and on Slow Brand (where I just posted 2500+ words on why 2010 is a great year for print). Some will be looking forward, others will be thinking about the past year (and decade) but to start here are my hopes for 2010.

These are not resolutions, nor are they in any particular order. Some are small, some are pretty major.

  • see my niece who was born in Dec. This will probably mean taking a trip to NYC early in 2010 and, I hope, getting in a habit of more frequent visits to one of my favorite cities. Though my niece is just recently born, I want to be an engaged and active uncle. As she grows up I hope I can be a great uncle (and spoil her just a bit)
  • travel outside of the US. In 2009 I didn’t travel all that much, a few trips early in the year, but not many after. In 2010 I hope to spend time outside of the US, see the changing world. Hopefully this will include many countries and many types of travel – professional and personal.
  • the return of Chuck to TV (well the Web in my case). My girlfriend’s “tv boyfriend” is Chuck. I’m okay with this. And yes, our shared love of this show says a great deal about our relationship. I’m a geek but so, in many ways, is she.
  • the end of David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who and the beginning of Matt Smith’s run. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan but never thought it would return to the TV, the past 5 years have been enhanced greatly by the return of Doctor Who to TV as well as the great spin-off series. I’ve loved David Tennant’s Doctor but I really look forward to what Steven Moffat does as the new show runner and I trust that I’ll love the new Doctor. My Decembers for the past few years have been made better by the Christmas Specials and this year my New Year’s Weekend as well.
  • SXSW. Every year since I moved out to the Bay Area I have attended SXSW staying for a few more days each year. In 2010 I hope to stay for even more of SXSW Music (and hope to convince my girlfriend to attend with me hopefully she will be working for a company by then which might send her to SXSW…)
  • A MeshWalk at Social Media Week San Francisco (Feb 1st). I will be organizing a MeshWalk here in San Francisco on Feb 1st as part of the larger Social Media Week activities in San Francisco. The format will be a Social Media Crawl – we will range between a number of businesses with offices in San Francisco in/around SOMA who will have open houses, demonstrations and drinks. Should be an amazing way to start a busy and great Social Media Week here in San Francisco.
  • MeshForum 2010. My hope is to pull together a full, multiple day MeshForum conference in 2010, probably in the late Spring in/around the Bay Area. It has been too many years since I last held a full MeshForum and the focus on the interdisciplinary study of Networks is even more important now than ever before.
  • Raising money for a new, social media related venture. I have been immersed in Social Media for a very long time, running an online game with 1000’s of players from my college dorm room in 1991, being active in USENET in the early 1990’s and on the web in many incarnations and forms ever since. As 2010 starts I am actively engaged in raising an early stage/angel round to fund a social media related venture. Watch my blogs for more details and updates but suffice it say that the focus will be on topics I have been writing about for years – the importance of Curation as the future of Media.

Of course if you are interested in supporting any of my ventures, especially the last three above contact me directly. Especially if your company is interested in sponsoring one or more of these events and online activities.

I also know a number of ventures, of many different scales, who are always looking for additional sponsors and creative advertisers, in 2010 I expect I will be connecting great advertisers and sponsors to amazing, unique and fantastic publishers online and offline.

Politically I have long been a strong supporter of Barack Obama and though some are disappointed in his 2009, I am not. He has achieved a great deal of what I expected and hoped he would, along with the support of his fantastic appointees. In 2010 I am eagerly awaiting still more achievements from the first great administration of my lifetime. Starting early in 2010 with, I hope, the passage of Health Care Reform which will have an immediate and important impact on the quality of my life.

I have a pre-existing condition (Asthma and related allergies and allergy caused conditions) which combined with looking at individual not group coverage would, currently, make getting high quality, affordable health insurance nearly impossible. With the passage of #HCR I should be able to get far more affordable coverage of a far higher quality w/o restrictions for my pre-existing conditions (which I should note are not expensive to treat and keep under control but do require annual expenditures for emergency inhalers and the like).

But more than any of these admittedly wide-ranging looks and hopes for 2010 my biggest one is stay worthy of the love of my girlfriend who has been, by leaps and bounds, the best part of 2009 by far.

I hope you have a great 2010 and look forward to reading about what you are looking forward to – whether big or small.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, meshforum, meshwalk, networks, personal, politics, San Francisco, venture capital, web2.0, working | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Modeling ourselves in the FourSquare and Twitter era

Posted by shannonclark on September 2, 2009


As a child I grew up without a television, instead I read hundreds of books and listened to old time radio shows and dramas both on the radio and on cassette tape (yes, I’m old, my childhood pre-dates CDs). Then a bit later in my childhood my parents bought me an odd but fun clock radio cube which also could get the audio of over-the-air broadcast television (remember that, something now impossible with today’s transition to digital television). I then would wake up every morning to the Rocky & Bullwinkle show but as a radio broadcast, not as the animated cartoon.

I somewhat suspect that the resulting confusion and neccessary imagination is why I write fiction.

But a more telling result of my childhood, until nearly when I started high school, of growing up without a television is that my models for behavior were of an older age than that of my peers combined with the fact that I was a year or two younger than all my classmates as a result of skipping the end of 2nd grade and finishing 3rd grade that same year after we had moved to a new city, and I was a very strange kid (and perhaps a bit of a strange adult).

Why this discursion into my childhood?

What does this have to do with Foursquare and Twitter?

I have been playing FourSquare since my friends all joined it during SWSWi earlier this year. (btw go vote for my talk proposal for SXSWi 2010) I wasn’t sure if I would keep it up back in San Francisco post-SXSWi but so far I have and in the past few weeks I’ve been seeing more and more friends join (via their requests to be my friends on FourSquare) and I find myself using it nearly every day if I manage to get out of the house.

While the opportunity it presents me to run into friends via seeing where they have just checked in, something I have taken advantage of on multiple occasions as well as the value it gives me by reminding me (or in many cases informing me) of events via seeing multiple people I know all check into the same venue at the same time are all valuable, it is another, more subtle use of FourSquare which I am really enjoying.

That of presenting to me, in a manner which I missed growing up without a TV, of a model of how to be, of how to work and play in this city. It may not be a great model, it certainly isn’t the only model, but observing over time the ebbs and flows of my friends, when they check into their gyms, when they do their grocery shopping, when they are at work, when they are working from a cafe, where they have lunch, when they go out for dinner, drinks and movies, is all very imformative – it is creates a model that is bigger than any single event or check-in, a model that communicates a great deal about living life in this city.

My friends are gay & straight, younger & older, single & married and there are also differences in how they each pass through their days and weeks in this city. All of which is incrediably fascinating to me and revelatory.

Combined with Twitter, where I follow over 1200 people, but only allow a very small number of those people’s messages through to my phone (in which case I see nearly eveyr tweet they send vs seeing only a fraction of most tweets from everyone else I follow) I have found myself in the past 6 months getting a lot of new insight into how other adults live their lives, how other independent, entrepreneurial consultants manage their time. And how my single friends vs my married (or in serious relationships) friends differ in how they spend their time.

These revelations are not major but they are thought provoking for me nonetheless. I have always wondered how people fit going to the gym into their schedules, now I have a far better sense of how at least some of my friends manage that task. I’ve never been much of a going out for drinks kinda of guy, neither are many of my friends, but I do get a bit of a sense of how some of my friends who are a bit more of one do. And it is via observing my friends who are married (in most cases of my friends I’m friends with and follow both partners and thus get two perspectives usually on their activities and relationships) that I’m getting a clearer picture of how, at least my friends, manage many of the details of being in a modern relationship.

For the past three and a half years (and really more like four years) I have been single. My last relationship ended before Twitter started, before Facebook was a big deal, before most of this current round of Web 2.0 (and now whatever we call them) applications took off and long before the iPhone. Now as I begin a new relationship (yeah!!!) I’m glad that I have had months (and via twitter years) of observing a bit of how my friends manage their modern relationships in this city and online. Every relationship is, of course, different and I know we’ll find our own tools and balance – but I have been struck of late by just how much I have absorbed without intending to absorb it from the ongoing small signals and messages I’ve followed of late.

What have you learned from how you use such tools?

Posted in digital bedouin, futureculture, geeks, internet, personal, San Francisco | Leave a Comment »

Unique and useful stores around the Moscone Center in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 31, 2009

In this post I will highlight a number of my favorite little hidden gems of stores in SF which are a short walking distance from the Moscone Center and/or near to hotels where people often stay when in SF for a conference. This is a sister post to my post yesterday about where to eat, drink and entertain around the Moscone. I have also included a number of stores which while not exciting are useful to know about for last minute needs when in town for a conference. This post is not intended to comprehensive nor does it highlight the dozens of great stores in the various neighborhoods of San Francisco

Of course I will have missed many great stores, please add your favorites and your experiences in the comments below

Useful stores to know where they are located

Near to the Moscone Center are two great resources for last minute computer emergancies. For Mac users, the large Apple Store San Francisco (1 Stockton at the corner of Market near 4th St, Mon-Sat 10-9, Sun 11-7) is one of Apple’s flagship stores with well trained Genuis bar staff, frequent events and most importantly for conference attendees with last minute tech needs a deep inventory.

For PC users Central Computers (837 Howard St between 4th and 5th, Mon-Fri 9-7:30, Sat-Sun 10:30-6) offers a good selection of PC hardware and parts at competive, if not always the absolute lowest prices. But if you need a replacement monitor, an extra hard drive, a PC cable or the like they are just a half block from the Moscone Center. 

Cole Hardware (70 4th St between Mission and Market, Mon-Fri 7-7:30, Sat-Sun 8-7) is a local San Francisco institution and a great local resource for hardware. If you need last minute hardware or items to fix your tradeshow booth they are just a block away from the Moscone and have friendly and knowledgable staff.

Utrecht Art Supplies (149 New Montgomery between Howard and Mission, Mon-Fri 8:30-7, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6) ) is small national chain, based out of NYC which offers a range of art supplies catering to the needs of San Francisco’s art schools and local artists. For a conference attendee they are a great alternative to an office supply store for last minute needs at a conference. I recommend the small leather bound Rhodia notebooks they stock, I carry the reporter’s notebook size in my back pocket at conferences for when there is no substitute for a pad of paper. For last minute booth needs they can offer a wide range of useful items. 

Fun, unique independant stores of San Francisco

Blocks from the Moscone Center is Union Square and Grant Street which are the heart of San Francisco’s tourism and high end retail shopping, all of the major national chains, luxury stores and retailers can be found either around Union Square, along Grant St, or in the nearby large Westfield Center. However scattered nearby are a few local and more unique gems which I would recommend checking out over the stores and retailers that can be found in any major city (and indeed many small suburban malls). 

While the long time San Francisco institution Stacy’s has now closed, a few blocks from the Moscone Center is a truly wonderful new San Francisco store Fog City News (455 Market St between 1st and Fremont, Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 12-4, Sun closed) offers 1000’s of magazines from around the world and hundreds of carefully chosen premium chocolate bars. When I travel and stay with friends I nearly always stop in at Fog City News first and purchase chocolates to bring as gifts, nearly always also picking up a new magazine or two to read on the plane. 

Gumps (135 Post St, Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5) is a San Francisco retailer with nearly 150 years of history as a purveyor of luxury goods. Shopping at Gumps is a small piece of San Francisco history updated with highly modern works. This is luxury goods shopping with many one-of-a-kind items and designer goods. I enjoy browsing for inspiration, though my budget hasn’t allowed me to buy at Gumps frequently. 

In my last post I mentioned the Ferry Building, if you are at all interested in great food a visit to the Ferry Building is well worth it. If you can get there on Saturday morning during the Farmer’s Market (Sat 8-2, with a much smaller market Tues 10-2) you are in for a treat. While nearly every store in the Ferry Building is worth a visit a few of my favorites are: Frog Hollow Farms – amazing jams, world renowned orchard; Far East Fungi – I buy mushrooms from among the some 40+ varieties of fresh, many wild, mushrooms they sell for non-locals they also have a great selection of dried mushrooms; Cowgirl Creamery – one of the best cheese shops in the world. Be sure to ask to taste a few cheeses and get recomendations then go next door to Acme Bakery and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread then go to Boccalone Salumeria and pick up a selection of locally made (pork based) cured meats. 

The result is a nearly perfect picnic lunch. 

And if you need wine, the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant offers a wide selection of wines for any price point or need. They also have a great wine bar with snacks provided from nearby merchants.

For your speciality drink needs I recommend Cask Spirits (17 3rd St between Market and Mission, Mon-Sat 11-7, Sun Closed) They are the retail branch of the rather unique Bourbon and Branch and offer a carefully currated selection of small maker distillers and bar equipment. I am not a drinker so there isn’t much for me personally to buy here but as an example of a store run with passion and with a very carefully selected inventory they are a great and unique to San Francisco new retail store, worth a visit by anyone interested in how great retail can and should work. 

There are many other great stores in San Francisco, many in the various great neighborhoods of San Francisco. In particular if you have some time I recommend exploring the small shops of Hayes Valley, most of which are unique and local to San Francisco. Scattered throughout the Mission District are also many great and also uniquely local stores and there are many others in other neighborhoods. 

Have I missed any great retail shops in SOMA (near the Moscone) or just across Market? Shops which are unique to San Francisco or which are great resources to know about if you are here for a conference? If so, please leave a comment below.

Posted in personal, restaurants, reviews, San Francisco, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Where to eat, drink & entertain around the Moscone Center in SF

Posted by shannonclark on March 30, 2009

Last year as part of my coverage of Web 2.0 Expo for Centernetworks I wrote a post offering a guide to San Francisco near the Moscone Center. This post is an updated version of that post, written in advance of the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco but I hope it will be a resource for anyone visiting San Francisco for a conference. Please add other finds and feedback in the comments below.

This is not intended to be comprehensive there are literally 100’s of restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels within a half mile of the Moscone Center in San Franciso.  Rather this guide is a list of a small, selective set of restaurants, cafes, and a few bars which are notable and worth trying. These are places that as a local to San Francisco I return to frequently, these are the restaurants where I personally entertain – whether it be for an afternoon meeting over coffee, a light dinner with friends, a professional working dinner or a business entertaining event. My focus is mostly on great spots for coffee or daytime meetings and on dinner. I will include a few suggestions for lunch but often at a conference lunch is part of the conference – and since the networking over confernce lunches can often be the most valuable networking I would, reluctantly, recommend that you eat the bad food in the interest of the networking.

But perhaps chase the conference lunch with great coffee or tea at one of the places I suggest below. 

With one exception I am also concentrating on locations which work well for events during the week, most of these places are open every day during the week (but I would always recommend calling and making a reservation for professional dinners).

Breakfast meetings 

Around the Moscone Center is not the best of places in San Francisco for working breakfasts, any number of local hotels offer acceptable business breakfast meeting options, near to the Moscone I would recommend XYZ at the W hotel (181 3rd St – 3rd & Howard inside of the W Hotel). 

A less formal and lighter option, but one I would highly recommend, is the nearby Blue Bottle Cafe (66 Mint St – corner of Mint & Jessie, between Mission & Market just after 5th St, Mon-Fri 7-7, Sat  8-6, Sun 8-4) which offers a small but seasonal and very good selection of breakfast food along with their world renowned coffee. This is serious, film crews come from Japan to shoot all day long, barrista’s compete in national competitions level coffee and they offer coffee & preparations to serve all tastes. One strong suggestion taste the cappucino’s and lattes before you doctor them – they really don’t need any sugar. Blue Bottle’s Cafe is, I think, one of the absolute best cafes anywhere in the world. I have been known to take multiple contacts to Blue Bottle in the course of a single conference day – last year I went there at least three times in one day with three different business contacts.  Besides great breakfast foods they offer great if also highly selective food options (always light and seasonal) during the course of the day.

If your conference continues into the weekend my suggestion is that you take some time on Saturday morning to get breakfast at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market (Building with a big clock tower at the end of Market St on the water. A short taxi ride or a manageable walk from most conference hotels or the Moscone Center). Widely considered one of the finest farmer’s markets in the country the market starts at 8:30, though some stalls will be set up earlier. I highly recommend arriving before 10am as the market quickly gets crowded. It continues until 2pm on Saturday. Inside of the Ferry Building are many great local shops and markets which are open 7 days a week. Blue Bottle Coffee has kiosks they operate during the Farmers Market (and they are opening up a full cafe in the Ferry Building later in 2009). Of course you can spend hours shopping at the many local (and mostly all organic) stalls each with a seasonal selection. A few highlights I recommend to my guests: Flying Disc Ranch – for an amazing selection of locally grown dates; Frog Hollow Farms – they have a stall inside so are available 7 days a week, Frog Hollow is I think the best orchard in the Bay Area and offer amazing seasonal stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots), pears, Meyer lemons and more. Year round they have great jams and marmalades which I frequently give as gifts; Primavera – a locally run organic Mexican restaurant only open on Saturdays during the Farmer’s Market (located in the far corner by the water) they offer a small selection of handmade from market ingrediants Mexican breakfast and lunch items each day (homemade tamales, varieties of chiliquiles and much more). This is regional Mexican cooking most likely unlike anything you have had unless you have traveled extensively in Mexico.

A breakfast meeting at the Farmer’s Market will not be a quite or entirely private one but I can think of few better or more energizing ways to start my Saturday morning. 

Meetings during the daytime

As I noted above, Blue Bottle Cafe is a great option, one I turn to frequently. 

For non-coffee drinkers, or just for a great change of pace, I recommend Samovar Tea Room inside of Yerba Beuna Gardens (730 Howard St. Literally above the Moscone North, stairs are just to the left of the conference entrance. Sun – Wed 10-8, Thurs-Sat 10-9). Samovar serves amazing teas accompanied by a great selection of light food. This is a calm, peaceful oasis above the Yerba Beuna Waterfall and sitting above the Moscone North entrance. This is not where to go for a fast, quick, hurried meal. But it is a great spot to take a break from a conference and to have a highly civilized and usually productive business conversation. My personal preference is to meet at Somovar in the afternoon, after lunchtime. For small groups Samovar is also a good option for post-conference dinner. Not a heavy meal but a tasty one and not a place to drink (other than great teas). 

For a great lunch option, as well as a good place to have daytime working lunch during a conference I have three suggestions just a few blocks from the Moscone Center. All three are part of the Westfield San Francisco which is just blocks from the Moscone between 4th & 5th and between Market & Mission.

First, ‘Wichcraft (866 Mission St at 5th) which though it is a small scale national chain and owned by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio (of Bravo’s Top Chef fame) is also a purveyer of amazingly tasty sandwiches. For the quality and flavor, one of the real bargains for lunch in the city. They close relatively early but are a great option for lunch or a quick, early casual dinner. They have plenty of seating and even a large party can usually seat together at one of their large communal tables. 

Second, Out the Door (basement level of the Westfield Center). Ignore the minimalist website, Out the Door is the more casual spinoff of the world renowned Slanted Door restaurant, one of the finest Vietnamese restaurants in the country (and also at times one of the hardest to get a reservation at). Out the Door offers quick and very tasty Vietnamese food, prepared artfully and skillfully and served in their large and spacious dining room. A great option for a group of nearly any size for lunch and just blocks from the Moscone. They are also open for early dinner, though I prefer them for lunch. The food court in the basement level of the Westfield Center is a very good one (much better I think than the food court in the Metreon) with options for any palate. I personally like Coriander which offers very tasty Thai food, had lunch there today in fact. 

Third, Straits (4th floor of the Westfield Center). Straits offers upscale Singaporan food, though it is a small scale chain (here in CA, Atlanta and later in 2009 Houston) I highly recommend them for great and unusual food. In particular I like Straits for working business lunches. They are not cheap, but the quality is very high and though they are in a Mall (albeit a mall which cost some $440M to rennovate) once inside Straits is a great restaurant for working lunches (not working as in open up the laptops, working as in serious conversations over good food and if you want great drinks). They are open for dinner, though I prefer them as a working lunch venue (late night at times they turn into a nightclub). 


San Francisco is a food and restaurant town, there are 100’s of restaurants, dozens of great ones throughout San Francisco. Here are a few of my absolute favorites, places I take people to frequently. 

For a serious dinner with clients, over great food and drink, here are my top suggestions in SOMA.

Town Hall (343 Howard on the corner of Fremont, Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sun-Thur 5;30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-11). Townhall offers amazing, contemporary food in a venue that is also exceptionally well designed. Great food at a price which is a great value for the quality and service. They also have a private dining room which can handle up to 40 people seated or 80 people for a standing reception ($1000 min for lunch, $2000 min for dinner, offers full audio-visual capabilities and Internet access). One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco and a place I suggest to locals and visators alike.

Salt House (Mission between 1st & 2nd; open Mon-Thur 11:30-11, Fri 11:30-12, Sat 5:30-12, Sun 5-9:30). Salthouse offers contemporary American food, locally and seasonally sourced, with a fantastic selection and level of quality. It can be a bit loud so is best for relatively small groups, no more than about 6, but offers some of the absolute best food in San Francisco. I have business contacts who insist on a visit to Salt House everytime they are in San Francisco and I’m more than happy to comply. 

or Anchor & Hope (83 Minna St, just off of 2nd, Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Sun-Thur 5;30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-11). The third restaurant from the trio who founded Town Hall and Salt House, this is their take on a contempory American seafood shack. Currently top on my list of restaurants to try next, given the amazing quality of their other two restaurants I feel very comfortable recommending Anchor and Hope. 

There are other great options, but these are three of my favorites in SOMA for serious food all great options for a small business dinner.

For a large group dinner, especially on a budget, my goto suggestion in SOMA is Canton Seafood and Dim Sum (655 Folsom St on the corner of Hawthorne betwee 3rd and 2nd, Mon-Sun 10:30-9:30). For lunch and on the weekends they offer cart service Dim Sum at very reasonable prices and of exceptional quality. But what I really love going to Canton for is to bring a large group for a banquet. They can almost literally accomodate any sized group (upstairs they have a dining room that seats up to 450+ people, downstairs they seat up to 300, though a reservation is advised). I generally modify one of the banquet menus ending up with a 7+ course feast, including Dim Sum (which I request as a substitute for other appetizers and fried rice) for a price of about $25/person. Typically this feast includes a whole fish, Peking Duck, Salt & Pepper Crabs and more. Amazing, tasty food, very reasonably priced with inexpensive drinks and friendly service. I’ve had dozens of groups events at Canton Seafood over the past few years and have never once been disappointed – and they have done great whether I’m dining with a few friends or have brought 100+ people. 

Professional networking quality drinks

San Francisco has many great bars and has become well known for some of the most serious wine bars and serious mixed drink bars in the country. If that interests you, I encourage you to do further research (or leave suggestions here as a comment) but here are a few great to know about venues nearby to the Moscone Center. 

House of Shields (39 New Mongomery between Market and Mission, New Montgomery is between 3rd and 2nd, Mon-Fri 2pm-2am, Sat 7pm-2am, closed Sun). A 100+ year old San Francisco institution. Not the fanciest of drinking estabilishments by far, but a goto establishment for afterwork, post-conference networking over cheap drinks. Not fancy, but also likely a spot where many speakers at tech conferences may end up (and certainly a spot favored by locals).

The Press Club SF (20 Yerba Beuna Lane, just off of Market across from Yerba Beuna Gardens between 3rd and New Montgomery, tasting room hours Mon-Thur 4-9, Fri 4-10, Sat 2-10, closed Sun). An urban wine tasting room, this large space features 8 bars serving wines from 8 different wineries, with representatives from each winery pouring the wine. They also have a selection of light foods to pair with the wines and upstairs a retail store featuring wines from all 8 wineries. For business purposes besides being a very upscale place for after conference drinks and conversations, they also have a private dining room/boardroom with full a/v which can be rented for private events. During Web 2.0 Expo they are closed for a private event on April 1st. 

These are my suggestions. As I stated, I’m sure many of you reading this have others. I hope this is helpful, please leave your own experiences and suggestions below in the comments.

Posted in personal, restaurants, reviews, San Francisco, web2.0 | 24 Comments »

Sessions and Keynotes to attend at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I generally attend only a few sessions at most conferences – especially most multi-track conferences with many keynotes and speakers, conferences such as SXSWi and Web 2.0 Ezpo. Instead my usually way of “working” such a conference is to spend most of my time talking with people in the hallways or in blogger or press lounges – attending the occasional “big” keynote, a friend’s panel (or less often a panel or session with a speaker I really want to meet). 

In part this is because most of the time I could be a speaker at such events – and often I have as much (or more) experience as most of the speakers, not to mention in many cases the speakers are friends and will be talking about topics we likely have gone over privately months earlier.

But this is not uniformly the case and this year I am looking forward a number of the sessions at Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. Here is a short list of a few of the sessions I personally find of interest – these are in no particular order and by no means are complete – as new sessions and tracks continue to be announced my actual plans will definitely change. 

And a reminder – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package!

Technical Sessions:

Drizzle – rethinking mySQL for the web – 1:30 pm on Thursday April 2nd. Brian Aker from mySQL will talk about Drizzle which is a fork of mySQL designed for multi-core, cloud computing applications. Since I am both thinking of and working on a number of cloud based applications myself as well as advising companies who may also, this is of a great deal of interest to me. Both to see if it may help as I design my own solutions – but equally to be well informed about an emerging development in a core component of much application development – the database, which has not seen a great deal of innovation to keep up with the pace of changing applications and use cases (i.e. web 2.0, web services based, cloud deployed applications). I’m also curious if and how they are solving for the needs of applications which have to scale very highly very quickly (i.e. in response to a Twitter, Digg or other rapid spike in interest and users)

Visualizing a web of data 11:00am on Thursday April 2nd. Michal Migurski of Stamen Design will talk about approaches to visualise the torrent of data available on the Internet (and as a result of the Internet). I am always interested in hearing (and seeing) the latest visualizations of large quanities of data. In my own conference organizing I have always had speakers who spoke about various visualization efforts around showing large, complex datasets. While I am not a designer myself, I am deeply interseted in the challenge of visualizing data in ways that are both accurate and which can assist in making sense of that data, ways which help see patterns, trends and potential issues. All while keeping an eye out for issues of scale or hidden assumptions which might make false patterns or cause people to draw errant conclusions. 

From AD-versity comes Opportunity 2;40pm Wednesday April 1st. My friend Scott Rafer of Lookery and Ted Cadogan of OpenX will speak about the current state of the online advertising market. Since my main project for the past year has been working on getting an Ad network started (slowly and fitfully at times) this is a topic of great interest to me.

Meet the New Boss – The FCC, Net Neutrality and Web 2.0 1:30pm on Thursday April 2nd. Unfortunately scheduled againzt another session I want to also attend (which happens often) but this is a chance to hear from Bill Maher of Morrison & Foerester [full disclosure – MoFo is a past client of mine] talk about the changes at the FCC and what recent rulings and new ground rules have been established which impact many Web 2.0 businesses. This is the type of detailed and vital discussion which I really enjoy hearing at conferences – not sexy and perhaps at times a bit dull, but done well it is a chance to hear a real, up to date expert distill a lot of information into a consise and digestible form – and then a chance to ask follow up questions to explore issues which are raised. 

And finally pretty much the entire Marketing and Community track  which is a chance to hear from a mix of many of my friends as well as many others whom I know of but haven’t yet met in person speak about the current state of marketing and community online. Since this is an area I spend a great deal of time working in and thinking about – indeed much of my own consulting practice today is related to advising startups around Social Media related issues, this is a track of sessions which interest me greatly. Plus unlike many recent conferences this is a series of talks by friends of mine which I haven’t actually heard before – Scott Monty of Ford Motors talking about their brand engagement, Tara Hunt talking about Wuffie (and her new book & job at Intuit) and much much more. If I had to pick, I think this may be the strongest track at Web 2.0 – and it will definitely be my default track during timeslots I don’t otherwise have a session I want to attend. 

And a few other parts of Web 2.0 Expo I will be attending:

The Heather Gold Show keynote on Friday April 3rd morning at 8:55am. My friend Heather Gold’s shows are always interesting and engaging – each is different but each is also a chance to hear great, diverse guests peak in a casual almost Oprah like manner and format. 

Douglass Rushkoff’s Keynote on Thursday April 2nd at 8:55am. Douglass is another friend of mine and his talks are always engaging and interesting. He and I don’t always agree on everything – but he is one speaker I will block out time to listen to, confident it will be engaging and challenging – even if I don’t agree with him on every point. 

Jeff Veen’s Keynote on Friday Aptil 3rd at 10:15am. Jeff Veen is a highly respected designer, formerly of Google, and someone whom I have met many times here in San Francisco, however I have actually never had a chance to hear him talk about his work – I’m looking forward to this opportunity to hear what he is thinking about these days post-Google. 

Ignite at DNA Lounge on Wednesday April 1st at 7:30pm. This year, for the first time I will even try to submit my own talk in time to potentially be among the speakers at Ignite. Past Ignite events have been among my favorite evening networking/tech events ever – the format forces people to distill their talks down, removing the cruft and getting to the heart of the story and point they want to make – in nearly every case the result is a better, more engaging talk. However in past years I have been negligent in submitting my own talks to Ignite – this year i hope to make up for that and will be submitting my own talk.

And of course I’ll wander through the booths, attend (and perhaps host) the Birds of  Feather sessions in the evenings, as well as the many parties – official and unofficial. There will be a bunch of other things that I will almost certainly attend – but this is the rough outline of the talks and sessions which most interest me at the moment – and which I feel are particular highlights of this year’s show – which is, I think, a highly impressive show schedule indeed!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, networks, San Francisco, web2.0 | 2 Comments »

March conferences – SXSWi & Web 2.0 Expo SF

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I will be attending two major conferences this month – SXSWi in Austin and then at the end of the month Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. I almost decided not to attend SXSWi this year, due to the current economic situation, but I am attending because, as I noted in a conversation just this week, nearly 100% of ALL my business opportunities come from in person networking

Occasionally this is immediate – I attended a one day conference years ago in NYC where I met a future client during a lunch roundtable, spoke with him briefly during a break, then met with him after the conference and closed a 5 figure consulting project to start nearly immediately the next day. 


More typically conversations and interactions at a conference lead to follow meetings and emails, to discussions, to introductions and in turn these turn into very real business. What makes SXSWi so valuable is that it is long, it is insanely social, and as a result it offers a nearly endless opportunity to network – dozens of chances to grab coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner, or to get pulled into a hallway conversation. Not to mention some of the best parties of any tech conference (especially if, as I do, you know most of the party organizers and can get into them with VIP passes).  

But I don’t drink very much – so for me these parties are mostly an excuse to get to know people in a casual, laid back manner, to engage socially with people whom I may later work with (or more likely refer others to and occasionally get referrals from). 

For me this year at SXSWi I will be focusing on two main things. 

  1. Promoting tbnl. I will have a basic web presense for tbnl before SXSWi and at SXSWi I will be looking for subscribers, advertisers, supporters/sponsors, and most importantly great writers and content sources. I’ll be following up with the dozens of writer friends whom I will see at SXSWi and will be asking them to submit a story (fiction or non-fiction) to tbnl. 
  2. Expanding my consulting practice. In 2009 I am looking to do more significent consulting engagements, especially paid work helping startups (or large more established companies) explore their business strategy and opportunities – especially focused on how technology & social media can help. I am one part McKinsey and one part a tech system integrator/custom architect sprinkled with more than a bit of social media expertise (since 1991). 

I will be arriving in Austin on Friday March 13th in the afternoon and will be in town until the evening of Thursday March 19th. If you are in Austin and want to meet up and grab coffee follow me on Twitter (@rycaut) and feel free to dm me or call me directly. 

Web 2.0 Expo

This will be my third year attending the Web 2.0 Expo which will be held March 31st to April 3rd at the Moscone Center West here in San Francisco. I’m one of the official blog partners for Web 2.0 Expo and will be covering the conference both here and at my other blog on Branding – Slow Brand

As a blog partner I can offer you my readers a discount – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package.

I am really looking forward to Web 2.0 Expo this year, in part because the “buzz” about Web 2.0 is muted at the moment due to the economy, what I’m looking forward to seeing is who is still standing, what they are working on and launching, and how the general audiance is approaching the current changes in the economy. I am a huge believer in the transformative power of the web and especially the revoluation represented by Web 2.0. 

I am also a believer that downturns, such as right now, are some of the best times to start a company. All of the necessary parts are cheaper and more available – from office space to employees to partners and service providers. All are more willing to negotiate and more willing to devote themselves to helping you succeed. In turn it is a great time to build relationships – helping people make money in the current economy will result in very real and significent rewards in the future. 

For myself I am looking at a lot of opportunities at the moment – advising startups as well as dusting off technologies and ideas I have had in the past and seeing if there are ways to implement and launch them in today’s economy to be positioned strongly for the future.

So I hope you can join me at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco at the end of the month – I will probably be organizing a dinner or two during the conference as well as other meetups and like SXSWi I’m always happy to grab coffee and meet up with readers.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, San Francisco, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »