over 8 years on 2010-07-10


regards from nyc on a muggy july 10th - here is what i have been thinking about since last writing...

1. communication technology changes transportation and real-estate values - how car phones, cell phones, blackberries, and myfis dramatically effect the relative value of travel route choices and realestate value.

in the last 1980s and early 1990s when car phones existed but cell phones didn't, i would have almost certainly preferred to live in the nj suburbs and driven a car to work vs. living in ct and taking a train... my commute in a car could be useful with access to a car-phone on the road, my commute on a train in that period was dead time without a phone or internet.

at this point, with a myfi in hand, the train for commuting is infinitely more appealing because i can work efficiently en route and driving a car is basically death.

over the last 20 years the evolution of mobile technology i believe has had a huge impact on the relative value / cost of transport in different mechanisms... heck, there was a period where i preferred train to bost vs. flight because of the availability of wifi, wifi on flights has totally changed what i am willing to pay / when i am willing to travel during work hours, etc.

i would also argue that the last disruption in communication has had a secondary effect on real estate value. the mifi increases the premium i would pay for real-estate train access...

-- 2. "accredited investor" status as a hurdle to investing in early stage is un-american: to paraphrase part of the securities act of 1933 only 'accredited investors' -- people with meaningful income $200k+ or $1mm in assets -- can invest in non-registered securities... or, basically anything but big public companies...

i am sure that this was set up to protect people without financial sophistication from being taken advantage of... but it also sets up an interesting situation where basically the best opportunities with the highest return are available only to people with meaningful wealth / income.

put differently, the law basically creates a structure where the more money you have, the more money you can make.... this seems highly un-american.

a better solution would be to allow anyone who passed a financial literacy test to invest in whatever they want. my old college roommate evan schwartz tells me this is how it works for energy trading.

-- 3. facebook should launch a privacy holy-war against cookies and cookie exchanges, and maybe firefox will help... right now there are two data models for targeting advertising in the world... the first is central data-stores, like facebook -- the second model is cookie trading.

the next war in advertising is definitely about buying audience real-time based on where they are / what they want / and who you know them to be....

the competitors in the war are going to be facebook with a crap-load of data per-user bolstered with self reported 'like' activity, and enabled through a massive facebook connect network (read, ad-network in disguise).... vs. lot's of small brands enabled through cookie exchanges (bluekai, etc.) -- a dirtier but still way more massively spread technology.

while facebook might seem more monopolistic since it is a central store of data, there is a strong argument in my mind that they are actually in a way better place to protect consumer privacy etc. than a free market of un-regulate-able cookie traders... heck, at least people can easily see what they 'like' on facebook.

mozialla recently almost voted to ban everything but session cookies in firefox (it was a 6-5 against the move) that would have been the end of cookie exchange on that platform... you know that chrome and ie are going to be all about the cookie data in an effort to fend off facebook, perhaps facebook should woo mozialla away from the google teet and invest in their own 'privacy regulated' browser.

yes, i literally think that facebook could easily flip the entire debate around if the chose to engage with it.... but either way, mass nano-targeting, here we come http://bit.ly/dhvcup

4. proprietary databases are not 'pluggable' at drop.io we are talking a lot as of late about a world of 'pluggable pieces' that is evolving... i have been pushing for clarity on what people really mean by 'pluggable', since all of capitalism from the pin forward is about how communication technology enables greater specialization -- everything and everyone is a pluggable piece....

but i do think that something does feel different now, i think that perhaps what is happening is that 'pluggable pieces' are becoming ever more swappable... so that the breakdown of one piece is generally recoverable / re-routable. this is still a partial/dangling concept.

- econtalk: a great podcast.... recommended by evan schwartz and brian myers... some people think it could use an editor, but fun content.

- some tech pundits like to reference this study about school pickup times in israel... basically, a school started charging parents for picking up their kids late, and instead of picking them up on town, parents took it as daycare and picked up their kids even later --- this is not an interesting study, all it proves is that the school under-priced the market for daycare :), if you want the kids picked up on time, charge above market rates - $1k an hour should get your kids out of school precisely on time.

- louis menand's american studies is an awesome book... i read the metaphysical club the summer before college and liked it... but american studies was a much snappier and more enjoyable read.... coming off the book oliver wendell holmes is a new hero, he requires more investigation.

- anathem by stephenson is also excellent - only part way through (it is very long) but enjoying it... it does require a lot of thought to back out what is going on as an allegory for our world, but fun

- http://letter.ly/lessin-stream: i struggle what to do with scraps of ideas, and end up leaving a lot of drafts in gmail.. i am going to try to run them through as a high velocity letter.ly letter... i wasn't sure how to price it, should it be cheaper since it is just fragments of ideas, or more expensive because it is more 'timely' -- anyway, it is at $0.05 a month... a bargain for now.

- oh "why are all these jewish kids in nyc buying up .ly domain names" - well put

- spotify > rdio simply because the interface is easier to use because it assumes you are searching for songs by an artist and backs you out to artist pages, which for me is the right base action instead of dumping into a mixed list -- sweat the small stuff.

- best kitesurfing center in amnityville ftw -- if you want to kite in nyc, i am going every weekend this summer... it is a perfect spot for beginners / intermediates and the water is warm

- i need to finish... "the island at the center of the world" read the first half earlier this year, that will happen tonight.

- letter.ly is getting a lot of attention there was a great post in gigaom, and a lot of people have strong feelings about the supposed 'private letter trend' --- i am going to pass off the project to get the needed development effort into it to make it really good...

- i believe in marketplaces for everything but per a great dinner with my college roommates (referenced above), things start to break down when we socialize risk and assets, like health care... or off-shore drilling -- i don't see a way out of that path.

- buy more vibrams and get a standing desk i am up to 3 pairs of vibrams which are occupying about 80% of my footwear hours, they are great. our office is now about 80% standing... the cheap version only requires about $10 for cinder blocks

- (finally a partial rehash if you actually made it all the way down here) ownership is for the underprivileged: i gave this talk at the oreilly foo and tedx, i will get the video eventually -- but for now a dump / rehash as i continue to work it through...

since at least the magna carta we have existed in a world where the ownership of land and other physical assets has been tightly equated with freedom and held up as the ultimate goal towards which to strive. legally guaranteed "ownership" of assets started as a privilege only of the king and has steadily expanded over the last few centuries to the vast majority of western citizens in one form or another driven by all sorts of communication, legal, and technological innovations.

we now stand at a major inflection point in history where capitalism coupled with cheap communication is moving us in the opposite direction. rather than being something towards which to strive, the direct ownership of assets is rapidly becoming an inferior good relegated to those who do not have the financial means, credit, or sophistication, to "rent". examples ranging from amazon web services, to netjets, to airbnb all demonstrate that we are moving to a new economy where those that can will pay a premium for the privilege of avoiding ownership... and the "ownership" will truly become an inferior good.

this is a big deal for our economy, our government, and our society.

original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010