Monthly Archives: February 2012

Is Spring Here Yet?

I’m noticing the days getting longer, which I’m thrilled about, but the grey cover is starting to get to me.

When is the sun going to come out for a bit?

Adventures in Fundraising

My first “real” investor pitch for digital.forest was in the lobby of the Seattle Westin hotel in the fall of 1999. There were five of us all huddled around a small coffee table to the side of the hustle and bustle.

My gut was doing somersaults and I was having a severe case of stage fright. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it through this.

It was me, my friend Peter, who I had recruited to be a VP in the company, Michael, our advisor and lead investor who turned into a board member, and two prospective angel investors.

Michael had set up the meeting and had coached and worked with us to develop the pitch deck, which was a PowerPoint presentation that we had printed and handed out.

Taking a deep breath, Peter and I flipped through the presentation, stumbling and groping for purchase, trying to find the way to close an investment. We were sidetracked several times by flipping paper to answer questions. My stomach dropped even further.

Angel 1 was ebullient, loud, engaged, and asked many tough questions. Angel 2 was quiet, subdued, and seemed very distracted, like he wanted to be somewhere else. He didn’t ask many questions.

Angel 1 seemed very interested, but when we did the ask, he declined, saying he wasn’t sure we had our shit straight.

Deflated, and thinking we just crashed and burned, I turned to Angel 2 and timidly asked him. He chucked the presentation onto the table and then said, “Yeah, I’m in for a unit.”

My gut performed another somersault, but in a good way.

Seattle Skyline

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Social Media

Like. Share. Tweet. Pin. Rate. Check in. Plus one.

It seems like whatever you’re doing or wherever you go online, you’re being prodded to do something. The main impetus of course is about getting you to add some metadata to a database so the owners of the database can make some money off the data set, usually by selling targeted advertising, goods, or services to you and others.

This quid pro quo of doing something for someone else’s financial benefit tends to be tacit, generally because most people don’t quite understand the value of their online actions to other people and they’re doing what humans do naturally – act socially. Most people willingly make this tradeoff because the social and internal reward is much higher than any feeling of being taken advantage of.

My biggest beef with many of these services is that I’m the product (my information) being bought and sold and that the creeping bias of these systems is towards isolated pools of data tucked away behind a myriad number of logins. A decade ago, I think I had about three online logins: Amazon, Cisco support, and Sun support. Now, I’m sure I have 20 or more across all the sites and services, plus at least a couple dozen one-off’s for sites that I’ll never go back to.

It’s freaking work to juggle all these, not to mention keeping the passwords straight. (Future rant – sites that still can’t handle extended characters like * | $ % and so on in passwords. The worst one I have today is a financial site that only allows letters and numbers; really!)

I’m finding that I’m pretty burned out on most of it.

I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook’s walled garden model. Every walled garden in the past has fallen, leaving behind sad remnant communities. Facebook is a ways from that still, but it feels to me like they’re approaching the top of their parabolic arc.

Twitter I like, (way too much according to my wife,) but it also feels like it’s in a bit of a rut. Their spam problem seems to be growing, and I’ve found that I’m more conservative in following people now due to the burden of having to do some due diligence to discern if a given account is a spam front or authentic.

Pinterest is very visually interesting, but the interaction model still feels like work to me. Plus, I’m obviously not roaming around sites that have great graphics often enough to add to the boards I’ve set up. It just feels like another space to keep up.

Google+ was way too much work to get set up, so I gave up.

I’ve done a few product reviews here and there, but really, logging back into a site after I’ve completed a transaction is about the last thing I want to do.

Foursquare and Facebook check-in? Noise to me, and the modern equivalent of collecting refrigerator magnets from places you’ve visited. The first few are fun reminders, a dozen or so are fun for the kids to play with, but the whole collection is just more junk to go into the dumpster when your estate is liquidated.

I used Tumblr for a bit to try and aggregate everything, but it was finicky, and kept falling over, and stuff wouldn’t update, so I gave up.

One of these days, this’ll all get sorted out. There will be various paid or free cloud services to chose from and you’ll have granular privacy settings on everything you share into and out of it at the time of publication, and you’ll be able to easily shift from one service to another, unlike the painful extrication that’s required today.

Or not. The ultimate irony.

Totally Blocked

I’ve been blocked lately.

I open up project files, type a few new sentences, and then I delete them out of frustration because it’s all crap. No matter the genre, no matter if I try and write a middle or end, no matter if I try and do a character or locale exposition, no matter if it’s dialog or setting a scene, it just won’t flow.

Dammit.