October 06, 2005

mary meeker, queen of data

Mary Meeker's web2 talk was a great spurting firehose of fascinating market data. Drink deeply of her slides: www.morganstanley.com/techresearch.

"Broadband and the mobile Internet are the 2 most profound tech cycles ever." So saith Mary, Queen of Data.

Posted by Gene at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

jonathan schwartz at web2

Jonathan on utility/grid computing (rough paraphrase as usual):

We're going to open up our $1/hr grid service soon, just around the corner. It has taken us longer than we hoped... When you look at a financial services company that wants to do high end monte carlo simulation, you’re talking about a 500 page contract on a deal for 10,000 cpus, on an airgap network, integrating with their infiniband, etc. Our initial mistake was thinking that was the belly of the market. But the commercial, self-service on the web with paypal model looks more attractive. We saw an interesting rush of demand last couple of weeks in Texas with hurricane Rita, oil & gas companies wanted to get their work into our grid, they didn’t have time for 500 page contracts, and we sold out the initial infrastructure. The economic opportunities are much more attractive in the next generation of the business (grid) than they are today (box business).

Jonathan on blogging:

Transparency is a competitive weapon. I provoke, but I am never unauthentic. I’m very careful what I say, as an executive officer of Sun. I have certainly caused a few coronaries in the Sun legal department. Legal doesn’t read my posts before I publish them, though one of them would like to, he’s called the general counsel. He’s got my cell phone instead.


Posted by Gene at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

terry semel at web2

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's Web 2.0 talk has been well blogged elsewhere. He didn't say much that I found surprising, but I did choke a bit on his views on China and censorship. Semel said, very roughly:

International publishers that distribute in China, should observe the laws of China (and other countries). No matter if you are a media company, an internet company, whatever, there are laws in other countries that you have a legal and moral requirement to observe. Sometimes on a personal level I wince… China is already the 2nd largest internet population, 400M mobile devices, so you can't ignore it. Part of our role in any form of media is to get our ideas in there, let them see our Western culture. It’s like the Iron Curtain, where we slowly over time put our culture, our ideas in there and it changed the Soviet people's views of the West.

So what I heard between the lines was, we need to follow their laws whether or not we think they are bad, because it's a huge market. Anyway, we'll win in the long run through cultural imperialism.

Did I get that right?

Posted by Gene at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

bran ferren at web2

The first time I saw Bran Ferren speak, he talked about how he helped take the Declaration of Independence on a tour of the USA for the 1976 bicentennial. Yes, that declaration, the real original document. It was an engineering tour de force. Funny, now I wonder if I remember it right, since the web doesn't seem to remember this. Anyway it doesn't matter because he's still a national treasure of an engineer.

His web2con talk went very approximately like this.

This talk is probably more appropriate for the Web3.0 conference. Something like, "What sucks now that will suck less in Web3.0?"

He draws inspiration from his friend Alan Kay, who has been saying for some time that the computer revolution hasn’t happened yet. And Bran agrees, we haven't got very far in the last three decades of computing. But what’s holding up the revolution? What will it take to enable changes to computing that are profound and irreversible?

It’s not Moore’s Law, memory, displays etc, these are all on continuing improvement trends.

The SW world has some hard problems e.g., context awareness, getting computers that understand what you want, or even knows that you are there at all. As Negroponte says, the infrared urinal has a better sense of your presence than your computer does.

We are in the dark ages of human interface, have been for the last 25 years or so. Doug Engelbart’s famous demo worked better 40 years ago than your computer does today. Yes, custom responsive interfaces exist for specialized uses e.g., MIDI keyboards, sketching tablets, game controllers etc; pretty much everything else uses the KVM and that’s pretty strange.

Simple, intuitive interfaces are not the best for subtlety – kazoos are simple and intuitive, where violins are enormously hard to learn but can be sublimely expressive. We’re using kazoo-class interfaces for computers.

So Web 3.0 is going to need a breakthrough in interfaces. How do you break out of the KVM mold? Applied Minds is working on some ideas. He showed pictures, quickly.

A super high res , room-sized down-projected display for overhead imagery, 20-40Mpixels at 60-100fps. You walk around the projection on a raised catwalk.

An Earth interface – a large spherical projection of th eEarth, maybe 4 feet across, at 4Mpixel, 100fps, controlled by an air bearing bowling ball haptic interface on a pedestal. "People like to hold the world in their hands."

A touch-table display, including a version that warps in the z-direction to provide dynamic tactile capability. [I think Danny Hillis showed this video at ETech last time]

A high res 20Mpixel, 60 fps “desktop” display workstation with gesture recognition and various haptic interfaces.

And finally the famous SmarTruck military offroad vehicle.

Yes, I want that Web 3.0 SUV interface. Now that's experience design!

Posted by Gene at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2005

rudy rucker: futureware

Rudy Rucker is one of my absolute favorite writers, thanks to his brilliant and twisted *ware series. That stuff really bent my brain, highly recommended to fellow scifi fans. Anyway, he gave a talk this week at the IFTF futurecommons event, and I missed it, argh! Fortunately, Rudy posted extensively on the event and has a podcast of the talk. How posthumanly cool is that?

I gave a talk at a think-tank called the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto yesterday, for a group called the FutureCommons that meets there once a month. It was a nice alert audience; I felt happy to be among tech dreamers. Michael Liebhold introduced me. He's into this cool new thing called "locative media", which involves computer realities that are pegged via GPS to realworld locations.

My fellow author Howard Rheingold was there. He decorates his own shoes with spatters of acrylic paint. He says he used to draw patterns, but with splatters, you don’t notice when bits chip off. Before my talk, the group of maybe fifty people stood in a circle and played an encounter-group game. Good old California.

Posted by Gene at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2005

stewart brand on ray kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil gave a talk last night in SF, part of the Long Now Foundation's SALT series (Seminars About Long-term Thinking). He's one of the most visible (and credible) of the "singularitarians", adherents to the notion that accelerating technology is leading to machines with intelligence that will exceed human intelligence, perhaps as soon as the year 2030. He also has a new book out this week, The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology. Whether you think Kurzweil is brilliant or crazy, he is certainly an intellectual provocateur of the first order. Unfortunately I couldn't go, but Stewart Brand published excellent notes:

Attempts to think long term, Ray Kurzweil began, keep making the mistake of imagining that the pace of the future is like the pace of the past. Pondering the next ten years, we usually begin by studying the last ten years. He recommends studying the last twenty year for clues about the rate and degree of change coming in the next ten years, because history self-accelerates. That's Kurzweil's Law of accelerating returns: "technology and evolutionary processes progress in an exponential fashion."

Thus, since the rate of progress doubles every ten years or so, we will see changes in the next 90 years equivalent to the last 10,000 years, and in the next 100 years changes equivalent to the last 20,000 years. It is always the later doublings where the ferocious action is. The many skeptics about the Human Genome project being done in 15 years thought they were being proved right at year 10. They were astounded when the project came in on schedule. "People look at short sections of an exponential growth curve and imagine they are straight lines," said Kurzweil.

Noticing that his audience was astute as well as large (650 in the Herbst), the speaker gave a dense, fast-moving talk. He said that as an inventor and entrepreneur he found that "you have to invent for when you finish a project, not when you start--- you need to figure out what enabling factors will be in place when your product comes to market." That was what started him studying trends in technology. In rapid succession he showed on the screen graphs of technological advance in microprocessors per chip (Moore's Law), microprocessor clock speed, cheapness of transistors, cheapness of dynamic random access memory, amount and cheapness of digital storage, bandwidth, processor performance in MIPS, total bits shipped, supercomputer power, Internet hosts and data traffic, and then on into biotech with cheapness of genome sequencing per base pair, growth in Genbank, and further on into nanotech with smallness of working mechanical devices, and nanotech science citations and patents.

They ALL show exponential growth rates, with no slowing in overall progress, since new paradigms always arise to keep up the pace, as transistors replaced vacuum tubes in computers, and 3D molecular computing and nanotubes will replace transistors. "Everything to do with information technology is doubling every 12 to 15 months, and information technology is encompassing everything."

I was impressed that the growth curves ignore apparent shocks. The 1990s dot-com boom and subsequent bust seemed like a big event, but it doesn't even show up as a blip on Kurzweil's exponential growth curve of e-commerce revenues in the US. At dinner with Long Now sponsors after the talk, he proposed that the stringent American regulations on stem cell research will not slow the pace of breakthroughs in that field, because there are so many political (overseas, for example) and technological workarounds. The fate of individual projects is always unknowable, but the aggregate behavior over time of massive and complex arrays of activity is knowable in surprising detail.

Kurzweil expects this century to provide dramatic events early and often. "With the coming of gene therapy, before we see designer babies we'll see designer baby-boomers." By 2010 he expects computers to disappear into our clothing, bodies, and built environment. The World Wide Web will be a World Wide Mesh, where all the linked devices are also servers, so massive supercomputing can be ubiquitous. Images will be project right onto retinas, helping lead toward true immersion virtual reality. Search engines won't wait to be asked to offer information. By 2030 he presumes that nanobots will occupy and enhance our nervous systems. The brain will have been reverse engineered so that we will understand the real structure of intelligence. A thousand dollars of machine computation will exceed human brain capacity by a thousand times. Shortly after that intelligence begins to break completely free of its biological constrictions and carries humanity into suffusing energy and matter toward potentially cosmic scale (IF the restricting barrier of the speed of light can be worked around). Kurzweil noted that among "singularitarians" he is known as somewhat conservative, expecting a "soft takeoff" instead of hard takeoff.

In the Q & A he dealt with the usual "but what about limitations of resources?" questions with predictions that nanotech would increase efficiencies and make materials so fungible that what are seen now as severe limitations will fall away. Only one question made him pause, and a very long pause it was, sort of a stunned silence. I asked him (through Kevin Kelly), "As everything goes faster and faster, is there anything that will or should remain slow?" Finally Kurzweil said, "Well. You know, even meditation will go quicker." Another pause. "But it might SEEM slow," he said politely.

--Stewart Brand

Posted by Gene at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

August 10, 2005

purple cow guy at hp

Purple Cowmeister Seth Godin is speaking to folks at HP this morning (well actually yesterday at this point), in the context of brand innovation and experience creation (huh, there’s a surprise). We’re sitting in a corporate auditorium in California; he’s beaming in live via satellite webcast from an undisclosed NYC location.

Seth founded Yoyodyne, the first online direct marketing agency. I wonder how he came up with that name, perhaps from the dynamics of a yoyo? (Up, down, plain, fancy, but always, always spinning?) [Update: Ah. Witty Pynchon reference, actually.

I enjoy reading Seth's blog, his online voice is witty and charming. It turns out that he's like that live as well. The following impressionistic notes from his talk were my best attempt to gather up the free-flowing stories, sound bites and interesting nuggets. It's a stream of consciousness capture; sensemaking will have to come later. As always, this stuff is not the official position of my employer and no seekrits are revealed.

Ok here’s Seth:

He’s wearing a conservative dark blue suit, white shirt, bright orange tie, +hp brand love button, sitting in front of a cluttered bookshelf.

He shows a kid’s bath toy that his son loved, with a big suction cup on the bottom. At one point while playing with his kid, Seth stuck it on his head, which got a ton of laughs, but the suction cup left a big ugly red circle on his bald pate that lasted for weeks. Companies need to hear the message: you can take actions that get everyone excited at work, but the fear is they will leave a big ugly red mark on your career. You need to get over that fear.

They guy who invented sliced bread didn’t do so well; no one needed sliced bread. It took Wonder to market it, tell the story, spread the idea.

Our culture is all about idea diffusion – we have organized society to disperse ideas more and more widely, more quickly than ever. Especially through TV.

Example – Revlon was the first cosmetics company to buy TV ads. These drove adoption in distribution channels, growing the brand. Revson bought more ads, fueling the cycle.

This is the “TV-industrial complex”.

Today, the TV-industrial complex is broken. We are saturated with diversity, clutter. How many varieties of soda? Oreos? How many new blogs every day? No one has to listen to you anymore. And marketers deal with the clutter by creating more clutter. Clutter is out of control. There is now a 180-page magazine (Hydrate?) about water.

Admit it, as marketers we are spammers. The old model of, we walk up to people, get in their face and demand money, is broken. It’s not working. Part of the reason why: everything is good enough. The buying criteria are now mostly “close and cheap”. HP can’t win this game. You have to be better, so that people want what you have. By the way, no one cares about you. We wanted people to care, but they do not.

“I like the model of brands and advertising and logos and all; I like that model, but that does not mean it is not going away.” Dunkin Donuts vs Krispy Kreme. United vs. JetBlue.

“My wife has transportation narcolepsy”, that’s a fictional disease where you fall asleep on any trip.

Cows are boring. But what if a cow was purple? It would grab incredible attention, because it would be remarkable – worth remarking on. By definition, people are going to talk about it.


- Hummer vs. Mini – had a lot in common. They did great for 5 years, because they were remarkable, edgy, unique.

- Lincoln Mercury has to spend heavily on marketing because they make average cars. BMW makes remarkable cars, and puts that marketing money into their cars.

- Little Miss Match sock company – Makes 11 year old girls go to school and say “wanna see my socks?”

Everyone is in the fashion business – it’s about changing something that is already good enough, and turning it into something worth talking about. When everyone has what they need, all that’s left is what they want.

At Tiffany’s the jewelry is free, it’s all about the little blue box. The box is the free prize, the bonus, the thing people talk about and spend 4x too much money on.

The Acer Ferrari laptop is one of the slowest ones they make, but one of their biggest sellers. It’s the story that people are buying.

Phones are fashion – ringtones.

So what do you do once you have a fan?

Why doesn’t HP build permission relationships with our customers? Market to people that want to be sold to. Seth really likes his HP printer, but HP doesn’t even know he owns it. Seth would be willing to bring some value to a relationship with HP, but there is no relationship.

Spectrum of permissions:
Situational permission – “do you want fries with that?”
Intravenous permission – “the doctor can inject anything she wants, and bill you for it.” The perfect business model ;-)

Sometime in the future, Ford expects to get 25% of its revenue from subscriptions.

Book editors spend their time finding readers for their writers. Magazine editors find writers for their readers.

The power of Google – 5 years ago, a search on “more evil than satan himself” returned 5000 hits for Bill Gates (actually, the Microsoft home page).

For certain things like phones, even the Macarena (?), the engine of the product’s spread is built into the product – viral/social connectivity, extensibility, personalization, remarkableness.

Digital cameras – 3-4 years ago, photo finishing was a $14B industry, bigger than music. It was a bad experience. Digital says, you can already see the pictures without spending money, so share the best ones on the web. It’s about sharing. Blogs are about sharing. Starbucks is about a place to meet. FedEx is about a sender and a recipient working together.

Giant thought: You may no longer target customers. Now: Step 1 - Make something remarkable. If you can’t do that, go back to step 1. Step 2 – Talk to people who want to hear from you. Step 3 – Make it easy for those people to tell their friends. Everyone in HP is in the Marketing department. Step 4 – Make it easy for people who found out about you from their friends, to raise their hand. Give them a way to give their permission to talk to them.

Example: Apple, Steve Jobs Macworld keynote is a global word-of-mouth event. They are a fashion company (but they don’t put out enough fashion – another story). iPods – the music is the same, the ipod is in your pocket, but everyone has those white headphones on. Must…buy…the white headphones. Apple did an audible audiobook for people who wanted to hear about it. Or they should have done, not sure.

People want to hear a story.

Riedel wine glasses – expensive ($35), each glass carefully shaped for a specific varietal. The wine experts agree, wine in a Riedel glass tastes better. Except that in a blind test it tastes exactly the same. “Marketing makes wine taste better.”

People want to believe in the story. You can’t trick people into believing, like GM did with SUVs. You have to make the lie true, not a manipulation.

3 rules and a story

1. Cheap teapots. Target invests in teapots at $30, and it is remarkable. Kmart sells a boring but serviceable teapot, no one ever talks about it. The design pays for itself, over and over again.

2. Safe is risky. The safest thing you can do is be risky, and the riskiest thing of all is to be safe.

3. Very good is worthless. Being in the middle does nobody any good. It is only at the edges that real growth comes.

Story: Hallmark has about 1000 stores. July is a lousy month for Hallmark. Core Hallmark users buy 52 cards a year. Don, a brand manager, started selling collectible Christmas ornaments in July, for just one week. Most people thought this ridiculous. A very few people wanted to hear a story about this, bought into the collectibles concept, bought the ornaments. Hallmark took their names and addresses, in order to send them an alert for next year’s ornament. The collectibles story is something the person then talks about at Christmastime. Don sent out a postcard to his list, and in 24 hours, sold $100M worth of junky ornaments. He’s now the chairman of Hallmark.

When Seth finishes, people clap. Can he hear it over the link? Apparently.


Q: Are all your examples true?

A: Yes, they are all factual. Getting someone to change their mind is really hard. His stories are true, but they don’t always resonate.

Q: Does this apparently consumer oriented marketing approach work for the enterprise?

A: Corporations buy what they want, what makes them feel powerful, what will make them look good etc. It’s still about telling stories that they want to believe.

Q: What would make our printers be more fashionable or remarkable?

A: Creating an emotional connection drives people’s need to talk about it. It’s hard to talk about printers. What are we buying – the print? Would we talk about where the print came from? How do we re-invent what it means to get something from the screen onto an object, in such a way that people want to talk about where it came from?

Q: HP has a reputation as being safe, how do we get out of that perception?

A: HP doesn’t have as much of a reputation as you think, for anything. The slate is blanker than you think. Safe is an ok story. But small is the new big… the big HP brand makes it harder to tell stories around the edges (like Mini and Hummer). How to reinvent things so that we can innovate at the edges of the brand?

Q: HP is going through internal changes, yada yada.

A: The Buffalo Sabres would pull their goalie when they were tied, in order to get more talent on the ice. This is the moment when we should pull the goalie and go on the offense. We don’t need another idea, take the scary ones we have and go do them. We don’t have a lot to lose in trying new things, just need to go. Web 2.0 is being invented by unemployed folks in a garage, with nothing to lose.

Q: Would you agree Dell’s story is about low price?

A: Dell’s story has nothing to do with low price. Dell’s story is being able to tell your friends you didn’t fall for a fancy story. It’s just a computer, it’s a commodity and you don’t need all that fancy sales stuff. It’s OK to be a cheapskate. But there are people who want a different story too. Apple – “this is who you are”

Q: Lexus is just “very good”, why isn’t that bad?

A: When Lexus came out, it was completely remarkable, and had a big story. “The smart man’s Mercedes.”

Q: What’s the difference between a trick and a story as you describe them?

A: When people find out the trick, people feel ripped off. Nestle told 3rd world mothers to use formula, and children died. A story makes you feel good about what you bought into. The iPod is a story – even though you can get the same music from a Rio, you don’t feel ripped off. Seth didn’t get the HP iPod story -- what were we adding to the experience?

Posted by Gene at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2005

vast swath of industrial mayhem

The last time I saw John Thackara was in a Tokyo basement bar; today he was in Palo Alto for the west coast leg of his book tour for In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, and stopped by IDEO to give a short talk on human-oriented design principles. Alex Pang already posted a nice summary of the talk at Future Now, which I recommend to you.

As for the book, I'm reading it now and I believe I will end up recommending it to you as well. But I'm only about 50 pages into it, so give me a few more days. I will say that the first 4 pages of the first chapter ("Lightness") were quite provocative and got me hooked rather quickly. I have already quoted the following startling assertions to several people:

"One of the hidden costs of the misnamed silicon age is the material and energy flows involved in the manufacture and use of microchips. It takes 1.7 kilograms of materials to make a microchip with 32 megabytes of random-access memory -- a total 630 times the mass of the final product."

This is source on this is a 2002 Scientific American online article, which in turn references Williams et al, The 1.7 Kilogram Microchip: Energy and Material Use in the Production of Semiconductor Devices from the ACS Journal of Environmental Science and Technology (surely you JEST?), which is unfortunately for us a subscriber-only article. But this does not seem to be an idle claim. Also:

"[The] amount of waste matter generated in the manufacture of a single laptop computer is close to four thousand times its weight on your lap. Fifteen to nineteen tons of energy and materials are consumed in the fabrication of one desktop computer."

Sources on these statements are the book Natural Capitalism by Hawken, Lovins and Lovins, and Wolfgang Sachs, director of the Institute for Climate, Change, and Energy, in Wuppertal, Germany who says (as quoted on the netfuture list):

Preliminary results of a study undertaken by the Wuppertal Institute on the resource use of desktop computers show that electronic equipment is environmentally much more expensive than usually assumed .... Numerous components require the use of an array of high-grade minerals which can only be obtained through major mining operations and energy-intensive transformation processes. As it turns out, no less than 15 - 19 tons of energy and materials -- calculated over the entire life-cycle -- are consumed by the fabrication of one computer .... An average car ... requires about 25 tons.

Again, surprising figures apparently grounded in some amount of scientific analysis. So now I've got this notion stuck in my head, and every time I look at a computer I'm seeing ghosts of smelters and deposition furnaces and container ships and semi trucks, barrels of oil and vats of molten plastics, stacks of disks and rivers of solder, all trailing out behind the PC in a vast swath of industrial mayhem. Wow, thanks John for making me feel like a slime mold for helping to perpetuate the computer industry ;-)

Posted by Gene at 12:33 AM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2005

the birth of ringtones

Nice to see our Finnish friend Vesku getting props in the New Yorker for developing the first custom ringtone service and pioneering an entire new industry. Thinking of this, I dug up this quote from our Vesku mPulse interview from awhile back:

It was a Thursday morning in March of 1998. March in Finland is terrible, very dark and windy and rainy. I woke up in the morning with a terrible hangover. My phone rang, and it was the standard Nokia ring. De-de-de-de. I thought, My God, I want to change that thing. Then I thought: I'm sure I'm not the only one on the planet who wants to change it. Then it turned out that the Nokia guys actually had the technology to do it. And so we started planning. What sort of service would this be? Who would be the composers? It was only then that I approached RadioLinja (Finland's leading telco) to ask if they wanted the service. It took me six months to convince them. The payback time was under two months. And then of course, the rest is history. Today, thirty percent of all SMS messages in Europe are requests for downloadable ring tones. Back in 1998, no one could have imagined anything like that.

[from m-pulse magazine, november 2002]

I also have to blame Vesku for inviting me to my first ever business meeting held in a sauna, heh. I guess I can't pin the resulting salmiakki hangover on him though...

Posted by Gene at 05:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2004


gary snyder reading

"In the belly of the furnace of creativity is a sexual fire; the flames twine about each other in fear and delight. The same sort of coiling, at a cooler, slower pace, is what the life of this planet looks like. The enormous spirals of typhoons, the twists and turns of mountain ranges and gorges, the waves and the deep ocean currents -- a dragonlike writhing."

Posted by Gene at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2004

"strength and wisdom are not opposing values"

NPR has the goods: streaming audio of Bill Clinton's keynote speech at the DNC tonight (Real). Stirring political oratory. This guy is good.

Posted by Gene at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2004

the habitat chronicles

Here's a word you probably haven't heard in a while: Cyberspace. Go ahead, say it: Cyberspace. Does it feel strange, after all these years? Does it conjure up old fantasies and memories of days happily lost, wandering through a maze of twisty little passages, all alike? If so, then I expect you'll want to know that Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar are blogging.

Posted by Gene at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

almost nothing more about digital chocolate

There's a fresh article about digital chocolate, Trip Hawkins' new mobile gaming venture, on Nokia's communizine The Feature. It doesn't say much that hasn't already been said, and frankly that's not saying much. But the fredshouse oracle sez that some of you are looking for any new bit about this stealthy affair, so there you go.

The company is still operating somewhat in stealth mode, so Hawkins didn't give too much away regarding actual products under development. He did hint at work on creating a collection of digital characters that could be "used in multiple applications," and who would show up in a phone's icon set, in ringtones, in screensavers, as avatars, etc. "It's a good social community application, like NeoPets," he said.

Well, there's an ambitious target to aim for: digital chocolate as the NeoPets of the mobile industry.

Don't laugh:

In less than three years, Neopets has grown from operating on a single server to employing more than two hundred servers. Currently, the site peaks at just under a gigabit of bandwidth (the equivalent of approximately 700 T1's), and the number of registered Neopets accounts has risen to over 65 million by December 2003 (which is approximately 16 million individuals by Company estimates). The website receives more than 60,000 registrations daily.


Presently, there are over 100 games targeted at various age groups. Additionally, Neopets offers its members 63 Neopian Shops (created by the Neopets creative staff) from which members can purchase Items for their Neopets. The site also has 10 different worlds that are brimming with fantastic things to do. And, of course, equally important are the pages created by Neopets' members. In total, members have created more than 12 million pages of content, including more than 2 million pet homepages, 1 million guilds (clubs), and nearly 10 million members' shops.


The average time spent per person on Neopets is greater than any other site on the Internet, including Yahoo, eBay, MSN and AOL. Total pageviews per user on Neopets leads the entire Internet including all search engines, auctions and niche websites.Only Yahoo, MSN, eBay and Google have more total pageviews than Neopets.

I suspect Trip would be quite happy to equal these stats in his first 4 years of operation.

Posted by Gene at 02:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

the biologic of warren ellis

God, I sure wouldn't want to be Warren Ellis. Look at the kind of stuff that comes out of his head, I can only imagine what the rest locked up inside is like. Madness. Maniacal freaking genius madness. I love this guy.

Fuckit fuckit fuckit. The words lose their power, when they become a constant part of the urban soundtrack. The tat may be new, but the Fuckit Kid shows all the signs of having already tuned out the noise. Lavinia considers the boy. He's beautiful, in a crooked, dirty way. He's thin and wired and stupid and sniffs the air like an animal. It occurs to her that, on the days she'd forget to take her meds, he'd be attractive to her. The sort of boy she'd wipe her mouth on afterwards and toss back at the floor like a rag.

Sparrows skitter across the ground between them, playing ringtones.

She smiles, peels back her top to expose her belly. "Do you want to touch?" The words sound slow to her. She'd never realised, before she started experimenting with unmedicated urban experience, that everyone speaks slowly now. Sedated antishock drawl. He sniggers. Looks back at his crew, fuckiting off into the tangle of commuterhuman streams. Nervous now. Lavinia strokes her belly. "Come and feel it. It's weird."

Unmitigated futureprop of the worst kind, don't you want to live in his world?

Posted by Gene at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

talking art & tech with Beau Takahara

I had a great big discussion yesterday with Beau Takahara, the co-founder and CEO of ZeroOne: The Art & Technology Network. Beau has been fomenting creative revolution at the intersection of art and technology for many years, at places like George Coates, SFMOMA and The Tech. She's definitely a force to be reckoned with. I'd like to see her start blogging, I suspect it would be unique and good.

Among other things, we were talking about the contemporaneous emergence of so many new digital, connective and ubicomp technologies that may dramatically change our experience of the world, and how this creates a great need for cultural sensemaking. The arts provide ways to envision the possible and examine the human implications of a changing world. Artists create lenses through which we can perceive the world from new, unexpected perspectives. Art may also incite and admonish and delight and inspire us. In the new environment of pervasive technology, we deeply need all these things that the arts can provide. But we also need crossroads, places where artists and technologists can discover each other and find shared context. After talking with Beau, I'm hopeful that ZeroOne can make an influential contribution to this new sensemaking. This should be interesting.

Posted by Gene at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

howard rheingold at hp labs


Howard Rheingold gave a talk at HP Labs today, as part of a Distinguished Speaker series. Readers of Smart Mobs already know the story, but it was interesting to hear Howard starting to weave his more recent theme of Collective Action into the mix of anecdotes about texting, ubicomp and blogging. We had a good exchange over lunch about the value of blogging inside the corporation, as a bottoms-up, emergent way to tap into the hidden knowledge assets of a company; since I don't need to be told three times, I decided to start an internal work blog and to try to bootstrap an HP blogger community to put this concept to the test. So I guess we'll see.

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August 07, 2003

rock lobster, down! down!

That nice Joi Ito sure knows how to eat!

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