Tuesday, August 30, 2005

But Does It Cost Two Months' Salary?

But Does It Cost Two Months' Salary?
I can't wait until aggregated diamond nanorods (ADNRs), which is the first material ever created that is harder than diamond itself, makes it into the jewelry of tomorrow's hip hop stars.

It's the ultimate in bling!

The Gift Of Space

The Gift Of Space
Looking for the perfect present? How about sending your loved one's name to Pluto. I've already sent my kids names, and printed out their official certificates.

This is the kind of low-cost marketing that NASA needs to do more of!

Standing Up To The RIAA Bully

Standing Up To The RIAA Bully
I won't bother recounting the foolishness of the music industry. I just love the way that ballsy New York attorney Ray Beckerman has won himself and his firm a billion dollars worth of publicity by standing up to the RIAA's legal bully boys. Especially if Beckerman is able to recover his fees from the RIAA, the RIAA will be paying through the nose for the privilege of shafting itself.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Paul Graham: Attack Inequality, Kill Startups

Attack Inequality, Kill Startups

The redoubtable Paul Graham has a new essay posted, "Inequality and Risk."

In a bit of a departure from his usual focus, this essay examines the unintended but inevitable consequences of attempting to get rid of economic inequality.

"Economic inequality" is one of those terms which "frames" a debate. After all, who can be against "equality?"

Yet Paul shows in with clear, inevitable logic that trying to get rid of economic inequality kills startups.

Here's the chain:

Get rid of income equality ==> Take money from the rich
Take money from the rich ==> Decrease the willingness to take risks
Decrease the willingness to take risks ==> Kill startups
Kill startups ==> Decrease growth in new technology and new jobs

In summary:

"I don't think many people realize there is a connection between economic inequality and risk. I didn't fully grasp it till recently. I'd known for years of course that if one didn't score in a startup, the other alternative was to get a cozy, tenured research job. But I didn't understand the equation governing my behavior. Likewise, it's obvious empirically that a country that doesn't let people get rich is headed for disaster, whether it's Diocletian's Rome or Harold Wilson's Britain. But I did not till recently understand the role risk played.

If you try to attack wealth, you end up nailing risk as well, and with it growth. If we want a fairer world, I think we're better off attacking one step downstream, where wealth turns into power."

Democratic and Dictatorial Marketing

Democratic and Dictatorial Marketing

I really like Kathy Sierra.

Her latest post shows how marketing has evolved from the old-school 4 Ps to today's user-centric conversations.

What's fascinating is just how much of this evolution took place in the past 10 years. Back in 1995, when I first helped launch a company, we focused on things like article placements and direct mail. Today, my primary concerns are email marketing and finding a way to drive consumer-generated content on our productsw.

Kathy asked for a better term than "old-school" and "neomarketing." I think the best dichotomy is probably dictatorial vs. democratic marketing.

Today's best marketers understand that the buyer is an active participant, not simply an "audience."

Back To The Future

Back To The Future

There's just something about 1985. Engadget has come out with a frighteningly hilarious (at least for me) version of what Engadget might have looked like in 1985, complete with reviews of Windows 1.0, the Amiga, and of course, "tapecasts" from CES.

I can't wait until someone does a remake of Back To The Future, in which typical 2015 teen Marty McFly travels back in time to the remote past of 1985. Gentlemen, start your flux capacitors!

Set Lightning Bolts To Stun

Set Lightning Bolts To Stun

As the mission of the U.S. military transforms from beating back a Soviet invasion of Western Europe to aiding the war on terrorism, non-lethal weapons have become an increasingly important part of its arsenal.

So it does make sense that the government is funding the development of weapons such as "phasers" that use lightning bolts to stun, microwave projectors that make people think God is talking with them, and Raytheon's Active Denial System, which makes you feel like your skin is on fire, without causing actual physical harm.

On the other hand, the perfect logic of this activity still doesn't detract from the unintentional hilarity in this description of the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration, or FPED, the world's largest trade show for counterterrorism technology.

"A man who introduced himself as a buyer for the Turkish military asked if he could get a free sample of Bitar's lasers, or barring that, could he borrow one and return it if the Turkish military wasn't interested. Bitar said that wasn't likely.

'We're not going to do that,' Bitar chuckled. 'We're not Wal-Mart.'

But Bitar noticed that foreign militaries were the most interested in his weapons, and officials from Asia, the Middle East and Europe had all visited his booth. 'It's kind of weird, especially because when it comes to weapons, you'd rather arm your own country than someone else,' he said.

But he shrugged and added, 'A customer is a customer.'"

Yet after reading the whole article, I had a hard time repressing the urge to start my own company to pursue dreams of developing phasers, Spiderman's Web shooters, and other sci-fi and comic book weapons. I'll bet I could get a great price for lightsabers!

Deja Vu All Over Again

Deja Vu All Over Again

Do you remember back in the first Internet bubble, when people could get funded based on using the right catchphrases (B2C, eyeballs, viral marketing)?

It got so ridiculous that people created automated elevator pitch generators which stitched together a bunch of buzzwords into an eerily plausible-sounding sentence.

Of course, after the market collapsed, most people figure that hell would freeze over before things got so frothy again.

Well, start warming up your space heaters, because it's getting awfully cold down there.

The cleverly named odio.us (and if you don't get the joke, you're really out of touch) shows that the Web 2.0 bubble may very well be just as blather-filled as its predecessor.

On the other hand, business ideas like "emergent wiki-based filtered blog infrastructure that leverages grassroots talent" and "social-networking-aware open source p2p targeted advertising cellphone app that leverages network effects" sound like they might have legs....