“Web” Category

The Web will go away! …And?

Watts Martin, on the web going away:

That last part doesn’t require any “dominant platform”; it just requires open data standards.

September 27th, 2011

Out of Mind

Darren Murph:

And then there’s the stuff we simply can’t know about. I’m surmising that Netflix is on the precipice of locking down a few streaming deals that’ll have everyone smiling. Reed knows good and well what you want — you want more new content available for Watch Instantly, and you want more television shows to appear in a more timely manner. I’d wager that he’s working on it. Hard. And by getting the laggard of the bunch off of his mind (and onto that of Andy Rendich), he’s in a much better position to accelerate the service that everyone actually cares about. Fast forward five years, and I’ll bet that hardly anyone’s clamoring over Qwikster at all.

September 20th, 2011

Big Bath

Megan McArdle on Netflix:

So maybe the idea is that while customers are already mad, and analysts gloomy, you might as well make them as mad and gloomy as possible.  The DVD business has to die eventually, so do what you can now to hasten the demise, even if it alienates a few more customers. Meanwhile, use the opportunity to herd Netflix customers into the streaming service, while creating a new brand eventually gives Netflix the psychological distance they need to shut the DVD business down.  (We’re not pulling a service!  We’re shutting down an unprofitable business unit.  It’s not even called Netflix!).  

September 19th, 2011

Netflix Spins Off DVD Rental Business

Well, you can’t blame Netflix for moving too slow.

Netflix’s Reed Hastings announced on their blog tonight that they are separating their streaming and DVD rental businesses:

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently. It’s hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”.

I suppose you could read this as a panicked move in response to the steep decline of their stock after news came out that they would lose Starz’s movies for their streaming service, but I don’t think that’s it. If anything, this move could further destabilize their stock, rather than reassure investors—it’s a huge change, and if you’re down on Netflix’s streaming business, you’re going to be even more negative on the company as a whole after this.

They want out of the DVD rental business and this is a large step toward the day when they’re out of it completely.

September 18th, 2011

Helvetindex Cards

I’m a little late here, but Aaron Mahnke’s released something pretty neat: Helvetindex Cards.

They’re nice little index cards for taking notes, to-dos, or doodling new ideas on.

September 12th, 2011

The New Gowalla

Gowalla is changing focus:

When you load up Gowalla, the first thing you see is still a main activity feed. Here you’ll find the activity from your friends. Because Gowalla isn’t completely pivoting away from their core location functionality, much of the data and social connections remain intact. But instead of a stream of check-ins, you’ll notice people hanging out together. They’re checking-in, but they’re also taking pictures and talking to one another in clusters that are known as “Stories”.

The main middle tab is now “Guides”. Here you’ll find curated travel guides for various places around the world. For example, if you load up the app in San Francisco, you’ll see the San Francisco guide, as well as the East Bay guide and the Stanford guide. You can quickly scroll through other guides not near you as well. And Gowalla has the ability to make special guides on the fly. For example, they made a TC Disrupt guide for event-goers.

Interesting idea—turn all of this data that we have about where people are going and how much they like the place into relevant guides to where people should visit when traveling. There’s going to be a lot more of this kind of stuff, where we’re creating higher level knowledge based on the mountains of data we’re creating every day.

September 12th, 2011

Advertisers Might Like That

Tim Carmody, on the Amazon tablet:

You sit on the couch and flip your fingers across the screen like you were thumbing through a catalog or a magazine. But every image and advertisement is connected to a digital store, powered by Amazon. With one click, you’ve bought it: Either it’s delivered to your machine immediately, over the air, or is delivered to your door in less than two days.

That’s one way to get advertisers to embrace a device.

(Via Tory Briggs.)

September 7th, 2011

Tools and Toys

Shawn Blanc’s got a new site, and it’s called Tools and Toys.

Neat idea, and there’s already a bunch of great items on there.

August 30th, 2011

What does the Amazon tablet need to do?

Marco Arment questions whether an Amazon tablet needs to do productivity apps at all:

If Amazon can deliver a $249 tablet that does a serviceable job for reading books, browsing some top newspapers and magazines, watching movies and TV shows, and playing some casual games, that’s going to be very attractive to a lot of people.

This debate centers on where Amazon plans on positioning their tablet. If they view it as an iPad-like tablet, where it can replace a PC for most use cases (web browsing, email, calendar, address book, word processing), then it almost certainly has to include those applications and do them somewhat well. If, rather, they see it as a casual use device (reading, media and games), then there’s little need for it.

Basically, you can sum it up like this: does Amazon want to build a post-PC device, that can replace a computer for most intents or purposes? Or do they want to build an accessory device? There’s good reason to think they would be better off going with the latter.

August 29th, 2011


Inkling, a digital textbook platform for the iPad, is getting a few new features:

Inkling’s technology delivers interactive textbooks that include the ability to collaborate, add multimedia and communicate within content. The startup adds another layer to online textbooks by adding 3-D objects, video, quizzes, and even social interaction within the content. Inkling’s sync technology lets students collaborate in real time by sharing their notes and highlights with one another. And students can see comments from their friends and professors right alongside their own notes.

The newest version of the platform has made established ‘Study Groups’ within textbooks, where students can ask questions and add comments anywhere in the book with classmates, professors and others who are reading the same book using Inkling. Inkling has also added ‘expert’ notes to the book, allowing students to get access to their notes and comments.

For two of my courses this semester, I’m using only digital textbooks—and one of them is an Inkling book. I’m really excited to use it, because there’s so much potential on the iPad to make textbooks much better learning tools than they are in print. Inkling is taking advantage of some of them, and I can’t wait to try it out.

It’s a bit risky, of course; it’s still cheaper to rent textbooks than it is to purchase their digital versions, and there’s a very real chance that I won’t be able to access the textbook in the future because of format obsolescence or because Inkling doesn’t survive. Nonetheless, though, this is absolutely the future.

August 24th, 2011

Malik Reports Microsoft Was Pursuing Motorola

Om Malik reports that Microsoft was in acquisition talks with Motorola, too:

Our sources say that Motorola was in acquisition talks with several parties, including Microsoft for quite some time. Microsoft was interested in acquiring Motorola’s patent portfolio that would have allowed it to torpedo Android even further. The possibility of that deal brought Google to the negotiation table, resulting in the blockbuster sale.

Smart—if underhanded—move by Microsoft, if true: by talking to Motorola about acquiring them, there are two outcomes, all a net-positive for Microsoft. The first is the talks go well and they go through with it and purchase them, and now have even more patents to use against Android; the second possibility is they force the already cornered Google to overbid for Motorola and potentially damage their Android platform.

Heads I win, tails you lose at its finest.

Interestingly, Malik also says that Motorola found Google a more acceptable home because Microsoft had no interest in running a hardware business, and was only interested in their patent portfolio.

Google says they are going to keep Motorola operating as a separate company, but it’s going to be very difficult to keep Google and Motorola’s operations separate. The next time Google wants to make a flagship Android device to demonstrate what the platform is capable of, their natural partner will be the company they already own—but somehow I don’t think the U.S. government, or Google’s Android partners, are going to like that idea so much.

August 15th, 2011

Quotes From Google’s Android Partners

Google published quotes from a few Android licensees about Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility.


We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.

This might be the first link I’ve ever posted where you don’t need to click through. All of the quotes say precisely the same thing.

For some reason, the word “creepy” comes to mind.

August 15th, 2011

Sunken Treasure

Chris Martucci:

I wish that all writers would “raise the bar,” so to speak. I doubt that this will happen. Writing seems to degrade as time progresses. I have considered before the possibility that good writing has not worsened in itself, but rather, since technology makes it possible for an unprecedented number of people to publish their thoughts, good writing has been lost, buried amongst a sea of mediocrity.

August 13th, 2011

Jeff Bezos’s Patent Reform Ideas

Jeff Bezos has a few excellent ideas for how to reform our patent system:

Much (much, much, much) remains to be worked out, but here’s an outline of what I have in mind:

1. That the patent laws should recognize that business method and software patents are fundamentally different than other kinds of patents.

2. That business method and software patents should have a much shorter lifespan than the current 17 years — I would propose 3 to 5 years. This isn’t like drug companies, which need long patent windows because of clinical testing, or like complicated physical processes, where you might have to tool up and build factories. Especially in the age of the Internet, a good software innovation can catch a lot of wind in 3 or 5 years.

3. That when the law changes, this new lifespan should take effect retroactively so that we don’t have to wait 17 years for the current patents to enter the public domain.

4. That for business method and software patents there be a short (maybe 1 month?) public comment period before the patent number is issued. This would give the Internet community the opportunity to provide prior art references to the patent examiners at a time when it could really help. (Thanks to my friend Brewster Kahle for this suggestion.)

Two and four are brilliant. Reducing patent lifespans to 3-5 years would instantly make our current patent problems much smaller, because not only would patents be invalidated rather quickly, but because their lifespan is so short, people would have much less reason to file them in the first place.

By the way, note the date on this.

August 12th, 2011

Shawn Blanc’s T-Shirt

Shawn Blanc is selling a t-shirt, and they look sharp.

August 12th, 2011