Re: our class discussion yesterday

Susan Orlean argues that emotion can absolutely be conveyed on Twitter: “I think the economy of expression, if nothing else, reminds you that it is entirely possible to say something of substance in extremely few words. *If nothing else, Twitter is just a very useful reminder that you don’t have to go on ad nauseam to make a point or even to say something of real emotion. *I’m not sure that I’m writing my book in 140-character spurts, but I do think that I’ve been reminded of how efficiently you can really make points. And I think that it has an effect — as you sit down to write something considerably longer, you appreciate how well you can telegraph something.” Read the rest of her interview with Megan Garber at Nieman Journalism Lab:

MicroFinance For Students: A Topic With Which We Can All Empathize

In all seriousness…

In this week’s readings, Walter Lippman’s Force and Ideas essentially argued that human brainpower is the only force that can truly eradicate war. But that for some reason, war has trumped our smarts. Por ejamplo:

The thoughts of men which seem so feeble are the only weapons they have against overwhelming force. It was a brain that conceived the gun, it was brains that organized the armies, it was the triumph of physics and chemistry that made possible the dreadnought. Men organized this superb destruction; they created this force, thought it, dreamed it, planned it. It has got beyond their control…Men can master it only by clarifying their own will to end it, and making a civilization so thoroughly under their control that no machine can turn traitor to it.

That piece was written in 1914, so how interesting that, today, The Economist ran an article about all these microfinance firms popping up and throwing money not at businesses, but at students. The article begins:

LENDING to get a student through college is a far better way to fight poverty than making small-business loans,” says Ganhuyag Ch. Hutagt, until recently boss of XacBank, a Mongolian microfinance lender.

Nicholas Kristof also writes alot about education’s potential to dominate poverty and war and all the scary stuff. Especially where it concerns women.

You can read about it here , here , here , here aaand here.

Archaeologists say the Incas, brought down by the Spanish conquest, used khipus — strands of woolen cords made from the hair of animals like llamas or alpacas — as an alternative to writing. The practice may have allowed them to share information from what is now southern Colombia to northern Chile.
These young men are engaged in a 21st century form of protest. They constitute a rebellion collectively organized through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. (One of the reasons India finds it difficult to respond to the movement is that it has no obvious leaders with whom New Delhi can negotiate.) Text messages are blocked throughout the Kashmir valley, so young rebels find one another and hsare news of protests through Facebook pages like “I’m a Kashmiri Stone Pelter.” They don’t trust newspapers or television but debate and share sometimes unreliable reports of the latest shootings on Twitter feeds. Their propaganda medium of choice is the YouTube video, setting handheld digital footage of protests and clashes to music like Everlast’s “Stone in My Hand.” Says Rashid: “The local media—they are caged. There is only social media.”
TIME, September 20, 2010, “Kashmir’s New Warriors.”

Build It, Make It, Start It (Now)


Amanda Peyton, who first crossed my computer screen as the winner of the Abrams Research Social Media Survey Contest (for reals)  and again a few months thereafter  as the girl who snuck a Foursquare logo onto the Daily Show, is pretty badass. I figured that out at the time (her winning suggestion was really smart) and was reminded a few weeks ago when her named popped up on our ‘XX in Tech’ email list and I remembered why I knew her, Googled, and realized she was even more badass than I knew: hacker, entrepreneur, MBA, astute tech writer, paid newsletter-er, and, as of this past summer, Y-Combinator-er. It is of this last -er that I write. 

Peyton wrote an eminently shareable post yesterday called “I’m a Female Y Combinator Founder and You Can Be Too.” Don’t be fooled, it’s not just for ladies. (I am reminded of that old tagline for Secret deodorant: “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” Related: I remember commercials from the 80s.) Her gist: Being a tech entrepreneur is, essentially, game-able - if you pay attention to what actually works. Some of her tips:

1. “Build some shit. Make something people want. Start today.” -It may be predictable to boil it down to “Find a need. Fill it,” but that’s only because that’s basically what it means to launch a successful business. Says Peyton: “Don’t know what people want? Guess. Or ask.” And then, build a webste so you can actually get it to them. Can’t code? Feh. “Seems to me the most accomplished entrepreneurs start out making ugly, barely-functional stuff. And then they get better.” (NB: That’s not an excuse to cheap out, btw. From another Peyton post: “The tech cannot suck. The product must work and it should be fast. Every single dollar spent on amazing engineering talent is worth it.”)

3. Master The Favor Economy - Every person you’ve heard of was once someone you’d never heard of. Right now, that could be you! And if that’s you, best of luck getting people to return emails/write you up/give you money. Peyton wisely notes that everyone’s got something to offer, and essentially reverts back to the advice above, i.e. “find the need and fill it.” Then you can ask for a favor! “How can you ask people for stuff when you have nothing to offer? Here is what you can offer: talent sourcing and customers/exposure. The two hardest things for any tech startup are finding good engineers and getting traction. So if you can help on either of those, the founder will be eternally grateful.” Making good introductions and connections makes you very useful (that’s initially why Dan Abrams tapped me to help launch Abrams Research, because of my not-inconsiderable network) and writing about people - fairly and smartly - gives you cred, relationships, and Google hits. (Anyone want to write something for Mediaite, give a holla.) 

5. Do Your Homework - Malcolm Gladwell says it takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. Peyton suggests spending about 20 listening to entrepreneurship podcasts and 15-20 lurking on Hacker News, to start (#2 on HN right now, creepily: “How to keep someone with you forever.” Yes, I clicked. But it reminded me of “The Game.” Gross). There’s plenty online to avail yourself of - if you want to learn. Which you should. You can get up any curve after a few hours of research. When you find yourself spending half the day getting sucked into the rabbit hole, you’ll know you’re on the way. p.s. If you really want to understand it, blog it as you go, with links. That will save the info for you in one handy place and jog your mind when you return to it. Why do you think I’m doing this? 

Those are just a few of her tips but there are more. This post on “Popularity Modeling” is, IMHO, an essential companion. And here’s where you order her newsletter, for which I just signed up. Oh and her startup is called Message Party, a location-based chat service.  

p.s. “I’m a Female Y Combinator Founder and You Can Be Too” is currently #11 on Hacker News. 

p.p.s Today was my first time on Hacker News. 

(Reblogged from changetheratio)

UpNext 3D Cities, The Future of Mobile Maps. Convergence with the LEV? Or perhaps Din’s million-dollar audio walking tours? The only problem: how to split the winnings with Jason.