Sometimes 140 characters isn’t quite enough to have a nuanced back & forth.
A few minutes ago I tweeted that the more I think about it, the more I think that Microsoft buying Minecraft is an incredible, incredible (and surprising) move by Satya Nadella that is very very long range in thinking.
I got some pushback in my Twitter stream that says Microsoft doesn’t need another game franchise, has a strong Xbox line, etc etc.
But here’s the thing: Minecraft is less like Halo, and a lot more like Lego. It’s not a game, any more than Lego is just a toy. It’s cultural, and foundational.
When I talk with just about any techie maker that I know today, then can remember back to when they first started playing around with how things work, with how to make their own new things. People in my generation can remember, vividly, when they started playing D&D and how they built those worlds. How they set up their little Lego guys in all sorts of scenarios. And what computer they typed (copied, generally) their first program into. The generation after mine remembers that, but built on the web & Netscape. The newest generation can tell you about their first mobile app building experience.
So here’s the thing: the next generation of makers — 5 or 10 years down the road — they’re all building worlds in Minecraft today. Just look around. Watch what the most interesting kids around are getting obsessed about. Take a look at what they’re building, and the levels of complexity they’re grappling with before they even really can grok what they’re making.
And Microsoft buying Minecraft — and, hopefully, investing in Minecraft in a way that also lets it stay independent and vibrant — says, very clearly, that Microsoft wants to stand, again, with the makers.
Lots of reasons to be skeptical, cynical, pessimistic, or whatever. And anyone who knows me or my background knows that I’ve been very skeptical of, if not combative with, Microsoft through most of my career.
But with this move, Microsoft is saying they are with the makers — the next generation — and that’s a smart, wondrous, and optimistic start to Satya’s leadership there, seems to me.
“The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” —Jonathan Larson
We compare business to war so often, we hardly notice. “Battlefield promotion.” “Let’s go on a retreat.” “More wood behind fewer arrows.” “Captains of industry.” “Alliances.” Even the origin of the word “company” is…
"As of July 31, 2014, approximately 2.5% of the stellars have been granted to employees and consultants of the Foundation under a 4-year vesting schedule, meaning 0.625% of the initial 100 billion stellar endowment of the nonprofit will be earned by employees and consultants working at the Foundation each year until the total 2.5% is earned in 2018."
So they’re establishing a new store of value & currency (stellars), and in the initial establishing grant, setting aside some for early compensation of people involved in creating it and making it more valuable — in other words, they’re creating a self-funding mechanism that is wholly aligned with the value of the currency.
Super, super interesting idea, and I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like it before. (One question I do have is whether you really want the stewards of the foundation incented to make the currency as strong as possible, rather than to take a more balanced approach, but at this early stage, it’s probably not that relevant a question.)
Also very interesting how they funded it:
The Foundation received a loan of $3,000,000 from Stripe which was subsequently repaid with 2% of the stellars. The Foundation is allowed to use up to 5% of the initial stellars to fund operations (including the loan repayment).
It takes a lot of enlightened self-interest & foresight for the folks at Stripe to do this — again, not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it from a new company (or even an established one).
Being involved in Mozilla, then pculture.org, and now Code For America, I’m super, super interested in how to make non-profits (more properly tax-exempt, but in this case the high order bit is the mission orientation rather than the tax status) durable & self-sustaining. This is going to be a very interesting organization to watch.
Also, huge praise for the straightforward & open way they launched & are talking about what they’re doing. Kudos.
A couple of months ago, I did something that I’d never done before — walking in San Francisco between meetings, I lost my glasses. I was wearing my sunglasses and just completely lost track of the ones I wear every day. As anyone who knows me a little bit IRL knows, I’m more or less useless without my glasses — very high prescription, and everything I do is visual, basically.
So I wore my sunglasses to my next meeting (awkward!) and tweeted about the experience (as one does).
As usual, lots of helpful suggestions came as a result (this is my sincere experience of Twitter, not snarky at all), but the one that surprised me was from someone named Jon Schuller, who works for VSP, offering to help. That seemed a little odd, since I’ve known VSP as an insurer previously (and not someone we use at our place now), so I kind of ignored it, but Jon was persistent, found my e-mail address online, and sent a note there, too.
Turn out that VSP has become more than just an insurer over the years, and now owns many of the frames lines as well as a bunch of optical lens labs around the country.
Anyway, Jon offered up VSP’s resources to create not just 1 pair of new glasses for me, but also a pair of sunglasses. They turned out great, and I’m very grateful to Jon and VSP, plus Dr Gold here in the Bay Area, for taking such good care. I have a complex prescription, and they were patient and careful and at the end of the day put together a very good product for me.
Jon was incredible in his persistence and follow through, even when I exhibited, shall we say, less than ideal responsiveness.
I learned a lot, and ended up with a pair of great glasses, and appreciated their generosity immensely.
Really like Carousel from Dropbox so far. And excited to use it with others as it gains adoption. I think it’s the best photo saving and private sharing system to date. (I’m of course partial to Instagram for broadcast.)
But it begs the question for me of whether anyone will tackle the “all pictures” problem - much trickier.
We are sort of an odd case I expect, but take pictures and videos with 2 phones and 3 “regular” cameras, and have about 1.2 TB of data across about 90k photos.
Local spinning media attached to our iMac is the clear answer now, but that can’t be the future, can it?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I live online. I don’t really mean where I hang out — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr — I mean where & how I express myself in all my various aspects. (And obviously, by extension, how we all do.)
That probably needs a little explaining, so some background:
I started blogging about 10 years ago, on Typepad. That was an interesting time for me personally — I was just leaving my own startup, Reactivity, I was exploring a ton of interesting things online, playing a lot of World of Warcraft, starting to get interested in Firefox & Mozilla, which I would join a few months later.
And then I saw Joi Ito’s blog — it was sort of a revelation to me. It was a collection of his writing, of course, but also had the music he was listening to from last.fm, where in the world he was from Dopplr, his WoW info in some detail, and the conversations he was enabling via comments. It was amazing to me — because in a lot of ways it represented Joi’s online persona. But it was a little difficult then to piece together all of that in a way that looked good, and reflected a real personality. He had it custom built. And I hacked together my own, with a little help, on top of Wordpress — that’s what eventually evolved into john.jubjubs.net, which is nominally alive, but not very active. (And I’m considering mothballing it now.)
As I got more interested in Twitter and more involved with Tumblr, plus Instagram, I moved most of my activity over to those platforms. Connecting publishing to audience was a revelation, and the reblogging/retweeting semantics provided interesting amplifications that just weren’t really possible previously. Not to mention the quick hits of each of these — so quick to post a quote, or an image, or a picture of where I was, or to reblog someone else’s great content.
And now I tend to write on Tumblr, Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc, and to post photos primarily on Instagram and push them to Tumblr, Twitter & Facebook, depending on the subject & the context.
But I don’t feel like I have much of a home anywhere anymore. I feel spread out on the web, diffuse. Tumblr for some things, but not a lot of them. Medium for others, but not really for posting pictures from a Stanford baseball game.
And then when you think about native expression on mobile & tablet, not much help. You’ve got things like Storehouse & Steller, for better native storytelling, but they don’t really scratch the itch. Maybe about.me?
This feels like an extremely important thing to me. For better or worse (I would argue mostly better), we’re living more & more of our lives online — feels like we need a new, modern, accessible place to call home that’s natural both on the web and native.
After 9 years of being a part of Mozilla, I wanted to let folks here know that as of last week I’ve left the board of directors. I’m hopeful about the future of the organization — both the products and what it stands for — as there’s really nothing like it in the world.
But it’s time for me to focus on other work, so I’ll just note that I’m grateful to everyone I got to collaborate with during my time involved with the company and the project. It’s been a singular experience for me, and I learned and enjoyed much.
Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of it and continues to be.