No place quite like The Mission in SF. More interesting than SoMa for sure. :-)
Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur? — David Foster Wallace (via theatlantic)
I just want to say after hearing about the work you are doing I think you are all amazing. You give me hope that there are people out there who want to do something or the good of America. You give me hope that here might be a world for my daughter. — Eric N., post on Code for America’s Facebook wall (via codeforamerica)
Stop trolling American innovators. Patent trolls hurt everyone.
Learn more: http://wh.gov/patenttrolls
Making mistakes is the key to making progress. Of course there are times when it is really important not to make any mistakes — ask any sugeon or airline pilot. But it is less widely appreciated that there are also times when making mistakes is the only way to go. Many of the students who arrive at very competitive universities pride themselves in not making mistakes — after all, that’s how they’ve come so much farther than their classmates, or so they have been led to believe. I often find that I have to encourage them to cultivate the habit of making mistakes, the best learning opportunities of all. They get “writer’s block” and waste hours forlornly wandering back and fourth on the starting line. “Blurt it out!” I urge them. Then they have something on the page to work with.
— Daniel Dennett. 2013.
(Title: Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking.)
(Source: meditationsdaily, via trevorloy)
Uh oh. He appears to be formulating an escape plan. He’s gonna get hop-ons, obviously.
Observation: on my current iPhone home screen, 3 default Apple apps (phone, App Store, settings), 2 from Dropbox, 2 from Yahoo (!) if you include Tumblr. Just 1 from Google, Facebook.
Times are changing.
The right way to start the long weekend. Playing ball with my man.
Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue,” Mr. Obama said. “But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands. —
I hope that Obama & the administration, plus future administrations can live up to this sentiment. Perpetual war, perpetual fear, perpetual conflict, perpetual violence — these are all changing us much for the worse.
It’s almost unbelievable to think that 9/11 was a dozen years ago now, and it’s both so easy and so tricky to really tell how we’ve changed in reaction. It’s cost us a lot.
Obama Seeks to Narrow Terror Fight - NYTimes.com
Not a bad view (at Lookout Mobile Security HQ)
Early (!) this morning, MessageMe put up a new post on their blog describing their user growth in the first couple of months of release, and their new $10M financing round that we led, with participation from their other existing investors from the seed round, including True Ventures, First Round Capital, Google Ventures, Resolute.vc and others.
We were fortunate to participate in that seed round through our Discovery Fund, so have gotten to know Arjun & Justin & the team over a longer period of time than usual, and have been blown away by how committed they are to building great products & a great company.
Their goal is to help revolutionize the way we communicate in our world of always on, always present, always connected devices. You know, NBD.
I love the team, and I love the product (go get it!) — as you use the product, the first realization you’ll have is that it’s fast. Really fast. Just try it.
The next thing you’ll start to realize — or the next thing I realized — is that it’s just incredibly useful, and thoughtful in the way it’s built. My wife & I use instant location sharing all the time — a couple of taps, and we know where each other is.
But the really enduring thing for me so far is how much fun it is. Taking a few seconds to think about a song or an image to send can often communicate way better than many sentences could.
We’re living in an incredible time of change technologically & socially. The ways in which we communicate are all changing, too. What I love about the way that MessageMe has started, right out of the gate, is how natural and fluid what they’ve built is, and how it feels like an extension of the in person, pen & pencil, or digital communications we’ve had for years, but moved into this ubiquitous realm of mobile.
And as they wrote in their post, others seem to be liking it a lot, too. A million users in their first 10 days; 5 million in the first 75. Processing 1,500 notifications/second now. It’s an amazing start.
But it’s just a start, and that’s clear from everything the team has done and has plans to do — lots to come! We’re very happy to be involved and working with the company on building something groundbreaking.
In the meantime, try out the app & see what you think!
Tumblr & Human-scale Design
Lots of the chatter this morning is on the $1.1B headline, or the story of Marissa’s Yahoo, or Tumblr’s massive growth & relevance to youth, or New York’s continuing emergence on the world’s tech stage.
But I want to talk about something else that I find remarkable about Tumblr, even today, after about 2 years of working with the team there. What I find remarkable about the company is that it continues to design and build products that are human scale.
I’ll describe what I mean with an architecture analogy — most of the houses that we all live in are human scale. They’re built to fit the way we live. As you build bigger & bigger buildings, sometimes houses, sometimes public structures, they tend to focus more on “being architecture” or accommodating very large groups of people, or showing off. It’s the rare big public space that can relate to normal humans — they just outgrow us at some point.
That’s why we love the buildings that can relate — one of which, appropriately enough, is Grand Central Station in New York.
With digital interfaces, as you get big — and Tumblr, with it’s 105 million blogs and 300 million visitors each month is, decidedly, massive — you tend to lose your human scale, too. Interfaces get cluttered with new features & competing priorities — they tend to let the organization of the builders show through as opposed to the primacy of the user. Or they can become super precious, designed for hanging in a museum instead of daily use.
What I’ve loved about working with Tumblr is that they’ve kept this human scale in every aspect of the product. You can see it in the dashboard UI, you can see it in the creation tools, you can see it in the way they communicate with users, and most of all you can see it in their lineup of mobile products. It’s all just fundamentally more human in aspect than anything I’ve ever seen at this scale.
Here’s an example (of something they shipped today!) in their mobile interface:
The wonderful thing about that very small interaction (creating a new post) is that it matches the way your thumb moves across the screen, from bottom right to top left. It’s a tiny nuance that just fits right. There are hundreds of touches like this across everything that Tumblr makes.
It’s a testament not only to David, who’s a wonderfully smart & thoughtful designer & builder, but the whole team there, including folks I’ve been lucky to work with like Derek, Ari, Peter, Bryan, John & others. And also to Bijan Sabet from Spark Capital, who first convinced David to really go for it, and really grokked the product very early (like he’s done many times at this point!) — thanks for the introduction to the team, Bijan!
The picture above sort of sums it up for me — I took that picture in Tumblr’s elevator lobby when I was there for December’s board meeting. It was just so perfect, so understated, so elegant — so human.
For those who don’t know the reference, it’s from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) — Charlie Brown is sent out to get a Christmas tree, and this is what he brings back, despite the fact that the lot was full of bigger, shinier, nicer trees:
But Charlie & Linus took a chance on the smaller, more organic, more human tree. They got a lot of grief from their friends for not picking the shinier ones, naturally. But Linus put his blanket around the tree, and they all started taking care of it, decorating it, coaxing it into life.
And what they got at the end was this:
Clearly superior, in my view, and clearly human.
Congratulations to the whole team at Tumblr for the accomplishment, and for building such a massive global phenomenon, but in a way that’s so fundamentally human scale. That’s something to be awfully proud of. Looking forward to watching you humanize even more of our digital lives.
Sums up the dynamic pretty well, in many ways. :-)
“The great workplace dilemmas of our time…”
Holy smokes. DK on Jeopardy. Nice!
Tumblr/David Karp on Jeopardy
Fuck yeah, evolution.