Ellen Pao is a great object lesson for the Dunning-Kruger Effect

There’s a lot of perspectives on if and why Reddit is in its death throes right now (Duncan and Eric at SiliconANGLE have been doing a good job covering the story). I’m personally of the opinion that they bought themselves a stay of execution by releasing Pao, but only time will tell if it pulls them from the death spiral. One particularly poignant opinion I read this evening came from Chuq Von Rospach, a blogger and community manager for Cisco. He said: “For a person in Pao’s position, not knowing how your own system and software works is a massive fail. Not bringing in someone in PR to help you craft the message and get it posted appropriately is a big fail. There were organizational failures that other parts of Reddit let this happen without someone hauling her into a room and saying “you need help. Let’s figure this out” is a big fail; or perhaps they tried and she wouldn’t listen. Either way, huge failure. That Pao initially tried to spin this in the press instead of work this out with the community is a fail that’s a combination of her background working through the politics of executive boardrooms and her VC background — but it’s still a fail. All of this leads to the inevitable conclusion that she was the wrong person to be leading Reddit (and now, she no longer is), and that the board made a bad hire bringing her in.” Without naming names, there are a lot of organizations that can benefit from the object lesson that is Ellen Pao’s Reddit right now. Putting a manager...

What Does “Verified Account” Actually Mean?

“The @BarackObama Twitter handle is maintained by OFA [Organizing For Action], that is the political organization that was the offshoot of the campaign,” Earnest told Jonathan Karl of ABC News, who asked whether the president reads or approves his tweets. “And that is a Twitter handle that is maintained independent of the White House.” I read these words this morning during my daily “what’s up in the world” scan of the headlines. Aside from the implications of carelessness by our current Executive Branch, I wonder if it’s fair that Twitter maintain the certifications for the President’s twitter account. The “verified account status” is a social cue to social media users that if the actual person implied to own the account doesn’t personally maintain it, they at the very least endorse and agree with the content on this account. It’s clear from the official statement (and other comments to the press) that the @BarackObama twitter account isn’t technically even owned by the president, but is the “brand account” for the Organizing for America SuperPAC. Should this account be verified? If this was Miley Cyrus’s verified account, let’s say, and she said some things that were off message for her via the social media channel (let’s say she made a social faux pas, something homophobic or racist). If she came out in the media the day after and claimed that her manager hired a PR or marketing firm to run her account with no oversight or buy in from her, could or should Twitter maintain the “verified account” status? Keep in mind that we’re not talking about minimal or limited oversight, as is the case with some...

This RSS Reader Puts Out

I’ve had at least a few people pitch me their RSS readers in the last few weeks telling me how their method of news consumption is so far superior to the Google Reader method. If I thought that GReader sucked, I wouldn’t be upset that it was gone. I’d have migrated away years ago – it was certainly easy enough to do. Don’t pitch me your RSS reader or newsreader by telling me you’re better than GReader. It’s not going to work. It’s like telling me that I’ll love this girl you’re setting me up on a date with because she’s so much better than my wife who just died. Not the best pitch method....

A Few Thoughts on Maintaining Audience and Creative Integrity

Justin Kownacki put together a thought provoking piece, and addresses what is, to me, the most interesting aspect of not just writing, but anything that involves audience building (which for me, includes building blogs and video vehicles like like and on demand programming). He quotes George Saunders (emphasis, Justin’s): "If there are 10 readers out there, let’s assume I’m never going to reach two of them. They’ll never be interested. And let’s say I’ve already got three of them, maybe four. If there’s something in my work that’s making numbers five, six and seven turn off to it, I’d like to figure out what that is. I can’t change who I am and what I do, butmaybe there’s a way to reach those good and dedicated readers that the first few books might not have appealed to. I’d like to make a basket big enough that it included them.” But then Justin asks the question: "What if the tactic you employ to reach “those good and dedicated readers the first few books might not have appealed to” actually alienates the audience you do have?" This is a question I ponder regularly. I began my blogging career as a youngster in the 90s creating pages on Tripod. I moved on to Diaryland, chronicling to an audience my weird life working with nerds in the dot-com era boom and bust cycle. Eventually I started more heavily newsblogging around the time of 9/11, and turned it into a career as a freelancer. Then I focused on one type of tech while I was at Mashable, and here at SiliconANGLE, we’ve gone with...

Facebook’s Launching an External Ad Network (or are they?).

I’ll make this quick, because I’ve spent most of the evening searching my old coverage of Facebook from 2007 in an unsuccessful bid to back up with written word what I remember predicting repeatedly back then – that Facebook would (or should) launch an external ad network. I distinctly remember feeling a bit embarrassed when I had to publish this post at Mashable, that detailed precisely what Project Beacon was (and wasn’t – that is, a threat to Google). I remember using the line “you can never go wrong underestimating the foresight of the Facebook ad team” several times over the years. All that to say, I’m pretty sure that I’ve made the prediction a few times – just not sure exactly where that prediction showed up. My guess is that it’s lost to history in one of the mis-managed Mashable podcast archives. Why did I waste all that time tonight looking up what I said way back when? Because Mathew Ingram at GigaOm published a post that supposedly confirms that Facebook is finally doing just that – launching an external Ad Network. He says it’s because of the new Privacy and TOS that Facebook is implementing that puts the writing on the wall that this is becoming a reality. I didn’t find his logic nearly as convincing, though, as I found these court documents that John Furrier came across last month. We never published anything on it, mostly because we’re really not in the business of highlighting it when our competitors are involved with Wall Street scandal, but if you do peruse the linked documents, you’ll find that the Wall Street...

Facebook Owes You Nothing

Richard McManus and Robert Scoble have been poking around at the edges of this most recent Facebook privacy scandal. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the whole thing in a sentence: If you used Facebook in 2010 or earlier, you may have used your profile wall as a way to message your friends. I didn’t, and no one I know except Robert Scoble did, but that’s what’s being said, apparently. Richard McManus said: “This is the story that won’t go away, unfortunately for Facebook. Now Robert Scoble has highlighted it. The big question remains though: has anyone yet conclusively proven that these old messages were in fact private messages? Initially I thought that, but in all the cases I’ve seen it has been shown to be old wall posts (hence my post on the matter: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/yes-facebook-this-was-a-privacy-bungle-heres-what-you-shouldve-done.php). If anyone has conclusive evidence, please share it.” I haven’t seen a single shred of evidence anywhere. And I’ve looked. As usual, this is FB users getting butthurt about change. That’s to be expected. As I said the other day on NewsDesk with regard to MetroUI, change is scary on a human level. Privacy on a Social Network: Security via Obscurity There is no “reasonable expectation of privacy” any time you post something to a social network – ever. Security through obscurity simply doesn’t work – and posting something to a wall that almost no one ever reads doesn’t make sense if you want the data to stay private forever. If the data matters to someone other than the intended recipient, that someone will seek it out. FB never promised anyone that *any*...

Is Big Data Scary for Most People?

This is a post about Big Data, and our inevitable near future. [View the story “Is Big Data Scary for Most People?” on Storify] Is Big Data Scary for Most People? This is a post about Big Data, and our inevitable near future. Storified by Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins · Tue, Aug 14 2012 16:54:20 I’ve been covering the Big Data movement since before we called it that over at SiliconANGLE. It’s interesting to see the veil of realization start to dawn on the general public as they realize that Big Data isn’t science fiction, but reality. How Big Data Became So Big – UnboxedFirst, here are a few, well, data points: Big Data was a featured topic this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with… I had a conversation on Facebook earlier today with some folks that might be considered social media gurus, but for whatever reason still seemed essentially Luddite, and fear the privacy implications of a Big Data world. Sun on Privacy: ‘Get Over It’The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer privacy issues are a "red herring." "You have zero privacy anyw… The Cube – EMCworld 2012 – Scott McNealysiliconangle Scott McNealy said (a long time ago): “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” When he said this in 1999, it was shocking. Over a decade later, I’m surprised by folks who haven’t adopted his viewpoint. There will be a schism, I fear, in society. On one side, there will be people who have adopted and make use of every advantage technology has to offer. On the other side, there will be...

May Day in Berlin, and the Evolution of Photojournalism

It’s strange to see what is normally a spontaneous event happen with such predictable regularity as the May Day riots in Kreuzberg, Germany.  Fabrizio Bensch, a blogger/photojournalist for Reuters, talks a bit about how the coverage of the event has evolved since the late 80’s, when he started covering the occurrence. Share undefined Reuters Fri, May 04 2012 15:46:22 “Since 1987, May Day has become known for very violent riots in Berlin’s Kreuzberg or Prenzlauerberg districts. This annual ritual is repeated but with less violence in recent years. Three years before the Berlin wall came down, violent riots broke out in West Berlin by radical leftists during a demonstration in Kreuzberg, where protesters set cars on fire, built barricades and looted a supermarket.” Share undefined Reuters Fri, May 04 2012 13:52:22 “To work in such an environment requires good planning and experience in how to cover riots. In the old days when we shot on film, one of the photographers left the scene as soon we had our first riot pictures, to develop the film, print or later scan the negatives and then send on the wire.” “After we changed our technology in 1998 to digital, we were able to stay longer on the spot. One photographer collected the memory cards of his colleagues and would start editing and filing from one of the Turkish Kebab restaurants in Kreuzberg.” Share undefined Reuters Fri, May 04 2012 15:46:22 “Today we have a much more comfortable workflow – no laptops anymore to edit and file the pictures to the desk. We are able to send our images directly from the camera using a wireless...

Spambot Generated Apparel: The Assault on Editors and Authors

I like to consider myself something of a media critic. To do the work of running an editorial organization the size of SiliconANGLE, you have to be. We’re growing at a fast clip, and we’re blazing trails in journalism. I tried to flog a theory at SxSW a couple years ago that newsroom editors could see serious competition for their jobs not from other New Media disruptors, but from algorithms. That year in particular, there were a great number of upstart Flipboard wannabes treating their curation method similar to how Pandora picks your favorite music. Some of them were surprisingly effective. That trend has abated somewhat, but I still believe it lurks in the not too distant future. When I see things like what I saw today from internationally reknowned geek “jwz,” it certainly confirms my belief that algorithms have a lot more capacity for creative work than we previously may have believed (though perhaps my example may not be traditionally considered creative). Share “ Exterminate All Rational T-Shirts. Spam-erican Apparel: There is an entirely different order of product being… http://jwz.org/b/yhK3 Jamie Zawinski Thu, May 03 2012 01:56:24 ReplyRetweet JWZ’s post was a selection from a posting “Dis Magazine,” describing and commenting on the “techno-capitalism in effect at Zazzle.” The whole phenomenon, incentivized by affiliate programs, marginal profits and low cost custimization, effectively creates an assault on the role of the author. Share undefined Dismagazine Thu, May 03 2012 14:58:44 In a world where every possible wearable product design exists, and the only way to navigate to a possible design is to think of it, then type it into...

Tech Bubbles and the Amount of Fsck I Give

Share undefined Fbcdn Thu, Apr 26 2012 20:06:12 This weekend lacked a proper bitchmeme, so the blogosphere played out the debate of whether or not Silicon Valley in specific and tech in general is undergoing a bubble. Again. Share “ Is it a tech bubble? http://cdixon.org/2012/04/29/is-it-a-tech-bubble/ chris dixon Sun, Apr 29 2012 14:06:20 ReplyRetweet Classic quote from Chris’s post demonstrating the linguistic gymnastics that a VC will go through to deny the existence of a bubble: “Instagram seems to be the case study du jour for people arguing we are in a bubble. Reasonable people could disagree about Instagram’s exit price but in order to argue the price was too high you need to argue that either: 1) Facebook is overvalued at its expected IPO valuation of roughly $100B, 2) it was irrational for Facebook to spend 1% of its market cap to own what many people considered one of Facebook’s biggest threats (including Mark Zuckerberg – who I tend to think knows what is good for Facebook better than pundits).” Of course, Mark Zuckerberg never said anything of the sort, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story. Share “ @cdixon $870 Billion market cap? What bubble? Steve El-Hage Wed, Apr 25 2012 22:03:22 ReplyRetweet In case we’ve forgotten, we’re in an age where Facebook is going to be worth more than most companies in America at IPO, yet having driven far less wealth creation (aside from selling stock in the company) than most companies in America.  Share Disruptions: Start-Ups Keep Revenue at Zero to Cash In on Acquisition – Disruptions The gears...

Instagram is Facebook’s $1b Bribe to Valley VCs

Look, I’ve always derided pundits in the past for being trigger-happy on the “we’re in a bubble” talk, but when you objectively look at the tech sector today and two major acquisitions making headlines, you have to be blind not to notice that everyone’s drinking the same Kool-Aid. We had a major debate about the acquisition news this morning in the SiliconANGLE editorial chat room, but I threw out a few questions regarding the acquisition that no one had a ready answer for. I’ll use them as a launching point to discuss the topic today 1) Would it have cost Facebook $1b to devote an engineer or eight to replicate the functionality of Instagram? Obviously not. Let’s say Facebook is paying twice or three times the average salary ask I see for iOS developers online, and it costs $375,000 to employ an engineer who can write for iOS. Instagram had an eight-person staff size. The salary requirements to replicate that staff would run about $3 million a year. Let’s say that Facebook wants to accomplish what Instagram did in a 10th of the timeline, so they throw 80 over-paid engineers at the project; that’s still only $240,000,000 a year. Would it really take 80 Facebook engineers to develop and deploy a well produced application that utilized Facebook’s photo app functionality, and added sepia filters? I think the obvious answer to that is no, and the evidence I have for that are the sheer number of knock-off competitors there are for Instagram on every mobile platform marketplace. 2) What would it have cost Facebook to promote the heck out of...

… in which Jolie O’Dell trolls me. Again. [#yougotmegirl!]

If you read this blog religiously (and lets be honest, you don’t), you remember when Jolie O’Dell trolled me after SxSW that one time (so since you don’t remember, click through the links in that post, and get caught up). In general, I like Jolie. We’re friends on Facebook (which is to say: we’ve never met face to face, but we’re in the same industry and I think she’s interesting enough to pay attention to occasionally). I don’t always agree with her, though. More specifically, or perhaps accurately, I don’t always agree with her editorial. I sometimes get the feeling she trolls her audience in that way John C. Dvorak described to Dave Winer that one time. She has a way of taking totally unreasonable positions and making me believe, after reading her editorial, that she truly believes what she’s saying. Still, I can’t fathom that she actually believes that the right to free speech should be abridged, or that she doesn’t understand how the law she’s applauding not only violates the constitution, but threatens her livelihood as a professional writer. Yet here we have her today, on the pages of Venturebeat, writing an OpEd in favor of Arizon’s House Bill 2549 (that passed both houses of congress, by the way), which broadens the cyberstalking and telephone harassment laws to include public communication on any digital or electronic device. It’s being dubbed the “anti-trolling law.” So, in effect, Jolie O’Dell’s livelihood, her bread and butter, what she’s remembered for – is threatened. Her editorial is long and detailed. I won’t rebut it point-by-point because it doesn’t matter. Everything she...

Automattic Finally Monetizes (Seven Years Too Late)

Earlier today at John Battelle’s Web 2.0 Summit, Federated Media and Automattic issued a joint announcement that they were now able to offer publishers of WordPress.com’s free blogging service the ability to run advertising on their blogs. This is a break in tradition for Federated Media, since as an organization, they’ve never wanted to even open discussions with a blog unless they’ve been at a certain threshold of pageviews, usually in the hundreds of thousands. While WordPress.com has around 15 million pageviews a day, the average blog on the site receives just over 4 pageviews a day (yes, just four, as those 15 million pageviews are spread across 62 million individual blogs). The advertising program will be completely opt-in, so no worries on whether or not it will be foisted upon unsuspecting bloggers. FM Wins while Bloggers Lose Still, this program and announcement has a ring of selling out, and for what? When Blogger.com integrated AdSense all those years ago, folks like me were quickly excited by the prospect of financial reward for democratized media. As time wore on, it quickly became obvious to me and most of the rest of the world who tried that the only way to make serious money blogging was to gain “critical mass,” and mount up the pageviews. Granted, this was with Google’s CPA model, which only pays when an action takes place (something advertisers love and publishers sometimes tolerate). Federated typically works on a CPM model (most of the time), and thus may give slightly higher payouts to publishing partners, but only when inventory is filled. It’s also important to know that...

Spotify Mix: Good Ol’ Songs to Listen To at VMworld 2011

It’s been a minute since I’ve made a Spotify mix to share, which is a little funny, since a great deal more of you have Spotify now than when I started doing this. I guess I’ve been a bit busy to actually type these up and share them, but if you friend me on Facebook (or, alternatively, click this link), you can have access to all my shared playlists. At any rate, I put this list of songs together while I was waiting at DFW airport, before the trek to VMworld in Las Vegas last week. The inspiration for this list of songs was that I wanted a bit of Adult Swim-ish goodness on Spotify. Unfortunately, while many of the songs that are themes to Adult Swim shows are well known, few have ever been cut to CD, and are thus mostly unavailable on Spotify. Instead, when the original theme song wasn’t available, I either took the album version or another song with a similar sound by the same artist who wrote the theme. After I put together a few songs with that operating principal, I discovered two things: it sounded distinctly southern, and in some cases, distinctly geeky. I grabbed a few songs from some other playlists in progress, threw them in, and came out with this list. As a side note, it just so happens that this list of songs is exactly long enough to last a brisk walking pace from the Sands convention center show floor up to a room in the Mirage and back (a walk that I had to make more times than I’d...

This is what your stats look like when you’re first to blog an earthquake.

I just happened to be looking at twitter today when the first tweets about the DC earthquake hit. I went and quickly got the stats and info from the USGS and did a blog post about it. That landed me in the #1 slot on Google for about 20 minutes. After I’d updated the post with all the relevant info I could find, I vegged out on my real time stats (provided by Woopra). So in case you’re wondering what it looks like to be blitzed by a natural disaster, this is it. Thanks to Rackspace for not rate-limiting my site during the storm. Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is...

… In which I over-react and threaten to quit all Google products.

[This is a direct c+p from an email I just sent to Google. This letter was written to the “profiles support team” who have decided that I cannot use their service if I want to go by the name Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins. FWIW, since many people ask, I entered it into the service FN: Mark “Rizzn” LN: Hopkins. –mrh] Dear Neil of the Google Profiles Support Team, First of all, I think you folks are retarded if you believe I want to use your social network after this. My usage of this name predates the formation of your company. My personal domain name was registered around the same time Google.com was. For you to come in and tell me what my name is – true audacity, and I’m outraged. For you to look at all the sites and references I gave you and tell me that not a single one of them is reputable (Mashable? #theCube? Gmail? SiliconANGLE? Archive.org? None of these are reputable in your eyes?), that is infuriating beyond belief, and demonstrates either unimaginable ignorance or gargantuan hubris. Either one causes me to lose a great deal of respect for your organization. I can understand that you’re trying to mitigate certain unsavory elements in the nascent Google+ environment. You’re trying to prevent anonymity because you don’t want to create the next 4chat. You’re trying to stop brands from invading because you don’t want the next Myspace or Twitter. You’re attempting to mitigate impersonation because you want people to feel secure in their identities. That’s great for you. It’s your social network, and you can run it how...

New Media Pioneer Don Lemon accepts a Reddit “IAmA” invite.

The Daily Dot reports today that CNN anchor Don Lemon is headed for internet fame after accepting a Reddit “IAmA” invitation (hot on the heels of being featured on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. The Daily Show Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook The spur of the newfound popularity comes from a comedic but most likely accurate observation by Stewart that Don Lemon “doesn’t much care for CNN,” or at least some of the goofy stories they force him to cover as anchor of CNN Newsroom Weekend. As the Dot notes, Lemon would be “the first national news anchor to grace the IAmA stage,” but Lemon is no stranger to new media. We at SiliconANGLE first ran into Lemon at Blog World Expo in 2009. It was there that filmmakers Marc Ostrick and Michael Sean Wright found him mingling with the rank and file at the seminal New Media conference (first appearance, below, at 1:46).   “Don is interesting in that he sees no difference between the tools that everyone has and the tools that CNN have at their disposal,” said Wright this morning. I was impressed by the depth of his geekery, as were his peers. Hugh Hewitt, a longtime Heritage Media personality who most consider to be an early adopter of New Media tactics, praised Lemon highly while also making sure to clarify that CNN clearly tries to piggy-back on Don Lemon’s early adopter status. In Lemon’s second segment in Wright and Ostrick’s feature on that year’s Blog World Expo showed a propensity for the anchor to open up very...

Have I Griped Here About Turntable.FM yet? [Get Off My Lawn]

Look, don’t get me wrong. I love music. I love streaming radio. I had a variety talk/music streaming radio show for many years, and worked at some of the finest internet streaming radio institutions with my SiliconANGLE co-worker Art Lindsey and many other folks I still hang out with online. But this Turntable.FM thing? I’m not loving it. At all. I’ve said this many places online, but I apparently haven’t said here on my blog yet: I loved Turntable.FM when it was invented 12 years ago, and it was called Shoutcast. Yes, Shoutcast later was bought by AOL-Time Warner (now just “Aol.”). Yes, they totally let the product languish in obscurity. That still doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people used the product then (and now), and it had the ability to be social through the use of chat, server interaction, and plain ol’ talking to the DJ. In essence, people were doing on their own with Shoutcast a decade ago what Turntable rolled out a month or so ago. Yet this hasn’t stopped The Next Web, for instance, from naming Turntable the “most exciting social service of the year.” It also hasn’t stopped what is essentially a glorified streaming radio service from seeking a mind-boggling $5-10 million in venture funding after only landing a measly 300,000 users. “How can you be such a dick about this, Rizzn?” I hear you asking. “Have you noticed? This thing has a freakin’ awesome button! What can be better than that?” You got me there. Shoutcast didn’t have an awesome button. Instead, it had (through the...

The Infamous Josh Harris Attempts Yet Another Entrepreneurial Comeback

Some time back, I reviewed Ondi Timoner’s epic documentary of the rise and fall of Josh Harris entitled We Live in Public. In much the same way that Pirates of Silicon Valley or Hackers should be required viewing for any self-respecting nerd, anyone who considers themselves a survivor of the Dot Com Bust should be familiar with Josh Harris and his story. If you read my review of WLiP, you know that Ondi didn’t make the best impression on me the first time we met, and it has irrevocably colored my perception of Jeff and the film. The insight I feel I have into the mind of Josh and his sycophants carries over into a new venture announced today on Scott Beale’s LaughingSquid blog. Josh is a serial entrepreneur who not only left a trail of carnage throughout the Dot Com era, but also represents everything I feel is despicable about those times. From my review of the film last summer: I knew that Josh was the posterboy for all that is wrong and destructive about the dot com era, this much was clear. When I watched Ondi’s on-screen documentation of a rape (or attempted rape, it’s actually a bit unclear) while Josh looked on seemingly unmoved, it became clear what a sociopath the man actually was. His sociopathic delusion is celebrated in “We Live in Public” as vision and prescience by friends, relatives and the filmmaker herself, it seems. It seems that Josh’s latest venture is to combine the aspects of the WLiP experiment with the vigilantism common to hacker and underground groups like 4chan, Anonymous and LulzSec....