I know all the Friedmanist laissez-faire, free marketeers will jump all over my shit about this, but the current financial crisis, and every crisis prior, certainly makes a strong case about tighter regulation of Wall Street. Here’s the recipe: 1 part great wealth creation phenomenon and 1 part Wall Street greed yields a huge serving of crisis. Make no mistake, the Internet bubble wasn’t created by technology companies or entrepreneurs. It was created by greedy financiers and Wall Street. Don’t get me wrong — I certainly hope to have a ridiculous pay day with Wall Street’s help (I had a Wall Street pay day before, but the bubble burst before my section 144 stock was free to trade), which is precisely why I would like more effective oversight to prevent another bubble from bursting in my face.
The Internet bubble would never have been were it not for Wall Street, in my opinion. It would have been an extended, sustainable period of prosperity that awarded innovation (not the “let’s sell $1 bills for 95 cents and make it up in volume” kind of innovation that was improperly awarded during the bubble). The current sub-prime mortgage crisis is another example of a bubble created where none existed. The rose colored glasses on Wall Street were all too willing to give AAA ratings to mortgage backed securities that really were absolute crap. The “greater fool theory” is all too real a phenomenon in the apparent zero-sum game that is Wall Street finance (it doesn’t need to be). The problem is, we’re running out of fools. Additionally, our entire financial system gets downgraded as you can rest assured the fools who got bitten once won’t be back to the trough any time soon. Meanwhile, our currency weakens and more of our debt is in foreign hands.
It seems we repeat history all too often and never learn anything from it. Sorry Gordon Gecko, greed isn’t that great after all.
C’mon, face it–you know it does. You know ’cause you’ve experienced it your whole life. You (and I) have made a career out of sitting there watching in helpless astonishment as dweebs like Mike Dukakis and John Kerry stood by hopelessly looking on in election after election, while crypto-fascist punks like Dick Nixon and Little Bush handed them their lunch. Only then to go on and rack up nearly as much damage in the world as imaginable, while using hate and divisiveness to maintain support at home. Right?
Your whole life teaches you that to be a progressive in America is to make Sisyphus look like a slacker. Hey, at least he got to the top of the mountain once in a while! Even if it was all for naught, that’s still a lot more than we’ve been getting across the better part of a lifetime. Right?
And yet …
Maybe–just maybe–the long regressive winter of American politics is coming to a close. And maybe–just maybe–it is doing so with the extra kicker of a righteous wrath bringing its fury down on those most deserving of a generation’s worth of rage and contempt.
If you think I’ve gone off my rocker into a naive Wonderland so absurd that it would make Neville Chamberlain squeamish, try on this little thought experiment to see what I mean. Cast yourself back to the dark days of 2003 or 2004. The country has gone off on some 9/11-induced mass hysteria making Salem look like a picnic. The dumbest and the meanest amongst us are in charge. They are telling palpable, demonstrable lies about imaginary enemies, and the public is rallying behind their insane plans for Armageddon (in some cases quite literally), even (s)electing them for a second term. Their job approval ratings have skyrocketed to 90 percent. They are demonizing as traitors anyone who even feebly disagrees with them, even as they shred every major provision of the Constitution all claim to revere. And very few do dare to disagree with them–certainly not leaders of the completely misnamed opposition party. They are on a roll, fueled by a religious-like (and religious) fervor, and it looks like there is no end in sight. Remember?
Google releases its Google Calendar Sync utility to bi-directionally synchronize Outlook calendar with Google Calendar. Awesome (though I don’t use Outlook any more, it’s still awesome)! Now we just need to get it to sync with my Treo calendar without having to run hotsync . . . .
I would like to think the management team at Yahoo read my previous post where I shat on them for ceasing any real innovation and decided to do something about it. If you haven’t heard, Yahoo has decided to embrace the semantic web. I think this is great news. The Semantic Web essentially extends the web with defined, semantic information using microformats and RDF such that computers can understand it. This promises to dramatically impact the web in many profound ways. More precise, intelligent searches should be possible, as well as more contextual ways to present search results. In a nutshell, this is exciting for Yahoo’s future. We will have to stay tuned and see if this has any impact on Microsoft’s intent to acquire Yahoo and, more importantly, if Microsoft would continue these efforts should the acquisition be consummated. This development is also exciting for the web in general. Stay tuned!
This is my first blog post (of many, to be sure) about South by Southwest interactive, a large media and technology conference in Austin, Texas. This is the second SXSWi I have ever attended, the first having been 10 years prior, when I was a panelist on one of the first interactive panels ever, covering successful entrepreneurs under 30 and lessons learned. Boy has SXSWi grown!! I really had no idea as to the magnitude of the interactive portion of the conference; had I known, I would have been a veteran by now. Suffice it to say, I will not miss another.
I’m going to keep this initial post very short since I just got back to Houston and am tired as hell and need a few days to recoup and recall everything. For the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight some things I learned about SXSW, in no particular order of importance:
twitter is essential to knowing what is going on and where it’s happening
beer is served promptly starting at 3 pm in the bloghaus (critically important)
you know people more by their twitter handle than their real names
you don’t sleep; show up with a huge sleep surplus or bring some Provigil
the tone of the conference is irreverent and raw; people cuss during sessions and keynotes
bring comfortable shoes
bring extra phone batteries or have your charger with you (twitter drains it quickly through SMS if you’re tracking a lot of things)
don’t track “zuckerberg” through twitter and SMS during his keynote; your phone will experience epic fail
hallway conversations are as important (or more so) than sessions
network and get to know as many people as possible (I failed a little bit in this regard due to severe sleep deprivation and my usual shyness, or “closet extroversion” as Dan Light brilliantly put it – not next time!)
take business cards with you next time, dumb ass!
Guy Kawasaki is the most kick-ass, easy going, VC ever. Period.
Hugh MacLeod got a kick out of my last name (but added I didn’t look like a stoner . . .)
spend lots of time in the bloghaus blogging, playing guitar hero, eating, drinking and tweeting
you drink a lot (no really, a lot)
keep your laptop charged at all times!
Macs outnumber PC laptops 30 to 1 (at least)
twitter!! (again) – it is an important back channel, or the conversation of the collective consciousness
don’t let Sarah Lacy interview you if you’re doing a keynote and you’re a young billionaire
even if you don’t own a computer and can’t spell blog, this conference is still the deal of the century with all the great people, films, venues, music, booze and food you can enjoy
Geek and good-looking are not mutually exclusive (quite the contrary methinks, especially when you’re doubly turned on by someone with looks and brains)
the conference is completely casual and everyone is approachable no matter their status
I could go on and on. I have many post motifs drafted from the conference which I will flush out soon, once my sleep patterns have recovered and my long term memory is functional. In the meantime, I urge everyone to read Daniel Light’s most kick-ass post about the show. I think it nails it on the head. Until next time!
Here is the video of the Grand Central Station where everyone freezes for five minutes. The full post including narrative and background can be found at Improv Everywhere’s website. I just think this is super cool.
The guys at Common Craft have done it again. Trying to explain to people what twitter is is pointless. They look at me like I’m growing two heads. I’ll admit, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Now, however, things are different. Very different. I’m a non-stop twittering machine! I find it serves a social purpose and a business purpose. It helps you develop the brand that is you, and keeps friends posted on what is going on in your life. Likewise, it allows you keep up with others whom you may find interesting. You may be following someone with which you share interests, or someone who’s an expert in a field of interest. Perhaps you want to follow an up to the minute news source or a presidential candidate. It also can notify followers of updates to your blog as well as update your blog with your tweets (twitter messages are called tweets) in real time (see Nanoblog in the right column). Enough of my piss poor explanation – on with the video!
I think this impressive piece from the current issue of Rolling Stone reflects my own opinion regarding the current Presidential candidacy of Senator Obama. I could make a futile attempt to add something, but I believe she expresses my own viewpoints clearly and concisely. Enjoy.