Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ruby on Rails at SDForum Tonight

Tom Hill, one of our senior engineers at Zvents, will be speaking about Ruby on Rails tonight at the SDForum Emerging Tech SIG at the Cubbery Community Center in Palo Alto. Details here: Zbutton

Zvents is developed primarily in Ruby on Rails, and I can't say enough good things about it. Come find out more about the next wave in Web programming!

SDForum runs all sorts of interesting technical and business events related to software development- you can see their full schedule here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Squidoo and TechCrunch: Experts Rise Again

When I heard about Seth Godin's new startup Squidoo, I thought, "Aha! That fits perfectly into Nivi's Trillion Dollar Matrix in the 'experts' category." I did a quick Technorati search on the status of the conversation, and discovered that Adam Marsh at EconoMeta has taken the matrix farther in interesting ways -- but pulled the experts column! Not so fast, Adam! In addition to clever programmatic methods like Squidoo for managing and measuring expertise, there are plenty of other expert systems out there. Like Google Answers, or Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which I predict will bifurcate into two main areas of practice; one, the mass processing of tasks where non-expert humans beat computers, and two, the focused processing of tasks where human experts beat computers.

But by focusing on point examples like the Turk or Squidoo, we're missing the hundred-billion dollar present reality that should be smacking us in the face:

Media is about expertise.

I regularly hear about new startups like Squidoo from TechCrunch, which is one of my key personal filters for what matters on the cutting edge of the web. Is Mike an expert? Of course he is, and the fact that TechCrunch has more traffic and better adoption curves than a lot of supposedly hot search startups speaks volumes about the world recognizing the value of expertise.

Talent will out.

The computer era has made clear that talent is much more unevenly distributed than anyone would have thought. In 1975 or 1985, were all the best managers in the world Harvard and Stanford MBAs? No. No. In 1995 or 2005, were all the top engineers in the world at blue-chip corporations and top-tier universities? No. No.

Expertise requires talent.

Let me re-assert Barry Diller's claim that there's only so much talent in the world. Diller's rule of talent (you can probably find the Web 2.0 podcast somewhere, but it parses to "there are few undiscovered geniuses in closets anywhere") means that the best user-created content is a transitory phenomenon. A lot of what Jeff Jarvis refers to as "user created content" is, I would assert, a snapshot of the emergence of talent in new and unexpected places, like blogs. But these people usually don't stay "users." Talented folks who were unevenly distributed vs. the expected structures of recognition, wealth, and power, have a tendency to rapidly move into expected positions, or start reorganizing the structures to reflect new realities.

So we end up with new media, containing new experts, who continue to act as an incredibly valuable relevance mechanism for data.

Hats off to Seth. And hats off to Mike, whose user blog --> expert media site should in no way be thought of as any less complex, cool, or important than startup entities in a different, algorithimic column of the trillion-dollar matrix.

My next post will hopefully not be so long in coming: Thoughts on how it's easy to get stuck between media and practice, drawn from a couple conversations I've had with two guys who are doing both.

Mike: media & practice
Andy: media & practice

My media is here at Onotech; Zvents is my practice.