Tag Archives: Culturite

Guy Kawasaki – Exclusive Interview with NowPublic

Below is a transcript of an interview that I recently conducted with Guy Kawasaki. It was great to hear his fascinating perspective on the state of the news business — and to learn more about his latest projects. If you haven’t checked out Alltop yet, I strongly encourage that you do.

This article was first published on NowPublic.com

NowPublic recently had the chance to catch up with Guy Kawasaki, a leading venture capitalist with Garage Technology Ventures, former Apple evangelist, and a highly respected web entrepreneur and blogger.

We spoke to Kawasaki about his most recent ventures, Alltop.com – a single page, news aggregation site, Truemors.com – a citizen journalism-styled, news sharing and storytelling site, and his thoughts on the future of news

NowPublic: Can you give us a bit of background of what motivated you to create Alltop?

Kawasaki: First, philosophically, there’s so much great information on the web, but it’s very hard for most people to find it. Google finds ten million matches for every topic. RSS is a big help, but only if you understand what RSS is, how to use it, and where to find the feeds. Also, there is the initial problem of finding sites and blogs that are worth aggregating at all. So we do all of this for people and provide an “online magazine rack” for people. Second, we noticed how much traffic popurls was sending Truemors, so we figured there must be something to aggregations. Theoretically, once we have topics set up, all we need to do is make sure the servers are running. How cool is that?

NP: What other new categories are you working on?

Kawasaki: We’re adding four to five topics a week. Since Books and Art, we’ve added Crafts, Beauty, China, and Virtual. At some point we could have every topic in the universe, but then we’d just be another Google. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be so bad.

NP: Who do you bring in to help determine which sites will be aggregated for each category?

Kawasaki: The story of how we pick topics and what goes into topics is very interesting. I’m not a big believer in the wisdom of crowds. However, within crowds there’s usually a handful of people who really live and breath a topic and want to share their knowledge. The single best way I have found to tap these folks is Twitter. I get suggestions for new topics all the time on Twitter. We implement most of them. In fact, the people who suggest topics usually already have a great list of feeds. Without Twitter, Alltop would not be nearly what it is today. I dare say that I get more value out of Twitter than anyone on the planet.

NP: Are you personally a fan of highly-customizable feed readers and websites?

Kawasaki: I’m not. High levels of personalization and customization is for the uppermost 1% of the Internet. The state of the art of RSS feeds is much too troublesome for most people. With customizable feed readers and websites, you can do almost everything we do for you with Alltop. The issue is whether it’s worth the trouble for most people to find a feed reader or customizable site, find the sites and blogs that interest you, find the feeds of those sites and blogs, and then set up the feed reader or customizable site.

NP: How do see the relationship evolving between “curated” (editorialized) and automated content?

Kawasaki: There is no right and wrong or good and bad. There’s only what works for you. We are closer to Mahalo and Wikipedia in that the selection of topics and feeds within a topic are highly subjective, unautomated, and not crowd sourced. Our topics and feeds are “crafted” not automated. In your terms, Alltop is the automation of curation. Or, you can think of Alltop as the anti-social media site. Your contributors might find topics like Science.alltop.com and Design.alltop.com excellent sources for stories for NowPublic because we are checking hundreds of sources every ten minutes. Many of these sources are far off the beaten path, and their stories should reach more people.

NP: With Truemors, which is an open access, news sharing, and storytelling site, what has your experience been like working with participatory media (so-called ‘citizen journalism’)?

Kawasaki: Truemors was wide open, but it’s not anymore. We found that a handful of “truemorists” that we know and gave accounts to yields a much higher quality selection of news. Anyone can still post, but if you’re not a truemorist, the posting is held until someone on our side approves it manually. Truemors is effectively trying to “curate” news from hundreds of sources and provide “NPR for your eyes” in the sense of eclectic human interest news.

NP: You’ve also enabled the public to be able to post stories to Truemors in a variety of ways. People can phone, text, or email stories, but they can also add breaking news updates through the “Twitter News Network”. What kind of impact are microblogging applications, like Twitter, having on news?

Kawasaki: When the dust settled, the posting method that worked is via the web. Very few people used any of the cool methods we were so proud of. And now with truemorists holding the keys, it’s virtually exclusively web postings other than the Twitter News Network. Having said this with regard to Truemors specifically, Twitter can have an enormous impact on news. One particularly good example is Newmediajim who is an NBC cameraman who’s flying around with the president on Air Force One.

NP: By opening up more and more distribution channels for content, we’re faced with an increasingly overwhelming onslaught of information. How do you personally navigate this ocean of infinite choice?

Kawasaki: Here’s a funny story. I use NetNewswire to keep track of all the feeds in Alltop. At one point, I had more than 3,000 feeds; these feeds generated 20,000 stories per day. Now I get my news from several Alltop topics like Mac.alltop.com and Socialmedia.alltop.com as well as paper pubs like the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, and Wall Street Journal.

NP: In the world of social media, there has been a web 2.0 trend toward “hyperlocal” and “hyperpersonal” news, how do you see Alltop and Truemors fitting into that spectrum?

Kawasaki: I suppose at some point Alltop and Truemors can get hyperlocal. Right now, the closest that we come to this is China.alltop.com which isn’t that local, I guess. But it will come down to the numbers: Is a hyperlocal topic so local that no one wants to advertise on it. Or, if we’re lucky, maybe because it’s hyperlocal, advertisers will find it attractive. All of this is TBD.

NP: Do you see a future beyond advertising and sponsored content for Web 2.0 companies?

Kawasaki: Just like other Web 2.0 companies, we’re making it up as we go combined with a large dose of wishful thinking. Alas, in my most hallucinatory fantasies, I see selling “sponsored feed” positions at the top of Alltop topics ala Google’s sponsored links. Now that would be something.

NP: And finally, in the spirit of your “top ten” keynote format, what do you see as being the top ten biggest changes and challenges ahead in how we consume news and information?

Kawasaki: You’re kidding me, right? I just answered ten questions, and now you’re asking one question that needs ten answers. Do you think I only give press interviews all day long?

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Canadian jazz great Oscar Peterson dies

It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the news that legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has passed away. I first encountered his work through the stellar album “Night Train” and I haven’t stopped listening to him since. He was an immensely talented musician and a gift to the worlds of jazz and blues. May he rest in peace. His music is his legacy – and what a legacy remains.

In the spirit of the season, have a listen to “An Oscar Peterson Christmas“, which is without question my favourite Christmas album of all time.

“The jazz odyssey is over for Oscar Peterson: the Canadian known globally as one of the most spectacularly talented musicians ever to play jazz piano has died at age 82.

Peterson died Sunday night at his home in Mississauga, Ont., from kidney failure, CBC News has confirmed.

“The world has lost the world’s greatest jazz player,” Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga and Peterson’s friend, told CBC News Monday afternoon.

Renowned for his speed and virtuosity as a pianist, Peterson — who was born in Montreal and later made Toronto his home — made hundreds of recordings in his career, even after a stroke in 1993 disabled his left hand.

Over the years, his recording and performing partners included such stars as Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole and Stan Getz.”

The Best ‘Best of’ Lists of 2007

Without further ado, here’s a quick compilation of some of the most interesting ‘Best of 2007′ lists I’ve come across during the frantic media recap of ‘What Was in 07’, before the manic, mad dash to xmas seasonal insanity, and the consequent post-holiday crash into 2008:

  1. Best of 2007 Lists (the definitive meta-list by Fimoculous)
  2. Master List of Online “Best of 2007” Music Lists (a meta-music list by LargeheartedBoy)
  3. Updates to the Master List of Online “Best of 2007” Music Lists (updates to #2 by LargeheartedBoy)
  4. 40 Best Raps of 2007 (top hip-hop tracks by CocaineBlunts)
  5. 15 Best Candies of 2007 (delish sugar treats by CandyAddict)
  6. 50 Best Websites of 2007 (multiple categories list by Time & – oh look – who’s a top news site?)
  7. 30 Best Albums of 2007 (top rated by the critics and aggregated by Metacritic)
  8. 25 Best Careers of 2007 (so choose wisely, my friends, by BizTech)
  9. Most Hated Companies of 2007 (the most widely & heavily criticized, by BloggingStocks)
  10. 100 Best Products of 2007 (because there can never be enough products, a list by PC World)
  11. 22 Best Music Videos (some silly choices by MusicForKidsWhoCan’tReadGood)
  12. 25 Best Books of the Year (fiction, non-fiction and more by Publishers Weekly)
  13. 100 Best Films of 2007 (a mix of new and re-releases by TimesOnline)
  14. 18 Best American Hospitals of 2007 (a incredibly paradoxical list by USNews)
  15. Best Global Brands of 2007 (aka the biggest brands in the world, by Interbrand)
  16. Best of NYC 2007 (best of the Big Apple, by the VillageVoice)
  17. Best Biblical Books of 2007 (a “completely objective” book list by BiblicalFoundations)
  18. America’s Best Restroom of 2007 (congrats to Jungle Jim’s, by ABR)
  19. Best Parks of 2007 (for the adventure seekers, by National Geographic)
  20. Best Industrial Design Products of 2007 (with slick imagery by RedDot)
  21. Top 10 Depression Blogs of 2007 (a useful, if sombre, list by PsychCentral)
  22. 2007 China Best Call Centre (the best operators ‘who will be with you shortly’ by CallCentres)
  23. Top 100 Luxury Blogs of 2007 (an elite assortment by International Listings)
  24. Best of What’s New in 2007 (products, inventions, and gadgetry compiled by PopularScience)
  25. Top 60 Japanese Buzzwords of 2007 (vernacular awesomeness by PinkTentacle)

For additional comments and posts also check out: NowPublic.com

This is the Movie of Your Life

This “everyone’s got a story to tell” business is getting out of hand. What if you could make a documentary film about your very own life, or better yet, what if you could create an ongoing reality series devoted exclusively to the Cult of You? You could actualize the implicit power and potential of “iMovie” by hollering “Action!”, enacting the “i”, and casting yourself as You!

This isn’t a joke. You can really do it. You can be the star of your very own Truman Show. Who needs Jim Carrey, You play a better You, anyway.

Why let others exploit your banal existence when you can exploit yourself? Live out your ordinary fantasies in real-time. Live life onscreen, in perpetual documented beta.

What better place than here? What better time than now?

Live from the 16th Annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Information Technology, Arturo Artom, CEO of Your Truman Show, Inc., announced the public beta of the company’s online broadcast network. Artom was invited to discuss the future of online video along with Chad Hurley, co-founder of Youtube.

YourTrumanShow.com empowers real people to tell their stories to the world through their own reality series while also encouraging producers to connect with other storytellers. The site extends the fiction of life-on-camera into a new and fun network of tomorrow’s online reality stars. It gives them a publishing platform and a broadcast channel to migrate from generating single videos to developing an ongoing multi-episode series.

Source: 901am

Of course, this idea isn’t without precedent. I’m just concerned about how pervasive this form of narcissistic self-surveillance, or sousveillance, is becoming.

Bottled Irony: Waste, Want, Water

 Fiji

I found this very troubling, but important post, by David Burn today and wanted to share it. As much as I’m pleased to learn that New York City is embracing an anti-bottled water ethos and celebrating the benefits and pleasures of Big Apple H20 served directly from the tap, the proliferation of the bottled water industry is wreaking profound environmental havoc on eco-systems and icebergs alike; and it is coming at the expense of providing a reliable source of potable water to the very communities from which big brand aqua supplies are derived.

So think again about where your water is coming from and what the real environmental and social costs of its production are.

I, for one, am going to do my best to think and drink local from here on in.

Eco-warrior, poet and educator Gary Snyder asks that you know where your water comes from. Literally. He wants you to determine which lake or river it comes from and via which drainage. Of course, this is something every person knew as a matter of survival before the concept of modern plumbing.

Now, Charles Fishman writing for Fast Company, updates Snyder’s quest for the bottled water age.

Bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 81/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.)Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water “varieties” from around the globe, not one of which we actually need.

Fishman’s piece is quite detailed and nuanced. He says, “A chilled plastic bottle of water in the convenience-store cooler is the perfect symbol of this moment in American commerce and culture.” He also dives deep into the collective fantasies we’ve created in our minds, the very place where brands live.

With its square bottle and tropical graphics, few bottled waters occupy the top rung in the American psyche like Fiji Water. But the reality of the product is not as pretty, nor as clean.

The label on a bottle of Fiji Water says “from the islands of Fiji.” Journey to the source of that water, and you realize just how extraordinary that promise is. From New York, for instance, it is an 18-hour plane ride west and south (via Los Angeles) almost to Australia, and then a four-hour drive along Fiji’s two-lane King’s Highway.Every bottle of Fiji Water goes on its own version of this trip, in reverse, although by truck and ship. In fact, since the plastic for the bottles is shipped to Fiji first, the bottles’ journey is even longer. Half the wholesale cost of Fiji Water is transportation–which is to say, it costs as much to ship Fiji Water across the oceans and truck it to warehouses in the United States than it does to extract the water and bottle it.

That is not the only environmental cost embedded in each bottle of Fiji Water. The Fiji Water plant is a state-of-the-art facility that runs 24 hours a day. That means it requires an uninterrupted supply of electricity–something the local utility structure cannot support. So the factory supplies its own electricity, with three big generators running on diesel fuel. The water may come from “one of the last pristine ecosystems on earth,” as some of the labels say, but out back of the bottling plant is a less pristine ecosystem veiled with a diesel haze.

While Fiji’s state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. To pile irony upon irony, many Americans have pristine tap water piped into their homes and offices for free. In light of the facts above, it’s dizzying to consider.

Assignment Zero First Take: Wiki Innovators Rethink Openness

The first crowdsourced-created AZ feature on Citizendium has just been published at Wired.com and it looks great! Congrats to everyone who was involved in getting it done on such a short timeline.

Now, for the rest of us at AZ, we’ve got a few short weeks to pull together a hefty list of interviews and assignments – but it’s an excellent vote of confidence to see that the crowd can produce Wired-worthy news.

Keep on!

Remix the Mashup: the future of music and film

Today I am posting a call for contributors that has just been sent out to everyone involved with AssignmentZero, as I think it offers the most current and concise summary of what we’ll be covering for AZ’s film and music pages. Have a read and get in touch if you’re interested in contributing.

In 1987, a pair of young producers/radio DJs, known as Coldcut, stormed the UK dance music scene with a pioneering, sample-based style that featured a barrage of reworked rhythms and sound collages, set to a live accompaniment of synchronized film and video clips.

Who could have anticipated that, twenty years later, this hybridized aesthetic would give rise to a cultural movement in remixed music, mashed-up film, and crowdsourced art?

From online remix/mashup music communities like SpliceMusic.com, to collaborative film productions like A Swarm of Angels, the art of making art has been radically transformed by the crowd. Songs are being written collaboratively by musicians located around the globe, and films are being funded using crowdsourced donations and created through public participation in every stage of production. Artists are increasingly embracing the ethos of open-source, and joining Coldcut with a call to: “Let the data be free!”

These are the new forces driving open-source culture: projects that cultivate “participatory experience” by allowing public access to art, artists, and creative processes; projects that enable creative collaboration between people regardless of location; and projects that can be downloaded, remixed, mashed-up, and shared.

What kinds of songs are being written collaboratively? What kinds of films are being crowdsourced? What are the benefits of creating art in this way?

AssignmentZero is interested in examining how the languages of sound and cinema are being transformed by crowdsourcing. If music and film are your passions and you can volunteer between 5-10 hours over the next three weeks, please join me in looking at the future of free music and art.

How to get involved:

* Choose your focus. Music? Film? Or both?

* Sign up to the right team. If it’s music, visit AZ’s crowdsourced music homepage and click on ‘join team,’ or write me back and put “music” in the subject line. If it’s film, go to the film homepage and chose ‘join team,’ or write me back and put “film” in the subject line.

If you’ve got some spare time today, check out the assignments on the topic homepages and get started. Or send an email to me, the editor, introducing yourself: jarrett.newassignment@gmail.com

Over the course of the next month, those who sign up will be working closely with me and our film and music teams. I am particularly passionate about these topics, as my background is in media and arts production, and I am a producer, editor, cultural critic, media host, and musician based in Montreal, Canada.

Together our group will work toward producing several pieces that will be submitted to Wired.com for publication on June 5.

If music and film are your passions and you can volunteer between 5-10 hours over the next three weeks, please join us to explore the future of the collaborative arts.