Showing posts from December, 2007

Things I shouldn't have said...:)

Last weekend to a colleague telling him to how find a certain video on YouTube: "Just google the term '.....' on YouTube." (Legal/PR wouldn't have approved :))At a conference about a certain blogger/journalist, "Hmm..he's so much more charismatic in print."In conversation with another Googler about yet another Googler, "Sharp guy, but he's pretty unGoogley for a Googler, isn't he?"

Quick Review: A Long Way Down.

I was going to lump this review with the movie reviews that are coming (as always, days off -> lots of movies :)), but felt this one might go on for a while.

I loved Nick Hornby's Long Way Down; so much I couldn't wait till finishing it (or knowing how it ends) before writing about it. I'm about 4/5ths of the way through. Hornby's experiment with Points-of-View really worked for me. The story is told linearly, but switches between the four protagonists all speaking in first person, and telling the story looking back.

The tone is not dissimilar to the last Hornby book (As Good As It Gets) and explores my favorite topic: the pain of everyday living and the point of it all, in my favorite style (with wry, observational, point-of-view humor.) Cheerful, aren't I?:)
But I think this may his best book yet (and that's saying something ! This is the author of Fever Pitch. And yes, the book is much better than the movie, both of em.) There's just so many times whil…

The Kingdom cometh...

Caught this great article about how Lebron James is working on building a business empire. Given this statement from a Nike exec though: "We measure everyone against Michael Jordan at Nike," I couldn't help remembering how smart I thought the ad campaign tag line was. The line is "You don't want to be me. You want to be better than me." Jordan's (brilliant, and now classic) campaign for Gatorade of course was , "Be like Mike."

Economist on Technology in 2008: Wow! That's just bad journalism.

The Economist has an oh-so-creatively titled article, "Technology in 2008."Marc Andreessengently skewers the article (deservedly so) out here.

Its not just that its inaccurate; its naive and poorly researched.

I actually sympathize with the writer. His/her/their (name not on the article) brief was probably "Hey. It'll be 2008 soon and you should write about technology next year." and its clearly something that she/he doesn't have a strong opinion/handle on.

In b-school, a former journalist asked a professor who was making fun of an article, what he'd recommend journalists writing about a particular topic (in that case macroeconomics) do. The Professor replied, "Learn what they hell they're writing about!" Most authors decide what the article will be based on what they kind of know...and then look for data to fill the gaps, rather than just spend the time studying the field and then draw the conclusions that they need to.

The problem with a slo…

Go Speed Racer, Go!

Of all the comic book adaptations, that I'd worried "they" would screw up, Speed Racer was on top of the list. I spent so much time watching this as a kid (ah, VHS) that I kinda care about how the characters are represented...(yes, I know how silly that sounds!) The movie is out sometime (summer?) in 2008, and if the trailer is anything to by the Wachowski brothers might actually pull this one off..:)

BTW, I'm a little concerned that Racer X is wearing all-black in the trailer, rather than black-and-white as in the cartoon. Yeah, too much time watching cartoons as a kid...I know.

This should be interesting...

Just in time! I was getting really annoyed at the re-runs.

Colbert and Stewart are going back on the air without a writing staff.

Stewart; I can see surviving this and actually putting out something reasonable. If Colbert can be "himself" and put out "The Word" on his own day-after-day the man is even more of a genius than I thought.:)

C'mon, will someone succeed spectacularly without relying on the externality?

The ever-modest Rupert Murdoch celebrated his official take-over of the Dow Jones company with a $2 million congratulatory ad campaign.
The most interesting part of this (to me anyway) is his intention to drop the WSJ's subscription wall. I grew addicted to Marketplace and Tech sections of the Journal a couple of summers ago (when I had free access:)) and then over the next year when I ponied up for the student subscription.:)
Arrington does some sloppy math to come up with why this makes economic sense, and he's directionally definitely right! The WSJ will make more money.

The Internet economy is lucky enough to be powered by a strong externality: advertising. This isn't new: the same has always applied to newspapers. However, dropping the price of anything to zero (even something thats really cheap) will really push up the demand for the product through the roof, especially for a product like high-quality news for which the demand is extremely elastic.

Of course, Google can …

True story: I got to do my YouTube project!

A chat with a classmate from B-school reminded me about this and it kinda made my evening!

I work on YouTube in my current job, and I'm pretty thrilled about it. But well over an year ago, in fact in April 2006, for my Advanced Marketing Strategy Class, as part of the required final project for the class I proposed to my project group that we do a project on this video-sharing site that been causing a significant drop in my productivity over the previous few months.

I even wrote in a couple of emails to the email addresses and PR contacts on the site (they didn't get back to me!...and now I know who they are.:)) We ended up doing something else, but I guess I got to eventually work on a YouTube project anyway.

In fact, here's Blogosphere proof (in the first paragraph) confirming the story from another now-Googler. :)

When the Simpson's does the Marketing for you!

There's nothing like being part of pop culture for a Marketing strategy.
From today's Simpsons' TV episode
Homer to the dog, pointing to the computer: "Show me where the kids are on Mapquest." Dog barks violently.
Homer jumps on to the table. "OK, OK Google Maps then!!"
Homer sees his entire life flashing before his eyes....and it ends with a YouTube related videos screen.

Oh, here's the live-action Simpson's intro:

Brain-Teasers during interviews

Hunter Walk (Product Management, YouTube) has a couple ofgreat posts on Product Management.
He links to this post by Ken Norton (now at Google) on hiring PMs. The post is pretty great, but I had doubts about one point.

"I usually ask an interview candidate a series of logic questions to gauge intelligence. "

I've had quite a few interviews where you spend some time on logic questions/brain teaser-type thingies, and have developed doubts about the effectiveness of this.

There are two reasons for this:
quick on your feet is great, but not if you're going to get up and start running in the wrong direction!! I've been lucky enough to get to hang around a lot of smart people (often at a respectable distance:)). I've also been around a lot of people that sounded smart. There is a difference, and I think "quick on their feet" favors that latter. It favors confidence and polish, over thoughtfullness and thoroughness. It favors quick frameworks over original appr…

Quick reviews: 5 movies

A good friend complained that the world of the arts hadn't been graced by my reviews of the movies lately. OK, she just asked if I was watching less movies lately. The answer is "yes", but still quite a few.
In reverse chronological order of seeing them:
Eh, Wasn't bad really, but the reviews had me expecting more. Amy Adams carries the movie though!
Aaja Nachle
Wow. The bad reviews and reports of a poor early box-office had lowered my expectations, but I had a really, really good time at this one. And in a role that was clearly written just for her, I think it may actually be the best I've ever seen Madhuri Dixit, and that's saying something. The entire ensemble is pretty great, and it works as a simple, feel-good melodrama-type thingy.

Om Shanti Om: Its a standard SRK movie. Good times: predictably funny, over-the-top, a little too melodramatic, you get what you expect. I actually ended up seeing this 1.4 times. Don't ask.:)

Caught this …

An echo-chamber of ideas and opinions

A couple of weeks ago, someone said something that sounded really smart.

The idea seemed bold, incisive and very original....until I heard it again a little bit later from someone else... and then once more from yet another person. Each of these people seemed to imply they came up with the idea themselves.

Now there are very few truly original ideas. Most of us come up with stuff by applying what we've learned in another domains to a new one, or by building on the work of others. The most "original" ideas and thoughts can come from the conscious or unconscious application of standard tools, patterns, and frameworks to new field and applications. (A professor I had once said" Convert every problem to a nail so that you can use this hammer that you have") So variance in ideas can come from either applying different tools and patterns, or learning from different sources.

However, over time (especially in small groups where everyone gets really busy and everyone has …

Yet another comic strip to distract me

I ended up finding xkcd thanks to a TechTalk-associated flyer lying around the Googleplex. Add one more to the list ways I can use to make my deadlines seem even more hectic.:)
The all-time sentimental favorite though continues to be PhDComics, and the much more mainstream is ever-reliable too.

Finally! Facebook serves me a targeted ad!:)


Targeted social-network based marketing at work.:)

An aha moment!

Sometimes an "aha" moment or two is all I need to turn my day around (or at least make me think it turned around!)

I had one such aha insight about why FriendFeed is so frikkin awesome in its simplicity, and a better understanding of how a certain UI choice can influence user behavior (in this case mine!)

Mental note: Learn some more about Friendfeed!

"Aha" moment explanation to come later. I feel its going to turn into one of my amatuer-ish clearly-just-out-of-bschool ramblings, and I don't have the time for that right now. :)

But here's the video that got me started on that:

Am I going to get interested in US politics again?

The CNN/YouTube debates ended up re-kindling my interest in US politics (recently limited to Daily Show opinions), and I ended up spending some time on the Candidates at YouTube channel over the weekend.

Ron Paul's straight-talking, intelligence and adherence to libertarianism is so impressive! Its hard to graduate from UChicago and not find yourself nodding vigorously at many of his ideas.

Obama's visit to Google a couple of weeks ago also gave me a chance to trot out my Obama-sightings at Regents Park (an apartment building that doubles as a UChicago dorm) stories.:)

BTW, my office-mate asks the last Ron Paul question.:)

My little weekend excursion into web video shows

I've had a number of friends that have stated confidently (for quite a while now), "But 99.99% of web video is rubbish. The only thing that people want to watch online is stuff that's already on TV."

They aren't talking about the random personal clips, specific humor videos, or extracts from TV that still form a major part of sites like YouTube, but semi-professional stuff that people put out there as actual shows; with story arcs, character development and all that stuff...

I hadn't watched enough of these to form an opinion one way or the other. YouTube/Google's strong belief in the existence of the Torso is pretty clear. The proposition is that the underlying economics of creating content have changed in such a way (cheaper to make videos, the Internet democratizes the distribution process etc. etc.) that compelling content that needs to appeal to a smaller set of audiences can now be created. The producers have the tool to make this content (for the rec…