robertogreco + evanwilliams   15

The Weird Thing About Today's Internet - The Atlantic
"O’Reilly’s lengthy description of the principles of Web 2.0 has become more fascinating through time. It seems to be describing a slightly parallel universe. “Hyperlinking is the foundation of the web,” O’Reilly wrote. “As users add new content, and new sites, it is bound into the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it. Much as synapses form in the brain, with associations becoming stronger through repetition or intensity, the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users.”

Nowadays, (hyper)linking is an afterthought because most of the action occurs within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps, which all have carved space out of the open web. And the idea of “harnessing collective intelligence” simply feels much more interesting and productive than it does now. The great cathedrals of that time, nearly impossible projects like Wikipedia that worked and worked well, have all stagnated. And the portrait of humanity that most people see filtering through the mechanics of Facebook or Twitter does not exactly inspire confidence in our social co-productions.

Outside of the open-source server hardware and software worlds, we see centralization. And with that centralization, five giant platforms have emerged as the five most valuable companies in the world: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook."



"All this to say: These companies are now dominant. And they are dominant in a way that almost no other company has been in another industry. They are the mutant giant creatures created by software eating the world.

It is worth reflecting on the strange fact that the five most valuable companies in the world are headquartered on the Pacific coast between Cupertino and Seattle. Has there ever been a more powerful region in the global economy? Living in the Bay, having spent my teenage years in Washington state, I’ve grown used to this state of affairs, but how strange this must seem from from Rome or Accra or Manila.

Even for a local, there are things about the current domination of the technology industry that are startling. Take the San Francisco skyline. In 2007, the visual core of the city was north of Market Street, in the chunky buildings of the downtown financial district. The TransAmerica Pyramid was a regional icon and had been the tallest building in the city since construction was completed in 1972. Finance companies were housed there. Traditional industries and power still reigned. Until quite recently, San Francisco had primarily been a cultural reservoir for the technology industries in Silicon Valley to the south."

[See also:

"How the Internet has changed in the past 10 years"
http://kottke.org/17/05/how-the-internet-has-changed-in-the-past-10-years

"What no one saw back then, about a week after the release of the original iPhone, was how apps on smartphones would change everything. In a non-mobile world, these companies and services would still be formidable but if we were all still using laptops and desktops to access information instead of phones and tablets, I bet the open Web would have stood a better chance."

"‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html]

[Related:
"Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/technology/techs-frightful-five-theyve-got-us.html

"Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?: The Big Five tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. Could you ditch them?"
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/10/technology/Ranking-Apple-Amazon-Facebook-Microsoft-Google.html

"Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.

But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?"]
alexismadrigal  internet  2017  apple  facebook  google  amazon  microsoft  westcoast  bayarea  sanfrancisco  seattle  siliconvalley  twitter  salesforce  instagram  snapchat  timoreilly  2005  web  online  economics  centralization  2007  web2.0  whatsapp  evanwilliams  kottke  farhadmanjoo 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A mile wide, an inch deep — Medium
"If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring an multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.

If you’re trying to measure the value of a company, it’s in theory a lot simpler. The value of a company, from a financial perspective, is its ability to make money over time. This is not easy, and growth trajectory matters a lot for new companies. But what’s amazing — despite the contrary examples of Google and Apple — is that Wall Street has seemed to buy into the users = value equation. That, of course, trickles down to the valuations of private companies and the obsessions of VCs and the tech press.

If you’re an entrepreneur (or public company employee), don’t get caught up in this.

Numbers are important. Number of users is important. So are lots of other things. Different services create value in different ways. Trust your gut as much (or more) than the numbers. Figure out what matters and build something good."
measurement  metrics  quantification  2015  evanwilliams  twitter  instagram  upworthy  facebook  apple  nytimes  google  time  attention  buzzfeed 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy - Quartz
"During the 4-hour meeting, Hsieh talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.



“We’re classically trained to think of ‘work’ in the traditional paradigm,” says John Bunch, who, along with Alexis Gonzales-Black, is leading the transition to Holacracy at Zappos. “One of the core principles is people taking personal accountability for their work. It’s not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role. Everybody is expected to lead and be an entrepreneur in their own roles, and Holacracy empowers them to do so.”

In its highest-functioning form, he says, the system is “politics-free, quickly evolving to define and operate the purpose of the organization, responding to market and real-world conditions in real time. It’s creating a structure in which people have flexibility to pursue what they’re passionate about.”

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees. Jason Stirman, whose roles include head of people operations and product designer at Medium, says that one of the best things about Holacracy is that it facilitates autonomy. “Ev isn’t the CEO of Medium to have another title for his Twitter bio. He wants the company to operate at the highest level possible, and he recognizes that all the power consolidated at top is great for people who are hungry but it can be a total bottleneck. There are decisions he wants to make and the rest can be absorbed in other areas of the organization.”

Still, Holacracy can feel unnatural, especially at first. Meetings are designed to rapidly process tensions. The focus is on the work, not the people. “It’s not a very human-centric model for things,” says Stirman. “For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.”

Robertson says that Holacracy is meant to address structural issues, and that leaders will respond to the human element in different ways. Medium has created mentorship circles, and Zappos has similar plans. Williams and Hsieh both “have a high capacity to see the complex systems at play in their organizations,” says Robertson. “It’s not linear or a matter of just following the logical argument; it’s seeing the cloud of interconnections and influences, beyond just cause and effect thinking.”

At the Zappos “All Hands” meeting Hsieh said that at most companies, “there’s the org chart on paper, and then the one that is exactly how the company operates for real, and then there’s the org chart that it would like to have in order to operate more efficiently. … [With Holacracy] the idea is to process tensions so that the three org charts are pretty close together.”"
zappos  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  leadership  organizations  organization  tonyhsieh  aimeegroth  2013  horizontality  holacracy  autonomy  mentorship  power  evanwilliams  medium 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Why Medium Notes Are Different and How to Use Them Well — About Medium — Medium
"On Medium, we don’t have comments on posts; instead we have “notes.” They hang off to the side of paragraphs and are shown when you click/touch the little indicator on the side.

Arguably, traditional comments—the kind you see beneath most blog posts and pretty much every other media artifact on the web—do the same thing (in ideal circumstances). Notes are much better for the type of ideas and stories people share on Medium. Here’s why (and how they work):

The most obvious thing that’s different about Medium Notes is that they live on the paragraph level rather than below an entire post. Not only that—notes can (optionally) highlight specific text within the paragraph:

This has many advantages. For one, notes are great for feedback. It’s the central mechanism for Medium’s collaboration feature—which lets authors get feedback before they post. Being able to quickly highlight some text and say “typo” is so easy, people are willing to do it frequently. (Personally, I find it fun.)

By making notes private by default, we remove much of the incentive to spam or troll. If you’re not adding value, you’re not seen.

A third option under the private/public note control for authors is to “Dismiss” the note. This is useful for cleaning up your own view.

The note-leaver won’t know you’ve dismissed it from your view and will still see it until they delete it.

I like to leave notes on my own posts. It’s a nice way to add contextual information that doesn’t need to be in the main flow of text."
writing  commenting  communities  design  annotation  community  medium  evanwilliams  context  asides  collaboration  feedback  2013  via:tealtan  notes 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Evan Williams's Advice to Start-Ups: Don't Be Too Data-Driven - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD
"Projects that are worthwhile often don’t work right away, Williams noted… He urged start-ups to be willing to “fight the dragons.”

“I see this mentality that I think is common, especially in Silicon Valley with engineer-driven start-ups who think they can test their way to success. They don’t acknowledge the dip. And with really hard problems, you don’t see market success right away. You have to be willing to go through the dark forest and believe that there’s something down there worth fighting the dragons for, because if you don’t, you’ll never do anything good. I think it’s kind of problematic how data-driven some companies are today, as crazy as that sounds.”

"But all that capacity to instrument and analyze and optimize can be overused. If the possible outcomes are set before the experiment begins, there’s probably not much room for creativity.
Or, as Williams noted, the data can make it look like something’s not worth doing, even when it is."
entrepreneurship  strategy  startups  data-driveninstruction  2012  measurement  quantification  siliconvalley  persistence  cv  tcsnmy  data  evanwilliams 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Getting the News — Evan Williams | News.me
One thing that I find missing is discovery of non-new content. The web is completely oriented around new-thing-on-top. Our brains are also wired to get a rush from novelty. But most “news” we read really doesn’t matter. And a much smaller percentage of the information I actually care about or would find useful was produced in the last few hours than my reading patterns reflect.
newspapers  reading  evanwilliams  discovery  serendipity  rediscovery  resurfacing  howweread  howwelearn  novelty  via:tealtan 
september 2012 by robertogreco
13 ways of looking at Medium, the new blogging/sharing/discovery platform from @ev and Obvious » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Degrading authorship is something the web already does spectacularly well. Work gets chopped and sliced and repurposed. That last animated GIF you saw — do you know who made it? Probably not. That infonugget you saw on Gawker or The Atlantic — did it start there? Probably not. Sites like Buzzfeed are built largely on reshuffling the Internet, rearranging work into streams and slideshows.

It’s been a while since auteur theory made sense as an explanation of the web. And you know what? We’re better for it. In a world of functionally infinite content, relying on authorship doesn’t scale. We need people to mash things up, to point things out, to sample, to remix."

[Via and commentary: http://snarkmarket.com/2012/7956 ]
danahboyd  ownership  contents  design  fftisa  jeffreyzeldman  svbtle  app.net  branch  digg  pyra  petermerholz  davewiner  audience  collections  scalability  gawker  buzzfeed  auteurtheory  auteurs  rearrangement  jasonkottke  johngruber  deanallen  joshmarshall  ezraklein  anildash  jackdorsey  evanwilliams  louisck  huffingtonpost  theblaze  talkingpointsmemo  tpm  politico  internet  publishing  web  online  pinterest  tumblr  twitter  odeo  blogger  joshuabenton  obviouscorp  2012  authorship  medium  scale  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
How do blogs need to evolve?
[some seem to think "innovation" comes from the people who make the tools and that whatever business model works for the tool makers will determine the tools' "evolution".]

The whole idea of comments is based on the assumption that most people reading won't have their own platform to respond with. So you need to provide some temporary shanty town for these folks to take up residence for a day or two [...]

Maybe this is something that doesn't have a technical solution [***]

[My phone] call is ephemeral, and it's about conversation and communication, not content [...]
media  Internet  infrastructure  A_Return  blogs  blogging  2012  anildash  paulbausch  evanwilliams  meghourihan  matthaughey  via:Taryn 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Evan Williams | evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups
"#1 Be Narrow: Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful. Most companies start out trying to do too many things, which makes life difficult and turns you into a me-too…#2 Be Different #3 Be Casual #4 Be Picky: Another perennial business rule, and it applies to everything you do: features, employees, investors, partners, press opportunities. Startups are often too eager to accept people or ideas into their world. You can almost always afford to wait if something doesn't feel just right, and false negatives are usually better than false positives. One of Google's biggest strengths—and sources of frustration for outsiders—was their willingness to say no to opportunities, easy money, potential employees, and deals. #5 Be User-Centric #6 Be Self-Centred: Make it better based on your own desires. #7 Be Greedy #8 Be Tiny #9 Be Agile #10 Be Balanced #11 Be Wary"

[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2011/01/18/ten_rules_for_web_startups ]
business  startup  entrepreneurship  tips  tcsnmy  lcproject  small  agility  evanwilliams  focus  startups  2005  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Want to be an entrepreneur? Drop out of college.
"College works on factory model, & is in many ways not suited to training entrepreneurs. You put in a student & out comes a scholar.

Entrepreneurship works on apprenticeship model. The best way to learn how to be an entrepreneur is to start a company, & seek advice of a successful entrepreneur in the area in which you are interested. Or work at a startup for a few years to learn the ropes. A small number of people—maybe in the high hundreds or low thousands—have knowledge of how to start & run a tech company, & things change so fast, only people in the thick of things have a sense of what is going on. Take a few years off & you're behind the times. Some publishers have asked Chris to collate his blog posts on entrepreneurship into a book, but he said, What's the point, it'd be out of date by the time it hit bookstores.

As Fred pointed out, basic skills necessary to start tech company—design or coding—are skills that can be learned outside of academy, & are often self-taught."
education  entrepreneurship  business  startup  college  universities  colleges  autodidacts  unschooling  deschooling  caterinafake  fredwilson  evanwilliams  robkalin  bizstone  jackdorsey  markzuckerberg  dropouts  lcproject  billgates  stevejobs  industrial  learning  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Why Evan Williams of Twitter Demoted Himself - NYTimes.com
"“I had a fierce desire to create things, to be independent and prove myself, which caused me to reject authority, but never in a sort of rebellious way,” he adds. “It was more like, ‘I’m going to show you by doing it all myself.’ ”…

“Ev was just very frustrated, and he had ideas for how we could do things differently and better,” recalls Tim O’Reilly, the publisher’s founder. “He had a little bit of attitude, a chip on his shoulder, but always with good spirit.”

Mr. Williams left O’Reilly after seven months — “I was bad at working for people,” he says…

Mr. Williams says that all successful businesspeople make enemies along the way. Yet he also says he learned from the Blogger experience. “I was trying to do everything myself when we were going through hard times,” he says. “When it was just me, I was happier, which I think is a sign of failure of working with people.”"
evanwilliams  business  twitter  management  leadership  cv  happiness  lonewolves  authority  entrepreneurship  creativity  dunbar  dunbarnumber  scale  bureaucracy  blogger  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Want to be an entrepreneur? Drop out of college.
"College works on the factory model, & is in many ways not suited to training entrepreneurs. You put in a student & out comes a scholar.

Entrepreneurship works on apprenticeship model...best way to learn how to be entrepreneur is to start a company & seek advice of successful entrepreneur in area you are interested...Take a few years off & you're behind the times. Some publishers have asked Chris to collate his blog posts on entrepreneurship...What's the point, it'd be out of date by the time it hit bookstores...

basic skills necessary to start tech company—design or coding—re skills that can be learned outside of academy, & are often self-taught...

I was on verge of attending grad school to get a PhD in Renaissance poetry - my lost careers...writer, artist or academic. Do I regret spending all that time poring over Shakespeare when I could have been getting a jump start on competition? Not at all. There's no money in poetry, but then again, there's no poetry in money either."
startup  twitter  entrepreneurship  college  advice  autodidacts  self-education  learning  apprenticeships  tcsnmy  alternative  change  caterinafake  evanwilliams  fredwilson  robkalin  etsy  markzuckerberg  billgates  stevejobs  dropouts  life  glvo  edg  srg 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Builders' Manifesto - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"What leaders "lead" are yesterday's organizations. But yesterday's organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today's biggest human challenge isn't leading broken organizations slightly better. It's building better organizations in the first place. It isn't about leadership: it's about "buildership", or what I often refer to as Constructivism. Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected "art for art's sake," so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization's sake — instead of for society's. Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, & societies. They're the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, & customers."
constructivism  innovation  business  economics  future  design  productivity  umairhaque  leadership  barackobama  middlemanagement  finance  2009  policy  politics  healthcare  creativity  motivation  work  management  administration  builders  organizations  value  evanwilliams  billgates  wallstreet  elinorostrom  matttaibbi  nicholaskristof  maureendowd  benbernake  mohammadyunus  statusquo  sarahpalin  nelsonmandela  power  thomasfriedman 
december 2009 by robertogreco
How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live -- Printout -- TIME
"talk about innovation & global competitiveness...[using] metric of patents & PhDs...US share...steady decline since peaking in early 70s...what actually happened to American innovation during period?...[AOL], Netscape, Amazon, Google, Blogger, Wikipedia, Craigslist, TiVo, Netflix, eBay, iPod & iPhone, Xbox, Facebook...lifestyle-changing hit products, not just grad students, US has been lapping field...We are living through the worst economic crisis in generations, with apocalyptic headlines threatening the end of capitalism as we know it, and yet in the middle of this chaos, the engineers at Twitter headquarters are scrambling to keep the servers up, application developers are releasing their latest builds, & ordinary users are figuring out all the ingenious ways to put these tools to use...resilience here worth savoring. The weather reports keep announcing that the sky is falling, but here we are — millions of us — sitting around trying to invent new ways to talk to one another."
stevenjohnson  twitter  innovation  us  lifestylechangingproducts  evanwilliams  technology  culture  future  economics  gamechanging  end-userinnovation  consumergenerated 
june 2009 by robertogreco
What Is He Doing? [Technology Review]
"Twitter is at the heart of the phenomenon called microblogging. Meet its founder, Evan Williams."
twitter  evanwilliams  socialnetworking  profile  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  entrepreneurship  learning  books  reading 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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