It’s time to keep your phone on silent by default

This didn’t quite occur to me until I read the article, but yes, it’s time to keep that phone on silent. These days, the phone is either in your hand or on the table where you can see it, so why annoy the rest of us with whatever your ringtone is?

A ringing phone is really a relic of the past when we had one phone in the house and had to hear it ring from anywhere in the home.

Most savvy people know that their phones should be muted in public. According to a Quora poster, all the young, hip “millennials” have switched their phones to silent mode, “even though they use them incessantly.” A brave member of the clan explained what was happening: “It spares the person from the constant beeping of their cell and also from the weird looks that one receives when one’s phone keeps on beeping.”

Source: Attention, people: Your phone should never make noise in public | Fusion

This is how we do it in Hawaii

Platform First: Engineering a robust government web ecosystem

Hawaii’s tech community is getting a rare, unprecedented opportunity to make a big impact on how the City and County of Honolulu delivers services over the Web and related technologies.

On Saturday, Dec 3, you’ll want to attend City Camp Honolulu, “an unconference focused on innovation for municipal governments and community organizations.”

According to the site,

CityCamp Honolulu is just the first step in an effort to explore and document ideas, lessons learned, best practices and patterns that can be implemented within the City & County of Honolulu and shared across municipalities. Our primary focus is the use of social/participatory media, mobile devices, linked open data and leveraging the Web as a platform for transparency, Open Government and civic engagement.

A Golden Opportunity to Get it Done Right

As the tech community, we should take maximum advantage of this situation for everyone’s benefit.  We have a choice at this conference whether to get myopically focused on small, useful applications or whether we can leverage the momentum of this event to set in place a lasting legacy of exceptional engineering.  I say we go for the latter.

Build API platforms first, then websites atop those platforms

Do we want to build a few cool apps, or do we want to create a platform and a policy  which will give developers API access to all published Web data?  What kind of potential innovation will we unleash if any time the city creates a website, developers know that they can access the site’s underlying data through standardized data access and format standards? If every city website was powered by a public, documented API that was available to all, the mashup permutations would be near-infinite and the potential for ground-breaking innovation quite real.

Riffing on Dave Kozuki’s seed idea to “Break through the bureaucracy. Pass an ordinance to require city departments to provide data through APIs.”  and his corresponding blog post on the idea. I would propose something along the following lines:

All city public websites are built in two parts.  First, the data powering the website is exposed via standard protocols.  Second, the website is built exclusively using the API,  meaning that the city’s website does not directly access the data any other way except via the documented, public api that any other developer can use.

This is an important distinction and vital to building a innovative city data architecture.  You can’t build the website first and then decide to “get to building the API” later for many obvious (to geeks, anyway) reasons.  For one, if the API is an afterthought, it simply won’t get done.  Second, if the website doesn’t go through the API to get its data, it will be nearly impossible to synchronize website changes with API changes.   Third, the website accessing the API serves as a “killer app” and “reference application” (ideally making all source code publicly available) to guide developers on best practices in accessing data. Finally,  if we want to build a true platform for city data, you must require that all city websites use the platform and only the platform.

I recognize there will be difficulties in implementing this policy for existing legacy sites but I think we we can build in sufficient flexibility so that those sites don’t have to be refactored until a modification is made or a certain somewhat distant date is reached. The real key is to get expose all data via an API from this point forward.

The politics needed to get this done

Sorry Geeks, we’re going to have to exercise some lightweight politics here. We need to be prepared and pre-determined to make CityCampHNL work for us.  If you support the idea of an ordinance that puts the “Plaform First” requirement into place, i.e. law, here’s a partial list of what we’ll need to do to get the ball rolling:

  1. Organize ourselves before the meeting so that sufficient numbers speak with a unified voice.
  2. Be clear on the outcome we would like to see.
  3. Garner a significant support from the local tech industry.
  4. Identify the folks inside the City and County that support this concept and make sure we support them. The good news here is from what I’ve gathered so far, there is good support for this. That’s an incredibly important and positive element.
  5. At the event, first gain consensus on the general concept of “Platform First” and then collaborate with the participants to identify the proper standards and protocols we should follow. It’s critically important that we do a good job of both (a) identifying technically robust standards and (b) maintain and inclusive and collaborative atmosphere to accommodate genuine concerns that are raised.
  6. Before the event closes (and by “closes” we mean when key city officials are about to walk out the door), we get:
  1.  A general commitment to the overall approach
  2. A firm commitment on what the next step will be
  3. When that next step will be taken, and
  4. The planning required to execute it. We aren’t going to achieve the whole thing in one day, not by a long shot, but we need to be incredibly clear on what the next step will be in the process.
  • Identify a small group of local tech leaders who will follow up on this process, inform the community as to its progress, and see it to its natural, successful completion.

It really does come down to job creation

Hawaii has a great combination of entrepreneurial spirit and innovative developers. If we could access all public (i.e. on the web) city data, we would be gaining access to a massive collection of raw materials on which to build and deliver value to everyone. And where there is value creation, there is wealth creation. And where there is wealth creation, there is job creation. This might sound cheesy but if we can tie job creation as a genuine potential outcome of creating a “Platform First”, it will give this effort a very good base of support to carry it through the byzantine path from concept to reality.

Where to go from here

First, register for the conference.  You at least will get a t-shirt and lunch which is worth more than that $25 event fee.

Next, connect with the community and make your voice heard.  Burt Lum has put together the following resources:

Please follow us on twitter:!/citycamphnl
Like us on Facebook:
Idea central:
Join us on TechHui:
Google Group:!forum/citycamphnl
Finally, get prepared for action and participation.   We’ve got a good “shot at the title” here to create some long-lasting change. Let’s do it!

Special thanks goes to Dave Kozuki for doing a better job in posting the API idea to citycamp than I did,  Burt Lum and Daniel Leuck for encouraging and supporting the API idea, and Ryan Ozawa for supporting the Citycamp concept overall .

If I had more time, I’d write less. Why twitter is rich.

I’m really loving Twitter. After sending a link to my blog post about caring for your social network, I immediately got feedback from many folks and @PhillMoran asked me to write up something similar about email.

I was about to get started but then figured, lets ask the twitterverse and sure enough, within minutes, I started getting responses.

I was planning on dissecting the tweets and summarizing them into a post. But then the thought occurred to me, why? folks already thoughtfully limited their responses to 140 characters so they’ve really done the hard work.

So instead of going through the painful (at least, to me) process of wordsmithing every sentence to make it just write, I simply spent my time embedding links to each tweeter, thankfully crediting their work. Wow. A new writing style. Here’s the resulting post.

Twitter is hot. It’s a new platform. It’s the streaming thought source. And the applications have just begun. It’s like we’re in the opening days of email.

Show some class (and thoughtfulness) with Email

Are you a class act with email? Do you use it thoughtfully? Here’s what really peeves folks that consider email second nature:

cai_mommy: Forwarding jokes, chain mail, and those “if you love someone/know a great mother/believe in God” poems/pictures. That’s abuse.

mochichick: When someone sends a message addressed to loads of people without using bcc!

AndyBumatai: I can’t stand the “If you don’t forward this to 50 people you will (fill in guilt trip here)” How does bandwidth usage play in it?

malewa: people who, “Reply to all”!!

hawaii : I lament the underutilization of “Bcc” and the abuse of “Cc.” Don’t expose everyone’s address. And don’t encourage “reply all”!

FranMagbual: email pet peeve: chain messages that have been forwarded so many times you can’t find original message. Call me the chain killer!

macpro: – I hate opt out. Why do they automatically think I want their emails?

Super thanks to the folks that tweeted back. Awesome!

Treat your social media network carefully

I’m playing around alot with Twitter, Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn and I’m seeing more and more people essentially abusing their connections with others. Examples:

  • In Twitter: only tweeting to promote your own stuff/links
  • In Facebook: creating continual streams self-serving events
  • In LinkedIn: asking to make a connection to someone you don’t know

This indicates a few things:

  • Cluelessness of the essence of social networks
  • Embracing a failing strategy

Don’t do it. It won’t work and you’ll either be shrinking your network or building a valueless network of that’s inherently unmonetizable.

Do: Build a network on a Rock of Gibraltar: the real you. Don’t re-puke other’s posts unless you can add value. Put out stuff that really reflects what you’re thinking inside. If I connect with you, it’s because I want to connect with YOU, not the latest “1001 Internet Marketing Secrets the pros don’t want you to know!” scheme.

I can’t guarantee you’ll attract millions, but I can guarantee that whatever crowd you do attract will be real and will listen to what you have to say.

And that’s worth something.

Download this PDF and Read page 9 of this changeThis publication “Learning to view your customers as a powerful tribe“.

Video Market heating up

I just read the TechCrunch post on BrightCove’s launch and it looks like a pretty appealing avenue for those somewhat serious about monetizing their video content. Seems to me they just leapfrogged what YouTube+GoogleVideo is supposed become. They don’t have their content base anywhere near Goog’s but do have a tighter, more defined financial model.

If Google takes too long to get their act together, BrightCove could pull ahead. Watch this one closely for sure.

iCracked the iPod

(Well, I didn’t crack the iPod myself, but the headline was cool).

Imagine this: in 1999 you’re 15 yrs old and you are the one that cracks the DVD copy protection scheme which subsequently enables people to copy their DVDs.

So what do you do for an encore?

Well, today in 2006 at 22 yrs old you crack the copy protection of the iPod, allowing rivals to sell competing products that play music from iTunes and offer songs for download that work on iPods as they seek to take a bite out of Apple’s dominance of digital music.

Congrats Jon Lech Johansen! Wow.

Microsoft Zune player getting the right model

I’ve always felt that “share the love” models that turn every customer into a paid sales rep are the future of distribution. Amway representatives will be quick to point out that they’ve been doing this for years and they are right.

Microsoft’s Zune isn’t exactly MLM, but if you share a song (which it allows you to do so legally) that influences your friend to actually buying that song, you get “paid” in the form of credits to buy more music. Very cool.

Will it pay to have Pals in Honolulu?

Greg Kim, Honolulu attorney and founder of Vantage Counsel, sent out an email to his contacts and with his permission I’m reprinting the email here:

Dear Friends, here’s an interesting article ,”It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley“, from today’s New York Times regarding the YouTube phenomenon and the numerous other PayPal spinoffs. Some reflections on relevance for Hawaii:

  1. There’s nothing like having a huge success like PayPal to jumpstart multiple spinoff companies and the acceleration of tech development and creativity. To follow this example, Hawaii should aim for a few huge successes that will ultimately generate spinoffs and accelerate critical mass.
  2. Startups are hard work and they need to be. The strong will survive. We shouldn’t make it easy for entrepreneurs to fund their companies if we are to complete globally and find sustainable businesses. If we make it too easy for them, then we are actually hurting them in the long run.
  3. Hawaii should thus be careful about taking risk away from entrepreneurs and investors. As Reid Hoffman (PayPal alum and founder of LinkedIn) is quoted at the end of the article, “Nothing focuses your attention quite like losing money and the sense that you are going to die soon.”
  4. Entrepreneurs want things to be hard. That’s why they are entrepreneurs. The article makes numerous references to the bonding that occurred through the stress and hard work (nights and weekends) of employees of PayPay in its early stages as a struggling startup. It states: “The long hours, sleepless nights and intense pressure of life inside a start-up often create strong bonds among its employees. In its early years, PayPal was all about pressure and the struggle for survival. The company was losing millions each month.”
  5. We should nurture this type of environment for entrepreneurs.