Triberr 1.0: invite-only crack for the in crowd

March 24, 2011

The Start-up that didn’t know it was a Start-up

I’m beta-testing an app that could be. Huge. Killer. The stuff VCs line up for! It’s called Triberr.

Once you’re signed up and set up, Tribber automatically promotes new blog posts through the Twitter feeds of everyone in your tribe. Yours too.

My blog reach went from 10,000-ish to 100,000-ish in sixty seconds. Ok, 60 seconds may be an exaggeration. It’s more like 24 hours if you get an invite into the right tribe. In other words, my blog posts are being seen by 10 times more people on Twitter this week than last week. Can you say, WOW, with me? I knew you could… Read the rest of this entry »

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The Great Divorce: The chest drops out of a Patsak

February 25, 2008

Yesterday, I attended the second hearing in our divorce proceedings. Again, she did not show up for the hearing. Anyway, she gets everything- so to speak. There was no necessity for any kind of court room drama.

It is almost done.

Like evil waiting upon the results, ready to count the casualties and measure the precise pitch and degree of devastation, confusion and chaos.

And when this evil is accomplished, still divorce remains a difficulty, an enigma and a paradox to me and my highest hopes. The future just hangs there.

I wait for answers. Patience now…

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It feels like evil. Perhaps, because it may be, in fact, evil. All of our good will could neither prevail nor prevent this sudden termination of the most beautiful… promises, oaths and legal obligations. On the other hand, beautiful things can be as fleeting as the beauty of a lifeless, cut flower-  when these things are not meant and only made from convenience.

And yet – even if evil – this does not preclude a distant happy ending, only unhappy results and a heart-felt penitence that must be conducted and managed with even greater responsibility, better decision and more noble action than evidenced in our practice and commitment in marriage.

Beyond Good and Evil, there is a breakdown (a la Heidegger) in myself, my destiny, and my eternal integrity.

Everything seems changed.

Love, marriage, and me are no longer what they seemed to be. Yes, I am changed, changing, and becoming something else — not without heart aching and unbid tears.

Read the rest of this entry »


How to evaluate the value of an online business in Romania

August 10, 2007

Through the Interactive Advertising Bureau Romania (IAB Romania), I have received several queries about how to evaluate the value of an online business in Romania. The answer is an interesting problematic. However, I shall endeavor to provide my honest opinion of the current situation. But I’m not quite sure how my colleagues in Bucharest will feel about my candor.

Below, something relevant from Bob Dylan to set the tone of my honest opinion.

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Read the rest of this entry »


A Dark Night Ahead

February 27, 2007

A Dark Night Ahead

Sometime in the second half of 2008, Americans will be asking what went wrong. They’ll call it an economic downturn or a warning sign, but they’ll know in their gut that it’s not just a hiccup.

Americans will want to know who did it and why they were allowed to screw it up so bad. Some will bemoan the greed of home-owners who aspired to greater wealth or better lifestyle. Others will talk about the cavalier irresponsibility of banks and financial institutions, the problematic of regulation, and the greed of bankers and financiers– American, European and otherwise. The real estate bubble is going to pop.

When it comes, I will be wondering how much worse it will get. I’ll be thinking about what happens in the next 40 years. I imagine that I’ll also be looking for economic signs beyond the real estate problem.

Great Expectations

Looking forward, I fear most for America. I fear for the lifestyle of Americans. But I also fear for all those other peoples who so deeply long for an American lifestyle. The American middle class lifestyle and material expectations seems to have come at a cost that hasn’t been sustainable for a decade. Of course, I could be wrong, but if I’m not, commentators will be saying the very same things that I’m writing now within the next two or three years.

Elsewhere, peoples are impatient for the American lifestyle they know from TV and the movies. Those people will compete for such opportunity with competitive advantages such as low cost labor and intensified effort (six or seven day work days and longer hours in a day). In the next ten years, corporations will ask for more and they will provide less compensation, less benefits and less compassion for those that drag their heels in the workplace.

Ahead, greater disappointment and, perhaps, social unrest may unfurl and such a sail is likely to carry us to seas uncharted – darker waters.

Armchair Economics

Looking forward, I wonder what happens across time as debt, deficit, and disappointment grow. This will not be simply an American problem.

What can we do to set a course for a brighter future – as opposed to a long, dark night?

The necessity for discipline and new vision is obvious. In America, the role of Government must be re-evaluated. Does Government provide for the common good and individual rights in an adequate and effective manner? Certainly, partisan agendas must be left behind in order for change to become possible. Government regulation, for example, is over zealous in some areas. While in other areas, it is lackluster. The cost of health care, to mention one much debated problematic, represents the undisciplined greed of corporate interests – interests that deeply conflict with the welfare of the nation and the American people.

Beyond the problematic of rampant consumerism, debt, debauchery in the financial markets, and government spending, the diminishing investment in technology is another thing to consider.

Technology

Technology was something that we were doing right. Technology has been an important force in our economy and in our confidence in our economy. That’s why this is not the time to back off from technology investments. We need a renewal and deeper commitment to investment in technologies – technologies that can produce overwhelming value and social benefit across time: five years or more.

By design, quick payoffs do not tend to offer long term ROI. Obviously, investors should not repeat the mistakes that led to the pop of the Tech bubble. Regarding technology, value will be difficult to find when it’s more about questions of “who knows who” and “does the business plan have the right catch phrases” … and not “what it does”, “how well it does it”, and “is it relevant”.

Technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation may just provide the leverage and levers to keep us above the rising tide of doubt, mistrust, and fear.

Human Potential

More worrisome to me than the lack of investment in technology and innovation is what I believe to be a wide scale failure to realize human potential at the micro and macro level. Paradoxes are increasing exponentially. At the heart of this dark matter is the absence of virtue, honor, moral character and ethic.

At the same time that there is more want, there seems to be less of a willingness to make it happen. This is a problematic at the individual level.

At a macro level, we have powerful technologies in the modern office to multiply the performance of an employee and yet there is a foreboding sense that ROI is diminishing. Getting a computer in the office was supposed to increase performance, but if it has done so, it has also become an opportunity for the employee’s exploitation of company time, resources, and capital- personal banking, online shopping, online reading, personal email, instant messaging, online message boards, online gaming and much more.

Hope

Hope is something that can unleash human potential, become opportunity for change, sacrifice and progress. Hope can move us forward- as families, as communities, as nations and as a species. As long as hope finds fuel and reason, it can stir us to do greater things than we believe ourselves capable.

Hope can even stir us to greater ambitions than our own selfish pursuit of mistaken good and all the unsatisfying metaphors which have always represented something more beautiful than we could have imagined – whether we knew it or not.

More than a renewed enthusiasm for technology and motivational strategies for the quantitative realization of human potential, we shall look eagerly for hope. And with hope, there must come faith and compassion.

Stan Faryna
February 27, 2007
Fairfax, Virginia

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About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is a member of the IAB European Leadership Council and National Director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Romania. He is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

Here’s my fair use policy for my content:

If you want to share my content with your own audience, you may quote a brief excerpt, if and only if, you provide proper attribution (Source: The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna) with a direct link to the source. You may not republish or translate the entire article without my written permission. Send your request for permission by inmail through the linkedin professional network at www.linkedin.com.


Loose ends, outsourcing and open source solutions

November 25, 2005

The buzz in Bablion:

Most organizations do not have mission statements that pledge themselves to support utopian open source development communities that can not even be wildly imagined as business partners. Should your competitors find out about your so-called innovations, the same community will provide solutions to your competitors- including customizations which you paid for. Yet too many CIOs are very comfortable writing such commitments into the mission statement with a secret pen – whose ink you can only see after the fire breaks out.

(Below) Oppenheimer reflects on the dawn of the atomic age.

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Super Cows

Maybe, you have a dream about realizing a killer app.

Take that dream and imagine it as a holy cow- or, even better, a super cow that will produce more milk than any other cow in the most ordinary dairy farm conditions. In other words, a cow that doesn’t die when it catches a cold and still produces more milk than yesterday’s best stock. Hold on to that dream. And forget all about open source.

Don’t believe me?

It took two generations of trying, a lot of mileage (taking sperm samples to the Cornel Agricultural School labs for testing), 70 or so years, and many Farynas to see that supercow become a reality. These days, anyone can get the same milk production out of steroids and elaborate set ups. Hey, what the consumer doesn’t know won’t hurt him-her, right?

It’s kind of like the open source story. What the customer doesn’t know won’t hurt them. As long as there are no back doors. Most of the time, there aren’t.

And if eight out of ten of your customer’s competitors are bringing similar innovations online because they can afford it and eight other companies are doing the same thing you are doing- what happened to the first mover advantages that you counted when you demonstrated the value of the innovation?

This seems more like a problem than a blessing.

Doom

Most programmers don’t see the big picture- even if they did, they would still love open source. Theoretically, it allows them to work less, read geeky online news and play more Doom.

Whenever they encounter a challenge, theoretically, all they have to do is IM a buddy and get the answer.

Do you remember helping a friend cheat on a high school exam?

“Pssst. Yo. 34?”

“d…”

“Pssst. Yo. 39?”

“a…”

“Pssst. Yo. 42?”

“d…”

“Pssst. Yo. 44?”

“a…”

This is what really gets a lot of young programmers excited about the open source thang. And it fits the mindset. If the great challenge in development is to find the shortest and quickest route to an elegant solution, most would be happy with taking the quickest route to the first solution that, theoretically, works. Especially if the debugging is done by someone else in another department. All of which means more time in DOOM.

Meanwhile, everyone is talking about Quakecon 2005 and the DOOM 3 Deathmatch Championship. At least, they are just talking about it in my office. I know other offices (open source places) where the so-called developers are still learning the ropes in DOOM 3. And the ropes take a lot of time, a lot of dying, and – yeah – project delay, lost value and, sometimes, project failure.

Open Source fanatics, deathmatches (not death marches), and DOOM – it all makes sense. Put those words together and you get Dorothy’s peek behind the great curtain.

Nightmares

In the late 90s, I had the misfortune of managing Russian open source projects until my leadership was co-opted and the project taken in other directions that remote (and unfortunately, charismatic) team members thought made sense to them- regardless of the client’s needs and timeline.

“This is ours and we don’t need no stupid customers. Roxor!”

I saw this in saved chat messages long after the event and project failure. Of course, it doesn’t matter that the so-called unneeded customer had paid their salaries for six months and we might not have a customer to pay our salary tomorrow.

Scroll to a few weeks later and the chat history reveals the real deal. The core team was getting a new message:

“SSOF. Ditch that guy! Get more cash, loot and untaxable cash under the table… cuz we got a sugar daddy that likes where we are going with the project…”

“So get with the program,” my guys in Moscow told me. “This is how we need to do business. This is how we can all get rich fast. It’s not illegal; this is open source. Do you think the customer cares why the software is so cheap? No, they care that it is cheaper than what anyone else can offer on the street.”

And, yes, they had a point – if all you care about is cold, hard cash.

It’s not what I’m about. It’s not what the movement is about.

Values

Open source gives great value when it’s about refining a completed project. However, it poses a lot of risk as a development path for proprietary innovation and competitive advantage. If open source is better now at fixing the old than making something from scratch- why do open source fanatics have to take such obvious wisdom as personal insult?

It’s not like I am questioning Linus’ law, the opportunity for creative synchronicity in open source projects, or even the effectiveness and efficiency of committee/democratic decision. Or am I?

The most obvious example of successful open source elaboration is Linux which is based on Unix. Last year, the Linux operating system finally started to make headway- especially in Europe and Africa. Although there is no license cost, there is a time cost. Europeans and others seem to mind this less than Americans.

It should be understood, however, that a powerful vision or revelation can be espoused by many, but such vision will derive its unity, coherence and force from the visionary leader and not committees. Mircea Eliade, the great Romanian historian of religions, seemed to suggest that the dissent and debates that occur after the passing of the prophet, teacher, reformer… inevitably evolve into rivalries, contests of truth, and contradictions.

Without a central authority to prioritize, filter and seamlessly integrate new insights and inspirations into tradition, values (read “features” for our anecdote), and rituals, any of these can become their own separate and urgent purposes. And they will struggle for both independence and dominance among peers.

Linux

Linux will make headway in enterprise and network solutions; it will reduce the cost of super computing and super clustering. However, it will not win over the personal PC anytime soon. Despite all the hype, it can’t make more than a foot hold in the next four years.

It is more important to understand that open source is bigger than Linux; Linux may be one of the best examples of an open source project out there, but it would be folly to think that open source projects should all work out as well as Linux.

Unlike most open source projects, the Linux project is held together with great discipline and project managers that do not loose focus on where they need to get– even if this is going to take a lot of time.

Nor will Microsoft stand still. Windows evolves more rapidly on many fronts. 10,000 or more 9-5er Indians under one roof can realize Linus’ law better than you could ever hope to find in the most exciting open source project. On the other hand, Microsoft is already experiencing the problems of coordinating and synchronizing vast work groups. Time will only make things worse for them.

Open Source Customers

The thrills of a low cost of acquisition inevitable result in IT project delays, budget crises and (sometimes) failure. The statistics are scary. Those statistics will get more scary for many years to come. Inexperienced Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and IT-phobe Chief Financial Officers (CFO) will get excited by the cheap thrills of a low cost of acquisition. At the same time, these same executives lack anticipation of the unavoidable high costs of customization, deployment, risk management and ongoing technical support.

The true measure of a CIO is whether they think within the immediate IT budget or if they actually can envision the longer range IT strategy (12 months or more). The former tend to be overpaid posers. In fact, there are many who know nothing about IT- beyond what they read in their CIO magazines. This seems to be especially true in government.

Obviously, the adoption of open source innovations on the basis of low cost of acquisition subverts and sabotages innovation in favor of philosophical contentions – contentions which often prove to be hasty and mistaken within the context of a business plan. The mindset that the role of IT is to save money – not make more money or value through innovation – often puts an organization at risk with a follow-up of unethical or risky behaviors to cover up the mistakes. I have known many CIOs who made these mistakes and compound such mistakes with questionable actions that put the entire organization at risk.

Loose-ends Outsourcing

In the next few years, good open source solutions will cost as much as closed source solutions. And it will be clearer to all that the only difference between the two is when you pay: upfront or , later, after implementation.

It will also be understood that an organization’s commitment to low acquisition cost open source solutions from garage-based development start ups is nothing less than a passionate, philosophical commitment to loose-ends outsourcing. In loose-ends outsourcing, the development community determines the nature of innovation according to their own independent interests and values. The customer is merely a subscribing fan.

If the customer is a fan; there is no need for the development community to consider customer service standards or develop a deeply consultative relationship. Don’t worry, it never entered into the minds of community members. Moreover, usability, business process, and business intelligence are not among the interests and values of said community.

Ironically, most organizations do not have mission statements that pledge themselves to support utopian development communities that would never make the cut as business partners.

Should your competitors find out about your so-called innovations, the same community will provide similar solutions to your competitors- including the customizations which you paid for. Do you really want to pay for your competitor to keep up with you?
Yet too many CIOs are very comfortable writing such commitments into the mission statement with a secret pen whose ink you can only see after the fire breaks out.

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Stan Faryna
November 25, 2005
Fairfax, Virginia

Stan Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

Here’s my fair use policy for my content:

If you want to share my content with your own audience, you may quote a brief excerpt, if and only if, you provide proper attribution (Source: The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna) with a direct link to the source. You may not republish or translate the entire article without my written permission. There’s more details here. Send your request for permission by inmail through the linkedin professional network at www.linkedin.com.

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