Category Archives: Pointless musings

Well, hello there!

It has quote unquote been awhile.

What can I say? I’ve been in the gym getting ripped and eating mountains of tapenade on Triscuits.

But since it has been quote unquote awhile, I thought I’d pop in and say:


And also this:

“I don’t know anything about art.”

By that I mean quote unquote fine art, but I had me some time tonight and I popped into a museum and got some feels around this painting:


Seems dumb to look at a bad photo of a painting. So here’s a close-up:

It’s just lovely how sad she looks, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hat. It couldn’t be more real or vivid to me. And she’ll always be that young and beautiful on that museum wall, forever, posing in the grass on a summer day for her goofy painter boyfriend.

She’s probably been dead for a hundred years.

That’s ART, y’all.

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I’m not yet dead

There has been stuff. And also other stuff.

But I’m working on new content. TRUE STORY, homies, so keep checking back.


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I think I’ve got the summertime sadness, y’all. I’ve been working on a depressing post which (shocker!) I’m not finding myself all that eager to sit down and write.

PLUS, Heironimus has killed again and now 16 West is basically a forgotten dream.

PLUS, it is hot and the humidity makes me feel icky.

But since it has been two weeks since I’ve posted, I thought I had really better check in and let all my dear, dear readers know that I am still here. Bewilderingly so.

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Periscope Isn’t airbnb, Or: Don’t Suck

Can we all agree that Periscope is a sad train wreck? I think we can.**

I was on vacation last week. I checked Twitter on Wednesday, saw that CoLab had tweeted that they were broadcasting XpoWednesday LIVE! on Periscope, and didn’t consider for even one second wasting data clicking the link.

No reflection on CoLab or XpoWednesday…it is just that watching anything on Periscope is boring and painful. Meerkat isn’t any better. The technology promises to put you LIVE! in the experience, but it doesn’t and can’t.

The problem is one of curation. A live feed is inherently boring.

Consider this anecdote about airbnb: when they first launched, they had real trouble attracting users. And what they realized after soliciting feedback is that the site was unappealing because all the posts of available lodgings featured poor quality cell phone photos. So, they took a chance and hired professional photographers to go around and photograph available places. A few multi-billion dollar valuations later, that gamble seems to have paid off.

At the time, though, hiring professional photographers could have appeared like throwing good money after bad. Which is to say, airbnb sucked and pouring more money into that “bad” idea was sort of crazy. Yet, it worked. Not because the concept or technology got better, but because the content did.

The analog to Periscope? Actually, there isn’t one. Sorry, Periscope, your technology isn’t worthwhile. Because what is needed to save Periscope is an editing suite to merge multiple live streams into one coherent whole. We call that “television.” And while live streaming is cheap and boring, live television is compelling but hella expensive, y’all. That expense doesn’t come in to the equation because of the technology, it is because you need talented professionals to do the editing, in real time. Talented professionals are precisely the people cut out of amateur live streaming.

So why this discussion? Because I think it illustrates a really simple, basic (and you would think obvious) truth of the new online economy we find ourselves navigating like Vasco da Gama, with confidence and purpose yet without certainty as to exactly where it is we are going to end up. If you want to make it, your content MUST be either wanted or needed, and it must be good.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Periscope does such a bad job providing a good version of something people want (a live experience) given its association with Twitter, considering Twitter’s bad job of providing a good version of something people need (a real-time news outlet).

“Need” is an elastic term, but think about IMDb. IMDb is the gold standard, a site everyone uses and treats practically like a like a public utility. You’ve got a question about who was in a movie? You go to IMDb. You don’t go anywhere else. Ever. They are accurate and reliable and everyone knows where to go. Easy. They provide exactly the service you need for the specific purpose for which they exist.

Compare that to Periscope. Why would you open Periscope? That is not a rhetorical question. You go to IMDb with a purpose in mind. You go to Facebook with a purpose (baby pictures and vacation pictures, amiright?). You go to Reddit with a purpose (kill time/learn weird shit). And then you visit those 10 different sites you check because they feature your other interests (ESPN for sports, Car and Driver if you are into cars, whatever…you know what your interests are).

Ok, so, why would you use Periscope? The promise is compelling live content — in a nutshell, whatever you click on should be interesting. However, the reality is almost NOTHING on Periscope is interesting, and even those events that could be interesting are poorly shot and have bad sound quality.

Some people might say YouTube started out with bad quality content and turned out pretty okay, and they’d be right, but the technology already existed before the site launched to create good content, e.g. editing software. You can’t make live content “good” in the moment without a trained team of editing professionals. You know, like tv.

A really interesting comparison is to Twitch. Twitch is also a live streaming platform, but with a built-in content advantage: video games. There are millions of gamers around the globe, whereas all the streamers on Periscope who broadcast the contents of their refrigerators (really, that is a thing) have no built in audience at all.

Nobody wants this product.

And that is why I wanted to write about it. Sadly, there are a number of start-ups locally that are facing this problem. There isn’t any need to name names. But there is a need for soul searching. These local guys don’t have API problems or UI problems, they have “why?” problems. “Why would anyone visit your site or use your service?” is a much more clarifying question for a start-up than “Is there an unmet need?” Even if you are correct that there really is a need, that doesn’t mean the product you hope to build is going to properly address it.

Took me almost a thousand words to come around to the point…maybe I’m a bit too polite. I don’t want to just come out and say, “hey bro, everything you’ve been working on is kinda shitty.” So I’ve illustrated the point with a big dumb startup far away from us. The idea that if you build something “cool” people will show up just isn’t true; there are simply too many options out there. Cool is a starting point, not a destination.

**So, in an interesting twist, just an hour after I originally posted this, I got some feedback from a regular reader letting me know that she sometimes enjoys watching the occasional stream on Periscope, specifically from people working in television and radio. Let me therefore slightly revise my thesis: Periscope can be used to some decent effect by media professionals, especially when supplementing their other media efforts, like a radio host broadcasting what is going on live in studio. It can be done. However, that isn’t the norm and is in fact a very small, very specific subset of streams.

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“Next To Me,” Emeli Sande

I first heard the last half of this song coming in scratchy on the fading signal from some Adult Contemporary station the Seek button found for me outside Richmond a couple of years ago, hurtling down twisty Huguenot Trail at a fairly reckless speed, fingers popping and snapping unconsciously against the steering wheel — catching the rhythm and matching the irresistible forward propulsion of the drums, like the constant chuffchuffboom thrum of a tugboat diesel churning at harbor.

Not a great song, but a darn good one.

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Is Mindsense a start-up? I mean, they aren’t Microsoft, but they’re pretty well established…

Hell, they’re local. Let’s write about ’em.

They have a new product in soft launch called Throttle. I’m not going to explain it, because you can just click the link. Click it. Just CLICK IT! Jeez…you know I can see the metrics on the back-end, right? I know when you’ve read something and I know when you click stuff. CLICK IT.

Ok. I know you aren’t going to click it. So here’s the thing: Mindsense is trying to save email. They have Mail Pilot and now they have Throttle. And I like email. I know most people hate email, and it isn’t a perfect communication medium, but now that stamp-and-envelope letters are dead, it is really all we have left.

To quote Win Butler, “it may seem strange how we used to wait for letters to arrive, but what’s stranger still is how something so small can keep you alive.”

I don’t know…maybe I should hate email. The immediacy of it. No forethought, no effort. Reduced humanity.

What was I talking about? Oh, yeah, Throttle.

It is cool, I guess. Whatever. Click the link.

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Easter Update


 Happy Easter to those of you who observe the holiday, and “whatever Sunday” to those of you who don’t.

I’ve been working on a lil som’n som’n but y’all know how that goes…

I will be naming the real enemy like Sinead O’Connor here shortly, so keep your eyes peeled. It will be provacative and hard-hitting, taking no prisoners, and leaving a pile of burning corpses in its wake. It will smell like napalm in the morning.

Stay tuned.

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Charlottesville: Marcia :: Roanoke: Jan

Oooh, look at pretty blonde Charlottesville and her fancy new SXSW-clone “happening,” Tom Tom Founders Festival.

Cville, Cville, Cville!

Charlottesville gets all the sexy stuff, and we get dumpy old Norfolk Southern cheating on us with our dumb cousin Norfolk. What, you think just because “Norfolk” is in your name that it makes sense to have more of your employees there? Sounds inbred to me. I hope your kids turn out fugly. And if you’re gonna have a distributed workforce anyway, why couldn’t you cheat on Atlanta? Huh??? Why? What does she do for you that I never did? Why don’t you love ME?

Charlottesville doesn’t have this problem. They’re all like, “what? No, haha lol, I can totally eat this Royale with cheese and still look great in my bikini. LOL, I don’t even exercise, I just never gain weight! LMFAO love ya babez TTYL”

And do we seethe? No, not really; it’s copacetic. I hadn’t even heard of this new festival until this morning, and it starts in two weeks. Have you heard of it? Are you going? Are you interested in driving me? I call shotgun.

I was planning on finishing up that weird post about coworking today, but I thought this might be more interesting. Just wanted to bring it to the attention of my readers, in case all both of you had missed the news. (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!)

And if ya don’t know, now ya know.

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The Little Coworking Space That Could: the “unpublishable first draft” edition

You’re about to read a list.

MovelineThe Black Sheep; Heyo; BeHealth SolutionsVirtualU; Marketing Stick; Skill-capped; Ace of Sales; Rural System and Koofers.

What do these have in common? They are all IT start-ups and alumni of TechPad in Blacksburg. There are actually many more companies listed, but they either didn’t have clickable links from TechPad’s member page or the links were dead.

Even if you don’t know anything about these companies or their viability, that is a pretty impressive list.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It would be tempting but lazy to compare TechPad with CoLab in Roanoke and say, “See! Blacksburg is a more natural fit for tech start-ups; just look at that long list and compare to the – shall we say – meager start-up offerings on tap at CoLab!”

That would be a jerk thing to do, though, because all indications are that CoLab really is succesful. They don’t turn paying members away at the door just because their business ideas don’t revolve around disruption and/or unicorns (those are buzzwords, y’all). CoLab is a place for all kinds of workers and small businesses. It’s inclusive!

So, yeah, why AM I writing about TechPad…maybe if I keep tapping away at the keyboard there will be magic. Beep boop bop boop beep…

Nothing yet…

Oh, I know: coworking. Yeah…yeah!

Here’s the thing, right, about coworking or whatever:


:::fuck it, I lost my train of thought.

Did I mention that I hit my head doing pull-ups at the gym tonight? True story. I pulled my head right up into the bar. And I’ve got beastly strength, too. Probably gave myself brain damage like a boss.

Write more tomorrow? Question mark…

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People Are Weird: Xperience2015 Edition

It is hard to know whether weird people feel empowered by social media to be themselves, or if normal people are compelled toward awkwardness in their use of same, but either way, Twitter can produce odd outcomes in what outwardly seem straightforward exchanges.

Case in point: had a fella take the time to delete his depressed, cry-for-help tweet and respond to my response by telling me that responding to me wasn’t “worth his time” and then HE called ME weird. What?

Totally and completely beside the point, except I wrote him because he tweeted that he felt even more isolated in Roanoke after attending Xperience2015. Assuming that was a genuine statement, I responded like Daniel L. Crandall, with care and compassion. That didn’t work out so well.

None of that matters at all beyond the fact that I was following #xperience2015 and other related tags because I was really curious how this “Xperience” xperiment was going to work out. I want to be supportive of efforts to recruit and retain young professionals, but I’m just not sure they work. For instance, the premise of Xperience 2015 seems to have been that there are young professionals here in the Valley who need to be convinced to stay, and that an inclusive conference setting is a way to introduce them to people, ideas, and activities they didn’t already know about and which might help anchor them here in Noke. That doesn’t sound like an outrageously good time to me, and I have at least one really close friend on Twitter who thinks slitting his wrists would have been a more profitable use of his time.

Seriously, though, consider the example of Mr. Twitter. He is apparently a local young professional, and he made an effort to connect, giving up his Friday night and Saturday to do so. That is not nothing; that is a real commitment and a real attempt. What happened at this event that so badly backfired for this guy?

Were this a standard “networking” opportunity, I would first question whether this guy tends toward a wallflower personality, and second whether he knows himself well enough to know that he was not going to enjoy mingling at a cocktail party.

But I’m going to defend him and say (regardless of his personality type) the event certainly should not have been structured like that, and if it was, shame on the organizers. Folks who know how to schmooze and network don’t need a big dumb networking event to expand their network of people with whom to network. While I’m not opposed to that kind of crap generally, if the purpose of your event is to retain young people who are having a HARD TIME CONNECTING, then you have to make it easy for them and not herd ’em all into a room and just expect magical connections to start forming. If they were good at that sort of shit, they’d have already done it.

But on the other hand!: Yeah, so, on the other hand, we’re talking about a guy who tweeted his isolation and turned on the one person who responded with real empathy. So there’s that.

I’m willing to give this guy all the benefits of all the doubts – because it is my blog and I can – and say it is entirely possible he was joking about his isolation, or maybe he just got dumped by his girlfriend and so wasn’t in a great state of mind either at Xperience or on Twitter, or maybe he just thought I was trolling him. The force of my sexy baller persona is extremely intimidating; perhaps he couldn’t handle it. There are many possibilities.

To sum up, Xperience2015 may or may not have been a success/train wreck and people on Twitter are bitter/compassionate/weird/hopeful/confused.

Solid post.

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