Why? Here’s the quick version:
A little more on that middle part about City Notes, the mobile startup I’ve been working on with my friend Mark Dorison. We’ve spent this year designing and building a new app that we think you’re really going to like — we’ll show you more when it’s ready. It’s the kind of thing that I hope we’ll still be working on many years from now, with a strong business, brand, and team. For now, I’ll be putting my evenings and weekends into it, with the plan that it will eventually become my day job. Why not raise a bunch of VC money and go nuts? We might do that, someday — but we’re waiting for the right time and the right partners.
What about this site, SplatF? If you’ve been here since the beginning, I started SplatF almost three years ago as an experiment in self-publishing. I’ve learned a lot! For a while, there, I was even making a real run at it. And I’ve loved seeing others flourish on their own: John Gruber’s always-sold-out Daring Fireball sponsorship now costs $9,500 a week — when I started this site, it was $5,500.
But three years doing the Stay-At-Home Brooklyn Writer Thing was enough for now: I’m actually really, legitimately excited to be in an office again, getting dressed before noon, having a bunch of interesting coworkers, and working on things with other people. There’s a real market gap in what I’d call “interesting tech stories that actually matter” and chasing that sounds a lot more fun — to me, at least — than selling podcast sponsorships. More soon.
If you control storage and sync, you control a lot. (There’s not much left but apps, media, and the pipe.)
Dropbox has storage and sync, and now a growing collection of apps: Mailbox, which is expanding to the desktop, and now Carousel, a photo- and video- sharing app. Expect more of these consumer and business productivity apps — both homemade and via acquisition. The Dropbox OS is taking shape.
Given the choice, I’d probably rather someday buy a Dropboxbox than a Chromebook.
Twitter’s new profile page — more photos, featuring your best tweets, etc. — isn’t really about copying Facebook or making a simple service more cumbersome. Rather, it seems to be about establishing your Twitter page as your main profile page on the entire Internet. And that I’m excited about.
In my case, no address on the web offers a better picture of who I am than my Twitter stream — not my LinkedIn profile, not my Facebook profile, certainly not my two infrequently updated blogs, nor any biographical page from previous jobs. I’ve never set up an About.me page, and probably never will.
But linking someone to my current Twitter page is also a waste: Beyond the Follow button and two-sentence bio, there isn’t much utility there. My visible tweets, sorted by recency, are mostly out-of-context replies to other people. No one is going to get the right idea about me by reading those.
But it’s easy for Twitter to fix this, and it seems to be on the right page. The most obvious things to display at the top of my ideal Twitter profile are some of my best tweets, whether they’re picked by me or by Twitter’s algorithms. (If you’ve ever seen Twitter’s analytics feature, you can already filter your stream to identify “good” and “best” tweets.) Twitter could also highlight the most popular links I’ve shared, my best photos, and maybe even my most interesting followers or the people I chat with the most.
That’s a page worth sharing, and one worth referencing as my homepage/profile page across the Internet.
For the past few days, I’ve been obsessed with a new app called Secret. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s basically a simple feed of anonymous “secrets” that people are posting in public, with only a tiny hint who’s sending it — a “friend” (someone in your phone’s contact list), “friend of friend”, or someone further away.
While many of the posts are boring or tacky — I kinda love how the Silicon Valley community has immediately displayed how shallow, petty, and defensive it is, despite endless claims to the contrary — some are shockingly compelling. Many are funny, some are scandalous, and some are touching. One guy in New York just posted a photo of an engagement ring, with the note “She said no.” Who knows if it’s real or fake — that’s part of the fun — but it makes you think.
Secret is easily the fastest-growing social app I’ve ever used. Judging by the double-digit “loves” and comments many of my posts have already received, it’s growing way faster than Instagram did.
The billion-dollar question is whether Secret will still be a vibrant, growing community in a few months. It could totally be a fun, quick fad, à la Chatroulette or Dots. Or if people keep posting and commenting, it could go on to become one of the great social networks.
One big thing Secret has going for it is the relative freedom to post stuff you’d never post on Twitter — thoughts about your job, relationship, friends, whatever — without the concern of being outed or fired. (All of this assumes that Secret’s security isn’t compromised, which is never a guarantee.) This is always going to be an asset that Facebook or Twitter can’t easily copy. But by definition, Secret must also leave out many great features that public social networks have: The ability to build a following, get credit for your best posts, share your secrets more widely, or see who’s communicating with you. Before you smirk, these aren’t just features of Twitter or Facebook — they’re basic traits of human nature.
On Secret, you’re not building your personal brand or any digital relationships — you’re building Secret’s brand, and blowing off some steam. On a short-term basis, for most people, that’s totally fine. But for the long run, it’s not clear whether people will put much effort into Secret once the novelty wears off.