Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

Didn't love it. But love that I finished it. Been a while since...

Still not done with "Atlas Shrugged".

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Web Out Loud






It's not that you want to know. But if you did, this post alone could tell you that I was up at some ungodly hour writing this entry from somewhere in New York City. Not sure how eerily close you can get to triangulating my coordinates. But to be honest, it's not something that I'm too concerned about.

--

Over dinner last night, my colleagues and I got into a discussion about "our generation." As far as I can tell, age forces one to make increasingly frequent references to his and her generation. So in age appropriate fashion, that's what we did.

During this conversation, one person in the group mentioned how difficult it would be to build a product that wins the minds and eyes of kids currently in high school. The social disruption that is Facebook happened to me at the age of 19, whereas folks currently in high school have been raised on the platform - with or without parental consent.

Thinking about this is shocking, even if not a novel discovery on our parts. Emerging generations - if you will - have increasingly become socialized in a fashion that makes living life out loud on the web has become the norm. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to any niche network you can name, there has been a grand shift toward sharing more and more data. However, some differ in opinion about the benefits you get in return.

Spending nearly a decade in Silicon Valley before making the move to New York likely played a large role in my desensitization toward privacy issues. While I was never the one to sit down like a good web citizen and read every TOS or privacy policy, I did trust in the power of the crowd to surface any glaring irregularities. I took solace in knowing that if some fun app came along stating that it could lay claim upon some core aspect of my online identity, other webizens would spring into action. The company would be shamed and some degree of corrective action would be taken. Checks and balance.

However, beyond the brute force of the crowd, I think that my "generation" and those more aged  than I take pause around online privacy issues because we've all lived in a world that predated dual identities. I mean, my last post literally talked about my uneasiness with offline discussion about my online behavior. It doesn't freak me out, but it is something that is slightly jarring and unexpected. Even now, with over 10 years experience of social networking awesomeness.

Yet still, my awareness of the subtle mental gulf between my two identities helps me to embrace it further and better refine the way the two interact. For this reason, I think I am far more dismissive of some vocal minorities that seem to suggest that many value-additive features of the web are efforts to create a Big Brother-esque stronghold over who we are and what we do.

What we may be missing in these discussions around privacy and what companies should be able to know about us online is that fact that we may have already tipped. The kids that will file into high school classrooms in a few hours are so deeply engaged and immersed in internet-based activity that having a web that knows and adapts to them in a highly intelligent (or what some older folks may call creepy) fashion. This will be the front along which differentiation will occur as tech continues trucking forward.

Discussion around the online and offline will slowly fade out. Instead, in a world of increased connectedness, people will find it more difficult to unplug. Yet, I believe that people have already become more unwilling to unplug. So if I ever try my hand at building a web-based business, I will approach it with a belief that people want to be watched, understand as something more than a pattern, and improved upon to the greatest extent possible.

If you fundamentally believe that the web is good, the future of tech excites you. But if you fundamentally believe that the web is a scary place filled with pitfalls and potholes, there's much more in store that's probably going to freak you the fuck out.

Godspeed.
@drayford

Sunday, April 14, 2013

When My Worlds Collide



Apparently I know a lot about #moms. I don't know where this started and I don't know when it started. All I know is that on Klout, I've been deemed to be an influencer in the realm of the motherly.

This is both uncomfortably awkward and terrifically amazing. All at once.

The awesome part lies in the fact that some fancy algorithm out there seems to believe that what I have to say has some type of meaning of import to those that are listening (or reading or whatever you want to call it). But, the awkwardness comes from those moments when the real world collides with the virtual world. In other words, when my expertise in the realm of moms comes up during face to face interactions with other people.

Yes - that's when things get weird.
---
Just the other night, while walking to Von Bar on Bleecker Street, I zoned out for a bit while a few friends were talking about activity on Instagram. Must've been the five glasses of wine I had during open bar at the charity date auction.

"You haven't been posting much since Iceland."

When I looked up, I realized that this was a reference made toward me and my dry spell on the photo filtering app.

"Damn, I didn't realize that anyone paid much attention to my posting patterns."

It felt nice to know that someone looked forward to the pictures that I take. Sort of a testament to my ability to select the best possible filter before sharing images out via Facebook, Twitter and every other social network box that I can mark in the app. Yet, I was again made uncomfortable by this willingness to make real world references to my virtual presence.

For the longest time, I was accustomed to divided my conversations. Online postings were simply my ramblings at and with the "interwebs." But now, as I find myself deeply embedded in the school environments, I've found offline chatter about online chatter spark back up. Almost to the level it reached in undergrad after had finished having their minds blown about the advent on Facebook and modern social networking.

By no means does this discomfort mean that I'll begin to further filter the types of things that I say on the internet. I'll keep talking about #moms and I'll keep racking up those Klout points as the company's algorithm sees fit. Yet, it does mean that I'll need to be prepared for the real world consequences of my musings. Perhaps I'll just start to prepare a set of offline talking points to go along with each post that I share that manages to get the attention of more than a handful of people.

And if you'd like to get a sense of what I actually know about moms, you can always follow me on Twitter!

Yours truly,
@drayford

Saturday, April 6, 2013

#eexsummit2013



Managed to round out my week on a high note. I had the honor of leading one of the four crawls organized as part of the NYU Stern Entrepreneurs Exchange annual summit. Instead of trapping folks indoors while the weather was so nice, we sent groups of students out to companies like Fab.com and Foursquare. Yours truly was lucky enough to lead a group of folks to chat with betaworks, a startup law specialist from Herrick and theCEO of OpenSky. Couldn't have asked for more candid hosts!

In a week that saw me take two midterms and finally figure out how to submit time sheets for my internship, I've gotta admit that participating in the crawl was my favorite. 

Looking forward to organizing this event again next year!

Musings on Google Glass



I recently had a chance to compile some pretty pictures in an effort to share my thoughts on Google Glass. Specifically, I argue that companies should take a "gentle" (whatever that means to you) approach when seeking to distribute on a platform that sits directly above a user's line of sight.

Unsure what the future holds for Glass, but this is just further proof that the Cyborgs are coming. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

InSITE Pitch Day


It's pretty crazy to think that the Spring InSITE Pitch Day is coming up in a little over a week! Next Friday's event will serve as a testament to how quickly times flies. Can't believe I'm almost done with my first year of b-school.

At any rate, InSITE is one of the most influential contributors to my quest to experience NYC's entrepreneurial community. Last semester's Pitch Day was an amazing opportunity for all of the fellows to see what their counterparts were working on while watching entrepreneurs present to a packed audience filled with venture capitalists, other entrepreneurs, students, press and more!

If your schedule permits, I strongly encourage you attend the event which runs from 8:00 am - 11:00 am on April 5th, 2013. You can sign up for free here!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Girls Season Finale: You know what they say about good things


..

They come to a screeching halt and/or die a painfully slow death.

I hate to be grim here, but I finally got around to watching the season finale of "Girls". And to say the least, I was a bit disappointed. Sure, Marnie realized via an act of oral pleasure and a not-so veiled understanding of Charlie's wealth that she wanted to be with him forever. She even showed acceptance of his ethnic flare by confessing her willingness to give birth to his little brown babies. It was a heartfelt moment.

And what about Shoshanna! Props to Shoshanna for ditching Ray and refocusing her attention on her youth. She sat there calmly and told Ray that he should see a shrink given that she couldn't handle being the only thing in his life that he didn't hate. Her delivery is intended to make the viewer uncomfortable, but the poise with which she handled the situation was refreshing. She stuck to her guns and scored herself an opportunity to make out with a hot guy in the bar. F yeah!

But Hannah...I don't know where to begin with Hannah. It's as if Lena Dunham's sole purpose for this season was to make viewers resent Hannah's character and her childish shenanigans. The episode sees her failing to live up to her professional obligations and running to Daddy for help with avoiding a potential lawsuit. It is an episode that also includes an uncomfortably awkward scene in which Hannah's hides under her bed to avoid talking to Marnie. This childish game of cat-and-mouse was one that Marnie was not willing to play.

Adam, in all his shirtless glory, ultimately comes to rescue poor Hannah from her resurfacing bouts of that "OCDC shit" that she'd told him about. This sequence is pretty comical given his own mental instability. Perhaps the unwillingness of his abnormally attractive girlfriend to participate in kinky sex acts grew a bit too off-putting for someone with such an adventurous track record in the sack as Adam. But it's cool, despite all of his eccentricities, he still manages to own an iPhone that enables him to use FaceTime as a tool to exist with his mission to rescue Hannah from herself.

By the way, where the hell did Jessa go? I'd really love to know what she's up to and if she's safe while refusing to check her voicemail.

Look, I still love this show. But I'm not quite sure where they aim to take things next. If there is a merciful God above, I'm sure he or she will do what they can to ensure that Marnie and Charlie's road to happiness collapses beneath them. At which point, Marnie will become an aimless hostess once more looking for meaning in his personal and professional life. And Shoshanna will continue to make herself and the people around her uncomfortable as she progresses throug her collegiate years.

But, will Jessa come back? Her character has been the odd ball out since encountering irreconcilable differences with our friend the venture capitalist. Perhaps she'll spiral into the occasional cameo appearance via phone call while she sets up shop as a free spirit resigned to traveling endlessly throughout Southeast Asia and periodically making love to European tourists.

More importantly, will Hannah grow up? Dunham has done a mighty fine job of stretching out Hannah's antics for two seasons. But I'm not sure how many more calls home to her parents or instances of being topless for an entire episode that the viewing public can take. While Dunham may not believe it, I'd like to believe that there is a way to make Hannah's character compelling without sending her into a dark abyss called writer's block and/or a mental breakdown. I remember the days past (namely, the days I spent at home in December watching season one of the show). During the first season, you kinda had to love the adorable naivete that Hannah brought to the table. She didn't know shit about jobs or about being tactful or about not wearing the awkward jumper outfits everywhere she went. For the first season, these behaviors were adorable and a large part of why I gravitated to the show.

Unfortunately, Hannah's character has to show some type of meaningful growth. I know far too many young "girls" that are doing more out there than kinda sorta figuring it out. Hannah can't let the other characters evolve while she stands still, wading in a pool of immaturity (or a pool of Cool Whip). She owes it to her viewers and to the overall well-being of the "Girls" story line to figure out how to make Hannah more complex, more responsible and more grounded in reality. The ability for Hannah to keep leaning on retorts about her thoughts on X, Y and Z as a child is wearing dangerously thin. She'll need to give us some degree of substance that I fear she won't be able to unpack while she continues getting weird with the shirtless, temperamental wonder Adam.

To be clear - I wasn't a huge fan of the season finale. But to be realistic - I'll most definitely be anxiously awaiting the arrival of season 3 to see if Lena can figure out a way to right the things that I perceive to be wrong with the way that season 2 shook out.

And in the spirit of not over thinking a show that wasn't made for me, I hereby promise to stop watching the show if my sweet, sweet Marnie actually ends up getting married or moving to California or doing something else that will jeopardize my ability be in love with her fictional and non-fictional manifestations.

PS - Does anyone have recommendations for other shows that I can watch? If not, this is gonna be a lonely wait for season 3...