Monday, October 08, 2007

One day in 2004, prior to the launch of Google Desktop, I was discussing a particular product feature with fellow Googler "Daffodil".

Daffodil: This feature is retarded! It actually makes people stupider. Every time I use it, I become a stupider person.

Millions of people now use that feature.

(To be fair, it went through an evolution and became more useful prior to launch.)

Also around that time, Daffodil and I discussed SMS text messaging. It was still a young technology, promoted via commercials on television.

Daffodil: Text messaging is the stupidest technology I've ever seen! Why on earth would you send a message instead of calling? Every single commercial shows some preposterous situation, like kids who are grounded, or coworkers badmouthing their boss at a meeting.

Today SMS is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, as we all know. In many countries, it has wider adoption than internet.

Daffodil is now an avid user of text messaging.


Seeing as how these technology predictions worked out so well for Daffodil, I decided I would also take a turn tonight.

My topic is

I think the idea behind is cute. It has a pleasant community aspect of discussing real-time events. When I watched it once for twenty minutes, I was amused by Justin navigating to a nightclub.

Justin himself seems like a nice fellow as well. I met him briefly this summer, though the meeting was cut short when he answered my question of "How many people are watching this right now?" His reply was 100x what I expected, because I was expecting three or at most five people. I blanched and bolted across the room.

In spite of its cuteness, I am perplexed that recently received funding. Is product placement a business model that will actually scale, as the company allows any user to be a lifecaster? How will short-attention-span America sift through the crap and get to actual interesting content?

I should state that I truly commend them on shooting for the stars. It's certainly better than making a ripoff of an existing service. I just don't see how it will leap from "cute" to "mainstream".

At dinner tonight:

Me: "You know"

Colleague: "Yeah, I thought it was a fad. Is it still going on?"

Me: "They just raised a series of funding."

Colleague: "Wait a minute. That's like funding LOLcats."


Anonymous said...

Good lawd. still exists? Seriously, Justin seems nice, but he's fairly transparent when it comes to who he wants to associate with and why. His insincere attention is sort of disgusting given that he's such an attention whore himself. * yawn *

John K. Lin said...

Yeah, I've met Justin as well, earlier this summer. I don't see as necessarily going after the "lifecasting market" but another resource for broadcasting live over the Internet.

I was surprised to watch on recently a recorded broadcast of a speech by Ron Paul on (I'm not a Ron Paul fan, but a few of my Google friends are)

I'm not sure how will survive long-term, but maybe it will find a profitable niche?

Philipp Lenssen said...

> How will short-attention-span America sift through the crap
> and get to actual interesting content?

Not sure about how interesting this stuff is for an American, but it holds extra information value to those not from the US. To me, even the ways, say, US fridges are designed are interesting. It can also help you catch some actual everyday language use to improve your English. Not that that made me a regular viewer, it's jus the part of these streams I find most interesting... and I wish every country had their own Justin or Jess so that you could tune in somewhere to learn about the culture & language(Japan, China, Australia, France...). So does it scale to bring enough ad money? Dunno, but don't forget the long tail of countries.

And now, tell us what Google service makes us all stupider. Is it the spellchecker? Then again, Google search itself is making us stupider in a way by removing the need to memorize stuff. Or rather, our brain reconfigures and devotes synapses to other stuff (creativity? "information scent"?).

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

booo! More posts on your shame about your ethnicity!

KE Liew said...

Now, if only this happens to many people. That'd be like...Wide Area Big Brother.

Jake said...

This is my favorite LOLCat pic. LOL

Anonymous said...

SMS was *already* used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide in 2004. This "Daffodil" guy's bombastic pomposity is matched only by his profound ignorance. Either that, or you're fudging facts and misquoting people again.

So, what was the Desktop feature?

Niniane said...

It was definitely in 2004, and it was about SMS. No fact-fudging this time.

Anonymous said...

hey where is your horse race post

Anonymous said...

Niniane: No fact-fudging this time.

But ... isn't 'honesty week' over? So you can go back to making stuff up? ^_^

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats the blunders of Guy Kawasaki, who refused to interview the CEO job of Yahoo in 95, and said Google was a dumb idea several years back. And personally I committed similar blunders, like not accepting offers from startups) that become high flyers, and not accepting the position at the team of my SCPD project partner at Google, in 01(I was too chicken scared after the dotcom bust). Sigh .... Instead of the high 6-figures I made from GOOG, I could have been sitting on low 8-figures. Well, I joined a sleeper company named AAPL, and has reclaimed some of the losses.:-)

Babacrash said...

As some people here, I was wondering why you had this discussion in 2004 about SMS. I am pretty sure that in France (and probably for the whole Europe) the boom of SMS was around 2000. Maybe this service was not yet offered at that time in the USA?

All the way your point is very interesting: the simplest things that can bring big success are often overlooked, especially by the elite. At least, this brings changes in the elite!