Wednesday, May 30, 2007


So I've begun reading Book of Illusions by Paul Auster, a sort of metaphysical thriller focused around a actor everyone thought was dead and a comparative literature professor who's lost his entire family in a tragic plane crash. And given that I'm literally 5 pages in I can't say much except the writing is very good, and other reviews indicate this novel delves into the definition of identity from an objective/subjective conflict.

But this novel got me thinking (and this thinking is also preventing me from sleeping, hence the 2:51am post) of this idea I had for a story. Essentially it's the idea of a first person narrator (for all extensive purposes, me) describing a fellow (for simplicity's sake, let's call this fellow JT) being stalked by his clone. We learn his clone, frighteningly, wants to assume JT's life by eventually assassinating him. But JT is one of those over analytical, indecisive types who's a bit passive aggressive and dislikes confrontation, and by implication so is his clone, so rather than being a thriller where he's trying to protect his life, the story revolves around JT experiencing the annoying existence of really mean and creepy emails/post-its/voicemails left by his clone. But ultimately, just like JT would NOT do, the clone is equally indecisive, passive/aggressive, and would never really kill JT. In fact these notes become so common that JT begins to accept them as part of his life - sort of like brushing your teeth in the morning or having afternoon coffee.

But the funny thing is that one day JT's clone mysteriously STOPS bugging JT about taking over his life. And this freaks out JT completely because he begins to realize how much meaning and worth JT's clone (or at least his weird notes) gave to his life. I mean think about it: if there's someone out there going to all this trouble to take your life, doesn't imply your life is amazing? I mean, think of all the people out there NOT being stalked or fantasized about - their lives probably suck and aren't worth anything. But not JT - he must have the gold standard of living, and so when his clone stops bugging him, well that's the same thing as saying you're not valued anymore. And so this annoys JT to no end.

Hmm. I may have ruined the story already. The flip side I would have is that the narrator (not JT) would actually be pursuing his clone, initially for medicinal reasons but eventually becoming a stalker like JT's clone. But that's beginning to sound too similar. I'll figure something out.

On another note: there's this tag function I have for each post which I haven't really been using. And I assume it's great if there were posts of similar topics you wanted to search for. But so far my topics have been so random I wonder if I'll ever return to the original topic. We'll see.


So I have a problem derived from my efforts to be healthy. I've recently starting adding bananas to my cereal, which sounded good from a potassium perspective. But unfortunately, because the cereal plus bananas accelerate the sogifying process of the cereal in my milk, I end up eating my breakfast way too quickly. It's like I'm in this race against those mythical soggies, who were the prime enemy in those rice krispies commercials, except that they're real and I can't lose. So I run this race, and while I generally win (and my cereal remains crunchy) I pay for it a few hours later with annoying acid reflux.

I also see this problem as a metaphor for life. We're all racing to prevent an eventuality that we sometimes can or cannot beat, but either way we pay for it at the end.

Geez, I meant that last sentence as a joke but it does sort of apply. I think I've depressed myself. Slightly.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Too much Indian food. Like TOO MUCH. But you know what? It's so good I don't care. But I do feel loaded down by a lead hammer in my belly.,

So I'm nearly done with Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and have all these crazy ideas in my heads. In particular, how pop culture really defines who we are and what we're about. But no one's really done this for business yet. How about: is there cultural signficance to Facebook/MySpace? What's about the general progression of past to modern business style? Or implicit meaning behind the iPod's success beyond consumer taste and delving into consumer philosophy. Sure this sounds a little nuts, but this is a blog: what the hell else am I going to write about? What I ate for dinner? (Dammit...never mind).

Let's tackle the first question. Quite recently Facebook announcement a major initiative to allow business/brands/anybody to develop applications on an open platform called F8. MySpace, on the other hand, is clamping down on widget companies to prevent unauthorized use of valuable profile real estate. And it's so weird because Facebook was this Nazish, single style controlled environment while MySpace was the free love, guitar stringing, high-on-'ludes version of your hippie uncle's social network. What we have now is a battle of epic proportions.

But not the one you're thinking of in terms of expanding user base and stealing advertising dollars. Well, that's a brewing conflict too but you can read 30 other blogs which address this issue; last thing I want to be is another industry commentator. No, what we have here is for more subtle yet 10x more significant. The winner of the Facebook vs. MySpace showdown will define the future of "cool."

Think about it. Your profile page in today's world reveals so much about you (and no, I don't mean reveals in the way some stalker would get excited). From hobbies, photos, interests, birthday...and this info and for what reason? To show the world who you are. And to find out about other people, ostensibly your friends and immediate network. It's personalized and customized. People used to chat on the phone for hours, or meet at the mall. Now we meet in cyberspace and "poke" each other. Yes, we've matured so much since the 80's.

But we lack something when we go online, and that is the imbued meaning and learning that stems from creating such connections. As a digital representation of yourself, a static profile page isn't the best representation of who you are. It's passive, non-interactive, and generally requires your input at all times to be interesting.

Now many companies are trying to evolve the use of this data into recommendations: radio, ChoiceStream, Aggregate Knowledge...and this is all great and fine because it's about recommended purchases or new content and everyone loves that (including the music industry). But at the end of the day it's a half-there concept because it takes passive data and creates passive analysis.

What would be more interesting (and extremely difficult) would be a dynamic homepage which "understands" the threads and connections between the various stated interested and content available on your profile. The fact that I like the Matrix and Linkin Park currently are two pieces of disparate, independent information with no logical thread and therefore no conclusion. But what if you could deduce that me liking those two elements revealed more about my personality and more importantly, derived some plausible meaning from that combination of preference? Because at the end of the day, all preferences, cultural or not, are driven by some personalized experience and philosophy. And garnering a better understanding of those particular pieces of data would not only help us sell better and more interesting products (beyond those concluded by simple collaborative filtering) but also uncover deep insight into our enigmatic and often irrational psyches. Thus, we shift from "user generated content" whereby users create content as inputs and sharing and exploration, to "generated content for the user" where the profile itself produces insights and analyses of the profile which provide reflection and perspective otherwise unknowing to the regular user.

Is this possible? Unsure. Am I nuts? Possibly. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


So I've been reading a lot of Chuck Klosterman who writes in this all out style, seemingly unedited for wordiness, sentence structure, style, etc. (quite the difference from the sentence correction studying I'm doing for GMAT. Fucking modifiers - those little buggers are really hanging me up). But it's amazing how we can elevate all the seemingly pointless TV shows, music, movies, all those elements of pop culture which we might consider as indicators of a declining society as meaning less about the content itself and more about who we are and why, for whatever reason, we love such inane crap.

For instance, Paris Hilton. EVERYONE dislikes her (Not hate, because that's a word we'd reserve for Al Qaeda or Pat Buchanan). She's described as vapid, shallow, whiny, and she's become this incredible scapegoat to unlodge all our unhappy annoyances with modern society.

But as I mentioned before, it's not really "her" we dislike, but those qualities we associate with her. We don't know the "real" Paris Hilton - we get TV glimpses and AMAZING Carl's Jr commercials showing off her 2%-body-fat-possibly-anorexic-body in a bikini - but very few people "know" her. It's the "idea" of her, of what she represents, that gets everyone's blood boiling. She's essentially that super hot, super bitchy cheerleader in high school whom every guy wanted to bone, in the context that the entire US is sometimes one giant high school. And so it was brilliant when she actually released a music video playing that role (see here).

So maybe what I'm saying is simple more anthropological in that what becomes popular or hated or spread or talked about reveals less about that thing which is popular/hated/spread/talked about and more about what we, as a people, deeply care about. The tricky part, of course, is: what do we care about? and how can we make some money off it?

Well, more importantly, what does it mean to all of us?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Boundary theory

From conversations or past entries you'll notice several of my thoughts are preoccupied with the conflict between faith vs. agnosticism vs. atheism, and the overall role of religion. As a churchgoing Catholic for over two decades who then became agnostic in what one might call a long term, reverse vocation, this is a conflict which I often contemplate in between thinking about monetizing user generated content and consuming massive amounts of alcohol.

On the walk home today, though, I think I can describe the inherent tension. First off, some gross simplifications about human thought. If we think about the sum of all human knowledge, we have to consider that as great a value currently is (and currently growing), this value is also finite. One might analogize to the universe; our sum total knowledge is consistently growing but not ever present. There are, to the chagrin of the most brilliant and arrogant members of our species, limits to what we know.

For centuries, when the "space" of human knowledge was relatively small, religion and faith played in both our understanding of the known and unknown. Why does the sun rise? Well it's one of the wheels of Apollo. Why'd you fall in love? Well it's Cupid's arrow. And so forth.

With science and knowledge we began to recognize that we could begin explaining more and more phenomena through experiments, analysis, and concepts. And so the boundary expanded. But not so much where religion and faith couldn't still play a role. Sure, the earth revolves around the sun, explaining the appearance of rising and falling, but something had to create the sun? Ah yes, that must have been the Big G. Why'd you fall in love? Well, that was probably due to hormones and bad parenting (you always did like the boy Daddy wouldn't approve). But still, love as a concept still appears transcendent - the Big G strikes again!

As long as science played in the boundaries, while expanding those boundaries, religion and faith could coexist with it, kind of like that neighborhood kid riding outside your door. He seems harmless enough; sure he's a little loud with the crashing noises he makes but hey, he's only 7 and you deal with it.

But today, with the vitriol between theists and new atheists, the conflict has become somewhat unavoidable - they meet at that boundary. You can't blame the atheists/agnostics: within all the knowledge and learning we've uncovered, there hasn't been one iota of evidence to suggest a higher being or supernatural phenomena. And it must piss off these skeptics when fundamentalists want to REVERSE proven theories like evolution with factless concoctions like intelligent design. We've expanded the boundary so far, we can no longer accept the old myths of virgin births and rising from the dead. Certainly, there is great symbolic and significant value of such stories, but we cannot delude ourselves in believing without evidence such obvious fables (though certainly well written). And the religionists can only run further away, hiding in the shadows outside the boundary (what Dawkins refers to as Gap theory, in that religion exists in the "gaps" of human understanding.)

But here's the rub: as much as we've learned and continue to learn, we're still at a boundary. It's still and always will be finite. I'm not saying we give up our question for knowledge - we must push forward ever diligently to expand our understanding of this universe. There will, however, be things which evade not just understanding, but even our basic attempts at comprehension. These are things like Taoist/Buddhist doctrines, the idea of consciousness and what comes before/after, and which Olson twin is hotter.

While I doubt the existence of a higher being (but not doubt it completely), I admit that there are probably some cosmic phenomena out there which we can see but never truly understand. And at the end of the day, I don't want to yell or shoot or bomb anyone about that. I just want to acknowledge this ignorance, do what I can understand it, but if not, have my own peace of mind.

Virtual lockers

So I've been playing with a few of these services (see last post) and so far they all seem to fall short.
1. Avvenu: Great interface, but needs an upload monitoring progress bar (which is still slow) and track by track upload functionality
2. Mediamaster: Great upload speed, great interface, cool widget but playback is a little esoteric; limited opportunities to purchase.
3. Tagworld: Doesn't quite work, not sure why; this is more of a social networking site anyway
4. Sideload: interesting desktop sync function but still kind of slow
5. Decent widget but painfully slow upload; a little "too" robust with tons of feature creep.

We're in the early stages of virtual locker for music use only because it takes too long, the interfaces are still clunky, and virtual vs. physical storage distinction isn't that great. But it could change...

What would be interesting? Partnering with (which does have radio widgets) or slacker to provide recommended tracks for purchase and sharing within one's virtual locker. But that seems obvious. More interesting: adding a tagging function ala delicious or digg for tracks found on the web, which would then be recorded in the virtual locker (again for purchase, no piracy bullshit here). This preference data would then be posted to see which ones are being shared the most.

More interesting, and obviously more complicated, would be identifying top 3-5 song groupings. Because some tracks, like Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars and Death Cab's Someday You Will be Loved, would tend to be together (hypothetically).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Not a bad mashup.

I'm actually not a huge fan of Anchorman. It's funny but not as great as Old School or Wedding Crashers. Maybe I just don't relate to being a retarded anchorman. The Afternoon delight solo was classic though.

Also, testing something out.

Click Here to Share Your Music

Get your own widget and share anywhere!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Startup idea

That's TWO days in a row! I am a champion of consistency.

Lots of purchasing behavior lately: Bebo/Yahoo, Photobucket/MySpace, ad firm/search engine. Safe to say Bubble 2.0 is upon us.

How's this for a startup idea? A social network around donuts. Which varieties are best. Local vs. nat'l franchises. Top flavors and toppings. When people eat them, how they eat them. Videos of people eating donuts. Music of donut songs. Donut shaped widgets for your MySpace profile. Interactive donuts.

MyDonut. YouNut. 'NutBook. Along with advertising from donut shops, coffee/pastry/cardiace surgeons would pay high CPM's to obtain coverage. Hell, I could license the numerous songs to be synched with donut-oriented slide shows.

I think a fair value would be $750M. Which would come out to be about $75M per user. At that price I don't think I'd be selling out.

Man, I'm getting hungry. I could use a croissant or something right now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


So I just ran from midtown all the way to WTC, ran up a little bit, took the subway (yeah I know I cheated here but c'mon) up to 88th, and then ran back down to my apt. I feel totally fuckin' high right now. I imagine my legs will be killing me (actually I could guarantee that) tomorrow but right now they feel like pieces of hollowed out aluminum, completely oblivious to the trauma I just forced them to endure.

Am I showing off? Sure I am. I'm a machine I tell ya, the 6 million dollar man.

Okay, so the new Linkin Park album came out and while some critics are giving it shit, I'm lovin' it. Sure a few tracks are a little strained, but the new styles they're trying out are pretty nifty - a sort of edgier U2/Keane/Snow Patrol direction.

Anyway, given that I'm checking out all these interactive radio sites (some of which are a little TOO interactive) I wanted to share this playlist from FineTune. You have to program a 45 track playlist, with the option of selecting a few and having their AI fill out the rest. I actually programmed every frickin' song (you're welcome). Three of my favorite tracks from the LP album are in the playlist (because it gets played randomly you'll have to wait to actually hear them) but there's a lot of other songs I chose to maintain a mellow feel. Death Cab, Ben Folds, Snow Patrol...yeah I know it's a little mainstream. I'll built out a Shins/Strokes/Coldplay player later (even more not operate machinery after listening).

Bloggin' it

After reading about the relative success of Paul Shirley's new book as an NBA journeyman, I thought to myself:
1. He's not a bad writer - quite witty and funny. Wait, I'm witty and funny...sometimes. What if I could capture it for posterity's sake, to prove to my friends that yes, at times I was witty and funny, and not all serious and pseudo-philosophical most of the time? That was a long sentence. Am I supposed to end it with a question mark, because it began really long...
2. He had a unique perspective at an insider's only industry on which most people have an opinion. And I work in the music industry, which we all is is extremely stable. (I should probably add a pseudo lawyer's note that this blog represents only my views on not those of the music label which employs me .)
3. Imagine if he kept this own blog and, provided the viewership was high enough, he could just get checks rolling in from syndicating ads via Adsense or the rest. Yes - this is my dream. Having enough readers enjoy this so I can get a fat check.

Okay I'll keep it short. My friend who shall remain nameless (EE) recently remarked my entries were way too long. Instead I'll look to write several times in Price Club like sample sizes (seriously, aren't those samples the best thing? Go in the morning and just snack on your shopping trip. Free lunch baby.)