Thursday, January 31, 2013

Startup Standouts: Startup Genome


Startup Genome makes software that allows startups to benchmark and compare themselves to others similar in progress and type. The tool collects data and helps startups identify key performance indicators and make data driven decisions.

Location: San Francisco
Size: < 10 people
Funding: Seed, N/A
FoundersBjoern Lasse Herrmann (CEO) / Max Marmer (CSO) / Ertan Dogrultan (CTO)

Why it stands out:
- Quality industry and geographical research reports and frameworks based on data collected from a myriad of startups
- Takes the lead on building much needed risk and performance tools for entrepreneurs
- Historical combination of academics and practitioners involved, as founders, employees, and advisers
- Systemizing and synthesizing startup data across the globe is vital to the future of entrepreneurship

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge: Book Review

Author: George Berkeley (with introduction by Kenneth Winkler)

Length: 87 pages (plus a 36 page introduction)

What is ItAn argument against abstractionism*. A philosophical exercise in defense of immaterialism**. An examination of the consequences of success with the aforementioned- on philosophy, science, and atheism. A philosophical basis for the existence of a divine power. Principles is organized in 156 paragraph-like sections, which largely break Berkeley's arguments into digestible blocks.

What's SaidEverything we perceive exists in the mind (ideas and objects). The mind is the only thing of substance. Nothing can exist independently of it. Every thing that is, therefore exists only there. Abstraction of ideas is not directly perceivable and is therefore impossible. This foundation of materialism is the cause of much confusion in philosophy, science and religion. Things cannot cause ideas or vice versa. Cause and effect as we know it therefore does not exist. Things and ideas can only be caused by minds because minds are the only substances capable of defining an intentional purpose. As imagination exists in ours, the real world of sense exists in that of a superior mind. God therefore exists.

What's TrueIt takes a while to understand the ebb and flow of Berkeley's writing style. This edition is well organized: useful companion notes, reference notes, timelines and a glossary. Berkeley is obsessed with language/semantics and its connection to thoughts and things. His arch enemy is apparently John Locke, whom he singles out several times. Berkeley is a very witty and pithy debater, as a result this book is sometimes very entertaining! Berkeley defends his argument more than he advances it. It is not obvious at first, but he has an agenda - convincing the reader to logically accept the existence of God. Principles is a somewhat challenging read, thus it is not necessarily a page turner. Despite that, when it comes to philosophical texts, this is a very accessible piece of work.

So What: On occasion it is worth reading a book that challenges the way you think. This is a relatively short (albeit dense) treatise that does just that. Principles challenges fundamental views of the world, which means that it pushes you to think: differently, empathetically, and critically. This also makes Principles an exercise in patience and persistence, but these are all of the things that make reading philosophy rewarding.

Final Word: Worthwhile Read

Concrete Examples from Winkler in the Berkeley School of Thought:
* Abstractionism: The abstract idea of "man" [for example] represents every man without representing any man in particular. It is an indifferent representation of all men. [Berkeley's view is that this] "man" must be the product of some kind of mental manufacturing because this would be an image (a kind of object) of a very unusual kind - try to imagine a "man" without all the ideas of particular men derived from experience directly. [It is impossible].
** Immaterialism: If a tree falls in the forest when there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? [According to Berkeley], if there is really no one around, then not only is there no sound, but there is no tree, and no forest. [Berkeley believes] there [is] no material substance. [That which we think is], is only a collection of ideas which depends for its existence on the mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The Heist. Album Sketch

year: 2012

tones of: big boi, eminem, the streets, mac miller (i.e. cleaner version of)

genre samples: brass, southern rap, alternative hip hop, british rap, electronic

music: smooth, light, energetic, melodic, rhythmic, exciting, upbeat

lyrics: straight forward, sober (no pun intended), unabashed, unashamed, earnest, thoughtful, middle america, refreshing

flow: matter of fact, beatnik, just is, adaptable, straight, simple

favs: ten thousand hours, make the money, same love, neon cathedral, white walls, starting over (lyrically rawest song)

best guest: allen stone on neon cathedral (so much soul)

note: the production on this album is just atmospheric

score: 7.5/10

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mobile Is The New New Internet

Ok. That title is not really saying anything that has not been said before, but wait a second, we can go further. What does a mobile future look like? Now that requires some critical thinking and creativity. Well then maybe we can get somewhere new new.

The future of mobile is:

More Passive 
Mobile at the moment requires a considerable amount of attention and focus. Think about screen face - at the dinner table, driving in the car, walking on the street. The future of mobile is software that increasingly requires secondary effort from the user. It suggests instead of prompts. It learns instead of asking. It more than merely exist for your usage, it does. It is an experience that on net, does not subtract from human interaction. (1)

More Personal
Mobile is physically personal. You move your tablet around with you more than your laptop. You carry your smart phone with you more than any other device. The future of mobile is software that makes your phone as personal to you as the decision you made to always have it. Right now you do the tailoring, but the future of mobile is an experience tailored to you. (2)

More Practical
The explosion of mobile has been primarily social. The internet was driven by enterprise first, social really came later. The future of mobile looks more balanced too. This is more software that helps solves every day problems. This is more software that helps businesses get work done. This is more software that helps educate people. It is an alternating push forward on the productivity front. (3)

More Explorative
The mobile you is active. It is about going and doing. The future of mobile means more knowledge about what you are doing and where you are going. And as a result it is more information about what you could be doing and where you might be going. It is a richer experience layered on top of the real world, on standby for when you are ready to do and go. (4)

More Open
Yes, in the long run we are all dead, but in the long run open wins. It does not look that way now, but there are too many moving parts and too much at stake for it not too. Mobile to too big and unruly. It is sorting out the timing that is the difficult part. That aside for now, the future of mobile is platforms that put control and flexibility in the hands of developers and users the way the internet has done with information. (5)

More Central
Mobile right now is mostly an isolated experience, but there is no reason for it always to be. The future of mobile is seamless integration with other technology devices in your home, your car, your office. This means that other stationary devices start to get applications as well. This would allow you to control your immediate experience here, and your future experiences elsewhere. (6)

1. [This may manifest itself with personal trackers and cross communicating applications. Some current examples include Foursquare's new feature suggesting places based on your likes, Chronos analyzing your time passively based on where you've been*.]
2. [This may manifest itself through the centralization of identification into personal/private clouds and algorithmic learning functions based on your activity. This is our mobile learning curve.]
3. [This is already manifesting itself. Some current examples include getting on the move with Uber, synchronizing your thoughts on Evernote.]
4. [This may manifest itself with augmented reality. Google glasses is a major player effort in this direction.]
5. [This may manifest itself with Android or some other as yet to be developed platform eventually beating iOS. Think about the history of the web/internet with AOL and the browser.]
6. [This may manifest itself through the internet of things and low cost tagging. Examples include applications for your television, home security system or refrigerator.]

* Full disclosure: I know the founders of Chronos.