I like the mess

“Twitter isn’t good for conversations”

I heard that line in a conversation yesterday. It was probably the 400th time I’ve heard that line since I started using the product

The statement usually is followed by a few other lines like

-you can’t have a conversation in 140 characters
-there is too much noise
-there should be comments for each tweet ( a la Facebook or Instagram )
-it needs to be better structured
-others can’t see all of the @mention unless you follow all parties
-it’s too messy

I have a different view.

I like the mess.

Actually I don’t think it’s a mess at all.

If you think about it, twitter is actually extremely civil and the community is for the most part extremely positive.

Compare @mentions on any given tweet to the cesspool which lives inside YouTube comments. I have no idea what happened at YouTube but their comments are nuts.

People may disagree with my tweets and people often do but it hardly if ever gets nasty.

And I follow the various discussions on twitter routinely. It works. Elegantly and quickly.

Further twitter isn’t a merely a news or broadcast medium. It’s something completely different. Importantly, there is a back channel. It’s alive and well. And we all have a voice. We can tweet back. We can @reply. We can use hashtags. Our voice and our 140 characters belong to us. And we can use it to shout, sing, laugh, cry, celebrate, mourn and yes, we can even argue.

I once saw a video of Clay Shirky giving a talk about open source software. He tells the story about a big former client of his who couldn’t understand how or why members of the open source community would help each other out – for free.

If I recall correctly, the line he used in the talk was “the client couldn’t understand it [open source] could work in reality because they couldn’t possibly imagine it working in theory”.

I feel the same way when people say that twitter won’t work for conversations. Public conversation at such scale isn’t supposed to work in theory. But it does work in reality.

(Please excuse any typos and lack of links. Wrote this post on my iPhone in a bumpy cab)

Ah, stealth mode

I’ve read several posts over the years from VCs discussing whether stealth mode as a startup is a good thing or a bad thing. Those that oppose stealth mode say you are only hurting yourself by not coming out early (feedback, mentorship, recruiting, investor interest, etc etc).

Just look at YC and TechStars startups as good examples. Or Kickstarter projects. They are amazingly open at a very early age. There are clear benefits.

But there are some founders that know exactly what they want to build but because of the complexities involved it could take 9-12 months to launch. And some of those founders choose to remain in stealth mode until they take the covers off.

There are plenty examples of companies that start in stealth mode, recent example include Nest Labs and Aero operated as Bamboom Labs before launching.

Back in the day (late 90’s) stealth mode was more popular or at least that is my perspective. Before publicly launching as WebTV Networks, the founders hid behind the name Artemis Research for about a year. I love that the site is till up and running.

Before co-founding Android, Andy Rubin, Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson created Danger Research. I can’t find the original website but it was amazingly creative. It had these little videos of a gorilla and a girl skipping with dynamite. And a countdown until launch (hopefully someone can find a link).

And then there was other successes like Optigrab and not so successful but well hyped Ginger.

Anyway, this post isn’t meant to suggest that stealth mode is a good thing or a bad thing per se.

But I do appreciate what stealth mode represents to me — namely an idea that takes a long time to build with founders that are wonderfully proud, crazy ambitious with a healthy dose of paranoia.


First Day of My Life — Bright Eyes

Lauren and I got married 18years ago today. I fell for that girl hard when I met her. We are both a bit older than those salad days but with each year we grow closer and continue to build our lives together.

I love you lauren.