Are you home sick?

June 25, 2008

In less than a week, I will be on a plane flying back to Australia for at least a month. It will be the end of my 6 month long US Trip.

6 Months away from ‘home’. The first thing people ask me when they hear that is “are you home sick”. The honest answer is I’m not really. I like the challenges and opportunities that come with being here in the Valley and traveling around the world meeting people to share ideas with.

There are things I miss though. I miss having a ‘home’. I’ve been couch surfing and traveling so much that even a few days in one spot is a welcome respite. But in reality I have not really had a ‘home’ for 6 months.

I have missed spending time with my younger brother. He’s at a time in his life where he has really needed me around and it has been hard to know that I can’t be there like he needs.

I miss knowing exactly where I am. I can drive around my home town blind folded. That being said, though, I am finding myself getting very comfortable with the bay area. The little Pontiac Solstice that my good friend Bill lent me has been very fun to drive around.

Those are the sort of things I miss.

Hopefully my few month stint back ‘home’ will allow me to ‘recover’ and I will then head back here with a full work visa, a place to live and the next chapter of my life.

In the mean time. I am having a little dinner tonight with some close friends and I have a stack of meetings left to do. Then a 14 hour flight. I will need a sleeping tablet!

Daniela has done an amazing job with the May DataPortability Project report. Be sure to check it out.

Phil Wolff posted this into one of our chat rooms today – I thought it was very interesting and timely.

David Weinberger citing instructions from a 1944 manual on how to sabotage a business.

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expdite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­ sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  7. Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­ diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Pretty smart tactic hey? Stuff of leadership.

American Politics

June 7, 2008

As many of you know – I have been visiting in the US now since the end of January (with a short stint in Europe in the middle). I am loving it. Particularly here in San Francisco and the Bay Area specifically. It’s an amazing place where amazing things are getting done every day.

But I have made an observation in my travels that I thought I would write about today.

American Politics is a fascinating spectacle. And I don’t just mean the politics of government, but the politics of business, community and culture as well. These patterns, trends and reactions are consistent in all sorts of other political interactions here.

The themes go something like this.

If you have been doing something for a long time and talk about very practical, operational things, then you must be good at whatever you do. You typically talk about being against something than for something else.

If you are new to the process and/or attract large crowds of new people, then you are interesting and inspirational but you surely can’t have any substance to your message. You typically talk about being for something rather than against something else.

These two positions are always seen as polar opposites. Many people seem to refuse the idea that someone who is new can also have substance. Or something that is experienced may actually need new blood and new ideas.

It’s a politics that fights not the ideas on their merits, but the way those ideas are derived, or who proposes them.

There’s also a tendency to focus on what ‘has worked’ rather than what ‘could work’ – or what has worked in other organizations or other structures outside the immediate scope of inquiry.

Universal Health care for example. Surely the government can’t look after our health right? They couldn’t even look after the victims of Katrina. Of course, if we look beyond the borders of the United States it’s clear that every other 1st world country does have Healthcare backed by the federal government and it works well to create a safety net for their people. It’s a simple observation that allows the conversation to move beyond ‘could it work’ to ‘how could we make it work for us’.

There’s often a lack of subtlety – a sense that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater rather than taking the good and building on it. Making what is work for us.

As I said, I love this country and my experience here has been amazing – I hope it continues in fact. But as always, I will continue to look for patterns and see if they can be improved. At least in my little corner of the world.

Some of this also comes down to an idea I posted on Twitter the other day – I think it explains some of my thinking in this area.

“We need to extend the time frame inside which we evaluate what is in our best interest”

Everyone acts in their best interest. It’s inevitable and irrefutable. But if you open the window from 1 month or 1 year to 5 or 10 years you realize that what’s actually in our personal best interest is actually in the best interest of many other people too.

But that’s a post for another day.

Anthill is the leading entrepreneurial magazine in Australia. They have released a list of the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30. Somehow, someone hacked the list and added my name!

From the magazine:

They collectively turnover hundreds of millions of dollars each year, yet some are barely out of university. They are proud to be Australian but see their home-grown success as little more than a stepping stone. They have never known serious recession, political instability or significant global conflict, yet they are better educated and better informed than new business owners of any generation preceding them. Meet the future of business in Australia.

Chris Saad
Age: 26
Location: Queensland
Company/Role: Faraday Media

At 26, Chris Saad is one of Australia’s most impressive young web entrepreneurs. His theory and practice around web standards – specifically “DataPortability” and “Attention Management” – have gained significant traction and are set to have a profound impact on the evolution of media in the digital age. Saad has co-founded several web-related companies and organisations, most prominently Faraday Media in 2006, of which he is CEO. Faraday Media is developing Particls, a technology that learns user habit and taste and delivers relevant information to them via news crawler, SMS, email, flash visualisations, etc. He also co-founded the Media 2.0 Workgroup with 14 industry “commentators, agitators and innovators”. There’s no shortage of ideas or energy in this digitally-minded entrepreneur. One to watch in the years to come.

Make sure you click through to the Article, subscribe to the mag and read the other 29 profiles!

Of course, singling out 30 ‘front men’ does not really do justice to the real people who work tirelessly to make successful business happen. People like my business partner and co-founder who actually builds our Faraday Media products Ashley Angell. Like our investors, our team, our advisors and supporters who make everything possible.

To all of them and to our customers and partners – thank you for making this sort of thing possible.

I also look forward to clicking through to the other profiles and learning more about the other people listed – seems like a great group of Aussies!

I’d like to personally welcome Jive Software to the DataPortability Project. I am personally excited to work with their CTO Matt Tucker who is also the Chair of the XMPP Foundation. Together, Jive, XMPP and other vendors and standards will work together to deliver the promise of data portability to enterprise applications.

Welcome to the discussion!

How? Using Silverlight.

Here’s the strategy as I see it.

First, the underlying Silverlight technologies (XAML and .NET) are encouraging client-side Windows developers to think beyond boring forms apps and delve into the wonderful world of vector graphics with 3D, sliding reflective surfaces. In short, Microsoft is encouraging developers to use the power of the client-side to ensure that Windows apps to continue to make web-apps look like boring documents.

Second, having raised the bar on client-side user experiences, the Silverlight runtime enables developers to maintain that high bar of multimedia user experience in the browser. But Silverlight is not like flash. Developers can use the exact same development assets, metaphors and tools they know and love. Objects, Controls, Visual Studio and more. Users will come to expect web-based experiences that match their newly enhanced client-side ones.

Third, if Silverlight makes it possible to essentially deploy client-side style applications through the browser, which Microsoft product can now become truly web enabled?

You guessed it. Office.

Silverlight represents a way for Microsoft to not just complete in the online office space, but blow it out of the water with a product that is as good (or better) than its client-side counterpart. There was no way Microsoft was going to bet their web-based application strategy on Flash or try to hack together an Ajax word processor. Silverlight, and its true Object Orientated .NET foundation, are a perfect platform for the web-enablement of their traditionally client-side suite.

Fourth, Silverlight is positioned as the new application platform. It exists in places Microsoft has never existed before. On Nokia phones (the land of Symbian), Linux workstations and OSX. Even iPhone could conceivably run Silverlight since it runs the full fledged Safari browser. And now there is an announcement that Silverlight will be shipped with millions of HP computers.

With Silverlight now coming out on Nokia phones, delivered as part of the Olympics coverage and embedded throughout MS properties and content deals popping up everywhere, Microsoft is gaining enormous distribution potential. If they can somehow skirt the anti-trust issues, they could even bundle it with IE8.

Silverlight is a critical and masterful piece of technology and strategy from the Redmond giant. It allows them to leverage their tools and technologies from the client, raise the bar on web-based experiences, deploy their client-side apps through a browser and broaden their platform reach into every device and screen in a user’s life.