Venture Capital April Fools Draws Attention to Unionized Labour (Pun Intended)

Peter Rip sardonically implores the VC of the world to unite, 5 irons and Porsche keys in hand, against the lower cost of live web 2.0 companies. It is April Fools day, or was on the day of the post, and his timing is impeccable if predictable.

This paragraph was surely lifted from Marx, or Engels, or Tara’s culturally insensitive Pinko Marketing (albeit the kerfluffel was nicely timed with the Riya release, no?). Here is Peters second paragraph from the post:

Clearly we are a downtrodden class, exploited for the benefit of limited partners and entrepreneurs alike.  Alone we have insufficient power to control our own economic well-being. But together, we can be a powerful force in shaping our own destiny.

Never met this Peter guy, but I like his posts so I clicked a bit which led me to A VC, and SortiPreneur and someone named Burnham. Who are these people? If this is VC, I am confused. It almost sounds like they give a shit! Don’t go talking about economic realities with me sonny… example of deviant VC behavior:

These changes could lead to a serious case of adverse selection, wherein the best entrepreneurs with the most capital efficient ideas either self-fund or raise money from angles while only relatively risky ideas with large capital requirements seek capital from large funds.

My two cents. The problem isn’t Ning or Ruby on Rails as cost reduction on the front end. There will always be a low cost (OSS? Abandonware?) solution that allows humans to massively parallel, mostly fail, while one or two brilliant solutions emerge. That is biology. That is systems. That is why the next billion dollar idea is the one who can parallel between real world bad guys like cancer cells and make them show up in Second Life as thieves so the human-virtual-world can attack them in unison with trial and error and human ingenuity. And double blind. Generation Game! Think about it…. But I digress.

Back to unionized VCs. Ning, Ruby, PHP, Linux are cool technologies but they are typically applied to creating NEW organizations or communities. Danah does an amazing job of researching online organizations that started online and grew online. Seek understanding. Hire ethnographers. OK great…

But most organizations, your church, your synagogue, your Porsche dealer, your mosque, your cub scout pack and your cheerleader sorority, they all are preexisting. And the application of social software technology, social networking in these areas, creates a problem that is more anthropology than technology. And this is where the fun is.

So to clarify, April fools or not, the biggest challenge with VC in an age of reduced cost of entry is more ethnography and less actuarial-ality. You folks have a tough job. Luckily you are good people and are up to the challenge. Right? Hello? Hello? Damn, they are off golfing again per the union rules….arrrgh!

Photo credit.

Sensational Graphics from a Research Firm – Disraeli Would be Proud

I am used to the abuse of visuals for sensational purposes. But this chart (left) just completely irks me. It is from the home page (the HOME PAGE!) of Pew Internet Research. So much for objectivity.

Let your eyes guide you. You look at the data visually. So you look at the bar chart. You assume 88% of society is OK with adultery. But that is not what the date says!

Then, and only then, in shock, do you notice the text to the right that qualifies the data with "percent saying this behavior is morally wrong". That is sensationalism. Visual sensationalism that undermines trust. This is a bad visual because it is effective while at the same time just wrong. Be honest damnit, especially with visuals.

Disraeli? Oh, he is the guy who said:

‘Lies, damn lies, and statistics’ – Benjamin Disraeli

What he meant to say was:

‘Lies, damn lies, statistics and then we have bad visualization’ – Benjamin Disraeli (cough – edited – cough)

Humans in the Machine – NYT understands

The daily NYT email highlights the HUMAN FACTORS of the web site redesign. Not the classic definition of human factors suggesting "taking the human as a physical presence into account" but the "show you what the other humans think". The kind of human factors that emphasize the wisdom of crowds. What Live Web2.0 is about.

Redesign of

Some of the changes and new features
you’ll see are a refreshed look, streamlined navigation, expanded use of video
and other multimedia and better ways to see what other readers are looking at,
searching for and talking about.

Emphasis added by me. The full explanation of the user interface changes and the logic behind them is worth a read for UI geeks.