NSFW: 404 Alcohol Not Found (Or, Social Media is Overrated, but it’s Helped me Stay Sober) Earlier today, my friend Oli emailed me to say he’d noticed that one of my sites was showing a 404 message.
Specifically, he was emailing to congratulate me. According to the site in question - ispauldrinkingagain.com – it has been 404 days since I last drank alcohol. And, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, I owe a large amount of credit for that to the power of social media. NSFW: TechCrunch Disrupt: The Drinking Game. In a little over 24 hours, the sun will rise on the second TechCrunch Disrupt conference, brilliantly titled “TechCrunch Disrupt: San Francisco“.
(Rejected titles include “TechCrunch Disrupt 2: Money Never Sleeps”, “TechCrunch Disrupt 2: For a Few Dollars More”, and “TechCrunch Disrupt 2: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer”.) For those of you who missed the inaugural Disrupt, held in New York back in May, the event is a mash-up of two formats: a start-up competition where 24 as-yet-unlaunched businesses compete for $50,000 and an old bowling trophy The TechCrunch Disrupt Cup – plus a star-studded conference where the likes of Eric Schmidt and Barry Diller take to the stage to inspire entrepreneurs and attempt to out-swear Carol Bartz.
It’s a ridiculously impressive line-up, with a ratio of three Chabillionaires to every Chamillionaire. But what for the paupers amongst you, who simply can’t scrape together the measly three grand required for a ticket? NSFW: Sorry Deathhackers; Life Is Short, And So It Should Be. You know what’s getting old?
The debate about ageing. In today’s Observer, molecular biologist Aubrey de Grey is interviewed about how he sees no reason why a human being alive today might not live to 1000. If the prediction sounds familiar it’s because de Grey – this time described as a gerontologist – was subject to a similar profile in Friday’s New York Times, thanks to his being a key subject of Jonathan Weiner’s book Long For This World: The Strange Science of Immortality. Right here on TechCrunch, Halcyon Molecular’s William Andregg spoke to Cyan Banister about the need for humans to conquer death to allow us the time to reach the stars. And of course, Ray Kurzweil has been at this stuff for years: according to a 2005 Wired profile “Kurzweil ingests 250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea. NSFW: Sorry AirBnB Hipsters, I’ll Take Health and Safety Over the Cult of Disruption. Get out of the way, old man!
You’re being Disrupted! Screw you, newspapers: blogs are stealing your readers and Craigslist is pillaging your revenue! NSFW: Never Mind The Bollocks – Why Carol Bartz Can’t Say What Y. It’s Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, and while my American friends are out in the sun, celebrating some holiday or other – is this one Memorial Day or Labor Day or Arbor Day?
– I’m confined to my hotel room, finishing the final edits of my book manuscript. Specifically I’m editing a chapter that begins with me being thrown out of a Starbucks in Chicago for swearing on my cellphone. It was a strange – not unhilarious – episode, and one that caused me to consider the contrasting American and British attitudes towards profanity… “The concept of ‘appropriateness’ is much more real to Americans than it is to Brits, despite us being the ones who are supposed to be stuffy and formal. I’ve noticed it a lot with swearing: while Brits of both genders will be quite happy, among friends, to use the word ‘fuck’ – as a verb, a noun and adjective or an adverb – a surprising number of Americans blanche at the idea.
NSFW: Weezer, plane crashes and everything else that’s worrying. A little before 9pm on Wednesday night and I’m standing on the ‘VIP’ balcony of San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, holding a can of something called ‘MySpace Buzz’ and waiting for Weezer to take to the stage.
It’s a weird scene, all told, and not just because I thought Weezer was dead. The bulk of the weirdness stems from the make-up of the crowd: a dozen feet below me in the main auditorium there are maybe a couple of thousand writhing teenagers – Weezer fans to a (wo)man, cheering and shouting and jumping and sweating and doing all the things I remember doing a little over a decade ago. NSFW: After Fort Hood, another example of how ‘citizen journalis. I’d probably feel slightly smug, if I didn’t feel so sick.
Smug that after two weeks of me suggesting that social media might not be an unequivocally Good Thing in terms of privacy and human decency, the news has delivered the perfect example to support my view. Unfortunately it’s hard to feel smug – hard to feel anything but sadness and nausea – when thirteen innocent people are dead.
I’m talking, of course, about Thursday’s Fort Hood shootings. NSFW: Give me ad-free conversations, or give me death (please RT. Yesterday I spent the day at TechCrunch’s ‘Real Time Crunch-up’.
This despite having no idea what a ‘Crunch-up’ actually is. The important thing is that Erick had asked me to help moderate his panel about marketing within ‘real-time streams’, which is a subject close to my heart. Thanksgiving: a displaced Brit writes… When I first heard about this “Thanksgiving” thing, I thought it sounded like a great idea.
We Brits spend a ridiculous amount of time each day giving thanks to strangers – we say thanks to people who hold doors for us, thanks to people who stop their cars to let us cross the road, thanks to waitresses when they give us our bill; even thanks again when we hand over the money to pay. But apparently you Americans – innovative people that you are – had found a way to streamline the process. Rather than waste hours each day expressing gratitude, you had decided to compress all of your thank-yous into one annual 24-hour-period of uninterrupted Thanks Giving. NSFW: 1200 words absolutely, definitely not about Rupert Murdoch. One of the most tiresome group of people you encounter when you write a weekly column is the “suggesters”.
Throughout the week, my inbox receives a steady flow of emails; from friends, from colleagues, but mostly from total strangers – all containing useful links to stories they “assume I’ve seen”. And always with the same suggestion: “you should write about this in your column!”. Worse than the suggesters are the “trusters”. They’re even more irritating because of their belief that they wield some kind of editorial influence. “Trust you’ll be writing about this in your column this week. NSFW: Cherchez la fame – or why the media’s obsession with Twitt. Time was, companies knew how to keep track of their important customers. First, they set up loyalty programs: computerised systems that tracked the monetary value of everyone who shopped in their stores or flew on their planes or ate at their restaurant.
When a high spender made a booking, the company was alerted to their status and they were treated accordingly. Frequent fliers got upgrades and champagne, frequent diners got a visit from the chef at their table – that kind of thing. Anything to ensure that the money kept flowing. And then there was the other way of measuring worth: celebrity. NSFW: I Admit It, The iPad Is A Kindle Killer. I Just Wish It We. For one reason or another, I’ve spent the past few weeks down at the TechCrunch offices. As a result, it’s proved almost impossible to avoid iPad fanboy hysteria. Mike has already said that the device “beats even my most optimistic expectations”, Jason was one of the first in line at the San Francisco launch and even Sarah – who until now didn’t have an iPhone – has succumbed to its charms as a work/play device for long-haul travellers. NSFW: Facebook Breached My Privacy, And Other Things That Whiny, Starting this week, I’m implementing a rule for readers of this column.
The fact is, I express some pretty controversial views here on TechCrunch. Views on subjects like race and prostitution and terrorism and mental illness. NNSFW: A Column Written In Five Minutes About Stuff That Mattere. “Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next.”- Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Slaughterhouse Five In Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s most famous book, Billy Pilgrim is a former soldier who finds himself lost in time: forced to live and relive the periods of his life in random order.