Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

MySpace CEO: “Our users don’t know if we’re a social portal, a music site, or an entertainment hub”

July 16th, 2009 admin No comments

One thing that’s great about MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta – his emails to employees always have at least one good sound bite. In June the zinger was his reference to laid off employees as “bloat.” This time, he’s saying it like it is, again: “Our users don’t know if we’re a social portal, a music site, or an entertainment hub.”

Neither do we. MySpace always described itself as a social network until they weren’t the biggest social network any more. At various times since then they’ve called themselves a “premier lifestyle portal,” an “online community that lets you meet your friends’ friends” or just the largest “social portal” in the world that doesn’t begin with “F” and end in “book.”

Anyway, I assume Van Natta will have an answer to what exactly MySpace is at some point in the near future. He also says “In the last week, we’ve made some small but meaningful site changes that will lay the groundwork to provide more clarity on our brand and business” (all we’ve seen is a logo change, but there are likely other small changes).

Meanwhile, here’s his email to the troops, confirming our stories that Travis Katz is leaving and Mike Macadaan is joining, among other personnel changes.

From: Owen Van Natta
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009
To: FIM MySpace All
Subject: Organizational Update

Hi everyone,

As we continue to evolve our organization there are some changes I’d like to update everyone on.

After nearly two years of managing MySpace’s product organization, SVP of Product Tom Andrus has decided to explore other opportunities. During his tenure at MySpace, Tom brought a level of professionalism to the product organization and established a true discipline of product management. He helped create a dynamic, top notch team of product talent responsible for managing one of the biggest platforms on the planet. I personally appreciate all the support that Tom has given the new management team and look forward to welcoming new talent to compliment the tremendous group we currently have in place. We expect to see incredible things from Tom and wish him the best in his future plans.

After more than three years running MySpace’s international business, MD and SVP of International Travis Katz has decided to leave the company to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Travis joined News Corp in 2004 and was one of the principal authors of the company’s digital strategy, which led to the creation of Fox Interactive Media and the acquisitions of MySpace and IGN among other sites. In February, 2006, Travis joined MySpace to lead the company’s international expansion, and under his leadership, MySpace grew its international user base from 12 million to more than 60 million active users. Travis leaves as a friend to MySpace and to the executive team – we wish him and his family the best of luck in future endeavors. Travis will remain with the company through the end of August to help with the transition.

International will continue to be a major priority for MySpace going forward and I’m proud to announce that Rebekah Horne – formerly our GM of Europe and Australia – will be taking over as MD and SVP of International. During her tenure at MySpace, Rebekah has done an incredible job inspiring and leading teams across Europe and the rest of the world. Rebekah spent last week in LA working with us on strategic planning and this week I plan to join her in London to meet with our leadership team in Europe. Please join me in congratulating Rebekah on her new role.

As I’ve said before, simplifying and unifying our site is fundamental to our success going forward. MySpace should feel like one platform – not 15 sites loosely stitched together. We consider our diverse content offering a strength but t oo many logos and disorganized verticals makes the site difficult to navigate and creates confusion about our brand identity. Our users don’t know if we’re a social portal, a music site, or an entertainment hub. In the last week, we’ve made some small but meaningful site changes that will lay the groundwork to provide more clarity on our brand and business. Unifying MySpace is critical to how we define ourselves to the world. We’re beginning to start this process and I’d like to introduce two major hires to the product organization.

Please join me in welcoming Katie Geminder, our new SVP of User Experience and Design. Katie began her career designing user experiences at Amazon, where she led large cross-functional and customer experience initiatives including the Kitchen Store,, and the Amazon Services e-Commerce platform. Since then she has worked for top online and technology companies including Apple and Facebook. For Katie, great user experience and design lives at the convergence of product, engineering, and design. A great user experience is dependent on two things, a clear and concise vision augmented by user feedback and the collaboration of business, product, technology, and engineering teams.

Improving our product interface is a major component of creating an exceptional user experience. With that, I’d like to welcome Mike Macadaan as our new VP of Product. Prior to joining MySpace, Mike served as Vice President of User Experience at the start-up publishing network Tsavo Media. Mike is a fixture in the start-up scene as the founder of Twiistup, an industry standard startup showcase. At AOL, Mike led the team responsible for creating Magnet, the company’s groundbreaking first effort at personalization and behavioral targeting, which gave AOL an in-depth look at the needs of their users. At MySpace Mike’s job is to push, inspire, and lead the product organization. He’ll be responsible for developing next gen experiences that will reset the growth for MySpace.

Finally, we’ve spent the last few weeks designing a framework that provides tremendous clarity to the way in which our product and technology teams will be working together moving forward. Next week, Jason and Mike are going to walk employees through the new team structure of our technology and product group. I appreciate the input from everyone across the company that has helped develop this architecture.


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Confirmed: Google Engineering Director Leaves for VMware

July 16th, 2009 admin No comments

Prior to joining Google, I set up a meeting on or about November 11, 2004 with Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss my planned departure….At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: “Just tell me it’s not Google.” I told him it was Google. At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. – Former Microsoft Disitnguished Engineer Mark Lucovsky I’ve never thrown a chair in my life. … By and large I made a commitment nine ye

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Wii remote enrolled in student-developed CPR training program

July 16th, 2009 admin No comments

Taking a more passive approach with the Wii remote than, say, operating a 15-ton grapple or saving your friends on Tatooine , a team of biomedical engineering undergraduates at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been developing a companion CPR training program. Using the controller’s built-in accelerometer, it tracks hand position as you practice those vital life-saving maneuverings, charting depth and rate of compression to give you a more accurate performance reading than the co

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How We Know Chrome OS Will Be A Hit: Steve Ballmer Doesn’t Think So

July 15th, 2009 admin No comments

steve_ballmer-from-btlThere are a lot of questions out there about Google’s new Chrome OS. Since little is actually known about it, the most interesting questions right now tend to be about Google’s overall strategy in making a new OS. And if such a strategy will actually work. We tend to think it will, and that belief got a huge boost in the arm today as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has finally come out and mocked the idea.

Okay, I’m being a bit facetious, but still it’s worth noting this, for reasons I’ll get into below. First, here’s what Ballmer had to say about Chrome OS according to techFlash:

“The last time I checked you don’t need two client operating systems. We tried it before. Windows 95 and Windows NT. It’s good to have one. So I can’t — I don’t really know what’s up at Google.”

On the face of it, that doesn’t sound like a bad point. And it’s one that plenty of others are saying. But it’s interesting that Ballmer is saying it because it’s not like Microsoft doesn’t also have a mobile OS (Windows Mobile) and a PC OS (Windows). And while yes, you can get Android to run on netbooks, I think Google realized that for most purposes, it was less than ideal.

But back to Ballmer. What makes these comments really interesting is his history of making disparaging comments about something, only to have it go on to massive success. The most obvious example of this is the Apple’s Iphone “There’s no chance that the Apple’s Iphone is going to get any significant market share. No chance,” Ballmer once said (along with what he said in the video below). The Apple’s Iphone has of course reshaped the mobile industry. Its combination of excellent hardware, software and the killer App Store, has forced competitors to follow its model. Yes, even Microsoft. It’s also making Apple billions of dollars in revenue, and has expanded the OS X user base by millions.

So what else?

Well, we were reminded just yesterday of his comments about Google back in 2004. “Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards,” he reportedly yelled at former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Mark Lucovsky on his way out the door to Google. Five years later, Google is doing just fine, and Microsoft is still chasing them in search and advertising online. We’ll put aside what Ballmer also allegedly said about Google CEO Eric Schmidt (who is also an Apple board member) at the time.

Again, Ballmer would seem to have a bit of a point about Google’s strategy with Chrome OS, but he of course is brushing aside the fact that Google undoubtedly thought of this and you can be sure has a plan. It’s similar to how he did have somewhat of a point with the Apple’s Iphone originally (that it was too expensive at $500), but Apple also had a long term plan to make it cheaper, which Ballmer naturally didn’t mention as a possibility.

Update: As a bonus, here’s what Ballmer had to say about social networking in October of 2007:

“I think these things [social networks] are going to have some legs, and yet there’s a faddishness, a faddish nature about anything that basically appeals to younger people,”

Less than a month later, Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook — at a valuation of $15 billion. Why so high? Because it was battling Google for a stake in the “faddish” company.

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Google Loses Engineering Director Who Once Caused Steve Ballmer To Melt Down

July 14th, 2009 admin No comments

After nearly 5 years with the company, Engineering Director Mark Lucovsky is leaving Google for a role with VMware , we’ve learned. Lucovsky has been an integral part of Google’s APIs, including the all-important Search APIs. Before Google, Lucovsky worked at DEC and then Microsoft for 16 years, eventually gaining the title of “Distinguished Engineer.” He had been the principle architect on Windows NT, which would eventually evolve into Windows XP. “I wrote most of the kernel executive, k

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Google Loses Engineering Director Who Once Caused Steve Ballmer To Melt Down

July 14th, 2009 admin No comments

20101v1-max-250x250After nearly 5 years with the company, Engineering Director Mark Lucovsky is leaving Google for a role with VWware, we’ve learned. Lucovsky has been an integral part of Google’s APIs, including the all-important Search APIs.

Before Google, Lucovsky worked at DEC and then Microsoft for 16 years, eventually gaining the title of “Distinguished Engineer.” He had been the principle architect on Windows NT, which would eventually evolve into Windows XP. “I wrote most of the kernel executive, kernel32, and the Windows API,” he told StoneTemple Consulting in an interview two years ago.

But Lucovsky may be best known for the role he played in a complete and utter meltdown that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once had. As the NT architect, Lucovsky was clearly pretty vital to Microsoft, so when he went in for a meeting with Ballmer in 2004 to let him know he was leaving, you can be sure the CEO was a bit on edge.

“Just tell me it’s not Google,” Ballmer reportedly said according to court documents (for a case surrounding another Google ex-Microsoft hire). When Lucovsky said it was Google, Ballmer allegedly picked up a chair and threw it across the room.

What he apparently said next, will live on forever in Internet history.

“Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I’m going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to fucking kill Google.”

Schmidt, is of course, Google’s CEO. When Lucovsky still wasn’t convinced, Ballmer alledgedly went on to say, “Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards.”

A house of cards that still stands. And one that will presumably keep standing after Lucovsky’s departure.

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The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO

July 14th, 2009 admin No comments

The following post was written by a well known executive at one of the largest sites on the Internet. The author has requested to remain anonymous – not for dramatic effect, but because of the backlash he would receive from the SEO industry and possibly Google itself. He also doesn’t want his company associated with the post.

He is starting a discussion on the need for government regulation of the organic and paid search policies of Google, which maintains a commanding lead in search market share today. Or at least transparency in how search results are determined. There is clearly growing frustration on the constantly changing “border policies” that are created and enforced by Google and other search engines. It is a fascinating read.

Imagine, if you will, that the entire Internet is contained within a single continent. That continent is filled with countries, states and cities. Each jurisdiction is autonomous, relying on visitors to cross on to their turf to engage in commerce. Now, imagine if the only way to get into this continent involved just two methods: SEO and SEM. Let’s further imagine that the borders to this continent were controlled by a single company. Let’s also hold that the rules for search engine optimization listings and search engine marketing were not only defined but were completely controlled at the whim of this single company. Of course, we all realize that word-of-mouth marketing and viral marketing also contribute to traffic to individual websites. That said, the primary methodology for all users to reach any individual website destination is still search, of either paid or organic listings.

Or suppose the paradigm is the streets of Los Angeles. Let’s imagine that in order to enter the city you had to pass through a single gate. And once you entered that gate, the streets you were or were not allowed to go down — and thus the businesses you were or were not allowed to visit — could be randomly blocked from your access. Blocked to a point where you might not even know they exist; whatever streets were available for you to traverse were in essence the only streets you knew where business could be transacted.

Whatever the scenario, it’s unsettlingly close to the situation that prevails today in search. It’s now conventional wisdom that search engine optimization, representing the organic result sets on any search query, is more voodoo than science. Through an uncontrolled set of factors search engines determine which listings appear at the top and bottom of any individual query. In addition, consumer behavior dictates the top three results on any search page are all that matter. If you happen to own an online business, unless you exist within those top three, the amount of individual traffic you will obtain from organic listings is very, very low. As the proprietor of that business you may hire search engine optimization companies to assist in increasing your rankings on organic results, with or without success. And at any one time, the controller of these borders (that is, the search engine itself) can change and manipulate those rules – and that can substantially decrease or destroy all organic traffic coming to your website, without notice and without your knowledge.

Search engine marketing now faces a similar challenge. Although anyone can open an account to buy paid search listings, the rules on each account are arbitrary. Accounts can be shut down at any time, without notice to the website owner. In other words, if you haven’t successfully obtained enough traffic to your site from organic listings and you decide to rely on paid search, you still face a situation where regardless of how much you bid per click you may or may not show up at the top of the paid results. That’s because paid results that are displayed on any query are not only determined based on the price the buyer is willing to pay. Unlike other auctions that are completely priced-based, these results are determined and sequenced not only on price but also on quality of advertising and click-through volume. For example, if company A was willing to pay $1 per click on a certain term and company B was willing to pay 10 cents but company B’s ad generated ten times as many clicks as company A’s, the yield to the search engine would be identical between the two.

The second factor is that the search engine can, at any time, determine that either company A or company B may or may not buy traffic within its index. And without notifying the company and with no path toward recourse and statement, the search engine can disable the paid search account from either business. Returning to the continent metaphor, this ends up looking quite a bit like free trade. Various businesses (call them sellers), operating within this continent, wish to conduct business with the rest of the world (that is, the population of buyers). The border — which in this case is the search engine — thus has complete control of who can transact and how often. And at its discretion, the search engine can decide to increase, decrease or completely disable access between buyers and sellers. Because search is the dominant methodology for consumers to find what they are looking for, whether a product or a service, the unilateral control that search engines wield enables them to control billions upon billions of dollars of consumer spend every year. It also gives them the ability to completely determine which companies become more successful — or less so.

The situation we face today is unique. Due to Google’s dominance — and the fact that it controls such an enormous amount of consumer behavior through paid and organic search listings – the company in essence governs commerce on the web. And any company that falls out of favor with Google, whether for reasons of bad practice or simple disagreement, can find itself at risk of going out of business.

This system also benefits the few in a host of other ways. Because the rules of organic and paid search change frequently – and remain undefined — agencies and other traffic brokers can win big; through their experience, they’re capable of reverse-engineering these rules. This means that, as this market matures, individual businesses have a diminishing chance to actually compete and gain search market share. That, in turn, puts them in a position of not only needing to hire an agency in order to find any traffic, but also making it more expensive overall to build businesses on the web.

I’ve worked with many businesses who feel they are playing in Google’s world — behaviors from product decisions to marketing strategies rely completely on appeasing these undocumented and often mystical Google desires. I’ve seen companies choose to not work with Google’s competitors for fear that by building those relationships, they’re damaging the ability to be indexed properly on Google and are anxious that result sets will be compromised. Many likewise believe that by having a monetization relationship through Google, they will somehow achieve higher quality listings through organic search. I’ve also witnessed companies who, in addition to using Google for monetization, have preferred relationships with purchasing traffic through Google Adwords. By supporting this dual relationship, they appear to want to live by two sets of rules – those that exist within the Adwords marketplace and those that apply to the Adsense product. And because they’re walking on both sides of the (Google) street, they feel they have a strategic advantage — as though the Adwords product will enable them to acquire traffic at both a lower cost and with a looser rule set than their competitors.

Here’s where the parallel to free trade breaks down. There are no perfect paradigms looking at free trade and import/export laws that exactly define or address this challenge. Neither would a secret relationship between the government and the search engines solve the problem. The only real solution is disclosure. Transparency. Those traffic generators that use rule-based algorithms to determine result sets must publicly disclose their methodologies. That is the means by which all businesses can compete freely in the organic and paid search marketplaces. If we lived in a world where Google didn’t hold sway over such a significant portion of consumer behavior, this kind of regulation wouldn’t be necessary. The market would be self-correcting, and we could trust the individual decisions of a healthy and competitive search industry. Regrettably, due to search dominance, the industry can’t be left to its own devices.

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Marcia G. Yerman: Women Who Tech

July 13th, 2009 admin No comments

As new media continues to be an amplifying platform for previously under-recognized constituencies and agendas, women are looking to claim their piece of the pie. On May 12,
the “Women Who Tech” Telesummit took place. There was a full day of panels and plenty to listen to. Holly Ross, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), put the cards on the table with her opening comment, “The tech world does not belong to the guys.”

Joan Blades, co-founder and the
mobilizing force behind, spoke
clearly about what the Net has to offer women. She stated, “The virtual world is good in breaking down barriers, and has unarticulated advantages for those who don’t fit the mold.” Blades believes that Cyberspace makes it safe for women to work differently, and creates a new reality where people can fulfill their responsibilities outside of work. In addition to her position that social media has helped women find their voice, she sees the virtual world as dovetailing with mothering. Blades has been working on both a culture and a policy change, with an eye to underscoring the importance of parenting. She said, “When we create flexibility, it is better for all.”

The need for women to embrace their expertise was put forth by Tracy Viselli, known to her Twitter followers as Myrna the Minx. Qualifying how men and women approach the issue differently she said, “Men call themselves experts if they have something to contribute.” Women, regardless of their knowledge, tend to minimize the importance of their input. Leslie Hawthorn, Program Manager for Google’s Open Source Team, mentioned the devaluation of what are considered “soft skills,” such as nurturing and communications. She suggested they were not respected since they are not a “quantifiable or measurable” expertise.

The question of who was building a “digital ceiling” – and if it in fact existed – was addressed by
Lynne D. Johnson, Senior
Senior Editor at She noted that in the tech world the majority of the players
were white males, but that women limited themselves. “Women need to put themselves out
there,” she said, emphasizing the need to have enough courage to speak for oneself. Susan Mernit underscored the importance of “not allowing yourself to be silenced,” adding “women ask permission too much.” A common concern in the discussion was, “What do you do when colleagues take male opinions more seriously?”

A topic that continues to dog the feminist community is “lack of diversity.” In a panel
entitled “Social Networks and Diversity Barriers,” Shireen Mitchell ( spoke
about why diversity has been missing and what we can do about it. Mitchell reflected, “If we were inclusive to begin with, we wouldn’t have to go back and fix it.” Mitchell said that to retrieve
missing voices, “we need to be more intentional and create a structure where no one person is more important than someone else.” The conversation included a concern for “transparency,” “propelling power to the edges,” and making sure that a “core of people don’t become like the cool kids clique in high school.” Mitchell summed up, “We’ve got to get past the token members…and keep the gene pool mixed in.” When it comes to lining up tech experts for symposiums and conferences, Connie Reece suggested that women should not wait to be asked, but instead step up and propose potential speakers.

Tools for online communications were examined. (Taking place before the Iranian news
story, nobody knew how central to driving the information flow Twitter would be.) A link went up for “Twitter basics” from the site of tech guru Deanna Zandt. Rebecca Moore, Manager of Google Earth Outreach, talked about a new generation of mapping tools that can help clarify a public issue concern. Her example was how the crisis in Darfur was given visceral visualization through satellite imagery that showed “the actual destruction of villages.” Natalie Foster, Director of New Media at the DNC, commented on the viability of translating “activity in technology to real world activism.”

“Launching Your Own Start-Up” featured a group of women with different philosophies, who all agreed that “you do it when it is the only thing you can do.” Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer, went to her users and asked the community what they wanted. A written mission, building, and “trying things” was the strategy for two years before they went for outside money. They were constantly soliciting feedback. Stone sensed a “fear of failure among women,” that prevented them from leaping into an opportunity. Mary Hodder offered, “Who cares if you fail? Just go flying off the cliff!”

When it came to the question of funding, Stone related her conviction that “community was the bedrock of the project,” and investors need to care about the product. Amy Muller, Chief Community Officer of Get Satisfaction,
recommended going as long as possible “boot-strapping,” thereby holding off on the venture capitalist route. Getting advisors, giving them stock, and asking other women how they were funded was offered as options. Hodder was emphatic about “building for revenue from Day
One, even if it’s $1,000 per month for Ad Sense. The general mantra was, “Start building it
and get it out there!”

Three weeks later, at the MediaBistro Circus
in Manhattan, I was able to interview several of the women who were on-site the first
day. Eileen Gittins, Founder and CEO of Blurb, sees the
situation for women as “better than ever…because when markets are difficult it’s all about talent.” Her staff is 50 per cent women. She said, “Women in Silicon Valley are about meritocracy; in start-ups, there are no glass ceilings.” Gittins told me, “The Internet is gender blind. It’s more of a level playing field.” Valeria Maltoni, of, echoed some of the same sentiments I had heard during the “Women Who Tech” panels. “I don’t like to be self-promotional, and tech is an amplifier of who we are.” As an after thought she observed, “Women are afraid of controversy.”

The founder of MediaBistro, Laurel Touby, was on hand, and sat down to give me some feedback on women in technology and new media. She said, “I think we’re really behind, still. We need more women in engineering. I think we are starting to browse more in the tech world, but we need to browse more on the Internet [not just use it to accomplish a task]. We need to be more gatherers on the web, not just surgical browsers.” Tackling the subject of women raising funds for their endeavors she said, “Women still cave in to their desire to help, without helping themselves. [They] don’t have confidence to raise capital; they don’t have enough role models. There is a different way that men seem to approach the problem.” Touby admitted that although she didn’t have the know-how to do financial projections on her own, she realized she could leverage her abilities to find people “out there” to do what she didn’t have experience with.

Shortly afterwards, I talked with Deborah Siegel and Kamy Wicoff about their new site, SheWrites. An online destination for literary women, both readers and writers, it is an example of women reaching out to others to form a supportive community. Wicoff said, “Women want to create their own networking systems.” When I last checked, the site had over 1,000 subscribers, which proved the theory -”Go granular” – I had heard proffered at MediaBistro Circus 2008.

With technology making it possible to connect with others that share common interests and beliefs, women can no longer sit on the sidelines and be intimidated. There’s too much to accomplish and too much at stake.

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Allison Rockefeller: Riverbank Park A New York Oasis

July 12th, 2009 admin No comments

New York is a land (literally!) of extreme proportions, huge and small. Look at New York State parkland for example. No exceptions here. Second to Alaska, New York is home to the largest park in the United States, the six million-acre grandmother of all early (1892) open space, New York’s awe-inspiring Adirondack Park. It’s mind boggling to imagine that five of the largest National Parks in the United States could slip comfortably within the Adirondack Park boundaries, pull up the covers, and go off to sleep.

Imagine a vast area the size of Yellowstone, Everglades, Yosemite, Great Smokey Mountains and Grand Canyon, residing as parkland in upstate New York. No need to imagine, it’s there. 3,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, a magnificent mountain range…sounds like an “I Love New York” commercial? You bet it is.

The interesting thing is that 90 million Americans are within a day’s drive of the Adirondacks but just fewer than 100,000 New Yorkers actually live there.

And now for the microscopic: back to where the math gets crazy again for New York proportion, particularly ratio, but the other way ’round…you know, ratio of teachers to students, land per head of cattle, one kind fruit vs. another, that kind of thing.

Look at the remarkable case of Riverbank State Park, built smack on the Hudson River at 145th Street.

Constructed in 1988 atop an immense water treatment facility, Riverbank owes its existence to the design-gives-birth-to -necessity school of engineering of which Benjamin Franklin would be proud. Certainly, Franklin would have been first at the table with blueprints.

In 1988 a man-made park like Riverbank was unusual in America, really before its time; while Japan– our greatest rival in space obsession and engineering problem solving — had several. Today we have finally entered the era of green roofs, urban farming, and a park on the High Line! – where man-made and nature, though first dating, are beginning to walk hand-in-hand.

Be warned about Riverbank: picnic at your own risk. The Park’s view is so staggering you’re apt to drop your tuna fish sandwich in your cold Frappuccino as the George Washington Bridge straddles the river and the famed Hudson River Palisades hang majestically above the glistening water.

Alright, cattlemen and cows, teachers and students, apples and oranges, this math may be just as staggering: 28 to 2,000,000!…Yup, Riverbank offers up its 28 acres to 2,000,000 people annually, making it the third most visited park in New York’s vast State Park system (just behind Niagara and Jones beach) 71,428 people per acre! (Of course not all come at the same time)

But Riverbank, this excellent math lesson of a park, this engineering marvel, is a gracious and an expert host –absorbing its vast yearly visitors comfortably at two swimming pools, football, soccer, baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, amphitheatre, gymnasiums, skating rink, a cultural center, and community garden.

2,000,000 on 28 acres?… It’s New York’s version of new math; math class outside. Go figure? Go visit. It’s a problem you’ll enjoy solving.

Riverbank is run by New York State Parks.

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Flickr Follow-Up Project Has A Name, Tiny Speck. And They’re Hiring.

July 10th, 2009 admin No comments

picture-111Back in June of last year, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, the husband/wife team that started Flickr, left Yahoo to pursue other interests. We already know what Fake’s new project is, the just-launched Hunch. Now we know what Butterfield’s new project is. Or, at least, what it’s called: Tiny Speck.

Butterfield sent out a tweet tonight announcing that the new company was hiring. The link he sent goes to a page on a site for the Tiny Speck project. Along the top of the jobs page it reads “We’re a new company, founded by four core members of the original team behind Flickr.” It’s no secret that another of those four core team members is former Flickr head of engineering, Cal Henderson, who left Yahoo in April of this year.

So what is Tiny Speck all about? That is still not entirely clear. The word on the street has been that it’s some kind of new social gaming endeavor, but all they’ll say on the site is “We are working on something huge and fun and we need help.”

And the main page doesn’t offer much help either. On it you’ll find the words, “O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!” For the non-English majors, that’s a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which is also the passage that inspired the title of Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World.

Below that, you’ll find the logo, and below that you’ll find the link stating that Tiny Speck is hiring. And below that it reads, “Other than that, we have nothing in particular to say for ourselves right now.” Mysterious.

So, is there anything to be drawn from this position they’re hiring for? A bit, yes. The position is Creative Production Team Lead. The description says this person will be supporting staff and contractors including “illustrators, along with the occasional writer, animator or sound designer.”

So clearly this is a creative project — it almost sounds like their making an animated movie. As awesome as that would be, with people like Henderson on board, you can bet there’s impressive engineering going on to turn this all into a game of some sort (if that is in fact what this is all about).

Something else that is interesting is that this is being run out of Vancouver, according to the job posting. That is also where Flickr got its start. And guess how Flickr started? As a photo tool for a project called Game Neverending, a massively multiplayer online game.

It eventually became clear that the photo sharing aspect was the idea that would take off for Ludicorp, Butterfield and Fake’s company. So Game Neverending was tabled, and Flickr was born. Yahoo then bought Ludicorp and the rights to Flickr in March of 2005.

Looks like we may be seeing Butterfield returning to his roots.



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