Monthly Archives: March 2011

How to use Facebook if you are well known public figure

If you are well known and you use Facebook, you may want to maintain some degree of seperation from your personal and public life. To do that, you can try different approaches. One of these is to use everyday Facebook for your personal stuff and Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups for your public side. **

To understand the difference, check out this Facebook Tip: What’s the Difference between a Facebook Page and Group?

(** Unless you want 1000s of “friends” to manage. Hint: you don’t.)

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The spectacular uselessness of Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan Myhrvold is our Charles Foster Kane and the projects that he takes on are his Marion Davies. Since leaving Microsoft, he has involved himself in activities that are as spectacular as they are useless. His latest work is this epic: five volumes, 1522 recipes, and 2438 pages of scientific cooking. It took 46 people around 5 years to create, costs $1-10 million dollars, and will set you back $625. Impressive, yes?

You can just see yourself running down to the local book store to get it, yes? You can imagine making it THE reference book in your collection of cookbooks, tossing out those old things currently on your shelves, I’ll bet. Actually, I can imagine a very limited audience for this book, and the influence of it being very minimal.

But never mind that, let’s look at Myhrvold’s recent talk at the TED conference. Myhrold and his team have come up with a way of dealing with malaria. How?

Yes, that’s right: use laser beams! Astounding, for sure! Practical? Not so much.

All of this is in keeping with his current job. Since leaving  Microsoft in 1999, he has been the CEO and founder of Intellectual Ventures, “a firm ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing and invest­ing in inven­tions”, and according to this (Green Pioneers: Godfather of nutty inventions – Times Online), they have submitted over 30,000 patents. Sounds like a lot, and it is! How many game changing products have they come out with? Well, none. “Intellectual Ventures has earned about $1 billion in licensing revenues and paid out $350m to inventors. It has first refusal on inventions from more than 100 universities worldwide”. Basically they don’t invent anything. They just lock down ideas and piggyback off other companies that actually do the work.

To me all of this is a shame. It’s easy to slam Myhrvold as an egomaniac or a glorified patent troll. What I don’t understand is why a guy that rich and that intelligent does what he does. He should be making the future. Instead he dives into extreme attention-getting activities that amount to little if anything, while people like Ferran Adrià or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs remake the world. He gets alot of slack from people who interview him and write about him. Perhaps they are impressed by his obvious intelligence or the sheer epic quality of the things he takes on. I wish someone who is really making a difference would have a talk with him and get him to focus less on himself and more on a monumental problem that he could not only overcome, but develop some humility in the process. That would benefit us all: certainly much more than a $600 cookbook does.

P.S. If you must, you can go here (Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking) to learn more about his book. If you really want to learn how to cook well, check out this book, The Way to Cook by Julia Child , or get this magazine, Cooks Illustrated, both of which I think are superb.

If you want to see ex-Microsoft employees taking a much more practical and effective approach to malaria, go here: Our Work in Malaria – Overview & Approach – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Finally, I don’t have to tell you this, but if you want to see people changing the world with technology (and patents), go to Apple or Facebook or Twitter, to name a few.

Why Miranda Cosgrove is going to be bigger than the rest of the tween stars

The NYTimes.com missed the bigger picture when they did this feature on Miranda Cosgrove (The Good Girl, Miranda Cosgrove – NYTimes.com). It’s true, her recent career trajectory has matched Hillary Duff and Miley Cyrus. What the article glosses over is just how much acting she has been doing for some time now. I know, having kids who grew up over the span of her career, I’ve seen her in TV (Drake and Josh) and movies (School of Rock). I think she is going to be acting in bigger and better things for sometime to come. I think she’d be smart to take some time to transition out of the tween phase and then come back as a young actress, like Jodie Foster or Emma Watson or Natalie Portman. I can’t see Cosgrove going away any time soon.

The next PayPal(s)? Amex and Visa get in the game

American Express Launches Digital Payments

less than two weeks after Visa’s announcement that it was launching its own peer-to-peer digital payment system…The credit card company today unveiled Serve, its new digital payment and commerce platform.

Users will be able to send or receive money from their Serve accounts, which can be funded by a bank account, debit or credit card, or by money from another Serve account. With the new AmEx digital payment system, consumers will be able to make payments via the Serve website, via their mobile phones, and with merchants who accept American Express cards. Accounts will be accessible via Android and iPhone apps and through Facebook.

For people who have complained about the costs of using PayPal, consider this good news:

The lack of fees might be a good way to lure new customers, but AmEx says those fees won’t be high after that initial six month period. Customers will be charged for putting money into their Serve accounts – 2/9% plus a $0.30 per load – and will be charged for ATM cash withdrawals – $2 after one free withdrawal per month.

Andy Warhol’s Polaroids

Can be found here: Danziger Projects – BIG SHOTS

We are all artists

Thursday night music: Kate Nash – Nicest Thing Live on Abbey Road

YouTube – Kate Nash – Nicest Thing Live on Abbey Road