On Wednesday, a 19-year-old young man in Florida killed himself live on the Internet, broadcasting the event by connecting a webcam in his bedroom to Justin.tv, a lifecasting site. Viewers who tuned in and egged Abraham Biggs on, presuming it was a prank, were shocked to see police arrive on the scene a few hours after Biggs stopped moving. What drives a teenager to swallow a bottle of pills on camera? "It's often rage against a loved one, turned inward," one white-smocked expert told me. Biggs's final post suggests rage against several loved ones, turned against himself in an attempt to forgive everyone. Why am I posting this? Because the kid was a good writer. He deserves the pageviews. Look how clearly and concisely he spelled out his worldview in a few sentences:
Once again, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation is offering two of its XO machines for $399. One goes to you, one goes to a third-world child. Technologizer editor Harry McCracken, the pathologically honest former head of PC World, bought into the program last year. This year, he says, he'll do it again, but he's not sure you should:
"Sounds like they are preparing for a sale, not saving costs,” says the pullquoted analyst in the Wall Street Journal today. Nortel's 1,300 layoffs, at 18 percent of headcount, would seem pro forma if they didn't include CTO John Roese, whose blog documented the company's efforts to turn itself around. Roese typed up "My Final Blog Post" yesterday. As a going-away present, I've 100-worded his weepy-but-brave essay. His point becomes much more obvious:
Programmer Richard Stallman's 25-year crusade to banish proprietary software from planet Earth hasn't had many victories. Most recently, One Laptop Per Child stabbed RMS in the face by replacing its Stallman-approved freeware with a Windows operating system. OLPC head Nicholas Negroponte, who originally backed a free-software configuration, believes it's a necessary compromise to sell the low-price laptops in a Windows-centric world. Stallman's response compares Negroponte to a drug dealer handing out free samples at the playground.
Peter Kafka is Kara Swisher's latest star hire at AllThingsD. She stole him from Silicon Alley Insider, where he worked with Henry Blodget. At SAI, Kafka always seemed to do fine without invoking the wisdom of the crowd. Why is Kara pushing him to go on and on about nothing? His first post was the standard Web 2.0 "Hello, world." His second takes 400 words to restate its own headline. Peter, here's my first and last free rewrite. Give me credit for not saying "Kafka-esque."
Yesterday, as Web 2.0's bubble burst in slow motion at 30,000 feet over downtown San Francisco, I received a preview copy of Reality Check, by Guy Kawasaki. Someone had stuck a Post-it on the cover: "See inside for foreword by The Fake Steve Jobs!" Awesome. I'm never going to read Kawasaki's book, even though he's way more successful than I'll ever be. I skipped to Dan Lyons's foreword, written in his Fake Steve persona. Here's the best parts:
The Wall Street Journal has an 800-word report this morning announcing Eric Schmdt's plans to "hit the campaign trail this week" for Barack Obama. Blah blah blah natural evolution, Google is officially neutral, "I'm doing this personally," says Schmidt, a week after self-appointed Internet Co-Founder Vint Cerf came out of his own Obama closet. What does Schmidt really want? It's buried at the end of the WSJ's report:
Search marketing icon Danny Sullivan recently moved back to his native Southern California after 12 years in a small English town. Yeah, we thought he was British, too. Sullivan documented several infuriating problems he hit trying to connect with local businesses through Google. One stands out, because it was caused by a local business with too much Web savvy, rather than not enough.
Most bloggers seem to be mentally competing with the newspaper media model of The New York Times. Were they to visit the average newspaper office, they'd quickly realize what they really want: A glamorous magazine job. That seems to be Arianna Huffington's thinking, too. Gawker writer Ryan Tate has a long, delicious post about Huffington's workplace quirks. But his kicker applies to any blogging biz:
The company that funded Netscape, Google and Genentech is now focusing on electric cars, solar power and biofuels. New York Times contributor Jon Gertner has been meeting with Kleiner partners since last year. His 8,000-word feature in Sunday's paper goes deep on details of a few KPCB investments such as Ausra. But it spends a lot of time framing the story for non-techies outside the Valley. Here's the Sand Hill Road edit:
Nick dePlume, as the 13-year-old Nicholas Ciarelli dubbed himself in 1998, became more than Internet-famous as the target of an Apple lawsuit. Ciarelli had published leaked details about Apple's Mac Mini two weeks before the hush-hush product's launch. Apple strong-armed him to shut down Think Secret in February. Now, Cirarelli writes on former New Yorker editor Tina Brown's Daily Beast site, Nick's fellow Apple fanbloggers aren't getting legal threats from Apple for leaking the recent iPhone 3G and iPod Nano product updates. Why have Apple's lawyers gone silent? Ciarelli essay boils down to four reasons, bullet-listed here:
PBS pundit Robert X. Cringely says he realized at last week's MIT Technology Review conference that cloud computing means, in short, "No database." Cringely sees it as the end of Oracle's dominance of information technology. I expect Oracle Cloud any day now. Here's a summary of Cringely's long article, plus the joke about Ellison's sex life, minus Cringely's references to himself:
"Hong Kong is now the one and only country in the world where you can buy an unlocked contract-free iPhone directly from the online Apple Store," writes John Gruber, aka Daring Fireball. He goes on to answer my plea for an explanation of Apple's motives. You can read his full-length post, or my 100-word edit:
San Francisco-expat turned LA PR pro Jeremy Pepper wrote a long post documenting his exploration of Twitter as a company communications channel with the outside world. The advent of Twitter hasn't changed this much: I can still get paid to take a two page long, rambling essay by an expert and rewrite it to fit on a Post-It slapped to your monitor:
Today in Twitter Journalism, it's our man at the Times, Damon Darlin. You've probably heard about, but haven't read, lovable IT crank Nick Carr's anti-Internet essay, "Is Google Making us Stupid?" Darlin helpfully pares Carr's 4,175-word article down to a single tweet. Then, contrary to what you'd expect from the Gray Lady's newsroom, he says there's a basic human fear over new communications technologies that goes all the way back to the original master of irony. We fed Darlin's essay into our shiny new 100-word-version machine:
Trust a campus reporter to get to the heart of the underloved MIT student body. The Tech's Christine Yu explains sex in a language those who need it most can relate to in a moment of crisis: introductory math and physics. You don't need to have gotten off or awkward in Cambridge's most notorious sub-basements to find a grain of truth in her advice.
Coders can be hard to get along with because they are geniuses with no time for people who do not help them solve the magnificent problems that occupy their magnificent minds. Or so explains one such a programmer on his blog, Learning Lisp. He writes that programmers need to be "steered" rather than "managed." They also need to be edited. Here's the post, cut from 2,200 words to just its most entertaining bits, below.
"A single tap on its surface instantly zooms in on images; a flicking gesture moves one photo off the screen and pulls another one on. Menus appear with clever animation, and actions like downloading and emailing photos and videos are intuitively incorporated." No, not the iPhone. It's the Kinoma player for Windows phones. WSJ contributor Katie Boehret solves all of Walt Mossberg's problems with this tidy report on using Kinoma to serve Flickr, YouTube, SHOUTcast and other services on a Windows phone. There's good news for Linux and Symbian fans too:
When there's no new story about Twitter and all of its users — this week anyway — what's left to say? Reporters, they Twitter just like us! Today's Washington Post rounds up journalists covering the Democratic National Convention with Twitter, like former Wonkette editor and Time.com blogger Ana Marie Cox and the Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar. (Who found her new boyfriend through Twitter, whee!) We boiled down the whole thing into only what's fit to Twitter itself.