joshuanguyen

That time I somehow got access to a presidential press conference between President Pinera and President Kirchner by breaking out my camera and kept shooting relentlessly. I miss Chile!

So my friends Shanan and Sara - old souls like me - introduced me to Roz Chast last night. We got a chance to hear Roz speak at the Nourse Theater about growing up in Brooklyn and the creative process. I recognized her work from the New Yorker cartoons, but I never realized who the person was behind the wonderfully neurotic images with the exquisite New York sensibility.
She has a new book of cartoons out that deals with parents dying and how to even talk about something like that (something that’s dim for me but coming into hazy focus). The book is insane and poignant and wonderful. I’ll be picking up a copy.I won’t really read it until I’m ready. I’ll probably just stare at the cover for a while. I’ll be picking up her other books too.
Also, it was weird to walk through the increasingly bro-tastic Hayes Valley (dudes were raising the ceiling on the sidewalk outside swanky bars) and into the zany historic Nourse Theater. On our walk to the theater, I overheard the couple behind us remarking “This is while real San Franciscans are starting to hate the city…” as we edged our way through the beer garden/boutique/cocktail crowd.

So my friends Shanan and Sara - old souls like me - introduced me to Roz Chast last night. We got a chance to hear Roz speak at the Nourse Theater about growing up in Brooklyn and the creative process. I recognized her work from the New Yorker cartoons, but I never realized who the person was behind the wonderfully neurotic images with the exquisite New York sensibility.

She has a new book of cartoons out that deals with parents dying and how to even talk about something like that (something that’s dim for me but coming into hazy focus). The book is insane and poignant and wonderful. I’ll be picking up a copy.I won’t really read it until I’m ready. I’ll probably just stare at the cover for a while. I’ll be picking up her other books too.

Also, it was weird to walk through the increasingly bro-tastic Hayes Valley (dudes were raising the ceiling on the sidewalk outside swanky bars) and into the zany historic Nourse Theater. On our walk to the theater, I overheard the couple behind us remarking “This is while real San Franciscans are starting to hate the city…” as we edged our way through the beer garden/boutique/cocktail crowd.

Taking advantage of cross country flights to get deep into Volumes 1 & 2 of The Last Lion, Churchill’s biography from William Manchester. I didn’t know how low his stock sank during the pre-war years and how obstinate he was to his ideals before he was proven right.

Taking advantage of cross country flights to get deep into Volumes 1 & 2 of The Last Lion, Churchill’s biography from William Manchester. I didn’t know how low his stock sank during the pre-war years and how obstinate he was to his ideals before he was proven right.

Peak Ello… already?

Disclaimer: I was an early Tumblr employee.

The Internet class lost its collective minds over the weekend when Ello - through its beta invite ‘forced scarcity’ system - went viral. Shades of Pinterest, Fab and Mailbox.

Ello offers not new functionality or innovation, but a new manifesto: “vote for us because we’re not Facebook.” Unfortunately, as products go, few have successes campaigning in the negative. 

Let’s look at what Ello actually is. It’s a gorgeous canvas for photos and text that is friendly to hybrid forms of GIFs and emojis. A place for self-expression. A watering hole for early adopters, especially designers and other creatives. A place for status updates. A place for portfolios.

Does this sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s Tumblr, circa 2007.

The main issue here? Ello doesn’t offer anything new. It’s a redesigned Tumblr, with less features. Tumblr’s early thrust was both the dashboard and external blogs.

Everyone focuses on how easy it was to post things, but the early community was drawn to the creative themes, the bookmarklet and the dashboard. The dashboard was for community and the external blogs, with its attendant themes, were honeypots for designers, fashionistas, photographers and anyone who can work their way around Photoshop’s lighting effects. At the time, those were supernova innovations (cribbed from other places, but gelled together so well).

Now, in addition to all that, Tumblr has kick ass search courtesy of Yahoo, great ops engineering, crazy good mobile apps, photosets, GIF support, music integration, a great Theme Garden, Blog Spotlight, and so on. Alas, messaging remain rudimentary.

Looking at Ello’s proposed features roadmap, it’s a rehash of early Tumblr and in some ways, Twitter. There’s your friends/contacts. And there’s noise, which is a precursor to Tumblr Tags and Twitter Discover.  

So can Ello be the next big social network? Right now? No. A redesigned social network without any major innovation (i.e. explicit product features) cannot sustain enough momentum from viral marketing and philosophical announcements to get users to switch. “No ads” is product development by omission.. which is weird.

Many will be curious and try out the product. But Tumblr hasn’t stumbled - it’s product is as strong as ever for self-expression (despite increasing advertisements encroaching on the user experience) and Twitter owns the noise. But if Ello can come up with a killer feature or a set of features — be it focused on privacy, communication, distribution, or content creation - its design and marketing can spawn a formidable challenger for the incumbents.

As it is, my Ello feed is silent this Monday, after a frenzied 4-5 hours of activity over the last week. Let’s see how this plays out.