Recently I have found myself daydreaming about what I’ll be covering as a tech journalist a decade from now. There is a deep and visceral desire that keeps bubbling up in my mind during moments when I am riding the subway or taking a shower.
I hope that we can find a way to connect our brains directly to computers so that we can write, draw and communicate with pure thought. For a while this seemed like just a pleasant fantasy, but recently I saw a video where scientists recreated visuals based on brain activity.
Maybe I’ve just written about one to many daily deal sites or casual gaming companies in the past year, but increasingly I find myself longing for a technological advance that will fundamentally alter the way we live and interact.
I realized a few months ago that I was not listening to much music. I didn’t have a streaming app I liked, I had grown to loathe iTunes, few of the services I once used to pirate music still operated and I didn’t feel inspired to muck around with torrents.
There wasn’t time in my daily life for much discovery, I was busy launching Betabeat and helping my girlfriend transition to living in NYC. But just as I slowly realized how much not going to Jiu Jitsu was hurting my quality of life, it struck me on several different occasions how unhappy I was not to be enjoying music on a regular basis.
All this changed in the last two months with Turntable.fm and Spotify. The former was a blessing, because I was able to cover Turntable.fm as part of my work at Betabeat, so using the service paid double dividends. The same is true to a lesser degree for Spotify, which is not local enough to merit continued coverage from Betabeat, but big enough to deserve the occasional story.
I hope to write a lot over the next couple weeks about how the two services help me to discover new artists that I love, which for me is probably the most powerful thing a music service can do. I’ve already subscribed to my friend Jake’s playlist, Todayz Jamz, through Spotify. Since I met him in Memphis six summers ago, he has proved to be the best way to learn about artists and records that will stick with me. He signed up for Spotify premium and if he keeps this playlist fresh, I expect it will change my life for the better. We’re also planning a semi-private Turntable.fm hang for later this week, so if anyone feels like joining in, just holler.
Over the past few months Hashable, a startup focused on networking, has become an addiction among many of the power players in New York’s tech scene. It allows users to track who they meet with and who they introduce, creating a dataset that measures in fine detail the social economy of Silicon Alley. “Once I started, I was hooked,” says Charlie O’Donnell of First Round Capital. “Now I’m feeling a bit competitive. I really want to be one of the top connectors.”
Big-name investors like O’Donnell and Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson use the service regularly. But on the site’s leaderboard the top three users, not counting Hashable employees, are a CEO of a small dating site, a relatively unknown investor and an NYU senior and Dogpatch Lab’s intern named Trevor Owens. Which begs the question, how exactly does the site quantify social capital?
Plenty of tech companies are making the leap into the business of mobile telephones, but so far that’s mostly involved partnering with one of the giant carriers like Verizon or At&T. But the news that Facebook and Skype are partnering on communications highlights the possibility of a new future, in which web-only services emerge as a powerful new brand of Telco.
I argued that Facebook should resist the temptation to build its own phone. That’s an expensive and difficult process that would take it far outside its expertise in software. But an integration with Skype is another story. Integrating Skype would allow Facebook to capture a percentage of mobile voice calls without delving into hardware at all.
When I bought my new Android phone it automatically synced with my Gmail and Facebook accounts in order to add people to my contact list. Of my roughly 200 contacts, more than one third are simply Facebook friends for whom I have no cell phone number. There have been numerous occasions when I was frustrated with the realization that I couldn’t call these folks. The integration with Skype could change all that.
Imagine a dense urban center ten years from now where WiFi is a constant in homes, offices and public transportation. Facebook and Skype could potentially power a mobile device with no contract and no carrier, powered only by your social network and voice/video over internet calling.