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Archive for February, 2012


Social Media Changes How Job Hunting Works

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I have talked to a couple of people who are job hunting recently and I noticed some interesting things.

First, generally speaking, I have historically been of the opinion that people that quit their jobs without having their next job lined up are suckers. Here is why:

  1. Being paid is nice. You want to get paid. If you don’t believe me, believe Latrell Sprewell. Everyone needs to feed their family.
  2. I always thought it was harder to get a job if you are presently unemployed than if you are employed. This is the dating corollary: A married man is attractive to women because he demonstrates that someone else thought he was a good catch. A single guy has no external validation. Stuff like that.

However, I recently came to doubt my wisdom and here is why: With the growth of social media, the tools one can avail oneself untoward when job searching publicly are much more powerful. And that is pretty interesting.

I recently had discussions with a couple of buddies that are job hunting while employed and each time I was shocked to hear that they were job hunting and I told them, “You should have called me sooner in your process.” It made me think that they are going to miss out on looking at some great opportunities because people don’t know they are looking.

Similarly, I have a buddy who is perennially unemployed and he is always getting good job offers and talking to tons of people because he is always tweeting and blogging about how he is looking for gigs. When I sold Deconstruct Media, a few people approached me and said, “If I had known you were open to selling, I would have wanted to have a discussion with you.” You can bet your bottom dollar that I regret not engaging in those discussions!


Logged-In Contextual Ad Units

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Saw some new ad units on Grooveshark today:

Both of these were ad units that took advantage of the fact that I was “logged in” to those accounts to show me contextual information. Amazon showed me the last few products I looked at, LinkedIn showed me relevant job offers. (I find it interesting that LinkedIn thought it was necessary to pay some ad network to show me these job offers. Do they need a certain amount of traffic here to justify their existence to recruiters? I suppose so.)

Interestingly, it is only a hop, skip, and a jump to LinkedIn licensing this data to the ad network to drive other targeting – maybe AppSumo uses LinkedIn data to drive offers to me or something.

Frankly, I don’t love it, but this is basically the same as all retargeting. It is a good thing I wasn’t looking at some illicit product on Amazon and someone isn’t looking over my shoulder!

Is the Government even trying?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

This isn’t a political post, but it is a funny story.

So, from time to time, because I live in DC, I get sucked into reading a government RFP. I was reading one that just came out about how the government wants a tool for searching twitter for terrorists tweeting when I saw this line:

This must be a secure, light-weight web application portal, using mash-up technology.

So that is a virtually meaningless, yet buzzword compliant line, specifying how the solution is built, but not what it does – A CLASSICALLY SILLY THING TO DO. But the next paragraph put me over the top:

The application must be infinitely flexible….

Are you serious? The great thing about asking for a product that does something infinite is that I know the price: Infinity!

  • Infinite scalability: Infinite hardware: Infinite price
  • Infinitely flexible: Infinite development time: Infinite price

Clearly, someone was thinking about how flexible the product needed to be and chose the word “infinite” to describe it. Serious engineers would laugh this person out of the room.

I am telling you now that someone will probably win this contract (it sounds like it was written with a very specific idea in mind, so it may be pre-sold) and that person will build something not infinitely flexible – unless your idea of infinitely flexible is “you own the code, so you can add whatever you want to it.” In which case, everything is infinitely flexible – I could hack the binary of Batman: Arkham City to be a word processor!

Honestly, who could write something like that.


How Attention Was Destroyed By The Internet

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Everyone talks about how the Internet is mucking up people’s ability to focus and pay attention. To whit:

I actually recently figured out the problem: Bad writing. I have blogged at length about the collapse of journalism in the face of new media aggregation.

However, I have realized that even scanning the RSS feed headlines of Alley Insider is no longer enough to keep me from giving them untoward attention. Essentially, virtually all of these organizations pay writers by the page view. The result is that writers are incented to reblog things left and right (Note the rreblogging of the Verge’s commentary on this unfunny ad that they prop up anyway) – in particular, reblogging their own stories with new headlines in a transparent attempt to drive additional traffic. This is something we are seeing more and more on alley insider and it does nothing but diminish the value proposition of the site.

Here are two clusters of alley insider articles. These articles came out, in most instances, within hours of each other:

Or how about this:

Why can’t we just have one well-written article with a link? Instead, these are all a paragraph, with two paragraphs of interlinking to the other articles driving them. This is woeful.


New Economies and New Consultancies

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Lots of people have talked about how the economics of start-ups have changed. As costs have come down thanks to tools like MySQL, Amazon AWS, and free frameworks like Rails, where it used to require millions of dollars to build an early stage product, now a product can be built for virtually nothing.

The bottleneck now appears to be access to engineering talent.

There are no hardware constraints. The only thing that stands between an entrepreneur’s idea and the realization of that idea is convincing technical talent to devote their time to it.

One could write a whole host of blog posts around this, but I want to talk about a few interesting side effects I have seen.

There are more tiny consulting companies than ever. I am talking about free agents (1 person) and small shops (2-10 people). I have noticed that many of these are managed poorly. I would say a common thread in many of these is that the people that start them either never worked at a large consulting shop or they were a person that hated all the process and machinations at their prior employer, did not value them, and quit to go their own way. These companies are easy to start – you can simply hang around on oDesk or something worst case and build relationships from there – because demand for technical talent is so high.

But an interesting side effect of this is that as the technical talent gets distributed to these tiny companies, the process and project overhead diminishes significantly. That sounds great to engineers, but do not doubt that there is some value in process – particularly as regards to the creation of visibility in the process (which usually is completely unvalued by the people doing the work). The result is that the burden is placed on the client to “manage” the project and make sure that they are getting bang for their buck. I have also seen a sharp transition away from the trend toward fixed pricing of projects and de-risking the project for the customer to a time and materials model and “scrum-ey” project methodologies. This is great for the developer and CAN BE great for the customer, but only if the customer has the infrastructure needed to manage the project well.

So as technology frameworks have simplified the development of technology, the trend in consultancies has been toward smaller and smaller organizations, but increasingly these consultants are providing only technology development, not the infrastructure that many have come to expect that results in complete delivery of the final project. Customers own project management, QA and other typically core engineering functions – the consultant is just manpower.