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Demand A Plan.

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I’m proud to sign my name to an effort being led by more 750 mayors and 750,000 grassroots supporters to to demand that President Obama and Congress step forward with a plan to end gun violence.

I urge you to visit demandaplan.org, and take some simple steps that will have great impact.

This full-page ad is running in todays NY Times, page A9. Thanks to Ken Lerer, Ron Conway, Eric Hippeau, and Fred Wilson for making this happen.

Please also take a moment to read Fred Wilson’s blog post today.

God Damit!

Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out Over Instagram’s New Terms Of Use.

God Damit!This happens every time.

Social platform changes its terms of use to enable it to serve ads on its platform.

People freak out. Threaten to quit. Write manifestos.

People forget.

People go back to normal.

That’s because every time it happens, it’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

Instagram just changed their terms of use, and especially because it’s a photo-centric service, people are freaking out that their photos might get sold without their permission. I just don’t think that’s what this is all about.

Here’s a caveat: I’m not a lawyer. But what I’m getting from all of this is that the common thread with all platforms that make a change like this is this: The granting of a “non-exclusive license”, which is meant to give a social platform the right to hold your content on their servers, and then serve it to other people — in accordance with your privacy preferences, of course. It’s a form of “temporary ownership” or “temporary transference of rights” that Instagram legally needs to serve something you created.

Not to sell your photos.

Rather, they want to use your use of their (free) service to sell ads that will be seen by the right “you”s.

The quote from this Lifehacker piece in 2010 is pretty spot on: “if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”. It’s YOU. Not your photos.

Instagram is selling you. Ironically, people seem to be more ok with that.

So while, yes, the legalese could probably technically be interpreted to grant Instagram the right to sell your stuff directly, my hunch is that just as Facebook did, they will issue a clarifying statement.

Jimmy Fallon. Facilitator of Creativity and Sharing.

This is something you have to see. My observations:

1) The best thing about Jimmy Fallon is that he gives The Roots opportunities to make make magic like this happen.
2) I am genuinely surprised by how good Mariah Carey sounds here.
3) The Roots make great music from instruments you would find in any first-grade classroom.
4) I don’t find Jimmy Fallon as funny as I find him creative and a great facilitator of other peoples’ creativity, and someone who is acutely aware of what people want to share.

Bravo, Jimmy.

Facebook’s External Ad Network is Around the Corner.

As gigaom reports, Facebook’s external ad network is coming. Read all about it here.

I’ve been saying this was inevitable since (before) 2010, as the stars have been aligning for this to happen for quite some time.

From my 2010 post:

It seems to be an inevitability that all of this intelligence will one day soon be applied to power a socially-targeted ad network as big (or bigger than) Google’s AdSense. It would be a network that would theoretically deliver even better results for advertisers, resulting in higher CPMs/CPCs/CP-whatevers that can deliver higher payouts to publishers, making a choice between the two platforms a not-too difficult one for those publishers.

For everyone that bought into Facebook stock, this is a very big reason to believe.

Amazon’s New Manifesto.

Is this the new “think different”?

We’re the people with the smile on the box. We’re the re-inventors of normal. We dream of making things that change your life, then disappear into your everyday. And when we build you something new, you can expect everything to change a little more. Look around. What once seemed wildly impractical is now completely normal. And “normal” just begs to be messed with.

Reality Check: Why There Is No Instagram For Video.

Every week, there’s a new buzz around an app that is purported to be the “Instagram for Video”.

It was Socialcam, Viddy, and several others in the past. Today it’s Ptch.

But I can confidently say that there is no “Instagram for Video”.

And for anyone over the age of 16, there may never be.

The main reason is that our brains care more about candid still moments than candid moving moments.

Think about it. If you go to a friend’s house and they have a wedding album on the coffee table, you’re likely to open it up and start a conversation about the people, the wedding, the couple, or anything else that it might inspire.

But say that same friend asked you to watch their wedding, or vacation video. Even just clips from the wedding or vacation. That’s not wistful reminiscence. That’s torture. Because we all know that vacation (or any amateur) videos (unless directed by Ridley Scott) are probably going to be boring. And we all know that the video you’re sharing with us on the next “Instagram for Video” is probably going to suck.

Celebrities may dominate these new apps, and spam may be used to distribute them, but the “Instagram For Video” is a MacGuffin, and probably not happening any time soon.

But if it does, I’ll revisit this post :)

Some Initial Thoughts on Airtime.


A little conversation about Airtime and (missed?) Twitter Potential

Storified by Ian Schafer · Tue, Jun 05 2012 17:18:30

I would actually rather Airtime with someone who is tweeting about something I just tweeted about. #instanttalkshowIan Schafer
@ischafer So kinda like a hangout;-)David Weiner
Seriously. An instant video chat with people debating & discussing a topic is much more interesting and relevant.Ian Schafer
@ischafer Yes. I was thinking that this morning. . . I’d imagine a Twitter sync is only a matter of time, right?MikeMoffo
But alas, Sean Parker is not as vested in Twitter as he is Facebook.Ian Schafer
@ischafer powerful point you are making there. That Sean is missing the boat by doubling down on FB-model over Twitter model.Andrew A. Rosen
@ischafer Nice idea.It could use @Klout API to ID relevant topics, and invite you to a "show" when you tweet about those topicsRyan Drumwright
@ischafer The nice thing about using @Klout is it should help you identify thoughtleaders ppl would want to listen to. #Conference2.0Ryan Drumwright

So Tell Me How You Really Feel: Brand Tags Are Back.

In 2008(!), my friend Noah Brier (@heyitsnoah) launched a little side project called “Brand Tags“, enabling people to share the first word(s) that came to mind when seeing a particular brand.

In his own words:

In lieu of actually writing something interesting (which I haven’t done in a while), I’ve decided to release a 70% done project. It’s called Brand Tags and the idea is simple: You tag brands with the first thing that comes to mind. The idea came to me as I was working on my Brand vs. Utility presentation a few months ago. The thinking went something like this: If brands exist as the sum of all thoughts in someone’s head, then if you ask a bunch of people what a brand is and make a tag cloud, you should have a pretty accurate look at what the brand represents.

Four years and an acquisition later, my friends over at Solve Media (disclosure, I’m on their Board of Directors) have relaunched the Brand Tags service as a free opportunity for brands and their agencies to gather real-time sentiment. What I’ve always loved about Brand Tags is the sometimes visceral response that traditional market research just wouldn’t yield. As I’ve heard Noah say before, “it lets agencies tell their clients how people really feel about their brands”.

Having this service back in a more mature incarnation (complete with a wordcloud “export” function for PowerPoint/Keynote presentations) is incredibly valuable. We’ve gotten into a habit of brushing aside methodologically-complex panel-based brand market research in favor of social media sentiment analysis. And while conversations may yield a ton of insight, semantic analysis often fails because of inadequate natural language processing. A more heuristic approach can really help when both of these extremes fail to deliver, and Brand Tags have the potential to be that.

So hats off to Noah for seeing his vision pay off. Congrats to the team at Solve Media for seeing Noah’s vision all the way through. I’m looking forward to putting this to good use.

On Hitting Curveballs: Featuring Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow.

Full disclosure here, I’ve known Mike Lazerow for a while now. Deep Focus is a client of Buddy Media’s, too. But that doesn’t influence how I feel about this heartfelt, tear-jerking video that Mike just posted to YouTube, analyzing the sale of his company and everything (and everyone) that led up to it, that made me think about, well, everything.

Sometimes, when we analyze, criticize, and otherwise take a jaded look at entrepreneurial businesses, we forget that the people, the entrepreneurs behind them, are actually people. People that took chances. People that were faced with adversity. People that overcame it.

Having built and sold a business (Deep Focus) before, I know that the trials and tribulations of putting it all on the line can wreak havoc on your life. And life throws you curveballs, whether you’re at bat or not. As as an entrepreneur, I try to fear nothing; to treat every pitch like it’s one I can hit out of the park, no matter where or how it’s thrown. But then, as if to remind us that we’re human, things happen that make you realize what’s really important. Life. Family. Humanity.

And just like that, you’re reminded of why you’re so motivated in the first place.

As we get older, this becomes more clear. As a teenager, Mike was faced with a life-threatening condition that set him off on an entrepreneurial path. Me? I just thought I could do some things better. I was young and stupid.

But when I recently found myself with two children born nearly two months early, a wife who was stronger than I could possibly ever be, the most amazing 3 year old daughter welcoming me home every night with an ear-to-ear smile and the biggest hug ever, and a team of people surrounding me at work as an always-on support system, I realized why I (still) push myself so hard. Love for them all.

The kids are now home, and the family is doing great. It’s the new normal. But nothing will ever be the same. My toughest management challenge yet lies ahead of me.

Young entrepreneurs, young and stupid is an advantage. Believe it or not, this the easy part. Your desire will always be there, but your motivations will evolve, and curveballs (and other breaking balls) will be thrown, each with the potential of making you stronger. Embrace them. Overcome them. Learn how to hit them out of the park. And discover how to balance it all.

Like Mike.

by Ian Schafer