Only the Beginning

Next Story

So Now Everything Is Google's Fault

beatlesOn Friday the FriendFeed founders Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit debuted a radical redesign of the product for about 15 journalists, technologists, and Robert Scoble. We were asked not to discuss the details until Monday morning at 9AM Pacific. I’ve been playing with the beta for the last few hours and have already come to several conclusions about what this means for the social media community and by extension enterprise computing.

First, the disruption occurring around the realtime universal message bus invented by Twitter has now spread much more widely than commonly anticipated. Twitter’s breakout in the mainstream media hints at the speed with which this technology is moving, as does Dave WIner’s fascination with harnessing Twitter while at the same time questioning the validity of a single commercial company’s dominance of the space.

Some analysts have suggested that Twitter has moved past and consumed RSS at the center of the information machine. As newspapers and other print vehicles appear to collapse, the common concerns expressed about the permanent loss and funding of the fourth estate ignore the rise of a superclass of information creation. What some call the fallow ego-driven spew of the Warholian elites is more likely to be seen in the rear view mirror as something more akin to body painting and ultimately jazz.

Without directly violating the embargo, what FriendFeed 2.0 suggests is the capture of the sense of the moment. Like a Kennedy press conference or the incredible rhythm trills of Lennon on the roof in Get Back, we’re seeing something electric and tangible appearing out of nothing. I dive in and swim in the current, swooping from swirl to eddy, then into direct communication and back to the world I’ve left behind for a moment. It still takes several moves to accomplish a single task, but the handwriting is on the wall and the time is near when we can pick up where we left off months ago.

What’s exhilirating is that the vague assumptions, arrogant exploits, twinkling of an ephemeral joke, they all are being ratified in a swirl of innovation that is dazzling in its ability to masquerade as superficial and childish. How strange it is to see major corporations act like teenagers while jousting for position in the transition. The dynamics of cloud computing have unleashed a paroxysm of hardball for control of the big freakin’ webtone switch, with the phrase’s inventor reportedly facing off against his successor to protect his legacy.

Whether the drama is real or window dressing for a nuts and bolts takeover is not so much the point, just as tweeting was never about what you’re doing for breakfast. What’s more truthful is that moment when someone has that flash of insight and dives through the wormhole to the moment when the like-minded take it for a ride. Like a comedy preview, when the laughs fall in the right places and the audience syncs up with the story and is carried away, so too does this realtime message bus become an irresistible force of nature.

We’re seeing a new Beatles emerging in this new morning of creativity, a series of devices and software constructs that empower us with both the personal meaning of our lives and the intuitive combinations of serendipity and found material and the sturdiness that only rigorous practice brings. The ideas and sculpture, the rendering of this supple brine, we’ll stand in awe of it as it is polished to a sparkling sheen. This is not a beta period, though each element is maturing rapidly. It’s a wave of Sully’s guiding each ship to a safe landing.

This embargo is a gift, letting us feel the raised lettering on the white cover, pouring over the vibrant dissolution of one era and the brisk tart smell of the air as we start the day. What a delicious feeling, the sense of limitless possibilities even as we know everything will end only to begin again. Over and over, we hear the same wondrous realization, that building has this incredible stage where you get something roughed out and then stand back and let it tell you what it might be.

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    I recorded the entire session and will have it up at about 9 a.m. Pacific Time at http://scobleizer.blip.tv (there are six pieces so I can get the whole thing up on HD video).

    • http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.com Mind Booster Noori

      Scoble: it *sucks* to be pointed to a link that starts a video and spitting sound to my headphones without having to press “start”. kktnxbye

    • mahalo bruddah

      is this a belated April Fools post?

      remember that magical thing called Worldwide Telescope that Scoble said “made me cry”?

      Ha. You guys need to get your head out of Google’s cloud….

  • http://www.Holistic-Show.com Andrea Tannouri

    I loved reading this article, so rich with imagery! =) Thank you. @AndreaTannouri the @HolisticMamma

    • http://sco.tt Scott Yates

      I didn’t love reading this article, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

      And besides, Arrington made it very clear that embargos are crap, and should never be respected.

      Just tell us what the heck you know! Stop trying to be an artist!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Landon_Massey/1176934218 Landon Massey

    I am a new fan (of yours). Beautifully written in a way that I didn’t know you could write. Artful, technological prose.

    • Dave

      Wrong. It is an awful article. It is very unclear and vague. Can anyone translate this rubbish into a plain English?

      • Jamie Thomson

        Agreed. I’m afraid Steve’s brain operates on a higher plane to mine. I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about.

    • http://www.trafficspaces.com Niyi

      Hi Steve,

      Interesting writing style. Very much departed from that of other writers on this blog.

      However, it is clear that some of your readers may not know that “fourth estate” in “the common concerns expressed about the permanent loss and funding of the fourth estate” refers to “the fourth estate of the realm” i.e. journalists/press. It is antiquated English, after all.

      That aside, I reckon this paragraph really threw a lot of people off

      “What’s exhilirating is that the vague assumptions, arrogant exploits, twinkling of an ephemeral joke, they all are being ratified in a swirl of innovation that is dazzling in its ability to masquerade as superficial and childish. How strange it is to see major corporations act like teenagers while jousting for position in the transition. The dynamics of cloud computing have unleashed a paroxysm of hardball…”

      You have to understand that TC is a quick-read for several people and not bed-time reading. Some people just don’t have time to read articles twice to understand the meaning, hence the vitriol spouted in the comments.

      Don’t take it personal. Just take the advice on board


  • http://www.eflorenzano.com/ Eric Florenzano

    This article makes very little sense.

    • http://mikepower.net Mike Power

      What an overblown, florid, self-indulgent piece of hyperbolic BS!

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    Eric: here’s the transcription:

    New friendfeed coming in the morning at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

    It’s new.


    And takes the microblogging world forward in a compelling new way.

    • http://pauljacobson.org Paul Jacobson

      Brilliant Scoble, you just made my afternoon!

    • http://www.umpcportal.com Steve 'Chippy' Paine

      Is it going to help or hinder those of us that use Microblogging in a mobile way? To we need even more powerful devices with even bigger screens?

      • http://bittermancircle.com Aron Michalski

        We already do need more powerful devices with better memory management…

    • Boris Thomson

      Thanks. Makes much more sense.

  • http://www.millardbaker.com Millard Baker

    The new Friendfeed system goes online on April 6, 2009 at 9:00am PDT. Friendfeed begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14am PDT, April 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug…

  • http://maheshcr.com/blog Mahesh CR

    “I dive in and swim in the current, swooping from swirl to eddy, then into direct communication and back to the world I’ve left behind for a moment. ”

    That was a beautiful sentence, captures the essence like no technical spec ever can.

    And you make a wonderful point about the embargo, never heard it being spoken of that way.

    Wonderful post….thanks!

  • Melinda Saunders

    FriendFeed is already yesterday’s news.

    Robert I expect you will move onto the next thing by the pm.

    Will be hard to get the attention of the mainstream away from Twitter. Will they change their name to something cool???

  • Justin

    I have no idea what any of this article means. It makes no sense.

    • http://www.cannerycasinoandhotel.net/ CanneryCasinoAndHotel

      yeah me too.

  • http://p0ps.tumblr.com p0ps

    Standing by, on the ready, T minus 5 hrs and counting…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fred_Grott/592318318 Fred Grott

    I am wondering when 75% of access to twitter and friend feed come from mobile smartphones that have web browsers who this new twitter real-time bus will affect LBS consumer mobile applications.

    Seems to me that the Mobile Hybrid solution of using one mobile framework such as rhomobile to allow app to be dev using web code while still being able to access gps might be the best play for some twitter like service start ups.

    I think the next Twitter if there is such a thing will be integrated with GPS/LBS.

    • http://bittermancircle.com Aron Michalski

      The Friendfeed IM interface is the closest mobile experience I’ve had to the old Twitter realtime IM with Track and the easiest to send threaded comments while on the move.

  • Gerry Orkin

    The-next-big-thing is coming at us today, apparently, and the thing after that will come at us in a few months, and the one after that in a few weeks, and the time between each next-big-thing will keep decreasing, until there is a next-big-thing coming at us about as fast as microblog posts come at us now. And I’m exhausted already.

  • Tim F.

    Ouch! Even Gillmor doesn’t think Scoble is a journalist or a technologist.

    • http://postrank.com Jim Murphy - PostRank

      Heh, that’s what I got out of it too. :)

  • Kevin C.

    Wow Mr. Gillmor, I’ll second the comment that I didn’t know you could write like that. Very well done and inspired. You could write excellent mystery novels (this is a complement). And thank goodness somebody else remembers The Beatles! Check out “Revolution Take 20”. – kc

  • http://www.modernbizzle.com Ryan Boyle

    Steve Gilmor on Techmeme? What is this? “Only the beginning” indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wayne_Schulz/531173044 Wayne Schulz

    Wait, I thought Techcrunch no longer honored embargoes….


    • J

      Exactly what I thought. TechCrunch, bad at obeying their own rules.

    • http://www.rickwebb.net Rick Webb

      My thought as well. I was hoping someone was going to mention that.

  • http://www.onemorebite-weightloss.com Kathryn @ One More Bite

    I too need more to make sense of this post. It’s beautifully written indeed, but where’s the beef? What on earth does it mean? Where’s my link to more…

    You’ve succeeded in creating curiosity and I’m anxious to figure it out, so all-in-all, brilliant post indeed.

  • http://postrank.com Jim Murphy - PostRank

    So what, Steve is using ghost writers recruited from the pool of unemployed Bush administration speech writers?

    • Paul P


      Did you just seriously compare a website user interface iteration to a “Kennedy press conference”?!?!

  • Keith Le Mon

    Unreadable and self-indulgent nonsense once again from Steve Gillmor.

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures Michael Krigsman

    Aside from baroque loveliness, why exactly is this announcement important?

  • http://www.danielbru.com Daniel Brusilovsky

    I’ve been experimenting on how to keep Twitter and Facebook separate, but Scoble’s twitter stream is basically FriendFeed now, and I don’t want that to happen with my stream. I’m actually excited to see what FriendFeed is going to offer! T-1.5 hrs!

  • http://atlaseffect.blogspot.com Doug

    The whole point of communication is to deliver a message. You sir, failed.

  • GregA

    Ok I just listened to several different versions of Get Back by the Beatles, and there was no trilling.

    You guys here at tech crunch dont actually have any fact checkers do you?

  • http://www.carloslorenzo.net Carlos Lorenzo

    Thanks Robert for the reminder about when and where the new release will appear. I was getting lost in the Warholian hyperbole. It was a nice reading any way :)

  • http://www.newmexicopowerball.org/ NewMexicoPowerball

    Thanks for the announce.

blog comments powered by Disqus