Frank Rich hits it on the head

Wow, this op-ed from Frank Rich really summed up this point in the race for me and crystallized some vague thoughts around the race. Definitely worth a read

Op-Ed Columnist – Frank Rich – One Historic Night, Two Americas – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

WHEN Barack Obama achieved his historic victory on Tuesday night, the battle was joined between two Americas. Not John Edwards’s two Americas, divided between rich and poor. Not the Americas split by race, gender, party or ideology. What looms instead is an epic showdown between two wildly different visions of the country, from the ground up.

Is this a good or bad thing?

I was washing my hands just now and something struck me.

How does a submarine achieve negative buoyancy by flooding tanks with water when it is still filled with oxygen?

If this had struck me 20 years ago, I would have probably tried to reason it out. Given how little I know about submarines, I may have come up with an elaborate, creative, and definitely incorrect solution. This would have tided me over until I went down to the basement to look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica or went to the library to get a book on submarines. My answer may have even satisfied me completely.

Today, I go to google, and I type “submarine buoyancy”, the first article is “How Submarines Work” on howstuffworks.com, and I’m done. My intellectual curiosity is satisfied. Maybe I’ll read more about submarines, maybe I won’t. I definitely won’t spend too much time trying to figure it out myself when the answer is so close to hand.

Am I richer or poorer for the instant access to all knowledge? I don’t know, at least in this case.

What I want from data portability

I want to rate my books, music and DVDs once on netflix, Amazon, Facebook visual bookshelf, iTunes and I want the data shared across all of them.

However, I want complete control over how each of them uses every bit of that data and I want to approve who gets to see it, even among my friends. I don’t want to have to give any service my login for any other service in order to share that data.

I want to eliminate all my current log ins for each service so that I can use the OpenID service I created for myself.

However, I don’t necessarily want anyone to be able to track me around the net using that single sign-on.

I only want to map my social graph once, and I want it to be available for any service that I use.

However, I want to control who in my social graph has access to what information on each website that I use.

Until the privacy aspects of the different data portability are really well thought out, I can’t support any of them. I haven’t seen a single proposal yet that adequately balances utility with privacy. I honestly don’t know if there would a proposal that would offer users decent privacy since that would come at the expense of companies’ ability to market to them.

speaking of resumes

I talk about resumes a lot. That is because I see many of them. A zillion years ago, when I first had to write a resume, all I had was a crummy pamphlet from the career center that was completely unhelpful. So, I like to help out when I can so that I don’t have to look at lame resumes.

I thought that this article was actually pretty decent on the subject of spiffing up your resumes’ design. Although, if you aren’t French, I would avoid calling it a résumé.

Give your résumé a face lift (LifeClever)

P.S. unless you are from Europe, don’t call your resume a Curriculum Vitae either, that comes off really twee.
P.P.S. ignore the résumé and c.v. rules if you are actually applying for a job in Europe.

Why Live Mesh will fail

When I first heard about Live Mesh, I was underwhelmed. I kept hearing that this was a game-changer, but I really didn’t see why. Today, I decided to figure out what the fuss was about, so I went to TechMeme to track down some of the better resources to start from. I read Ray Ozzie’s memo, I read the LiveMesh blog, and about a dozen other articles. I’m still having a hard time seeing this as revolutionary. Other services exist which have most of the same pieces. Where Mesh is different is the possible reach that Microsoft could give it. It is that reach that which is required to make it successful where others have failed. However, that reach coming from Microsoft is the Achilles heel for the technology. The Forbes article covers this aspect:

In the past, Microsoft has “literally tried to own the platform and standard, and so forced the industry to adopt [its technologies],” says Alex Barnett, vice president of community at Web application-development platform host Bungee Labs. “Ray Ozzie’s been working with community in a non-commercial, open-standards way to solve this problem at the industry level.”

It will take weeks–maybe months–for developers to grasp all that Mesh is capable of, predicts Barnett. And for it to be successful, Microsoft has to continue to engage with the community. If the program morphs into a Microsoft standard–instead of a Web standard–support will fall away, he adds.

Mesh may have been developed in a clean room environment, safe from the Microsoft innovation anti-bodies, but now that it is in the open, those anti-bodies will be attacking this from every direction. How excited will the Windows Mobile team be when you can sync your iPhone from LiveMesh. What will the Windows team think about the Linux client? They will all come at this team and Ray Ozzie may not be able to protect the Mesh group from the revenue engines. Every group at Microsoft will want to make sure that their user’s experience with Mesh is better than their competitors at which point the users and 3rd party developers will run away in droves.

Mesh is a service. A Microsoft service. How eager will developers be to put their eggs in Microsoft’s basket? Microsoft has a long history on screwing over developers with its technologies. Through aggressive marketing (ie: paying developers off a la Silverlight) and active hand-holding, Microsoft may get some bigger fish to swim in their pond. The little fish will be scared for the day that MS decides to eat them and they’ll be harder to get on-board.

For Microsoft to be successful with Mesh, they’ll need to get the independent web developers in their camp. This group is one of the least supportive of Microsoft. Microsoft has never made inroads with web developers outside of corporate IT departments. I’m sure that there are some great web start-ups based on Microsoft technologies, but I’m having a hard time thinking of one.

Live Mesh’s success requires Microsoft to be really good at a lot of things it has always been bad at: open standards, engaging the larger community, giving up control, having user trust, and enriching competitive platforms.

I believe that Ray Ozzie and the Mesh team may really want to do the right things for the right reason. The question will be if they can get escape velocity from a corporate culture which is against all those things. It will be a good test for us on the outside for judging Microsoft in the future. In the post-Bill era, is Microsoft Ray Ozzie’s company or is it Steve Ballmer’s company?