Google Maps = Peeping Tom?

robotstalkingtorobot2.jpgSo, I’m digging the new street level view on Google Maps. It is very cool to be able to walk around the streets of San Francisco (although for some reason, they couldn’t make it down my old street). But apparently the Google Bus is getting a little too close for comfort for some.

Today’s New York Times is reporting on a woman who saw her cat in Google Maps, in her second floor window. Yow.

Now, I’m all for new technology (and I love the street level view), but I could see where this might give you the heebie jeebies. From a privacy standpoint, I’m not sure where I stand on this, but if Google had pictures of me in a bathing suit (oh boy), I think I might be asking them to take it down too.

Wired has a great collection of interesting locations and people doing strange things that people have found using the new service (where the above image is from, um, but the other ones are real-ish).

Building Community Social Media Marketing Video Wetpaint Wiki

Wikis made easy

Ah, Lee and Sachi LeFever, you’ve done it again! I love wikis, but often explaining a wiki to people who don’t use them can be difficult. And honestly, until Wetpaint, I didn’t recommend wikis to non-technical people as the wiki text used, while easier than HTML, isn’t that easy for non-techies to pick up.

Them: “what’s a wiki?”
Me “um, it’s a web page that anyone can edit”
Them“oh, like Wikipedia? you mean I can edit that?”
Me: “ya, like Wikipedia, except it can be about anything you want”
Them: “oh…That’s … kinda neat. But why would I want to make an encyclopedia about something else?”
Me: “no, no, it doesn’t have to be an encyclopedia. It can be anything you want it to be. It can replace long email threads, it can replace message board thread gone amuck with the same questions over and over again. Wikis are really versatile.”
Them: “oh… Hold on, hold on… Anyone can edit Wikipedia? How is it so good?”
Me: “Ugh.”

For a quick look at what a wiki is, click below for CommonCraft’s video. Thanks again for your help crystalizing this topic, Lee and Sachi.


Copyright explained, Disney-style

Although a bit tedious at times, here is the video version of a ransom note explaining copyright law through the works of Disney. Happy Monday.

[via Slashdot]

Geek Fun

Crazy 3d version of Twittervision

If you want to veg out in front of the web this Friday afternoon, the brilliant Twittervision (and Flickrvision) guy, David Troy has put out a 3D version of the app. Not really useful, but really pretty and an impressive use of what you can do on the web these days with APIs and an active imagination.

It even works in Safari!

Twittervision 3D – no glasses required.

Building Community Social Media

Digg Mania 2007: Diggers gone wild!

What’s that I smell in the air? Springtime in Silicon Valley? Nope, a user revolt on Digg. It’s days like this that bring back fond memories of days past. In case you hadn’t heard, last night Digg users had themselves a good old-fashioned revolt.



  1. A Digg user posted a HD-DVD hack on the site.
  2. Post is removed.
  3. Post is re-added and gets 15,000 votes.
  4. Post is removed.
  5. Rinse, repeat.
  6. 1:00pm Jay Adelson then posted an explanation on the Digg blog that really stoked the flames of the revolution.
  7. At 9pm Kevin Rose announces a truce and says:

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

It’s a Diggnation

While some might focus on the legal issues surrounding the story on Digg, I can’t help but think about how the company dealt with the situation in regards to their community. Looking back at a post I made about the Facebook revolt last year, I consider how quickly Digg management reacted and corrected their behavior versus the days of swelling anger that Facebook received. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but I think that Digg management couldn’t haven’t handled this situation any better.

First, they attempted to comply with the law by taking the story down. This wasn’t a story that Digg users wanted to die, so it kept popping up again.

Second, once they realized that by attempting to kill the story, they were making it more popular, they relented. Taking a look at Digg’s homepage today, I’d say that if they wanted the story to go away, addressing the issue head on seems to have worked. Since the Kevin Rose post, the story has fallen in popularity.

Third, from a press perspective, I think Digg comes out looking pretty clean in the ordeal. Not only did they get lots of press, but they get to say “Look, we tried. Our users power the site and this is what they want.” Squeaky, squeaky clean.

I am curious to see if any legal action (beyond threatening letters) that Digg will receive as a result of all this attention paid to a unconfirmed crack. I haven’t even looked at the actual code or any verification that it actually works, so it’s hard to say if Digg is in any legal trouble here.


And now for a Kum Ba Yah moment – Digg management has learned that their community is like ocean waves, you can surf on top, but you can’t hold them back. If nothing else, Digg management (and the rest of us) got a valuable lesson in community management and the power that these communities hold.

Geek Fun

Friday Fun – Flickr Blockers

Man, if only this existed years ago before all those incriminating photos were taken of me.

Get yours today!!!


Lee LeFever on RSS in Plain English

A lot of folks get fancy-pants TLAs flung at them all day long. My pal Lee LeFever over at commoncraft just published an excellent (and short) video about what RSS is. Enjoy.

Originally posted here.


Down in SF this week

Just a quick note to anyone and everyone… I’m down in SF this week for Boxbe, Web 2.0 expo and Podcast Hotel if you want to meet up. Give me a call or shoot me an email.

cell: 415.297.4215


Vote for Boxbe on Valleywag!

valleywag logo.jpg

Boxbe has been included in a poll on Valleywag today to select the hottest startups in Silicon Valley. We might be a little north, but we’d sure love your vote! We’re in with some pretty stiff competition from a lot bigger companies, so tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, heck, anyone who will listen to go vote for us on Valleywag!


Geek Fun Video

Commercials not available

I’m a big fan of alternative means of watching television. Hell, I launched a separate (now sorta kinda abandoned) blog about it. So when ABC announced that they were going to do high(er) definition versions of their show online, I was stoked.

I tried it out on launch day and got this image (which I thought was pretty funny):

Now, maybe it’s just me, but “advertisements not available” sounds like a feature, not a bug. Still, the fact that ABC is upping their video quality and offering a limited number of ads on their online programming is pretty cool.

Geek Fun Ignite Seattle Seattle Social Media Club

Ignite Seattle tonight (with a special Social Media Club half-time meetup)

See… I’m back on the bike. Really, I blog regularly… really.

Tonight in Seattle for one night only, Ignite! If you are a geek in Seattle and haven’t made it out to an Ignite Seattle event, you are truly missing out.

Bre Pettis and Brady Forrest from O’Reilly are brilliant hosts for what has been great fun. If you are a Maker, you’ll want to join in on the Paper Airplane Challenge at 6:30.

If you are in the social media scene, Chris Heuer will be on hand leading a meeting of the Social Media Club. He’s in town tonight to meet up with Seattle’s movers and shakers in the social media scene.

In either case, if you are perpetually late like me, don’t be late for the Ask Me Later presentations, which are guaranteed to be good, well, at least if they’re not, they only last 2 minutes. Being a little ADD addled, 2 minutes for an idea, a pitch, or a cause is a great way to get creativity flowing.

I’m pretty excited about going tonight as the first one was so much fun and I regretfully missed the second one, which was even bigger than the first.

Details from the site:

6:00 – Doors Open
6:30 – Paper Airplane Challenge Begins
8:00 – Break
8:30 – Ask Later Talks: Round 1 begins (full schedule)
9:15 – Break
9:45 – Ask Later Talks: Round 2 begins
10:30 – End of Ignite

Hope to see you there.


It’s like riding a bike

187792490_f7ecfa8019_m.jpgI seem to keep falling off of my Stewtopia blog. I’ve been spending a lot of my time working on Boxbe’s blog, prettying up the UI and talking about recent improvements such as Gmail integration, I’ve been pretty busy.

I tend to build up a lot of pressure in my head about blogging. “Oooh, I really need to blog about SXSW” or “I need to give a shout out to all the folks I met last weekend,” are thoughts that go through my head, but often I feel like my drafts are never done.

I’m just getting back on the bike today folks. It might not be great, but here I am.

Photo by Flickr member Omar Junior

Latest spam

First the image spam was coming through, then penny stocks, now we’re back to Nigeria….ugh!

In the last several days, I’ve been getting messages like this one –

My name is Mr Usman Lama, I am a former military intelligence officer, a captain by rank and a Presidential aide under the government of President Charles Taylor of Liberia .I want to invest the fund that i have made during my time in service into a well profitable business and i want to invest this fund outside my country for safety reason because i don’t want the government to question me of getting this large amount of money…

This is so 2002.

image by Flickr user Santos
Geek Fun

I finally get Twitter, then it breaks

twitter.pngApparently, Twitter has been severely hobbled from the convergence of nerds in Austin for SXSW.

I’m still not sure I’d use the service as much in my day to day (maybe Stuart can change my mind), but man I can see it’s use here at a big conference. At smaller shows, like Northern Voice or Gnomedex, Twitter might be less useful, but sending status and finding your friends here in Texas seems to be really handy.

I’m stewtopia on Twitter if you want to help make my txt messaging bill go through the roof.

Tags: swsx2007, swsx, twitter

Austin bound – SXSW this weekend

plat.gifI’m beginning to think conferences are my job… I think SXSW will make my 4th conference this year…oy. Maybe I’m just fulfilling my dream to be a trucker being on the road again.

If you’re in Austin this week(end) give me a shout! Email me at if you want to talk social media, Boxbe, Bay Area vs Seattle, or where to get good BBQ in Austin. Look forward to seeing you there.

Anti-spam Boxbe Spam

Are we winning the war on spam?

oreillyradarlogo.jpgDale Dougherty over on O’Reilly Radar attempts to answer that question and reports on their efforts to combat spam.

In a given week, 94% of the 904,060 all messages sent to O’Reilly servers are rejected because:

  1. the IP has been blacklisted
  2. the message had a SpamAssassin score of 10 or higher
  3. the message contained viruses or malware
  4. the message failed some other anti-spam technique

(And that doesn’t even account for messages the recipients didn’t actually want.)

Dale interviewed a number of industry luminaries on whether or not “we” are winning the war on spam. Here are a few quotes:

Eric Allman – developer of sendmail, a prominent email protocol

It depends on how you define “win”. I still get junk phone calls, but the phone system is reasonably usable today. I think that spam can get to that level.

Brad Templeton – Chairman of the Board, Electronic Frontier Foundation

I wouldn’t say that. There are a number of fairly decently working filtering systems, though a number of them have concerns about false positives. This doesn’t rely on draconian blacklists, though some people use them.

Danny Goodman – prolific tech writer and programmer

“It’s a lot like the war on terrorism. The hardest part is defining what the war is. The offenders are not clearly defined, the war is not clearly defined.” He said the war seems like “a constant game of whack-a-mole.”

If you are interested in the war on spam, this article is a great overview.