Editorially – document collaboration

Om Malik invited me into a beta of Editorially, a service for collaboratively editing documents that is a vast improvement over Google Docs or the messy world of Microsoft Word redlining. It offers version control and commenting, but lacks markup for any delta between versions.  I don’t know if I’d call it “Atex in the Cloud” but I did like it on first use.

I have three two three beta invites if anyone is interested.


Crash Reel: The Fall and Rise of Snowboarder Kevin Pearce

HBO Documentaries premiered a great one this week, profiling the rise and fall and acceptance of snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce, who rose to the top of the professional snowboarding circuit only to literally crash and burn with a “TBI” or Traumatic Brain Injury in 2010, only months before the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

I don’t snowboard, I don’t like skiing around snowboarders, and the culture of blasting music as they half-pipe away on some sylvan slope while wearing baggy pants is lost on me. But I did suffer a head injury myself in 2006 when I was blasted off my bike by a teenage driver, splitting the helmet that saved my life; and while my injuries were no where near as traumatic as Pearce’s, I can empathize with his description of a brain injury as a “silent and invisible” injury, one that is pernicious in its effects, disquieting to one’s love ones, and slow to recover from.

Crash Reel is a good look inside of the crazed world of extreme sports, one that routinely injures and mains skateboarders, skimobile riders, skiers and cyclists. The insouciant “awesome dude” culture has its toll, and this film peels away the bravado to show the true devastation a brain injury can have on a young man and his family. It was hard for me to watch and I was barely injured, never lost consciousness, and was able to get back to work within a month. But if you’ve ever had a solid concussion or seen a kid on a bike without a helmet, well, Crash Reel is going to to strike a chord.

On trains

Cape Cod has been served by limited weekend train service this summer, the Cape Flyer, and initial reports are very positive with the operating costs close to being covered and the passengers “liking” the hell out of the thing on Facebook. It’s not the fastest train in the world, but it certainly is gaining in popularity after the nightmarish off-Cape traffic on the Fourth of July weekend that apparently backed up 25 miles from the Sagamore Bridge. The Cape has no daily passenger service to Boston or Providence, with commuters to those cities forced to drive or take the bus. The bulk of the train activity seems to be the scenic dinner train out of Hyannis and the trash train that hauls the Cape’s detritus to the generators in Rochester.

I would certainly reconsider my weekly drive to Manhattan if there were a dependable and speedy train from the Cape to NYC via Providence, but I won’t go into the terrible state of the Acela (over-priced, over-crowded, and too slow) and the general scandal of the American railroad infrastructure along the busy northeast corridor from Boston to Washington.

Two things have trains on my mind this week. First is a book by Tim Parks, an expat living in Verona, Italy who writes about his love-hate affair with Trenitalia in Italian Ways, an account of the Italian rail service he depends on for his commute between his home and his professorship in Milan. I like Italian trains — I’ve taken the Cisalpina Eurostar from Zurich to Florence and then Florence to Venice and back again to Zurich — they are slightly funkier than their French or German counterparts and Italian railroad stations are nicely chaotic. I like train-based travel accounts. Paul Theroux is the master in my opinion, largely because he’s so judgmental of his fellow passengers and makes his tales more about the eccentricities of the people on the trains than the scenery out the windows. Parks isn’t nearly as nasty and mean-spirited, I suppose because he’s lived in Italy for 30 years and doesn’t want to give too much offense. He spends an inordinate amount of time carping about the illogic of the Italian ticket/time table system and the atrocious layout and lack of directions in an Italian train station. But when he takes a cue from Theroux and describes his fellow passengers in a Sicily-bound train, all yapping away in their mobile phones, the book becomes interesting.

And the second thing that has sparked my recent interest in trains is Tesla-founder Elon Musk’s forthcoming announcement of his “hyperloop” concept — a combination of the Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table — that would make travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco faster than a jet.

Kennedy brothers free turtle | CapeCodOnline.com

Kennedy brothers free turtle | CapeCodOnline.com.

Update: my cousin snapped this shot of a dead turtle off of Edgartown. Looks like a Leatherback to me, a very dead, very smelly Leatherback. Such a shame — these are HUGE turtles and very endangered ones. I found a dead one on  Sampson’s in the fall of 2010 and it looked like an upside down dinghy from a distance. There’s no way to say this is the same one the Kennedy’s saved from entanglement.

Here’s the quick story. The Kennedys are sailing in Nantucket Sound and come across a Leatherbill turtle entangled in a lobster buoy. The big reptile is struggling, the synthetic rope is wrapped seven times around its neck and flipper, and it’s pretty much a goner unless someone helps it out. So the intrepid Kennedys jump overboard and pull a Doctor Doolittle.

Now NOAA is “investigating” because it is apparently illegal to help out endangered turtles without a permit and the wildlife rescue types are also wringing their hands, saying they should have called for help and let the pros handle the situation. I call bullshit, especially if, as Bobby Jr. claims in the video below, that he and his accomplice are licensed wildlife rescuers. I’m not saying every concerned citizen should rush to roll a stranded turtle or seal into the ocean or dive overboard with a knife between their teeth to cut a poor animal free from some man-made entanglement, but I think these guys did a good thing.

I found a dead Leatherbill on the beach at Sampson’s Island a few falls back. It was very sad and obviously had been killed by a propeller strike.

Millennial/Net-Gen Focus Group of Two

Sitting on the deck the other evening with my 24 year-old daughter and her boyfriend, a San Francisco entrepreneur working on a real estate/apartment finder app —  while I grilled dinner I also grilled them on social media trends within their social and professional circles. Both are digitally driven individuals who have known a world that always had an Internet. He’s on a divided platform of MacAir and Android phone, she’s a follower of the Apple Holy Trinity of MacAir, iPhone5 and iPad2.

  1. Both are Gmail users. She left Yahoo. And despite the Apple hardware, does not use Apple cloud services or email.
  2. Both use Snapchat
  3. Dropbox
  4. Are not fans of iTunes
  5. Both dispute the popular myth of twenty-somethings fleeing Facebook as it gets infested by their parents. “Can’t survive without it, though everyone disses it and says they are going to cancel their accounts,” said he.
  6. Twitter is not a big thing for them personally, but he’s respectful of its marketing power
  7. He is a content marketing practitioner and showed me an infographic developed with his PR firm to support his app launch
  8. Both admit to being overwhelmed by the proliferation of social apps, networks, etc.
  9. I didn’t ask about Google + usage.
  10. Laptop and tablet use was pretty low during their ten day vacation. Phones were consulted constantly with few phone calls observed.

Interesting points I took away from this survey sample of two are:

  • Both are very concerned about personal information security, hence the quick adoption of Snapchat which makes an image expire and notifies the sender if a recipient takes a screen shot.
  • Facebook is tired, but central to their sharing and personal network maintenance. I  thought they would long gone from there.
  • Both said they are tired of keeping up with all the options and new technology available to them

There are days when I miss Beijing

Maybe it’s because of my memories of the summer Olympics in 2008, but for some reason I miss Beijing, even with its atrocious air quality. Such a wildly dynamic city, the most energy I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Dubai and I’ve seen Las Vegas. Thanks to Bob Page for sharing this:

The Boston Tech Line | startup dj

The Boston Tech Line | startup dj.


Interesting post by Jay Batson, co-founder of Acquia, on the shift in the Boston tech scene from the Route 128 beltway of minicomputer lore, to a lean startup/downtown culture.

Having suffered the isolation of Route 128 when I was at McKinsey’s Waltham office I can attest that technological creativity withers in the burbs.