What I'm obsessed about

Death of binary docs, collaborative flow, re-invention of email, signal vs. noise

Brad Feld is finding a lot of noise in the system, saying he is noticing:

…lots of drama that has nothing to do with innovation, creating great companies, or doing things that matter. I expect this noise will increase for a while as it always does whenever enthusiasm for startups and entrepreneurship increases. When that happens, I’ve learned that I need to go even deeper into the things I care about. Brad Feld What I'm Obsessed About At Work

So, he identifies areas that he is obsessed about, and is going to dive deeper into them.

It’s pretty easy to tell what I’m obsessed about. It shows up in my tag clouds and the theme of my link blog. But it’s useful to reflect and broadcast these areas as well.

Here’s what I’m obsessed about:

  • __death of binary documents__: Evernote is a more powerful platform than Dropbox if you consider that native apps aren't needed at all; Evernote is a giant distributed database with some layers on top of it that make it look like a notepad. Data flows seamlessly and can be mutated easily. Binary docs are flies in amber. This is a long arc that will take a while to complete. A supporting arc is the move to paperless for all things.

  • __collaborative flow__: [Flowdock](http://www.flowdock.com), [Hojoki](http://hojoki.com), [Grove.io](http://grove.io), [Ginger](http://gingerhq.com), and [HipChat](http://hipchat.com) are examples of this; this means both real-time "chat" rooms as well as connecting in various bots and agents to feed information and alerts into an always-on challenge. Tools like [Yammer](http://yammer.com) also fit, but are meant for company wide usage, while the tools I list are targeted more at dev teams

  • __re-invention of email / inboxes__: we can't quite leave email behind, but look for ways to either offload traditional email comms (like the previous "flow" tools), or different approaches to "the inbox"

  • __signal vs. noise__: this is a long time obsession. It's a common phrase, across industries, and across activities. These days social is adding to both sides of the equation. While I think algorithms are doing ever more interesting things in this space, I like the concept of curation, agents, and simply better tools for people to use directly (again, the previous two likely connect into this as well)

  • __ebooks__: the rise of the media rich EPUB3 format plus the social adoption of digital reading plus the recent move to DRM-free ebooks is opening up a lot of interesting opportunities

  • __business data platforms__: we see many small businesses or departmental teams adopting web SaaS tools; but, start looking at multiple tools and it becomes much more difficult - how do we not re-enter data? how do we create workflows that span multiple tools? how do we manage identity & billing across apps? we have several early solutions in this space, but there is only going to be an accelerating need for these types of tools. [Chris Devore has written about this as well](http://www.crashdev.com/2012/04/request-for-startups-open-federation.html).

I probably can’t finish off this post without admitting that I’m still obsessed about startup ecosystems, specifically what it means to build more (and more successful) startups in Canada and Vancouver.