Tech Life I can't wait

Six Apart, Series A

Everyone in the Silicon Valley, whether they know it or not, is waiting for the “next big thing”. We’re sitting at our desks in our obscenely large, yet safe companies tapping our fingers on the desk waiting… waiting for something… waiting for that something new that, right now, is struggling to find it’s way out the minds of three random bright people and that is bent on, once again, revolutionizing the valley.

The truly brave ones are out there fighting for those expensive VC dollars right this very second. They’ve got what they believe is the “idea” and willing to weather a steady flood of “Hey, this isn’t the time for new ideas”.. or “Great idea, but will it sell to Enterprise customers?”… or “How are you going to make money?”… or “I don’t get it”.

The brave ones, as they always will, are going take their licks and keep on trying. The lucky brave ones will ultimately ignite a fire that is going to free the rest of us from the mundanity of the corporation where we’ll take the lessons from our last start-up beating and apply them to the new idea.

Jesus, I can’t wait.

I avidly watch the venture capital wire reading who is investing in what and that past year has been Dullsville. Sensible investment targeted at those who actually have money, big business. This is fine. Big business is the backbone of the economy… it provides a safe haven for the risk averse. A majority of the population works in this world and I wish them all the luck in the world. GO MEDIOCRITY! IT PAYS THE BILLS!

Six Apart’s press release from this morning was the first time in months, possibly years, that I felt something resembling a holy shit. Yes, I am biased towards the space as I’m an active participant. Yes, I am a Movablenthusiast. And, yes, it’s about time someone (other than Google) made an aggressive move in the weblog space.

What’s holy shit about this move is it’s blissful optimism. No matter how often weblogs are mentioned in the New York Times, most of the people on the planet Earth with a connection to the Net are still using AOL and have no idea what a weblog is. No one has an idea how big the market will be. All we know is that people generally like to talk and be heard. The small financial vote of confidence in the Trott Team says to me, “Hey, you’ve got idea with merit, you’ve got talent — take a stab at it. We’ll see how it goes.”

Clearly, the rules around start-ups have changed. Investors will take the lessons learned from the financial brutality of the past few years and apply them sensibly to the new breed of start-ups who will be asked to do much more with much less. From all outward appearances, this is exactly what Six Apart is already doing by designing, developing, and marketing a successful product with a two person team.

Whether they’ll make something is still to be seen, but they do have buzz on their side. Weblogging is on the cusp of… something… no one is quite sure what. The simple reason I know this is it’s passed the parent test. One night at dinner at the parent’s place, out of the blue, the Dad asks, “So, what’s a weblog and why do I care?”

Let me explain…

13 Responses

  1. Stonewall Jackson 21 years ago

    What makes you think lightning will strike the same place twice?? Why SiValley? Because of computers? Nobody’s buying new computers. The whole computer thing has been done.

    The ‘next big thing’ will be the brainchild of whoever takes the initiative to make it. It is not something you should sit around and wait for, especially if you have a skill set limited to technology.

  2. Stonewall Jackson 21 years ago

    If there’s gonna be a computer revolution it will be a product which allows you to do all the stuff computers do currently without any hassle. Basically, something that can bring OSX to lots and lots of people. Photo, video, text, webcam chat, internet, page layout, audio/mp3, print without the huge amounts of bullshit that you or I have gotten used to. It will probably be Microsoft, unfortunately. One of these days they’re going to get it right by accident.

    I don’t think these machines are going to be fast enough with enough people having enough bandwidth to do the really really next generation type stuff. Obviously online gaming is going to turn the nation into everquest addicts, but not for a few years.

    Of course the best place to look for inspiration is the pornography industry. What’s their next market? What technology are they trying to work with? jo over ip? That’s gonna be where it’s at. They’ve always paved the way.

  3. This announcement by the good folks at Six Apart is a very nice thing. Blogs are going to get big. Rilly rilly big. BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN, this is not a holy shit! You’ve been drumming your fingers on your desk looking for the next big thing for so long that it’s gone to your head!

    So have I. One thing that we can be assured of is that holy shits will happen with greater and greater speed as we zoom like Ice Pirates into the future.

    Blogs should be a holy shit but they’re more of a holy crap. As these events happen faster and faster we grow number and number to them. Soon the things that should be holy shits but are merely holy craps will become holy cows and then holy ho hum I’m bored this sucks.

  4. rands 21 years ago

    I don’t expect lightning to strike the same place twice because it never does. I do expect it to strike in the high tech arena because it’s consistently been doing so since the late 70s.

    People are buying computers. Thousands of new ones every single day and one of the undiscovered uses for those computers will rock the boat… again.

    Personally, I’d love to find that next great idea… I’m actively looking for it, but I am realist. Having seen how fate chooses to select those who “make it”, I think anyone in high tech knows the odds are against them.

  5. rands 21 years ago

    I don’t, personally, think there is a ton of money in weblog software or weblog software hosting. By far, I think the long term value is in the way that the weblog community digests and regurgitates information. I think webloggers index the web faster than Google and they also provide additional interesting context.

    Ultimately, I see people easily surfing content provided to them by those they trust (webloggers they’ve picked for whatever reason) and using Google to do their data mining.

    This is already happening in a very basic way with RSS-readers… but… there’s more to it… I just feel it.

  6. Stonewall Jackson 21 years ago

    You all seem to assume that this new blog thing on the horizon will be a good thing. The best thing about blogging at the moment is that it hasn’t blown up and keeled over.

  7. You are absolutely right. There is something just on the horizon of this whole blogging deal. I think it’s at a cusp time just waiting for the right event to push it over.

    Example: I’m currently writing a feature story for a college newswriting class and it’s on, you guessed it, blogging.

    I mentioned blogging to the class with a brief muddled description at the beginning of the semester. Between then and now, three people that I know of have started their own blogs. It’s spreading even faster, people I didn’t even know had an idea of how to use the Internet are keeping blogs.

    This is either very good or scary.

  8. rands 21 years ago

    Again, weblogging taps into a basic need. People like to talk about things they (claim to) know about. Weblogging gives websites a personal tone, a personal face. This is why most of the subscriptions in my NetNewsWire are individuals… I like metalogs such as Daypop, but, by far, the interesting content comes from the individuals.

  9. rands 21 years ago

    Some very on topic points from Clay Shirky’s presentation at Etech today:

  10. Floid 21 years ago

    I’d disagree- Blogging is a true “HOORAY FOR MEDIOCRITY” event.

    By way of explanation: What the hell is a blog? It’s a homepage with a content-management system.

    Now, anything that makes it easier to get content online is, obviously a good thing for this heah intarweb, but that’s all it is. What makes blogging so ‘powerful’ today is its ability to propagate its own inflated idea of self-importance, in part because of its ‘founders’ (erm, didn’t it exist for a while before whatever that stupid bestseller was was written?), and in part because of its ability to, say, skew Google results. In fact, it’s interesting to consider the Google connection in that light- instead of solving the problem, buy it, milk it as long as it lasts, and call it integration.

    Now, I’m the sort of guy who sees The Web as a cutesy reimplementation of Gopher/WAIS, so maybe I’m just ‘hopeless,’ but the ‘homepage’ was *supposed* to have been easy to construct and manage since the early days of the web, so celebrating blogging seems, at best, like celebrating XP for not bluescreening every half hour.

    From there, I could argue that the bloggosphere is destined to the same fates as Geocities and TheGlobe, but I won’t- because, if there’s one place blogging succeeds, it’s as a business model. It gets users to write content, something (Suck, Salon) once had to pay actual authors to do. Because the whole *draw* is the managed layout, it’s a lot easier to wedge ads into a free blog service than to make them float over some blink-tagged Mathnet fanfiction site. *Because* the marketers have successfully tricked bloggers into thinking they’re part of The Revolution, it’s damn easy to convince them to shell out to move up in the Party ranks- I have no idea what addedvaluefeatures Livejournal is selling, but I know people are actually scrimping and saving to buy them, given the amount of whining I hear about it on MUCKs and IRC.

    That self-importance is, of course, what’s going to eventually crash the fad (in the same way “that whole internet fad” crashed- no doubt a good number of users will still be hanging around, despite whatever consensus reality is supposed to be that week) – once the heavy users notice that the mood rings and love beads they’ve been shelling out for [haven’t actually brought about world peace | seem to have been making some other ‘hippies’ really rich], they’re going to get disheartened, their feeds will collapse to the same old angst-ridden shit 98% of blogs are, and people will go back to reading… other people’s websites. (Notice again how the beauty of ‘blogging’ is that, having no strict definition, it has no strict failure mode?)

    That said, if your eyes are too clouded with ‘Blogging good! Anti-blogging corporate Starbucks NBC propaganda!’ sentiment to realize it- duh I agree the ability to produce and distribute personal content worldwide is empowering. The internet, on the whole, has been doing that and will continue to do it, with our without one specific service or protocol. (Okay, maybe inflated Pageranks are making it easier for the clueless masses to ‘Tune In,’ but does anyone actually spend their day flipping between MSNBC and If you want something halfway innovative, consider Wikis (blog++, but unfortunately, still a pain in the ass to use), or something like, which is mindblowingly cool even if IPv6 should theoretically give us all multicast and blow it out of the water.

    The real revolution will be televised in a medium that doesn’t exist yet.

  11. Floid 21 years ago

    Okay, just dredged the comments- point to Rands. Though data-minability seems more a density function of homepages than anything else.

    I guess the question is… you people actually, honestly, find the ‘trust network’ thing useful? I mean, sure, I can usually *tolerate* people my friends know, but they also tend to do things like rip off my watch, and the barriers to ‘Annoying Kid Brother’ syndrome are much lower on the web. (Adding someone to your friends list doesn’t mean you actually have to acknowledge their existence except on interrupt. In real life, you actually have to, say, spend time around the person.)

    It’s different for development projects, but does that mean we’re going to call a project site hosting a changelog and a links page a blog?

  12. Monkeyboy 21 years ago


    I read the Six Apart press release and I don’t see the holy shit. Their product looks like it might provide some incremental improvement, but I don’t see anything earth shattering. Did I miss some key point?

    Seems to me the next big leap for blogging will happen when somebody puts some serious marketing dollars behind it or (better yet) leverages an existing channel. If Apple adds blogging to the .Mac suite of services, you can expect to see a leap in the number of active bloggers. If AOL adds RSS-enabled blogging to the AOL client along with an RSS reader, you can bet your ass the realm of blogging will never be the same. The change won’t be due to a big idea so much as the existing idea getting packaged well and presented to the masses.

    Microsoft could do it too, but I try to think about them as little as possible.

  13. Klaatu 21 years ago

    Dear Rands;

    Blogs could be a ho’-shi’-man thing in not so much as their technological advances, but in their content as electronic media. i for one would like to see a “Letters from Sabine” blog that would grip me. I wish I had time to attempt it. After all, some of the great literature in the 1700’s was based upon diary entries.

    i think the software revolution is still going on, but with less splash than we’re used to. My sister is a Neurologist, and she told me they use software to operate on brains to get tumors out that would been a hell of an invasive operation only 20 years ago. that was a Holy shit epiphany for me.

    You’re never going to do it without your Fez on,

    You’re never going to do it without the Fez on,