Hello, 2016

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Breaking the ice — been off the blogs for quite a while now.

Looking forward to this year, the way I tend to every year.  2015 was a tough one for me personally — went through a bunch of shit on the family front that both demonstrated how tough life can be and also how resilient people are.

I’m incredibly thankful for my friends, family and colleagues, who continue to inspire, support and challenge my family and me.

Let’s get it on.

As Massachusetts ponders ride-sharing regs, where’s the data?

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Today, hearings begin at the Massachusetts state house over how to regulate the budding ride-sharing / on-demand transportation industry (Uber, Lyft, et al). Adam Vaccaro over at Boston.com has a good summary of the various competing bills — a pro-Uber bill that welcomes new Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) with relatively light-touch regulation, and a pro-taxi… Read more »

Supporting workers in the gig economy

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years as a human, it’s that life is hard and people need help in order to make things work. That help can come in many forms: family, friends, co-workers, teachers, unions, healthcare providers, agents, assistants, coaches, therapists, strangers on the internet, you name it.  Point is, we… Read more »

Pain x Resistance = Suffering (the case for throughput)

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For the past nine months or so, I’ve been seeing a therapist specializing in mindfulness. Perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made. One of the things we spend a lot of time talking about is resistance – everyone has their own quirks and issues, and that’s one of mine.  The tendency to hit the brakes when… Read more »

Brutal honesty delivered kindly

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On my way to SF this week, I stopped over in Boulder, visited Techstars and then had dinner with Brad Feld, where got to talking about the dynamics inside and around venture firms.  He has obviously been doing this for a long time, and for me, less of a long time (3-1/2 yrs at this point)…. Read more »

The Blockchain as verified public timestamps

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Two weeks ago at USV’s annual CEO Summit, Muneeb Ali from OneName explained the blockchain in a way I hadn’t heard before, and which I thought was really helpful: the blockchain is time. That’s a somewhat abstract way of saying it, so more concretely we could say that: The blockchain is database of verified public timestamps. Every… Read more »

The more things change…

Here’s a slide from 2009, when we were convincing transit agencies to open up their data, and then later building MTA BusTIme:   And here’s one from yesterday, from a talk I gave at the Shift Conference (blog post to follow w more on that):    

Regulation, the Internet way

Today at USV, we are hosting our 4th semiannual Trust, Safety and Security Summit.  Brittany, who manages the USV portfolio network, runs about 60 events per year — each one a peer-driven, peer-learning experience, like a mini-unconference on topics like engineering, people, design, etc. The USV network is really incredible and the summits are a big… Read more »

Where do web standards come from?

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I’ve spent the better part of the last six years thinking about where web standards come from.  Before joining USV, I was at the (now retired) urban tech incubator OpenPlans, where, among other things, we worked to further “open” technology solutions, including open data formats and web protocols. The two biggest standards we worked on were GTFS,… Read more »

Wanted: email apology bot

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Maybe we all live in the email anti-Lake Wobegon, where we’re all “worse than average” at email, in our own minds. One problem with email is the giant guilt pile it creates — the psychological consisting of the number of emails you know are in there that you have forgotten about, ignored, or missed. My guess is… Read more »

Venture capital vs. community capital

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Photo: Rudy (Loïs) Pignot I am in Paris this week for OuiShareFest, and spoke yesterday morning during the opening session.  OuiShareFest is in its third year as a large international gathering of folks interested in the peer/collaborative/sharing/networked society, put on by the community organization OuiShare. The topic of this year’s fest is “lost in transition”, and… Read more »

Anti-workflow: to-dos

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A while back, I wrote about Anti-Workflow Apps — apps that solve problems for you without forcing you to adopt a workflow that you may never fully be able to adopt.  Workflow apps (CRMs, to-do lists, project management tools) are super hard to drive adoption towards, as everyone works differently and really resists this kind… Read more »

Dick Pics and Cable Company Fuckery

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John Oliver has become the most important voice in tech policy (and maybe policy in general). His gift, his talent, his skill: turning wonky policy language that makes people glaze over into messages that people connect to and care about it. Last fall, he did took what may be the most boring, confusing term ever,… Read more »

Failure is the tuition you pay for success

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I couldn’t sleep last night, and was up around 4am lurking on Twitter.  I came across an old friend, Elizabeth Green, who is an accomplished and awesome education writer — you’ve probably read some of her recent NYT mag cover stories, and it turns out she has a new book out, Building a Better Teacher…. Read more »

Financial Planning for the 90%

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A few weeks ago as I was walking down Beacon Street in Brookline, I happened upon something amazing: The Society of Grownups. The Society of Grownups is a self-proclaimed “grad school for adulthood”, the idea is to give people the tools they need to manage their grown up lives.  The primary focus is on financial… Read more »

The Light Inside, The Fire Inside

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Last week, a friend passed away after a relatively brief but intense battle with lung cancer.  I didn’t know Paul well, but he was very close with a few of my very close friends, and I had spent enough time with him to understand that he was special: he had a light inside of him.   A… Read more »

Increasing trust, safety and security using a Regulation 2.0 approach

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This is the latest post in a series on Regulation 2.0 that I’m developing into a white paper for the Program on Municipal Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that an Uber driver kidnapped and raped a passenger.  First, my heart go out to the passenger, her friends… Read more »

Regulation and the peer economy: a 2.0 framework

As part of my series on Regulation 2.0, which I’m putting together for the Project on Municipal Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, today I am going to employ a bit of a cop-out tactic and rather than publish my next section (which I haven’t finished yet, largely because my whole family has the flu… Read more »