Tech + Gadgets
When the large aluminum doors of Mountain View’s Computer History Museum reopened in January, senior curator Dag Spicer was easily able to guess the age of all who entered the “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” exhibition. If visitors headed straight to the Apple II on display, they were likely 34; if the IBM personal computer caught a person’s eye, he could be 30; someone who went over to the Super Nintendo was probably around 25. “People unconsciously date themselves by gravitating to their first computer,” Spicer says.
When it comes to online dating, like with all types of social media, San Francisco is at the center of the action.
“We have the most fans in San Francisco, as a percentage of the population, and probably our biggest penetration of any market,” says Sam Yagan of New York-based OK Cupid, one of the larger online matchmakers. “It’s always been one of our best markets, there are more techies, more early adopters than anywhere else.”
San Francisco is experiencing another explosion in startups, and one of the best ways to visualize that is at at the local tech community's hottest recurring event, which is the "startup mixer" held by SF Beta every other month at 111 Minna.
SF Beta is the brainchild of Christian Perry, now 26. He launched it when he first moved here from Chicago after finishing college back in 2006. Perry notes that his meetups are attracting record crowds these days.
"There is a big spike this year, up to 650-700 attendees, or more than twice as many as in the past," says Perry.
Almost all of that growth, he says, is due to the rise of social networking companies like Twitter, mobile app developers, and new advertising startups, which have catapulted San Francisco into the new center of tech innovation -- more than anyplace else, including Silicon Valley.
Since it's a cliche that men and women are as different as, say, Venus and Mars, it should come as no surprise that the genders use social media differently, including when shopping online.
And with that emotionally-loaded holiday, Valentine's Day, looming on the horizon, those differences may well have unintended consequences in the offline world as well.
A new study by Empathica, a retail consultancy, found that women are looking more for good deals online, whereas men are more likely to just be seeking information.
“Women are more intentional and thoughtful shoppers,” Empathica executive Gary Edwards told Chief Marketer.
We wrote last October about Ratio Finder, the site that tells you the real time ratio of gents to ladies at city hot spots. But if sheer data's not enough for you, Barspace.tv (which just launched a new website January 3rd) now turns real-time video cams on your favorite watering holes, so you can check to see if the scene meets your standards before you venture out.
A little Big Brotherish, yes, but it's popular - they report more than 50,000 monthly visitors and 10,000 mobile app downloads so far.
If this is the first time you've heard the name Darian Shirazi, it's a good bet it won't be the last.
The 24-year-old UC Berkeley dropout heads up a Soma-based operation called Fwix, which is an early leader in what he calls the "fourth wave" of the Internet -- local search -- or "what's nearby, right now."
Under this formulation, the first three Internet waves were directory, search, and social media. Shirazi's tiny company (19 employees) appears to have opened an early technological lead on corporations that are trying to catch the same local search wave like AOL’s "Patch" and Google’s "Places," among others.
The idea, essentially, is to bring you the hyperlocal - the best information about what is happening right around you in as close to real time as possible. It depends on identifying content that has been accurately geo-coded. That presents an extremely difficult technical challenge.
First, let's back up a second.
photo credit: dbking (from Wikimedia Commons)
When the news broke a few days ago that Twitter had successfully challenged a gag order in the federal government's investigation into the WikiLeaks case, it was a reminder that the Bay Area is on the front lines of the battle to protect our First Amendment rights in the digital age.
A federal grand jury in Virginia had subpoenaed user account data from Twitter about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, among others, as part of its probe into how that large trove of classified records recently became public.
Twitter has a company policy of informing users before complying with court orders such as this one, which is significant because that allows the user to exercise the legal right to challenge the subpoena in court, where it may get quashed for any number of reasons.
But since government investigators routinely request -- and get -- gag orders in these types of cases, Twitter was barred by law from telling Assange and the others involved in this particular case. So it fought back, and won what may prove to be an important legal precedent in the process.
Things move so fast in the world of technology that we can sometimes lose sight of just how new some of it still is. And sometimes that very newness can cause problems.
As I was sitting in a Cole Valley café recently, watching Craig Newmark of Craigslist demonstrate how he uses his iPad (on a tiny easel) to handle customer support issues, it struck me that only a year ago this scene never could have happened.
After all, Cupertino-based Apple only introduced the iPad, probably the most super-hyped tech product of all time, in late January 2009.
We’ll have to wait until all the holiday sales are added up to know for sure, but it’s a good guess that digital books accounted for roughly ten percent of all book sales in 2010 --a remarkable figure that will only be going up in the future.
All along the waterfront in modern San Francisco, businesses catering to tourists occupy the wharves where longshoremen used to work.
But down at Pier 17, there also is an industrial enterprise -- a chocolate factory, owned and operated by none other than the team of Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, the visionaries who launched Wired magazine in SoMa back in 1993.
They are still innovators in technology, though no longer in the publishing industry. Instead they manufacture and sell premium chocolate with their company TCHO, which in its own way may prove to be as disruptive in the global chocolate industry as Wired was in publishing.