Tech + Gadgets
Last Friday afternoon, a big, wind-driven fire broke out in the Mission, heavily damaging two houses. Like many of my neighbors, I walked over to watch the firefighters at work and snapped a few photos, which I later posted to Facebook.
There, a few people commented, but inevitably, those shots pretty much got lost in the stream. Just another little local story, partially told and easily forgotten -- one among many.
Well, Luke Stangel and his team of 10 would like to fix that. They are building a mobile photojournalism platform that may help photos like those of the fire find a more useful home -- as part of crowd-based news photo network in real time organized by geo-coded location.
The first iteration of their platform, which is called Tackable, has been around since last October in beta, including a live iPhone version for the Spartan Daily at San Jose State University, just down the road from Tackable's offices in the cavernous (and now largely empty) Mercury News building off of Highway 101 in San Jose.
The first fatal shooting ever to occur in the school's history happened earlier this spring, and students were posting photos and comments to Tackable almost immediately afterward, whereas the Mercury News was able to publish its story about the tragedy only the following morning.
A few years ago, when orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Chang was opening his Bay Area Sports Orthopaedics practice in Oakland, he tried to go "paperless."
"I figured that as a young guy, tech-savvy, and being a small practice, I could do it," he recounts. "But I was wrong."
After a number of attempts, including purchasing a $20,000 electronic records system that was so bad he had to quickly shelve it, the Stanford grad returned to the "old-fashioned way -- paper and pen" to do his work.
When you launch a company, timing can be everything, and in that respect the timing looks to be perfect for the geek team of three at Munchery, who launched their intriguing service in San Francisco on April 23rd.
The idea behind this startup is to match you with your own personal chef.
It's even better than that. Because your own personal chef will turn out to be someone who's committed to using locally grown, sustainable, seasonal ingredients to turn out high-quality, nutritious meals delivered right to your door at a total cost around $20 per person per meal.
At first glance, the two 20-somethings talking excitedly in a Mission District coffee shop may not look like renegades at the vanguard of a new food revolution, but that's exactly who they are.
Local food bloggers Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu will be taking their Vietnamese pop-up cafe, Rice Paper Scissors, to the streets for the third time this spring, on Friday night, May13th, at an as-yet undisclosed location.
In order to find out where they will break out their signature little red stools and spontaneously start serving their savory dishes, you'll have to follow them on Twitter or plug into one of local foodie blogs in the know.
When it comes to grassroots innovation in San Francisco, however, there's no better example than Rice Paper Scissors, which has no investors, angels or even a fixed office address.
Molly Wood, CNET's Executive Editor, and the host of a daily web show covering technology, posted to her blog last week under the headline: "Welcome to the age of data. Watch your back!"
In a conversation with 7x7, she said that the current "information boom" sweeping through the Bay Area can be summed up by one word -- data.
"The startups have this in common. They harvest data, use it to make connections, to advertise to you, or to use the web as a giant recommendation engine. Essentially, they are forming a kind of supercomputer made of users and their data."
She notes the "dark side" of all this. "The level of information out there about you and me is staggering. They can sell this data. So the cost of 'free' has never been higher."
After the recent controversy caused by revelations that Apple has been using its customers' iPods, iPhones, and iPads to collect location data about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots, the Cupertino-based company moved quickly to claim that a bug was responsible and that it soon will be fixed.
Invariably, the way this story was perceived by much of the population was as another example of sinister, surreptitious data collection by modern technology in ways that could further compromise our dwindling sense of privacy.
Therefore, it triggered new calls for restrictive legislation in Congress and overseas.
What tends to get lost in the news cycles that originate with revelations like these is that virtually every tool or service we have grown to depend on in modern communications technology is storing data about how we use them 24-7.
Yesterday, Mozilla, the developer of the popular Firefox browser, became the latest tech sector star to announce that it will soon be opening an office in San Francisco.
So it's probably time to state the obvious, and that is that around here, the rush is on. Yep, we've got another full-fledged tech boom on our hands.
Over at CNET headquarters in Soma yesterday, I was marveling at the array of top-notch correspondents and bloggers they employ, which easily rivals Bloomberg TV's growing team down on The Embarcadero, which I profiled here recently.
The journalists at CNET, Bloomberg, and elsewhere I've spoken with all say that the pace of innovation occurring here in the city easily matches what they witnessed in the mid-90s during the original Internet boom, and that it may well soon surpass it.
David Sacks likes to call them "Dilbert problems."
You know, all those excess emails, unproductive meetings, and other awkward aspects of daily life in the typical office that make you wish you were anywhere else than -- in the office.
As the CEO of Soma-based Yammer, which positions itself as the "Facebook for inside the company," Sacks has a pretty good story to tell.
Since launching in September 2008, Yammer has attracted enough B2B customers that it now appears to be able to stake its claim as the social media platform of choice for the Fortune 500.
Quick. Of the thousands of web-based content companies headquartered in San Francisco, which one has the highest traffic?
The numbers for this website are mind-boggling:
- 414 million unique visitors monthly
- 12 billion page views monthly
Here's a few more hints: This site contains roughly 18 million original articles, which is five million more than the entire 160-year archive of The New York Times. Plus all of those articles have been created in only the past ten years.
Everywhere you look these days, people are playing games on their mobile devices. Business travelers at the airport, kids on the bus, restaurant patrons waiting for meals –– they all seem to be gaming in 5-10 minute spurts.
Meanwhile, as is the case with all types of original content, creating all those cool (free) games is an expensive proposition, so the same problem plaguing all types of digital media hangs over the gaming industry –– how to pay for it all?
Brian Wong thinks he may have found an answer. The 19-year-old founder of the advertising startup Kiip (pronounced Keep), unveiled his unique approach earlier this week.
It can be summarized in Kiip's tagline: "Real Rewards for virtual achievements."