Barack Obama’s Speechwriter is 26

Jon Favreau

I missed this write-up on Jon Favreau, Barack’s head speechwriter, in the New York Times Fashion section last week. He first started writing for Obama when he met him during John Kerry’s campaign back in 2004.

Life was relatively quiet then, and Mr. Obama and Mr. Favreau had some time to hang out. When Mr. Obama’s White Sox swept Mr. Favreau’s beloved Red Sox three games to none in their American League 2005 division series, the senator walked over to his speechwriter’s desk with a little broom and started sweeping it off.

Sounds like they have a good working relationship.

UPDATE : There’s a nice profile of Favreau in the Washington Post. It describes how his life has changed since Obama’s victory and the pressure leading up to writing Obama’s inaguration speech.

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last.fm, full tracks now for free

free the music


My favorite music site, last.fm has done away with the 30-second preview and now serves up full-length streams of all of their tracks, all for free. In a blog post, last.fm says that they’ll limit each track to three plays before a notice pops up promoting a new, Unlimited Listening Subscription. The artists will be paid from a royalty pot that is portioned out based on the number of times their tracks are played. Last.fm is also opening up their platform to invite independent artists to upload their music directly into the mix and also get paid based on popularity.

Royalties are paid from earnings on their subscription service as well as advertising. What is unclear is how royalties get divided up behind the scenes. CBS owns last.fm and they say that they’ve cut deals with “Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner, EMI and over 150,000 independent labels and artists.” The big question is if the subscription and advertising revenues will provide enough of a revenue pot to sustain the artists, advertisers, and last.fm. Back when I worked at Factiva, the calculations for how content providers were paid was complex and tended to favor the larger brand names that could negotiate from a position of strength. I suspect that this is the case, with the large studios gaining a larger percentage cut for each of their tracks. Yet I hold out hope that eventually last.fm’s distribution and the pressures bearing down on the studios eventually favors a more equitable arrangement that distributes earnings based more on talent and popularity and less on the big studio lawyers.

More details from a press conference on this news from paidcontent.org.

Fred Wilson, always a good read on the issues and challenges for the music business, posts a good perspective on this development and suggests opening up the catalog to allow blogs and social networks to embed tracks into their pages for their readers. I was just thinking today, it would be cool to embed a player on your MyBlogLog profile page which played your favorite last.fm track of the week. Today I can point to a page, for even broader distribution, the next step is to embed.

MyBlogLog API in the Wild

mybloglog logo

Thanks to an unsolicited write-up by Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb the story about the MyBlogLog API has been getting some coverage. The API is currently an invite-only beta while we get some people to take a look at it and give us some feedback. The API is interesting not only because of the public data such as user & site tags unique to the MyBlogLog index but also because of the ability for the API to act as a pointer to other sources of data.

Each member on MyBlogLog has a “Services” tab which allows them to share pointers to their profile on other sites such as Digg, Twitter, Flickr, del.icio.us, etc. In this way, the MyBlogLog API can serve as a lookup that can tell you where to find someone on these other sites and pull together a more complete view of someone across the web. The MyBlogLog API delivers on a vision we’ve had for the service, a DNS for People.

The web is a collection of digital artifacts. Text, photos, sound files are by-products that are digitized and indexed. We use search engines to locate these artifacts but no one has built a way to tie all these artifacts back to their owner.

Until today. Yahoo’s very own Kent Brewster was quick off the mark with his own hack which surfaced links to these other profiles of recent visitors as well as, if available, the most recent Twitter post. Aldon Hynes posted at length this weekend and I look forward to seeing him explore member relationships using the API as he did so when he posted his detailed images of his MyBlogLog Social Graph.

I’m really happy to see this vision of MyBlogLog API as a building block coming together and am proud to see MyBlogLog play a role in making these connections easier to find making the web a little easier to use. As with any effort such as this, there were numerous people that played a role in getting this off the ground but there are a few key individuals who deserve special mention:

Chris Goffinet was the lead engineer who built the thing over the course of a week and then tuned the heck out of it over its several incarnations.

Todd Sampson & Eric Marcoullier (MyBlogLog co-founders) have been pushing for this API since day one and are basically the API’s patron saints.

JR Conlin & Kent Brewster (from the Yahoo Developer Network) were both invaluable for early feedback, cheerleading, and general code-wrangling.

If you’re interested in getting on the list for the beta, sign up and let us know what you’re working on.

Going to Burning Man?

Tickets now on sale.

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Multi-tasking, today is busy

What happens when you get more screen real estate by adding a 24″ second monitor? You fill it up.  This has got to be a record.

  • 9 IM windows active (5 people from Yahoo, 4 from outside)
  • 9 Firefox tabs (one playing sound off of a video)
  • 6 Outlook windows (1 calendar appointment, 4 half-written emails, 1 reminder)
  • 1 File Download window (pulling down a

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    )

  • iTunes (idle)
  • Powerpoint
  • Excel

Two Blogs to Watch

The co-founders of MyBlogLog are. . . wait for it . . . blogging!

Todd Sampson and Eric Marcoullier have brushed off their CSS chops and will turn their critical eye to the world around them. Todd’s got a baby girl on the way so we’ll get to follow that journey as well as his observations on the world of computing. Eric’s decided to cap his posts at 100 words or less in order to focus his thoughts.

Either way, both blogs are bound to be entertaining. Check ’em out.

Nate Ritter’s one man band media service

Nate Ritter’s Twit-o-gram

I went to a meetup sponsored by Netsquared and saw Nate Ritter talk about how he was able to fill in during the power outages during the San Diego fires and keep us all informed on what was going on. Part of his amazing story is how on the first day he worked for over 12 hours with only one 15 minute bathroom break.

Nate’s story was covered by Wired and highlights that he quickly ran into a limitation of the Twitter API which would crash if he posted more than 70 posts/hour (he eventually moved to posting directly into twitter.com).

Other interesting tidbits include the fact that for some residents, he was the only game in town because power was done in most of the area (with other townships borrowing power from Tijuana to the south). In times of crisis, SMS messaging rules.

The graphic posted above is from his talk, which he outlines on his blog. It’s a very basic setup where you drop a few feeds in on one end, usually filtered to sort on specific topics relating to your crisis at hand, and then Rube Goldberg-like, mush it all together using soup.io and then pump that RSS out to twitterfeed.com which will take any RSS feed and turn it into twitter posts. This is Nate’s basic setup which he’s re-purposed several times for other situations, most recently the floods in Northern California.

The setup described above doesn’t take more than an hour to get up and running.  Looking at it really gets the gears turning. What kind of twitter feed would you setup at the wheels of something like this?

I can think of a few services to add to improve it.

  • Yahoo Pipes for greater filtering
  • twitter’s “track” function to track mentions by keyword
  • Dave Winer’s twittergram to allow people to phone in updates from the field

Can you think of any others?

Big Waves off of California

Cortes Bank

While on vacation in Hawaii, I had the chance to head up to the North Shore a few times and get a peak at the surfing scene during the winter months. The winter storms churn up some good surf and the Triple Crown was underway. Those same storms gathered strength and slammed into California bringing record rains and an opportunity to ride some epic waves off Dana Point hitting speeds of 45 miles/hour.

From The New York Times

With a second major storm bearing down, four of the most experienced big-wave surfers in the world launched a boat and two Jet Skis toward Cortes Bank, an underwater mountain range whose tallest peak rises 4,000 feet from the ocean floor to within about four feet of the surface. The perilous spot, about 100 miles off the coast of Southern California, had been surfed only a handful of times in the past decade. With just the right conditions, its shallow waters turn huge ocean swells into giant, perfect breaking waves.

– via kottke.org