I've had quite a week and I wanted to blog about it. It was difficult to figure out where to start... My computer exploding? My wife going mental on me for five days straight? My cat peeing on the Matelasse left of the floor in front of the washer? The constant changing of the colors that the painter will paint our house on Tuesday? The flight to San Jose in front of the loud, obnoxious guy from Brooklyn? The $60 cab ride to Menlo Park?
Wow, what a crappy start to the week. And by the time I got to leaving for the Bay Area, I was having a grade-A bad week.
But then I came down to the Bay Area and things strangely immediately got better.
I came down at the invitation of the folks from Platial. A while ago, I was doing some testing for Platial. A build that they launched one week blew one of my apparently easily-blown gaskets. My concerns were being discussed, but it was a game of telephone and the theory behind them was obscure.
So I wrote a post called "How Platial is Hiding the Context". Lucky for me, when I get really annoyed, I largely express it through usually pretty funny sarcasm. So the post, which I worried would really piss off the folks at Platial, ended up being a topic of prolonged discussion and debate (and they appreciated the humor).
After they were through debating, they invited me to their offices in Portland to talk about the issues in that post and my post on human understanding. So this was planned but then it ended up that on that week the whole Platial crew was going to be in San Francisco.
So they flew me down to the Bay Area.
There was no agenda for me other than to hang out and talk about their software. The workday was described to me as a working session, somewhere in Palo Alto.
That totally didn't happen. I arrived on Wednesday night and met with Platial CEO Di-Ann Eisnor and advisor Rama Aysola for a late dinner in Menlo Park. I took a taxi to Menlo Park, which meant that I needed to walk the 15 minutes down to the restaurant. The night was perfect for a walk and after the flight felt really great.
Dinner was nice and started the trip out on the right foot. So far as expected. We discussed my blog posts, my theories on how people convey meaning, and why Platial was uniquely suited to be the platform to realize this vision. We chatted until well after the restaurant was closed and then went back to the hotel. At the hotel, I talked to my wife, who was agitated about painting the house, but calmer than before.
The next morning, Rama picked Di-Ann and me up and we drove into San Francisco to meet with various tech-heads and potential Platial business partners. Granted these weren't high stress meetings, but for Di-Ann and the people at Platial it seemed totally natural that I was there. Like you are meeting friends for dinner and would say, "Oh, we have a friend visiting and we're going to bring him along."
An amusing point in one meeting was when one group of business partners asked what our roles were. My role as "Platial's Buddy" was fun to spin.
Arrington went ga-ga:
Facebook is giving an unprecedented amount of access to developers. The API would allow, for example, a third party to recreate Facebook Photos, the most used photo application on the web. Users could then remove the default Facebook Photos and install the third party version instead.
Applications can serve their own ads and/or conduct transactions with users. Ads can basically be shown anywhere that Microsoft ads are not currently shown.
Platial has some very nice integration with the new Facebook platform that, if you give a rip about Facebook, you should check out.
After the event, I worked a bit (little bit) with Platial developers on what they might do for the hackathon, but then dragged Rama and Di-Ann out for dinner. As gracious hosts, they bent to my will but weren't really into it.
When we arrived at Crustacean we were at once struck by the nice decor. When the food arrived any reluctance or lack of excitement on Rama and Di-Ann's part disappeared. The food was amazing. It was nice to be able to give something back to my hosts (and lucky the restaurant turned out to be as good as described).
What was interesting in all this was we discussed "business" a lot of the time, but the trip never for a minute felt like a business trip. It was business as if business could actually be always conducted in relaxed friendship.
I basically "worked" non stop for two solid days and feel like I've just had a vacation. And that's a glorious gift.
So ... how did this happen?
Beyond me being bitchy and writing a couple of crazy blog posts, it happened because it's part of Platial's corporate architecture. Tracy is Platial's full-time, paid, and effective, community advocate. She trolls for the interesting and the active. She makes sure they are acknowledged. She makes sure Platial knows what value people are getting and that Platial uses (or at least discusses) that value.
This is easier said than done. You gotta look at a lot of crap, you have to see people with mundane ideas doing mundane things, and you need to be able to spot even slight glimmers of inspiration.
The system apparently works. I had a great time, feel more connection with the product, am writing a drippy-sappy blog post, and gave hours of "free" consulting. In the end, my discussions with the Platial team were far more compelling than the Facebook launch. But ... I did get a nice luggage tag from Facebook.
Blogged at San Jose Airport waiting for my very delayed flight using Windows Live Writer