Last Week's Gillmor Gang

by francine Hardaway on February 14, 2009

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Last week’s GIllmor Gang was one of the best.

This episode was one of the best ever.  Let me dispense with Facebook and Twitter and move on to the really interesting part, which is how the people on the call look at the economic downturn. You’re all very smart people and you will be part of the solution, as I hope I will be.

About Facebook: Marc, it’s only fun to connect with your old high school buddies if you enjoyed high school.  For every person on Facebook that I’d like to re-connect with, there’s one I am glad I never see. Facebook creates a noisy stream and demands too much politeness from me. At least in high school I could turn my back on some of these people, but now that we are all aging and they come on to Facebook as newbies, it is cruel not to add them as friends, and I feel compelled to do it. That makes my stream way too noisy, with “regular people” (translation: people who don’t share my interests) and converts Facebook into an obligation (thanks, Jason) for me.

I much prefer Twitter. Period. Even with the number of people I follow and the number of people who follow me, I have found ways to know almost all of them and connect meaningfully with them in some way. I can learn from Twitter. I have never learned anything from Facebook, except how long some of the unhappy marriages of old friends have gone on through inertia. Ugh.

And yes, I have huge problems uploading video to Facebook, so I can’t believe it will ever be like YouTube and allow completely up-and-down loading. And why should they.  They’re doing fine as a walled garden, and each episode of opening up just creates more noise. For myself, I have begun to work in earnest with Brian Roy’s Just Signal because I feel the need for filtering more than ever. You can see JustSignal on USHealthCrisis right now.

Now to the future: it will happen.Of this I am sure.

Yes, Robert, I am now temporarily poor enough to be under water in my house. But I say temporarily because, depressing as it is, this has happened to me before. The deals I’m in WILL exit some day.  The companies haven’t changed; and they will get restructured, acquired, sold, etc. One day in the future, I will be fine, even if, as Jason so correctly points out, I’m a little shell-shocked now. We people who were “comfortable” are now uncomfortable, and we’re not angels right now.

BUT: that doesn’t mean I don’t believe, as Jason says, that innovation and the start-up economy won’t pull us out of this. It will: the unemployed will innovate, which is why I’m starting  a string of workshops to bring them together and introduce them to each other. Coming from Arizona, I have always been an expert in bootstrapping companies (no choice).

One last comment: one of the industries I play in will never come back like before, and that’s commercial real estate. There have been too many structural changes in our economy to bring it back–from e-commerce, which knocks out retail, to  social networks, which knock out office. You no longer have to bring the people to the market, or to the work. This changes many things about bricks and mortar. The next upturn will have far less commercial real estate opportunities.

We are in a period of rapid transition, brought about by the very things we have early-adopted, evangelized, and fought for. And now we’re frightened. Think how all the OTHER people feel!

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