Austin is about to get a lot cooler…

…not because of SXSW (really, that’s a seasonal coolness that the city retains), but because Kristin and I are moving there!.

Chaotic MoonEarlier this week, I accepted the position of VP of Technology with Chaotic Moon. I’ve worked with the team in the past when Crowd Fusion and Chaotic Moon worked together with News Corp to launch The Daily. Any large potential clients out there looking to build a new revolutionary digital periodical? You should contact us. With me as part of Chaotic Moon, we now have the front to back knowledge of a total mobile publishing ecosystem working together in one team. We’ve done it before and can do it again, better now that we’ve been through the experience and know the challenges and pitfalls that you’ll face along the way.

Chaotic Moon is a full service software company, designing and developing solutions for a wide spectrum of devices and interfaces. We provide strategy, design, development, and gaming services to an amazing client list ranging from Fortune 100 companies and the largest entertainment companies in the world to some of today’s hottest start-ups. We do everything from apps from your iPhone/tablets to connected devices to powering the next wave of interfaces in cars.

I’m a big fan of the epic things Chaotic Moon has been up to and am excited to come on board the giant killer robot that is Chaotic Moon and together with our amazing team to help continue to dominate the mobile software space!

Posted in Chaotic Moon, General, iPad, iPad Apps, iPhone, iPhone apps, iPhone Development, Personal, Tech | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What is “headcase”?

Since Jackson first started talking, he’s had a few words that he’s said that we’ve never been able to decipher what he’s talking about. One of them that he’s saying all the time now sounds remarkably like “headcase”. So this post is just for all the other parents of 3-year-olds out there: What is “headcase”? Any ideas?

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Copyright reform protest petition: Release Happy Birthday to You from Copyright!

I just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, We the People. Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/wYqr

Here’s my reasoning: We all sing “Happy Birthday to You” constantly. Our television shows and movies religiously avoid using the song, because supposedly it’s still under copyright. According to this paper, though, it really shouldn’t be. And, by the way, if it actually is, it’s a great example of how broken our copyright system is to the point where it actually works against a fundamental part of our culture: freedom of expression and sharing and singing Happy Birthday to You!

If you agree, please sign my petition. We need 100,000 people total to get the White House to acknowledge.

Also if you have something to say about this, tweet at me and I’ll add to this discussion section:

Posted in Art, Copyright, Media, Politics | Comments Off

Hacking Crowd Fusion

I haven’t had my fingers in Crowd Fusion templates since I built out ck4.us and Bosh and Bill back in the day. Now I’m working on prototyping an idea of mine in Crowd Fusion and while I’m working on it, I’m also taking notes and adding bits to Crowd Fusion to try to get something together that would be representative of a good Open Source Crowd Fusion starter kit for anyone interested in using it.

The problem working against this is that Crowd Fusion has always been engineered to be an extremely flexible platform and CMS capable of powering absolutely any type of site you can think up. If you look at the customer base we had during our 3 strong years as a client-facing services business, you’ll see a large disparity in the type of implementations we offered them:

  • TMZ is a breaking gossip news blog-based site that has multiple distribution channels, including iPad, TV, email distro lists, etc.
  • MySpace used Crowd Fusion as a integration engine that pulled in original content from MySpace editorial staff, metadata and content from Daylife, VideoSurf, and various other platforms, and output a JSON structure that was ingested by their huge .NET infrastructure to power their content based Movie, Celebrity, and Fashion pages.
  • Tecca was powered by Crowd Fusion and used the platform both for content creation, distribution to web and their phone app, but most impressively to pull in and manage a huge database of tech products and prices from multiple different databases that were normalized in Crowd Fusion.
  • The Daily. Walled-garden, subscription only, iPad only to begin, publication that used Crowd Fusion for wire and feed gathering, as a DAM, a CMS, a layout tool, APNS / Newsstand / C2DM messaging system, subscription management system, and distribution to iPad / Android / Facebook / Kindle / iPhone, etc.

All those experiences are insanely different. So it’s difficult to build a starter-kit schema + theme-able front end design that can be plugged into that flexibility. Anyway, that’s what I’m tinkering with currently. I’m using http://fluidbaselinegrid.com/ as the basic beginning front end for this. Then I’m going to create my own plugin that does all the things you need from a basic blog, heavily comment that, and have that and the theme and a set of instructions ready to go for when we actually move to Open Source Crowd Fusion. I also need to tinker with the WordPress import script and see how that works. Stay tuned.

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Out on my own, considering opportunities, Crowd Fusion, and blogging again


I tweeted this a while back and updated my LinkedIn multiple times since then, but for the most part it’s been something that people keep discovering as they chat with me and they’re all surprised by it: I’m no longer with Ceros (formerly Crowd Fusion). The parting was amicable, and I’m still a huge fan of Ceros (and thanks to stock options for my 5 years of service to the company, I own a nice little chunk of Ceros that I’m hopeful will someday return to me in a much larger chunk of money).

Since I left, I’ve been doing some consulting and talking to various companies about possibly coming to work with them. It’s amazing how much things have changed since last time I was on the market. A simple tweet and LinkedIn update and suddenly I had multiple conversations happening with very little traditional “job search” effort on my part. I suppose it’s also a testament to the varied bit of experiences that I’ve accrued over the past 5 years. It’s flattering, but it’s also difficult to know what’s the right road to take for myself professionally and for my family. I was pleased to see this the other day that I’ve been trying to apply to my current set of options:

There has also been an opportunity to turn Crowd Fusion, the Platform and CMS that we built for years to power large at-scale brands like TMZ, The Daily, MySpace, Tecca, and multiple Telepictures properties, into a new business. As a going away gift, the Ceros team gave me a license to Crowd Fusion to use as a I see fit going forward. I set up a little offshoot placeholder page here on my blog as the temporary home of Sample The Web Labs (which I’m thinking of renaming) but for all intents and purposes could potentially become a little consultancy shop to help people build cool online products with Crowd Fusion. I’d like to take some of the profits from that consultancy shop and funnel it into a business account of funds that I can use as an incubator to begin working in earnest on prototyping a few product ideas I’ve had in mind for some time now. Of course, to begin doing that I’d need to land my first client.

In order to make that even more plausible, I’d like to open source Crowd Fusion in earnest (in the past we open sourced the core of the platform in a closed beta after TechCrunch 50, but we didn’t have the time or resources to properly support an open source project as our paying clients took off). Right now, Ceros is no longer focused on the CMS business and are using an advanced & more focused version of the platform to power their amazing product, and my early discussions with them seem positive towards this initiative. However, to be clear, open sourcing Crowd Fusion in earnest would be a side-job / hobby for myself and multiple former Crowd Fusion developers, and we’d really need people who were interested to jump in and participate and help us flesh out our documentation etc. Sound interesting to you? Then please email me at ck+crowdfusion@sampletheweb.com and I’ll put you on a list of people for us to contact should things move forward with this initiative.

Finally, I’ve decided to start blogging again. I had already said I was going to start around the New Year, but now I actually plan on doing it. There’s no reason not to and I have the time and interest in doing so. There’s lots of things to talk about, so stay tuned…

UPDATE: Here’s an example of a site built on Crowd Fusion.

Posted in Consultant, Crowd Fusion, Online Media, Personal, Tech | Comments Off