What I’d charge if I ran Hulu

Rumor has it that Hulu wants to squeeze more than just ad dollars out of its service.  It just so happens that I love kicking these ideas around in my head.  Put the two together and, well… here you have it.

If I ran Hulu, I’d charge $4.99 a month to subscribe to a show with ads, $7.99 a month without ads.  You’d get the newest shows plus the entire back catalog.  And, here’s a biggie – I’d let you watch it on your TV.

Short clips would stay as-is – the ones that go viral bring enormous amounts of attention to their respective shows.

I’d make a free iPhone app available so that you could watch the shows you’ve subscribed to on the go.

Now, it’s probably a longshot that you’ll see any of these moves made, at least not in the near future.  These would put Hulu head-to-head with the same cable companies that pay to carry the networks.  But if I ran Hulu, I’d worry less about maintaining the status quo.  I’d worry more about the future and I’d make sure my business was ahead of the curve, not playing catch up.

Making tough decisions

I thought I had a finished version of Abuzz, the iPhone app I’ve been diligently working on since the beginning of October.  However, I suddenly realized that I’d be putting something out that I wasn’t totally satisfied with.  There were a few features I was going to have pushed out in an update later, but why go that route?  Why not wait a bit longer and include it all?

So I pushed it back.  I’d rather have the app include all the functions I want on day one.  It really kills me to do it – I’d love to get Abuzz out there – but I know it’s the right thing to do.

First tough decision of the year.  What else will 2010 bring?

Why you should send me a t-shirt

T-shirts are fun little conversation starters.  If I’m not wearing something utterly ridiculous (my “I <3 Hot Moms” shirt, for instance… that photo isn’t me, by the way), I’m probably wearing a shirt from a Podcamp or one with a Web 2.0 company’s logo.  When it’s the latter, I’m essentially a walking billboard for that particular company.  I don’t mind though – hell, I got a free shirt.

You wouldn’t believe how many people have asked, “What’s socialmedian?” or “What’s Strands?”  A guy behind the counter at a gas station in Hershey once asked me what BarCamp Harrisburg was.  And because I love this stuff, I don’t mind talking a bit about it.  Have I sent potential users to any of these sites?  I really have no idea.  There’s no Google Analytics for real life.  The potential is there, though.

So send more shirts out to more people.  Don’t just give them away in the Bay Area – send them everywhere.  You’ll generate some good will and possibly create an evangelist for your product.  If you want an example, look at this post.  I was more than happy to link to a few companies and I’ll be more than happy to talk about them in the future to anyone who asks.

How much did it cost them?  One t-shirt.

Stabbed in the back by FriendFeed

I haven’t written a blog post in about four months.  Life has been getting in the way and I just haven’t had the time to sit down and put some thought into a serious post.  This is the first time I’ve felt compelled to write in that span of time and it pains me to do so.  Whether this strikes a chord or is just another post echoing around inside the chamber, this is how I feel.


Earlier today, FriendFeed sold itself out to Facebook for a reported $50 million.  What will Facebook do with FriendFeed?  No one knows for certain, but many suspect this was not a purchase of FriendFeed but instead a purchase of FriendFeed’s tech and talent.  Much like Twitter acquired I Want Sandy a few months back and later shut it down, this might not bode well for FriendFeed users.

I’m a bit sickened by FriendFeed’s willingness to sell.  I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I have a few theories.

Maybe it’s the way the early FriendFeed adopters contributed so much and are now getting so little.  Robert Scoble and Louis Gray, for example, evangelized the hell out of FriendFeed and did so for good reason – they loved the service and thought it could do big things.  My idea of a big thing was not selling to Facebook, but I’m not sure how Louis and Robert feel.  And it wasn’t just Robert and Louis but tons more.  If I named every single person who talked up FriendFeed like it was the light bulb, I’d be writing here for days.

Maybe I hate this move because I will miss the FriendFeed community – the people I’ve met, shared laughs with and learned from.  What happens to them?  Do they vanish into thin air?  I don’t know.  For those who want to keep in touch, find me on Twitter (@shawn) or send me an email – shawnfarner (at) gmail (dot) com.

There’s one last reason I could be disappointed by this – maybe I thought the FriendFeed crew was above selling themselves out.  Maybe I thought they wanted to innovate on their terms.  After all, these guys left Google to strike out on their own.  That led me to believe that they were going to do their damnedest to make sure FriendFeed became all it could be, and by that I mean more than just a few new buttons in Facebook.  Guess not.

I’m sure a lot of others are let down by this news and are standing at the same crossroads, too.  FriendFeed is saying it still wants to be my friend (for the time being), but I’m not sure if I can do it.  If Facebook decides to keep FriendFeed intact, that will take some of the sting away but it won’t repair the trust – and what’s a relationship without trust?

Stop talking, start doing


Aaron Brazell (@technosailor) said something yesterday that really struck a chord with me.

“I’m really tired of the meta and the echo chamber. There’s so much happening in this world that actually matters. We’re on the edge of global economic collapse. There are companies starting and failing. There are people trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from. And we keep fucking talking about this fucking meta social bullshit. Honestly… I’m tired.”

How right is he?  There are probably enough “social media experts” to create a new country – all of them covering the same news and spouting out the same tired buzzwords.  There has to come a time where we say, “There are people who get it and people who never will.  It’s time to move on.”  Time to use these tools to further the causes we believe in.  Use them to promote the things we’re passionate about.  Use them to better the world and better ourselves.

I can’t talk about social media anymore.  There’s only so much you can talk about.  And what’s the point?  Why debate the possible ways Twitter can monetize?  Are you getting paid to do that?  I’m not.  Twitter hired someone specifically to solve that problem, so if you like working for free, I encourage you to keep the debate going in a public forum.  Is that really your passion, anyway?  What were you into before all this social media madness came to be?  Go back to it.  Go back to what you know. 

Imagine yourself twenty years from now. Zoom out and view the entire timeline of your life. This period of “Web 2.0” and “the social web” will be but a small blip that people barely remember.  The meta talk will long be forgotten because it has little-to-no impact.  Now imagine what could have been done if you had used social media as a tool instead of subject matter.  You’re into knitting? Create a knitting blog.  Create a community around knitting.  In twenty years, who knows, perhaps you’ll be credited with turning the knitting world on its ear.  You’re into flowers? Blog about it.  Take pictures.  Have “garden meetups”. Use your imagination.

I’m going back to what I know.  Most of my blogging here from this point forward will take a more personal tone and will discuss the things that I love.  A big one is community service.  On the right sidebar, I’ve added an “Upcoming Service Projects” widget.  When I am made aware of service projects in the area, I’ll add them to the calendar and they’ll show up there.  If you’re a Google Calendar user, you can also add it by searching “Central Pennsylvania Community Service” in the public calendars.  For future Central PA Tweetups (not tonight’s, don’t have much of a list yet), I’ll also try to make everyone aware of any service projects that are coming up in the near future.

There’s a whole, wide world out there – so many hobbies and passions just begging to be covered.  Let’s stop talking and start doing.

Thanks for the wake up call, Brazell.

Would I want to be Robert Scoble?

Of course, a lot of me wants to say yes.  Scobleizer interviews some pretty high-profile people in the world of technology.  He also gets to fly all over creation.  He has a multitude of eyes and ears hanging on his every word.

Unfortunately, I feel that being fully immersed in the startup world and the ever-changing landscape of the web has put him out of touch with those who will make or break many of these ventures; the every-day guys and gals.

That isn’t a knock on Robert at all.  I’m totally envious of what he gets to do, and if things go my way, maybe one day I’ll have as many eyes and ears on me.  You can call my BS if you want, but if I had to choose between being a voice among tens of thousands of voices in the Valley or being one of just a few here, I’d choose here.

I’m located within spitting distance of a state capital that is severely lacking in web presence.  There are not many people on Twitter in Harrisburg – how else would a college student be able to chit chat with local news reporters at will?  We have very few serious bloggers, but these bloggers consistently scoop our newspaper writers on a regular basis.  There aren’t many people here who get it yet, and to me, that’s exciting.

Those few of us bloggers/early adopters that do exist here have the opportunity to do something great, something not a lot of people can say they’ve done.  We have, in our hands, the opportunity to transform an entire city.  We have the chance to completely change the way this city communicates, consumes media and sees the world as a whole.

I would guess that 97% of Harrisburg’s citizens have never heard of Twitter.  They’ve never heard of FriendFeed.  Some might think that Google is the only search engine in existence.  These people use email, AIM, Myspace and Facebook.  They read their favorite sites using bookmarks, not RSS feeds.  They find new music through the radio and word of mouth, not sites like Last.FM or Pandora.  The early adopter pace is just too fast for them to keep up.

I do not look down on these people at all.  Many early adopters seem to think highly of themselves for having been on something “first”, before it was cool.  I do not think that way.  For me, these people are not a heavy anchor holding us back.  Instead, they are the sails.  When they flock to a service, then you know you have something special.

I look foward to helping introduce them to this new world.  And Robert, next time you go to Tel Aviv, save me a seat?