Archive for January, 2010

New Universe

This evening Y Combinator opened up applications for its Summer 2010 round, marking what will be the fifth anniversary of the program, which has funded 171 startups to date. This round is bringing an important change: the program calendar has been moved up by a month, which means that startups will find out if they’ve been accepted at nearly the same time that they’ll hear back from competing programs like TechStars and DreamIt Ventures.

Interesting. YC is essentially a parallel university with its own faculty, (borrowed) dormitories, and in-house curriculum. It was explicitly set up to target college-aged kids who were more ambitious than their CS courses. The model proved so successful that it attracted copycats and, not only that, but the copycats are also successful. So much so that they are clearly starting to pull talent from the first-mover, and YC doesn’t like that.

Now YC is pushing up the announcement date of their incoming class so that this whole segment of youth-oriented VC is now basically right back where it started: YC may have started as a new school, but now it has inadvertently given birth to a whole new university system.

Losing (Our) Edge?

[These groups interested in architectural territory] are creating their own discourse from scratch, outside of academia. Architectural discourse has been supported by schools for so long that it is difficult to remember any other way. The fields of Service and Interaction Design seem to be supported by something more like the feudal corporate patronage structure that architects relied on in the Renaissance. That’s very interesting, no? Not the least because despite any purse or apron strings linking them to the corporate world, they still seem to want to talk about ideas, even some of the more out-there quasi-marxist corners of critical theory that academic architects like to frequent. That’s kind of fun, right?


Fred has a thought provoking post over at 765. The comments are also worth your time, I was certainly inspired to respond.

See also: this and this and this.

From 2000 To 350: Two Numbers

Mathematical Graffiti

One thing we did not intend to do in 2009, but did: visit South America.

One thing we intended to do in 2009 but did not: write this post about the bookend numbers of the decade. A small observation.

The first decade of the 21st century started with Y2K and ended with 350 – two expressions of our fear that the collective technological creations of humanity will also be our destruction.

As a lingering concern from the tail end of the 20th century, we entered 02000 affraid that the computer systems running everything from our stoplights to medical devices would call it quits as their internal clocks reset from 99 to 00. People stockpiled food, escaped to remote areas, and there was a collective holding of breath as we stepped into that unknown territory together. By the end of January 1, 2000 fears of massive computer meltdown had already dissipated and “Y2K” was thrown out with the party favors from the night before.

December 12 2009: World leaders gather in Copenhagen to discuss an international treaty that would limit the presence of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere by establishing a cap of 350 parts per million. At the end of the decade we were again confronted with the unexpected consequences of human progress.

Although the possible disaster that was Y2K fizzled quickly, all informed parties agree that 350 is a much more menacing number that we are not likely to escape. I’ll remember the decade as a transition from 2000 to 350, a persistent fear of technocollapse concretized into two essential numbers. Hopefully 350 won’t become this decade’s Y2K, forgotten as soon as it’s widely recognized as a problem.