Back on Campus

Hey everyone, I wanted to introduce myself as a new Haas student blogger. My name is Tony Cesarano, and I’m in my second year at Haas. Hopefully I can provide a slightly different perspective than some of the other bloggers so far. As a second year student, it has been fantastic to be back on campus reuniting with classmates. The second year class schedule is a bit lighter than the first-year core, so I’ve had more time to spend with my family (my wife and I live in UC-Village with our two daughters, one of them just four months old). I look forward to sharing my experience as the year goes on… please comment here if you have questions about life as a second year!

—Tony C

Doing MBA in a YouTube world

There are cameras everywhere and people are willing to shoot any event on their mobile cameras. More than ever it is easier to get the videos up on YouTube. In the social networking, user generated content, iPhone, twitter world one should assume, “anything you do or say can and will be blogged about or will show up in YouTube”. Any conversation you have, in person or email can be blogged about. I do realize the irony in this, as some of my blog posts do fit that category.

It did happen in the class of 09, a video of one our classmate talking about an event during the math camp showed up in Google Videos. So it is conceivable that our class presentation (botched or otherwise) may show up on YouTube. With the user created categorization through Tagging, once we put the content out there we lose control over how it is tagged (classified). Worse, it is possible for anyone to build on a video to make it look something completely different. Few years ago Scott McNeally said, “there is so privacy in the Internet, get used to it”. It is truer than ever.

A recent WSJ article (paid subscription required*) on a set of “AnnoyanceTech” gadgets said,

“It’s becoming easier for people to imagine that technology is a conduit through which they will solve all their social problems,”

I wonder if there is scope for developing a set of “AnnoyanceTech” gadgets to stop your work and other public performances from being YouTubed.

I am definitely not a new media Luddite who would ask for banning all video phones, but in some strange way it is not a comforting thought that the person who appear to be checking email, holding up the iPhone may be YouTubing you. After all a class room is a place to make mistakes and learn from these. But banning devices is avoiding the problem. We all need to learn collectively, the rules of social engagement in the new media world.

*When Murdoch completed the DowJones buyout he might make the online access free.


I heard it on Public Radio

UC President Dynes recently resigned. I was listening to Forum on KQED that discussed this event and what is in store for the UC system. The Forum podcast is here (MP3 download). Some interesting points I heard:

  1. UC professors are still underpaid compared to other schools
  2. UC health care is second only to VA in size
  3. UC student body is around 200K
  4. Academicians who take on administrative roles, like the President don’t love it as much and want to go back.

One great thing about going to the public school like UC is the affordable fee. I appreciate that very much.


Truemors, False pretext?

Now I am really going to regret starting with a blog post title like this. Probably it is not a false pretext, but more like an incorrect one, but that doesn’t have a ring to it, does it? This is a follow-up to the post on our BayCHI visit. When I saw the title for the talk I saw what Guy was going for. When he opened is talk with “Democratization” I assumed that it was a continuation of the theme. In the end I was hoping for a final quip from Guy that the joke is on the blogosphere and social networking protagonists. That did not come.

I have used the term Democratization (or its variations) and have seen it used in the context of anything and everything. The first usage I saw was with the book by Eric Von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation (free from his site). I think the word , or more specifically its meaning has evolved and I believe (opinion) it is overused. I have seen it from:
“Martha Stewart democratized fashion” to my own motto of “Democratizing communication channels”. I assumed, incorrectly, that Guy was being tongue in cheek about this as well.

Now even if we take the word for its commonly accepted usage in the web2.0 era, I do not believe that Truemors achieves it. When I can’t even tell whether the news is true or not and when there is no self policing system (Jayson Blair did resign) why would this be the medium that provides news or means for news democratization? It does not look like Guy is going for a web version of The Daily Show, Truemors is user generated content.

Guy also called on the blogosphere for writing scathing remarks about this site. If I remember correctly he said that there are always detractors who do not let anything good for humanity come through. Is Truemors like Craigs List? Does it solve a real problem? Does Truemors really, as Craig says in this podcast, “give ordinary people a break”?

Well may be after Guy sells this to Google for a few billion he would say then, “aha! the joke is on you!”.

Would someone please take my laptop away until the waivers? If I don’t get to waive I will have some serious answering to do on why I can’t drop our kid off at school on Mondays and Wednesdays.


Ideas are easy, implementation is hard

For me, that’s one of the most interesting things Guy Kawasaki talked about in his talk yesterday (see Rags post below).

And its so true, Communication Camp just showed us exactly that.
We were asked to come up with several ideas each, without thinking about implementation at all, just throw in an idea, and then we had to brainstorm in small groups of 8-10 people and decide on one idea. A perfect example of how easy ideas are – we had so many amazing ideas, both realistic and fictitious. Ranging from a self balancing backpack (something I crave for everyday I carry that huge backpack on my back) to projecting on the moon!
If only it was that easy to implement in terms of developing a great product and marketing and selling it successfully.

That’s one of the things I came to Haas for – a software engineer looking to take on the other side of things, switching to making tech instead of doing tech. And there is a big difference between those two…

—Alex Lev

Blogging is Hard

So a few of us 09-ers from Haas drove to Palo Alto to listen to Guy Kawasaki talk about his new project, Truemors at BayCHI. The event was titled, “By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09″. This is sort of tongue in cheek and the talk was delivered in typical Guy way. I should be blogging about the talk and my impressions more but that should wait for a later post.

There is one thing he said that is absolutely true. It is hard to blog. Guy said he regurgitated material from is books during the first year of blogging and now he has to think about what to blog. It is extremely hard to find interesting things to say in a blog so frequently. It is not an easy task to keep the readers engaged, post after post.

A blog like this is different. This is meant to give the readers (the potential Haas candidates) a glimpse of the life at Haas and its students. Blogging is hard only when there is no context and clear audience. There is no need for us bloggers here to break news. On the flip side, I believe the readers here should look for the whole picture that emerges from the collection of posts from all of us and not necessarily look for an aha! moment.

By the way did you notice that I did not link to Truemors site?

Is that really Guy Kawasaki’s comment on this post?