A brief update and some thoughts on the future of eBooks
Mar 13, 2008

It's been far too long since I've written anything. A whole lot has happened since the last post, much of it work. I'm on track for my biggest project yet to go live pretty soon, and I've got a number of other smaller projects that should be released even before then. In the mean time Jessi and I spent 10 days on the west coast at the end of last month. It was a fairly busy travel schedule: fly from Boston to San Francisco on Friday so Jessi could host an OurStage.com sponsored Yelp party, then Saturday morning fly from San Francisco to San Diego where we spent a relaxing weekend with some very fun members of Jessi's family I hadn't met before, the Monday Jessi took the train to LA for some meetings and I flew straight back to San Francisco (LA's just not my town) to hang out with friends and see my dad until Jessi came back up on Wednesday for NoisePop (also sponsored by OurStage), then back to Boston on the following Monday. It was definitely very nice to be back in the Bay Area, although I learned that it's never a good idea to plan on relying on the free WiFi in a hotel. Though our hotel (the Civic Center Holiday Inn) had it, it was pretty flaky and seemed to have some policy in place that prevented outgoing traffic, which meant I couldn't SSH into my server, which meant I was severely limited in what I was able to do from the hotel. Fortunately we were right across the street from the absolutely amazing San Francisco Public Library main branch which is probably my second favorite public library after Boston's Copley Square branch, and provides pretty fast free WiFi. All in all it was a very good, but very exhausting trip. Since getting back, my focus has been pretty much all business. I've gotten a lot of work done, though I still have a lot of work left to do, and hopefully I should be able to make some pretty big business-related announcements over the next couple months. I did, actually, have one small business milestone while in San Francisco: I hired my first contractor for a small job. Jesse Legg helped me out with a quick project so that I would have the free time to work on another that had a looming deadline. Not really that big of a deal, but I think it's still an indication that I'm on the right track and my business is continuing to grow. In other news, I just saw on Gizmodo a story about a new eBook reader from Netronix. It's basically like they took Amazon's Kindle and made the changes that I would have wanted made: they added a touchscreen interface and gave it WiFi instead of EV-DO. While the lack of EV-DO obviously limits it in terms of being able to get content no matter where you are, I think it will prove to be a more useful direction for eBook readers. What I would like to see, similar to Amazon's always-on eBook store, is some framework by which people with a WiFi enabled eBook reader can walk into a brick and mortar bookstore, browse through the books, and, when they find what they want, but it electronically and download it directly to their reader via the store's WiFi network. In some ways this would be less convenient than Amazon's store, but it would also be vastly more flexible and give people the option of still supporting their local bookstores. I would also really like to see this sort of technology extended to libraries, although the whole premise of the library is predicated on the limited time that you have access to the materials, so it would probably require some sort of DRM in order to be workable. Hopefully, with the popularity of the Kindle, eInk technology and the whole concepts of eBooks will start to advance more quickly and we'll start seeing better and better reader technology. I know I will definitely own an eBook reader of some sort in the next few years. I just hope it has some mechanism for both the sort of WiFi store described above and some note taking capacity.
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