Romance of the Entrepreneur

Years ago, I was  bitten by the “lets start a business” bug, and it has never quite let go.  The first time was with a Silicon Valley start up named Nestar Systems.   It was the brainchild of a professor I studied under at SUNY/Buffalo in the early 1970′s, Harry Saal.   He had a vision of using the very first generation of personal computers to play games via modem.

He had a great vision, but the computers we were using: the TRS-80, Apple II and the Commodore Pet, were not quite as easy to link up as we can do today.  So Harry scaled back his idea and shifted  to linking up these computers to a centralized disk for storage.  He envisioned that a cluster of these computers would be a tool for schools.  Actually it was a great idea, but the slow growth of computers in the school system in the late 1970′s turned the idea into a fantasy.  Still, the Nestar Cluster One was the very first Local Area Network available on the market.  The market just was not very big.

I left Nestar Systems on New Year’s Eve: December 31, 1979.  I went back to Santa Barbara (what a great place) and decided that I, too would start a business.  And I did:  Stellation Two.  We made a circuit board for the Apple II that allow a second CPU to work with the Apple’s CPU at the same time.  True multiprocessing.  Again a first — The first multiprocessor personal computer on the market.  The market just was not very big.  It was a fun ride that had ups and downs.  Months of high hopes and growing sales, and years of slow market decay.

That elusive goal of actually connecting with the energy of the marketplace has alway called me ever since those days.  So after 25 years, I’m plunging ahead with a new venture, TweeParty.

Everybody is talking about Twitter: it has caught on incredibly!  But most everyone I know says something like: “I tried it once, and I didn’t get it.  Why would anyone want to do that.”  But the people who do use twitter, actually find it is really effective.  How?  What is the secret that makes the difference between these two kinds of folks?

I had been fascinated by that question,  in addition to Twitter itself.  As you may see, many of the posts on this blog are actually generated from Twitter Searches — it shows what people are commenting about.  I zero in on romantic topics for this blog: “soft kiss” or “make up sex” or similar.

But that does not answer the question at all: “Why would anyone use Twitter?” If I told you it is to be social, your reaction is likely to be “Bull-Roar” — However, change your perspective just a bit.  Most social conversation is essentially small-talk.  Snippets of pretty much useless banter.  And it’s true, small talk is trivial.  But most humans do it quite nicely.  It is as easy as, well, small talk.

Small talk has always been a challenge for me, though, as a touch of Aspergers has given me the uncanny ability to totally miss the point.  And that’s it, there is no point, except to go with the flow of the conversation.

And that is the secret of Twitter between friends.  A respected authority on the use of Twitter, AlohaArleen mentioned to me that Twitter is just line a cocktail party, with people chiming in to a group conversation.

But the text based representation that Twitter shows to users is just too remote from that image…  That’s when I had my inspiration for a visual representation:  TweeParty!  At TweeParty,  you see an visual representation of the people that are your contacts, the ones that are most active: chatty, if you will, are right up on top of your browser.  The newer icons are sharper and well defined, and the ones that have older tweets are grayer and are near the bottom of your window.  You browser will constantly refresh the party bringing new tweets into view.  All  you need to do is scroll your mouse over the icons, and see all the tweets that have come in for that particular person!  When you find something interesting, you simply click  and a menu and entry panel come into view.  Simply select the action you want, type in your own response, and click!  You are part of  the party.

I’m really excited about TweeParty and have spent countless hours putting new features in.  It is a little clunky,  and definitely in Alpha development mode, but it adheres to the strict security that Twitter advocates, is very robust (I have left it updating on an ancient Internet Explorer 6 for hours with no problems), and allows you to start off with a beginners view of the Tweet-iverse with what I call a temporary socialite account.  All you do is click on a link and tell twitter that you will use tweeparty for a while (the authority goes away when you close your browser).

Simple, fun and effective.  I hope  you check  it  out.  I’m running it under my “mom-de-plume” as Mom’s TweeParty

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