So Robert Scoble, the bafflingly still employed — shit, you know what? I don’t even know what the bastard does. Is he a pitch man? He’s not selling anything, other than that grating laugh of his, which I’m honestly surprised hasn’t killed anyone yet. Have you heard it? It’s like the sound of a rabid water buffalo buggering you when it has a head cold, and your head is jammed inside a church bell and quasimodo is just hammering that son of a bitch like there’s no tomorrow. To be fair to Scoble, he’s not selling that suicide-assist of a laugh; he’s acting like Google and flooding the market with it, for free, possibly in some bizarre effort to reduce the market for sitting-in-a-running-car-in-your-garage suicides. Maybe he should be investigated for anti-trust violations, or have a baby with Fran Drescher that would have the capability to laugh once and end the world.
Anyway, it’s not that. He works for Rackspace, which is a hosting services company, and his entire day job seems to consist of talking to people who actually do work, then honestly taking credit for it. The smug little fucker actually said that since Flipboard, the pretty fun magazine-style newsreader app, started doing really well after he saw an early build and made a brilliant, totally unimaginable suggestion like “integrate it with Google Reader,” or some such thing, that he was responsible for its success. (He subsequently edited out of the blog post he wrote it in, which some might say was because he realized how it sounded, but I’d tended to attribute to his head being so far up his own ass that he poked up through his own neck hole, and saw daylight again) This is something that he actually thinks; he actually thinks that by making suggestions that are so obvious that the chipmunks who live in my front yard would make them — “Hey guys, I think you should make your product better!” — that he’s contributed to the project on a level that’s comparable with the engineers and developers who actually built it. This is staggering to me. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Microsoft’s “Windows 7 Was My Idea” campaign was all an elaborate inside joke, telling their former evangelist that he can go fuck himself.
Rackspace obviously thinks his videos, which aren’t at all laughably, with a host who doesn’t at all think that his commentary and fucking laugh are better than the comments of whomever he’s interviewing, are worth his salary, though I can’t imagine how. I mean, yes, he’s a startup evangelist — maybe? — who works for a hosting company, so theoretically when people starting their own startups start their own startups, they’ll get hosting with Rackspace because that guy with a laugh that makes me feel like I’ve just shoved a drill in my eyeball works for them? It’s pretty muddled.
One time on Twitter, I asked aloud why Rackspace felt Scoble’s paycheque was worth it to them, and Scoble himself responded to me, sending me a link to a discussion of “The Scoble Effect,” which is supposedly like The Digg Effect for startups, only sweatier and I want to punch it more. Unfortunately for Mr. Captain of Industry, he sent me a link to a blog article where the author concluded that there was no Scoble Effect, and that he really wasn’t worth his paycheque.
Sweet Lord, Scoble, I hope your kids weren’t home-schooled.
So, anyway, at some “500 Startups” thing, Loic Le Meur of Seesmic asked Scoble about $500K that Bill Gross offered him for a startup. Scoble turned it down, choosing to remain at Rackspace. This is Scoble’s Google+ post about it, where he says this:
I told him that I didn’t want to do the hard work of building a company. Raising money. Doing HR (hiring and firing). Keeping the books. All that.
That led to a conversation where he said “what if I do a lot of that for you?”
That led to a months-long internal conversation with me, my family, my coworkers, my bosses.
Today I turned down the money and told my bosses I’m in at Rackspace.
Why turn down an opportunity like this?
Because, well, I just didn’t have the passion for it. I was already being derailed from what I love to do because of it, which is helping entrepreneurs, not being one.
I call shenanigans on this. Hell, I’ll even call bullshit on it. Sure, Scoble probably didn’t want to do the hard work of building a company. But what would that company have been? What could that have been? Take away the steady paycheque that Rackspace provides, and Scoble’s an unemployed Youtuber with a miniscule audience. Scoble couldn’t be on his own; he needs a sugar daddy.
Also, Scoble loves helping entrepreneurs? That’s nice an all, but has he ever? Yes, he talks to them, but is he somehow the only way for word to get out for companies or their products now? Has the entire internet been rerouted through his ass? Scoble finds companies that have an amount of buzz — because if they didn’t, would Scoble himself even hear about them? — and then talk to the founders. And laugh on camera and make the founders’ ears bleed and baby Jesus cry. And then puts the videos up, which virtually no one watches them. Who’s being helped by this? Scoble’s ego? I’m sure it’s large enough to qualify as a distinct organism, but is his grey goo worth the sanctity of the entire planet?
Also, because I haven’t said his name enough this post: Scoble Scoble Scoble. Scoble? Scoble!
Scoble acts like the choice was between continuing to do what he loves at Rackspace, or do what he loves on his own, while also doing front office stuff. I say the choice was between him getting paid to whip out a portable video camera and chat with people who are actually making things, while sipping wine on the company dime in ridiculously nice places all over the world, or starting a company with zero hope of ever repaying the money because how the hell could he earn money doing what he does? Sure, there’s the Google Ad money for his videos, but with his viewership numbers, it’d only take him 481 years to repay the money.
Yes, I did the math.
Scoble’s basically like a trust-fund baby, rambling on about how great he is, and how valuable his presence is. People only talk about him because people talk about him, and everyone seems afraid to stop talking about him, as though something worse would happen than people no longer talking about him, as though there’d be some consequence to the entire tech world goddamn waking up and realizing, like in so many terrible sitcoms, that no, nobody knows who invited that weird guy standing in the corner, I thought you did, someone call security.
I’d make a joke about Scoble being the snake who eats himself, but I think we all know he’s not that flexible.
So I just loaded the new iOS app Showyou on my iPad. It’s basically Flipboard for video, in that it combs your facebook and twitter feeds for video links, then shows them to you in a single spot.
Anyway, Showyou. It’s nice enough, and it does what it says it does. It’s got two viewing modes: a grid-view, and a list view that for some reason only showed me two videos that Liz Gannes shared somewhere. I’m honestly not making either of those things up.
While the grid, with its differently-sized screenshots of the video, looks nice enough, it scrolls both vertically AND horizontally, such that you kind of just slide around aimlessly looking at videos. And when you scroll, it takes a second to update, and you get the checkerboard. Now, I may be an old man who’s currently drunk — that’s more than a little likely — but this is confusing. Scrolling around I have no idea if I’ve seen all there is to offer. Where the crap am I in this goddamn grid? I have no idea. Constraining the scrolling to a single axis would make it pretty and stop it from being confusing.
Regarding the list view, I’m assuming that’s supposed to be the less-fun-but-more-usable viewing mode, but honestly, it showed me links to two videos shared by Liz Gannes, and while I tried to scroll past, it wouldn’t show me anything more.
TechCrunch wrote about Showyou, and Scoble made the first comment, chastising Aaarrrrrington et al for not giving it more ink, or recognizing it’s “one of the most important new iPad apps.” Really, Scoble? One of the most important apps? Because it lets you look at links people are already sharing with you? What makes this important? Ever the self-promoter, Scoble links to his own blog, so that TechCrunch readers can see the proper technique for a blowjob — if your knees aren’t bleeding, you’re doing it wrong — where he goes on and on about the importance of AirPlay. Is AirPlay a big deal? No, not yet, because you need to have an Apple TV to get the full living-room experience, and most people don’t even know the thing exists. But he personally likes it, so he thinks it’ll be a huge success. Judging by many of his past comments, he actually thinks that his liking a thing will make it a huge success.
Scoble, you arrogant twat, most people aren’t like you. They don’t have twenty-seven boxes connected to their TV. They don’t want that. They’re still trying to get used to the goddamn magical intensity of the iPad that they’ve owned for a year. And since AirPlay isn’t yet open, it’s not going anywhere. If TVs themselves supported it, sure, but that system failed when it was called DLNA, and despite your incomprehensible assertion that it failed was because the iPad didn’t exist and didn’t support it, it failed because in general, not enough things had it, so you couldn’t reliably use the fucking thing, and so no user would get into the habit of using it, if they ever had the right combination of gear to use it in the first place.
I don’t know why I’m getting upset at Scoble. It’s not like he’s even remotely credible when it comes to technology: after all, this is the guy who, in his conversation about why AirPlay is so fantastic and will totally catch on, said:
RSS was NOT open, by the way. It was largely controlled first by Netscape and later by Dave Winer. It was a standard that was made popular by Dave Winer and his company UserLand. It became a defacto standard because everyone started using it. The same way people are already starting to adopt AirPlay (thanks Rob Mitchell for the Lifehacker links that demonstrate such).
RSS is a de-facto standard that any developer can use. That doesn’t mean it’s open. Dave Winer controls it.
Of course, father of RSS Dave Winer stepped in and defended his honor, saying:
Scoble, RSS was and is completely open. Someone creates everything. Please.
Scoble did not respond to this.
Seriously, getting upset at his portrayal of technology is like criticizing the specifics of your infant child’s plans for a rocketship to Mars: Scoble thinks that a freely published spec for a text file isn’t open, and that Dave Winer is sitting in some goddamn castle somewhere, rubbing his fingers together cackling over all the control he has over it. And thinks that a proprietary piece of tech made by Apple is somehow more open an accessible than a free and clear spec for text files.
I could write down all of Scoble’s technical expertise on a single sheet of paper, then be able to use the entire paper to write something worthwhile, because it would still be blank.