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It's time to mash-up New York.

The tech community has burst onto the scene, but remains largely insular. The same 250 people are at every tech event, follow each other on Twitter, and roam the tech corridor from the Ace Hotel to Canal.

This isn't a criticism, it was absolutely necessary for us to form a tight knit, supportive community in a city of 8 million.

But now that we've arrived, it's time to look outward. We have an unfair advantage relative to every other tech center in the world: we share an island with half-a-dozen major industries, the world's leading cultural and artistic institutions, and, put simply, the most diverse and talented population on the planet.

We need to start bringing these groups into the mix. We need to mash-up NYC's best around the best of what we're building. No one is as well positioned as the tech community to be the new hub of the city given the diversity of our start-ups and entrepreneurs.

This is already underway at a number of start-ups and in small doses at places like General Assembly and TechStars. I'm sure it's part of Bloomberg's vision for the role of the proposed science and engineering campus. But I will be thinking about ways to accelerate this, and would love to talk to anyone who wants to collaborate.

As John Gruber pointed out in his post yesterday:

"The attention of the public and the media is a rare and precious commodity."

John was referring to how Microsoft is diverting media attention away from their current products toward silly, futuristic concept videos. While it's easy to poke at Microsoft right now, there are plenty of start-ups making the same mistake when the spotlight is on them.

Most young companies get one day of press/media attention every 6-12 months, but how many use the opportunity to make a memorable impact during these fleeting moments? How many tell a compelling story or generate excitement about a new product or solution to a big problem? How many leave a mark, the way Turf and Ben the Bodyguard did?

Why do so many TechCrunch articles about new companies simply list out every seed investor in the deal? What a waste.

Never assume you'll get a second chance with the media. Instead, treat every press opportunity like a rare and precious commodity.


If you're an entrepreneur just getting started, or are looking for new tools to support your product and business, this is a fantastic resource:

http://startuptools.pbworks.com/w/page/17974963/FrontPage
Pinterest.com is crushing it. They are a site for sharing what you love by “pinning” pictures of those things to image boards. It’s sort of like they took the best of Delicious, Polyvore, and Tumblr, put their own beautiful spin on it, and created digital crack. Just ask any 20-something girl in NYC or LA.

I’ve been an avid consumer of Pinterest since March, but I decided to sign up last night, and was blown away by how good their sign-up flow is.

Every entrepreneur building a consumer application should study it. Closely.

Here’s what impressed me so much:

It feels exclusive. You have to request an invite to join (or be invited by a friend). You are then put on a (short) waiting list. I’m sure this is partly to manage their growth, but more importantly, the psychology of requesting to join means I’m much more likely to actually complete the sign-up flow once I get that coveted invitation. Why? Because it feels like a scarce resource. There’s no way I would waste it by not finishing all the steps.

The sign-up flow trains new users in how to be good members of the community. This is huge. Engineering-oriented teams tend to look at the sign-up flow as a process but Pinterest clearly sees it as part of their product. And the product of a social platform, like a nightclub, is in the people and how they behave. Pinterest gets that, and in the invitation email – a place where conventional wisdom would scream “DON’T DISTRACT JUST PUSH TO THE NEXT STEP” – Pinterest actually pauses to set some ground rules:

Pinterest Etiquette: Try to...

Be Nice!

Be Creative. The best pinboards mix products, art, recipes and images from all across the web. Try not to pin everything from a single source.

Give Credit. If you blog about an item you found on Pinterest, it's nice to credit your fellow pinners by linking back to the original pin.

Do you see what’s happening here? Pinterest is assuming you are going to be an active, awesome member of the community before you even click to accept your invitation. Like a teacher with high expectations of her pupils, this has a powerful effect.

They get you started by auto-following people. Remember when you first joined Twitter and your feed was empty? Twitter has taken steps to improve that, like recommending people to follow, but Pinterest goes further and auto-follows people based on your interests. Before I was done signing up for Pinterest, I was already following 15 people and I emerged on the other end of the flow into a site that was alive and relevant to me. There was a seamless transition into the core experience such that I forgot I arrived there through a sign-up process – there was no arbitrary demarcation between where the sign up “ended” and the product “began.”



And in addition to auto-following people, the sign up process also held my hand as I created my first pinboards. Again, the flow is teaching new users how to be great contributors.

They check all the other best practice boxes, too. They integrate seamlessly with your Facebook account so you don’t have to upload a picture of yourself. Their invitation and confirmation emails are friendly and personal. Each page in the flow is dead simple and serves a clear purpose. The last step has me install the browser button, and shows me how to do it with a video. You get the idea.

Oh, and one more thing. I actively browsed Pinterest for five months before I signed up, and I think that’s going to make me a better contributor now that I’m a registered user. I’m a big proponent of bringing as much content in front of the sign-up wall as possible, and I don’t understand why Twitter, for example, hasn’t done a better job of this yet.

For me, Pinterest is kind of like the Guggenheim: the impressiveness of the architecture almost upstages the beauty of the objects on display.
 
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