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    • Chris MacAskill

      Thank you, Robert. This is my life and dream now from the moment my eyelids open 7 days a week. I'll be crushed if we can't make major progress on these problems because I believe they are some of the world's most important problems now.

      Each of us on Cake's team came to this in different ways, but for me it was the collision of several ideas.

      1. Hearing Jeff Bezos say, when Amazon was just a bookstore, that people want to work for noble purpose. Amazon's was to observe that we've all read 5 books that really moved us. But we all have the feeling there are 100 more like that; the problem is finding them. If Amazon could help us discover them, Jeff said at the time, they would have accomplished something great.

      I thought he was on his way when I discovered Touching the Void on Amazon because it knew I loved Into Thin Air.

      We've all had some great conversations online, the problem is finding them.

      2. Hearing Stewart Butterflied, who cofounded Flickr and Slack say the Internet's most powerful feature is finding people who share your interests. He grew up on a commune in British Columbia and his interest was philosophy. No one in his town was interested in it, but on the Internet he found people who were and it changed his world.

      3. Hearing Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of TED, say on 60 Minutes that the greatest thing in life is a conversation between people. I got to talk to him about panel conversations wrt Cake for 2 hours and I will never forget it.

      4. All of us seeing how incredibly great panel conversations can be when the audience expectation is it benefits us all to let the panel speak. We simply haven't had this format on the Internet (except video and audio, but not text) and it's a shame. Richard wrote in his latest book that he thought this was the greatest panel conversation ever:

    • I'll be honest, if almost any other entrepreneur had pitched me this I would have ignored them. I have had enough social in my life.

      When I heard you were involved I took this effort a lot more seriously. Why?

      1. You've always been nice. Not just to me.
      2. I like your customer service centricity at SmugMug.
      3. I like your philosophy of how you build things and like that you didn't take venture capital, which pushes companies to focus so much on growth and being addictive.
      4. I liked your technology choices. When I worked at Rackspace we had lots of conversations about them. I was always bummed that I couldn't win you away from Amazon, but I liked that you pushed hard earlier than most on AWS and that you aggressively used new cloud-based technology and saw the promise in it.

      I will look for ways to support this community, I really like what you've built and where you are going.

    • Here's the panel you refer to. I think the panelists are having a great time and it's drawing great people who have interesting things to say, but they'd probably get trolled on other networks that don't have the panel format, no?

    • Chris, I think your enthusiasm and participation as a founder of Cake are really admirable. I remember in the early days of Flickr when Caterina used to personally welcome people and when Stewart was very active in the forums participating in the community. I think this sort of community involvement by founders sets the tone. I am glad you are committed to cake both as a business but also that you are emotionally invested in its success as well every waking hour. It is good seeing Robert here as well. I think he was a big part of the early success of a lot of social networks. I know he is the one who first introduced me to Twitter and then Friendfeed. Looking forward to trying to contribute more myself as well.

    • Trying to have your cake and eat it too, eh?

      If that pun wasn't intended by the product name...I'd be surprised ;)

      Actually so far it looks clean and neat and, in a very old-school way, immersive. I remember the text-based days very well, when the only way to internet was by reading. This is a welcome throwback and the lack of noise is palpable.

      I've been known to submit long-form material to my facebook feed where it immediately drowns among kitten videos and rabid memes. Maybe I'll have better luck getting someone to read a thousand words here. I'm certainly game to find out.

      Thank you Robert for the chain of events that led me here.

    • It seems like in any successful social network (and by successful, I mean "gains any reasonable multimillion person audience"), there's an arc. I saw it on MySpace, on Reddit, on Facebook, on G+. It happens over and over again. There are great organic conversations early on. Influencers arise and begin to create organic clusters. Marketers see the traction and step in, and begin commercializing conversations. The quality of the network goes downhill, and then it becomes a place you post to if you continue to pay attention to it in spite of the network as opposed to because of it.

      See: Facebook.

      I've followed you on Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and like Guy Kawasaki, you've always walked a fine line between fostering organic conversations and presenting marketing conversations. I know, I know, "Evangelism", but let's call it what it is.

      I'm curious how Cake will solve THAT particular problem. I'm very much ready for a new network.

    • Thank you, Walt. Great to see you here. 😁

      I have written a few long-form posts and surprisingly a few like this one got picked up and went to the top of Hacker News. I wrote it in kind of episode form:

    • [Robert]

      Cake has a mechanism to do that. The others don't, and I don't believe they ever will.

      [???]

      I had to stop reading right there. I'll get back to it later, I think.

      Do you realize you just said you don't think this platform will ever be successful enough to get copied?

    • Heh. It is just that to copy it Facebook would have to change its entire business model. You think that's possible? I don't. :-)

    • Trying her out. Like the clean look, so far. One concern I have, though, is reading that Cake is designed primarily for people to follow topics, not people. That's great, in theory, but I'm not sure I understand why both models aren't supported. I read the NYTimes because I trust it - and know it. I ready your (Robert's) comments because I know you, and trust your opinion. Seems like it's asking a lot of me to read content from complete strangers without some association with trusted or known sources - be them people or entities (papers, organizations, etc.).

      So, if I like drone photography (which I do) and I start reading and following content in that area - how do I filter out the content from people that I don't like or aren't delivering what I consider to be credible content?

      People certainly complain that Facebook sort of creates a siloed content environment where one tends to follow people who have similar likes, political beliefs, etc. and see those same filters applied to news feeds - a sort of content and idea homogenization. But, that's not always a bad thing.

      So, I'll give this a ride and peek around a bit.

    • I think I showed how. Assholes won't get invited into panel discussions. :-)

      If I behave like an asshole, whether that be bringing outrage, hate, troll behaviors, or, even, simple overly commercial or annoying pushing of my agenda, er, the future, well, then I won't get invited into many panel discussions. Which means the worst I could do is shake an emoji at you. :-)

    • The follow function seems to aggressively float your followees' posts to the top, so it seems like it's functionally there even if the UI doesn't make that obvious.

    • Yeah, I would like more of a social network here too. I think the team is still building that and thinking it through and doesn't want to immediately look like Facebook or Twitter and wants to see what kinds of things evolve here first. I get that and think they focused first efforts on where they could differentiate then will fill in other stuff as people show up.

    • I don't think that means what you think that means.

      If you, as a tech influencer, are being paid to create panels based on "influencers" in your space all provided by the marketing agency behind whatever product you're shilling, the panel concept has the opposite effect: it keeps people from calling you out for being a paid shill.

    • Ahh. Well, yes, Cake will need to enforce rules that money is being exchanged for doing content.

      For me? I never do that and if I do I will ALWAYS disclose.

    • I may not have as loud a voice as the other people in this conversation, but I too am excited about the future of Cake. For similar reasons as @Scobleizer, Chris as long as I have known you in my partnerships with SmugMug you have been a kind and thoughtful visionary. You have always taken the time to ask the little guy for their input, and taken the time to create a meaningful experience for everyone. Not all of the great ideas you've had got the chance to be realized, but I'm fortunate enough to have seen behind the curtain a bit to know the kind of company and community you want to build.

      What brought me to the Internet at a young age were the communities. It was being able to log into a forum in CompuServe on a topic knowing that's where my people were. Every single social media platform today has forced us to engage too much in the bigger, louder world. It's insisted that every person has an equally qualified voice on every subject, and as much as it's important to give people a platform to express themselves, sometimes we need to be a bit more deliberate in how we start a conversation. Panel conversations are exactly what we need right now.

      I've been on a bit of a hiatus from things for a while, but I am excited to be back and am ready to invest my time in Cake and see it grow and thrive. I know it will.

    • Thank you for a great insight about following topics and people, David!

      Fundamentally we built Cake to be all about following topics, but as the platform grows there'll be many people talking about the same topic at various levels of credibility. This will create a lot of noise. There are a few ways to solve this problem:

      1. Prioritize showing content from people you care about in a specific topic. This solves the problem of following people and seeing everything from them, rather than what you both share interest in.

      2. Panel conversations is another solution. These are public conversations that can be read and reacted to by any one, but only panelists can post. This cuts down the noise, prevents trolls and creates a safe space for the panelists to talk.

      Here is an example of a recent Panel:

      Hope to see more insights from you here on Cake.

    • Chris MacAskill

      I'm curious how Cake will solve THAT particular problem.

      Thanks, Chris. That problem is my second-worse nightmare. #1 is no traction at all. 😳

      I think all the big services were built by very young men in Silicon Valley around 15 years ago when we were all obsessed by free speech, no? On the upside, we've all been awestruck at the power the networks have to make things go viral.

      I heard Ev Williams say if they'd known about the rise of trolls back then, they would have architected Twitter differently. The question we asked was okay, we have the opportunity to learn from 15 years of history. How to make something that will scale?

      Once again I thought of Jeff Bezos, who said it's important to ask what will never change. In his case, it's selection, fast delivery, and low prices. They had to obsessively shoot for those without adding bad products, cluttering search so you couldn't find anything, and they had to design warehouses like no one had ever imagined before.

      With us it's signal-to-noise and content discovery, no? We have to obsess over those at scale. We've done a few things so far but we're early and the team is small. But focusing on those two things is really energizing.

      For example, we don't care about how many users have registered. But we do care about how we get great conversations that get lots of views. In that way we feel more like YouTube than the others, at least to me. One YouTube creator can create millions of views with epic content. Or you can make a great video on how to fix a certain model water heater that a small but devoted group of people love. And they do a really good job of surfacing interesting music and videos, it seems to me.

    • Chris MacAskill

      Trying her out. Like the clean look, so far. One concern I have, though, is reading that Cake is designed primarily for people to follow topics, not people. That's great, in theory, but I'm not sure I understand why both models aren't supported.

      Hey David, I think you're absolutely right and we've been thinking this through for awhile now. I think what you want is to follow topics like Tesla Model 3, and when you see someone posting in that topic who is really knowledgeable, you want to follow them in that topic. Am I right? Or possibly in all topics you follow, but not in politics, raising children, or thoughts on the keto diet, which you don't follow. Correct?

      It seems to me the problem of social graph companies is you get everything your uncle posts. You follow him to keep up with the cousins on Facebook, but he has extreme political views and you're having trouble unseeing them.

      If I have that right πŸ‘† it's something we want to do but we're early and small and picking our battles, and wanting to make sure we really understand the problem.

    • This is what G+ was trying to do with Collections, and I'm fine with that. My hip hop channel on G+ was more than twice the size of any of my other collections. As long as someone can follow all of my technology posts, for instance, that functionality works for me.

    You've been invited!