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Chris Wetherell
Works at Avocado Software
Attended University of California, Berkeley
Lives in San Francisco, CA
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Chris Wetherell

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And it's that time – Avocado is hiring! Only new engineering and marketing positions at first; building up carefully. 
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Chris Wetherell

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There’s been some interesting critical discussions of some design and product changes within Google Reader recently and I’ve kind of stayed out of it since I’m heads down on making big changes elsewhere. But I grabbed a few minutes, and I’d like to share a few notes I’ve written about it…

• If Reader continues being understaffed, absorbed, or is eliminated then the internal culture at Google will adjust to a newly perceived lack of opportunity for building things that are treasured. No one knows what effect this will actually have, though. The response could be tiny.

• Technology will route around the diminishment or disappearance of Reader. Even if this means something other than feeds are being used.

It’s a tough call. Google’s leaders may be right to weaken or abandon Reader. I feel more people should acknowledge this.

• However, saying “no” to projects doesn’t make you Steve Jobs if you say no to inspiring things. It’s the discernment that’s meaningful, not the refusal. Anyone can point their thumb to the ground.

• The shareable social object of subscribe-able items makes Reader’s network unique and the answer to why change is painful for many of its users is because no obvious alternative network exists with exactly that object. The social object of Google+ is…nearly anything and its diffuse model is harder to evaluate or appreciate. The value of a social network seems to map proportionally to the perceived value of its main object. (Examples: sharing best-of-web links on Metafilter or sharing hi-res photos on Flickr or sharing video art on Vimeo or sharing statuses on Twitter/Facebook or sharing questions on Quora.) If you want a community with stronger ties, provide more definition to your social object.

Reader exhibits the best unpaid representation I’ve yet seen of a consumer’s relationship to a content producer. You pay for HBO? That’s a strong signal. Consuming free stuff? Reader’s model was a dream. Even better than Netflix. You get affinity (which has clear monetary value) for free, and a tracked pattern of behavior for the act of iterating over differently sourced items – and a mechanism for distributing that quickly to an ostensible audience which didn’t include social guilt or gameification – along with an extensible, scalable platform available via commonly used web technologies – all of which would be an amazing opportunity for the right product visionary.

• Reader is (was?) for information junkies; not just tech nerds. This market totally exists and is weirdly under-served (and is possibly affluent).

• The language for decisions based on deferred value is all about sight, which I find beautiful (and apt for these discussions). People are asking if Google is seeing the forest for the trees. I’d offer that Google is viewing this particular act-of-seeing as a distraction.

• Reader will be an interesting footnote in tech history. That’s neat and that’s enough for me; wasn’t it fun that we were able to test if it worked?

• Google is choosing to define itself by making excellent products in obvious markets that serve hundreds of millions of people. This is good. A great company with evident self-consciousness that even attempts to consider ethical consequences at that scale is awesome. But this is a perfect way to avoid the risk of creating entirely new markets which often go through a painful not-yet-serving-hundreds-of-millions period and which require a dream, some dreamers, and not-at-all-measurable luck. Seemingly Google+ could be viewed as starting a new market, but I'd argue that it mainly stands a chance of improving on the value unlocked by other social networks, which is healthy and a good thing, but which doesn't require an investigation into why it's valuable. That's self-evident in a Facebook world. Things like Reader still need a business wizard to help make sense of the value there.

• If Google is planning on deprecating Reader then its leaders are deliberately choosing to not defend decisions that fans or users will find indefensible. This would say a lot about how they would communicate to the marketplace for social apps and about how they'd be leading their workforce. If this is actually occurring and you’re internal to Google – it's ok, I can imagine you’d be feeling that these decisions are being made obtusely “just because” or since “we need to limit our scope to whatever we can cognitively or technically handle” or such but I’d offer that maybe it's needed for driving focus for a large team? I suppose sacrificing pet projects, public responsibility, and transparency could be worth it if the end is a remarkable dream fulfilled. But what if the thing you’re driving everyone toward isn’t the iPod but is instead the Zune? So just make sure it's not that.

• The following sentence is unfair but it's a kind of myth and fog that has been drifting into view about 'em: Google seems to be choosing efforts like SketchUp over Reader. I doubt there's a common calculus, but it’s now harder for Google's users to really know how important it is that many millions of people are using a product every day when Google is deciding its evolution and fate.
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Can google measure the number of google plus potsts that are Google reader 
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Chris Wetherell

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Awright, people. Which one's better? Cabulous or Taxi Magic?
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Call me biased, but Cabulous is tops right now with 270+ cars on the map in SF alone (not to mention SD, and cities from Anchorage to Chile and even Johannesburg) and is the easiest way to get a taxi now. You can see the cars, hail them, watch them come to you - and talk to the driver just by hitting the "talk" button...that rules. I think right now, in fairness, TaxiMagic is better when you want to book a car for some time in the future. If you think Cabulous is good now (or even if you don't) just wait for 2012. New awesomeness coming.
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Chris Wetherell

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A couple of weeks ago we launched a rebuilt version of all of AIM's clients! It's kind of a big, interesting deal. See it all at The desktop versions of AIM for Windows and Mac OS X are now basically just instances of Webkit and Chromium. All of the designs were updated. And now there's big plans that can be easily delivered without having to rewrite 'em natively for each OS.

Yup. Nerf guns were fired, a plan made, and our team's ready (great work y'all) but-- I'll be leaving AOL soon to make new things. So this is my goodbye. Huge thanks to the team for believing and struggling. I'm very impressed.

Next month I'll just be a user of AIM so I'll make sure to keep my bug reports specific and re-producable.

~ omg, lol, wtf since 2010

Chris W ~~

Sign up or sign in to chat on the web. Download for Windows XP+. or sign in to start using the new AIM online. By clicking the download link you agree to the terms of the AIM Software End User Agreeme...
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I look forward to hearing what is next for you.
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I still don't understand how the unfiltered stream in Google+ works. It's frustrating me because it's the wrong social graph for me (early adopters, I love you, but your tech updates aren't for me) and I'd still like to see if I'd use this full-time but I feel like I'm always getting notified about the activities I don't want to see. Maybe I just need some education? Admin, please hope me.

A) Who shows up in the main stream? (I assume it's anyone I've added to a circle.)
B) Can I remove people from the stream without removing them from all circles?
C) Can I suppress the "added you on Google+" notifications?
D) When I remove someone from all circles, is there a way to remove their past posts from my stream? (Answer: I just needed to wait it seems, they eventually disappeared.)
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+Chris Wetherell Some folks find that they like to fill their streams based on content rather than people. I find myself leaning towards this approach now that I have rearranged and reduced the number of circles that I have within Google+.
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Plus newbie here: Is there a way to prevent certain circles from appearing in my stream?
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+Louis Gray Don't feel bad my friend. I enjoy your content here on Google+. It's simply nice to see how Google+ gives us the tools to be able to organize the content that flows into our streams.
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Collections Chris is following
Mainly, I make software.
  • Avocado Software
    CEO, 2012 - present
    Couples are the world’s most common social arrangement crossing all cultural, social, age, and financial boundaries. They communicate often (and first). They shop together. They are world consumers worth trillions in sales and attention. Apps for couples are solving problems by making everyday life simpler. Avocado is aiming to be the software ecosystem and experience for couples everywhere in the world. At least...that's the plan. After having the idea in 2011, I started development that winter and then formed a company with a funny, smart, and creative team a few months later. Millions of downloads and users later, our small team is lucky enough to think we might have a thing. We'll see. For now, I'm just grateful people seem to love using it.
  • AOL
    2010 - 2011
  • Thing Labs
    VP of Technology, 2009 - 2010
    We made Brizzly, Brizzly Picnics, The Brizzly Guide, Let's Be Trends, and some other things that were adorned by a very cute bear. Great times.
  • Google
    Senior Software Engineer, 2004 - 2008
    A grateful, satisfied former employee of Google. Most notably, in my spare time (i.e. the famed "20 precent time") I started a project which became Google Reader. It became a real project thanks to the care and effort that has come from a great group of talented people who were dedicated to making it a useful part of many people's lives. It'll be missed.
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San Francisco, CA
Beaverton, OR
I'm an Oregonian expatriate in California because I need the sun to live.

I've been making software for a while. Been very lucky. Currently founder and CEO of Avocado Software, a new company bringing to life "Avocado" - which we're hoping becomes the world's best way to keep in touch with the most important person in your life. For iPhone, Android, and the Web - 

Was co-founder of a tech startup called Thing Labs where we started Brizzly, a client for Twitter and Facebook that also dabbled in group messaging. We sold our business in 2010 and worked on some IM stuff for a year. 

Before all that I helped begin and lead the "Retweet" project at Twitter, taking a cue from user-generated behavior and making it a real thing over there.

And I started Google Reader during my "20% time" while I worked for Google as a software engineer. It became great thanks to people much smarter than myself.

I used to make music and movies and I miss that. Next decade, maybe?
  • University of California, Berkeley
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