Sometimes we all need to lighten up a bit. Seriously. I was having one of those mornings when an email about a new Kickstarter campaign landed in my inbox.

Now, there’s been a weird amount of publicity about the Silicon Valley sock thing. Powerful men or regular guys who aren’t overly fashion forward, or who prefer t-shirts and jeans, wearing fun, printed socks. I know. Why write an article about this? It’s fashion and tech. Stay with me.

Socrates is a Kickstarter campaign that takes this sock trend one step further. Kevlar socks, people.

Yep, carbon threaded socks with kevlar (the bullet-proof stuff) carbon matrix threaded through the toes. What does that mean? It means you guys won’t get holes in your socks as often, if ever. Military grade socks that come in fun colors and stripes. Why not?

Well, it’s over. Or almost. Everything you think you know about the next five years at least is over. Decisions have been made — in reality a mini-revolution has occurred — and yes, it includes you and that little palm-sized gadget you’re married to. This revolution is all about you, requires your participation, and will fundamentally shift everything about your life. It’s happening — the train has left the station — and you’re an unwitting passenger.

Now that we’re on the cusp of a majority of Americans owning a smartphone, the sleeping giant of big business is starting to wake up and realize that their future profits rely on generating revenue from the little devices. Have they been slow to figure out how to monetize them? Yes. But now they have a few years of data on how you use your device, what you want from it, what you expect from it, and what you may be willing to do with it.

This mini-revolution revolves around what is called social commerce. ‘Cause what we definitely need is another term with the word “social” in it. But listen closely — social commerce is important — both for the web and the mobile marketplace. Social commerce is being ushered in by smart, one-tap types of companies: Open Table, Uber, Solo, First Dibs, and to some extent even the grand-daddies like Twitter. Social commerce is all about providing you a service that is defined by simplicity — the greatest, most successful apps are the simplest to use — and the data shows you are willing to pay for ease of use. Those that turn your smartphone into a remote control for your life are the ones that succeed: with Uber, tap a button and a car comes to take you away — are we living in nirvana? Your mobile behavior has told the marketplace that you will engage in social commerce with apps that add value to your lifestyle — your credit card is on file.

What does this say? It says that as businesses transition from the desktop/PC era to mobile, they should have both a short-term and long-term goal: in the short-term they should focus on developing a compelling user experience to gain and retain a diverse user base. Long-term they must monetize their service: once you’re hooked into their user experience, and you’ve made it a part of your life, you’ll pay for it. Simple. However, monetization must be more than just jamming ads into the feed. Ads alone will carry a company in their transition to mobile for 2-3 years, but there’s a tipping point when too many ads will degrade the user experience. The bottom line for the long-term view is there needs to be a reason to pay for the service.

The device in your hand is altering your life. And once companies transition to full-on mobile services, you will have more options to add one-tap experiences that enrich your life. You’re on the train, so hold on — it will be a bumpy ride — but you’re the central focus. It’s gonna work for you one way or another. That’s been decided.


Cult of Mac is reporting a complete list of iPad Mini models has leaked, and it confirms most of the rumors I’ve heard over the past few months:

Lower Price:  The starting price for an 8 GB wifi unit is $249, $100 more than the 7″ Kindle Fire, going up to $649 for a 64 GB with cellular connectivity.

LTE/Cellular: Speaking of LTE, there are both wifi and LTE versions in all storage capacities.  That’s a pretty good deal– $649 is the starting price for the original iPad with just wifi; if you’re good with the smaller size, you can get a lot of bang for your buck. Oh, and we’re not calling it WiFi + 4G anymore, since 4G LTE connectivity isn’t available outside of the US and Canada (there goes my European vacation…).

Color:  It’s not going to be available in multiple colors like the new iPod Touch.  Bummer.  It will, however be available in black and white like the iPad and iPhone.

For me, I really prefer the larger size. I’ve used a 7″ Kindle Fire off and on since it came out, and the 9.5″ size really works for me. If I want something smaller, I’ll just use my iPhone. But for someone who wants the iPad experience without shelling out the full-sized iPad price, this is a great option.

I’m betting, too, that with the iPad Mini, we’ll see a rise in the use of iPads for education.  At $249, you can buy 2 Minis for the price of one regular iPad.  It’s perfect for parents who want their child to use an iPad– but not their iPad– or school districts that are dipping their toes in the eBook pond. Paired with the underutilized iBooks 2 platform, offering this lower price point will really allow Apple to change eBooks in education (as noted by TUAW’s Erica Sadun).

What do you think? Will you run out to buy an iPad Mini for yourself or your kids?

 

Former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty (credit: Georgetown Voice)It’s probably not that often that you’ll hear about politicians or traditionally non-tech influential leaders joining up with a company here in Silicon Valley. I mean, it’s not that it’s unheard of but it’s not very common. For politicians, typically you’re going to hear of them going to consulting firms or even lobbyists in Washington, DC. However, it looks like big-time venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has snagged two major policy leaders within the past couple of years.

Announced today, the firm picked up the consulting services of former Washington, DC mayor Adrian Fenty. The one-time mayor of the nation’s capital will join the firm as a special advisor where he will most undoubtedly use his expertise in policy, governance, and disruption to help startups better broach the mainstream and become better recognized by the government. As stated by Margit Wennmachers on managing partner Ben Horowitz’s blog, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, Mayor Fenty’s uncanny ability to disrupt an age-old system in the nation’s capital have given him an iconic image of being a reformer and has led him to unheard-of success. In addition, he was the first in the city to spur technological innovation by finally opening up the city’s data and encouraging developers to create useful apps that would help save the city thousands, if not millions, of dollars, and create a better District for all its citizens.

Gangnam Startup Style (photo via Michael O'Donnell/ZatPhoto.com)

One of the hottest songs to hit the airwaves over the past few weeks is not something you think would become mainstream. “Gangnam Style“, a song with a rocking beat by the South Korean artist, Psy, has become such a sensation, it’s even been performed by Psy himself on the Today Show during their Toyota concert series. After more than 215 million views on YouTube, this pop sensation has definitely opened itself up to a myriad of spoofs and parodies, including this Chatroulette version and the creative wedding version.

Being here in the tech capital of the world, I suppose it was only a matter of time that it would become a huge hit…and the community definitely did not disappoint.

Organized by Refer.ly co-founder, Danielle Morrill, the startup community put together their own version of “Gangnam Style” and today it was released to the world for everyone to see. It’s a mish-mash of footage from both people who videoed themselves doing the dance and also when Mrs. Morrill’s camera crew went around town collecting footage. But just who in the tech world would best portray the indomitable spirit of Psy? There are obviously a few good choices, but in the startup parody, it actually was a bunch of different people just having fun doing the horse-riding dance and everything else.