Hi, I'm Nick Grossman. Welcome to my internet brain.

I work at Union Square Ventures and live outside of Boston with my lovely wife and two kids. More about me, me me.

The single most important thing the FCC can do in its regulatory capacity is to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for ideas, innovation and free commerce. The stakes are high for small businesses, and that means they are equally high for the entire U.S. economy. The small businesses of America have spoken. Now it’s time to show all of them, Mr. Chairman, that you are listening.
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The percent of Small Businesses who commented in favor of the current proposal, to borrow a phrase, is: zero point zero.
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Today’s the day. The day you help save the internet from being ruined.


Yes, you are, and we’re ready to help you.

(Long story short: The FCC is about to make a critical decision as to whether or not internet service providers have to treat all traffic equally. If they choose wrong, then the internet where anyone could start a website for any reason at all, the internet that’s been so momentous, funny, weird, and surprising—that internet could cease to exist. Here’s your chance to preserve a beautiful thing.)

Tumblr rocks

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The creativity, productivity and pace of innovation in Silicon Valley relies on brilliant and foolish entrepreneurs being unreasonable enough to believe they can be the exception to the “rule.” As George Bernard Shaw said, “all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” If everyone played it safe, we wouldn’t get anywhere.
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You want missionaries, not mercenaries

Becoming a Leader of Men

In terms of leadership, I’ve done some hard things.  Building teams, reorganizing a company, dealing with failure (and success), letting people go, navigating competition, etc.

But I suspect all of that will pale in comparison to what’s up next: this weekend I begin my career as a little league coach.  Starting Sunday, I’ll be leading a troupe of 5, 6 and 7 year-olds (including my son) on a journey to understand and enjoy the game of baseball.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the coaches I had growing up, especially when I was really little. (I didn’t start playing baseball until I was 8, which is pretty different than 5, so I don’t have any direct comparisons to go on for this).  The more I think about it, the more I respect the coaches I had as a kid.  In particular the volunteer dad coaches (including my own) who had never done it before, and probably had no idea what they were doing either.

I’m really excited and also nervous.  As much as I played baseball as a kid, I honestly never really thought about it from the coach’s perspective.  From fundamental things like “hmm, what actually happens in a baseball practice” and “what are you actually supposed to teach 6-year-olds about baseball” to more subtle things like “how do build a good ‘bench culture’ that is lively and supportive”.  So there is a lot to figure out.   

Not to beat a dead horse about the Internet being awesome, but already I’ve started to find some help online.  For instance, as Theo and I have been watching more baseball recently I’m realizing how actually complicated it is, and one question in particular has been tough to explain: force outs.  So I googled “how to teach kids force outs vs tag outs” and lo and behold I came across an excellent post on teaching the difference between a force out and a tag out, from a blog on teaching baseball to kids (with the tagline “Read how I fail so you don’t have to”).  Thank you Internet!

So, off I go.  If anyone has any tips on being a good coach and building a good/fun team — in general or for tiny person baseball in particular — I would love to hear them.

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I’d love to participate in a GitHub learning experience. I’ve used a few tutorials in the past but they all left me with a similar confused frustration at the end.

CodeBuddies is a neat idea

Jonathan L., a member of the Python study group

In response to an idea started by members of the HTML/CSS study group, we’re now planning hangouts for a Github learning group at codebuddies.org

(via codebuddiesblog)

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everyone now understands that their phones aren’t secure. Even things they thought they deleted are vulnerable. That’s something that will haunt Apple for a decade.

I’m not talking about people who trade their iPhones for Android devices. That isn’t a big issue, and Android isn’t any more secure than Apple anyway.

I’m talking about the fact that people won’t feel the same way about their phones after this. Your phone is no longer a part of you. It’s a weapon, pointed at you.

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(via 30 Years Of Music Industry Change In One GIF - Stereogum)

/via @jmonegro
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If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments.
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In this paper, we argue that net neutrality is, at its core, an attempt to address problems posed by a fragmented communications policy unable to deal with technology convergence. We adopt an approach jointly grounded in Internet technology and communications policy. We argue that the evolving layered Internet architecture supports the model of a smart Internet that allows only certain types of discrimination. We accept the premise that vertical integration between infrastructure and applications poses potential threats to a level playing field. We suggest that an important tool in solving such problems is a proper delineation of Internet infrastructure and Internet applications. We illustrate how such a delineation can be used to restrict an ISPs ability to extract oligopoly rents through discrimination, while simultaneously ensuring that ISPs can use desirable forms of network management. We further illustrate how this use of layering can appropriately limit the scope of regulation. Finally, we suggest that net neutrality can be addressed in a manner consistent with current Federal communications law, and we propose draft statute language on this basis.
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Every Once in a While I’m Reminded of How Awesome the Internet is

I woke up this morning, early, to an email from my mother-in-law pointing me to this:

It’s the story of a 9-year-old boy who built an arcade out of cardboard boxes in his dad’s used auto parts shop. Kids at school teased him about it, and he had zero customers, but he had built something awesome. A filmmaker happened to stop by one day, was (rightfully) amazed, and did a short film about it, including organizing a flash mob to help get Caine some customers.  Simple, and totally awesome in its own right.  Since then:

• Over $231,000 has been raised for Caine’s Scholarship Fund (which has been officially & formally set up!) thanks to over 19,000 individual donors
• Over 7 million views on YouTube and Vimeo
• Over 1 million views on our Part 2 followup Video
• Launched the Imagination Foundation and our first annual Global Cardboard Challenge with over 270 events in 41 countries engaging tens-of-thousands of kids worldwide in creative play.
• Caine was the youngest ever entrepreneur to speak at USC Marshall School of Business, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and recently spoke at TEDxTeen hosted by Chelsea Clinton. Caine also received the Latino Spirit Award from the California State Assembly, and a cardboard key to the city.
• Thousands and thousands of visitors to Caine’s Arcade (he still gets hundreds of customers every week!)
• Launching an Imagination campaign to engage 1 million kids in creative play”

…. which led me to revisiting Kid President, a youtube star who helped publicize Caine’s story.  I had forgotten about Kid President — he’s a young person (11 years old now) who gives amazing video pep talks (like this one for moms).  Turns out Kid has his own amazing story — he suffers from Osteogensis Imperfecta, or “brittle bone disease”, an incurable disease resulting in a lifetime of broken bones.  But he has compensated with an outsized positive outlook:

… which led me to checking out SoulPancake, Rainn Wilson’s production company which now backs Kid President, and which is dedicated to “chewing on life’s big questions.”

… which reminded me of my other favorite youtubers, the Gregory Brothers, who have made incredible  incredible videos “songifying” the news and other videos (my favorite is Double Rainbow, a songification of this).  Here is their behind-the-scenes look: 

… at the process that resulted in this — the songified final 2012 presidential debate:

… the point of all this being: holy shit!  Kids. Making amazing stuff.  Making the world better.  Building huge audiences.  I am awestruck and inspired.  

And then, I start thinking about how amazing it is that this is possible.  Because on the internet, everyone has a voice and can reach the world — being a 9-year-old kid building an elaborate box arcade isn’t weird, it’s fantastic.  Having an incurable bone disease isn’t a death sentence, it’s an opportunity to inspire people.  Being a crazy musical/artistic/geeky family isn’t strange, it’s awesome.

And then, I remember that it hasn’t always been this way.  Before the internet, none of these stories would have happened. None of the tens of millions of people who’ve been touched by them would have been reached.  Connecting to the world required the permission of a big company, like a record label, TV network, or movie studio.

And finally, I remember that it might not always be this way.  The “openness” of the internet — the ability for anyone to reach everyone, on equal terms — isn’t something we can take for granted.  It’s very much in contention.  It’s a battle — and one that we might not win, unless we get equal parts inspired, pissed, and organized.

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Dropbox and Personal Data

More and more, recently, I’ve been noticing web services that use Dropbox for storing user data.  For example, 1Password, OneName and Diaro.

With all the talk about user control of data, data liberation, privacy, etc — I actually feel like this is is a super nice approach, at least for some use cases.

I am more comfortable using Diaro as my journal because they don’t keep the data, I do (sort of — really Dropbox does, but it’s my dropbox acct and I can take it/delete it whenever I want).  I think that may have actually been my deciding factor in choosing Diaro.

In this particular case, using Dropbox has the added (I’d say necessary) feature of syncing across devices so any apps that store user data there can see it anywhere and not have to worry about managing it.

It’s also interesting to note that this wasn’t really the #1 use case (afaik) for Dropbox.  But it does seem to be a natural (albeit relatively fringe) additional use case.  And I wonder if we will see an increasing number of apps (maybe health?) take this route, and marketing it to privacy/control conscious users.

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San Francisco, CAby Dan Steiner
Dan Steiner Copr. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Ah, judgmental maps. 


San Francisco, CA
by Dan Steiner

Dan Steiner Copr. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Ah, judgmental maps. 

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Scott and I were interested in these comments because we think that the people who have raised their voices about an Open Internet are exactly the kind of people we want to hang out with. This list of people can constitute a grass-roots, natural social network, one we’d like to be in.

From Dan X O’Neil and Scott Robin’s excellent analysis of the over 1mm comments submitted to the FCC re: Net Neutrality

Bulk Downloads of FCC Comments on FCC Filing 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet | Derivative Works

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