Saying Goodbye To Things You Love

One of the challenges of being a web early adopter is the likelihood that a lot of services you fall in love with will ultimately disappear.  New start-ups are launching exciting digital products for us to fawn over every day, and many of us web obsessed rush to try them as soon as possible.  The ones we like we invest a ton of time in, way before there's any chance of knowing if anyone else will be interested enough to join along and help propel the start-up to become a viable company.

On a good day we become obsessed with the start-up, preach about it to everyone we know, and then take some credit for it's success as it builds towards greatness.  But often times the start-ups we love don't make it.  Not enough people end up seeing the value in the product and the product shuts down, or the company's ambitions of their own success get usurped by a high priced suitor that strips it down for parts.  Either way the outcome is the same: the product we love disappears from us.

This last week I've had to say goodbye to a number of products I've really enjoyed over the last few years, all for different reasons.  News aggregator Summify was acquired and neutered  by Twitter.  Online photo editor Picnik was shuttered by its owner Google.  And Plancast CEO Mark Hendrickson announced he will be giving up on the pursuit of his two year old social event sharing product after it failed to gain enough traction on the web.

While saying goodbye to Summify and Picnik is tough, both are in a popular space and have strong competitors that will serve as worthy replacements.  Plancast, however, is by far and away the best social event sharing site I've ever come across.  It's attractive, incredibly easy to use, and has powerful integration built in to other event platforms like Meetup, EventBrite and Facebook that helps make event sharing effortless.  Whereas the old stalwart event planning site Upcoming.com was painful to populate, Plancast is a pleasure to use and explore.  It's one of the products I can't really understand why enough people found compelling enough to use, and one that I'll really miss when it's gone.

The good news about being a web early adopter, though, is that for every start-up heartbreak there's a new start-up to take it's place.  I wake up every day now excited to play with Path, I'm testing out Buffer to power my social publishing, and I've just signed up for News.Me to replace the hole that Summify will be leaving in my day.  And I can't wait to preach to you about all of them.


Excited About Quarterly Co, a Subscription Service for Wonderful Things

One of the new web services I'm super excited about heading into the new year is Quarterly Co, a "subscription service for wonderful things".  Basically you subscribe to a person of your choice, and that person sends you an actual package in the mail every quarter with an interesting object(s) of their choice.

Of course these aren't random people with nothing to lose; the curators that Quarterly has brought on board are all tastemakers of some sort that make finding interesting things the basis of their reputation.  People like Josh Rubin from Coolhunting, Tina Roth Eisenberg from Swissmiss Studio, or the famous Maria Popova of Brainpickings.  I've chosen Alexis Madrigal, tech writer at The Atlantic.

So every 3 months you can expect to get something interesting in the mail that reflects their taste, perspective and interest.  It's a brief moment in time to turn away from the rapid information stream on Twitter (partially populated by these same people) and enjoy a tangible thing hand selected by someone you admire.  It remains to be seen whether any of us feels the object we receive is worth the $25 per quarter, but I imagine the surprise gift and the ensuing conversation will leave me very content.

Let me know if you've subscribed to anyone in the comments below, and stay tuned in March for an update on what I get in the mail.


Welcome CharitySub, "Simple Collective Giving"

At midnight last night a few of my friends launched CharitySub, a website to power simple collective giving.  Their focus is on ease, impact and understanding.  You "subscribe" by committing to donate $5 each month to charity (or an extra $1 if you're willing to be a benefactor of the site- which I highly encourage).  Then each month they choose a cause and send simple but rich information in the form of key facts and documentary videos 3 different charities you could support that are working for that cause.  You can digest as much or as little information as you want, and then simply select which of the three charities will get your $5 dollars that month.

It's as simple as that.  As the community of charitable donors grows, so will the site.  You can expect to see visualizations of your contributions to causes, how many people you recruit to the community, how your money is being used to help the charities and more.  CharitySub's mix of story telling, gamification and goodwill should be a powerful motivator for people to sign up as part of their 2012 New Year's resolutions.

CharitySub's first cause is childhood obesity, an issue I know is important to many people I know. Your first $5 could go towards one of 3 great charities that are helping to end this cause. I'm really proud of Alexis, Amy, Brian & Jim for launching a great resource, and I look forward to being a part of it.