In this Issue:
- What you missed
- Characteristics of 3W apps, Part 2
- Two Articles
- One Book
- Fun YouTube video
- Power tip: MailChimp
What you Missed
Well, I warned you all that this would be an “occasional” newsletter :). I’ve had a great start to the New Year – losing some weight (more on this below), working on new ventures, and trying out new technology. But it’s time to get back on the 3W newsletter horse.
As a reminder, in previous editions I made the case for why we are and will continue to see a Third Wave  and then I talked about some of the characteristics of 3W apps : specifically that they will be “pan-Internet” (or what others have more cleverly called “Cloudtop.” See Anil Dash’s post on this.) and “applied social.”
Characteristics of 3W apps, Part 2
Here are some other characteristics that I believe we are and will see in 3W apps:
Aware. 3W apps will know a lot more about you and will behave accordingly. Intellectually creepy but practically convenient, your app will know your gender, your preferences, where you are, who your friends are, what you’ve done, what you’ve bought, etc. They will know what the weather is like where you are, what the traffic is like where you are going, and whether your flight is delayed (which it is). The “real world” knows most of this stuff and puts it to good use, so will the virtual world.
Easy. Dot com sites weren’t the best UI/UX (eBay, Amazon) as they spent a lot of development cycles under the hood. Web 2.0 sites made a leap forward in ease-of-use, but many of them were designed for the net savvy and the nerdy. The iPhone blended the reliability and ease of use of a consumer electronics device with the flexibility and extensibility of a computing device. It’s no longer acceptable to make a trade-off between power and ease-of-use. 3W apps need to be both. They need to be intuitive, non-techy, and require no data entry. With so many digital options, ease-of-use is now an essential, not optional, capability.
Fun. Fun isn’t just for games anymore. And games aren’t just for fun anymore. Life is short, and so are attention spans. Those apps that are fun and functional will beat apps that are functional but not fun. Addiction is a powerful force that drives much consumer behavior and consumer apps are figuring this out. Games can be casual “entertainment snacking” played in short bursts on phones,  rather than long sessions in dedicated consoles. Frequent flier miles and SPG points are games and “gamification” has existed in various forms through the ages. While gamification in and of itself is not a business model , it is a useful technique that can be put to good use if applied properly .
I thought this was a great piece by Dave McClure on Tech Investing Trends for 2011. Here are his trends. If you want to read more on any of them, I highly recommend you read the full post :
1. (Way too many) Groupons, social games and photo-sharing apps
2. Commerce and coupons for location-based services (LBS), aka “The $5 check-in”
3. Crowdsourcing: The Web-enabled mass assembly line
4. URLs for IRL: enabling the Internet of “things”
5. The Emergence of global languages and geographic arbitrage
6. YouTube killed the video star: Distribution and monetization of online video
7. More iPads, iPhones, iOs Apps and more Android on the way
8. Design is the new black: The growing importance of user experience and design
9. Family 2.0: Apps for kids and grandmas
10. Facebook is dead. Long live Facebook.
On the other side of things, perhaps, is this article in the The Gurdian (UK) about Sherry Turkle’s new book, “Alone Together,” in which the sociologist argues, according to the article, that all this social network-based communication is “a form of modern madness.”
Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.
But Turkle's book is far from the only work of its kind. An intellectual backlash in America is calling for a rejection of some of the values and methods of modern communications. "It is a huge backlash. The different kinds of communication that people are using have become something that scares people," said Professor William Kist, an education expert at Kent State University, Ohio.
The article lists the various “backlash” books about how technology is making us ruder and more stupid, etc. I have yet to see any evidence that there is a meaningful backlash in any measureable way, though I believe there is a genuine, understandable, and important unease at these new behaviors. While I find most of these backlash books fairly predetermined in their angst, I think smart entrepreneurs developing 3W apps should see the shortcomings in the status quo of digital communication, popular backlash or not, and see those as opportunities to build services that are better. In other words, I don’t see these shortcomings as permanent or inherent flaws, but more as problems that the next generation of entrepreneurs has an opportunity to solve.
I’ve been reading the “4-Hour Body,” by Tim Ferriss  (author of the 4-Hour Work Week). Here’s a very brief review:
It’s wide but shallow. It covers everything from how to lose weight (fat), to how to gain weight (muscle), to how to increase testosterone, to 6 minute abs, to how to lift 500lbs, to how to hold your breath for 5 minutes, to how to live off 2 hours of sleep a day, to various sexual techniques & positions, to much, much more. But while there are some good details, if you want to really dig in deep in one of these areas (such as a slow-carb diet) you will find some big gaps in information.
Many of the things are impractical. A lot of the things are just stuff normal people won’t do. For example, once you learn what you need to do to survive on two hours of sleep a day, you almost certainly won’t do it.
It’s still worth buying. The book is about becoming “superhuman” and doing things you thought were beyond yourself. While many of the things are impractical, it’s inspiration to read some of the stories and odds are you will find something – probably a couple of things – that inspire you to be better.
For me, it has helped me with a new diet, helped me with new exercise routines (kettlebells), and helped me fall asleep (the NightWave blue light actually works for me ). I’ve lost around 10 pounds so far this year – halfway to my goal – and it was the book that got me started. (I also thank Rob Reid who turned me onto LoseIt – a calorie counting app – which has helped me curb my eating significantly.)
I say, buy it. Thumb through it (it’s not a book you read from cover-to-cover). Pick an area you want to work on (diet, exercise, strength, sleep, sex). And be better than you are now at it.
Fun on YouTube
I enjoyed Mike Tompkins’ a cappella version of Dynamite. 
Power tip: MailChimp
I use MailChimp to send out these emails. It’s an awesome product and it’s free. If you want to start a newsletter, I highly recommend it. 
 The first issue of the 3W newsletter: http://blog.breakerlabs.com/2010/12/welcome-to-the-third-wave.html
 The second issue of the 3W newsletter: http://blog.breakerlabs.com/2010/12/3w-newsletter-issue-2-characteristics-of-3w-apps-part-1.html
 Anil Dash’s great post on the “cloudtop”: http://dashes.com/anil/2010/09/cloudtop-applications.html
 Dave McClure’s top 10 tech investing trends for 2011: http://blog.500startups.com/2011/01/15/top-10-tech-investing-trends-for-2011/