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Episode 120 June 5, 2018 | 26min

Less Machine Learning, More Human Learning: A Conversation with Charles Broskoski

A chat about rethinking online communities, using a platform designed for creative work.

Show Notes

Less machine learning, less algorithms, less likes: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade meet with Charles Broskoski, founder of Are.na, to discuss how his platform moves away from the like-based models of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We talk about how pattern recognition drives our creativity, discuss the difficulty of building a community that people are willing to pay for, and complain about Pinterest. Rich also discovers what an Art Prof is!

Paul Ford Before we say the name of your company, what is the dot N-A namespace?

Charles Broskoski Namibia.

PF Ok, so —

CB Yeah.

PF A Namibian entrepreneur [laughing, laughter] has joined us today. Um — [music fades in].

Rich Ziade Lovely place! [Music ramps up, plays alone for 18 seconds, ramps down]. Paul.

PF Rich Ziade!

RZ You know what I love to do? When I find something cool, I like to store it.

PF Oh! Like wine?

RZ Mmmmmmm like the wine cellar of the internet?

PF Yeah.

RZ It’s practically the wine cellar of the internet.

PF The internet doesn’t have a wine cellar.

RZ My stuff is littered across I don’t know how many services and — and this breed of software is — is kinda gone.

PF You have a great collection of weird internet videos.

RZ I do.

PF And you don’t really have a home for them.

RZ It’s on a hard drive. I don’t trust —

PF Well you can’t trust YouTube. They all go away.

RZ Yeah and I didn’t do it to get recognition or love from anyone else.

PF No, it’s a weird thing. People don’t know this about you but you have an outsider art collection of unusual internet video that you’ve been working on for ten plus years.

RZ Mm hmm.

[1:15]

PF That has a clear set of aesthetic criteria as to what gets in and what gets out.

RZ That’s right.

PF It can’t be exploitative, it can’t be cruel . . . but it’s about people trying something really hard and not quitting hit — hitting the mark but something happening along the way —

RZ And something very human shows up on the other side. Yeah.

PF Yeah.

RZ But —

PF It’s not about you.

RZ It’s not about me.

PF What are we even talking about at this point?

RZ Let’s go.

PF Oh my god. Alright, so, we have someone in here who’s built the thing that helped you solved that exact problem. His name is Charles Broskoski.

RZ Hey, Paul, he’s looking at us funny. So let’s go.

CB Ok.

PF Tell us the name of your company, your organization.

CB It’s called Arena.

PF Ok.

CB It’s a platform for creative research and collaboration.

PF And it’s very spare. It’s very classic. It’s got pictures, it’s got people, and it allows you to link ideas together.

CB That’s right.

[2:02]

PF It’s a very traditional like . . . world of hypertext kind of thing.

CB Yeah. Yeah. We very much come from that kind of influence.

PF I mean we all do.

RZ That’s true.

CB We all do —

RZ That was my point earlier is that it’s very much a reflection of hypertext and the web.

CB Yeah.

RZ Ok. So I — I stumble on Arena, what can I do?

CB So the main thing that you’re doing is making collections of resources. So not just images, not just texts, links, files, PDFs, YouTube, Soundcloud —

RZ I can throw anything in there.

CB You can put — you can throw anything in there and the point is that you’re putting — you’re sort of thinking about things that you’re consuming over a long period of time — or maybe a short period of time.

RZ Ok.

CB It’s about sort of doing this research and thinking about it as you’re consuming things. And this —

PF The context is really important, right? Cuz it’s — it feels like designers are using it for research, artists are using it for research, as opposed to like, “I’ll use this for my portfolio,” or, “This is a collection of memes.”

RZ Yeah.

PF It’s more specific in theme.

RZ It’s interesting that you’re using the word research.

[3:04]

CB And it sounds like academic but it’s more just in — in the same way that you would go down a Wikipedia hole, it’s that kind of research. You’re just sort of following your interests but — but keeping track of those interests and sort of making something out of that stuff [Rich says, “Ok”], dropping breadcrumbs [“Ok”] and — and — [laughs].

PF Alright. So, this — this is a — it’s a growing — like it’s a growing product. I see — I saw it when it first came out.

CB Yeah.

PF And it had a small community around it and they were pretty passionate.

CB Yeah.

PF A lot of research into aesthetics.

CB Research into aesthetics but I think the main place that we’re coming from is that something like Pinterest —

PF Let’s complain [Charles chuckles] about Pinterest for a minute cuz that’s something that we can all, I think, get into —

RZ Well, easy though cuz I have like . . . old shit from my childhood in a . . . folder called Memories on Pinterest that’s pretty spectacular.

PF I know. I admire Pinterest —

RZ Let’s just tiptoe just a little bit —

PF I admire Pinterest as like —

RZ I get the garbage Pinterest.

PF No, it’s the overall platform of Pinterest that’s like ok and the membership is very, very excited but it’s — it just breaks the web. Like you go, you hit Google images and —

CB Yeah.

PF — you go into Pinterest —

[4:08]

RZ Also it screws up really funny.

PF Yeah.

RZ I’m into watches. So I like I was saving all kinds of watches and for some reason I started to get flatbread recipes. Like just random recipes. I guess — they weren’t ads even. It’s just their algorithm getting confused that people who like watches like to kind of improvise in the kitchen [laughs].

PF Yeah. Compared to Pinterest, your users tend to have intent when they link things together. Pinterest, on the other hand, is like . . . watching people and making these connections for them.

CB Yeah, yeah, we’re very much — we’re oriented towards the human side of things. We wanna make sure that people are making these connections on their own and not [Paul says, “Mm hmm”] machines doing it. We kind of wanna step back more than — than a lot of other platforms and have people do the work on their own. It’s about building those connections and sort of thinking —

RZ Less machine learning. That’s what I’m hearing.

CB Less — less machine learning. Less algorithms.

RZ More human learning.

CB Yeah, exactly.

PF Ok. So, Arena started at some point. When did it start?

CB Um, seven years ago.

PF Ok, so seven years.

CB Yeah.

PF That actually makes sense to me cuz it takes forever to build communities and platforms.

CB Yeah, yeah.

PF Ok. And so what were you doing before Arena?

CB Um before Arena I was working as an artist. I had the very beginnings of an art career.

PF Ok.

[5:17]

CB I was making work online. Net art, basically.

PF Yeah. And you were like, “I’m gonna make a meta — I’m gonna make a meta-art thing. [Charles laughs]. So that I don’t make any more art anymore.”

CB Well —

PF What kind of art were you — were you working on?

CB Uh well ok so the last — the last piece that I made before I quit was called “Directions to Last Visitor.”

PF Mm hmm.

CB And you would go on the website and it would give you Google Maps directions to the last person who visited the website before you.

PF Oh that’s fun.

CB Fun, yeah.

RZ A little creepy.

CB Creepy. I think — I think I wasn’t —

RZ In a fun way.

CB I wasn’t thinking about it in those like privacy terms —

RZ Yeah yeah.

CB I was thinking like, “It’s connecting two people who wouldn’t otherwise be connected.”

PF That was 800,000 years ago.

RZ What’s your background before all of this?

CB Art — art stuff. Yeah.

PF Ok.

[5:58]

CB Um so — but I’ve had a web — I’ve had a website since I was maybe 14 and I’m 35.

RZ Ok.

PF Alright so you sat down one day, you were like, “I’ve made net art. I’m doing alright . . . but I need to build an abstract research tool that connects [Charles laughing] things called resources to other things in a large graph database, and build a community over seven years.”

RZ It’s was like a rainy Saturday.

CB Yeah.

PF Fir — first of all —

CB I was sitting in front of the fire [laughter].

PF So did you program the — the whole thing or?

CB Uh no. It was me and one other person.

PF Ok.

CB Well a couple of other people. But me and primarily one other person. He also happens to be a artist. His name is Damon Zakone.

PF So you were both like, “We gotta connect all these ideas on this here internet.”

CB Well so it’s funny that you brought up Delicious um and my other founder’s gonna kill because I always talk about this but —

RZ One sentence on Delicious, sorry to interrupt.

CB Yeah.

RZ Uh it was a place you could store links.

CB Yeah.

PF And — and — and organize them and actually tag them.

[6:53]

RZ And tag them and then the ones that were hot would bubble up. There used to be this daily sort of what’s getting tagged a lot.

PF And it was bought by Yahoo and then became part of the Yahoo murder pool.

RZ Yeah.

PF And obliterated.

CB Yeah. That’s a good way to put it. Yeah. I’ll add that the other good thing about Delicious was the way that the social network was sort of secondary to the primary action which was just you doing your own and collecting things.

RZ Right.

PF That’s the thing: it was about doing stuff.

CB It was doing stuff.

PF You were making sense of the web.

CB Yeah and it wasn’t like publishing. Like you were publishing to a feed. It was just like you were doing your own thing and then it happened also by chance to be on the feed.

PF Yeah and the guy who created Delicious also had a website called Meme Pool —

CB Yeah.

PF — with a bunch of friends which was like an early feed sort of, “Here’s the weird stuff we’re finding on the web that’s interesting.”

RZ Yeah. Yeah.

PF And then you sort of expanded that to a social service for all.

RZ Yeah.

PF And so like that — that model, it was about getting to that kind of document and making it work.

[7:50]

CB Yeah. So we were — a couple of us were super big on Delicious and I actually met two of my co-founders on Delicious. And then when Yahoo bought and we had this Delicious sized hole, uh we [Paul laughs boisterously] — we started thinking about the —

RZ Name of the podcast!

CB Oh yeah.

PF Yeah it was a Delicious Sized Soul Hole is the name of the —

CB Woah!

PF Except I’ll never get the periods right. Delicious had — and before I put up the URL, it was like D-E-L-I dot.

CB No, D-E-L dot I-C-I-O dot U-S [del.ciou.us].

RZ It was ballzy!

PF That was merciless.

RZ It was gutsy! [Charles chuckles]

PF Ok so Delicious dies a horrible death. First of like one major cut and then thousands of cuts start coming.

CB Exactly.

PF Um it later got bought by like the guys who — some of the YouTube people. It was —

RZ That’s right.

CB Now Pinboard owns it.

PF Oh does it really? [Laughs boisterously]

RZ Pinboard own it?

CB Yeah. He’s — he’s really cool.

RZ They’re calling for you next.

PF Oh wow!

CB We’ll see! [Laugher]

PF But you know there’s — no, but there is a context here. Like Delicious was very raw web. It was like, “Let’s just use this platform, see what happens,” and — and it — it wa — it had a vibe and a look to it and it was a culture that kinda connected all sorts of people who wouldn’t otherwise connect.

[8:54]

RZ I think what was appealing about was it didn’t orbit around likes and hearts —

CB Exactly.

RZ — and what not. It was actually — the thinking was, I think, you — you use it for your own selfish needs.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ And then the sort of by product of that was something really great for everybody else.

CB Exactly. Yeah and there was more of a culture around sort of thinking and deep thought or just — just being more inquisitive and curious.

RZ Mm hmm. Yup!

CB And less about sort of performing a personality online.

PF That’s right there wasn’t a real place to perform a person — like you could have funny tags or you know and —

CB Yeah.

RZ Or there were no super users that were the ones.

PF And it also wasn’t — it never got to that point where it was like “Power Delicious User”. It was just like, “Oh me and Michael — ”

CB Yeah.

RZ A star.

[9:38]

CB And you didn’t at all need to know.

RZ Right.

PF That’s true! You could be —

RZ Exactly.

PF And actually the thing was it wasn’t about — you might be like, “Oh, I should keep an eye on this person cuz they have good stuff,” but there wasn’t that expression of like power. The power you got on the platform was by continually delivering the good stuff.

RZ Yeah.

CB Yeah. The power you get is for yourself, it’s not necessarily like clout.

RZ It’s for your own —

PF That’s right.

CB It’s like your own thinking.

RZ — utility. Sure. So you drop this in the middle of a very different internet. Why? Like this is success now on the internet, right?

CB Right, right.

RZ Build the tool that lets you heart pictures and sounds and whatever else. It’s born out of obviously Twitter and Facebook and the like. So now you come up with this — like what — what’s the motivation behind it?

CB Well I think the motivation in the beginning was just we wanted it ourselves. So it was very much scratching our own itch in the beginning.

RZ Were you thinking, “Business that’s gonna pay my bills”?

CB Always kind of in the background. But now I think because the web has changed and because I think you’re saying this — this sort of version of success is getting likes and hearts and stuff like that but you also can’t go a day without talking to someone about this stuff and them telling you that they’re exhausted by it.

[10:52]

RZ That’s true.

CB So it’s a very — it’s like a mainstream consensus at this point.

PF It strikes me as something that like — like an art prof would be really into assigning. Like, “Go and build this over the course of the semester.”

RZ What’s an art prof?

PF An art professor.

CB [Laughs] Just a —

PF A professor of art.

CB An abbreviation.

PF — at a university.

RZ We’re not gonna get into this.

PF Did they have those at Brooklyn college?

RZ Are you busy? Are you busy you didn’t have the time to go through the whole word? [Laughter] Alright um [music fades in, plays alone for seven seconds, ramps down].

PF Well, you know, Rich, [music fades out] I don’t even wanna interrupt this very sincere conversation to bring base capitalist impulses into it except that when you talk to Charles, he’s also got base capitalist impulses! In fact, we all do! We all do. [Rich chuckles] We all are trying to build good platforms that — Look: you don’t have to become a trillionaire to be successful in this world.

RZ You could also do something decent —

PF You could do something decent —

RZ And make money.

PF — that makes people really feel connected and they’re happy to pay you for it.

[11:51]

RZ We’ve done something decent and we also make money.

PF That’s right.

RZ [Laughing] And it’s called Postlight.

PF Yeah, it’s not called Track Changes [laughs].

RZ It’s not. We’re a digital products studio that ships really beautiful platforms and the apps that ride on those platforms.

PF It’s true. We just — we’re just good at it. You come to us and you say, “I need to do these complicated things and build these products inside of my organization,” even if your organization isn’t doing so good at building products right now.

RZ Right, exactly.

PF We’re — we’re kind of the place. You can go in and you’ll be like, “This is a political nightmare.” And we’ll go, “That’s fine. We’ve seen that before.”

RZ Yeah. “That’s why you’re here!” [Laughs]

PF Yeah. Let us uh let us help you ship that anyway. No matter what happens.

RZ [email protected]

PF That’s all you need. If you need to ship a big old platform, make it awesome: [email protected] [music fades in, plays alone for six seconds, ramps down].

RZ So what are you seeing?

CB We’re seeing [music fades out] that people are taking to it more and more.

RZ Yeah.

CB So when we started the year we had 21,000 users and now we have 46,000 users.

PF I mean for the kind of thing you’re trying to build that’s a large cohort that now probably is causing all kinds of problems.

[12:59]

RZ Might be worth noting: we’re barely in — we’re four months into the year.

CB Yeah. Yeah.

RZ You just doubled —

CB Yeah. Yeah.

RZ — in four months.

CB Yeah. We’re not like going after like insane growth. That’s not the thing.

PF It doesn’t feel like a hundred million people would be good for this platform.

CB Well, no, but I mean I think that — like Github is a good — is a good sort of like parallel platform, right? It’s like very specialized, it’s very nerdy, there’s a ton of people that use it, it has a very functioning business model, it has a business model that’s also . . . sort of tied into its mission.

PF Mm hmm.

CB Right? Which is . . . promoting open source software.

PF Right.

CB And Arena in the same way it’s — it’s a similar business model where if you’re saving stuff in public it’s free and then you have a limit of how much private content you can save.

PF And the thing with Github too is you — you kind of keep an eye on the things that are relevant to you and then that’s it. You don’t — you don’t have this sense of like the overwhelming power of Github baring down you on you anytime —

CB No.

PF — where it’s like Facebook you’ve got — I don’t follow 700 repositories on Github.

CB Yeah. Yeah. But Arena in the same way that like people can fork your reposts on Github or whatever, people can reuse your content.

PF Right.

[14:04]

CB So when you’re saving content in public, other people can come along and say I saved something into climate change. It’s like about robots building solar panels or something. Someone could take that link, save it into their channel on automation. So I’m starting to see different perspectives on the content that I’m saving and that’s sort of the benefit to doing things in public.

PF So, I’m user F-Train. I find a cool picture on the internet. Like something uh I tend to be very interested in interface history like so that would be something I would save. Like —

CB There’s a lot of that on Arena.

PF [Chuckles] There’s a lot on Arena, right? So like, I don’t know, a screenshot of uh an Amiga computer from 1987 and it seems kind of interesting to me. So I go to Arena and I upload it.

CB Mm hmm.

PF Ok. What do I do? What — was that become in your world, that picture?

CB I — I think it’s not about that one step. It’s more about the progressive steps afterwards.

PF Ok.

CB Like so a channel is — is what we call a collection of things.

PF Mm hmm.

CB And a channel can be either open, viewable by the public, it can be completely private, or it can be open where anyone can add it to who has an Arena account.

PF Mm hmm.

CB So say you save — you start a channel called Interface History. You start saving stuff: different screenshots or different articles about interface history. And then other people can come along, if you leave it open and just add to that as well. And you can moderate it after the fact, people can take your stuff and save into their collections, and into their channels. Um so it’s about sort of like how that moves forward and how it sort of changes your thinking on what interface history is.

PF So you’ve got this very abstract set of things, right? And this has actually been one of the challenges of hypertext and the web in general is that when most websites end up looking like something that was there before. Like newspaper websites look like newspapers. And YouTube is about video of a certain aspect ratio that looks like TV. It’s even got tube in the name right. And so the thing that — that you’re doing here and the thing that you’re describing which I — I think both Rich and I through our careers have found really hard to get across to people, right?

[16:12]

CB Yeah, yeah.

PF Like that here are abstract nodes that connect to other nodes about concepts and they can be remixed and I’ve seen a lot of experiments along this line and I think that actually this one is — is really interesting in that 40,000 people doing abstract hypertext stuff is really a lot.

CB Yeah.

PF So how are they getting it? How are they understanding this remixable, nodal, interconnected, intertwingling [sic] thing?

CB [Chuckles] Well I think you get the — the sort of — in the same that Delicious was this sort of personal utility first, that’s what you’re getting from Arena at the beginning. It’s just in the same way that you understand what Pinterest is, it’s just a place to throw a bunch of stuff.

PF Ok.

CB And that — that — that whole progression comes later. Your exposure to what other people are doing, how that stuff connects to other people’s research. You’re not getting that all straight away.

PF Gotcha.

CB I mean I think that the — the sort of trick is we position it when you first get in as like, “This is a place to organize information,” but I think in — in actuality it’s actually about thinking about stuff more than it is about organizing.

PF But first they need to put it in the folders.

CB Yeah.

PF Right? So like get it into a folder and give it some order and then all of a sudden the power of the platform will get revealed.

CB Yeah.

[17:25]

PF And people need order badly enough that they’ll do this.

CB Yeah but I think you see over time that this sort of bankruptcy of information or feeling like all the stuff is weighing down, and I would — I would also agree with that but I think there’s a different approach which is there’s — there’s one version of managing your inbox which is inbox zero, and then there’s the other version which is just like, “If it’s important enough, it’s just gonna come. It’s gonna come back to me.”

RZ “Mark all as read.”

CB Yeah.

RZ Let’s get on with life.

CB Yeah.

PF Yeah.

CB Yeah.

PF When you — that’s some — that is kinda real. Like you can assume that stuff will surface again if it’s high priority.

RZ I’m inbox zero, I’m just too scared.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ That it won’t — like that important thing will just say, “I’m through with Rich, I’m not gonna email him again.”

PF I’m inbox like 112, it’s absolutely the worst of both worlds.

CB Yeah, it’s the middle.

PF Yeah.

CB Yeah.

PF Um —

[18:09]

RZ Ok so I show up.

CB Mm hmm.

RZ And I start dropping in animated GIFs cuz I’m goofy or whatever, and I’m not speaking for myself, I’m speaking for —

CB Ok.

RZ — whoever that — do you consider that — speaking for Paul. Do you consider that, “Uh that’s not really what I meant this platform to be and now it’s all actually hurting the mission in any way”?

CB No, no. I don’t think we try to make value judgements about what people can save or what —

RZ Ok.

CB — what is the good thing. We try and keep it very flexible and open ended.

PF That would be bad internet ethos . . . You can’t —

RZ Yeah.

PF You can’t be judgy.

CB Right.

PF How many people work on it?

CB Four people.

PF It’s a company?

CB It’s a company.

PF It’s not a not for profit, it could give off that vibe sometimes.

CB It can give off that [chuckles] vibe.

PF It is a for profit company.

RZ He’s making money, yo.

[18:54]

PF How’s it doing?

CB Um it’s doing well.

PF Ok.

CB I mean we’re — we’re growing a lot uh —

PF Are people ponying up?

CB Yeah, people are ponying up. Yeah —

PF Ok good.

CB Yeah we’re — we’re sort of projecting to be covering our current very low cost by the end of — or the beginning of 2019.

PF How are you — I mean are people paying their rent from this? Or like how’s that — is it — are they full-time or?

CB Yeah, so we actually met a guy through Arena who’s using Arena for his work, named Christopher Barley. He runs a strategy and branding company here in New York called Consortia.

PF Ok.

CB And they were using Arena in sort of this team, professional capacity —

PF Mm hmm.

CB — to do research for client work. And we had met a couple of times and talked about the state of the internet and what people are doing online and what we’re doing with Arena. And then it just got to the point where he said like, “I wanna be involved. I wanna invest.” And so in May he invested a little bit of money. He also came on the team and since then we’ve been working —

RZ Wow.

CB — almost full-time.

[19:50]

PF That’s huge! Congratulations!

CB Thanks.

PF I think also what’s — what’s great to hear is you found this inflection where . . . something that was for a really kinda specific kinda community that often is very anti anyone making money ever from anything . . .

CB Yeah.

PF Like you — you found a path through that. That is a hard thing with platforms like this.

CB Yeah and the other thing is we’re doing a crowd funding — an equity crowdfunding campaign right now.

PF Mm hmm.

CB And that was a really sort of scary proposition for exactly the reasons that you just laid out —

PF Cuz then they own you for the rest of their lives.

CB Well, no, that’s not the problem. I’m into that [Paul laughs] but I mean, you know, I think the — I think the — the scary part with a community like ours is that they’re very critical, they know what’s going on, and their very sensitive to changes and —

PF When you built them a platform for criticism.

CB [Chuckles] Yeah, exactly.

PF Ok.

CB Yeah but it’s going a lot better than we ever expected.

PF I mean I think there’s an important thing that you’re doing here which is that it’s not about mass scale, it is about a sense of community and membership.

CB Yeah.

PF First of all, I don’t think that — that doesn’t scale to the billions of people that —

RZ It’s designed to.

[20:54]

PF It’s not. No, I mean that’s like — So that the mental of like what success is has to be changed . . . to accomodate for spaces like this that people really want and will pay for and they can be a good business.

CB We’re not gonna be Facebook size but I think we could very easily be in the 50 hundred million size.

PF Woah.

CB I mean —

PF Ok.

CB Yeah I think that — I think that people are —

PF That’s good. So there’s hunger in here.

CB I — I’m also — I’m also very optimistic that people are sort of getting smarter and smarter which I’m — I know that this is a minority opinion but people’s sort of ability to pattern recognize different things that are happening in the world, you know, that ability it gets strengthened over time and there’s nowhere to put that. There’s nowhere to put that thinking online.

RZ If you’re growing to that level, you’re probably fastest route to the biggest money is ads.

CB Yeah, we will never do that.

RZ You will never do that?

CB We will never do that.

RZ Let it be known . . . on the Track Changes podcast.

PF [Sings:] Pumm pahhh!

RZ It has been stated.

CB We just might as well not do it if we’re gonna do that.

PF Then you’re Pinterest . . .

[22:01]

CB It sets up a weird dynamic because your customer is not the user. The customer is the advertiser and that — your motivation then is to sort of serve the advertiser and not the user. And we’re — we wanna set up the situation for ourselves where we’re just trying to make a good enough product that people will pay for it. And the type of person that we’re after is, you know, it’s — it’s people who are — they’re knowledge workers. They’re people who are working in creative professions.

RZ Right.

CB And this is a — this is a tool that adds — it helps your thinking on an everyday basis and that is something that is worth paying for.

PF Do you see your future competition as like the Evernotes of the world? Like sort of places where things are organized and structured.

CB A little bit but —

PF Onenote. Microsoft Onenote.

CB [Chuckles] Someone asked us about that recently [Paul laughs]. Um I mean but the [chuckles] the thing is is we’re in this interesting zone in between a social network and a productivity tool.

PF Mm hmm.

CB So I don’t think Evernote has any — there’s no motivation there to like turn Evernote social.

PF No.

RZ I think everything is private, if I’m not — unless you explicitly.

CB Everything is private.

PF Right, right, right.

CB Yeah and we’re interested in a very different thing that I think long term than Evernote, you know?

PF Mm hmm.

[23:16]

CB We’re about like — it’s more about creative inspiration than it is about sort of like —

RZ Storage!

CB — capturing — storage. Yeah.

PF Are you growing? Are you hiring? What is your — what do you need out in the world?

CB We’re — we need — we need money.

PF Money. Great. Ok.

CB Yeah [chuckles]. Yeah.

PF So fuel in the tank.

CB Yeah.

PF Where are all the new features for the future written down?

CB Oh man, you wanna know?

PF Yeah.

CB Basecamp.

PF Ok. Basecamp is the tool?

CB I’m a big —

PF Yeah.

CB I’m pro Basecamp. Yeah. Basecamp Street Team.

PF Ok Basecamp Street Team. Uh if you can hack into that, you can see the future [laughing and Charles laughs] uh of Arena.

CB But actually we are — we do have a public roadmap on our — on our Github. All of our code is open source. So you can see everything we’re working on.

PF This is a question for you then: what — what keeps other people from just standing up Arenas?

[24:00]

CB I don’t know. They could. It’s hard to build a community though.

PF That’s the work.

CB I mean it took — it took us a long time and —

PF Has it been more work writing code or building the community?

CB Well the community building is kind of like a fuzzy activity.

PF Mm hmm.

CB You know it’s — it’s inviting people; it’s talking to people; it’s — it’s not — it’s not the same lev — kind of productivity that you’re doing when you’re writing code. You know you don’t get to the end of the day and you’re like, “Cool, it’s done.”

PF Yeah.

CB Like, “Now we’ll go onto the next thing.” It’s just a perpetual —

PF No, you wake up, the community’s still there.

CB Yeah.

PF Yeah. It might even have gotten up to some stuff overnight.

CB Yes. Yeah.

PF Well, thank you for coming on. Um —

CB Thank you, guys.

RZ It’s refreshing!

PF It is. It’s a great product and uh —

RZ You’ll see a lot of — a lot of stuff like this getting built.

PF I mean there’s — there’s people out there listening, if you have ideas and money! [Charles laughs] To help get Arena to a hundred million users, this is your chance to get in there.

[24:53]

CB This is your chance.

RZ Here we go!

CB One chance.

PF There’s aren’t — there aren’t many of these left.

RZ No . . .

PF Ah! That was kind of affirming on a few levels.

RZ Well I could rant right now and tell you how I’m tired of likes and hearts and . . . hugs.

PF You know what’s better than ranting?

RZ Stars.

PF You know what’s better than ranting?

RZ Hmm?

PF Building some goddamn software!

RZ Exactly.

PF That it’s like building the frickin’ platform, putting it in the earth, and having people use it, and then seeing if it’s gonna work.

RZ Right. And with better numbers than just — like better intentions than just raw traffic.

PF That’s right. But also a plan to build a sustainable business over time and keep people supported and like some — some ethics and a mission you’re gonna stick with. Those are really good things.

RZ They really are. So it’s Arena. A-R-E dot —

PF [Jinx with Rich] Dot!!! [Music fades in]

RZ N-A. Check it out. [are.na]

PF Gotta get that dot in there.

RZ [Chuckling] Gotta get that dot in there.

PF Um alright so we have to thank Charles for coming — we don’t have to. We want to thank Charles [both laugh] for coming on. Uh if you need us: [email protected], give us a good rating on iTunes. I’m Paul Ford, your co-founder and co-host. Uh Postlight is the name of our company. No one ever pays attention. They just hear Track Changes, I hope there’s something nerdy on this.

RZ Yes.

PF Well, there you go! But if you need digital services.

RZ Wait, Paul!

PF What? What?!

RZ I’m Rich Ziade, the other co-founder.

PF Oh my god I hope people know that by now.

RZ [Inaudible, fading out.] [Music ramps up, plays alone for five seconds, fades out to end.]