Mahalo launches alpha. Plumeria flower has got to go

Plumeria flower on Mahalo home pageThe websphere is bubbling with bets on Jason Calacanis’s new “human-powered” search engine, Mahalo, which launched in alpha yesterday – what’s the point of building something that is so obviously not scaleable, what does it mean to “make judgment calls based on what’s in the best interest of [their] users” (hmm! that’s what it says in the FAQ page), is there a non-obvious business model that they’re not talking about, and so on.

I would like to make a different sort of prediction. As much as I like Hawaii and I love the smell of plumeria (frangipani) flowers in real life, I think Mahalo has chosen a hideous logo and theme for a Web site. If adoption always starts from early adopters (a tautology, I know), and beyond the geek scene (those who couldn’t care less about looks) you need some reasonably stylish people to advocate for the product and be willing to be associated with it in public, then Mahalo is off to a very wrong start, one that smells Florida kitsch and plastic shower curtains from WalMart. I am writing this from home in my 6am solitude, but I wouldn’t be caught dead trying out Mahalo in the office. So, here’s my prediction: before hitting the 10m unique visitors mark, Mahalo needs to ditch the plumeria, design a decent logo and home page theme, and get a graphic makeover by an art director with some sense of style.

New media, free software, and Jonathan Schwartz’s vision

You can read this post as just a plug for Sun’s OpenOffice, but I am struck by the author’s sharp vision and I’m catching a glimpse of a nobler calling than just getting his stock price back up.

Moreover, just like Jonathan Schwartz, I too still read the paper version of the newspaper. 🙂

A passionate discussion of what Silicon Valley feels like these days

In case you’ve missed it, here is a post by Mike Arrington on the current mood in the Valley: the discussion is just as interesting, with 150 comments in the first day or so.

The icon character of the first bubble was Po Bronson’s Nudist on the Late Shift (1999); for this one, it may well be the CEO crying on the phone to Arrington because he’s being denied TechCrunch coverage.