Featured Writing & Presentations

Hi. Here are links to posts, presentations, and talks to give you an idea of my themes, styles, thinking, and humor.


Clumpy & Tangled Social Graphs Are Social App Sweet Spot.
For growth hacks in a social medium, go for the clumpy and tangled parts of the network. (Quora) #socialnetworkanalysis #growthhacks

What will be the most important issues in data ownership over the next ten years?
A rundown on top civil rights issues emerging with the growth of cyberspace. (Quora) #privacy #culture #publicpolicy

Change what you expect from Skype.
Today’s Skype is very different from its disruptive rebel origins and its brand promises something else. (Quora) #strategy #skype #brand

Six things Skype could do to make things harder on the competition.
(Quora) #competition #skype

What companies should Skype acquire?
A few nominations, and why. (Quora) #m&a #skype

Is Skype living up to its $8.5bn price tag?
Yes. Here’s why. (Quora) #businessmodels

Phil Wolff’s answer to: “Skype: Why is Skype so bloated and broken for such a simple program?”
It’s neither simple, bloated, nor broken. (Quora) #productportfolio #productstrategy #ux

What did Silver Lake do to increase Skype’s value from $2.7B to $8.5B in 18 months?
More focus, revenue, clients, users, usage, MBAs. Fewer side projects, eBay era and founding execs. (Quora) #leadership #management #strategy

Why did Skype’s founders sue eBay?
They held core technologies hostage to get another bite at Skype’s equity before eBay and the private equity owners sold Skype outright to Microsoft. (Quora) #revenge #intellectualproperty

Quora’s Blogs Aren’t Blogs.
When launched, Quora called a type of post on their site a ‘blog’ but broke the blogosphere’s decade-long cultural norms. (Quora) #blogging #culturalnorms

Why does highly-regarded Skype analyst Phil Wolff have the Twitter username @evanwolf?
I was asked, so I answered. Geek history meets adolescence. (Quora) #identity

Dear Employer, Let My Data Go!
We know we want more control over personal data at the Facebooks and NSAs of the world. Why not our own workplaces? (Quora) #dataportability #futureofwork

How does Skype really work? “Skype is Danish for a little storytelling sprite that lives in the eaves of houses.”
Whimsy (yet technically accurate.) (Quora) #skype #architecture

MyNSA: Google for the Private Web.
If you don’t think the US will completely give up cyberspace surveillance, how can we bend the NSA to make the Internet a better place? A tongue-in-cheek product announcement. “MyNSA: Coming out of stealth mode!” (Medium) #product #personalclouds #privacy #publicpolicy #designfiction


These decks start with the oldest…

When Skype was new, becoming huge, I briefed investors, competitors, developers, and journalists on the architecture, technology, usage, and performance of the Skype network.

Skype’s complex pricing polices and tariffs begged for explanation.

Would the blogosphere come to reflect civilization and life when it scaled up to hundreds of millions of people? This is what it would look like. Written sitting in the audience after my keynote at the 2005 BlogTalk conference in Wien. Many of these came true, some scarily.

A talk on voice mashups to the Enterprise Mashup Summit in 2007. Plants that make phone calls presaged the Internet of Everything.

Skype was finally scaring telecoms to change. Skype was fighting back with regulators like the US FCC. This was my talk on the changing power balance between Skype, Apple, the public, and the carriers. An early use of my Skype for Vampires iconography.

Outsiders have always called for Skype to run a web services API for independent developers. Here I explain how Skype started to centralize parts of its network to support less-than-smart phones and how that could lead to a real app platform.

When the Realtime Web is too slow, you need The Anticipatory Web. An April Fools deck, it makes fun of predictive analytics, the need for speed, and the joy of Thiotimoline.

By Spring 2011 the world was full of Skype rivals and they were all islands. This was a short call for interop dialog at the Emerging Communications Conference.

9 August 2012 was Skype’s 9th birthday. This deck made predictions for the next ten years. Let’s check back in 2021 to see how funny these look then.

Skype’s digital identity system sucked when Microsoft bought them. Here’s a list I shared at an Internet Identity Workshop. As Skype centralized, blended with other hosted Microsoft services, and otherwise became a cloud communications service, they worked through many of the items on this list.

A Quoran asked what the future held for storytelling and storytelling tools.

Once upon a time yet to come… The ability to craft and tell stories diffused through world populations, faster than ever. Both the knowledge of how to construct and tell stories and the tools for building your experience at storytelling became cheaper, easier, faster and more convenient. So more people told more stories to more people than ever in history. That trend continued.
So Phil made nine predictions…

1. Everyone tells stories well. Storytelling knowledge and skills previously reserved for expensive and exclusive film schools and writer workshops will become standard K-12 curricula.

2. Storytelling quality soars. Literacy will raise expectations.

3. From Art to Engineering. Professional education will advance the art.

4. Stories for every occasion. Other information will become wrapped in storytelling.

5. Machines spin tales. More storytelling will be automated.

6. Wherever you go, there you author stories. More storytelling will start with mobile products.

7. We Author Together. More authoring will be massively collaborative.

8. Storytelling gets things done. Spielers (oral storytellers) and tummlers (people who urge an audience to participate) will become professions outside of the arts.

9. Theater and play at its roots. New storytelling media will evolve to build on old media.

I led project risk analysis workshops on the U.S. government’s NSTIC program at two Internet Identity Workshops 18 months apart. This was report on the work showed how experts changed their concerns and focus.

I drafted a proposal for a Technology Commission in my work with Code for America’s OpenOakland brigade. Here’s a 2013 working draft.


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