The UFC has a major problem on its hands this year (albeit a good problem to have): topping or even matching the entertainment of  legendary 116, which featured not a boring moment in 4 epic battles on the main card. And speaking of boring, Anderson Silva is headlining the 117 card. ‘Nuff said. If he toys around with Chael Sonnen like he did Damien Maya and Thales Leites we could be in for a real snoozer, not to mention a furious Dana White who has already spoken to the fighter and his manager about his octagon antics.

But there’s hope. Chael Sonnen has been very liberal with the shit-talking in promoting the event despite the fact that Sportsbook.com and other sports betting sites have Silva (-500) and Sonnen (+350). Hopefully Silva will come into the ring fired up and ready to take names like he used to. I think Sonnen will try to take him to the ground early and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he will succeed. However, that’s as far as he will get. My prediction is that Anderson Silva wins by submission in Round 2.

But before we watch Silva sleepwalk through another W in the middleweight division, we’re going to watch Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves – two very evenly matched fighters – go to battle. Both fighters went the distance with GSP and have tremendous wrestling skill. I’m a huge Jon Fitch fan (so I’m biased) but I also think his recent wins and Thiago Alves’ ring rust is going to give Fitch the edge. My prediction is that Jon Fitch wins by unanimous decision.

Clay Guida is always a pleasure to watch and is one of the most talented lightweight fighers, but I don’t think August 7th will be his night. I was really impressed by Rafael Dos Anjos’ submission win over Terry Etim at UFC 112. It was one of the most perfectly executed arm bars I’ve seen in a while. And he’s scary fast on the ground. After trying to stay standing up for a round, I think Guida is going to get caught while trying to ground-and-pound Dos Anjos. My prediction is that Dos Anjos will win by submission in Round 2.

Finally, although Roy Nelson’s fat, finesse and experience has been able to earn him TUF 11 honors, I think JDS is too good to get caught in Nelson’s fat or get knocked out in dirty boxing. He’s on one of the most impressive tears in the UFC, has beaten some of the best in the division, and he really should be the next person to fight for the heavyweight title after Cain Velasquez. He has a height and reach advantage over Nelson, solid Jiujitsu and serious knockout power. My prediction is that JDS wins by TKO in Round 2.

On top of all that  it’ll be good to see Matt Hughes fight and I’m always happy to see Dustin Hazelett’s jiujitsu. Overall I’m excited for the fights. But I won’t be buying 117, I’ll be going to Hooters in NYC 🙂


The Tel Aviv saga continued this month. I spent another week with the team in Israel doing some intense collaborative product development work. Despite 14-hour days, brain drain and a vicious virus I contracted toward the end (no not from shady behavior, but maybe shady food), I did manage to capture these moments:

Street Art Testicles

Well now here's some interesting street art. Do you like this more than Dick Chicken?

temple tel aviv

A quaint place of worship in the Neve Tzedek district

Neve Tzedek District Bridge

This was taken from a bridge crossing over a massive parking lot that looked like a dried up river (also Neve Tzedek)

Old University Tel Aviv

This is the courtyard of an arts center that used be a university. Nice trees, eh?

Cafe Suzanna Tel Aviv Neve Tzedek

Ahh Cafe Suzanna in Neve Tzedek. Complete with gloriously massive tree and rooftop bar (see below) with incredible views.

Cafe Neve Tzedek

Another cozy cafe...

Rooftop bar Cafe Suzanna Neve Tzedek

Rooftop bar @ Cafe Suzanna

Sunset Banana Beach Tel Aviv Israel

The sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv are like nothing I've ever seen...

Tel Aviv is an amazing city. To those who haven’t yet visited, I highly recommend it.

This weekend my girlfriend’s parents visited us in NYC. Here’s a visual history of what we did from Saturday AM to Monday AM:

Cafe Champignon NYC

Cafe Champignon, 7th Ave btw 21st and 22nd. Brunch or dinner is delicious at this very affordable French cafe. The steak is excellent.

Chinatown Brasserie NYC

Chinatown Brasserie, corner of Lafayette and Great Jones. Energetic atmosphere, but food was only OK. BBQ Beef, Filet Mignon and Soup Dumplings were good.

Cafe Gitane in the Jane Hotel

Cafe Gitane in the Jane Hotel, Jane btw Washington and West Side Hwy. Voted best brunch of 2009, definitely lived up to the hype. Delicious breads, baked eggs w/ Merguez sausage, and great french coffees. The Apple with Brie is great small plate to share.

Highline Park NYC

Walked Highline Park on a beautiful day before going to the theatre.

The 39 Steps play

The 39 Steps is a comedic play adapted from the Hitchcock film. Although difficult to understand at times, it was very creative in its use of stage props and few cast members. Slapstick humor at times.

Balaboosta NYC

Einat Admony, owner of Taim, strikes again hard with Balaboosta on Spring and Mulberry. The food was some of the best I've had in months. The Sea Bass with assorted veg and feta was delicious as were the Hummus and Meatball Falafel small plates.

Murray's Bagels NYC

Murray's Bagels. Twice visited. A must for any weekend.

No real rhyme, reason or core themes in this post. Just want to recap some things I’ve really enjoyed lately.

My IPA Kick

Lately I’ve developed a taste for India Pale Ale (IPA). I don’t pretend to be beer or hops expert, but for those of you who don’t know it’s an amber-colored beer that has a distinct bitter taste and sometimes a lemony finish. Recently I tried:

East India Pale Ale Six Pack

East India Pale Ale

Flying Dog India Pale Ale

Flying Dog India Pale Ale

Bourbon: A gradual learning curve

Last week I went to White Star, a mellow, cozy, dim lit, old fashioned spirit sipping bar on the Lower East Side of NYC. White Star stocks 2 Bourbons I’ve come to like for their smoothness and sweet flavoring:

Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses Bourbon ($14 @ White Star)

W.L. Weller Special Reserve

W.L. Weller Special Reserve ($10 @ White Star)

Latest Cooked Meal: Fettuccine w/ Leeks, Corn & Arugula in a Cream Sauce

Simple, not particularly original, but delicious nonetheless. I substituted peas for corn because I had them on hand and I added extra parmesan cheese and some chicken broth for flavor.

Fettuccine with Leeks, Corn & Arugula in a Cream Sauce

Fettuccine with Leeks, Corn & Arugula in a Cream Sauce

Ingredients
12 ounces fettuccine (3⁄4 box)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into thin half-moons
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups baby arugula (1 1⁄2 ounces)
1/4 cup grated pecorino (1 ounce)
Directions
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the corn and wine and simmer until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes; stir in the cream.
3. Add the pasta, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine; fold in the arugula. Sprinkle with the pecorino before serving.
(via Real Simple)
What you should order at The Norwood
The Norwood

The Norwood Dining Area

The Norwood is a membership-only club in West Chelsea with the mission of bringing together creative minds from all industries with a particular emphasis on media and entertainment. The restaurant is IMHO one of the best in the city and the bartenders serve quality cocktails. Here’s what I recommend:
Pimms Rangoon

Start with a Pimms Rangoon at the bar

Begin your meal with: Octopus or Pea Soup
For your entree: Duck

Today I spent some time thinking about the future. For me, thinking about the future is a guilty pleasure of sorts. I can have it all figured out on a theoretical level – or at least try my best – but I don’t have to actually execute, which is of course the hardest part. The part that surprisingly so few are good at. No, I’m not a futurist. Certainly not a self-proclaimed one. I’ll only let someone give me the title “futurist” until I’ve made the future, not predicted it.

Anyway, I digress. Today I spent sometime thinking about the future of the web. Search is still the most powerful tool the web has to offer and search marketing is still leagues above any other internet business model. It’s arguably the most powerful business model in the world. It works because billions of times per month we’re trying to find stuff (a.k.a “intent”) and for some percentage of that time advertisers take advantage of knowing our intent to try to convince us that their stuff is stronger, faster and better given our intentions. And according to an acquaintance of mine who wrangles search products at Google, a company that knows a thing or two about these matters, user happiness metrics indicate that advertisers can often provide us better information than that which is available to us otherwise on the web.

So the world’s stuff is at our fingertips and search engines make money by letting business compete to tell us where the best stuff is. What will disrupt that business? What will be the next tool or set of tools to be infinitely valuable to us while also generating businesses billions of dollars? When I asked myself this question recently, I began to immediately think of ways that search could be better, but it soon dawned on me that better search seems unlikely. That includes vertical search I might add. I wouldn’t bet on another company finding the talent, the upfront capital, the IP loopholes, and the 13 years of search logs needed to achieve the same level of relevancy that major search engines have today. I’m going to posit that the answer to search is not search at all.

What if we didn’t have to search? What if we stopped searching and started finding? What if we were constantly positioned in the middle of some kind of an information superhighway (shout out to The World of Goo) that we build ourselves? Information would not be sought out, but rather plucked out of a stream of what was available right then and there in the moment we needed it. I know it sounds improbable. Impossible maybe. But if we continue to be more connected to information via all of the devices from which we now consume it and our friends, family, co-workers and people we follow continue to share every detail of their lives and thoughts via all of the services to which we subscribe, then theoretically the probability that we have recently stumbled on something we’re looking for will increase.

To give an example, imagine a world in which the answer to the question, “Which steakhouse should I go to when visiting NYC?” could be answered by a friend of yours from New York completely coincidentally posting within a very short timeframe of that thought, “Sam Sifton, the NY Times food critic, just tweeted that Striphouse is to be announced as the NY Times Best Steakhouse of 2010. Sweet!” This example would be possible given two huge assumptions: 1) We are aware of people who possess information typically relevant to us and 2) We are somehow connected to the information highway those people produce. Well, I think that trends would suggest that these assumptions are not too unrealistic. I think it will take some time for this behavior of finding not seeking to come of age. Quite a long time actually. But I do believe that it will begin to steal from search bit by bit in the years to come. Brands and business will make money not only by monetizing our intent in search, but by building real relationships with consumers to earn their attention – the loyalty of their eyes, ears and fingertips as they experience the information superhighway day in and day out.

Genesis

May 23, 2010

In the words of the beautiful songwriter Damien Rice: And so it is. Or I should say — and so it has come to be. The genesis of my chronicled musings, complaints, joys, sorrows, favorites, least favorites, likes, don’t likes, beliefs, disbelief, wins, and losses is finally upon us.

It is here and only here that the world may see things the way I see them.

~Fin

Companies like Foursquare are showing that game mechanics can be an effective stimulus for social networking. @fredwilson recently wrote a post about rewards and monetization that stimulated a sub-discussion in the comment stream about intrinsic versus extrinsic value in rewarded activities:

I’m curious that if by rewarding going to a place that you may also destroy the bond between you and the place? This is well documented in motivational research. Rewards turn the original intrinsic appreciation into an extrinsic work type relationship. Once that happens I wonder if you’ll lose those people as they move on to find something more intrinsically rewarding, something less like work. Rather than a coupon, maybe a reward could be something that deepens the relationship with a venue, something more life affirming? ~ posted by “toddhoff”

Todd’s point is interesting and it got me thinking about the art of rewarding. What is the right way to reward someone? What is the right time? With what? I’m pretty confident that I don’t have the full answers to any of these questions, but yesterday I did stumble upon a rewards system that allowed me to contribute a small hypothesis to the ongoing debate. It just so happens that Todd’s discussion-starter occurred on the same day that GetGlue shot me an email reminding me to come check up on my recommendation stream. When I got there I saw the following internal promotion:

Get Glue Reward

I think that the promotion above is making a key mistake. The reward is unlocked and presented to me a priori, which eliminates the mystery, surprise, voyeur, and self-affirmation associated with winning digital rewards. I hypothesize that for long-term engagement with a service, game or application, non-monetary rewards will be more effective when presented at the time a desired mission is complete, not prior. The mission can be alluded to throughout the process of achieving it, but it isn’t the raison d’etre for the user. For example, just recently I was given the “Photogenic” badge on Foursquare because it just so happens I have visited three venues that have photobooths. This not only came as a pleasant surprise, but it told me something I didn’t necessarily know about myself (I wasn’t even aware that Gallery Bar has a photobooth!). If Foursquare had told me in advance to “Earn the ‘Photogenic’ badge by checking in at just 2 more locations with photobooths” I might have been far less pleased to receive it.

This is only the beginning of the analysis I plan on doing on game mechanics and rewards systems. I don’t pretend to know even close to what there is to know about this topic. All I know is that it is becoming an increasingly important dynamic on the web and way in which companies and brands attempt to engage users in social media. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or empirical data related to these topics hit me up @mileslennon.