Kara Swisher

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As AllThingsD Draws to a Close, Here Are Some Staff Highlights — Part One: Kafka, Hesseldahl, Gannes

goodbye

On Dec. 31, at the stroke of midnight, All Things Digital will be no more.

Of course, the archives of what we have written since April of 2007 — close to 38,000 posts — will remain in the digital ether for your perusal (thanks, Edward!). And, as has been reported elsewhere, the whole staff of AllThingsD is reportedly moving on to a new online tech and media news effort with new investors and a new name (ironic, we know, but no comment from us!).

While we are not exactly sentimental types, I asked the crew to come up with a few of the stories they liked best from their tenure. I am posting them here, three AllThingsD writers today, three tomorrow, three on Saturday and two Sunday. (Note: I have not included Katherine Boehret and Walt Mossberg, as they did roundup pieces already for this site and The Wall Street Journal.)

And, on Monday and Tuesday, I will round up the really remarkable highlight videos of 11 years of D conference speakers.

Without tooting the horn too much, using tools of accuracy, fairness, quality and more than a little humor, you will see via this small sampling of stories a staff that has truly distinguished itself over the nearly seven years in bringing its audience the very best in news and analysis. I have posted only a handful for each, but it should give you a glimpse into the wide range of topics the AllThingsD reporters have covered over the years.

Here are some great examples of that, and once the retrospective wraps up — as I also wrote in my very first post on this site on April 18, 2007 — “Enough looking back: On to the next thing.”

PETER KAFKA

1. Time Inc.’s iPad Problem Is Trouble for Every Magazine Publisher

Key line: “Time Inc. likes to show off its iPad apps as a symbol of the company’s future. But inside the publisher, the digital editions have become a source of hair-pulling frustration.”

2. Meet the Prankster Brothers Behind “Jenny,” the Whiteboard-Using, Farmville-Exposing, HPOA Girl

Key line: “Almost certainly made up.”

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3. You’re Launching a Digital Music Startup in 2012? Really?

Key line: “Question to the people putting money into streaming music startups in 2012: What are you thinking?”

4. Why the Future of TV Won’t be Here Soon

Key lines: “This is the year for many big pronouncements about The Future Of TV, and we’re hearing the first round this week at the Consumer Electronics Show. Here’s how I’m sorting through the deluge: I’m ignoring almost all of it. Instead, I’m focusing on the ones that promise to bring me the TV I want to see, when I want to see it, without charging me a fortune. And without making me pay for stuff I don’t care about. Try it yourself. See? Things get quiet in a hurry.”

5. YouTube’s Show-Me-the-Money Problem

Key line: “The bigger question is whether YouTube will be able to generate enough ad money for content makers to support the “premium” programming it has been trying to attract so it can compete with traditional TV.”

ARIK HESSELDAHL

1. That Human Vs. Machine Practice Round of “Jeopardy” Didn’t End the Way You Heard It Did:

Key line: “If you consider the philosophical implications of the struggle between humanity and machines to be superior at certain tasks, then tonight is a big night.”

2. Will Bloomberg Disclose How Heavily Reporters Mined Customer Data? (It Watches Them, Too.)

Key line: “The newly fashionable idea that you can learn a great deal and thus improve a software application by analyzing the big mass of data gathered about how it is used and where users run into problems has been been at the core of Bloomberg’s operational philosophy from the beginning.”

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3. How a Webcam Pointed at a Police Radio Won the Internet Friday

Key line: “It was at this point that a quarter of a million people, including me, tuned in to the streaming video image of a Uniden Bearcat scanner radio picking up publicly available police communications traffic in Boston.”

4. OuchPad: Best Buy Sitting on a Pile of Unsold HP Tablets

Key line: “Best Buy, sources tell us, is so unhappy that it has told HP it is unwilling to pay for all the TouchPads taking up expensive space in its stores and warehouses, and wants HP to take them back. HP, for its part, is pleading with Best Buy to be patient.”

5. Who’s Next to Run Intel? A Look at the Internal and External Contenders.

Key line: “If indeed there is an internal horse race, it is between [Dadi] Perlmutter and [Brian] Krzanich. But here’s an important precedent: Every single Intel CEO since Andy Grove has been COO first.” [Note: COO Krzanich was picked as CEO.]

LIZ GANNES

1. Tech’s Rising Stars Push Into the Online-to-Offline Era

Key lines: “Although startups like Pinterest, Uber and Airbnb may not seem to have much in common except their lofty valuations, they share a similar purpose that could help describe the current era of consumer technology: Bringing the online world to the offline world. This is not a new concept, of course. But it’s a meaningful moment for the physical world to be activated by social, financial, personalized and sensory data. And likewise, it’s a relief for technology companies to chill out about counting every minute people spend on their websites — and instead figure out ways to fit usefully into the living world.”

2. I’m So Over Oversharing: On Making Our Digital Lives More Real

Key lines: “Caring about other people’s reactions is a natural part of sharing things. But social media so often turns people into strange, oversharing self-promoters.”

3. The Facebook Phone: The “Slayer” That Wasn’t

Key line: “About a year and a half ago, a Facebook mobile special ops team was formed, with its own building separate from the rest of the company. The workspace was accessible by keycard only to people intimately involved in the effort. This Facebook team was indeed trying to build a phone — really build a phone — much as Apple did, with integrated hardware and software. But when the project became too big and too political and different from where it started, many of the people involved left the company or went on extended leaves of absence, and the effort was shelved. The first Facebook phone project was called the “Social Layer,” which was then shortened to “Slayer,” a sly mashup of the phrase.”

4. Google CIO Ben Fried on How Google Works

Key lines: “Google CIO Ben Fried, who sets policies for internal technology usage at the company, said he is driven by the potential of consumer technologies and collaboration to transform the enterprise. But he can’t just let employees mess around with consumer-grade technology.”

5. Inside Dropbox’s Reverse-Engineered Company Culture

Key lines: “Five years ago, Dropbox famously reverse engineered Apple’s Finder system to introduce its own icon onto the top dock, with its folders fully integrated and a little green checkmark when files are synced. The hack was so nifty that it attracted acquisition interest from Steve Jobs. That original approach — thinking a system through and intuiting what it can do — turns out to be central to Dropbox, continuing through to the company’s recent product launches, like automatic camera uploads and integrations with various phone manufacturers.”


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