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The Wisdom of One: Guy Kawasaki On

I recently got to have a little Q&A with Guy Kawasaki, current managing director at Garage Technology Ventures, though he's spent a good deal of time working and speaking on behalf of Apple. He's still actively involved with several other organizations as well, including his latest project,

Alltop is described as an online magazine rack, where dozens of RSS feeds are collected and sorted by topic, rather than by site as they are at a place like PopURLs. Which sites are included is somewhat subjective, but Guy clearly subscribes to the idea of listening to specific users for feedback rather than going for a lowest common denominator approach. This leads the site to have a somewhat more personal feel, as underdogs, upstarts, or overlooked sites and blogs stand just as much a chance of getting included here as the big guys, like The Washington Post. This also allows for sections you'd have a hard time finding relevant content for elsewhere, like Adoption, Tea, Opera, Weddings, and Steve Jobs. They even have a section dedicated solely to World of Warcraft.

While PopURLs is great for quick reading, Alltop functions well for those with more specific, deeper interests in a particular area of study. Actually, deeper doesn't really describe it accurately. Any given Alltop topic can have as many sites within it as PopURLs covers as a whole, not to mention that the sites covered here frequently offer a unique perspective. New content and feeds are added all the time as recommended or requested by the audience.

Guy freely admits that PopURLs helped inspire Alltop, but what else did he have to say? Let's take a look at what he calls "Deep by the Dozen: Reality Distortion with Guy Kawasaki."

Were there ever times at Apple when your colleagues outside the company said, "Let it go, man"? What kept you going back to Apple when they kept teetering on the brink of disaster, and how did you manage to right the ship each time?

I can’t remember a time when colleagues told me this. If they had, I would have simply stopping socializing with them. I truly believed in Macintosh — and do to this day. I returned to Apple because I loved Macintosh, and Apple paid well. I don’t take credit for “righting the ship.” Steve Jobs did that. I was just a sailor with an oar in the water.

According to your bio, the last time you were actively involved with Apple was in the mid-1990s. The iMac and iPod came out several years later, and with explosive popularity. Did you lay some groundwork for the company to follow, or was that Apple finally figuring out how to strike gold on their own?

I had nothing to do with the iMac and iPod. Those happened after my time and without me. This is too bad as I would love to take credit for them. These successes have many fathers, but I wasn’t one of them.

One way to describe is "It's standing on its head." Rather than offering up tons of headlines first, you go the opposite route and categorize the content first. To some, this is mildly impenetrable, as readers sort of have to narrow their focus prior to reading anything, whereas a site like PopURLs can be skimmed alongside one's morning coffee to get all the latest at a glance. Do you think this reverse hierarchy of information will eventually bring in the skimming masses, or instead develop a smaller but more rabid fanbase of its own for different sections?

Without PopURLS, there would be no Alltop because it inspired us. However, Alltop is no more “mildly inpenetrable” than a magazine rack in a bookstore which has a car section, celebrities section, food section, and sports section. People seem to be able to handle them.

Should bloggers be generalists and write about all topics — that’s a catchy phrase — because people don’t want to narrow their focus? The reason blogs are successful is that they focus. I see that [Blogcritics' content] is divided into topics like music, politics, sports, etc., too.

Here’s another way of looking at it: It will be a long time before an article about adoption appears anywhere on Digg, Techmeme, or Popurls, but there’s great information for adoptive parents on Adoption.Alltop every day.

About Mark Buckingham

  • Gina Ruiz

    I thought the interview with Guy was incredibly well-thought out, insightful and well done. I really appreciate the time you took in doing it and have stumbled it. I’m going to link it on my books site AmoXcalli and on my homepage at

  • Mark Buckingham

    Thanks for the feedback (and the links)! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

  • tink

    Thanks for turning me onto!!

  • Mark Buckingham

    Glad to have you. :)