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Showing posts from August, 2010

Proposal: The Restaurant Incubator

The problem: Starting a new restaurant is a huge undertaking, requiring the would-be restaurateur to raise a large amount of capital, find a good location, buy furniture, hire staff, get the word out, etc. All of this overhead severely limits risk-taking in the kitchen since it distracts from the mission of creating great food.

My proposal: Apply concepts from technology startup incubators (such as Y Combinator) to the restaurant industry. Give up-and-coming young chefs the opportunity to focus on cooking and creativity, and leverage shared infrastructure to reduce overheads.
I'm a big fan of Top Chef. (See my earlier proposal for a reality TV show for junior computer science faculty -- Top Prof. Bravo should be calling any minute now...) So naturally I see parallels between what the aspiring young chefs on that show are doing and what tech entrepreneurs face when starting a company. The tech industry has found ways to make it much easier for a new idea to get out into the real worl…

Book Review - The Victorian Internet

I just finished reading The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Online Pioneers by Tom Standage. (I read most of it on my iPhone using the Kindle app.) The book was first published in 1998, and it's a great read about the development and impact of the telegraph. Of course, there are a lot of uncanny similarities between the development of the telegraph and that of the Internet. It's really interesting to imagine what living in a world before the telegraph must have been like: information could only travel as fast as a messenger on a horse, train, or steamship. 
The book is not targeted at a technical audience and I was disappointed that there was not enough said about how messages got relayed through the telegraph network -- what was the routing protocol? There is some discussion of different signaling methods and Morse code, of course, as well as the many variations on Morse's telegraph design (including some really fa…