Graph Search, the Future of Radio, and California's Retroactive Startup Tax

Welcome to 2013. It's been a busy six weeks since my last update, although I was down with the flu for part of it. If you got the same virus, my sympathies!

The highlights:

-- This week I published a long explanatory piece about the messy, mind-blowing history of California's new retroactive tax on small business investors. A previous commentary on the tax change, from guest writer Brian Overstreet, has turned into one of our most-viewed stories ever. 

-- Facebook's new Graph Search feature, which lets you search for people, places, photos, and other stuff that you or your friends have "liked," is a very big deal. In my January 18 column I tried to explain why.

-- Speaking of graphs: my geekiest piece of the year so far was a look at Neo Technology, makers of the Neo4j graph database. If you haven't heard of graph databases, you will soon. My piece explained why they're important and why Neo's founder, a brash Swede named Emil Eifrem, thinks his company could be the next Oracle.

-- I am a huge fan of Facebook's quieter cousin, Path, which was co-founded by ex-Facebooker Dave Morin. Right before the holidays I published a piece explaining why I think Path is an example of mobile social networking done right. As a companion piece, I published the full transcript of my interview with Morin -- it's fascinating reading for anyone interested in mobile development, design, or social networks.

-- Also in the mobile-social department, I wrote about Flock, the new photo-sharing app from the makers of Bump.

-- I published a couple of slide shows that ended up attracting gazillions of page views. One was a tour of Yammer's gorgeous new offices in the Central Market district of San Francisco. The other was a look back at a FoodStartups event that I moderated on January 10, the question being: who's investing in food startups these days, and how can you get your food-related startup off the ground?

-- As a longtime fan of public radio, I'm fascinated by the way radio is evolving in the Internet era. I did two big pieces dissecting the trend. The first was a profile of Stitcher, which offers what's probably the best app for accessing on-demand radio shows (aka podcasts). The other was a Q&A with the CEO of TuneIn, which operates the world's largest directory of streaming live radio shows.

-- I spent some time with Josh Felser and Dave Samuel, the founders of a cool seed-stage investing outfit called Freestyle Capital. As former startup founders themselves, they had some interesting advice about which sorts of entrepreneurs are cut out to become investors, and which aren't.

-- It's an annual holiday tradition now: the Xconomy guide to the best apps for that new tablet under the tree. I followed it up with a list of 10 apps that will make you feel smarter and more cultured in 2013

-- Boston-area medical-records automation company Athenahealth recently announced that it plans to buy San Mateo-based mobile medical reference leader Epocrates for $293 million. Coincidentally, just two weeks before the announcement I'd interviewed Epocrates CEO Andrew Hurd about the company's product plans (and specifically, why it abandoned its own big project to build an electronic health records system). That gave me material for a deep look at the logic behind the Epocrates-Athenahealth deal.

-- Green Throttle Games thinks your smartphone will be your next game console. I profiled their project to build Bluetooth game controllers and software that turns solo mobile games into multi-player extravaganzas. And I got to try one of their first games.

-- Lastly, I looked at the question of whether mobile devices and the Internet let introverted people like myself be even more introverted, or whether, on the contrary, they help keep us tethered to our friends. In the process I shared reviews, of a sort, of Susan Cain's recent book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" and Sherry Turkle's "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other." (They're both great reads!)