We launched this blog less than three months ago to explore the latest in Open Web technologies. Things like the IndieWeb movement, blockchain apps, API platforms, Open AI, and more. AltPlatform has always been an experiment, as I made clear in our introductory post. However, from a publishing point of view the experiment hasn’t worked out as we had hoped. To put it plainly, the page views haven’t eventuated – at least in a sustained way. So it’s time to try something new. We’re going to pivot into something a bit different…soon.
– Wildly commercial; serving the advertisers’ interests at the expense of consumers’ valuable time and attention.
– Prone to surveillance pressure from governments, e.g. PRISM
– Vulnerable to censorship.
Since the early 2000s, we’ve come a long way with new forms of social media. It all started with blogging. Then we’ve seen several object-centered sociality tools such as Flickr, Youtube and Twitter pop up, while at the same time, a number of multi-dimensional social networks like Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn came to prominence and burst.
According to a report on The Information, the drama at Uber continues with Travis Kalanick trying to regain board control. The company has always been a subject of fiascos such as sex scandals and alleged IP theft. But in my opinion, none of them is as irrevocable as Uber’s short-sighted publicity move of disclosing their AI efforts.
Uber is a convenient, affordable solution; besides it’s fun! Yes, **fun**, because more often than not, its network of drivers can spice up a dull period of transportation with lively conversations. It must be condescending for the driver to know that the organization she is working for (or “partnering up with” in their lingo) is also in bed with technologists that will kill her job.
The Bitcoin split may have completely taken over the news lately, but the reality is, Ripple is still the third largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, still ahead of Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. The currency (shortened as XRP) has shown an astounding value appreciation over the past year by as much as 4000%. That is $40K for every $1000 that was invested.
XRP’s original promise (fast block mining) is exciting and make it a potential alternative to fiat-currencies for daily transactions, but I wouldn’t be so optimistic about its future. Here’s why:
The IndieWeb movement is all about having a place on the Web that you own and control. As Chris Aldrich put it in his excellent introduction to the IndieWeb, “wouldn’t it be better if you had a single website that represented you online?” From the point of view of content creation, there’s no question that posting on your own website is the best way to control your content. But what about consuming content? There are still unresolved issues with that, which I’ll explore in this post.
There’s a better way to own and control your online identity
Whether you’re starting a blog, building your personal brand, posting a resume, promoting a hobby, writing a personal journal, creating an online commonplace book, sharing photos or content with friends, family, or colleagues, writing reviews, sharing recipes, podcasting, or any one of the thousand other things people do online it all starts with having a presence and an identity online.
The seemingly difficult task these days is deciding where that should be. There’s Twitter for sharing short updates and bookmarks to articles; Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, and YouTube for photos and videos; Facebook for communicating with family and friends; LinkedIn for work and career related posts; Swarm for sharing your location; and literally thousands of others for nearly every micro-slice of content one could think of.
We’ve seen this before. Zynga, and the gamification trend; Groupon, and the daily-deal verticals, deal-ification of everything. Now, we see the same play in the cryptocurrency world.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe Bitcoin is real because it is essentially banking, disrupted. I call it more of a bank than currency because the daily trade has not shifted away a bit from fiat-currencies. To me, it’s more a response to increasing (for arguably good reasons nevertheless) violations of privacy in the banking system (e.g. FATCA and the likes). Thus the power of the collective operation behind BTC is similar to an international bank like HSBC.
Blockchain is one of the most intriguing technologies out there in 2017, in no small part due to its open nature. Open in the sense that there’s a lot of open source work happening (in particular, its two largest projects: Bitcoin and Ethereum). But also ‘open’ in the sense that blockchain is the epitome of a decentralized platform. For this reason, many see blockchain as a potentially huge disrupting force on the Internet. Think about what a decentralized eBay, or a decentralized Uber, would mean for the economy. Essentially, a blockchain version of eBay or Uber cuts out the middleman – meaning the buyer/passenger gets to liaise directly with the seller/driver.
If you want to see where a small or mid-cap tech company is headed to, take a look at their “Jobs” page. Most often than not, it offers a lot of clues on the kind of projects they’re working on, and the technologies that they prefer.
To me, ZenDesk is one of the few companies that the AI revolution should immediately affect, yet they don’t seem to be moving a needle on that front, at least from the surface. I don’t see a single post that mentions Caffe, TensorFlow, Torch or neural networks.