The IndieWeb and the Time Well Spent movements both have valid concerns around today’s social media landscape. The social media, today, is:

– 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. read more

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. read more

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: read more

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. read more

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.

As an investor, one such company that I always keep tabs on is ZenDesk, but with increasing despair.

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. read more

Facebook may not be the favorite company of the open web community, for some good reasons. But when it comes to open source, most developers take advantage of their tools, libraries, and frameworks in one way or another. In particular, Javascript (Node.js) and PHP have advanced by leaps and bounds largely thanks to Facebook’s contributions. Although, one such technology that’s often overlooked is GraphQL, which, for many, has real potential to replace the infrastructure of the connected web, the REST APIs. read more

Back in 2007, in our good old ReadWriteWeb days, I wrote an article on Amazon’s then-nascent cloud initiative entitled Why Amazon’s HaaS (Hardware as a Service) Strategy is a Winner. I was comparing Amazon’s then potential success to Google’s advertising business. In a nutshell, the point was that if Google had gained so much value by monetizing the revenue side of the internet, then Amazon had an equally significant chance at success by monetizing the costs side (represented by the graphic below). read more

Many of us are conformists, and we don’t take action unless a) that action solves one of our big pain points, or b) it triggers dopamine. Turning your site IndieWeb, or forgoing the nice UI of a well-funded bigtech social media site for clunky open source alternatives, provides presumably neither of these two. Yet, I believe you should still care about the open web for three core reasons.

1. Open Web = Opportunities

Open web is equal to open data. And data fosters innovation and creates new opportunities.

Word2Vec, which is an algorithm that computes the semantic relationship between textual entities without any human intervention or seed information, was a breakthrough for the artificial intelligence community. It strengthened empiricists’ hands such as David Hume in the centuries-old epistemological discussions around whether we are born with innate knowledge of the world (as suggested by Plato and Descartes) by mathematically proving that knowledge can be acquired solely by experience. read more

There’s been a lot of talk about ICOs (initial coin offerings, named after IPO) in recent weeks, fueled by a number of companies you’ve never heard of raising ridiculous amounts of money. Status, reported to have raised $64MM; Bancor, another $153MM -a record in ICO history-; and a company, at least I’ve heard once or twice before, Kik‘s announcement of an upcoming ICO at the Techcrunch event — all in one week.

According to the ICO aggregator Smith-Crown, more than $290MM has been spent in such token sale transactions over the past two years. Which cumulatively raise suggestions as to ICO may be the new VC. read more

New York Times published an opinion article yesterday that suggests ethereum may take over bitcoin as the gold standard of cryptocurrencies. I disagree. And the proof is in the technical details.

Ethereum is a currency that’s vulnerable to hacks. Any cryptocurrency is, but with ethereum, it is more so. In fact, ethereum was hacked once in its less than three years long history. $80MM worth of ethers were stolen, and the Ethereum Foundation decided to change the source code so that the thieves would not be able to use the money. The idea was, this way, the heist would be contained. But, to some, this was no different than governments seizing individuals’ properties, hence against the decentralized spirit of blockchains. As a result, the ethereum-classic hard-fork was born. read more