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

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. 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

Squirrelling away your content

Your content is yours: this is a central tenet of IndieWeb. It’s a philosophy that promotes ownership of your online content and it’s been labelled POSSE, an acronym for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.” Some in the IndieWeb community take this to the extreme and save literally everything they do on the Web, from tweets to check-ins and much more. AltPlatform contributor Chris Aldrich is in this camp – he’s even come up with an elaborate workaround to post onto Facebook, via his own website, but without getting the familiar “mom-autolike” (when your mother likes everything you post, because…well, she’s your mom). read more

Blogging bird

So far in my ongoing project to IndieWebify my web presence, I’ve upgraded my WordPress site with IndieWeb plugins, installed a blogroll, and subscribed to a bunch of indie bloggers in a modern feed reader (I’m trialling Inoreader, but I’m also still using Feedly – both are great choices). Now I’m curious to see how social media fits into this Open Web picture. After all, my manifesto for AltPlatform was partly based on finding a way to route around the big Walled Garden social networks: Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. 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