I’ve decided to re-design my personal website, richardmacmanus.com. My primary reason is to become a full-fledged member of the IndieWeb community. If I’m writing about Open Web technologies here on AltPlatform, then I ought to be eating my own dog food. Another reason is to discover – likely by trial and error – how to route around Walled Gardens like Facebook and Twitter, which host so much of our content these days. In other words, my goal is to make my personal website the hub for my Web presence. Finally, I want to re-discover blogging in 2017 – what it can do in this era, who’s doing interesting things and how, and what opportunities there might be for the Open Web to cross into the mainstream.
As we grow more comfortable with social networking, we are learning to create multiple networks of friends. We can find people to follow on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter – there is a seemingly endless supply of new places to connect. Some of these use actual open web infrastructure to spread data and control to the edges and form a true network, while others take a hybrid approach. Micro-blogging at Mastodon is an example of a true network where friends are made between Web sites. Micro.blog and WordPress publish their feeds to the open web but require a feed reader if you want to aggregate feeds from friends on multiple networks. Slack alternatives like Matrix, Rocket Chat and Mattermost support fully private, real networks.
You may have never heard of CUDA or OpenCL, and that’s no surprise. Only a very limited number of AI, VR researchers, and programmers use them. However, the AMD graphic cards of your Mac, your XBox games, Google searches, and Facebook newsfeed rely on these technologies, and you’re inadvertently reaping the benefits.
CUDA and OpenCL are gateways to your computers’ GPU. Once used for gaming mainly, GPUs are today the main components of AI servers, VR machines and blockchain miners. With Moore’s Law’s demise, they’re increasingly replacing CPU in the ranking of importance in computer architecture.
The state-of-the-art in feed readers was frozen in place sometime around 2010, if not before. By that time most of the format wars between RSS and Atom had long since died down and were all generally supported. The only new features to be added were simple functionalities like sharing out links from readers to social services like Facebook and Twitter. For fancier readers they also added the ability to share out to services like Evernote, OneNote, Pocket, Instapaper and other social silos or silo related services.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: Mastodon is not a Twitter killer. It’s more like Twitter crossed with Reddit, plus it’s open source. But while Mastodon is not going to take over the world, it does have promise as a community platform. Here’s why…
I first came across Mastodon in early April, via a Vice article. It was described as “a kinder, nicer, decentralized open source version of Twitter.” Curious to see what the fuss was about, I jumped over to Mastodon to check it out. I immediately came across its first quirk: Mastodon isn’t one single social network, like Twitter. Instead it’s made up of multiple “instances,” each one hosted on a different server. Indeed the most popular instance, Mastodon.social, wasn’t accepting new users when I arrived – due to its sudden ascension to Internet fame. So I had to sign up with another instance, in this case Mastodon.technology.
Cryptocurrency investing is in full swing. BitCoin, Ethereum, LiteCoin valuation spikes are seeing new records unstoppably. In light of Bitcoin’s latest surge, people started questioning whether it’s at its peak and whether it makes sense to dump it and switch to altcoins. I have developed a framework that might help you decide.
When it comes to cryptocurrency trading, there are four traits one should be looking at:
1) Liquidity: The ability for holders to cash out via exchanges and marketplaces.
2) Transactability: A factor of cryptocurrency’s default block mining time. The higher it takes time for a new block to appear, more difficult it is to use in everyday transactions, e.g. shopping for coffee, buying t-shirts, domain names, etc.
3) Anonymity: Whether public eyes can see what’s going on in the ledger, who is buying what, who is selling, etc. In contrast to popular opinion, most cryptocurrencies are not anonymous.
4) Programmability: The ability to develop trustless contracts on top of the public ledger. This is a state-of-the-art advanced concept introduced by Ethereum, which you can skip.
We now know that just a few “Likes” gives advertisers enough data to very accurately target advertising. Now, alternatives to traditional social networks are popping up to serve the needs of a more discriminating crowd of social networkers.
Back in 2009, Facebook bought FriendFeed, which had created the first “Likes.” Just liking a few things creates a very accurate picture about how we might vote or spend money. But a “Like” doesn’t have to be trapped within one Web site. I follow a lot of friends’ blogs with my iPhone’s Feed Reader and some of my #indieweb inventor friends publish their Likes as stories in their feeds. Many kinds of social objects can be transmitted through feeds such as calendar events, tagged people, location check-ins.
AI is hot, and it’s real. There’s no doubt. And when it comes to openness in AI, we are lucky. Thanks to Berkeley University, Google, and Facebook, we have great libraries one can use to form convolutional neural networks that will solve the world’s biggest problems; like “hot dog or not” 😃
Joke aside, this article is intended to give you a quick introduction to the hottest convolutional neural network frameworks available. For those of you who don’t know, convolutional neural networks are brain replicas in software form, literally. They were invented by Yann LeCun at NY University -now Director of AI Research at Facebook- by examining the biological structure of cat brains and replicating them in software.
People love sharing on the internet and the technology is always evolving. Enthusiasts recently flocked to Kickstarter to back a new blogging tool, Micro.blog, RSS and podcasting pioneer Dave Winer released a new open source app, 1999.io, and the old bones of micro-blogging phenom identi.ca are back in the form of Mastodon.social. Meanwhile, the W3C released ActivityPub and WebMention to tie social networking sites together.
My friend Rick Turoczy helped ignite the tech start-up scene in Portland, Oregon and he recently clued me in to a KickStarter for micro-blogging. He knew I’d been quoted in Wired about micro-blogging, published an open source micro-blog and passed a W3C-sponsored contest to create a decentralized photo-tagging feature. Micro.blog has an elegant iOS app, an active Slack forum, a discovery feature to find people to follow, and a paid employee in charge of moderation. It’s off to a promising start.
Welcome everyone to AltPlatform, a non-profit tech blog devoted to Open Web technologies.
What do we mean by “Open Web”? Firstly, we want to experiment with open source (like this WordPress.org blog) and open standards (like RSS). We’re also using the word open to signify a wider, boundary-less view of the Web. In other words, we want to look for opportunities beyond the Walled Gardens – proprietary platforms like Facebook and Twitter where you don’t own your own data, you have little control over your news feeds, and you have to live by certain rules.