I'm still pretty ticked off about this. Almost 4 years ago now Google killed Google Reader, an RSS aggregation tool you could sort of view as a kind of GMAIL for RSS feeds.
Google said it was due to a steadily declining user base (which I equate, as often is the actual case, with an increasingly sophisticated one) which never made sense to its most astute users who were left scrambling to find a replacement service.
There really wasn't one. Many of the alternatives achieved a kind of functional equivalent only in the strictest sense. They all happily aggregated RSS feeds, yet failed to meet the aesthetic or organizational efficiency of Google Reader.
Feedly was widely ordained the defacto alternative presumably because it looked similar enough to Google Reader's design, to a point.
But at the time, and, understand it may be different today, I found that it was a bit too gaudy and high on the principle that your news feed should, at any cost, look like a series of magazines. It was like the service was ashamed of RSS's down and dirty approach and they tried to clean it up as a first step in the user experience.
What still grinds my gears about Google Reader's shutdown is that it appears to have been nothing more than Google's way of using its size and influence to engineer web behavior away from open APIs (read: profitless dumb pipes).
Broadly speaking Google couldn't stop people from reading news and web updates all in one place if that's what people wanted - the inferior services and RSS client side alternatives would still exist. But it didn't have to participate by providing the best watering hole.
By merely disrupting the RSS-reading population's primary fix with their little product shutdown, a good percentage of people would step away from RSS, never to return. Thus the open web would decay by yet another notch.
As a sidenote, I believe the actual best alternative to Google Reader today happens to be, of all places, AOL Reader. Counter to its parent company's roots among the newbies way back when, AOL Reader feels about as close to a serious tool as Google Reader did.
I posted an open lament to Reddit that maybe we should concede the death of the WWW to social networks and phone apps. There's only so much digital energy in people day to day and they aren't expending it through a web browser on a computer unless they have to.
What I suggested was the continued maintenance of a "laptop" web by enthusiasts who "got" the point of the web and could continue to develop for it, living with the constraint that their output was no longer part of a (relative) mass media. My WWW site would be designed and posted for other WWW enthusiasts, and that would be fine.
I've realized since that unpopular post (largely downvoted and mocked by the web design audience whose gravy is HTML) that what I really meant should not be spun as a "laptop" web or a "WWW" web, but rather, a web surfers web.
After all, I'm not talking about just the tools of web browsing (e.g., a web browser, HTML) but the habits and techniques engaged in by people who web browse.
Phone apps and closed garden social media sites eliminate the hopping (read: surfing) behavior so characteristic of people using the original web. Then, web authors unabashedly linked to other authors and people followed these links for the sheer enjoyment of it.
To most people the web, now, is a feed and the behavior is more akin to web "darting". People dart out to individual web pages containing stories or still other feeds, based on social prompts by linked social media contacts. After they have finished consuming their content, they dart straight back to their feed.
I could still be very well talking about the preservation of a laptop or PC WWW by synonymous effect, but from now on I'm going to call it more precisely the preservation of the web surfing culture. And I for one am going to concentrate on providing for that culture.
Looks like the rest of the civilized world will have to take up the slack while America stumbles through its two-year flirtation with the Dark Ages. I say two years because that's the soonest Trump can be voted out of power during the mid-terms.
That's my first personal computer which was a Christmas gift from mom in 1984 or so. I believe it was sold at the time for about 100 bucks at Boscovs in Wilkes-Barre, PA. At the time that was the probably among if not the cheapest computer on the market. But man, did I make the most of it. Those keys are worn flat by my trek through learning BASIC, or at least Timex Sinclair's version of it (not sure anyone anywhere ever learned whatever the "pure" form of BASIC might have been). It led to bread and butter for the rest of my life.
There were a lot of these on the market so it's not a valuable artifact of early computing; they can be found on Ebay for about 50 bucks. I am not sure of the whereabouts of the one above anymore.
The "Timex Sinclair 1000" was actually the British "Sinclair ZX81" and was fascinating more for its cheap price and able capabilities if you didn't want to do too much and were also able to put up with the flimsy engineering just 100 bucks got you. It was in every sense of the word just a way for someone who wanted a computer for computing's sake with respect to learning and experimentation.
I am not a Trump voter or any clear supporter of him. But I am also not invested heavily in "Trump Won Anger" and really hold no objection in what is basically a third party independent candidate moving ahead and doing his job until he screws it up, which all indicators are that he will.
No, it isn't tidy to be in a mess before one begins to hate full-on throttle, but we have a system and it has spoken. I can't be angry at he or a system that put him into place when it's the same one I counted on to not if he had lost.
So, for the time being he is a colorful distraction in politics that maybe will shut right-wingers up for a while and drain talk radio of angry listeners (though note, the strategy of talk radio in response is to turn "liberalism" into a sustained threat, justifying their voice despite "owning everything" in Washington now).
This kind of rapport is great!
Where he is most colorful of course is in his tweeting, which I support. I support it because Twitter came to be a monumental communication instrument in this new digital age that fixes the problem of authentic and initimate contact in real-time between leaders and the people.
You can argue it is not "presidential" for a president to be that close to the people but that borders on arguing that people should not have individual personalities and perspectives. Or if they do, some should share them while others should not. That to me is the very antithesis of the free Internet. Boring, rotten, happy, pithy - whatever, a voice counts, as does its right to take advantage of new technology to disseminate itself. If certain people are uncomfortable, and in Trump's case I'm assuming "certain people" are the established media who he is able to bypass with all kinds of social media today, they don't have to tune in.
This philosophy can be controversial. Do I believe terrorists should have unfettered access to our youth and vulnerable for recruitment purposes? No, but, I would question just where the actual problem lies in a chain that starts with a terrorist with a Twitter account in Yemen, and ends with Johnny blowing himself up for Allah in Idaho. Because we can't create a system with good education and mental health systems means we have to make communication the enemy?
Trump has a right to tweet and should continue doing so. His tweets are unnerving and perhaps a window to his soul, but his actual merit as president will be judged in his policies and outcomes. Leave the concept of tweeting and by extension free authentic communication to the republic alone.
This is pretty creepy. A guy in New York City somehow got into the habit of approaching Asian women and asking for a date (or something) and when they declined, he walloped them with a hammer in a bag. This report says that he called it a "game".
That's weird enough but then, after the police get a fix on him and publicize as such, the guy kills himself in an elaborate scheme whereby he crawls under the elevator of an apartment building, ties a noose to its bottom, puts his neck in, then waits for a blithe passenger to step in and press the "up" button.
Well, the plan apparently worked - he died (and some unwitting passenger got to where they were going in the process). The rest of his blog and website paints him as a pretty smart and creative individual outside his obvious mental illness and criminal tendencies, so that is perhaps not so surprising.
But he upped the overall ludicrousness of this when he programmed his blog to continually post for the next 10 years. Which, believe it or not, it is actually doing. I guess he paid for hosting or what not well ahead of time.
Here's the complete video from ABC Good Morning America featuring some of my ex-coworkers at Rakuten and the Rakuten offices (I recognize the lobby, not the actual "ex-coworkers"). They shot a piece about relieving stress over the holidays. I guess it didn't occur to them to shoot from over near the "Drinkshare" wall.
It's not that I disagree with liberal objectives, and certainly not worldviews. However, I find that I cannot join in on imprecise criticism.
Imprecise criticism is dangerous to anyone's cause because it reduces traction and gives fodder to the opposition who senses and interprets it to mean the argument as a whole is wrong. A good example is discussing immigration issues. Countless political commentary pieces, politician speeches, and even the news headlines themselves, use the one-word term "immigrants" when they really mean "illegal immigrants".
Trump is another example. It's probable, even if he "fixes" the economy, that he will be destructive in other, larger ways, if only due to his lack of government and political experience. He himself is one issue but the people he has stocked around him are like a sitting coalition of every nutty right wing commentator picked from the comments section of a news site. This probably isn't going to end well even as we happily sit mesmerized by money moving again.
Yet we can only reasonably criticize outcomes, all other factors being what they are. There is today's unemployment rate, number of people insured, today's crime rate, today's commitment of troops to policy wars, and so on, all of which currently read well. When these dials tank, if they tank, then will be time for real criticism. Conservatives tend to "re-factor" the argument rather than abide by the simple reality that Trump must maintain Obama's high standard of progress to be considered successful, following him.
There are things along the way that despite those metrics will also be credible points of criticism. Getting behind or failing to stop policies that facilitate the conversion of the open web to cable-TV-like, for example. Staging us for unnecessary wars, or sinking the standard of reason and principle so low that every adversarial nation will smile with friendship as they sink their knives in. Witness the Trump/Russia "alliance against America" as one example. But all of these are only hints, not yet materializations, of a declined US by Trump's hands. Criticizing by emotion is never as handy as criticizing by data. Give the policies and the man a chance to actually fail before muddying up the water with hyperbole, and be precise with any and all arguments that apply now and (most certainly) then.
Here is Len Berman and Todd Schnitt talking about my Cheese Danish Rat during their morning show onWOR 710. Playing the audio clip below takes you straight to the discussion.
Len Berman and Todd Schnitt discuss Cheese Danish Rat on WOR 710 in NYC.
A couple of years ago - 2012 or so perhaps - I descended down the stairs of the Union Square subway station in New York. As I reached the platform below I spotted something interesting on the subway's trackbed to my right which turned out to be a rat trying to drag the remnants of a cheese danish back to wherever it presumably lived. It was an awesome content find!
I captured and uploaded the video footage to YouTube where no one wound up particularly impressed. I think maybe the first posting (it was taken down and re-posted during a change of YouTube accounts) barely reached a few dozen views. I thought it was cool but alas the world, not so much. In time I just forgot about it.
Later, when a similar video, Pizza Rat, went viral it got millions of hits. The comedian who shot it even got time on Inside Edition. Cheese Danish rat?, still nuthin'. Maybe the difference in frenzy was, at root, a cheese danish against a slice of pizza. Where, duh, of course pizza is going to win in any contest of food-toting rats.
Anyway, lucky for me I was perusing the Twitter feed of radio talk show host Todd Schnitt when I noticed Schnitt once tweeted about blackberries on a subway platform. Recalling Cheese Danish Rat, I replied to his tweet with the link and, well, don't you know Mr. Schnitt was as fascinated as I. And finally someone of note gave Cheese Danish Rat its just15 minutes of fame. New York City air play no less.
Cheese Danish rat still didn't collect a million hits from this exposure, but it went from something 97 hits to over 500, which, given that the heyday of capturing hungry rodents on video is long over, is pretty nice in my book.
Struggling to search Facebook Live this morning left me wondering if the pattern of a social media company providing a live streaming platform while simultaneously not providing a way to search for videos in progress is reflective of difficult technical logistics or a deliberate attempt to avoid providing a profitless dumb pipe.
Facebook will give you this somewhat inefficient map to "find" videos in progress, if you like.
Dumb pipe services like e-mail are why companies like Google with GMAIL deliberately invent a need to "make e-mail easier to use" over and over again, to the point of almost making it unusable. If all GMAIL did was send and receive messages there would be no gateways to monetization. I recall it is specifically this article that woke me up the concept.
So likewise, by making sure people can't actually search for live videos efficiently and straightforwardly, Facebook, to use an example, can build a better monetization apparatus (more clicking around to accomplish something equals more $$$).
If so it would be just another example of having evolved to a great power as a humanity, only to have it trashed or set back that much more by pure profit engineering.