Been a while since I last read anything by Clay Shirky. His latest article however, is pretty thought provoking (as usual I'd say): Gin, Television, and Social Surplus.
A must read.
Oliver's latest post touched on something I've been thinking about for a while: Social networks competing on features and a portable social graph.
The way I've been thinking about it is a bit more conceptual though. My point is this: social networks will be like cafes.
Think about it. In real life you might discover a new cafe,r bar or other hang-out place. It has free wireless, plays the fashion-channel on a huge flat-screen and on fridays it two-for-the-price-of-one between 7 and 9. You like it and bring your friends. You have a good time. After a while, lots of other people show up. Perhaps the "hip" crowd, more likely a bunch of "kiddies". It annoys you and so you move on to the next place. This one has designer furniture and a good selections of malt scotch. After a while, a whole bunch of 40-somethings starting their second youth show up, so you and your friends move on again...Somewhere in the middle you meet your brother for lunch in an old hang-out of your that somehow is still around. You've forgotten about it and the fancy LEDs in the toilet-seats down there. Cute. Food's not bad either. You should drop in occasionally.
Social networks are likely to end up just like that. You find a new one with some cool features, you use it for a while, get annoyed by the invasion of other people not like you and move on. You might use some others just for a few hours to meet some business contacts online or to chat with your 16 year old nephew, who frequents places you've never heard of.
Your social graph and your data will all be portable in one way or another. Switch networks won't even be anything you think about. You just get up from your seat, pay up, go out the door and see what's in that little alley off to the right...
Firstly my apologies for not posting more. Hopefully a more regular schedule will resume shortly.
Just came across this. Kind of funny, but not at all untrue. I've seen posting around the web lately saying that with AJAX and all the toolkits that are available, the web as a platform is now a pleasure to develop for. Well, or stuff to that effect.
This is nonsense.
Website development (i.e. non-web-app stuff), as the tongue-in-cheek graph in the link shows, is still a nightmare. It also isn't much better now than, say, 3 years ago. It might be the best we have, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck.
CSS' way of looking at the world isn't that of a designer. It's that simple. You can learn to think the way CSS does, and there are many sources out there to help you, but getting for a design to a site just isn't straight-forward at all (to ward off any possible flaming from people: I've been doing CSS design for donkeys years, both commercial and as a hobby).
I'm not saying that it is impossible to do anything with CSS, just that it is way harder than a layout specification language needs to be.
No sliders, no drag and drop, no grid-views, etc. You can simulate all these with the right UI toolkits and all that, but still...if you evaluate the whole stack of technologies objectively it is clear that this stuff really should just "be there" and "just work".
WhatWG, W3C HTML 5 and all that are slow, yes I know. Changing something as large as the web takes time too. Sure.
However, Silverlight and Flex/AIR do provide these things. And a hell of a lot more besides. Flex is almost trivially easy to use, compared to the whole regular web-stack. It is available on all platforms (as is Silverlight) and it does what it needs to do without any fuss.
Will they work for the web at large? Probably not. But you haven't looked at these technologies in depth, you really should now. Check your preconceptions at the door though, and you'll find out just how much better the web could be if we had technologies for it that we actually designed to do the things people nowadays actually want from it...
This article, over at LongTail is a pretty good description of not just the state of a lot of CIOs, but of a large chunk of the enterprise software market. Both from the customer as well as the supplier side of things.
It is staggering to see how much money is being wasted trying not to change or to move forward without reconsidering old practises...
(One of my older articles talks about a similar phenomenon)
OK, no idea how I managed to overlook this one: Hamachi is a VPN application that can set up direct connections between computers, even if they are behind firewalls and NATs etc. The difference with other set ups is that it only uses a third party server to bootstrap the connection, but the connection itself is direct and doesn't flow through this third party in any way!
I remembered reading about ways to do this a long time ago. I think it was some Microsoft knowledgebase article, but I cannot find it right now. Anyway, I've been hoping for something like this for while.
Oh! There is also a Mac OS X graphical client next to the official commandline one. Clients for Linux and Windows are also available.
Give this a go!
With all the VoIP stuff going supernova at the moment and Microsoft promising "click to call" functionality in Outlook and IE, isn't it time someone came up with a phone:// pseudo-protocol? That way one can embed links to phone numbers in web-pages, RSS feeds and what-not. feed://blabla/bla.xml seems to work just fine for RSS, so I'm sure phone://2309858349 will work just as well...
Over at Many2Many (which is an excellent group weblog btw!) there is an intense discussion about tagging and categorization.
The arguments used are wide-ranging and the discussion often strays into the realm of "the future of the web". Here's the latest post at the time of writing. You need to read the rest of it to be able to follow it.
Here's my 2 cents however.