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Webrings 2k16
Okay, idea: have a javascript widget you can insert on article pages on your blog. This widget collects basic tracking data, offers the ability to follow the author, and depending on how the author configures it can do a few other things: display related articles the user might want to read, let users fav articles, and let users comment on articles (using Twitter OAuth, maybe with Medium's highlighting UI.)

Basically it's Medium for the decentralized web, or an up-to-date version of webrings. To replicate Medium's success there would have to be editorial judgment applied to who can join the network, but it would be interesting to have an "unlimited class" version of the widget where the only control exercised is what's necessary to avoid malicious activity (easier said than done, I know.)

If you have all this stuff you can create a site to serve as a front door, or several front doors for different topics. You can also create composite RSS streams, a social layer (mention other users in comments, or even in the main body of an article - the crawler could look for twitter handles or links to in-network sites in article text.) Oh, and you're well-placed to create a boutique ad network, assuming you sign up the right people.

The tracking data would be anonymized, of course, despite the impact on ad revenue. I want to make the tracking data fully public, as well, to emphasize how non-creepy it is.

Like Medium, it could turn into a drug if the traffic angle works out, but that would be a good problem to have. And you can drop out any time, the only thing you lose is the comment history (and the service could offer an export feature for that.)

Someone's gotta have tried this, right?

Reflections on federated services and the trend to centralization
Post from Signal developer and HN comments (worth it for comments from Sandstorm dev alone.)

Social networks we need and don't have
  • A social network for artists - share some stuff publicly, talk privately, have more control over your online self-presentation than you get from Facebook. Arguably demand here is why a terrible site like Ello got traction.
  • A social network where you share stuff with friends. No, not Facebook, I don't want to share with everyone I've ever met. I'm talking about sharing with a smaller set of people in a more private space. What if Path was a good idea but was five years too early?
  • Local social networks. Facebook groups are doing a non-terrible job here sometimes, but Facebook might be the wrong baseline - makes more sense for this to be public by default. Maybe a Twitterish local social net?

The counterargument being "how many social networks do you want to be a part of?" but seems to me that any time people find a congenial space (cool people, or people with useful information to share) they're eager to jump in. "People" here probably skews toward more active/savvy types, and I don't know how large that segment is, but they're probably the users most likely to make you money if you care about that kind of thing.

Another good post about WeChat
When One App Rules Them All

WeChat has millions of "official accounts" - they're described as "apps within apps" here, but the author goes on to clarify that they're really web pages. Pages that WeChat gives APIs to handle payment, access to location, messaging - think of the amount of dev work it would take a typical mobile site or app to recreate that. Then think of how much more cumbersome and risky it feels to hand out credit card info or your email address to another site with janky UX and unknown data handling policies. As someone with a bias toward decentralization, it's terrifying how much more sense it makes to have a single provider mediate interactions this way.

What happens if Android tries to build in the same set of capabilities in at the OS layer? Or lets you swap in and out different identity/payment providers?

Doom. DOOOOOM.
"in China ... WeChat is the web"

Okay divide by two given this guy's motivation to pump Kik's valuation but still.

Less breathless very interesting look at Chinese mobile UI patterns.

Locking the web open
The graybeards are gazing into their palantirs, warning of doom to come. The architects are looking at how their plans for the agora are being subverted by the walls the wealthy and powerful are building. Protocols are being designed, spells are being cast, all to keep the web ungovernable. The efficacy of magic, however, requires collective belief. Do users want to live on a perpetual frontier, or will they prefer the safety of the walled gardens of mobile apps, Facebook, WeChat, and Line?

Brewster Kahle on creating a more secure, distributed web. Calling for a web that's distributed (storage, bandwidth, authentication), private and (this is new): versioned.

Maciej Ceglowski on making the Internet more human. The diagnosis is more precise than the prescription, but the diagnosis is valuable all by itself: clearly voicing our anxieties, showing how they arise from concrete developments pulling the net away from our values and aspirations.

It's not clear to me that the next wave of change is going to come from the last generation (which I count myself a part of.) But the web is going to stick around, and since the web is such a thick layer in the stack (it can be used to carry pure semantic data, or that plus presentation, or add application logic ... ) and is still the connector, we will probably never stop working to adapt it to changing capabilities, changing desires for what technologies have a home there and what we want to do there.

140
Quick, not-fully-baked thought: Twitter's successful because it's a better place to have conversations than Facebook or Google+. It's public by default, so new people can join conversations. It doesn't have the fiddly UIs that Facebook and Google+ have for comments on posts (sometimes it feels like Facebook/Google+ let you have conversations in comments only grudgingly) partially because there is no distinction between a comment and a post.

I'm not really sure what role the 140 character limit plays here, if any. (It means that it's always easy to scan your feed without worrying that you're missing something, but that's more about the reading experience.) Keeps it flowing, keeps it about the conversation?

Getting excited about the web again
I got your unified view of a conversation via federated personal sites right here

Rebel fortress at IndieWebCamp

Not sure I can handle adding a permalink back to my site for every Tweet though ...

linkdump

"Do you owe someone a beer?"
Foamee - a Facebook app has somehow broken out of its nursery and gotten onto the web. Which isn't to say I won't use it.

A: yes, actually - a random stranger. Long story.

Visualize your Flickr and last.fm networks and their use of tags. Looks exceptionally pretty and useless but maybe thought-provoking for other apps.

Pointment
Schedule meetings with people that don't have Outlook.

IMWatching
Really creepy. Figure out when your friends get on- and off-line, what their away messages are over time, etc. Remember finger?

Many-To-Many
Clay Shirky posts here, as does Danah.

Shirky: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
Maybe we are learning something about social software. Also: people are using the idea of a "design pattern" to obscure lazy thinking (shockah).

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