Tag: Medium

Coding is the new literacy

Monday, 26 June, 2017 0 Comments

So says Preethi Kasireddy, a software/systems engineer “with a passion for understanding things at a fundamental level and sharing it as clearly as possible.” She’s collaborating with freeCodeCamp on a YouTube series called “Ask Preethi” and people are invited to submit their coding questions, doubts, frustrations, and experiences. As she says in this Medium post: “Each week, I’ll answer a question I received. For my first video, I answered a question I get asked a lot: ‘How do you get a first developer job — specifically, a React developer job — if you don’t have experience?”

Note: React is an open-source JavaScript library for building user interfaces.


Chat is king

Wednesday, 26 April, 2017 0 Comments

Jam Koum? Yan Koum? Jan Koum? Russian journalist Darya Luganskaya, who writes cryptic English, snags a rare interview with the reticent co-founder of WhatsApp, who co-trousered $19 billion with Brian Acton when Facebook acquired the app in 2014.

Darya Luganskaya notes that the messenger generation is not that into making phone calls and asks, “Why people turn to text communication so fast?”

Jan Koum: “I can not speak from the others. I personally prefer not to call, because I am afraid to disturb people. Everybody has very rich life, and it seems to me I can distract them from something important. Somebody could have dinner with his family, prepare the homework with his children or attend an important meeting. And then all of a sudden his phone rings, but my call could be absolutely unimportant. I may just want to ask: how is it going?

Usually I try to plan the call. I ask in the messenger if I could call, for example, in half an hour. For me it is much easier to chat via messengers.”

The WhatsApp user base of more than one billion messaging people is cool with that.


Richard Bruton has lunch with 50onRed

Wednesday, 8 June, 2016 0 Comments

The Irish politician Richard Bruton is the country’s Minister for Education and Skills. Previously, he was the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and it was in this capacity that he broke bread on 29 October 2014 with 50onRed — “great tech company based in Philadelphia keen to learn about Ireland,” he tweeted enthusiastically during (or after) his working lunch. But 50onRed kept the secret sauce well hidden from all.

Richard Bruton has lunch with scammers

“Tyler wasn’t the only one surprised to find out what 50onRed really did. I spoke to more than a dozen former employees of 50onRed and its affiliated companies for this story and most of them said they didn’t know that 50onRed injected ads when they joined the company. (Nearly all of them requested anonymity, fearing legal retribution from 50onRed.) There was a new-employee learning curve, Tyler said. One person realized what was going on while working on the browser extensions themselves, while another said he started digging when the company’s jargon just didn’t add up to him.”

That’s a snippet from “The Perks Are Great. Just Don’t Ask Us What We Do” by Juliana Reyes in Backchannel, the Medium.com in-house technology publication. Around the time of Minister Bruton’s working lunch, “something snapped,” writes Reyes. “Executives started leaving after just a few months. Rich Sayer, 50onRed’s COO whom former employees said ran the company, left quietly in August 2014. Seven more high-ranking employees followed suit, several of whom joined the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.”

Food for thought.


#IoTDay today and the glass is filling

Saturday, 9 April, 2016 0 Comments

It’s the fifth annual Internet of Things Day today. In a much-quoted report about the IoT issued in November last year, the Gartner research firm predicted that “6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.”

These are astonishing numbers and they reinforce the notion that the internet is ubiquitous. Blake Snow considers the implications of this in The Atlantic in a piece titled What Would a World Without Internet Look Like? He quotes the academic Clay Shirky, who thinks that it’s futile now to separate the net from everyday life: “the Internet has become our civilization,” says Shirky.

This is a philosophy that would be endorsed by Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine. Two years ago, in a post on Medium, he looked at innovation from the viewpoints of 1984 and 2044, and concluded: “Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 2014? It was a wide-open frontier! You could pick almost any category X and add some AI to it, put it on the cloud.”

Glass There is, however, a different take on the IoT and it was expressed, also in 2014, by Bruce Sterling, the science fiction author, in “The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things.” This long-form composition was in the style of his 2005 book Shaping Things. For Sterling, the IoT is an ominous social transformation: omnipresent automation via digital surveillance enabled by wireless broadband. Snippet:

“So, let’s imagine that the reader has a smartphone in one hand, as most people in the Twenty-Teens most definitely tend to. In the other hand, the reader has some ‘Thing’. Let’s say it’s the handle of his old-fashioned domestic vacuum cleaner, which is a relic of yesterday’s standard consumer economy.

As he cheerfully vacuums his home carpet while also checking his Facebook prompts, because the chore of vacuuming is really boring, the reader naturally thinks: ‘Why are these two objects in my two hands living in such separate worlds? In my left hand I have my wonderfully advanced phone with Facebook — that’s the ‘internet’. But in my right hand I have this noisy, old-fashioned, ineffective, analogue ‘thing’! For my own convenience as a customer and consumer, why can’t the ‘internet’ and this ‘thing’ be combined?”

And then it turns pessimistic. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you a Happy #IoTDay! 🙂


comma.ai

Monday, 4 April, 2016 0 Comments

Given its name, one might think that a business titled “comma.ai” is working on a venture that combines punctuation and artificial intelligence. And the story gets more curious when one learns that it’s hiring “Competitors:”

Competitors: People who have done well at math competitions(USAMO, PUTNAM), competition programming(ACM, USACO, codejam, topcoder), science fairs(ISEF, STS), or capture the flag(DEFCON, secuinside, GITS). Those competitions don’t just select for ability, they also select for quickness. We are in a very competitive space.

comma The company slogan is “ghostriding for the masses”, which might be an obscure reference to punctuation, but it’s a nod to transport, in fact, because the brains behind this is George Hotz, a brilliant hacker, who has built his own self-driving car. He’s now forming a team of machine learning experts specializing in hardware, software and data, and Andreessen Horowitz announced today that it is leading a $3.1 million investment in Comma.ai.

Interestingly, it was on this day in 1994 that Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark founded Netscape. Eight years later, it was acquired by AOL in a deal valued at $4.2 billion. Back then, it was all about the web. Today, the key words are mobile, data and AI. On 21 February, the startups investor Chris Dixon wrote a post on Medium titled “What’s Next in Computing?” Snippet:

“I tend to think we are on the cusp of not one but multiple new eras. The ‘peace dividend of the smartphone war’created a Cambrian explosion of new devices, and developments in software, especially AI, will make those devices smart and useful.”

Comma. Punctuation, is? interesting!


We become what we behold

Sunday, 13 March, 2016 0 Comments

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” — Marshall McLuhan

While this quote is often attributed to McLuhan and is said to be found in Understanding Media, it does not appear in his book at all. In fact, it was partially coined — “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” — by Father John Culkin, SJ, a Professor of Communication at Fordham University in New York and a friend of the Canadian intellectual, who explored the idea in A schoolman’s guide to Marshall McLuhan, published in The Saturday Review on 18 March 1967.

Johnny's hands


Rumsfeld develops an app at 83, posts on Medium

Tuesday, 26 January, 2016 0 Comments

Harold Wilson, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is supposed to have said “A week is a long time in politics.” And it’s true. Just look at those Clinton-Sanders poll predictions from Iowa. The same could be said of the internet, except the window is narrower. A day online is the digital equivalent of the political week: “24 hours is a long time on the web.” Yesterday, we were quoting Dave Winer’s blog post titled Anywhere but Medium and who is posting on Medium now? Donald Rumsfeld. “At 83, I Decided to Develop an App” writes the nemesis of Saddam. The app is called Churchill Solitaire and it has a fascinating back story that involves Hitler, a young Belgian government aide named André de Staercke and, of course, Sir Winston. Snippet:

“Churchill Solitaire is a game that is a host of contradictions — simple yet complicated; frustrating yet fun. Now it lives on for a new generation — a fitting tribute to a great man. And starting this week, it is available to the world on the AppStore and will soon be coming to other platforms.

I can’t say if this is the last app I’ll ever be involved in — after all, I’m only 83! But it is safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg has nothing to worry about.”

Whatever one thinks of Donald Rumsfeld, one should be willing to accept the wisdom of the opening statement of his Medium post: “Among the things one learns as time passes is that everyone has to age, but not everyone has to get old. One of the best ways to stay young is to keep learning.”


Twitter and Medium warnings

Monday, 25 January, 2016 1 Comment

“Look at how slowly Twitter has improved their platform, and all the new features are for advertisers, not for writers. I suspect Medium will go down a similar path.” So writes Dave Winer in a terrific blog post titled Anywhere but Medium. It’s an urgent warning to writers about the dangers of building their houses on someone else’s land.

Launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in 2012, Medium is a publishing platform that describes itself as “a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.” After the announcement of Twitter’s IPO in 2013, one report speculated that Williams, with a 30 to 35 percent stake in the company, would see his wealth grow from $2 billion to $8 billion. Now, he’s in dangers of becoming a millionaire. Twitter is flirting with being the oil of the social media industry and its stock value has dropped more than 50 percent in the last 12 months.

Something had to go and in a remarkable coincidence last night, four top @twitter executives suddenly felt the pressing need to spend more time with their families. “Big Exec Departures at Twitter: Media Head Stanton and Product Head Weil Leaving” is how Re/code broke the story. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded with a tweet in which he sought to “set the record straight.” But nobody is being fooled by the “well-deserved time off” line.

Mark Little, who set up News Corp-owned social news agency Storyful, is the new Twitter vice-president of media for Europe and Africa and he proclaimed to be “heartbroken” by the leave-taking of Katie Jacobs Stanton:

All this heartbreak and gratitude brings us back to Dave Winer and his brave and valuable post about the dangers of a monocultural Medium monopoly:

“Medium is on its way to becoming the consensus platform for writing on the web. if you’re not sure you’re going to be blogging regularly, the default place to put your writing is Medium, rather than starting a blog on Tumblr or WordPress.com, for example. I guess the thought is that it’s wasteful to start a blog if you’re not sure you’re going to post that often. It’s something of a paradox, because blogs are not large things on the storage devices of the hosting companies…

… Medium is a startup, a well-funded one for sure, but they could easily pivot and leave all the stories poorly served, or not served at all. I’m sure their user license doesn’t require them to store your writing perpetually, or even until next week…

…You have a choice. Post your writing to places other than Medium. And when you see something that’s interesting and not on Medium, give it some extra love. Push it to your friends. Like it on Facebook, RT it on Twitter. Give people more reasons to promote diversity on the web, not just in who we read, but who controls what we read…

Can we reserve competition in the middle of the web, so we get a chance for some of the power of an open platform for the most basic type of creativity — writing?

When you give in to the default, and just go ahead and post to Medium, you’re stifling the open web. Not giving it a chance to work its magic, which depends on diversity, not monoculture.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times explains Twitter. It’s that man Trump, again:

New York Times


Selfish

Thursday, 22 January, 2015 0 Comments

Yes, the European Central Bank’s belated embrace of quantitative easing will dominate today’s headlines, but given the widespread disaffection with the continent’s out-of-touch leadership and the gnawing sense of being left behind in an increasingly globalized world, Europeans are switching off. Instead of the dismal Mario Draghi, people want the fascinating Kim Kardashian. And she’s everywhere today.

First: Mrs Kanye West took to Instagram on Tuesday to share some snow shots while wearing a “Furkini” that shows off her big booty, flat tummy and signature boobs. She captioned the pic: “Boots with the fur…

Second: Medium has a marvellously nerdy piece titled “How PAPER Magazine’s web engineers scaled their back-end for Kim Kardashian (SFW)“. Snippet: “The first thing Knauss did was get a big honking server to run on the Amazon cloud, with a large hard drive. He copied all the images and files from the smaller original web server to the new, big server. Then he installed a piece of software called Gluster, which allows many computers to share files with each other—it’s sort of like a version of Dropbox that you can completely control.”

Third: On 28 April, Selfish, by Kim Kardashian, will be published. Blurb: “Kim has mastered the art of taking flattering and highly personal photos of oneself. For the first time in print, this book presents some of Kim’s favorite selfies in one volume.”

Over to you, Mario.

Selfie


Dave Winer went first

Thursday, 16 October, 2014 0 Comments

“I am a programmer and a blogger. In both these roles, I like to go first. If there’s a juicy idea out there to explore, I’m on it! That’s the role I played in the birth of blogging, starting on October 7, 1994.” So writes Dave Winer in Medium. He continues: “Because the power of the press belongs to people who have one, I realized how huge a change this was. Now publishing costs were zero. The only thing that stood in the way were basic practices for writers and programmers.”

After all these years and all that writing, Winer remains indefatigable. Over at Scripting News, he keeps pumping it out. Posts range in title from “Why I generally don’t tag” to “Are Twitter and Facebook silos?” How does he do it? On 28 September, he published “My manifesto for web writing.”