Enabling Decentralised Scholarly Communication co-located with the Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2017)
MP3, the digital audio coding format, changed the way we listen to music and drove the adoption of countless new devices over the last couple of decades. And now, it’s dead. The developer of the format announced this week that it has officially terminated its licensing program.
The IP on the mp3 has expired and so the group that owned it isn’t charging for it anymore. Sure they’d like to have everyone think it’s dead and use more “modern” things like AAC, which they can still charge for! My guess is that you’ll actually see a resurgence in mp3 format now that it’s free.
Next they’ll be saying that RSS is dead…
Echo Show, Google I/O, Samsung Dex. Amazon announces the Echo Show, an Echo with a touch screen and video calling functionality. Google I/O is next week - what will we see? Guest host Jason Howell demonstrates the Dex, Samsung's phone dock that turns your Galaxy S8 into a desktop computer. What is Fuchsia, Google's new OS? Use Google Home API and a Raspberry Pi to create a smart candy dispenser. Google plans their own city. Hackers break SMS two factor authentication. America bans laptops on flights from Europe. Jason's Tool: Google search highlights events near you; Jeff's Numbers: Snap and Yelp earnings; Stacey's Thing: Notifi Smart Doorbell; Stacey's dog Sophie's Tricks: twirl, sit, touch, walk
I’m kinda tempted to try out the new Amazon Echo Show, but somehow I haven’t really been motivated enough to buy into either the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Leo was on vacation and didn’t appear in this show, so it’s more tech/spec focused rather than philosophy focused. Can’t wait for him to be back.
These remarks were given at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab
A few months ago, I was reading Hacker News and saw a note about the new social media platform Mastodon built on top of GNU Social. Then, through the #Indieweb IRC chat logs, I came across another mention of the platform by Kevin Marks. Shortly thereafter, he appeared on This Week in Google talking about it, an episode which I listened to on December 7. Two days later I finally joined Mastodon to see what was going on, though I’d been on GNU Social sites Quitter.se and Quitter.no much earlier.
An early Mastodon experience
I lurked around on the platform for a bit to check it out and then promptly walked away with the determination that it was “just another silo” and I’d prefer to keep posting on my own site and syndicating out if necessary. It wasn’t until ADN (a Twitter-like social media platform that was previously at app.net) was shutting down on March 15th and people were leaving there to find other communities that I was reminded of Mastodon as I was also looking at platforms like 10 Centuries and pnut.io. Others were obviously doing the same thing and it was then that articles began popping up in the more mainstream tech media. I thought I’d give Mastodon another try and popped into my account to see what had changed, how, and importantly could I build any of the functionality into my own site?
Within a few minutes of rejoining and following a few people in the local stream, I was greeted with this:
My immediate thought, having grown up in the South, was “How welcoming–A pineapple!”
A quick comment later and I realized that it was just coincidence.
A flurry of articles about Mastodon
Fast forward about a week, dozens of Mastodon articles later, and last night I’m reading (courtesy of yet another link posted in the #Indieweb chat–hint: if you want to know where the bleeding edge of the social web is, you should be either lurking or participating there) the article What I wish I knew before joining Mastodon: Where I attempt to explain Mastodon through Harry Potter gifs by Qina Liu, the Digital Engagement Editor at The Buffalo News (on Medium for some odd reason rather than The Buffalo News itself).
The article is well written and is a pretty good tutorial on what Mastodon is, how it works, and how to begin participating. Toward the end it also gets into some of the Mastodon culture. Like a great reporter, Liu obviously spent some time to get to know the natives. She finishes off the story with a short vignette on pineapples which I found eerily familiar. Hey, it’s my friend @acw! As the article wears on, I begin to think, “Oh dear, what have I done?!”
I’m excerpting the tail end of the article for more context about the pineapple meme:
Why am I seeing pineapples all over Mastodon?
Alright, so I’m no P.J. Vogt, Alex Goldman or any of the other awesome producers at the podcast “Reply All,” but I’m going to attempt to “Yes, Yes, No” this for you guys.
🍍🍍🍍 on Mastodon got started by Alex Weiner (@firstname.lastname@example.org), a software developer who uses APL. Since APL sounds like 🍎, he really likes 🍎 and any words including 🍎 like 🎄🍎.
So he started tooting 🍍 to new people as a form of “hello,” “welcome,” “aloha” — and you get the idea.
And he also started boosting toots with 🍍.
So 🍍 became the emoji shorthand for boost.
And 🍍ing also became Internet slang for when your Mastodon follower count surpasses your Twitter follower count.
But pineapple appreciation didn’t end there. Other people started posting 🍍 in their display name.
And even Rochko made a pineapple joke.
So to recap, if you get a 🍍 on Mastodon, it’s…
Plus, pineapples are awesome.
Except if you’re the president of Iceland, who doesn’t like 🍍🍕.
So was that a “Yes, Yes, Yes”?
So apparently my short note about the “meaning” behind the pineapple has helped to turn it into a “thing” on the internet.
For the historians, here’s the thread of the original conversation:
Ultimately, because the pineapple is such a long-standing symbol of welcoming, it has to be a good thing. Right?
So if you were lucky enough to get into Mastodon.social before registration was turned off (maybe they’ll turn it back on one day, or you can get into one of the many other instances), feel free to give me a follow there and enjoy the pineapples.
You’re Welcome! 🍍
Accelerated Mobile Pages
I’ve been following most of the (Google) Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) discussion (most would say debate) through episodes of This Week in Google where Leo Laporte plays an interesting foil to Jeff Jarvis over the issue. The other day I came across a bookmark from Jeremy Keith entitled Need to Catch Up on the AMP Debate? which is a good catch up by CSS-Tricks. It got me thinking about creating a bookmarklet to strip out the canonical URL for AMP pages (the spec requires them to exist in markup) to make them easier to bookmark and share across social media. In addition to social sites wrapping their URLs with short URLs (which often die or disappear as the result of linkrot) or needing to physically exit platforms (I’m looking at you Facebook with your three extra life-sucking clicks meant to protect your walled garden) to properly bookmark canonical URLs for later consumption, I’ve run across several Google prepended URLs which I’d rather not share in lieu of the real ones.
Clean and Simple URLs
As an example, his canonical bookmarklet will take something ugly like
and strip it down to its most basic
so that if you want to share it, it will remove all of the tracking cruft that comes along for the ride.
Even worse offenders like
suddenly become cleaner and clearer
These examples almost remind me of the days of forwarding chain letter emails where friends couldn’t be bothered to cut out the 10 pages of all the blockquoted portions of forwards or the annoying
> > >> >>
> > >> >>
> > >> >>
nonesense before they sent it to you… The only person who gets a pass on this anymore is Grandpa, and even he’s skating on thin ice.
Remember, friends don’t let friends share ridiculous URLs…
So in that spirit, here are the three bookmarklets that you can easily drag and drop into the bookmark bar on your browser:
The code for the three follow respectively for those who prefer to view the code prior to use, or who wish to fashion their own bookmarklets:
As a bonus tip, Kevin Marks’ post briefly describes how one can use their Chrome browser on mobile to utilize these synced bookmarklets more readily.
Of course, if you want the AMP version of pages just for their clean appearance, then perhaps you may appreciate the Mercury Reader for Chrome. There isn’t a bookmarklet for it (yet?), but it’ll do roughly the same job, but without the mobile view sizing on desktop. And then while looking that link up, I also notice Mercury also has a one line of code AMP solution too, though I recommend you brush up on what AMP is, what it does, and do you really want it before adding it.
A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.
Yesterday in Cambridge, the veteran journalist Charles Arthur held an event at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) that asked this:
Has the public been well served by technology journalism?
Arthur assembled a smart panel of long-serving folks: Andrew Brown, Carole Cadwalladr; and Ingrid Lunden. The notable thing they all had in common: none are specifically "technology journalists". Arthur first covered tennis, computing, and science. Brown made his name writing about Sweden and religious affairs. Cadwalladr is a generalist features writer for The Observer (part of the Guardian. Lunden came to TechCrunch from telecoms and art. I did The Skeptic, and began writing for computer magazines via a personal contact.
A program uses data Uber collected to evade law enforcement in cities that resist the ride-hailing service, some current and former Uber employees said.
Be careful with this plugin on newer versions of WordPress >4.7 as the shortcode was throwing a fatal error on pages on which it appeared.
Kris Shaffer, the plugin’s author
Web annotation seems to promote more critical thinking and collaboration but it’s doubtful that it would ever fully replace commenting systems.
But why not mix annotations and comments together the way some in the IndieWeb have done?! A few people are using the new W3C recommendation spec for Webmention along with fragmentions to send a version of comments-marginalia-annotations to sites that accept them and have the ability to display them!
A good example of this is Kartik Prabhu’s website which does this somewhat like Medium does. One can write their response to a sub-section of his post on their own website, and using webmention (yes, there’s a WordPress plugin for that) send him the response. It then shows up on his site as a quote bubble next to the appropriate section which can then be opened and viewed by future readers.
For those interested, Kartik has open sourced some of the code to help accomplish this.
While annotation systems have the ability to overlay one’s site, there’s certainly room for serious abuse as a result. (See an example at https://indieweb.org/annotation#Criticism.) It would be nice if annotation systems were required to use something like webmentions (or even older trackback/pingbacks) to indicate that a site had been mentioned elsewhere, this way, even if the publisher wasn’t responsible for moderating the resulting comments, they could at least be aware of possible attacks on their work/site/page. #
Robert Mercer, who bankrolled Donald Trump, played key role with ‘sinister’ advice on using Facebook data
60dB brings you today's best short-form audio stories – news, sports, entertainment, business and technology, all personalized for you.
60db seems like the start of what could be an interesting podcast/audio discovery app/engine. It has the appearance of wanting to be like Nuzzel for the audio space based on their announcement, but isn’t quite there yet based on my quick look through their site. On first blush it doesn’t seem much better than Huffduffer and doesn’t have a follower model of any sort, but perhaps that could change. Folks watching the podcasting and audio discovery space should keep an eye on it though.
Sadly, at least for now, the app appears to focus on short form audio (3-8 minutes in length) from major media content producers who are already syndicating audio in podcast format. I haven’t used the iOS (no Android app yet) app, but the web interface allows one to pick from a list of about 20 broad category options (news, sports, politics, kids, etc.) to “customize” one’s feed.
Hopefully in the future it may build itself out a bit more like Nuzzel by requesting data from one’s Facebook or Twitter feeds to better customize an algorithmic feed for better general audio discovery. Maybe it will allow a follower model based on social graph for improved discovery. One might also like to see custom settings for podcast story length, so one could choose between short hit audio, which they currently have in abundance, and longer form stories for lengthier commute times.
For the moment however, they seem to have recreated a slightly better and more portable version of news radio for the internet/mobile crowd. Perhaps future iterations will reveal more?
Starting a conversation about smarter radio for everyone
Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms was published by Basic Books in 1980, and outlines his vision of children using computers as instruments for learning. A second edition, with new Forewords by John Sculley and Carol Sperry, was published in 1993. The book remains as relevant now as when first published almost forty years ago.
The Media Lab is grateful to Seymour Papert’s family for allowing us to post the text here. We invite you to add your comments and reflections.
If you are interested in purchasing the print edition of Mindstorms, please visit Basic Books.
… and they’ve got help.