A collection of resources regarding ethics in technology and design
In 'Mary Poppins Returns', Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a lamplighter. Here's the history behind the lamps and the profession.
The Victorian periodical The Westminster Review wrote that the introduction of gas lamps would do more to eliminate immorality and criminality on the streets than any number of church sermons. ❧
I’m test-driving H5P – an open HTML5 content creator that promises many things! And for the most part, it delivers. I tried out a few of the 20 plus content types that they have available here. I’ll continue to add to this as time goes on. Since it’s currently October, there is a pumpkin-spice flavoured theme to these examples (love it or hate it!).
Some interesting edtech tools here. They remind me somewhat of the type of formats and layouts made possible by the Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress, but geared toward academia. I could see things like these being useful little blocks within the upcoming Gutenberg interface.
After years of letting algorithms make up our minds for us, the time is right to go back to basics.
This article, which I’ve seen shared almost too widely on the internet since it came out, could almost have been written any time in the past decade really. They did do a somewhat better job of getting quotes from some of the big feed readers’ leaders to help to differentiate their philosophical differences, but there wasn’t much else here. Admittedly they did have a short snippet about Dave Winer’s new feedbase product, which I suspect, in combination with the recent spate of articles about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, motivated the article. (By the way, I love OPML as much as anyone could, but feedbase doesn’t even accept the OPML feeds out of my core WordPress install though most feed readers do, which makes me wonder how successful feedbase might be in the long run without better legacy spec support.)
So what was missing from Wired’s coverage? More details on what has changed in the space in the past several years. There’s been a big movement afoot in the IndieWeb community which has been espousing a simpler and more DRY (don’t repeat yourself) version of feeds using simple semantic microformats markup like h-feed. There’s also been the emergence of JSON feed in the past year which many of the major feed readers already support.
On the front of people leaving Facebook (and their black box algorithmic monster that determines what you read rather than you making an implicit choice), they might have mentioned people who are looking for readers through which they can also use their own domains and websites where they own and maintain their own data for interaction. I’ve written about this in more depth last year: Feed reader revolution.
One of the more bleeding edge developments which I think is going to drastically change the landscape in the coming years for developers, feed readers, and the internet consumption space is the evolving Microsub spec which is being spearheaded by a group of projects known as the Aperture microsub server and the Together and Indigenous clients which already use it. Microsub is going to abstract away many of the technical hurdles that make it far more difficult to build a full-fledged feed reader. I have a feeling it’s going to level a lot of the playing field to allow a Cambrian explosion of readers and social related software to better leverage more easily reading content on the web without relying on third party black box services which people have been learning they cannot fully trust anymore. Aaron Parecki has done an excellent job of laying out some parts of it in Building an IndieWeb Reader as well as in recent episodes of his Percolator microcast. This lower hurdle is going to result in fewer people needing to rely solely on the biggest feed readers like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for both consuming content and posting their own content. The easier it becomes for people to use other readers to consume content from almost anywhere on the web, the less a monopoly the social networks will have on our lives.
I truly hope Wired circles around and gives some of these ideas additional follow up coverage in the coming months. They owe it to their readership to expand their coverage from what we all knew five years ago. If they want to go a step or two further, they might compare the web we had 15 years ago to some of the new and emerging open web technologies that are starting to take hold today.
Pro tip: If you’re going to falsify documents, it’s probably a good idea to learn how computers work.
Silicon Valley has lost some of its shine in recent months, what with the “fake news” and the bots and the hacks and the hate speech. All the promises about the democratization of information and power ring a little hollow nowadays. I’d say they rang a little hollow all along. Of course that’s what I’d say. I’ve been saying it for years now. There’s a new tale that’s being told with increasing frequency these days, in which tech industry executives and employees come forward – sometimes quite sheepishly, sometimes quite boldly – and admit that they have regrets, that they’re no longer “believers,” that they now recognize their work has been damaging to individuals and to society at large, that they were wrong. These aren’t apologies as much as they’re confessions.
An essay about technologists saying the equivalent of “Do as I say, not as I do.” and “Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.”
Talk a walk down memory lane with Gene as he tells stories of Pasadena Startups Past, Present and Future. I am the Forrest Gump of Internet - I have worked in the worked with some of the pioneers and innovators all with origin stories to Pasadena: GoTo, Overture, Yahoo, YP, Chegg, WhatsApp, Tinder, Google Adword/AdSense/Photos, Sellbrite. So come take a seat on the bench and listen to my story. Pasadena tech is like a box of chocolates - you'll never know what you're gonna get. Bio: Gene is a software veteran and Internet executive known for his expertise in mobile, social, cloud, Big Data, search marketing and eCommerce. He is currently VP of Engineering at Sellbrite.com a eCommerce SaaS startup in Pasadena. Before that he was CTO of Synctree.com a Ruby/Node and DevOps-as-a-Service boutique development shop. He was the CTO of Oversee.net a $100M Consumer Mobile and Domain Monetization company. Before that he was Director of Engineering at Chegg, an online network for college students that offers assistance with homework, course selection and textbook rentals. He was also Executive Director of AT&T Interactive, building and leading teams for YP Mobile, Data Systems and Buzz.com. He also served as Director of Engineering at Yahoo Search Marketing/Overture where he built large-scale search marketing platforms. Gene is currently a on Board of Directors for Innovate Pasadena, a mentor for Mucker Labs, as well as advisor to mobile startups. Gene is a frequent speaker at tech industry events and has received numerous industry awards. He graduated Magna cum Laude with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles and lives in San Marino with a very supportive wife Jacki and 3 kids.
How a plan to kill the fax machine with policy went awry.
This is a painfully sad and frustrating story. It also seems like something that business/capitalism isn’t going to solve on its own, but something which is crying out for an open spec to help things along. (And after that, if a business can come up with a better/faster solution, then more power to them.)
I can only think of the painful inefficiencies that are lurking in our healthcare system. And we wonder why things are so stupidly expensive?
This is a great example where applying César A. Hidalgo’s theory from Why Information Grows to decrease the friction for creating links can eliminate inefficiencies and create larger value. I still want to refine his statement into something simple and usable for both business and governmental use as well as to come up with some reasonably understandable math to provide a “proof” of the value.
Following months of hard work, we are finally ready to publish our 2017 e-book, Education and Technology: critical approaches. This bilingual collection brings together 12 chapters written by researchers based in Brazil, Australia, Scotland, England and USA. The work has been edited by Giselle Ferreira, Alexandre Rosado e Jaciara Carvalho, members of the ICT in Educational Processes Research Group, who maintain this blog (mostly in Portuguese – at least so far!). From the editors’ Introduction: "This volume offers a measure of sobriety in reaction to the excesses and hyperboles found in the mainstream literature on Education and Technology. The pieces (…) tackle questions of power and consider contextual and historical specificities, escaping the usual euphoria that surrounds digital technology and adopting different perspectives on our current historical moment."
Available as a free .pdf download.
For more information see the blog post for the event at http://virtuallyconnecting.org/blog/2017/05/31/domains17/
Indieweb for Education: Some thoughts after the Domains 17 Conference
There’s some interesting discussion of Indieweb-related principles in this live-streamed (and recorded) conversation (below) from the Domains 2017 conference for educators and technologists which covers a lot of what I’d consider to be Indieweb for Education applications.
In particular, some asked about alternate projects for basing education projects around which aren’t WordPress. Some suggested using WithKnown which is spectacular for its interaction model and flexibility. I suspect that many in the conversation haven’t heard of or added webmentions (for cross-site/cross-platform conversations or notifications) or micropub to their WordPress (or other) sites to add those pieces of functionality that Known comes with out of the box.
Another section of the conversation mentioned looking for ways to take disparate comments from students on their web presences and aggregating them in a more unified manner for easier consumption by the teacher and other students (as opposed to subscribing to each and every student’s RSS feed, a task which can be onerous in classrooms larger than 20 people). To me this sounded like the general concept of a planet, and there are a few simple ways of accomplishing this already, specifically using RSS.
An Invitation to Attendees
I’d invite those in attendance at the Domains 17 conference to visit not only the Indieweb wiki, but to feel free to actively participate in the on-going daily discussions (via IRC/Slack/Matrix/Web). I suspect that if there’s enough need/desire that the community would create a dedicated #education channel to help spur the effort to continue to push the idea of owning one’s own domain and using it for educational purposes out into the mainstream. The wiki pages and the always-on chat could be useful tools to help keep many of the educators and technologists who attended Domains17 not only connected after the event, but allow them to continue to push the envelope and document their progress for the benefit of others.
I’ll admit that one of my favorite parts of the Indieweb wiki is that it aggregates the work of hundreds of others in an intuitive way so that if I’m interested in a particular subject I can usually see the attempts that others have made (or at least links to them), determine what worked and didn’t for them, and potentially find the best solution for my particular use case. (I suspect that this is some of what’s missing in the “Domains” community at the moment based on several conversations I heard over the past several days.)
If you’d like, please add yourself to the growing list of Indieweb related educators and technologists. If you need help connecting to any of the community resources and/or chat/IRC/Slack, etc. I’m more than happy to help. Just call, email, or contact me via your favorite channel.
… and they’ve got help.
In Our Computers, Ourselves, a look at the ways technology affects us, and the main question is : Are computers changing human character? You'll hear from cyborgs, bullies, neuroscientists and police chiefs about whether our closeness with computers is changing us as a species.
Possibly not as interesting to me because I’ve watched this space more closely over the past 20 years or so. Still it’s an interesting episode asking some great questions.
I can’t believe I flew through season one so quickly.
Fitbit today released preliminary results for its upcoming fourth quarter earnings report, and the news isn’t good.
In September, the first reports of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries exploding hit social media. At first, Samsung identified the issue as one relating to the lithium polymer battery manufacturing process by Samsung SDI, where too much tension was used in manufacturing, and offered to repair affected phones. But several weeks later, some of the batteries in those replacement units also exploded once they were in the hands of customers -- causing Samsung to make the bold decision to not only recall everything, but to cancel the entire product line. This is every battery engineer’s nightmare. As hardware engineers ourselves, Sam and I followed the story closely. If it was only a battery part issue and could have been salvaged by a re-spin of the battery, why cancel the product line and cede several quarters of revenue to competitors? We believe that there was more in play: that there was a fundamental problem with the design of the phone itself.