MC : That is what all in this weblog is about.
Dave Winer’s recent post on the Un-Internet has been repeated on multiple blogs and tweets that I subscribe to. I read it a few times and it strikes me a bit of a non-issue. It is all about control by corporations on their platforms, services and content. Control seems to be a common of corporations and they do not always win (or is it never)?
In the case of platform control, Apple seems to be the best target of these discussions. It is however not a black/white discussion. I would argue that Apple is in effect one of the more open platforms. At the other end of the scale one can think of gaming platforms, such as the PS3, WII, Nintendo-3DS. And nobody complains of the lack of openness of the latter. The problem is that the iOS-platform reminds people of the PC (or Mac), which is (are) at the other end of the spectrum.
The Android-platform was poised to be an open platform. However Android reseted a development environment and many independent Android-platforms have been created. Each Android-platform has it’s own controlling corporation, which determines who can publish on their platform, how it works with platform upgrades etc. I did not follow all the details, but the Android-world seems to have become less open than iOS.
The degree of openness seems also related to the user experience offered and thus to the target user group. Consumer Electronics has always been a closed environment. For me, Apple succeeded in creating a fairly open consumer experience and thus offering high end computing to a much larger user group. Windows or MacOSX never succeeded at this. With all platforms allowing access to Internet-services and having a very large amount of apps, I am not much worried here.
I am much more worried about service control. There are multiple services which seem to control to much content and to many users. Facebook and Twitter come to mind here. Facebook (the mini-Internet) can be circumvented, which I did. I am not a Facebook user, so not a specialist. There are however Facebook-service which are reaching into the rest of the Internet. I think of the like-button, which give Facebook to much control of public appreciations. The same is true of the Google +1-button.
The control of Twitter is even more worrisome. A single provider that controls a worldwide notification network! Attempts by US congress to control users here clearly indicates that things need to open up here.
What I am missing is are attempts to standardise services in an IETF-way. We could use a set of standards on which we could base a like/+1 network. Or a client-server or server-server set of specifications on which we could base a Twitter-like network.
And a key ingredient of such a standardisation drive should be a common set of MicroContent-definitions, which would allow us the interchange, save, import, export, backup all kinds of MicroContent. Do not let a corporation control your MicroContent either.
Dave Winer reacts to the recent news that the future is apps and the web is dead. He asserts that this will not be the case due to the lack of linking.
I agree with him that linking is essential. The (perma-)link is the basis of MicroContent as well. Dave Winer says that you would otherwise get closed data silos. He prefers to stay in the web. And I agree there
I wonder however whether the two (apps and web) are incompatible. I am not up to date with MicroContent in the newest (mobile) apps. However on my Mac, MicroContent applications are for me the way to consume data. It is my preferred way to follow the new, either through NetNewsWire for rss of YoruForuku for twitter. And naturally these contain browser-links, which open in my browser. For me the web-browser is an unfortunate in-between, I would rather go directly to the corresponding rss-item.
So it all depends how app-developers view this and whether they allow links, or not.
I have been using Google Plus now for several days and time to draw some conclusions: I do not like it. But I am still intrigued by it.
At it’s heart Google Plus is a blog aggregator / reader, and a lousy one at that. I much prefer to read my blogs (i.e. RSS-feeds) in NetNewsWire. Google Plus uses the Combined View layout of NetNewsWire. It is a layout that I do not like, it is not efficient enough to my liking. I like to skim headlines and go from headline to headline quick.
But it is also the way people use Google Plus. Some write original posts and thus G+ becomes a blogging service. Others republish their posts from their blogs and it becomes just another venue. Others use it as a bookmarking service, where they post URL’s with (hopefully) a small comment. And yet others use it as a photo publishing service. And again other use it as a microblogging-service.
It is nice that G+ is so diverse, but your blogging service could have done the same. For me it becomes to much. I have to inefficiently wade through posts in order to find a gem. I prefer the short messages of Twitter, where I can quickly scan and decide whether I want to dive in. G+ forces me to see all.
The discussions of G+ are an interesting feature. Normally I do not engage quickly into a discussion, but on G+ I tend to react more often. I am not sure that I want to do that, time is short. When I read a blog in my newsreader, I hardly ever descend to the blog-webpage in order to react. In my Tweet-reader I react much more often with either replies and/or retweets. This makes a lower quality channel. And my blog(s) become a higher quality channel. And it is up to the reader to chose the quality level they want to follow.
I do the same when following people, I decide what part I want to see of them. Some I follow on twitter and other on their blogs. I also can decide on the nature and type of content I want to follow. A granularity that G+ does not give me.
What is left is the whole circle thing of G+. I do not see the value of it. I never really used it the last days. I do not use it to filter my stream. I either follow somebody or I don’t. The same goes for posting: I always post to public and I leave the decision up to the reader to decide whether he wants to see it.
And finally there are some fundamental things about G+ that I do not like. I want to own what I publish. Of everything that I write a copy stays on my machine and my backups. I publish myself on my own blogs. And I republish with some service providers. I want to get my data out of a service. And I want RSS-feeds so that I can decide how I consume the content.
Well, I will follow G+ for a while more, engage from time to time, follow some people in my RSS-reader and see whether things change.
In my photostream on Google+ I found an image by Stephen Downes analysing Google+. Interestingly there was no way to move the the corresponding G+ post. Link breakage. So I had to go to STephen’s stream and track down the post. By the way: what a junk in the stream of people commenting.
I sure agree with him that a lot is lacking.
I have been using Google Plus now for some days and have been trying to deconstruct it a bit. At first instance it strikes me as a blogging and feed-reader combination with support for commenting, feed management and user directory. And all of this is nicely aggregated.
But let’s first look at the MicroContent in this service. I would like to call the blog-MicroContent, a blog-post. This post consists of a piece of text with a permalink. Note that there is no title for a post. One can add a photo/image, a video and/or an URL to a post. An URl is in addition extended with a title, a desription and an image. See this post as an example of this.
And that is about it. There exists a photofeed-page with photo’s of the people you subscribe to, but the photo’s do not appear as separate items with a permalink. There is potentially other MIcroConten, such as the photo’s, the attched links, personal profiles, comments, ratings (+1’s), network, etc.
As a MicroContent application/service it also lacks all kind of features. I could try to apply my client checklist to this service, but I already see that it would rate very low, so why bother?
So what leaves me to comment on are the aggregation features. From left to right on my screen. The stream-circle filter is nice if you have feed overload or want to focus what you read. Sparks: another feed directory? Chat: OK. In the middle with have the stream of posts of my subscriptions.
I like the comments in the stream, the ratings and reposts. But then I talk about the user interface. Strange that we still do not have an Internet standard, which can work which support this kind of aggregation possibilities. And finally on the right I see my subscription list, suggestions (very unuseful), hangout (videochat).
I guess the innovative feature is the user directory and management of circles. I am underwhelmed. What is wrong with the creation of folders? Or is the drag&drop; an invention? Or is it the wording? Circles sounds easier than folders.
In conclusion: I am underwhelmed. I do not see where the progress.
The announcement by Apple of the iCloud has made me wonder how I should look at it from a MicroContent point of view. As details are still unclear, I can only indicate where I see some touch-points between iCloud and MicroContent.
There have been already many good articles explaining the iCloud and describing the differences between the Apple, Google and Amazon approach to the cloud. Check out my Delicious icloud tag to get started.
What I get out of the iCloud is the idea of a data-centered approach. Apple talks about documents, but you might also think of MicroContent data. This data is centrally stored in the Apple iCloud and pushed to any of your iDevices. Any changes to the data locally on an iDevice is uploaded and distributed between your registered iDevices. So from a user point of view you no longer have to worry where your data is, you just have it.
So far so good. This basic idea however leaves various questions open and we will see how these are filled in.
The first is how conflict resolution is solved. This happens when the same data has been changed on different devices. Which version is then the good one? The suggestion is that Apple will decide which version is the best one, the truthful one. So no pop-up windows where the user has to decide. And if you do not agree you can revert back to another version.
The iCloud is really an Apple realm. It only concerns the data for your iDevices. it is unclear how this will include a windows PC. As no synching with iTunes is necessary anymore, no backup is necessary neither, iTunes on a PC is no longer needed. Or will this be limited to audio, video and images only?
In a larger context one wonders whether there are possibilities that non-iDevices can be included in the iCloud. I would guess the answer is no. Getting things out the iCloud and into the iCloud will still be called exporting and importing and left to an iApp.
There is still some discussion whether Apple will add a web-interface to the iCloud. However the discussion seems to be linked to a MobileMe replacement service, which is a publishing question. What if you want to access your iCloud data on a non-iDevice through a web-browser?
The data in the iCloud will be mainly personal, it is all about your data and having that available to you in the easiest possible way. Would we like to synch that data with other clouds, which ones? The Google cloud? Undoubtedly services will appear that do this for you.
Finally what about publishing data for others. Will the iCloud offer web-hosting, just like MobileMe? And how transparent will this be? Will there be links with other services, like YouTube, Flickr, etc? Or will this be handled through the iApps? This integration can be interesting and it is where MicroContent can surface.
At the moment we just have to wait.
Refusing customers to your service, is an interesting theme opened by the Wikileaks issue. Are businesses allowed to refuse customers? Many would argue that this is allowed. I learned it even in my Services Management courses. But to me not all services are created equal. There are some services that I see as fundamental. These fundamental services are part of the infrastructure of society. Without these services society does not work and disallowing service access for some people equals to a judicial sentence.
Before moving to Internet services, let’s look at some regular services.
Public transportation, such as bus, train or plane transport can be seen as fundamental. Disallowing access to transport implies that one can not well function in a society. Not being able to go to work, hospital, etc. is surely a punishment.
For shopping services one can argue the same. Not being able to get your groceries will surely put you in trouble. And not being able to pay for your groceries as well, which brings us to payment services. If you deny a bank account to someone, the person can no longer receive his wages, pay for his bills or use a payment card in a shop. This surely denies the person a good participation in society. Therefore transaction and banking services should be seen as fundamental services.
This argument of fundamental services is well defended in the NY Times editorial. And surely not everyone agrees with this. However by now we see some financial services as essential and worthy of protection by governments. So clearly there is a discussion of fundamental services that must be protected.
However does there exist the concept of fundamental consumer services? Services where businesses can not deny access? In some countries Internet Access are seen as a fundamental right, which can not be denied to its citizens.
I wonder whether these fundamental services are a new concept? This might be due to the fact that parts of society are now dominated by businesses and they can determine who gets access. In the past we did not have those large businesses. I can think of the postal services, but usage of their services is (was) pretty anonymous. Nobody knew who put the stamp on the letter. With the electricity service things already become unclear. Can they deny service to persons that they do not like? I think not. They can only deny service to persons that do not pay and even that might be hard in some countries. The same is true for telecommunication services. Depending on the country the minimal service is that one can call 112 (911), so there is a view on a minimal fundamental service as well.
Internet has complicated these things even further. If you want to see Paypal as a fundamental service, you should see Internet Access as a fundamental service. In a few countries this has happened, although in others three strike laws seem to go in the other direction. It seems no services on top of Internet are seen as fundamental. As Internet progresses I guess such a discussion will be inevitable. These services will be the same as the classic ones (mail, payment). And even hosting might be seen as fundamental for press freedom.
There should be a discussion on fundamental right services. These are services that are defined and protected by law. If a business offers a service in this category, then businesses can not deny access to customers. Only judicial intervention can deny access.
Examples of such services are:
And probably there are more.
There is now some evidence that young users prefer apps over a browser on mobile devices. I wonder when this will extend to other devices as well? It might start with an iPad, but I hope will extend to normal PC’s. Then I can retrieve my MicroContent Client posts.
There are many services that are based around GPS-tracks (GPX-format). These seem excellent services (such as GPX-view or RandoGPS.net), but unfortunately not usable for me. Maybe there are KML to GPX conversion tools available.
The service mapmywalk is one of the first I tried out. I am afraid I give up right away. The service is not able to import a KMZ-file I created with Google Earth. #fail
There are many ways to create Trips MicroContent. The most important part of Trips MicroContent is the list of locations. The most convenient way to create this, is by using a GPS-device. Unfortunately I still do not have one, so I can not report any experiences.
Fortunately there are now many mapping solutions that can help here. I mainly use the Google Maps and Google Earth products. Google Maps is great for describing trips made by road. Google Maps allows you to fix a trip to a road. But to create trips by foot, I prefer to use Google Earth, as it usually offers more resolution.
Unfortunately the Google products are a bit limited. If I want to add waypoints, I have to add extra locations. I can not clamp these locations to the trip. And there are no options to add any metadata in a structured way. I assume that there is no format that does this.
Adding images to a trip is even more complicated. I would like to drag geocoded images into Google Earth and clamp them as special waypoints to a trip.
I am still looking around for other solutions to create Trips MicroContent, but it seems that Google Earth will be my main startpunt. I start with the creation of a folder, add the trip to this folder and points for photos, waypoints, etc. Then I export the folder as KMZ-file for usage elsewhere.
A long time ago I started a blog with walks that I made. Unfortunately it was a lot of work to keep this blog updated, so nothing happened for 5 years. I moved my attention to Google Maps and started keeping a record there of trips by foot or by car. Initially this was for experimenting with maps, etc, but I realised that I could do more with it. So time to start rethinking the subject.
First: what are we talking about. I do not have a nice definition, but Trips MicroContent captures a sequential movement by a person, such that it can be repeated by another person. Sounds pretty abstract, but that makes it more interesting.
And this can be seen as MicroContent. It can be contained in a single file (KL for instance). And this file can be published on Internet, so it will get a permalink (an URI). It has a title, description, etc. In fact we could write up a XSD for it. Such a KML can be viewed in a local MicroContent client (Google Earth), uploaded to a MicroContent Service such as Google Maps. And there are many other services that accepts this file format.
Without being exhaustive a Trip MicroContent contains fields, such as a title, a description, transportation means used, participants to a trip, date executed, duration of trip and most important a sequential list of geographic locations. This list shows how the trip was executed. Some of these locations are special and are called waypoints. Such the begin- and endpoint is a waypoint. Also locations where the participants used directions to go another way are waypoints. If photos or videos are taken during a trip, then one could define these as waypoints. The possibilities seem limitless.
I started to make an overview of my lifestreams. as I experiment with a lot, the list got quite large. I keep the following streams alive, although not every stream is very active:
I have been playing with other types of MicroContent as well:
And I probably missed some streams now. I will add them later;
And naturally all this information can be combined into a single Lifestream feed, by using Yahoo Pipes.
And finally there are all the social networks that I am part of, but I am not really a user of these. With al the information that is already around, why bother? But you can find me on LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, Myspace, etc. And there is also my reading list of rss feeds, which I publishes as OPML-file somewhere.
As you can see privacy is not a big issue with me, although there is still a lot of information that is still not shared with the world.
There exist many services on internet, which help the user to manage his wine cellar. It is hard to determine what is a good service. I tend to go with CellarTracker as it seems to have a large database of wines.
In order to get an overview of possible applications, I had a look in the Home&Learning; category of the downloads section at Apple. And I had a look at the wine tag at iUseThis. I found the following applications:
There are several applications on the iPhoneOS that support wine tastings. Cor.kz looks interesting as it has integration with CellarTracker. I noticed wineSnob, OpenCellar, Drync. And there are many apps that help you to buy a wine.
In conclusion, there is no service/application/app combo that fits my bill. For the moment I continue with CellarTracker, Cor.kz and WineXT.
I started thinking about lifestreaming again. I was focussed on using various MicroContent applications in order to log my various lifestreams. As I started lifestreaming several years ago and since a lot of things changed. So time to update my approach to lifestreaming.
My lifestream consists of blogs, tweets, bookmarks, pictures, wine tastings, book readings, movie/DVD viewings, music listenings, holiday trips, collections, recipes, social networks, applications (what did I forget?).
In order to log this, I use a combination of software and service solutions. I like to keep things to myself, i.e. on my computer, and there are things that I like to publish. I like to have access via internet, via multiple devices and via dedicated applications.
I like to be independent from services and applications. So any app or service should support import and export options. The same is true for publishing, so I self-publish as much as possible.