I do not enjoy reading long form writing on my laptop or iPhone. It's not ergonomic, notifications distract me, and the potential of something interesting happening elsewhere seduces my focus away.
I wish I could sit back, enjoy my coffee, and do nothing but listen to the articles I'd like to consume. That's a lifestyle I can appreciate, one which I'd pay for.
I have an idea that could make this a reality. I want a crowd funded news narration and aggregation service. The top–voted posts of the day are turned into professionally narrated voice recordings. The narrations would be funded by the upvotes themselves. Each upvote would pledge 50 cent (or some sort of minimum) to the narration cost. One hundred upvotes would equate to $50, which is more than enough to cover a 15 minute narration. The target funding would be directly proportionate to the length of the article in question. Additionally, and this is where it gets exciting, even after the narration is originally funded and recorded, future users could purchase the narration at it's original minimum cost; thus creating a huge ever–growing archive of well structured sellable audio files.
All the narrations would be fully searchable because the original text is known. The same model could apply to lecture notes, science papers, magazine and newspaper articles, books, assembly instructions, wikipedia entries, blog posts, SEC filings, any long form text of any description. As the business grew, I could see partnerships forming with content outlets like Scientific American or The New Yorker, or MIT or the White House Press Office. I could see these narrations embedded in websites and apps. The publishing industry is thirsty, and this could be the water it needs.
This is a pain–point I've tried to solve before, but machine voices were robotic and boring. I found myself loosing focus, and thus the problem wasn't solved at all. I believe there's real value in this idea, and a very clear path to profit. I've a ton of auxiliary points to make, but as the length of this post is becoming ironic, I don't want to loose your focus. And so the question remains, who's going to build this?
In fact, I'm pretty sure someone could knock together a prototype with the HackerNews RSS and the VoiceBunny API. I'm happy to help, just let me know what you need. I'm on Twitter.
At its height, Bebo had about 40 million users. I remember using Bebo to keep in touch with friends back home while I travelled around the United States. It was great. It was like some sort of social email experience that all my friends could participate in.
AOL saw opportunity, and so acquired Bebo for $850 million. As time went on, Facebook gained popularity over Bebo. I remember when I switched to Facebook. It was like a breath of fresh air. It was well structured and orderly, I could live here.
Two years elapsed and AOL were ready to sell their darling. They struck a deal with Criterion Capital Partners for $10 million. Now, three years later and in it's final passage, Bebo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
What were any of them thinking? A tale of delusion and greed indeed. This could be a great movie.
So, Business Insider compiled a luxurious share-bait slideshow of the 75 –yes, that many– best designers in tech today. No doubt with the knowledge that such a post will be shared by at least half of the 75 listed, along with of course the meaningless “humbling” that apparently such an accolade creates. What bothers me isn't the list, but rather the acceptance of the list as some sort of barometer of quality. I'm sure there's a ton of smart people on the list, but of course there will be when you pick such a large cohort. I won't write much about this, but I'm surprised at how quickly people are to endorse something, anything, once it satisfies their ego. If nothing else, this is a great lesson in human psychology.
There was an explosion at a fertiliser plant in Texas during the night. Firefighters were in the process of battling the fire of a smaller explosion, when a huge explosion took out blocks of surrounding homes. The injury and fatality numbers are still unknown, but it looks grim. I don't believe it's being treated as suspicious, but those details won't surface until later. I hope for the best, and the people affected are in my prayers.
We, the people of the developed world, have a tendency to take for granted the peace of our existence. That is not to belittle our struggle, but rather to recognise that we live in an environment of bounty and freedom, devoid of the persistent terror of war.
This presents a question. Are you doing what you really wish you were doing today? If not, then why not? You have the option to change and adapt the world to match your mode of living. You can morph the world into whatever you want it to be. You can quite literally do anything. However for some, the place they just so happen to live in dictates that such liberties aren't even idle concepts — make use of your freedoms.
The City is an imprint of a decision made hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Someone arrived on a piece of land and figured it would meet their needs. They setup shop on that plot — perhaps there was a river nearby. They stayed there for weeks, and so others came to visit. They would stay up all night, lighting fires, chatting and hanging out. They liked the freedom of their own territory, so they decided to make it permanent. And so the story went, until they had a village and then a town. They added features to the village as needed. They build houses and between them paths which would in turn become roads for cars.
The City is the largest, most persistent form of technology ever devised by humans. The City, or rather The Settlement as it were, is the original startup.
We built roads to cater for horses and carts. We built cities on rivers because there was no easy way to transport water or goods. We built cities on fault-lines and at the foot of volcanoes because we didn't know they existed. We built large areas of low-income housing without an understanding of the social implications. The world, and our understanding of it, is not what it was. We would do well to reconsider more than the way we share photos, but share our planet.
Google are building self-driving cars, but these cars –while innovative– are limited to the infrastructure of roads defined hundreds of years previous. The Road is a depreciated technology that was invented before cars — but I have to admire Google's efforts, they're actively thinking about the problem.
The United States of America was founded upon the Industrial Revolution, and thus most US Cities follow a well defined grid system. A display of foresight and reason that could only be a product of the time. Visit Europe and you will experience a far more organic spread of city limits. It's quaint but it's not efficient. Trying to get the best out of our cities is perhaps something like writing consumer software in Assembly. Sure, I imagine it's possible, but it's not favourable. We are forced to deal with the idle overheads of our environment, but we can change this.
Pertinent to yesterday's events in Boston, I began thinking about the safety and efficiency of public trashcans. The bombs in Boston are speculated to have been hidden in trashcans. Trashcans are checked in advance of large events, yet it wasn't enough yesterday. We live in a world where we have the ability to automate processes, we can change and improve things in a net positive way.
How might this apply to trashcans? How can we make them as safe and as efficient as possible? The idea is simple. Trashcans would be connected by vacuum tubes to nearby holdings, when full they would be transported to dumpsites via trucks. On a regular day, a system like this would save massive amounts of resources, especially so over time. We already do this with liquid waste, so why not garbage waste? Of course, this wouldn't be cheap to build, but proportionate to the safety and efficiency gained, the cost is negligible. In fact, at Magic Kingdom (A Walt Disney Resort) a system is already in place which corroborates the idea. Undoubtedly they do this for safety and so garbage trucks don't factor in the theme park experience. We could run a whole range of services underground, such as loading bays and tunnels for ambulances, delivery trucks, etc.
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
MARIO SAVIO, December 2, 1964
Like a doctor caring for a patient, it is our human responsibility to dress the world's wounds, and to leave it in a better state than it was when we inherited it. We have outgrown the modus operandi. We need a new kind of city, a habitat.
I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.
Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.” The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.
Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
Today, I came across http://music.twitter.com. Naturally, I inspected the HTML source just to see if there were any :hidden gems. There were none, bar one curious line of code that caught my eye. The image for the 'Sign In' button linked to the /_login/ directory — and so my journey began.
When I visited /_login/ I was presented with a page that looks something like a 404.
Following my curiosity, I inspected the source of this new page. This time, the CSS document was a lot different. It contained the entirety of the App's UI. A quick scan revealed a whole lot of words that implicate a very clear picture of what Twitter intends to do with this new Music product.
First, it's an App, which I guess was obvious; but it seems there will be a mobile app and desktop app (web), as indicated in the page footer.
<!--a href="/download">Get the App</a-->
Users will be able to connect with Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, Soundcloud, Vevo and Youtube.
We've all had the urge to 'undo' a real life moment, to somehow view an 'instant replay' at a sports event or to 'search' a paper book. These are all testaments to the path we are on. We wear glasses to improve our vision. We use fire to keep us warm. Every human function that can be improved by technology will be improved by technology. The machine is already so deeply integrated into humanity, that without it we wouldn't survive. It doesn't exist as a selfish existential entity, but as a part of us. We are the ever improving, replicating and surviving machine.
If you liked this, you may like or totally disagree with this.
In the near future, as is already the case for a lot of software we use, our devices will function as not much more than an interaction terminal. The local processor will handle caching and drawing but not the intensive process of calculating and rendering.
The notion of a powerful computer situated in our home is becoming less and less relevant each day. By offsetting the processor to a dedicated server cluster, it grants us access to computing that would otherwise be unachievable locally. It makes no sense to rely on a lesser processor running within the limitations of its barely functional and hazardous environment. A present day analogy being, we have access to tremendous electrical power because we've offset the generators to a centralised plant. Following the same logic, it's reasonable to suggest that gasoline or diesel powered vehicles are entirely ridiculous as it makes little sense to distribute then generate as opposed to generate then distribute.