Archive of posts with tag 'internet'

Exapting Technologies

September 9, 2021 • #

New forms of technology tend not to materialize from thin air. The nature of innovation takes existing known technologies and remixes, extends, and co-opts them to create novelty.

Gordon Brander refers to it in this piece as “exapting infrastructure.” As in the case of the internet, it wasn’t nonexistent one day then suddenly connecting all of our computers the next. It wasn’t purposely designed from the beginning as a way for us to connect our millions of computers, phones, and smart TVs. In fact, many types of...

Image credits: Florida ECRRT

Taking Back Our User Accounts

July 28, 2021 • #

Identity management on the internet has been broken for years. We all have 800 distinct logins to different services, registered to different emails with different passwords. Plus your personal data exists in a morass of data silos, each housing a different slice of your personal information, each under a different ToS, subject to differing privacy regulations, and ultimately not owned by you. You sign up for a user account on a service in order for it to identify you uniquely, providing functionality tailored to you. Service providers getting custody of your personal data is a side-effect that’s become an accepted...

The 1980s Dream of a Free and Borderless Virtual World

October 15, 2020 • #

Reason Magazine has put together a 4-part documentary series on the cypherpunk movement, the early-90s collective of hobbyist computer enthusiasts that believed in an open and free internet. Their philosophies influenced cryptography, bitcoin, and BitTorrent.

This is part 1, a well-produced piece on an important phase of internet history.

Weekend Reading: A New Web, Future of Higher Ed, and a Ford Concept Car

August 22, 2020 • #

🔗 A Clean Start for the Web

Tom MacWright with some ideas for cleaning up ever-creeping morass of web technology:

I think this combination would bring speed back, in a huge way. You could get a page on the screen in a fraction of the time of the web. The memory consumption could be tiny. It would be incredibly accessible, by default. You could make great-looking default stylesheets and share alternative user stylesheets. With dramatically limited scope, you could port it to all kinds of devices.

And, maybe most importantly,...

Annotating the Web with Memex

June 5, 2020 • #

I linked a few weeks ago to a new tool called Memex, a browser extension that touts itself as bookmarking for “power users of the web.” Its primary unique differentiator is how they approach the privacy angle.

I’m a couple of weeks into using it and it brings an interesting new approach to the world of bookmarking tools like Pinboard or Raindrop, both of which I’ve used a lot. Raindrop has been my tool of choice lately, but it’s heavy for what I really want,...

Privacy with Utility

June 3, 2020 • #

The winds of internet privacy1 shift all over the place. Certain technologies like encryption have given us important moves forward in security, but then big platforms like Facebook or a million small ad tech outfits have taken us the other way with invasive trackers and mishandling of data they shouldn’t have and most of the time don’t need. But the prevailing winds over the past few years have moved, on net, positively toward a focus on protecting personal data.

The nuclear options deployed by the pro-privacy EFF advocate to combat internet creepiness are...


June 2, 2020 • #

Over the years with my RSS subscriptions I’ve gradually unsubscribed from a lot of “institutional” or corporate blogs and feeds in favor of individuals I’ve found with interesting websites and things to say.

In the early days of blogging it was common to have a “blogroll” in the sidebar to link to friends, colleagues, and your favorite sites, with a focus on other blogs rather than just your favorite websites or products. So I created one with my favorite internet destinations, with all flavors of topics I’m interested in.

I want more people to have their own websites...

Dithering and Podcast Subscriptions

May 22, 2020 • #

A couple weeks ago Ben Thompson and John Gruber launched Dithering, a new podcast they’re doing together with a unique model: 15 minutes per episode, 3 times a week, only for paid subscribers. They launched with a dozen or so episodes in the can from over the previous month, so I’ve already gone through the back catalog.

As with the open web and individual creators running their own web properties (versus only creating for other platforms like Twitter or Medium), I love to see certain folks in the podcast space pushing for business models that allow them to...

Enter Ethernet

February 25, 2020 • #

The specification for Ethernet was proposed in 1973 by Bob Metcalfe as a medium to connect the expanding network of computers at Xerox PARC. This was a schematic he drew as part of the memo proposing the technology to connect the machines together:

Ethernet schematic

From this Wired article:

PARC was installing its own Xerox Alto, the first personal computer, and EARS, the first laser printer. It needed a system that would allow additional PCs and printers to be added without having to reconfigure or shut down the network. It was...

Weekend Reading: Internet of Beefs, Company Culture, and Secular Cycles

January 18, 2020 • #

🥩 The Internet of Beefs

Venkatesh Rao has assembled a most compelling explanation for how the internet polarization machine works:

The semantic structure of the Internet of Beefs is shaped by high-profile beefs between charismatic celebrity knights loosely affiliated with various citadel-like strongholds peopled by opt-in armies of mooks. The vast majority of the energy of the conflict lies in interchangeable mooks facing off against each other, loosely along lines indicated by the knights they follow, in innumerable battles that play out every minute across the IoB.

Almost none of these battles matter...

The End of Friction

April 10, 2019 • #

One of my favorite topics on Ben Thompson’s Stratechery, and one that underpins much of his Aggregation Theory, is the role friction plays in economies and cultural forces. Most of the pros (and cons) of internet companies can be tied back to the fact that they took existing businesses or customer demands and removed the friction. Whether it was shipping goods to your door, streaming movies, or communicating with friends, the internet stripped the friction from these interactions for good, but with some downsides that are only recently being realized and understood.

In 2013 he published one...