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March 22 2018

Dave Morin Teases New Social Networking Successor App to Path

It appears that in recent days with the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story breaking, Dave Morin has been “overwhelmed with requests to rebuild a better Path”. Yesterday he sent out this tweet:

This outpouring is surely due to the continuing fallout from the #DeleteFacebook campaign and the growing concern of our trust being compromised with regards to sharing of personal data. Dave Morin is an alumni of Facebook and was a co-founder of Path which aimed to be a much more personal social networking app. One of its founding principles was to limit the number of people you could follow on the network citing Dunbar’s number. The app originally limited you to 50 friends but later expanded that to Dunbar’s 150. [You can read the history arc of Path on TechCrunch here.]

I was an avid user of Path. While I restrained my personal sharing on Facebook due to its nature of a more open network that I also used to share professional achievements, I shared more intimate thoughts with a closed circle on Path. After Path’s sale in 2015 my usage started to dwindle and I eventually stopped using it.

I recently wrote about the importance of decentralization and it continues to pick up steam amidst continuing news about how our personal data continues to be compromised. I responded to Dave’s tweet and a short time later he responded:

While I don’t understand how the complexity of such a project wouldn’t allow it to be created as open source, it was nice to see that decentralization is a consideration. In fact in a later tweet he mentioned possibly using Blockstack which confirms his thoughts.

I’m sure choosing open source would present quite a few challenges but I feel that it would ensure that a community could be built around a project to ensure its longevity. What guarantee as users would we have that this new project wouldn’t just be sold again like Path? An app as intimate with the amount of personal data we devote to it deserves our guarantee of trust and survival. The mere fact that that data has value to someone for purchasing it, removes the trust of having single entity owning it. We need to re-think the business model around such an important app. It’s time.

I guess by decentralizing it, the data could become portable to other apps but open source just seems like glue that would bind that. There are currently great business models in content management systems such as Automattic as a for profit entity building apps on top of open source WordPress as well as the same model in Acquia for Drupal. I’d love to see a similar model developed for a social network.

I responded to Dave’s tweet with the following, but haven’t gotten a response:

I just feel that we’re past having a private entity having ownership of something as important as a social network and there has to be a better way to create such a system that allows those who build it to make a profit while keeping the integrity and longevity of it guaranteed. I’m excited about Dave’s announcement regardless and look forward to following its progress.

In any case his original tweet has garnered quite a bit of positive interest and excitement with over 200 responses as of this writing. Here’s some additional notable ones:

Several former Path team members came out of the woodwork showing their support for building a new app. Here’s one of them.

Looks like Ryan is ready and willing to help.

I like this idea and it plays into my integrity and longevity concerns

Looks like the first investor is lined up.


Several tweets discussing a new business model. Dave says subscription only but also likes the crowdfunding or indie vc model.

And finally…

Dave Morin Teases New Social Networking Successor App to Path

February 08 2018

Return of the Decentralized Web

image courtesy of personal data ecosystem consortium

Recently I’ve seen signs that are promising in the pursuit of returning focus to a decentralized web / internet. There are still many hurdles to get us there, but we have a good foundation to overcome the technical obstacles. There has been a surge of many prominent people working towards this goal. However I feel that making a compelling argument for the average person to care and adopt the concept is lacking. The prospect of moving their online activity and personal data investment will be the greater challenge. So with that preamble I’ll list a few of the reasons why I have a positive outlook and feel progress is on the right track.

The Background

This Wired article provides some great context as to why we should return to a decentralized web. It discusses how big companies now control most of the web along with our personal data. It then provides thoughts from the web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee on how he wants to change things through his open source project Solid. From the article:

On the better web Berners-Lee envisions, users control where their data is stored and how it’s accessed.

This is something I’ve always felt passionate about. It was the promise of the now defunct Locker Project which I’ve written about extensively which was supposed to allow us to create and store all of our personal data on our local machines and provide us with controls for where and how we wanted to publish it. It’s a similar concept to what has been modeled by the IndieWeb group (another big proponent for a decentralized web) with their POSSE (Publish on your own site and syndicate elsewhere) with regards to websites.

The Framework and Tools

Besides Solid and the concept of POSSE there are other technologies that can help with the underlying framework of getting us back to a decentralized web. IPFS is a peer to peer protocol that aims to make data distributed, making it more permanent and not as susceptible to current limitations. IPFS can work in conjunction with the Blockchain which is another rising technology that you primarily hear about with regards to cryptocurrency but has also been mentioned quite a bit with regards to web decentralization. Hell, even Richard Hendricks wants to create a “New Internet” so that’s obviously a sign that we should do it. Right?

Every year Mark Zuckerberg takes on an annual challenge. This year’s challenge is to fix Facebook. He acknowledges how abuse of the service has negatively impacted people and his goal is to change that this year. In his announcement he stated the following:

…one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization…Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force… many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens

The fact that Zuckerberg acknowledges the issues and points to decentralization as important is a good sign. Time will tell how Facebook implements changes but ultimately it will continue to be a centralized repository of silo’d personal data.

The People

Dries Buytaert is another person I follow and respect who has been a strong advocate for the decentralized web. This article details his thoughts on its importance and his 2018 resolution re-iterated it as well. In it he discusses how he wants to reduce his use of social media and increase his blogging. In it he states:

The web we build today will be the foundation for generations to come and it needs to remain decentralized. It’s true that a decentralized web is harder to build and more difficult to use. Frankly, it will be difficult for the open web to win without better data portability, more regulatory oversight, better integrations, and more innovation and collaboration.

Dries mentioned data portability which is another initiative related to decentralization and personal data ownership which I began following in 2008 but has been dormant. However, this Tweet from Chris Saad (One of its founders) suggests interest in reviving it. Dries also recently blogged about beginning to use POSSE as well.

Earlier I mentioned how the Blockchain could be used as part of the framework for a decentralized web. Just yesterday a video was published with insights from many prominent people in the space including engineer Preethi Kasireddy, and VC’s Mark Suster and Fred Wilson among many others. Preethi discusses the benefits of decentralization over centralization. Fred talks about how Facebook and Google own our data and how decentralization’s greatest potential is returning control of our identity and data back to us. Mark sent out this tweet specifically citing how Blockchain’s potential for fueling a decentralized internet.

Here’s the video

Lastly, on the heels of Zuckerberg’s challenge was the announcement of the Center for Humane Technology created by a group of former Facebook and Google employees (among others) that understand how these companies leverage all of our personal data and in turn manipulate us. Their initial goal is to focus on educating people on the harm that social media sites are playing in shaping children’s behavior. They also will work on a “Ledger of Harms” which will be a resource for engineers who build sites and tools on the health effects. While this group hasn’t mentioned decentralization, I feel we can expect that it may be an initiative in their future.

What Now?

As you can see there seems to be some momentum taking us to a good place. This is all very exciting but it also brings me back to identifying what may be the compelling reason for people to buy into the need to embrace a decentralized web and stop entrusting all of their personal data to the private silos of Facebook, Google and other services. I think the answer will be by providing the value in owning our personal data and planning our digital legacy. It will also be extremely important to do this as seamlessly as possible. I feel that much like how previous generations may have clung to photos, letters, and other heirlooms to pass on to future generations we’ll realize that we need to take the same care with our personal digital data. People need to be educated and hopefully come to realize that outsourcing the ownership of their data will make it cumbersome, if even possible, for their ability to pass that data on to their families in the future.

[Update 2/13: Here’s an article describing how Microsoft plans to use a Blockchain to provide decentralized personal identity for users]

[Update 2/16: I came across this great article: Why the Web 3.0 Matters and you should know about it by Matteo Gianpietro Zago which provides a great history of the web as it relates to the current movement towards decentralization along with the framework being created to make it happen.]

[Update 2/18: Chris Dixon makes his case on the importance of decentralization and its challenges in his article on Why Decentralization Matters]

I’d love to hear more thoughts, resources, and projects related to web / internet decentralization. Please share them in the comments.

 

Return of the Decentralized Web

Return of the Decentralized Web

image courtesy of personal data ecosystem consortium

Recently I’ve seen signs that are promising in the pursuit of returning focus to a decentralized web / internet. There are still many hurdles to get us there, but we have a good foundation to overcome the technical obstacles. There has been a surge of many prominent people working towards this goal. However I feel that making a compelling argument for the average person to care and adopt the concept is lacking. The prospect of moving their online activity and personal data investment will be the greater challenge. So with that preamble I’ll list a few of the reasons why I have a positive outlook and feel progress is on the right track.

The Background

This Wired article provides some great context as to why we should return to a decentralized web. It discusses how big companies now control most of the web along with our personal data. It then provides thoughts from the web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee on how he wants to change things through his open source project Solid. From the article:

On the better web Berners-Lee envisions, users control where their data is stored and how it’s accessed.

This is something I’ve always felt passionate about. It was the promise of the now defunct Locker Project which I’ve written about extensively which was supposed to allow us to create and store all of our personal data on our local machines and provide us with controls for where and how we wanted to publish it. It’s a similar concept to what has been modeled by the IndieWeb group (another big proponent for a decentralized web) with their POSSE (Publish on your own site and syndicate elsewhere) with regards to websites.

The Framework and Tools

Besides Solid and the concept of POSSE there are other technologies that can help with the underlying framework of getting us back to a decentralized web. IPFS is a peer to peer protocol that aims to make data distributed, making it more permanent and not as susceptible to current limitations. IPFS can work in conjunction with the Blockchain which is another rising technology that you primarily hear about with regards to cryptocurrency but has also been mentioned quite a bit with regards to web decentralization. Hell, even Richard Hendricks wants to create a “New Internet” so that’s obviously a sign that we should do it. Right?

Every year Mark Zuckerberg takes on an annual challenge. This year’s challenge is to fix Facebook. He acknowledges how abuse of the service has negatively impacted people and his goal is to change that this year. In his announcement he stated the following:

…one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization…Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force… many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens

The fact that Zuckerberg acknowledges the issues and points to decentralization as important is a good sign. Time will tell how Facebook implements changes but ultimately it will continue to be a centralized repository of silo’d personal data.

The People

Dries Buytaert is another person I follow and respect who has been a strong advocate for the decentralized web. This article details his thoughts on its importance and his 2018 resolution re-iterated it as well. In it he discusses how he wants to reduce his use of social media and increase his blogging. In it he states:

The web we build today will be the foundation for generations to come and it needs to remain decentralized. It’s true that a decentralized web is harder to build and more difficult to use. Frankly, it will be difficult for the open web to win without better data portability, more regulatory oversight, better integrations, and more innovation and collaboration.

Dries mentioned data portability which is another initiative related to decentralization and personal data ownership which I began following in 2008 but has been dormant. However, this Tweet from Chris Saad (One of its founders) suggests interest in reviving it. Dries also recently blogged about beginning to use POSSE as well.

Earlier I mentioned how the Blockchain could be used as part of the framework for a decentralized web. Just yesterday a video was published with insights from many prominent people in the space including engineer Preethi Kasireddy, and VC’s Mark Suster and Fred Wilson among many others. Preethi discusses the benefits of decentralization over centralization. Fred talks about how Facebook and Google own our data and how decentralization’s greatest potential is returning control of our identity and data back to us. Mark sent out this tweet specifically citing how Blockchain’s potential for fueling a decentralized internet.

Here’s the video

Lastly, on the heels of Zuckerberg’s challenge was the announcement of the Center for Humane Technology created by a group of former Facebook and Google employees (among others) that understand how these companies leverage all of our personal data and in turn manipulate us. Their initial goal is to focus on educating people on the harm that social media sites are playing in shaping children’s behavior. They also will work on a “Ledger of Harms” which will be a resource for engineers who build sites and tools on the health effects. While this group hasn’t mentioned decentralization, I feel we can expect that it may be an initiative in their future.

What Now?

As you can see there seems to be some momentum taking us to a good place. This is all very exciting but it also brings me back to identifying what may be the compelling reason for people to buy into the need to embrace a decentralized web and stop entrusting all of their personal data to the private silos of Facebook, Google and other services. I think the answer will be by providing the value in owning our personal data and planning our digital legacy. It will also be extremely important to do this as seamlessly as possible. I feel that much like how previous generations may have clung to photos, letters, and other heirlooms to pass on to future generations we’ll realize that we need to take the same care with our personal digital data. People need to be educated and hopefully come to realize that outsourcing the ownership of their data will make it cumbersome, if even possible, for their ability to pass that data on to their families in the future.

I’d love to hear more thoughts, resources, and projects related to web / internet decentralization. Please share them in the comments.

 

Return of the Decentralized Web

January 27 2018

Incredibly Entertaining Analysis of Unknown 80s Bands on the Deviate Podcast


The Shadow History of 1980s Rock podcast by Rolf Potts provides us with a unique and amazing way to reflect back on music from the 80’s. The premise is that Rolf stumbles upon a stack of records from unknown bands of the 80’s that he bought 5 years ago from a thrift store in Kansas. […]

Incredibly Entertaining Analysis of Unknown 80s Bands on the Deviate Podcast


The Shadow History of 1980s Rock podcast by Rolf Potts provides us with a unique and amazing way to reflect back on music from the 80’s. The premise is that Rolf stumbles upon a stack of records from unknown bands of the 80’s that he bought 5 years ago from a thrift store in Kansas. […]

January 08 2018

The Best Way to Build a Single Page Website


I’ve been a user of CMS (content management systems) building many websites for over 10 years. In that time I’ve primarily used Drupal and WordPress for most of my projects and tested many other systems along the way. For my most recent work project we’re using a new methodology for building our site called “headless” […]

The Best Way to Build a Single Page Website


I’ve been a user of CMS (content management systems) building many websites for over 10 years. In that time I’ve primarily used Drupal and WordPress for most of my projects and tested many other systems along the way. For my most recent work project we’re using a new methodology for building our site called “headless” […]

December 30 2017

Top 5 Smart Journal Apps

[UPDATE 12/30/17]

I did a little research to see what has changed in the journal landscape to update this article. I did not find any new apps to add to the list and currently feel that the two top apps to consider should be Journey and Day One.

Journey has continued to get great updates and has expanded their offering to Windows, Mac, and iOS along with their support for Android and Chrome via an extension. Day One has expanded adding support for Android and has begun to add some limited cloud functionality which allows you to sync data and view it, albeit read only for now. I’ve made a few updates to the listings below as well.

In 2012 I wrote this post for The Next Web when I began looking for “smart journal” apps. I considered a smart journal app to be one that provided the following features:

  • Offers posting from both mobile and desktop
  • Syncing to cloud services
  • Exporting to various file formats
  • Calendar views
  • Search
  • Categories and/or tagging
  • Reminder notifications to create entries
  • Private with passcode by default

I reviewed my original post and took a look to see if I could find any new apps and services out there. Below is a list that contains new apps along with some from my original post that contain all of the above features and more.

If you need a reason or inspiration as to why you should keep a journal, look no further than this great post on “Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life“.

Journey

(Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Web and Chrome extension)

This is a very elegant app with a nice UI and design that reminds me of Day One which is an IOS only app (see below). It’s chock full of many of the same features as well. The Chrome extension is used to write entries from your desktop and it syncs to Google Drive. You can also selectively publish posts to your social sites if you want.

As 2017 ends you can see that they continue to make improvements to the user interface and design and they are still adding many new features. You can login through the website and read your posts as well as add new ones. The web interface doesn’t offer all the features of the dedicated desktop or mobile apps but it’s nice to have that as an option and it’s included for free. The pricing model for the software is a little confusing with several different pricing options for the mobile app ($4.49), desktop software ($14.99) and cloud annual subscriptions ($29). However the free offering is very generous and you can test out quite a bit of the features before deciding to upgrade.

You can read a full review of this app here.

Day One

(iOS, Mac, Android, Web)

This app has been praised as the premiere journal app for IOS. It stands out with its beautiful design and strong feature set. To create entries on the desktop requires purchasing the companion Mac app. If you’re an IOS / Mac user you should seriously consider Day One.

2017 has finally brought Android support and while the initial release isn’t as beautiful as the iOS version it’s great to see the support expanding. The new cloud support is a pretty basic and currently only offers the ability to read data that is synced. Also the cloud support requires the $25 annual subscription to access. Still this is definitely one of the top apps worth testing out to see if it meets your needs.

Here’s a good full review of the app.

dayone

Penzu

( Android, iOS, Web)

I like Penzu because it has a strong emphasis on gaining insight from your previous journal entries. This is done by using an algorithm that provides snippets of previous entries as reminders from old entries to help identify themes and give you inspiration for new entries. It’s also got a very robust web app. Here’s a detailed review.

penzu

Diaro

(Android, iOS, Web)

I really liked the features and flexibility of this app when I wrote my first review. It continues to be improved and has added support for iOS in 2017. You can read another review of it I found here.

diaro

Momento

(iOS only)

I’ve added Momento as an honorable mention because it doesn’t offer a cloud or desktop software access but is still a great stand-alone app with lots of great features. If you’re ok just having your mobile device as the only method to store and retrieve your journal then this app is worth your consideration.

This may be one the oldest app on this list which I used when it initially was released. It as continued to be updated with features and the design is gorgeous. This app has integration with many third party apps and services and will automatically import their activity allowing you to automate some of your journal entries. This could be pretty convenient when you don’t find time or want to duplicate the content you’re already sharing publicly. It will also allow you to create private journal entries only available from the app as well.

You can start by downloading the free app and then through in-app purchases add additional features.

Originally posted on 1/19/2015

Top 5 Smart Journal Apps

November 16 2017

Bill Simmons Rapid Fire Conversation with Jeff Bridges


I’m a recent subscriber of the Bill Simmons podcast and I enjoy listening to his micro-detail oriented dissection of the sports world. However his recent podcast conversation with Jeff Bridges was a pleasant surprise. Jeff Bridges just seems like such a genuine person and here he tells so many well detailed, behind the scenes stories […]

Bill Simmons Rapid Fire Conversation with Jeff Bridges


I’m a recent subscriber of the Bill Simmons podcast and I enjoy listening to his micro-detail oriented dissection of the sports world. However his recent podcast conversation with Jeff Bridges was a pleasant surprise. Jeff Bridges just seems like such a genuine person and here he tells so many well detailed, behind the scenes stories […]

October 10 2017

My Headless / Decoupled CMS Comparison Matrix


I recently wrote about the journey of moving from a traditional content management system to a headless / decoupled one and learning all the issues that need to be considered. For the process of selecting a headless cms software or service we needed a way to help compare them more easily as we tested each […]

My Headless / Decoupled CMS Comparison Matrix


I recently wrote about the journey of moving from a traditional content management system to a headless / decoupled one and learning all the issues that need to be considered. For the process of selecting a headless cms software or service we needed a way to help compare them more easily as we tested each […]

September 28 2017

My Online Project Management Services Comparison Matrix


A few months ago I embarked on researching hosted project management services to use for our marketing team. The system we were currently using wasn’t effective for us anymore. This provided a good opportunity to look at the current landscape to determine which service would be the best fit for us. For this process we […]

My Online Project Management Services Comparison Matrix


A few months ago I embarked on researching hosted project management services to use for our marketing team. The system we were currently using wasn’t effective for us anymore. This provided a good opportunity to look at the current landscape to determine which service would be the best fit for us. For this process we […]

September 08 2017

Considering Moving to a Headless or Decoupled CMS Approach? Tread Carefully…


[Updated on 9/11 with Headless CMS Buyer’s Guide link and my commentary] I’m about to embark on a new website re-design / rebuild. We’ve decided to move to a headless CMS (content management system) for this project. If you’re not too familiar with the headless CMS approach you can learn more here and here. Also, headless and decoupled […]

Considering Moving to a Headless or Decoupled CMS Approach? Tread Carefully…


[Updated on 9/11 with Headless CMS Buyer’s Guide link and my commentary] I’m about to embark on a new website re-design / rebuild. We’ve decided to move to a headless CMS (content management system) for this project. If you’re not too familiar with the headless CMS approach you can learn more here and here. Also, headless and decoupled […]

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