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October 21 2013

My Experience and Highlights from the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference

I’ve just returned from the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference and my experience was quite amazing. I have attended several of the QS Los Angeles meetups but this was the first time I went to one of the official conferences. It was held at the beautiful Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco. The conference had a limited attendance of around 300 people and much like my experience earlier this year at YxYY I feel that the smaller group really contributed to the intimacy of the event and made for great opportunities to meet and have discussions with other attendees.

Gary Wolf sets the stage for our 2 days

Gary Wolf sets the stage for our 2 days

The two day conference started day one with QS co-founder Gary Wolf giving a plenary that had us all in a single location to learn about the schedule and format of the conference as well as provided for some initial talks to get us started. From there we broke off to attend the various different tracks that were available. The main room that could accommodate all the guests operated like a typical conference talk where we had presentations and then could follow them with a Q&A session at the end. But the remaining talks were given in smaller groups and were tailored more as interactive activities and collaborative discussions. From the very beginning everyone is encouraged to participate and contribute. The conference had over 25% of the attendees giving presentations in this “carefully curated un-conference” atmosphere. During lunch the main room was used for Ignite talks and we ended each day together in the main room as well. This conference was very focused on attendee participation and contribution which is one of the things that made it so special.

Gordon Bell shows us his Basis heart rate graph

Gordon Bell shows us his Basis heart rate graph

Shortly after the plenary was completed I immediately took the opportunity to meet Gordon Bell which had been sitting in front of me. This was definitely a highlight for me as he’s been one of the inspirations for me creating this blog and I’ve covered him quite a bit here. After that I followed him to an area where he provided an open format Q&A at one of the various small tables that were set aside for various speakers to provide “office hours”. Gordon provided some of his history around lifelogging, how he’s been tracking health data, and showed us a recent graph he had prepared on how his heart rate had increased during a recent visit with a lawyer thanks to tracking using his Basis  band.

From there I continued to another talk on lifelogging that was moderated by Cathal Gurrin of Dublin City University along with Andy Hickl who is co-founder of ARO/Saga and Aaron Parecki of ESRI. This topic of the discussion was around the unexpected effects of continuous lifelogging. There were many great stories and the discussion evolved to the point where many of us began providing what we log and why we do it. This was pretty enlightening as many people vary greatly around this and the stories from each of them was interesting. I think this is what makes it so challenging for apps and services to create a “one size fits all” model. Andy Hickl’s told us his story in which he had been diagnosed with cancer and was prompted to start lifelogging so he could create a digital record of his life to share with his daughter. I am a big fan of the Saga lifelogging app and at the QS conference they released a new version for Android that allows exporting which is a nice milestone. I spent some time talking to Andy pleading for new features that include creating a desktop experience (web service or local client to access data) as well as providing the ability to supplement the data it currently stores with personal data we store on our local machines. Kitty Ireland also from Saga gave one of my favorite talks around using lifelogging for storytelling. She detailed how her grandmother was an avid lifelogger by way of her diary in the 1940′s. She would meticulously log daily information such as location, meals and other data we use technology to do for us today. Kitty analyzed the data from the diary so she could explore her own life in the context of what her grandmother recorded and found some amazingly similar correlations.

Andy Hickl, Aaron Parecki, and Cathal Gurrin leading our lifelogging talk

Andy Hickl, Aaron Parecki, and Cathal Gurrin leading our lifelogging talk

Aaron Perecki attended another talk which has been a growing topic in the QS community around API’s. The implications around being able to access data, share it with aggregation services along with privacy implications all play a role when discussing the API’s available for device makers and services. Device maker’s API’s may not prove valuable if the data pulled doesn’t provide something as simple as a proper time-stamp. This is sometimes the case and without that it makes for a difficult time trying to draw correlations from other data sets. Beau Gunderson who is working for an EHR (Electronic health record) company called Practice Fusion which is looking to import data described the problems with time-stamps as well. This was one of several points Aaron made in a blog post he wrote where he was proposing a future for QS devices. He describes the notion that device makers should push data into our own personal servers where we can use external services to aggregate, analyze, and share data from. The ownership of data is something that the IndieWeb community has been doing for some time and they’ve recently been focusing on building a personal data architecture called POSSE. In 2011 I wrote about the Locker Project which appeared to be exactly what Aaron is describing in the way of a personal server platform to pull in external data with services that could be run against it. Unfortunately that project has stalled for quite some time but I’ve been told that it may get resurrected. I’m currently working on a blog post describing my thoughts around a framework for the ultimate lifelogging app that I’ll publish soon.

The conference had a room dedicated to sponsors and vendors to show off their products and services. One theme I saw quite a bit in both the talks and in the demos shown in this marketplace was the quickly increasing quality of progressive health related companies making their way into QS. I previously mentioned Practice Fusion and also recently wrote about the biggest EHR service announcing an API. It’s great to see how our health data may potentially open up a bit so it can be supplemented by additional services that could use our DNA, blood, and other external data so we can paint a more complete picture of our health. Speaking of other data I learned about uBiome which aims to capture data about our microbiome to help correlate the information around health conditions. Open mHealth is doing things around aggregating data to help us draw relationships and feedback loops as well. I’ve seen many services that aggregate QS data over the last 2 years but the ability to pro-actively notify us with simple insights is the next phase of QS that is still materializing and is what many see as the biggest hurdle preventing QS from going mainstream. In a related shameless plug, at XPRIZE we’ve created the audacious Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE to build a personal hand-held device to monitor vitals and actively diagnose 15 diseases. Scanadu, which is one of the teams entered into the competition, was a sponsor of the conference.

Kevin Kelly leads a discussion on the future of QS

Kevin Kelly leads a discussion on the future of QS

Fluxstream was another booth I visited which in the aggregation space which has a platform with a nice interface and visualizations but one distinction for them is that their software is open source. ProjectAddapp which also connects QS data together to let you create “data experiments” released a new version at the conference with updated visuals and the addition of new data correlations. Beddit aims to pick up sleep tracking where Zeo left off and is doing so with the help of former Zeo co-founder Benjamin Rubin as an advisor. I was able to see and hold one of the upcoming Narrative lifelogging cameras. It’s so much smaller than other similar cameras and is going to be very cool for passively capturing photos throughout our day. I saw a talk with wearable sensors in clothing from OMsignal who showed a t-shirt that could track ECG, stress level, and activity.  Another such shirt I heard people mention was Hexoskin which just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign. I find this new area to be interesting and perhaps less obtrusive in finding ways to passively capture our data.

lumo_leaderboard

Lumoback Wearers Real-time Posture Score (click for full size)

Leading up to the QS conference the makers of Lumoback were looking to do an experiment whereby they would give a group of attendees their  posture monitoring device to wear and have their data publicly displayed on a leaderboard at their booth. Having recently been told by my chiropractor that I’ve been having major issues around my posture I was more than game to try this. After wearing the device for three days I was pretty impressed with how it helped me actively monitor and correct my posture. I also liked how it could calculate how much time I spend sitting each day and determine what positions I’m in while I sleep. I will write a more detailed post on the device at a later time. Fu-Chieh Hsu also had a device taking a different approach being worn on the forehead that he demonstrated using to monitor and improve posture which looked interesting as well.

The largest breakout talk that I attended was the one given by QS co-founder Kevin Kelly. He moderated a discussion whereby he presented topics around where QS is going in the next 10 – 100 years. One topic would be presented such as what did we think the negative aspects around QS in the future would be, and then he’d walk the room while fielding answers from all the attendees while someone was summarizing the responses on a poster-board. It was very interesting to hear so many broad and diverse thoughts around what the future of QS will bring. I believe Kevin was planning to summarize the collective themes presented around this collaborative discussion at the close of the conference plenary but unfortunately I had to leave early and wasn’t able attend this. Perhaps someone can summarize his talk in the comments and I believe the video of his talk will be posted in the future and I’ll update this post at that time.

So that concludes some of my key take-aways from the conference. I met so many great like-minded people that to share and learn from which made this event really special. If you have yet to attend a QS meetup you really should. It’s the community of people that really makes this “movement” such a great thing. Below are some additional resources I’ve found from the conference and I’ll continue to add to this list as I find content.

Quantified Self Global 2013 Conference Resources

 

My Experience and Highlights from the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference

I’ve just returned from the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference and my experience was quite amazing. I have attended several of the QS Los Angeles meetups but this was the first time I went to one of the official conferences. It was held at the beautiful Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco. The conference had a limited attendance of around 300 people and much like my experience earlier this year at YxYY I feel that the smaller group really contributed to the intimacy of the event and made for great opportunities to meet and have discussions with other attendees.

Gary Wolf sets the stage for our 2 days

Gary Wolf sets the stage for our 2 days

The two day conference started day one with QS co-founder Gary Wolf giving a plenary that had us all in a single location to learn about the schedule and format of the conference as well as provided for some initial talks to get us started. From there we broke off to attend the various different tracks that were available. The main room that could accommodate all the guests operated like a typical conference talk where we had presentations and then could follow them with a Q&A session at the end. But the remaining talks were given in smaller groups and were tailored more as interactive activities and collaborative discussions. From the very beginning everyone is encouraged to participate and contribute. The conference had over 25% of the attendees giving presentations in this “carefully curated un-conference” atmosphere. During lunch the main room was used for Ignite talks and we ended each day together in the main room as well. This conference was very focused on attendee participation and contribution which is one of the things that made it so special.

Gordon Bell shows us his Basis heart rate graph

Gordon Bell shows us his Basis heart rate graph

Shortly after the plenary was completed I immediately took the opportunity to meet Gordon Bell which had been sitting in front of me. This was definitely a highlight for me as he’s been one of the inspirations for me creating this blog and I’ve covered him quite a bit here. After that I followed him to an area where he provided an open format Q&A at one of the various small tables that were set aside for various speakers to provide “office hours”. Gordon provided some of his history around lifelogging, how he’s been tracking health data, and showed us a recent graph he had prepared on how his heart rate had increased during a recent visit with a lawyer thanks to tracking using his Basis  band.

From there I continued to another talk on lifelogging that was moderated by Cathal Gurrin of Dublin City University along with Andy Hickl who is co-founder of ARO/Saga and Aaron Parecki of ESRI. This topic of the discussion was around the unexpected effects of continuous lifelogging. There were many great stories and the discussion evolved to the point where many of us began providing what we log and why we do it. This was pretty enlightening as many people vary greatly around this and the stories from each of them was interesting. I think this is what makes it so challenging for apps and services to create a “one size fits all” model. Andy Hickl’s told us his story in which he had been diagnosed with cancer and was prompted to start lifelogging so he could create a digital record of his life to share with his daughter. I am a big fan of the Saga lifelogging app and at the QS conference they released a new version for Android that allows exporting which is a nice milestone. I spent some time talking to Andy pleading for new features that include creating a desktop experience (web service or local client to access data) as well as providing the ability to supplement the data it currently stores with personal data we store on our local machines. Kitty Ireland also from Saga gave one of my favorite talks around using lifelogging for storytelling. She detailed how her grandmother was an avid lifelogger by way of her diary in the 1940′s. She would meticulously log daily information such as location, meals and other data we use technology to do for us today. Kitty analyzed the data from the diary so she could explore her own life in the context of what her grandmother recorded and found some amazingly similar correlations.

Andy Hickl, Aaron Parecki, and Cathal Gurrin leading our lifelogging talk

Andy Hickl, Aaron Parecki, and Cathal Gurrin leading our lifelogging talk

Aaron Perecki attended another talk which has been a growing topic in the QS community around API’s. The implications around being able to access data, share it with aggregation services along with privacy implications all play a role when discussing the API’s available for device makers and services. Device maker’s API’s may not prove valuable if the data pulled doesn’t provide something as simple as a proper time-stamp. This is sometimes the case and without that it makes for a difficult time trying to draw correlations from other data sets. Beau Gunderson who is working for an EHR (Electronic health record) company called Practice Fusion which is looking to import data described the problems with time-stamps as well. This was one of several points Aaron made in a blog post he wrote where he was proposing a future for QS devices. He describes the notion that device makers should push data into our own personal servers where we can use external services to aggregate, analyze, and share data from. The ownership of data is something that the IndieWeb community has been doing for some time and they’ve recently been focusing on building a personal data architecture called POSSE. In 2011 I wrote about the Locker Project which appeared to be exactly what Aaron is describing in the way of a personal server platform to pull in external data with services that could be run against it. Unfortunately that project has stalled for quite some time but I’ve been told that it may get resurrected. I’m currently working on a blog post describing my thoughts around a framework for the ultimate lifelogging app that I’ll publish soon.

The conference had a room dedicated to sponsors and vendors to show off their products and services. One theme I saw quite a bit in both the talks and in the demos shown in this marketplace was the quickly increasing quality of progressive health related companies making their way into QS. I previously mentioned Practice Fusion and also recently wrote about the biggest EHR service announcing an API. It’s great to see how our health data may potentially open up a bit so it can be supplemented by additional services that could use our DNA, blood, and other external data so we can paint a more complete picture of our health. Speaking of other data I learned about uBiome which aims to capture data about our microbiome to help correlate the information around health conditions. Open mHealth is doing things around aggregating data to help us draw relationships and feedback loops as well. I’ve seen many services that aggregate QS data over the last 2 years but the ability to pro-actively notify us with simple insights is the next phase of QS that is still materializing and is what many see as the biggest hurdle preventing QS from going mainstream. In a related shameless plug, at XPRIZE we’ve created the audacious Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE to build a personal hand-held device to monitor vitals and actively diagnose 15 diseases. Scanadu, which is one of the teams entered into the competition, was a sponsor of the conference.

Kevin Kelly leads a discussion on the future of QS

Kevin Kelly leads a discussion on the future of QS

Fluxstream was another booth I visited which in the aggregation space which has a platform with a nice interface and visualizations but one distinction for them is that their software is open source. ProjectAddapp which also connects QS data together to let you create “data experiments” released a new version at the conference with updated visuals and the addition of new data correlations. Beddit aims to pick up sleep tracking where Zeo left off and is doing so with the help of former Zeo co-founder Benjamin Rubin as an advisor. I was able to see and hold one of the upcoming Narrative lifelogging cameras. It’s so much smaller than other similar cameras and is going to be very cool for passively capturing photos throughout our day. I saw a talk with wearable sensors in clothing from OMsignal who showed a t-shirt that could track ECG, stress level, and activity.  Another such shirt I heard people mention was Hexoskin which just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign. I find this new area to be interesting and perhaps less obtrusive in finding ways to passively capture our data.

lumo_leaderboard

Lumoback Wearers Real-time Posture Score (click for full size)

Leading up to the QS conference the makers of Lumoback were looking to do an experiment whereby they would give a group of attendees their  posture monitoring device to wear and have their data publicly displayed on a leaderboard at their booth. Having recently been told by my chiropractor that I’ve been having major issues around my posture I was more than game to try this. After wearing the device for three days I was pretty impressed with how it helped me actively monitor and correct my posture. I also liked how it could calculate how much time I spend sitting each day and determine what positions I’m in while I sleep. I will write a more detailed post on the device at a later time. Fu-Chieh Hsu also had a device taking a different approach being worn on the forehead that he demonstrated using to monitor and improve posture which looked interesting as well.

The largest breakout talk that I attended was the one given by QS co-founder Kevin Kelly. He moderated a discussion whereby he presented topics around where QS is going in the next 10 – 100 years. One topic would be presented such as what did we think the negative aspects around QS in the future would be, and then he’d walk the room while fielding answers from all the attendees while someone was summarizing the responses on a poster-board. It was very interesting to hear so many broad and diverse thoughts around what the future of QS will bring. I believe Kevin was planning to summarize the collective themes presented around this collaborative discussion at the close of the conference plenary but unfortunately I had to leave early and wasn’t able attend this. Perhaps someone can summarize his talk in the comments and I believe the video of his talk will be posted in the future and I’ll update this post at that time.

So that concludes some of my key take-aways from the conference. I met so many great like-minded people that to share and learn from which made this event really special. If you have yet to attend a QS meetup you really should. It’s the community of people that really makes this “movement” such a great thing. Below are some additional resources I’ve found from the conference and I’ll continue to add to this list as I find content.

Quantified Self Global 2013 Conference Resources

 

August 24 2012

Showw.me is the First Lifestreaming Service Built on the Singly API

Ever since I first heard about the Locker Project and Singly, I’ve been anxiously waiting to see what apps would be built on the platform, knowing that a lifestreaming service would surely be created. Well it’s been over a year since the original announcement and the wait is now over with the public release of  Showw.me.

First a quick summary of what Singly is to help frame some of the underlying architecture for Showw.me. Singly offers an API that handles the authentication, and ability to import and export data to multiple social networks. It also allows for interacting with that data so in the case of Facebook you can like and comment on updates that are fed back through the API. Developing authentication and communicating with individual services is something that many startups build on their own which can take several months to develop. Singly’s API takes care of this hassle and allows a startup to focus on the value add they provide by connecting to social services.

Showw.me has many of the features you’ve come to expect from a Lifestreaming service along with some nice additions. As is always the case you begin by adding as many of the supported services that you want. As of this writing they currently support Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, Linkedin and Soundcloud. After the conclusion of your oAuth fest you will be able to visit your personal page that will be filled with all your social content goodness. There are several unique features for the individual stream items. Standard embedding of media within the stream items is there, but there’s also added bonuses depending on the item. For instance a link to a blog post shared on Twitter will include an image, title and excerpt. A Foursquare item will show their icon location type identifier along with the address of the location. Another nice features is the ability to hide duplicate content. I sometimes selectively send updates from Instagram or Path to multiple social sites. This allows you to manually remove those duplicate items from appearing. I’ve also read that Singly has some built in de-duplication which could help this issue in the future.

Click image to visit my page on Showw.me

So far these are some pretty standard Lifestreaming features but then Showw.me takes a few new approaches. Interacting with the stream items are fed back the source services. So instead of favoriting or commenting on items whereby those interactions live as distinct data within the Showw.me service, those interactions get published back to Facebook, Twitter or any other service you connect. Currently this only works for Facebook and Twitter but they will be adding support for more services soon.

But Showw.me doesn’t stop at just creating your own Lifestream. Many services limit themselves by building a new social graph within their system along with new content generated on top of it. While Showw.me offers an additional follower layer whereby you can “favorite” other profiles, it’s not bound by it. That functionality always suffers from the network effect because it requires your friends to join the service before it becomes beneficial. That’s not the case with Showw.me as they also offer what they call a “unified feed”. This pulls in all the content your friends are sharing on the services you connect to Showw.me. This is very cool because the service then becomes more of a unified streams dashboard. Also as mentioned all of your interactions go back to the source service.

 

At that point the Showw.me unified feed may seem more akin to services like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. But those services are designed more as publishing systems, whereas Showw.me aims to provide much more visual features and functionality with regards to consuming the content. And this is on top of creating your personal Lifestreaming profile as well. The ability to filter content by service or data type is also something I really like. You can filter your Lifestream by News (links), photos, videos, statuses, or checkins. Even better is that you can filter the unified stream by all of these data types as well as by service.

I spoke to Showw.me co-founder Noah Lucas. He told me that the idea for the service came before they were familiar with Singly but it has provided them some great benefits so they can focus more on what they want to build. He told me that “in short it will be a follow-model social service that sits on top your existing services.” He went on to say that “While at first glance it may look similar to glossi, overblog, and Rebelmouse – the goal is to grow into something very different than that.” I asked him about what their plans are for upcoming features and functionality. He told me that they are currently focused on enhancing the current experience then working toward a mobile experience and adding personal analytics around the content we share to our social networks.

I’m looking forward towards watching Showw.me progress as well as more startups being created that take advantage of Singly. Surely many other folks are out there that will become enabled by the Singly API and we’ll see some innovative services come from it. Check out the video below with Noah being interviewed by Singly.

Showw.me is the First Lifestreaming Service Built on the Singly API

Ever since I first heard about the Locker Project and Singly, I’ve been anxiously waiting to see what apps would be built on the platform, knowing that a lifestreaming service would surely be created. Well it’s been over a year since the original announcement and the wait is now over with the public release of  Showw.me.

First a quick summary of what Singly is to help frame some of the underlying architecture for Showw.me. Singly offers an API that handles the authentication, and ability to import and export data to multiple social networks. It also allows for interacting with that data so in the case of Facebook you can like and comment on updates that are fed back through the API. Developing authentication and communicating with individual services is something that many startups build on their own which can take several months to develop. Singly’s API takes care of this hassle and allows a startup to focus on the value add they provide by connecting to social services.

Showw.me has many of the features you’ve come to expect from a Lifestreaming service along with some nice additions. As is always the case you begin by adding as many of the supported services that you want. As of this writing they currently support Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, Linkedin and Soundcloud. After the conclusion of your oAuth fest you will be able to visit your personal page that will be filled with all your social content goodness. There are several unique features for the individual stream items. Standard embedding of media within the stream items is there, but there’s also added bonuses depending on the item. For instance a link to a blog post shared on Twitter will include an image, title and excerpt. A Foursquare item will show their icon location type identifier along with the address of the location. Another nice features is the ability to hide duplicate content. I sometimes selectively send updates from Instagram or Path to multiple social sites. This allows you to manually remove those duplicate items from appearing. I’ve also read that Singly has some built in de-duplication which could help this issue in the future.

Click image to visit my page on Showw.me

So far these are some pretty standard Lifestreaming features but then Showw.me takes a few new approaches. Interacting with the stream items are fed back the source services. So instead of favoriting or commenting on items whereby those interactions live as distinct data within the Showw.me service, those interactions get published back to Facebook, Twitter or any other service you connect. Currently this only works for Facebook and Twitter but they will be adding support for more services soon.

But Showw.me doesn’t stop at just creating your own Lifestream. Many services limit themselves by building a new social graph within their system along with new content generated on top of it. While Showw.me offers an additional follower layer whereby you can “favorite” other profiles, it’s not bound by it. That functionality always suffers from the network effect because it requires your friends to join the service before it becomes beneficial. That’s not the case with Showw.me as they also offer what they call a “unified feed”. This pulls in all the content your friends are sharing on the services you connect to Showw.me. This is very cool because the service then becomes more of a unified streams dashboard. Also as mentioned all of your interactions go back to the source service.

 

At that point the Showw.me unified feed may seem more akin to services like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. But those services are designed more as publishing systems, whereas Showw.me aims to provide much more visual features and functionality with regards to consuming the content. And this is on top of creating your personal Lifestreaming profile as well. The ability to filter content by service or data type is also something I really like. You can filter your Lifestream by News (links), photos, videos, statuses, or checkins. Even better is that you can filter the unified stream by all of these data types as well as by service.

I spoke to Showw.me co-founder Noah Lucas. He told me that the idea for the service came before they were familiar with Singly but it has provided them some great benefits so they can focus more on what they want to build. He told me that “in short it will be a follow-model social service that sits on top your existing services.” He went on to say that “While at first glance it may look similar to glossi, overblog, and Rebelmouse – the goal is to grow into something very different than that.” I asked him about what their plans are for upcoming features and functionality. He told me that they are currently focused on enhancing the current experience then working toward a mobile experience and adding personal analytics around the content we share to our social networks.

I’m looking forward towards watching Showw.me progress as well as more startups being created that take advantage of Singly. Surely many other folks are out there that will become enabled by the Singly API and we’ll see some innovative services come from it. Check out the video below with Noah being interviewed by Singly.

August 12 2012

Why I’m Supporting App.net

When I first heard about App.net a few weeks back I was intrigued. On the surface it sounded all too similar to the ill fated Diaspora initiative aiming to create an open alternative to Facebook. I didn’t feel that the Diaspora team was able to accomplish their lofty goal. They just didn’t seem to have enough knowledge, experience, as well as a solid plan to execute their mission. App.net is the brainchild of Dalton Caldwell. Unlike the Diaspora team, he appears to have the experience and reputation to execute this project.

Interestingly enough, just as Diaspora was seen as a Facebook alternative, people have latched onto App.net as being a Twitter alternative. Actually App.net has much loftier goals than simply supplanting an existing top tier social network. At a high level the goal of App.net is to create a paradigm shift in thinking. Instead of using social networks that are free because of their ability to gather information about us for advertising and marketing, create a pay to use service without ads where we own our own data. That’s the high level thought gist of it. Sure much of the features and functionality that is planned would be similar to existing social networks but it’s limited thinking to only consider this as a competitor to existing social networks we’re familiar with. With an open and developer driven platform it can essentially become a social network and offer many different features and functionality not possible elsewhere because this paid service needs to please the users, not the advertisers.

But I still wasn’t sold on App.net as I’ve become quite excited following the Locker Project and Singly initiatives. It sounded in some ways to be similar to what App.net was planning to do. Also there are many existing open standards that have been in the works for a few years that should be leveraged and not re-invented. The most relevant one from a social data standpoint would be Activity Streams. The other concern is how truly open will App.net be? Will there be an open source client available that will allow bi-directional communication between it and other services?

Well I went from intrigue and confusion about this project to some excitement today. First I went and read Brennan Novak’s post which besides shedding some more light on this project, also had a wish list of sorts that he felt might get the folks that have been part of the Distributed Social Web or Indie Web on board. Then I followed through to the response posted by Dalton Caldwell where he publicly stated support for the items brought up by Brennan. The list included support for Activity Streams, Pubsubhubbub, Webfinger open standard initiatives as well as a lightweight open source client and some other items.

This was starting to sound promising but I still wondered how Locker Project / Singly factored in to this. I sent out a tweet to Brennan:

It wasn’t too long after that in which Brennan responded along with a cc to Jeremie Miller who is a co-founder at Singly

A few hours later Jeremie responded stating that Singly is definitely supporting App.net

So now I went from excitement to elation. App.net plans to support many existing open standards, offer open source access and now we’ve confirmed Singly support. There also seems to be quite a few other key players showing support for this project. You know what else is cool? That unlike Diaspora which didn’t have anything to show for months after getting funded, App.net already has an alpha version up and running. Here’s the global feed and here’s Jeremie Miller’s page. Beyond that, developers are already creating apps for it including 2 for mobile and a web app.

So you still might be thinking as many others have…who cares? You think of networks like Facebook and Twitter as throwaway services and you don’t care about the deal you make by using the service for free without much control or ownership of data. Well as long as you’re vigilant about how you organize source data and have ways to back up what you publish to those systems great. But most people don’t do that. I wrote a pretty important post earlier this year on How to Preserve, Prepare, and Produce Your Digital Legacy. It was my belief at the time that a service like Singly or now App.net could provide us with the ability to have much better flexibility and control to both share our digital data as well as preserve it for future generations. Most people aren’t thinking this far ahead as we’re still in the early stages of the web and digital data but I think as time goes on preserving these rich memories in a way to share with future generations will become more evident.

So tonight I backed App.net. Do I think this is the answer to what I and many others seem to be looking for? I don’t know just yet. All I know is that I want help get behind and support this project and all the other great like minded folks that have a similar vision for a different type of social network. One that is based on open source and open standards that serves the users. Sitting back and waiting for it to happen on its own is not an option. Others have provided their reasoning to back it as well. I’m optimistic that even if this project isn’t the be all end all of social network utopia it will definitely push the ball in the right direction. As of this writing App.net has received 450k of their 500k goal to move forward with 49 hours left to fund it. You can join me and the others here.

P.s. I applied to join the alpha but they seem to be backlogged fulfilling requests at the moment so I can’t share my profile yet. It will be here once I get in. See you there!

Update: My profile is now live.

Why I’m Supporting App.net

When I first heard about App.net a few weeks back I was intrigued. On the surface it sounded all too similar to the ill fated Diaspora initiative aiming to create an open alternative to Facebook. I didn’t feel that the Diaspora team was able to accomplish their lofty goal. They just didn’t seem to have enough knowledge, experience, as well as a solid plan to execute their mission. App.net is the brainchild of Dalton Caldwell. Unlike the Diaspora team, he appears to have the experience and reputation to execute this project.

Interestingly enough, just as Diaspora was seen as a Facebook alternative, people have latched onto App.net as being a Twitter alternative. Actually App.net has much loftier goals than simply supplanting an existing top tier social network. At a high level the goal of App.net is to create a paradigm shift in thinking. Instead of using social networks that are free because of their ability to gather information about us for advertising and marketing, create a pay to use service without ads where we own our own data. That’s the high level thought gist of it. Sure much of the features and functionality that is planned would be similar to existing social networks but it’s limited thinking to only consider this as a competitor to existing social networks we’re familiar with. With an open and developer driven platform it can essentially become a social network and offer many different features and functionality not possible elsewhere because this paid service needs to please the users, not the advertisers.

But I still wasn’t sold on App.net as I’ve become quite excited following the Locker Project and Singly initiatives. It sounded in some ways to be similar to what App.net was planning to do. Also there are many existing open standards that have been in the works for a few years that should be leveraged and not re-invented. The most relevant one from a social data standpoint would be Activity Streams. The other concern is how truly open will App.net be? Will there be an open source client available that will allow bi-directional communication between it and other services?

Well I went from intrigue and confusion about this project to some excitement today. First I went and read Brennan Novak’s post which besides shedding some more light on this project, also had a wish list of sorts that he felt might get the folks that have been part of the Distributed Social Web or Indie Web on board. Then I followed through to the response posted by Dalton Caldwell where he publicly stated support for the items brought up by Brennan. The list included support for Activity Streams, Pubsubhubbub, Webfinger open standard initiatives as well as a lightweight open source client and some other items.

This was starting to sound promising but I still wondered how Locker Project / Singly factored in to this. I sent out a tweet to Brennan:

It wasn’t too long after that in which Brennan responded along with a cc to Jeremie Miller who is a co-founder at Singly

A few hours later Jeremie responded stating that Singly is definitely supporting App.net

So now I went from excitement to elation. App.net plans to support many existing open standards, offer open source access and now we’ve confirmed Singly support. There also seems to be quite a few other key players showing support for this project. You know what else is cool? That unlike Diaspora which didn’t have anything to show for months after getting funded, App.net already has an alpha version up and running. Here’s the global feed and here’s Jeremie Miller’s page. Beyond that, developers are already creating apps for it including 2 for mobile and a web app.

So you still might be thinking as many others have…who cares? You think of networks like Facebook and Twitter as throwaway services and you don’t care about the deal you make by using the service for free without much control or ownership of data. Well as long as you’re vigilant about how you organize source data and have ways to back up what you publish to those systems great. But most people don’t do that. I wrote a pretty important post earlier this year on How to Preserve, Prepare, and Produce Your Digital Legacy. It was my belief at the time that a service like Singly or now App.net could provide us with the ability to have much better flexibility and control to both share our digital data as well as preserve it for future generations. Most people aren’t thinking this far ahead as we’re still in the early stages of the web and digital data but I think as time goes on preserving these rich memories in a way to share with future generations will become more evident.

So tonight I backed App.net. Do I think this is the answer to what I and many others seem to be looking for? I don’t know just yet. All I know is that I want help get behind and support this project and all the other great like minded folks that have a similar vision for a different type of social network. One that is based on open source and open standards that serves the users. Sitting back and waiting for it to happen on its own is not an option. Others have provided their reasoning to back it as well. I’m optimistic that even if this project isn’t the be all end all of social network utopia it will definitely push the ball in the right direction. As of this writing App.net has received 450k of their 500k goal to move forward with 49 hours left to fund it. You can join me and the others here.

P.s. I applied to join the alpha but they seem to be backlogged fulfilling requests at the moment so I can’t share my profile yet. It will be here once I get in. See you there!

June 09 2011

The Unveiling of a New Distributed Social Platform Called Glow

Today my friend Louis Gray got the scoop on what Cliqset cofounder Darren Bounds has been working on since the recent sunsetting of that site. First off if you weren’t familiar with Cliqset, it was a great Lifestreaming site that I covered in the past and packed more features and accordance to open standards than any other service out there. Unfortunately it came at a time near the end of the Lifestreaming (social service aggregation) craze and just like all the sites before it including Friendfeed, ran up against the difficulty of gaining mainstream adoption and finding ways to monetize it.

Lucky for us folks that still see the value in Lifestreaming, Darren is building something new based on that knowledge and experience albeit taking it in a new direction. His new project Glow aims to take a crack building a social network utilizing both a hosted and distributed approach. This is no easy task. As we’ve come to find out by the recent attempt by the Diaspora team to do this after forced into the spotlight over a year ago. It wasn’t short after the Diaspora announcement that I wrote about the need for an open and federated social network but citing that Diaspora is probably not the likely team to build one. Fortunately for us Darren’s previous experience and clout within the open standards community is one of the few people that is qualified.

Glow takes a departure from the complexities of aggregating 3rd party services and tries to take a simple approach. This is probably a good thing as keeping things simple will be crucial for any service to gain adoption. Here’s some more details from Louis’ post:

At launch, Glow will offer a centralized option, as well as the opportunity for you to launch your own dedicated node, the equivalent of running your own single user copy of  Twitter that looked and felt just like it does on Twitter.com, with the same users and experience.

From a feature perspective, Glow will support all the features of a modern social network, with the usual status updates, photo and video sharing, implementing the “follow” model, along with likes, mentions and comments. Additionally, the service is location-aware, which brings forward its own opportunities.

So on the surface it sounds very similar to a basic mashup of Twitter and Facebook. He’s also developing an API for the service. I don’t have to tell anyone that it’s going to be very challenging to get new users to migrate to a new social network. I think there are several key things that any aspiring service needs to do to attempt such a lofty goal of trying to supplant Facebook, Twitter, or both. They need to ease folks in by offering the ability to syndicate to those outposts as well. It will take time to transition people to a new network and by offering the ability to let them continue to post and share on existing services they use will be important.

Another key ingredient is getting other services that users participate on to add syndication options. I used to struggle with the all or nothing aspect of Lifestreaming services when connecting 3rd party sites. Now with great services like Instagram and Picplz I have the power to easily select the external services I want to syndicate to on a per post basis. This has been a huge advantage for me as I can now selectively choose which images to share on which networks. Getting these types of service to offer syndication options can also be a great way to lower the barrier to entry.

Of course Glow and Diaspora aren’t the only new services out there trying to build a distributed social network. If you read this blog with any frequency you’ve probably noticed that I’ve become a Locker Project fanboy of sorts. This project (primer here) is also in a position where it could become a big player in the distributed social network race and hopefully we’ll soon get a taste of their offering.  Their approach of creating an open source project that will also have a simple hosted option in Singly will also prove to be a serious contender.

I’m glad that we have several great minds working in this area. It’s hard to say what direction both users and each of these projects will go in, but the fact that they’re being built is a great thing wherever they ultimately take us.

The Unveiling of a New Distributed Social Platform Called Glow

Today my friend Louis Gray got the scoop on what Cliqset cofounder Darren Bounds has been working on since the recent sunsetting of that site. First off if you weren’t familiar with Cliqset, it was a great Lifestreaming site that I covered in the past and packed more features and accordance to open standards than any other service out there. Unfortunately it came at a time near the end of the Lifestreaming (social service aggregation) craze and just like all the sites before it including Friendfeed, ran up against the difficulty of gaining mainstream adoption and finding ways to monetize it.

Lucky for us folks that still see the value in Lifestreaming, Darren is building something new based on that knowledge and experience albeit taking it in a new direction. His new project Glow aims to take a crack building a social network utilizing both a hosted and distributed approach. This is no easy task. As we’ve come to find out by the recent attempt by the Diaspora team to do this after forced into the spotlight over a year ago. It wasn’t short after the Diaspora announcement that I wrote about the need for an open and federated social network but citing that Diaspora is probably not the likely team to build one. Fortunately for us Darren’s previous experience and clout within the open standards community is one of the few people that is qualified.

Glow takes a departure from the complexities of aggregating 3rd party services and tries to take a simple approach. This is probably a good thing as keeping things simple will be crucial for any service to gain adoption. Here’s some more details from Louis’ post:

At launch, Glow will offer a centralized option, as well as the opportunity for you to launch your own dedicated node, the equivalent of running your own single user copy of  Twitter that looked and felt just like it does on Twitter.com, with the same users and experience.

From a feature perspective, Glow will support all the features of a modern social network, with the usual status updates, photo and video sharing, implementing the “follow” model, along with likes, mentions and comments. Additionally, the service is location-aware, which brings forward its own opportunities.

So on the surface it sounds very similar to a basic mashup of Twitter and Facebook. He’s also developing an API for the service. I don’t have to tell anyone that it’s going to be very challenging to get new users to migrate to a new social network. I think there are several key things that any aspiring service needs to do to attempt such a lofty goal of trying to supplant Facebook, Twitter, or both. They need to easy folks in by offering the ability to syndicate to those outposts as well. It will take time to transition people to a new network and by offering the ability to let them continue to post and share on existing services they use will be important. Another key ingredient is getting other services that users participate on to add syndication options. I used to struggle with the all or nothing aspect of Lifestreaming services when connecting 3rd party sites. Now with great services like Instagram and Picplz I have the power to easily select the external services I want to syndicate to on a per post basis. This has been a huge advantage for me as I can now selectively choose which images to share on which networks. Getting these types of service to offer syndication options can also be a great way to lower the barrier to entry.

Of course Glow and Diaspora aren’t the only new services out there trying to build a distributed social network. If you read this blog with any frequency you’ve probably noticed that I’ve become a Locker Project fanboy of sorts. This project (primer here) is also in a position where it could become a big player in the distributed social network race and hopefully we’ll soon get a taste of their offering.  Their approach of creating an open source project that will also have a simple hosted option in Singly will also prove to be a serious contender.

I’m glad that we have several great minds working in this area. It’s hard to say what direction both users and each of these projects will go in, but the fact that they’re being built is a great thing wherever they ultimately take us.

May 27 2011

Live tweeting the Locker Project’s Jeremie Miller Talk at Glue Conference by Kevin Marks

I’ve been able to listen in from the edges of the Glue Conference that’s currently taking place through the awesome tweetbytes provided by Kevin Marks. He always does an amazing job when live tweeting from the talks he attends at various conferences, and this was no exception. Today he provided details from the Locker Project’s a

Live tweeting the Locker Project’s Jeremie Miller Talk at Glue Conference by Kevin Marks

I’ve been able to listen in from the edges of the Glue Conference that’s currently taking place through the awesome tweetbytes provided by Kevin Marks. He always does an amazing job when live tweeting from the talks he attends at various conferences, and this was no exception. Today he provided details from the Locker Project’s a

The Locker Project Website has Launched

Just a few weeks ago The Locker Project launched a blog and now more recently they’ve launched a full fledged website around the project. If you’re not familiar with the project you can catch up on my original post here.

This new site provides links to the Github repository, documentation, and the blog. In addition they’ve added a vision statement. It really illuminates the need for the project and sets the tone for why it was formed.

Here it is in its entirety:

Why We’re Doing This

As we go through our lives we create vast amounts of data. Emails, phone calls, social network posts, photos, utility bills, health monitoring devices, text messages, browsing data, purchase receipts and more are all born out of the regular course of our actions. It’s more than just data. It represents our actions, interests, intentions, communications, relationships, locations, behaviors and creative and consumptive efforts.

Currently, our data is scattered everywhere. It lives in and is usually owned by the various networks into which it was created or exchanged. It’s aggregated by third party trackers and targeters looking to deliver advertising, content and services to you. Billions of dollars are exchanged, industries built upon and value created off of our data, and it serves as the basis and is the foundation for some of the largest power structures on the web, and in the world at large.

Meanwhile, the people who have benefited least from this ecosystem are the very people originating the data. Often times, in fact, these channels and organizations go out of their way to limit our ability to extract our data from the network and reuse our own content. Limitless opportunities for engaging personalized applications and web experiences, as well as more free and open communication are lost when this happens.

You can visit the newly launched Locker Project site here.

The Locker Project Website has Launched

Just a few weeks ago The Locker Project launched a blog and now more recently they’ve launched a full fledged website around the project. If you’re not familiar with the project you can catch up on my original post here.

This new site provides links to the Github repository, documentation, and the blog. In addition they’ve added a vision statement. It really illuminates the need for the project and sets the tone for why it was formed.

Here it is in its entirety:

Why We’re Doing This

As we go through our lives we create vast amounts of data. Emails, phone calls, social network posts, photos, utility bills, health monitoring devices, text messages, browsing data, purchase receipts and more are all born out of the regular course of our actions. It’s more than just data. It represents our actions, interests, intentions, communications, relationships, locations, behaviors and creative and consumptive efforts.

Currently, our data is scattered everywhere. It lives in and is usually owned by the various networks into which it was created or exchanged. It’s aggregated by third party trackers and targeters looking to deliver advertising, content and services to you. Billions of dollars are exchanged, industries built upon and value created off of our data, and it serves as the basis and is the foundation for some of the largest power structures on the web, and in the world at large.

Meanwhile, the people who have benefited least from this ecosystem are the very people originating the data. Often times, in fact, these channels and organizations go out of their way to limit our ability to extract our data from the network and reuse our own content. Limitless opportunities for engaging personalized applications and web experiences, as well as more free and open communication are lost when this happens.

You can visit the newly launched Locker Project site here.

April 12 2011

Self Installable Version of the Locker Project Coming in about a Week

If you’re not familiar with the Locker Project it is an open source personal data storage platform which I recently covered here. I’m extremely excited about the prospects of this project and have been anxiously waiting for a version that I could self install. You can currently visit their project page on Github but the current version requires a setup process that is primarily for developers and doesn’t offer a setup script for us that are not quite savvy enough to install the current version.

I visited the project page yesterday as I have over the last few weeks looking for an update but still saw that only the dev version was available so I decided to reach out on Twitter to see if I could get any indication as to when an installable version might be available.

I’m dying to get my hands on a an easier install of @lockerproject on my own WAMP server. Any ETA or @singlyinc version? cc @jeremieless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Today I was super excited to see that Locker Project creator Jeremie Miller replied to me with the following message

@krynsky we’re working hard on an initial test ver for devs to easily install/play with in about a week, excited!less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

I can’t wait to get my hands on this software and be involved in the early stages of testing it out and providing feedback. The potential that this project has is huge and I’m looking forward to being on the ground floor and providing you with information on it as it becomes available. Stay tuned…

Self Installable Version of the Locker Project Coming in about a Week

If you’re not familiar with the Locker Project it is an open source personal data storage platform which I recently covered here. I’m extremely excited about the prospects of this project and have been anxiously waiting for a version that I could self install. You can currently visit their project page on Github but the current version requires a setup process that is primarily for developers and doesn’t offer a setup script for us that are not quite savvy enough to install the current version.

I visited the project page yesterday as I have over the last few weeks looking for an update but still saw that only the dev version was available so I decided to reach out on Twitter to see if I could get any indication as to when an installable version might be available.

I’m dying to get my hands on a an easier install of @lockerproject on my own WAMP server. Any ETA or @singlyinc version? cc @jeremieless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Today I was super excited to see that Locker Project creator Jeremie Miller replied to me with the following message

@krynsky we’re working hard on an initial test ver for devs to easily install/play with in about a week, excited!less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

I can’t wait to get my hands on this software and be involved in the early stages of testing it out and providing feedback. The potential that this project has is huge and I’m looking forward to being on the ground floor and providing you with information on it as it becomes available. Stay tuned…

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