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Apr 07

The decline of the mobile web

People are spending more time on mobile vs desktop:

image

And more of their mobile time using apps, not the web:

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This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

Moreover, there are signs that it will only get worse. Ask any web company and they will tell you that they value app users more than web users. This is why you see so many popups and banners on mobile websites that try to get you to download apps. It is also why so many mobile websites are broken. Resources are going to app development over web development. As the mobile web UX further deteriorates, the momentum toward apps will only increase.

The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

This will hurt long-term innovation from a number of reasons:

1) Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations. Popular apps get home screen placement, get used more, get ranked higher in app stores, make more money, can pay more for distribution, etc. The end state will probably be like cable TV – a few dominant channels/apps that sit on users’ home screens and everything else relegated to lower tiers or irrelevance.

2) Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.

Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse (e.g. Apple has rejected all apps related to Bitcoin). The open architecture of the web led to an incredible era of experimentation. Many startups are controversial when they are first founded. What if AOL or some other central gatekeeper had controlled the web, and developers had to ask permission to create Google, Youtube, eBay, Paypal, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile.

Mar 11

I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

” —

Douglas Adams

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/39828-i-ve-come-up-with-a-set-of-rules-that-describe

Mar 08

“The state, so far, has had a monopoly on the reputation market. All the technological innovations leading us always closer to a privatized or commercial reputation market are quite new.” — http://www.theawl.com/2014/03/how-do-we-know-who-people-are

Feb 07

“I blame the montages. Five breezy minutes, from sucking at karate to being great at karate, from morbid obesity to trim, from geeky girl to prom queen, from terrible garage band to awesome rock band.” — http://www.cracked.com/article_18544_how-the-karate-kid-ruined-modern-world.html

Jan 03

"Small casual payments"

This is the first paragraph of the original essay that created Bitcoin:

Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust-based model. Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes. The cost of mediation increases transaction costs, limiting the minimum practical transaction size and cutting off the possibility for small casual transactions, and there is a broader cost in the loss of ability to make non-reversible payments for non-reversible services. With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads. Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need. A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable. These costs and payment uncertainties can be avoided in person by using physical currency, but no mechanism exists to make payments over a communications channel without a trusted party.

[emphasis added]

"Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" by Satoshi Nakamoto http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Dec 16

“This is worse than the tulip mania. At least then you got a tulip [at the end], now you get nothing.” — A former Dutch central bank president speaking to The Guardian about Bitcoin (versus the tulip bubble). (via parislemon)

"Bitcoin IS like tulips. Scarce, durable, fungible, divisible, un-forgeable tulips that can be instantly teleported to anyone, anywhere."
Ben davenport

Dec 15

Bitcoin and the Byzantine Generals Problem

Before the Bitcoin protocol was invented, most computer scientists thought a system like Bitcoin was impossible because of a famous problem in computer science called the Byzantine Generals Problem.

The problem, in a nutshell, is how to coordinate among distributed nodes to come up with a consensus that is resistant to attackers who are trying to undermine that consensus. A significant component of the solution is the proof-of-work algorithm, which is the main purpose of so-called Bitcoin miners.

The mainstream press has ignored the importance of this computer science breakthrough. When the mainstream press writes about mining, it either ridicules it:

Bitcoin is digitally “mined” by computers running an algorithm. (If you just rolled your eyes, you’re not alone.)

Or calls it wasteful:

One thing I haven’t seen emphasized, however, is the extent to which the whole concept of having to “mine” Bitcoins by expending real resources amounts to a drastic retrogression — a retrogression that Adam Smith would have scorned.

How much does the existing banking/payment infrastructure cost? One reasonable measure are the fees charged. Standard online payment fees are 2.5%, not including the added costs fraud (chargebacks plus transactions blocked out of fear of fraud). Bitcoin payment fees are close to zero and fraud is impossible since Bitcoin is a bearer instrument.

 

Nov 21

"I Know Kung Fu." -

parislemon:

Andrew Weissman on services like Khan Academy and Quizlet, which allow users to learn morsels of information at their own pace:

At a specific level, they each work in a way that is consistent with how people think and, 20 years into the web, desire to find information. For example, someone may think to herself, “I forget how to subtract fractions.” They then conduct a search for it, and Khan delivers a 4 minute video lesson. The whole process may take 5 minutes and is hardly interruptive.

This really resonates with me. When I think about how I learn and more importantly, re-learn, things now, it’s mainly through a quick Google search. I’m not saying it’s a better or worse way to learn, it’s just different. And it’s the way a lot of people gain (and, again, re-learn) knowledge now.

Something about this also reminds me a bit of the brain uploads in The Matrix.

The internet is for snacking.

Nov 11

Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis | Notes & Commentaries

nevver:

Simple answers

ha, somewhat true.

nevver:

Simple answers

ha, somewhat true.