Tech Predictions, Five Years Later

Five years ago, inspired by a Yahoo! Answers question (their top answers), I put on my tech futurist hat and wrote up some quick prognostications about
Which products, used by few today, will be essential in five years? This was published, incidentally, on Vox (now defunct). Are you getting that mid-2006 vibe yet? Well, it’s been five years (that was quick), so maybe we should take a look.

I won’t reproduce my original article (linked above), but I’ll go through each of the predictions and make some comments:

  • Software as service is standard – My prediction was that social networking, media sharing, and all kinds of apps would be increasingly integrated/prepackaged OOTB. I think that this has been born out, certainly on the mobile and device front, although this year may be the inflection point for the desktop (iCloud, ChromeOS, etc). Even without that, probably the majority of consumer computing is now service/browser based. I find myself totally dependent on many cloud-based services (Evernote, Checkvist, DropBox, Google Docs, GMail/GApps, Twitter, FB, etc). Also, the majority of my small business’s software is also cloud-based.
  • Global digital identity / reputation / relationship system – my prediction was that online/offline personas, relationships, and physical presence would be tied together, potentially controlled by a single company. I think in mid-2006 I would have guessed Google would end up taking it all, but FB was a strong contender, and they’re on top at the moment. Still, as of mid-2011, this ball is still in play, and there are certain components (location, reputation) that are still almost complete tossups. Note: while FB has been enormously successful and will almost certainly be the first Internet company to hit 1B actives, there are some signs that it may have peaked in its developed markets, so it’s not invincible. There’s also a lot of potential left in terms of social utility that’s still completely unexplored (and only in the most superficial ways in many other cases).
  • Digital media – I predicted streaming/wireless syncing of media from anywhere. While iCloud was only just announced (to compete against Amazon Cloud Drive, and Google Music) and music has been lagging a bit (although celestial jukebox services like Spotify and Rdio have been hitting it out of the park, so maybe unfair to dismiss music completely), we’ve seen this come true much more for video. Maybe this is due to the competition traditional TV/Film has faced from the YouTube/Internet video juggernaut (my first YouTube video, uploaded just over 5 years ago). Netflix in particular, which not only has overtaken web traffic, but also BitTorrent. Expect the cord-cutting to accelerate. One last observation. Amazon’s current homepage menu now completely highlights digital goods: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more
  • Smart phone – I think I hit this one 100% percent. Not much to say about it. Well, one caveat is that while there were rumors of an iPhone floating around for years, it wouldn’t be announced for another 6 months. Apple gets huge props for single-handedly helping to drag the lagging handset/telecom industry into this future, as well as totally shaking things up with its App Store. I’m sure there are some charts somewhere that show recent numbers on mobile vs fixed Internet use, but if that number hasn’t been crossed, I’m sure it will be soon.
  • RFID – I was totally wrong. At Lensley, we’ve been doing some neat RFID integrations with clients, and RFIDs have had huge adoption in thing that touch people’s daily life, like in supply-chain and public transit (as well as less well thought out ways, like US Passports). On the whole, though, they’ve remained too expensive and too niche to get much consumer love (kits from Sparkfun notwithstanding). While NFC in Android (an RFID-compatible superset) has gotten lots of hubaloo, there’s pretty much zilch in terms of real world use, much less anything remotely spimey. We’ll have to see how mobile payments pan out over the next couple years. (2012?)
  • Self Monitoring – While the Quantified Self has been getting some traction (a conference! breathless writeups!) and there are a proliferation of services and devices (Runkeeper, FitBit, Gowear Fit, Zeo, Withings, etc), this is still a pretty niche/nascent movement. I have no doubt it’ll keep growing, and there are some pointers (the proliferation of Feltron-like reports for social activity, checkins) that there’s a tipping point approaching. We’ll see
  • Personal Aggregators – I saw the other day that Flipboard’s at 400M flips/month, and one might argue that Facebook’s news feed algorithms, modern blogs (Gawker, HuffPo, Engadget, etc), or even Twitter have stepped in to fill big roles in terms of filtering the bombardment of crap, but it seems like treading water. I would have expected some smarter/more robust attention management tools to have been developed, but maybe I’m completely wrong on how most people handle infoglut.
  • Shared everything – obviously wrong about fine-grained privacy. Facebook has given us a “mostly private enough sort of for now” model that’s been pretty sucessful. Certainly at moving everyone torwards the social-everything model (you win some, you lose some).

Of my long-shots (things that I thought would be awesome), we actually got one of them in a huge way. At the time I had written this, I just received my iRex Iliad ($700) after waiting for years for an honest to goodness E-Ink device. Sadly, it was a pretty useless white elephant of a device. However, the display was phenomenal, so I threw it on the list. In late 2007 Amazon released the first Kindle, and a few weeks ago, Amazon announced that it is now selling more Kindle books than print books. The Kindle 3, BTW, was the best-selling product in Amazon’s history.

3D printing/fabrication has gotten a lot more traction (even a recent Stephen Colbert interview), as has the maker movement in general. Although it’s still niche, the pricing is right. At $1300, the Thing-O-Matic is cheaper than most people’s first laser printer.

AR HUDs, are as ever, another 5 years away. (The OVF on my X100 is pretty sweet though.)

OK, that’s all well and good. But how about the things that I missed completely. Here’s a short list:

  • Location – while I tangentially mentioned location, I never listed LBS, mapping and other location services explicitly. Looking back, this is a 100% obvious thing, considering how much usage has exploded since. My only excuse is that being hip-deep/working for so long on local/map/mobile stuff at the time probably blinded me to how ubiquitous it wasn’t for the rest of the world while writing this. (I was working on geocoding/map/checkins at Upcoming, and from ZoneTag to Checkmates, to Yahoo! Maps, I was surrounded by all kinds of crazy LBS/geo/mobile stuff).
  • Twitter – I probably first saw Twitter about a month after I wrote my original post. At the time it was “twttr” was a completely different beast – very SMS focused, like group chat. I passed, and didn’t even bother signing up until a few months later when visiting with friends in the UK (it got a lot of early traction because it was cheaper than texting). It took a while (early 2007?) for me to really get to grips with Twitter (writeup here). Kudos to Jack, Noah, Ev, et al for trying out something new, and then working at it for years to refine it. It’s gone through a lot of transformations (mostly for better)…
  • iPad – I was a close follower of the Mobile+UMPC+Tablet industry at the time, and if you had told me that in a few years Apple would have released a friggin Dynabook with 10 finger multitouch, 10 hour battery life, amazing responsiveness, and an a complete App Ecosystem (backed by 10s of millions of sister devices), selling for $500 I would have smacked you. After which, I’d have gone out and bought a lot more Apple stock. Like the iPhone when it launched in 2007, the iPad came from a few years in the future and dragged everyone else, kicking and screaming.
  • Wikileaks – Even during the year of the iPad launch, however, probably the biggest and most unexpected story of 2010 was Wikileaks (some of my favorite writeups). It has literally changed the world, and the most amazing thing is that it’s been a story that’s been in the making for years, if not decades. Wikileaks and many other stories happening right now (the Arab Spring, Anonymous, LulzSec) in many ways epitomize Clay Shirky‘s postulate that “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring… It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen.”

OK, in hope of publishing soon, I’ll be wrapping up now. No 2016 predictions from me, but maybe it’ll be worth catching regardless up in a few years. For those that are really interested in the things catching my attention these days, here’s a spring graph I made early last year:

On My Mind

Update: An editor from the International Business Times dropped a line yesterday with a few questions. Here’s the writeup they did today in the Luxury and Brands section today: Blogger Correctly Predicted the Future in 2006 (Mostly)

SCHED Mobile Maps for SXSWm

(cross-posted from the SCHED blog)

Hey SCHEDxSWers. SXSWm is in full swing, so it’s a bit of a crazy time to push out new features, but what the hell, right? In that spirit, here’s a new feature I’ve been working on that has been super-useful for helping me navigate around.

Simply put it’s a map layer that includes your SCHED as well as every other event that’s happening over the next few hours. But wait, there’s more! Since we have a few thousand people making SCHED’s this year (yeah!), we actually have some decent data on how relatively busy any specific show is going to be. When you click in, that’s represented by the length of the red bars (with longest being most busy).

I’ll be trying to add a couple more features, over the next couple days, but I think it’s pretty useful as is and we’d love to hear your feedback as we whip this into shape.

Map Overview Map Detail

Here are directions on how to get this working on iPhone and Android (we haven’t tested anything else yet, so let us know how it works elsewhere. It’s just a KML map, so it should work anywhere that supports it).

This is the map URL, replace ‘lhl’ with your username:

On Android, all you have to do is type this in the Google Maps Search Bar. Make sure you type the whole URL with http and it’ll give you what you see in the screenshots.

On iPhone, unfortunately, you lose all the detail information with the default map, but if you go to in Mobile Safari and type in the Google Maps Search Bar it should work.

On iPhone, there’s a free app called My Maps Editor that you can use (it’s great, but you need to click in preferences to make it refresh), and on both, loading your map URL in Google Earth also works.

Let us know how it works for you (though it’s fresh untested code with sharp edges, so it might not!) and feel free to send bug reports to lhl@sched. If none of the directions make sense, don’t worry, we’ll push it into the main mobile site as it gets more baked soon.

Old Code: pystatsd-flickr

I was digging out some old code and realized that it might be useful for some, so threw it on github. Nothing special, just a lightweight python port of some of the old Flickr statsd that I wrote… almost two years ago. (time flies!)

If you’re looking to run something fancier in production, it looks like Etsy has some great stuff going on (see also).

Anyway, if you just want a quick graph and/or don’t want to setup Graphite, the code I’ve put up should get you generating an RRD pretty quickly.

Making sure WordPress is up-to-date

For anyone that has to manage many (any?) WordPress instances, keeping it up to date can be a real PITA. (I don’t expect WP to ever have an SSH vs FTP based auto-update).

The best way to make life a little easier is to move over to using svn tagged versions. Then you can simply switch over the next time a security vulnerability is patched with a simple ‘svn’ switch.

Here’s some simple bash-ness that’ll help you know when to upgrade. In *theory* you could run this on cron and have it auto-update, but I’m assuming that if there’s a DB schema update required, you’ll need to watch over it, so probably not something you want to run on production without some verification:

installed_version=`svn info $yourwp | grep URL | cut -f 2 -d' '`
current_version=`/usr/bin/lynx --dump --nonumbers | tail -n 2 | head -n 1`

if [ installed_version != current_version ]; then
  # this is where you could get fancy and do an svn switch and update
  echo `date` | mail -s "WP is out of date!"

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Charlie Stross posted an interesting essay today, Reasons To Be Cheerful recapping some of the great things that have happened in the world over the past decade, primarily in the developing world. A great read, and honestly inspiring/heartwarming for the disheartened humanists. It’s easy to get overly cynical about it all. This is a good antidote.

That being said, I don’t think Charlie goes quite far enough. The essay starts framed by the thesis that in the world, things haven’t much improved, and the besides a few specific counterpoints about disease and the general march of technology, it feels like he gives up on really repudiating that thesis… for the developed world. And it’s easy to see why. In terms of general socio-economic trends, it’s hard to be all that positive. Things are downright unsettling heading towards dystopian. However, there’s at least one aspect, the very medium where we are commenting on that is worth, uh, commenting on.

Yes, the interwebbytubes, as Stross puts it, is quite a different place than it was at the beginning of the millennium. We are looking at a 2X adoption growth in developed nations (from plurality to supermajority, if not ubiquity). Worldwide, 2 billion people are now online. Beyond the quantitative changes, the qualitative changes are even more intriguing. In 2000 there was no Web 2.0. Blogging was in its infancy. Most of the things we take for granted online today were not invented yet. Among them: Wikipedia (2001), Facebook (2004), Google Maps (2005), Twitter (2006). I list these in particular because I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t use these particular services, but I’m sure that others have their own lists. Lest you think that this was a singular period of growth, I’ll throw in that the iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010) have kicked us into another era of hyper-growth that will be just as (if not more) life-changing.

We’re just starting to see what happens when the Internet starts engaging with us in a location/context aware fashion. We’re also starting to see what happens when Internet-style/scale dynamics are applied outside traditional consumer Internet contexts (e.g. Obama Campaign, 2008). In a historical scale, we’re still at the very beginning stages of figuring out what it means to live in a digital, massively inter-networked world, and similarly just starting to get a handle how that will change society (attention, communications and collaboration in particular).

All that’s a really long way of saying… well, there’s a pretty dang bright spot in the developed world too. One that has the potential of being turned into the shovel we need to dig ourselves out. So, here’s looking to the future. Happy New Year.

Gawker Passwords, etc.

I have work deadlines, so I haven’t been able to been able to write a well constructed post about this, however, a few things:

  • To check if you had a Gawker account (there are 1.25M of them, so you might have one even if you didn’t realize it) I recommend: Note: even if your password wasn’t unhashed, consider it compromised. These passwords are encrypted with DES crypt, which is not adequate to stop attackers. The keyspace is too small. For more info on DES (and probably the best post-mortem so far), see this Forbes blog post.
  • This is as good a time as any to manage your passwords properly. A lot of people (including me) are using 1Password. It’s currently available as part of the MacUpdate December 2010 Software Bundle. LastPass also looks like a good solution and is free ($12/yr for mobile support). PwdHash and KeePass are also options.
  • According to the FAQ, Gawker claims to be sending emails eventually (and some people are doing so as well now). What I did last night, and maybe a good thing to do for your friends if you are an uber-geek is to go through your friends list and grep through the torrent database and them personally know if their account has been compromised, especially if the password has been unhashed.
  • Oh, lastly, if you’re a geek w/ your hash and want to check on whether it’s a reused password or not, you can pretty easily fire up a python shell and see if it matches:
    password = 'your_password'
    hash = 'your_hash'
    salt = hash[0:2]
    import crypt
    crypt.crypt(password, salt)

    If you’re not sure though, audit your passwords anyway when you have a spare hour or two. You’ll feel better, trust me.

Learning New Things

Today was an average afternoon – taking way too long to accomplish a seemingly trivial task, but looking up and learning a bunch of new things along the way. It seems there should be a better/easier (almost automatic, transparent) way to track the sources (links/pages), process (things tried) and results (code fragments)….

The basic goal in this case was to automate some execution of some javascript on a page. Because execution of the script caused a page load, it wasn’t a matter of writing the calls into the console. The faster and easier way would have been to write a Greasemonkey or Chrome Extension script (because there were timing issues, the script would have to write a time-based state file on actions), however, I figured I would try to see what kind of options were available with a control-script oriented model, as having that handy would be more generally useful in the future (more and more, straight mechanize is less useful as more JS proliferates).

Before getting started, I had to strip out just the lines that I wanted. I always forget how to do it, but that was a simple vim command lookup.

I looked at Selenium and Selenium RC, which probably would have worked fine (but that I didn’t use because I didn’t want to install extensions and the RC docs weren’t directly linked, but would have probably saved me time in the end).

Instead I decided to try out Watir (cross-platform, cross-browser, and my Ruby is rusty so this was a good excuse). I started out with SafariWatir, however, after a bit of poking, came up with a dead end on executing JavaScript. There’s a scripter object, but even after getting access to it via monkey-patching (did I mention my Ruby-fu sucks?), I was still getting errors and there wasn’t much help In general.

Instead of slogging through a potentially losing battle, I decided to jump ship to FireWatir. FireWatir uses JSSh, which communicates directly via JavaScript to Firefox, so it seemed like it might be a surer thing. My Firefox profiles were corrupted from my last system transfer, so there was a bit of messing with the profile folder until I gave up and started a new, but after that it seemed like I was home free.

Except, that when running js_eval, it turns out the scope that JSSh puts you in, isn’t in the document DOM, but rather the browser’s XUL DOM. For whatever reason, I couldn’t find a reference for even with the direct object type refereces (i.e. getWindows and getBrowser return ChromeWindow objects, which just don’t seem to have docs. Introspection via domDump() or inspect() just returned a huge amount of stuff to go through). Luckily, while searching, one of the results that turned up was a StackOverflow question on firewatir + jQuery which answered the question – ChromeWindow.content gets you into the HTMLDocument DOM. I’m a bit mystified why this isn’t in the firewatir or JSSh docs, as this seems to be one of the most common things that people would want to do, but well, that is the life of the developer…

Lessons from Android: Unintended Consequences (or How to Kneecap Your Developer Community)

An interesting clusterfuck has been brewing within part of the Android Dev Community – how serious of a long-term effect and what ultimate spillover it will have remains to be seen, but I thought it’d be worth gathering some notes about this as it develops. It started yesterday as something, that on the surface, only effected an important, but miniscule percentage of Android users, but that over the course of a day, has blown up into something may actually have potentially long-term consequences on the Android platform as the open mobile platform of choice.

Yesterday, Cyanogen, an Android community developer who maintains the most popular (and arguably best) alternate Android firmware, CyanogenMod, mentioned receiving a cease and desist from Google Legal.
Alternate firmwares (or custom ROMs) are along the lines of the custom WinMo firmwares that enthusiasts have been putting together for years (and in fact, there is at least some community crossover, including some shared forums). I only recently discovered CyanogenMod after complaining to the one Android superfan I know about how slow the Android phone I had was, and it was to me a night and day improvement over the stock firmware – performance went from unusably laggy to downright zippy.

Now, while Google is obviously within their legal rights (the C&D was specifically about redistribution of their closed source components), honestly, I’m rather baffled by this. It just doesn’t make any sense from a practical perspective – these apps are distributed with all the phones that the Cyanogen firmwares can be installed on, and are mostly used by a small set of the platform’s most dedicated enthusiasts (low tens of thousands at most, less than 1% of the Android userbase) – and of course, by a select few hobbyist developers putting in an inordinate amount of time in maintaining the firmwares and supporting those users. Not only is there no upside in attacking this community, but I can’t picture any scenario where there would be a net-positive outcome for Google.

As you can imagine, once word spread about the C&D, a community reaction was inevitable. A petition app was quickly put on the Marketplace (not the worst idea, honestly), and there were a few mentions in the more general tech news, although I haven’t noticed a big splash (say on Techmeme)… yet. That may change soon, I believe, as the fallout is now much bigger than inconveniencing a few “modders.”

Earlier today, Dan Morrill posted an official position statement on the issue. His statement about redistribution of closed source components seemed straightforward enough, but the implications are still unfolding. It turns out that by explicitly outlining the legal boundaries for closed-source components, we learned that not only core parts of the Android experience (like the Google Mobile services and Marketplace app), but also parts of the SDK and other base components are also protected. This news doesn’t just kill custom ROMs, but potentially makes Android as an open source project not viable at all. From Cyanogen’s Twitter stream:

@crazywizdom it’s pretty much like a bare bones linux install without the google bits. no contact sync or anything like that. #

From what they explained to me, you are not even allowed to copy the proprietary applications from your device. #

@gacktoh but you can’t distribute the market app. And it relies on the Google Mobile services anyway. #

I’m trying to get clarification now on what can actually be included. There are things in the SDK that aren’t in AOSP. Very confusing. #

Oh yeah, one last tweet before I violate the don’t-tweet-while-drunk rule. Nandroid is probably illegal. Awesome huh. #

All this woe (that’s counterproductive towards Google’s interest even if weren’t a PR, and now full on developer community nightmare – the custom firmware releases brought steady streams of improvements to tide over the true believers to what has been thus far, a somewhat lacking software product), probably set in motion because some PM got wind of the v1.6 Marketplace app being on the phone and got in a snit, setting the legal wheels in motion. And poof, over the course of a day, a cascade of events leading… who knows where.

Which is not to say that this can’t be fixed. The Google folks (even the legal teams) are smarter and more agile than most – if this is a priority, there are many ways to patch things up, from offering some sort of non-commercial redistribution terms, or having the Android team announce that they’re working with the community to make sure that they’re making it a priority to make sure that custom firmwares can be installed w/o touching the proprietary APKs, or that the AOSP is useful as an end-user installation (both of which jbqueru at least appears to already be moving on).

As it is though, it appears that Google has just shat on it’s biggest enthusiasts, and has given a good cause for those who are supporting Android as an “open” alternative to actively consider how far that openness extends (and realize how ostensibly “open source” Android really is). And of course, it’s a shame that there won’t be any more CyanogenMod builds. Still, this has been pretty fascinating to watch unfold, and should be of interest to anyone managing developer communities or trying to create an “open” platform…

(If you’re interested in following the conversations moving forward directly, the Twitter streams of cyanogen and Android developer jbqueru seem worth following.)

UPDATE: To some degree, this will probably blow over, since over the weekend Cyanogen announced he will continue w/ his work (after developing a new backup procedure to allow backup and re-installation of Google apps and with the inclusion of an alternate marketplace). Still, these are the types of incidents that chip away at social capital and reputation (until suddenly one day, the public no longer gives you the benefit of the doubt and any action taken gets looked upon in the worst possible light) – not to mention the amount of ultimately, pointless (or at least, repeated) man-hours that will be spent engineering a technical workaround to a policy problem.

SXSW Panels That I’m Most Interested In

Yet another year where I couldn’t quite think far advance enough to submit a panel topic. Here are the ones I’ve found so far that I really like (I’ll probably keep adding to this list, damn there are a lot of submissions):

Random Thoughts on Twitter

With the Oprah thing and the rather bizarre Maureen Dowd interview (ripe for parody), I thought I might as well throw my two cents in.

Actually, this article was actually the one that actually convinced me to write something, specifically this quote:

I used to think Twitter would never catch on in the mainstream because it’s somewhat stupid. Now I realize I was exactly wrong. Twitter will catch on in the mainstream because it’s somewhat stupid. It’s blogging dumbed down for the masses, and if there’s one surefire way to build something popular, it’s to take something else that is already popular and simplify.

To clarify, I think this is fundamentally wrong and completely misses the point. (As an aside, similar things were said about blogging when it started taking off. These comments were also fundamentally wrong in the same way.)

Now, for some context, even though I was a relatively early adopter (my first tweet – I believe it was still called twttr then with a snot-themed logo and a focus on SMS), that’s not to say my own understanding and thinking hasn’t evolved along with the service (and its audience)…

The first time Twitter really picked up on my radar was while I was in London, as it had gotten a fair amount of traction as a cheaper way to text. Along those lines, it took off, again as a “group chat” style tool the next year at SXSW as a way for friends to coordinate in a lighter-weight and less annoying way than Dodgeball. At this time, it was still focused around SMS delivery, although there were some interesting clients starting to pop up. Also around this time (post-SXSW) that my (and others’) focus turned upon looking at Twitter through the lens of ambient awareness (Clive Thomspon did a great writeup writeup last year) and what we began to refer to in conversation as “statuscasting” (a term, which I might have made up, but I assume must have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue). Then there was a big explosion in clients, mashups, and the use of Twitter as a “command line” interface. And, of course, through all of this, Twitter continued to build up steam in the way that social tools do, as waves of adopters and their networks jumped on board. While there has always been the dialectic between semi-private conversation and broadcast/publishing that continues to make Twitter really interesting, the trend arguably has been toward the latter (especially with the “collection” of followers).

Now with some context that hopefully hints at some level of complexity to the Twitter phenomena, here’s where I return to directly smacking down that original quote and offering an alternative interpretation…

Twitter isn’t “retarded blogging” anymore than blogging was “retarded long-form writing.” What blogging uncovered was a “web-native” sort of communication – one focused on links-both hyperlinks and permalinks, temporality (dated posts, reverse chronological order) and decentralized conversation – at first manually since people simply read each other’s blogs (when I started, it all fit on a single list), then later with comments and formalized through trackbacks, pingbacks, and dedicated aggregation tools. It took a while, but I believe that Twitter has revealed a communication style that is native to the “web” today. What is this web? It’s one filled with activity streams – the “social web” and the “continuous partial web,” and one that exists beyond the browser and beyond the desktop – the mobile web and the “widget web.” The ingestion characteristics of these media are focused around intermittent (but constant) bursts of attention and the ability to scan both gestalt and to track details, and the output is about the “in-between times” of other activities. You don’t sit around for an hour writing a tweet. In fact, most people start with time that otherwise would have been spent idling (hence the large proportion of airport complaint messages).

That, I suppose is one aspect of the quote that is right – Twitter is does have more mass appeal because it can take root by fill a vacuum rather than being an activity that requires active displacement (at least to begin with!). The point is that it’s high immediate reward with low incremental commitment. And of course, the innocuousness of that small text box is part of Twitter’s genius…

Now, if there is a better (or different) model, my suspicion is that it’s in finer scoping. Sure geeks like to talk about interop and decentralization (and while that may come as it did for email, it may not (like for IM)), but I think it’s ultimately less interesting than figuring out how Twitter (or a similar type of service/activity) ends up bifurcating or integrating the aforementioned pull between public and private (groups? targeted/typed messages? ).

I think that’s where already see some interesting things like how location services have splintered off, and I think that’s what Facebook is attacking – in the same way that it created a semi-private place for photo and online-discussion activity, it’s trying to do so for tweets as well.

For those that recall, this harks back to discussions on semipermiability (ironically semipermanant, here’s the archive of Joyce’s paper on that), which never really took off (again, a niche that Facebook expanded into, I think).

Well, there’s not much of a conclusion here. This is entitled random thoughts after all. Maybe two last things while I’m here for those who remember the milieu and impetus of blogging… Firstly, my friendfeed, which is currently aggregating my activity streams across over a dozen services, and second, a graph of my blog output over the past few years:

See also: