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You Are the Product!

A detailed critique of Facebook. Excerpts: On The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu: Wu argues that capturing and reselling attention has been the basic model for a large number of modern businesses, from posters in late 19th-century Paris, through the invention of mass-market newspapers that made their money not through circulation but through ad sales, to the modern industries of advertising and ad-funded TV. [Read More]

Chicago: One Year In

Today marks a year since I moved to Chicago to begin my PhD at the University of Chicago Computer Science Department. It’s the end of an illustrious year full of new challenges, opportunities, friends and experiences. It’s also a new beginning as the Department has just finished its move from the ~125 year old Ryerson Physical Laboratory to the new space in John Crerar Library and we officially begin to use the new building today. [Read More]

Vulnerable: To be, or not to be

Ironically—and this is key—the very unusual personality traits that make me so unlikely to be an offender, are also what throw off my accusers’ detection algorithms, and make them double down on their wrong theory. When I’m trapped, I tend to fall back on the only tools I know: argument, openness, frank confession of my mistakes and failings, sometimes a little self-deprecating humor. Unfortunately, I find this often backfires, as my accusers see in my vulnerability a golden opportunity to mount another wretched evildoer above their fireplace. [Read More]

Subscribing using RSS

I shared this new blog with my old and new friends recently and asked them to subscribe using RSS. One of them asked me what was the feed URL. I thought it might be a good idea to share different kinds of feeds that my site supports and provide handy links to subscribe using popular RSS readers/clients. The software that I use to generate my site – Hugo – generates feeds for each category and a general feed for the whole site so you can choose to receive only high-quality reviews or stories from my site and avoid links, for example (all power to you! [Read More]

Blog Broke the Web... Wait, what?

Here’s the crux of the problem: When something is easy, people will do more of it. When you produce your whole site by hand, from HEAD to /BODY, you begin in a world of infinite possibility. You can tailor your content exactly how you like it, and organize it in any way you please. Every design decision you make represents roughly equal work because, heck, you’ve gotta do it by hand either way. [Read More]

Results: Virtual Flip Phone Challenge

My challenge is officially over. Here are some observations:

Time spent during the Challenge Week (#24) vs past 5 weeks

The following table shows time spent on the top 10 apps on my phone sorted in decreasing order of those used in the challenge week:

[Read More]

Super Commando Dhruva Origins

In this episode, Mr. Anupam Sinha and Mr. Sanjay Gupta discuss the First Issue of Raj Comics Superhero Super Commando Dhruva, the story of his Origin and how he came into being. Just came across this video (Hindi) on the new Raj Comics Motion Pictures YouTube channel. I have never written about it (except a little here and here) but growing up, comics, especially those from Raj, were my first love. [Read More]

Virtual Flip Phone Challenge

My friend Laurence Warner is running a challenge called #FirstWeekFlipPhone and I wanted to give that a try. He has written more about his motivations at Why I’m giving up my smartphone for one week each month. In my case, I realized the friction of getting a flip phone, a SIM card (my phone doesn’t have a physical SIM card, it uses an eSIM) and finding someone to keep me honest were preventing me from coming onboard, so, I came up with a different version of the challenge. [Read More]

Death of Google Reader was an Inflection Point

Google’s decision to kill Google Reader was a turning point in enabling media to be manipulated by misinformation campaigns. The difference between individuals choosing the feeds they read & companies doing it for you affects all other forms of media. — Anil Dash 🥭 (@anildash) April 2, 2018 Seems like people popular on Tweetosphere are just coming to this realization. Later in the same story, Dash continues: The point is not that huge numbers of people used Google Reader. [Read More]

RSS Should Go Mainstream Again

Wired: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format. In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. [Read More]