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]

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]

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]

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]

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. — find me at or (@anildash) April 2, 2018 Seems like people popular on Tweetosphere are just coming to this realization. Later in the same story, Dash continues: [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]

Less Social Media, More Open Web

Cal Newport continues writing about the distinction between social media and the social internet: Perhaps more pernicious than the ability of these “walled industrial sites” to exploit your labor, however, is their ability to control your behavior — nudging you toward certain ways of describing yourself and encountering the world that make you more profitable to the social media barons, but might alienate you from your humanity. (This is the chief concern voiced by Jaron Lanier, who first warned us about these issues over twenty years ago. [Read More]

Social Media vs Social Internet and Open Protocols

There’s a distinction between the social internet and social media. The social internet describes the general ways in which the global communication network and open protocols known as “the internet” enable good things like connecting people, spreading information, and supporting expression and activism. Social media, by contrast, describes the attempt to privatize these capabilities by large companies within the newly emerged algorithmic attention economy, a particularly virulent strain of the attention sector that leverages personal data and sophisticated algorithms to ruthlessly siphon users’ cognitive capital. [Read More]

Slack dropping XMPP and IRC gateways support

We saw it with Google, who built Gtalk on XMPP and even federated with other XMPP servers, only to later stop federation and XMPP support in favour of trying to herd the digital cattle into the Google+ enclosure. Facebook, who also built their chat app on XMPP at first allowed 3rd party XMPP clients to connect and then later dropped interoperability. Twitter, although not using or supporting XMPP, had a vibrant 3rd party client ecosystem which they killed off once they felt big enough. [Read More]

Small B Blogging

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”. And remember that you are your own audience! Small b blogging is writing things that you link back to and reference time and time again. [Read More]