Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Brave News World

Timeframe: 2 to 5 years from now.

A couple of days ago, Google launched its new service Reader which is basically a RSS aggregator. I do not think, this is a coincidence. I believe that Google has realized that at some point, everybody will use his personal news feeds to get informed rather than just checking up a few news sources on a regular base. This will lead into a weakening of the current information sources' positions and support the possibility to get a wider variety and more independent opinions on topics of interest.

The way most of us read the news today has a long tradition. It originated in the 15th Century with the invention of the printing with movable letters by Johannes Gutenberg. Since then, the format has not much changed, we still get the newspapers printed out black on grey paper. At some point, there were pictures, then they became colorful, but let's face it, that doesn't make much of a difference, doesn't it?

The invention of TV and Radio also shaped our perception of the world. News have become more time-dependent, more instant and more transient.

The strong demand for news has accelerated the broadening of the spectrum of the news. Nowadays, we have magazines for all sorts of topics. From modeling through to mountaineering. From gambling through to gaming. But it goes even further. Currently, we find ourselves in a time, where a network such as the web happens to be discovered as a suitable medium not only to publish, but to reach a potentially wide public. Weblogs allow anybody to become a publisher. And since there are no restrictions and hardly any regulations, anyone can basically write about anything. A key feature of networked publishing is the possibility and the habit to connect sources with each other. Any word can be a potential reference to another source.

A further key feature about networked publishing are so called RSS (Really Simple Syndication, RDF Site Summary or Rich Site Summary) feeds. The amount of the current news sources is so immense, nobody will ever be able to keep up with the torrents of news. So the RSS feeds turn out to be very suitable short summaries of a news source.

At one point in the future, you will find out, that there are simply too many news sources that interest you. So you will have to subscribe to the RSS feeds, only to be able to keep track with the news. Within the feeds, you will pick the news articles, that interest you and aggregate them to a personalized news-site that just fits your personal interests. Will this be the dawn of the age of complete personalization and the downfall of protection of data privacy?

I am now publishing on the "MAzine" (, a online magezine emerged from Ravensbourne Students/Lecturers. I have published this article there.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Let's have a look at Flock

I am just trying out this thing. Seems quite neat for the moment, however, still a bit buggy for my taste. Let's see how the next version looks like! The concept behind it lools very promising - I hope it can technically be implemented attractively and userfriendly.

For those, who do not know yet, Flock is a browser based on Mozilla/Firefox, that allows you to contribute actively through integrated user interfaces to interactive and collaborative online tools such as, Flickr or a series of blogging platforms. The user interface allows concise access to your bookmarks.

The interface is written in XUL (amongst others) and is still a bit clobby and slow for the moment. But it I am currently using the beta version, still. There will be a proper release soon.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

We And Our Mobile Phones

Good things can happen when your phone's on

Ok, so we're pretty biased here but it's true isn't it? It's just that mobiles are now such an everyday part of life that we take them for granted. We overlook the things they give us. Like the freedom to move about. And organise things on-the-go. And then be really flakey and change our minds at the last minute. Or how they've helped us get better at communicating. Even those of us who are a bit shy. We're all yabbering on more. And texting. And exchanging jokes, and pictures of that dog with the stupid face. Further still, whisper it, but they make us feel a bit more secure. Less isolated. More connected. Like we've got all our friends in our back pocket. Not bad eh? More mobile. More sociable. More secure. Pretty fundamental stuff really. That's why, on the whole, we're feeling pretty up about things.

Good things can happen when your phone's off

We've got to admit, a switched-off mobile can say a lot. It can say to the person next to us "I think you deserve my full attention." Or it can let our kids now, "You're more important than office." It's a simple gesture but it speaks volumes. Likewise, you can call to say thank you, but if you really mean it, maybe send a letter. A nice hand-written job on fancy paper. And, sure, texting someone a flirty something is all clean fun. But, let's face it, the good stuff doesn't happen until you show up in person. That's the thing about the new gizmos we come up with. They never replace established ways of communicating They just make them more special. Worth considering. After all, the more special we make each other feel, the better we'll all get on. And that's got to be a good thing.

I have found this master piece of copywriting on Northern Line Southbound London Bridge Tube Station on a Orange billboard.