Project Plan for the year.

 Ideas, thoughts and musings, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Project Plan for the year.
Jan 282012
 

So it’s a new year and this post is largely a base of reference for myself to look over as the year progresses.

Coding Soundtracks

So I registered the domain codingsoundtracks.com and plan to and have been building a fairly simple website allowing coders to add their favourite coding soundtracks for other coders to find.
It is currently live at coding soundtracks

Rebuild Eventzin.com

Eventzin was a previous project which while it never quite took off on its first iteration does offer potential for being a useful tool. Basically it is a simple way to set up events with your friends, even friends that aren’t on eventzin. This will be rebuilt with node and also js css html5 mobile apps, probably using either sencha touch or the new jqmobi.

Walking Companion

Walking companion is personal project which will be a native iOS app doing something which has already been done, but something which I want to have an experiment with. It will be an app to keep track of your walks, how far your walk each week, how many calories you burn etc.

Kids Game on the Ipad

Having a 3yr old has told me that parents with iPads buy quite a lot of apps. The iPad is a brilliant device for children. The interface is perfect for a child’s hands on interaction. All of this has made me want to do a kids game. More on this later.

Helpfinding.me

This is an attempt to try harness the connected networks we have created and use them to help find missing people. Again this would likely be build in node js and then cross platform mobile app.

Dublinks

This is a business project. I bought this site at the end of last year and while it is paying for itself, it needs some investment of time and effort on my part to bring it to a better place and improve the revenue flow from it.

Nomad

Finally, but not least, Nomad is a novel that I am writing. I hope to have a reasonable draft of this completed by the end of the year.

So that’s it. A busy year ahead as I have also just started a new job with start up company Feedhenry.

Locals.ie concept – hopes – and plan

 Ideas, startup stuff, thoughts and musings  Comments Off on Locals.ie concept – hopes – and plan
Sep 052011
 

So a while ago I wrote an article on scaling down. Where I spoke about the success of any individual being bound with the success of their community. Well at the time of writing, I was also, and still am, busy working on a new project. That project is locals.ie.

The Concept

The concept behind locals.ie is to provide a place for the locals in a community to easily talk about and promote what they love, hate, and want to change in their local community. This can be done in a number of ways on the site: you can add a post, ask questions which other locals can answer and also set up, manage, organise and promote local projects, whether they be their own or community based. I have lots more ideas planned and would love to hear any feed back positive or negative.

Hopes

A major hope of mine is that first and formost that people find the site offers them something useful and worthwhile, but also that local authorities, tds, councilors, businesses etc catch on to the site and see its potential for connecting and communicating with the locals that make up their constituencies and communities.

My ideal, my dream, perhaps, is to have locals communicating with each other regularly and talking about what is on their minds. I also want those with ideas, perhaps ideas they have had for a long time, but have felt they didn’t know how to get started, or that they wouldn’t be listened to, find others who share in their idea and so do more than get started, they actually make things happen; and for those with valuable local knowledge to share it by adding posts and answering the questions asked by others.

You can see a good example of how the site can work by taking a look at the waterford section of the site. This is my home county.

Future

Over the coming months I am going to be working hard to try and promote locals.ie in anyway that I can. I plan on writing to my local newspapers, perhaps submitting an editorial piece to them, and also contacting radio stations to try and gain some exposure. I also want to get in contact with my local council, politicians and businesses.

I will also be working hard on the site. I hope to improve it with each day/week and make it a great place to visit. If you have any ideas or thoughts on locals.ie please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can use this blog, or via email at craig[at]locals.ie you can also follow @locals_ie

I am a web and software developer by trade and so have plans to bring out a mobile app in the future at some point also.

If you like the idea of locals: tweet about it, like it on facebook, talk about it, but most of all become a local and get involved.

 

The success of a community is vital to the lasting success of any individual within that community. This is something I hold as a core value and I sincerely hope that you do too.

As a product of your community and peers, successful communities will create more successful individuals; and in turn, an individual that holds his own interests and those of his community as being equal, or as close to equal as possible, will create more successful communities.

When I speak of community, I am referring to your locality, the place where you live. Your community is made up of the people in your favourite coffee shop, the teachers educating your children your neighbours and so on. Each member of your community will have an impact, whether directly or indirectly, on your outlook and help you form opinions on society and on how you, as an individual, fit in and should interact with it. They will inform your ideas on how society should be governed, what is acceptable and how it can be improved. So far so obvious, right?

Well the above leads me to a major issue I believe we are facing, and that is the problems caused by the ever expanding scale of our communities brought about by our ability to communicate across vast distances. This problem of scale is affecting every aspect of our lives. In business, the internet is giving companies easy and cheap access to markets that they would have never considered accessible previously. This in turn means that these companies are growing at an unprecedented scale, and their customer bases are immense* this of course erodes the importance of an individual customer. News agencies and charities can bring every tragic disaster to our living rooms, causing us to become increasingly numb to disaster, as an act of self preservation. Your time is important and it is impossible to care about, in a realistic way which motivates us to action, all that is presented to us on a daily basis. But this also must have a trickle down effect on the way in which we perceive those within our own communities which require charity, effect how we run our small to medium businesses and so on.

With such large scale in our everyday lives, it becomes difficult to feel truly connected. We give money to charity but do not see any of the impact which that action had, we help a customer but again see no impact of having solved their problem. Seeing the positive impacts of our actions is essential to continued motivation to perform further actions. To this end, I think it is essential that we find ways to scale down, make things more personal and the effects of good action more visible.

So if we accept, and perhaps you don’t, that we should try to find ways in our lives to try and scale down and make the impact of our own actions more visible, then how can this be achieved?
Well I intend to go into that in my follow up post coming soon.

* read groupon, amazon etc

 

Before I begin this post, I want to lay a little ground work to show where I am coming from. I have no degree in any *”ology” and these ramblings reflect only my own musings. I am an avid futurist and technologist, in particular, web technologies. I am a believer in its ability to change the future in major ways, largely for the good, as it has already done over and over.

You always know when things are changing because people are talking about that which is in flux. And we are talking now more than ever about technology, progress and in particular the web and how it integrating with our lives.

I found myself happy to hear of schools introducing the iPad to classrooms replacing heavy, expensive text books. More information on this can be found here at ipadinschools. I still think that this is a wonderful change, but it got me thinking about where we may be heading.

What will happen to the physical things? The books, CDs, photographs, newspapers etc. And in the process of replacing them, what is it that we risk losing?

Does a physical photograph mean more, and have more value than its digital counterpart? Does a physical book have more value than a book downloaded to your tablet? I think for the large part the answer is a resounding no, but occasionally it is a yes.

My family has boxes full of photographs and attics full of “stuff”, very few of these items have any real meaning other than to map out the past as a timeline represented as things. This can be achieved far better in the digital realm; and in my opinion, the digital realm provides more relevance and connection, particularly in a spatial/temporal sense.

But there is something to be said about having and holding something which has had time and craft put into it through purely physical interaction. A physical object can create the sense of a physical connection with the maker of the object. When I hold a scrapbook, made by my partner or hold a drawing done by my daughter, I know that they have held, touched and created this object and that means something; and I have yet to feel that “something” from their digital counterparts. So perhaps the first thing lost is the tactile properties of an actual object. Feeling and touching that shared object adds a level to the shared experience, as stated, the giver/sharer has also touched the object. Perhaps other elements lost are rarity and uniqueness. These elements add a great deal of value to an object, but in the digital realm, there is almost nothing which cannot be easily reproduced, either by copying it to many places or by replicating it through some digital tool. There is no risk of loss of something important with these digital objects. Almost all of us have some form of back up of our important information.

Of course, the information contained and shared is more important than how we choose to share it. Yet I do worry that, even though a piece of information shared is clearly important, we treat it with less reverence purely because of the sheer amount of information being shared with us at any one point in time. This may well be due to our lack of experience in dealing with this volume of information, and maybe it something we will become much better at over time.

However an interesting question and problem is raised: if we accept we are losing something, how do we create and share something of worth and value in a digital format? How can we impart and understand the time and effort expended to create that which is being shared? I’m not sure whether these questions are truly important, but they matter to me and I hope to some of you too.

 

I have been toying with some new ideas lately and trying to focus on how I can make tech and the web do more good, thats not to say it doesn’t already do good of course. So an idea that I struck upon while thinking about the power of location, socially connected networks and the saturation of smart devices, was helpfinding.me.
what is helpfinding.me? Well, as i hope the title suggests, this will be a tool to leverage the connected nature of our society in order to try and help find missing people within the bounds of your location.
I often hear that the first 24 hours of someone going missing are the most important. This smartphone app will try to leverage that.
so here is the scenario, a family are out on the beach or at a park or at a large public event when they suddenly notice one of their children has not come back from playing. They start to look around but do not find the child. The park/beach is large, they get worried and start asking people have they seen such and such and show them a picture. This is where I envisage helpfinding.me coming in. In the simpelist way possible, a picture would be added to the app plus a brief description of clothes etc, the app would pick up location and post it to the server which in turn would post a notification to every registered device within the area. Any people with the app would recieve the notification and be able to view that someone had gone missing near them and so become more vigilant and aware, and hopefully someone would spot the child/person.
I think there are two difficult problems. The first is gaining app saturation, but this is more a marketing problem as i feel people will be open to downloading the app and and have it sit largely silent on their phone. The second problem is handling discovery. You don’t want a situation where you are sending parents/Concerned parties on wild goose chases. I envisage this problem will become easier to solve as saturation increases. A potential solution could be leveraging existing connections between people to create levels of trust. Also of course there is a group effect too; if several people report sighting the missing person in a location, the likelyhood of it being a hoax is relatively small. Also the device saturation level could be used: if there are only six devices in the area and one of them reports a sighting, then this is highly relevant. There are more things which will come to light, I’m sure. Got any thoughts on this? Please leave a comment or get in touch via @maleck13. I think its important to remember that the average person is good and is unlikely to want to cause a person extra distress by posting a false sighting.

Has The Web “pivoted”

 Development, Ideas  Comments Off on Has The Web “pivoted”
Jun 212011
 

According to recent study done see here -> source we are now spending more time on mobile applications than on the web. While I don’t claim that this is a definitive study, it does show what I believe is a trend that will only continue to grow. We like our data in nice neat, “app” size, packages. Has anyone ever really enjoyed the alternative: searching through ad filled pages, with different and often irritating ways of presenting their information to you?
However some are pointing to this as a sign that “the web is dying or dead”. Wired magazine did a good piece on this web is dead article and I think they highlight some very good points. However I feel that web is far from dead.

A large majority of these apps that we use, are powered, at least to some extent, by web services/apis (application, program interface). Many point to these as not being indexable and so not helpful to the web because the data can’t be linked to. This is true, to a certain extent. However, if you are anything like me, some of the apps that I use most, I use to discover links being shared with me in a social context. I can safely say, that I have visited and discovered more websites and articles of actual worth via these service consuming apps than through any other medium, and yes that includes google. The web evolves quickly, maybe more quickly than any other medium, and we as its consumers, creators and curators, are constantly try to gain the most from it.

I would also point out, that there is no reason why if we use the RESTful model more on REST in building web services, that these Apis/ services can’t be used for front end consumption as well as empowering 3rd party apps. Putting it in a simple way, when I use the GET method why not let the default be to render a HTML version of the content, but if I add a parameter to that GET request of ?type=json , then it renders the content as a json document for consumption by apps and so on.

So perhaps the web has pivoted and has become a web service provider, but I would argue it was never anything more than that . The browser after all is a data consuming app. And along as we hold dear the http protocol in order to help us share our data, the web will remain our most important invention.

No, it is not the native apps that pose any threat to the web, but there is a monster out there lurking and parading a being a part of the web, but keeping everything behind locked doors. I am of course talking about Facebook. It makes me immensely sad when I see a link in a tweet etc pertaining to something that I may find very interesting, only to find that when I follow the link, I am met with a Facebook login page. It is my hope that we will find ways to liberate this information and replace Facebook, with a more open and web friendly alternative.

More on substance context and relevance – Better information for everyone

 Ideas  Comments Off on More on substance context and relevance – Better information for everyone
Jun 132011
 

So how can we leverage the great benefits of a socially connected web into creating more relevance, substance and context? Well I believe that our individual consumption of information can be harnessed to create better information for everyone.

I think we have to start by accepting that how we consume information is rapidly evolving. There is more and more information at our finger tips and it is constantly available. This is a good thing, but in turn it leads to some, and I would believe them non trivial, problems. Important information can easily go unseen, we can become disengaged from the information we are actually quite interested in, we become glutted on so many other tit bits of information, that we no longer have the stomach for the main course, and so lose some, if not most, of our ability to focus when we do try to partake of something a little more meaty.

While google and twitter and Facebook provide us with good tools to find and discover new information via our “friends” and by search, the shear amount of information becomes just noise and information pollution or “infostatic” . I have spent, and continue to spend, quite a lot of my free time contemplating this problem and trying to find a way to cut through the infostatic so that I might find and read the best information that is available on my chosen subject(s).

It is important to me that I don’t feel limited. If I want to stream in articles and information from thousands of sites or follow thousands of people on twitter or friends on facebook, I want to be able to do that, and use all of those sources to gain the great information that many have on offer, but without the infostatic. Our social networks don’t really allow this.

However social curation, as a network, is certainly part of the solution, but there is a whole lot more that can be done in this area. We tend to group sites and people, lets call them sources, into categories and subjects, but what of the work others have done to group and organise things around this subject? Why can’t we benefit from this work? I see no reason why this cannot be done.

As stated earlier, our individual viewing and intaking of information can benefit everyone. Just as an example imagine browsing a new hypothetical information timeline, and seeing lots of relevant information but without the chaff; and not simply questions and answers (as in quora, stackoverflow both of which I love) . Not only would there be less chaff but, based on social curation and some algorithms, new tweets, articles and comments would appear in your “timeline” based on your current preference in subject.
To give an example: perhaps you are interested in a new piece of technology and you are clicking on and viewing tweets about this new technology and searching different search engines for information. You can be sure there are a lot of people out there who are also interested in that technology. So what if, based on their “information reputation” / “social credentials” in that subject, certain sources would have their information injected into your stream? And visa versa, you would, if deemed well enough informed on a subject, have your choice of information propagated out to those interested in and researching a particular subject.

So who decides who is relevant and who is not? You do of course, and just as your individual viewing of information can help everyone so too can your individual labeling of information sources. That information would be shared, anonymously, and used to help decide which sources are offering the most relevant information.

I do believe that this is how our information will reach us in the future, regardless of the platform; in fact I would eventually like to see some form of peer to peer system that would propagate this information and the social credentials of its users. This system could perhaps sit feeding your browser information that would then present to you the most valuable information? I don’t know for sure, and something like that is a much longer term and more radical change.

However I am going to start doing something about all that I have talked about, its going to be experimental and a bit rough around the edges, but if you want to join me and see what becomes of it, you can register your interest at srcd.me. It really is just a personal experiment at the moment, but perhaps it could become something more.

Substance & context: a problem facing the web

 Development, Ideas  Comments Off on Substance & context: a problem facing the web
May 282011
 

Substance and context. There is something of a contradiction in the web. It is well known that once you put something on the web, it is essentially there forever; in one form or another. And yet I find that while the web offers me a huge number of resources, and new information, it sometimes feels very shallow, transient and without context. often I find myself agreeing with a blog post or tweet without really understanding the motivation, history and persuasions of the information and the provider of the information.
It also very difficult to retrace information. Have you ever found yourself trawling google in order to try and find a page that you had come across in the past, that now seemed very relevant to something currently in your focus. the web is fragmented by nature, and this makes it hard to connect the dots, as it were, that link lots of information together and provide a full picture.
so how can we address this? Well right now I’m not sure, but it is a problem that is occupying my mind and perhaps soon, I will have an idea on how to solve it.

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