|mkalus shared this story from Nothing To Do With Arbroath.|
...so that went fast.
On July 26th 2011 I showed up for work at Mozilla's Castro St. office for my first day of work at Mozilla. My first job at Mozilla was on the evangelism team but also embedded into the Add-on SDK team. As I look around at where I ended up 3 years later the path makes sense - the bulk of my tech career has been in various positions helping developers hack on the open web, so ending up a Product Manager for Firefox Developer Tools is (to abuse an old stand-by) literally my dream job.
Mozilla has changed a lot in the last 3 years. When I joined I was something like the 340th employee and I have heard we're now over 800. It wasn't until a couple of months later that Andreas and others started the B2G project that went on to be re-named Firefox OS. Firefox was at version 5 and the project to re-write Firefox for Android was just being thought of.
In July 2011 the developer tools team had just shipped their first tool, the web console which for some reason opened up above the page. Fast-forward three years and we are about to ship a mobile-focused development environment, debugging features that reach across all major mobile platforms and we've built up a suite of tools to help developers with all corners of the web platform, from Audio and WebGL to CSS animations. As I look forward I am excited about many, many things: WebIDE, new performance tools, iOS & Android support just to name three.
Another project that is near and dear to my heart is what we call the Devtools SDK. Here our intention is to place the ability to create amazing and innovative tools firmly into the hands of developers themselves - because this is what the web community wants and deserves. We're taking a lot of inspiration from the Firebug and Chrome Devtools extension ecosystems, and we are particularly inspired by the architecture of the Ember Inspector extension - the Ember project made the smart choice of implementing most of the extension's logic as an Ember app, making it much more likely that the Ember community would be able to contribute to building their own tools.
The central idea that buzzes around my brain these days is this: how we can combine the generativity and creativity of the web developer community and the possibilities of Firefox as a platform. Firefox needs to have great tools, sure, but it also need to be the place where developers can create their own tools, integrated with all the other tools they use all the time and connected to the devices and platforms where people are using the web.
It’s still possible.
Civilization is a draft. Provisional. Scaffolded. Under construction. For example:
That’s Thomas Jefferson‘s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration hasn’t changed since July 4, 1776, but the Constitution built on it has been amended thirty-three times, so far. The thirteenth of those abolished slavery, at the close of the Civil War, seventy-seven years after the Constitution was ratified.
Today we are in another struggle for equality, this time on the Net. As Brian Grimmer put it to me, “Digital emancipation is the struggle of the century.”
There is an ironic distance between those first two words: digital and emancipation. The digital world by itself is free. Its boundaries are those of binary math: ones and zeroes. Connecting that world is a network designed to put no restrictions on personal (or any) power, while reducing nearly to zero the functional distance between everybody and everything. Costs too. Meanwhile, most of what we experience on the Net takes place on the World Wide Web, which is not the Net but a layer on top of it. The Web is built on architectural framework called client-server. Within that framework, browsers are clients, and sites are servers. So the relationship looks like this:
In other words, client-server is calf-cow. (I was once told that “client-server” was chosen because “it sounded better than ‘slave-master.’” If anyone has the facts on that, let us know.)
Bruce Schneier gives us another metapor for this asymmetry:
It’s a feudal world out there.
Some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google: We have Gmail accounts, we use Google Calendar and Google Docs, and we have Android phones. Others have pledged allegiance to Apple: We have Macintosh laptops, iPhones, and iPads; and we let iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything. Still others of us let Microsoft do it all. Or we buy our music and e-books from Amazon, which keeps records of what we own and allows downloading to a Kindle, computer, or phone. Some of us have pretty much abandoned e-mail altogether … for Facebook.
These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals.
It’s handy being a vassal. For example, you get to use these shortcuts into websites that require logins:
To see how much personal data you risk spilling when you click on the Facebook one, visit iSharedWhat (by Joe Andrieu) for a test run. That spilled data can be used in many ways, including surveillance. The Direct Marketing Association tells us the purpose of surveillance is to give you a better “internet experience” through “interest-based advertising—ads that are intended for you, based on what you do online.” The DMA also provides tools for you to manage experiences of what they call “your ads,” by clicking on this tiny image here:
It appears in the corners of ads from companies in the DMA’s AdChoice program. Here is one:
The “AdChoices” text appears when you mouse over the icon. When I click on it, I get this:
I suppose that’s kind of them; but for you and me it’s a lot easier just to block all ads and tracking on our own, with a browser extension or add-on. This is why Adblock Plus tops Firefox’s browser add-ons list, which includes many other similar products as well. (The latest is Privacy Badger, from the EFF, which Don Marti visits here.)
Good as they are, ad and tracking blockers are still just prophylactics. They make captivity more bearable, but they don’t emancipate us. For that we need are first person technologies: ways to engage as equals on the open Net, including the feudal Web.
One way to start is by agreeing about how we respect each other. The Respect Trust Framework, for example, is a constitution of sorts, “designed to be self-reinforcing through use of a peer-to-peer reputation system.” Every person and company agreeing to the framework is a peer. Here are the five principles to which all members agree:
|Promise||We will respect each other’s digital boundaries||
Every Member promises to respect the right of every other Member to control the Member Information they share within the network and the communications they receive within the network.
|Permission||We will negotiate with each other in good faith||
As part of this promise, every Member agrees that all sharing of Member Information and sending of communications will be by permission, and to be honest and direct about the purpose(s) for which permission is sought.
|Protection||We will protect the identity and data entrusted to us||
As part of this promise, every Member agrees to provide reasonable protection for the privacy and security of Member Information shared with that Member.
|Portability||We will support other Members’ freedom of movement||
As part of this promise, every Member agrees that if it hosts Member Information on behalf of another Member, the right to possess, access, control, and share the hosted information, including the right to move it to another host, belongs to the hosted Member.
|Proof||We will reasonably cooperate for the good of all Members||
As part of this promise, every Member agrees to share the reputation metadata necessary for the health of the network, including feedback about compliance with this trust framework, and to not engage in any practices intended to game or subvert the reputation system.
The Respect Network has gathered several dozen founding partners in a common effort to leverage the Respect Trust Framework into common use, and within it a market for VRM and services that help out. I’m involved with two of those partners: The Searls Group (my own consultancy, for which Respect Network is a client) and Customer Commons (in which I am a board member).
This summer Respect Network launched a crowd-funding campaign for this social login button:
It’s called the Respect Connect button, and it embodies all the principles above; but especially the first one: We will respect each others’ digital boundaries. This makes itthe first safe social login button.
Think of the Respect Connect button project as a barn raising. There are lots of planks (and skills) you can bring, but the main ones will be your =names (“equals names”). These are sovereign identifiers you own and manage for yourself — unlike, say, your Twitter @ handle, which Twitter owns. (Organizations — companies, associations, governments — have +names and things have *names.)
Mine is =Doc.
Selling =names are CSPs: Cloud Service Providers. There are five so far (based, respectively, in Las Vegas, Vienna, London, New York/Jerusalem and Perth):
Here’s a key feature: they are substituable. You can port your =name from one to the other as easily as you port your phone number from one company to another. (In fact the company that does this in the background for both your =name and your phone number is Neustar, another Respect Network partner.)
You can also self-host your own personal cloud.
I just got back from a world tour of places where much scaffolding work is going up around this and many other ways customers and companies can respect each other and grow markets. I’ll be reporting more on all of it in coming posts. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos.
When somebody proposes a simple mechanism to improve (say) learning outcomes, they're most always wrong. But why? It's because they have ascribed a simple cause-effect relation onto a complex phenomenon. But why should complexity impact causation? Complex phenomena are densely connected networks where correlations are increasingly likely to be the result of underlying conditions rather than the result of one thing causing another. This article makes the point, with mathematics, and a good example drawn from the literature on cancer research.[Link] [Comment]
It’s one of those things that sound unbelievably geeky – it’s like geocaching (a geeky repurposing of multibillion dollar GPS satellites to play hide and seek) combined with capture the flag, combined with realtime strategy games, bundled up as a mobile game app (kind of geeky as well), with a backstory of a particle collider inadvertently leading to the discovery of a new form of matter and energy (particle physics? a little geeky). It’s the kind of thing where peoples’ faces glaze over on the first description of portals and XM points, and resonators and links and fields.
One thing that’s been stuck in the back of my head as I worked my way up to Level 5 Nerd of the Resistance in the game, is the lack of an apparent business model. It’s a global-scale game, with thousands? millions? of users checking in from all around the world. There don’t appear to be ads in the game – I’ve never seen any – and there appears to be an unwritten rule that portals should be publicly accessible. That unwritten rule largely negates a business model that would have businesses pay for placement in the game in order to draw customers into their stores etc…
Niantic started the game in 2013, and launched it under the “release it free so we build a user base, then sell the company” business plan. It worked, as Google bought the company and ramped the game up. It’s now available for both Android and iOS platforms, free of charge, with no advertising or premium subscriptions or in-game purchases.
So, what is Google getting out of it? I think their largest draw is likely in crowdsourced geolocation of networks. They have every Ingress user actively (collectively) wandering the globe, reporting every wireless SSID and cell tower they come across, along with GPS coordinates. The game gently pushes players to stay at the location of a portal, confirming the geolocation and refining precision over time. It’s kind of a genius plan – it is constantly updating Google’s network geolocation database, which can then be used to more accurately track and target all users of the internet for advertising etc…. They’ve turned a bunch of nerd’s nerds into a crowdsourced network geolocation reporting system. And, at Google’s scale, it costs them a pittance to have this system running.
We may collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number). Google may associate your device identifiers or phone number with your Google Account.
When you use a location-enabled Google service, we may collect and process information about your actual location, like GPS signals sent by a mobile device. We may also use various technologies to determine location, such as sensor data from your device that may, for example, provide information on nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.
Common TOS for all Google services, but especially relevant in a geolocation-based game that is actively pushing users to wander their neighbourhoods to gather this data and send it back to Google.
If they’d released the app as a “report network locations to improve google’s ad targeting” tool, it would have gotten huge pushback, and not many people would have downloaded it. But, by hiding that function and wrapping an insanely addictive game over top of it, it’s gone viral.
brb. I need to go recharge the portal at the playground down the street…
David Weinberger writes, "The debate over whether municipalities should be allowed to provide Internet access has been heating up. Twenty states ban it. Tom Wheeler, the chair of the FCC, has said he wants to “ preempt” those laws. Congress is maneuvering to extend the ban nationwide." This is not just a U.S. issue because similar pressures exist worldwide. There`s a good list of four lessons from the deployment of electricity: private firms won't provide universal service (or even close to it); unregulated growth leads to the emergence of huge monopolies; these monopolists will use their wealth to influence policy; and the best way to keep process low and service high is to ensure competition from the public sector. All these are also true of learning and learning resources.[Link] [Comment]
A little less than two weeks ago, Nokia revealed that the Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan update had started rolling out to Lumia devices. Unfortunately, there was nothing about a Canada-specific roll-out. Just that it would be available for all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices “in the coming weeks.”
The official roll-out schedule still has ‘under testing’ for every Lumia device on all Canadian carriers, but Nokia Canada revealed via Twitter that the update is now available to all Lumia 1020 users.
If you’re not the kind of person to wait patiently for a software update, you can manually check for an update via Settings -> Phone Update. The update is in two parts and it will automatically check for part two once part one is finished installing. Nokia warns that the entire process could take one to two hours. Just something to be mindful of in case you planned to update on a whim.
Cyan is part of Mirosoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update but is designed for Lumia devices and offers improvements to Lumia-specific apps like Nokia Camera, Creative Studio, and Device Hub.
Update: Well, that’s unfortunate. Nokia has removed mention of the update from its social feeds, and apologized for giving bad information. Hopefully it won’t take much longer. -Daniel
by Evan Landman
A sobering new report was released recently by Ride New Orleans, a nonprofit advocate group. It covers the erosion of the city's transit network in the years following 2005's Hurricane Katrina, revealing that while the city's population and economy have largely recovered, its transit services have not.
Some key points from the report:
Ride's frequency maps tell the story even more viscerally:
What accounts for the difference between the relatively robust network of 2005 and today's service offering? Obviously no transit agency would have an easy time recovering from the damage done to its vehicles and operational infrastructure by a catastrophic event like Katrina. It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise. But nearly a decade on, something has prevented RTA from ramping back up to its prior service level.
Ride's analysis points to a number of factors. First is a decline in fare revenues, attributable both to the smaller population of the city since the storm, the diminished service offering, and a base fare of just $1.25 which hasn't increased since 1999. Second, since the storm, RTA's operating costs have increased dramatically, to around $168/revenue hour. This is much higher than many peer agencies, and as such limits the amount of service RTA is able to deploy with its current resources. The report also raises questions about the agency's decision to prioritize the restoration of the historic streetcar system.
It's clear that RTA has faced unique challenges; even the transit systems effected by Hurricane Sandy did not have to deal with the mass population displacement or degree of infrastructure damage New Orleans sustained. But while the city's transit service is today in dire straits, if Ride's analysis is correct, it cannot long continue, as it appears RTA is now operating at a deficit, and rapidly drawing down its reserves.
Thus, an opportunity exists on the horizon, for RTA and for the city of New Orleans: to reimagine transit in a manner that helps more people travel to more destinations more easily, and to develop a durable system less vulnerable to disruption. Clearly this would be a difficult undertaking, but if continuing down the present path implies continuing to provide vastly inadequate service, at an exhorbitant cost, perhaps it is a necessary one.
It’s Friday - time for the Badger Beats!
We’ve had a busy week, prepping for SXSWedu 2015 (did you hear? The deadline was extended!) and next week’s live session of the Open Badges MOOC - Meg, the Badge Alliance Director of Marketing and Operations, will be leading a discussion on the Cities of Learning initiative with cities representatives. Read more details at badges.coursesites.com
What else went on this week?
Carla Casilli, the Badge Alliance’s director of design and practice, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - read more in the community call summary or listen to the audio recording;
As part of a continuing series on STEM and STEAM, Microsoft Chicago featured a guest blog from Beth Swanson, of the Chicago Mayor’s office: Connecting Learning through Chicago City of Learning;
A piece on Edudemic generated a lot of buzz in the Twittersphere this week: tweet us your thoughts on Why The Future Of Education Involves Badges (or not!)
Have a great weekend everyone - and don’t forget, if you’re working on a session proposal for SXSWedu, get them in by noon CST on Sunday!
Bring on the voting in Panel Picker!
This week we were joined by Frank Catalano, who was recently commissioned by MDR's EdNET Insight service to write an extensive analysis of badges for education companies, as well as the Badge Alliance's Director of Design & Practice, Carla, who is kicking off a community-wide project to develop a campus policy for open badges (more details on how to get involved below.)
Although his paper is not intended for a general audience, Frank’s experience helped highlight some of the challenges still to be overcome as we work towards integrating badges into more education environments. A (free) overview of his paper can be found on EdNET Insight here with Frank’s top-line industry recommendations.
Challenges still facing the ecosystem
Frank shared his analysis of some of the biggest challenges facing those education companies wishing to bring badges into learning environments, starting with terminology, which is still a major tripping point for many being introduced to badges, who find terms such as ‘badge’ and ‘backpack’ juvenile or trivializing compared to the value that can be found in badges once the concept is fully understood.
As Carla pointed out during the call, language is complex and doesn’t always translate across boundaries, whether industrial or geographic. To that end, the Badge Alliance will be initiating collaborative work on a document that helps us translate badging concepts and terminology to other geographic regions and industries.
The question of an open ecosystem vs. keeping badges in silos also arose - some companies prefer to keep their badges in a closed system, for a variety of reasons, and until the need for an open, interoperable ecosystem reached a critical tipping point, it is likely that we will continue to see growth on both sides of this.
For many, Frank saw as he was conducting his research, badges are a nice addition to existing services, rather than a ‘must-have’ feature - and for others, there is still a lack of a basic understanding of open badges, which is a knowledge gap his paper aims to help close for the education companies his analysis was commissioned for. This paper puts badging in terminology that education companies understand, which will both inform those companies and provide a reference point for our ongoing work to ‘translate’ badging across sectors and continents.
Badges for campus initiatives
Another education landscape that will need concentrated efforts across the board is campus-wide badge policies others can model and build from. Carla Casilli, the director of design and practice at the Badge Alliance, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - contact her directly if you’d like to get involved via email: email@example.com
If you have a badges project to share with the community - big or small - let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the schedule.
Our technical writer Sue Smith is a superstar - check out some of the updated documentation she’s worked on in recent weeks:
We’ve been busy preparing our badges-themed session submissions this week, so we’re happy to share the good news: the deadline has been extended!
That’s right, you have until 11:59PM CST this Sunday, July 27 to finalize and submit your idea to be considered for SXSWedu 2015.
Before you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, be sure to:
1. Review the 2015 Session Starter Kit for a detailed step-by-step guide through the submission form, equipped with audience demographics and helpful tips on how to shape your best idea.
2. Proof read every portion of your proposal for proper spelling and grammar, as well as accuracy.
4. Click the “Save and Continue” button at the bottom of each section if you make any changes.
5. Check all the boxes on the Agreements page and utilize the “Review my Proposal” option on that same page. Once you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, you will no longer be able to make changes to your proposal.
Direct any further questions to email@example.com
Good luck, everyone! We’ll let you know when we’ve heard back about our session proposals.
Android Wear is still in its infancy. It’s relatively new, and there isn’t really a ton of apps available for the platform right now. There also isn’t very many Android Wear devices. As time goes on, all that will change. For now, almost every new app is exciting for users. Even if all it does is turn your phone’s WiFi hotspot on and off.
Today’s exciting Android Wear app comes from the folks over at Toronto’s BNotions. They’ve made an app that will allow you to control certain functions of your Tesla Model S, like opening and closing the sunroof, or beeping the horn, right from your watch. You can also lock and unlock the car.
You do have to launch the app on your watch before you can do any of this stuff. That doesn’t seem to take too long, though it’s hard to tell given they cut the wait time out of the video (either that or the watch didn’t understand the command on the first take, and they cut that out). If it does take a while then this has the potential to be like waiting for your Uber while empty cabs whizz past. Why rely on technology when the old fashioned way is quicker?
Still, it’s a pretty cool example of what developers are doing with Android Wear. Now we just have to figure out which car in our Tesla Model S fleet will be the test subject for this app.
Do you know what the Fermi Paradox is? Take 20 minutes to read this article and I promise you’ll never look at the stars the same way again.
Google has tweaked its Play Store categories this week, adding a whole new section for games that can be played offline or without a data connection. Though there are probably countless games that can be played while you’re off the grid.
This new offline games section section has just 54 titles for now, including the highly popular Dots and as well as Freeze, Dumb Ways to Die, Robot Unicorn Attack, and Minecraft. The majority of these games are also free, with just eight of them costing money. None of the paid games are priced over $5.
Not only is this useful for when you find yourself without data or WiFi (say, for example, if you take the subway with any sort of regularity), but it’s also going to be extremely useful for parents with kids that love to play mobile games, and people with a limited amount of data each month.
You have to actually read this to realize how silly this sounds. Here it is: "MOOCs are like free gyms, says Mr. Kelly. They might enable some people— mostly people who are already healthy and able to work out without much guidance— to exercise more. But they won’ t do much for people who need intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor." Well of course, then, MOOCs will just be absorbed by the syste... wait. What?
If we actually read this analogy, it is suggesting that the vast majority of us need constant and ongoing intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor. If health and fitness worked that way, we would all die. But what is actually the case is that we only occasionally need these specialized services, can access a gym if we need, but for day-to-day purposes have a wide range of (generally free or low cost) games and activities, parks and recreation, or tools like balls, bats, bicycles, etc., which we decide how to use for ourselves. Oh yes, I can see the objection - "sports and recreation would never work in society - just think of all the training required just to learn the rules!" Yeah, it's a hurdle all right.[Link] [Comment]