I network non sono neutrali

Eric Meyer:

That’s one of the biggest differences between the early web and what we have now: that it’s easy to share ourselves. Entire business sectors have been built and vast fortunes made on making that impulse easier to satisfy.

The challenge now is in how those fragments of our lives are treated. This is as much a social question as a technological problem, but the two are not separable. What Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and every other at-scale social network does now—everything they make possible or impossible, everything they make easier or harder—will shape what we think of as normal in a decade or two. It won’t utterly control the way we use the web, but it will undoubtedly influence our online behavior at a deep level.

And so those who build the systems of interaction have a unique responsibility, because what they allow and forbid defines them. As Derek Powazek has said, “What you tolerate is what you are.” What networks allow, and more importantly what they encourage, defines them as well. A network where it’s easy to attack and difficult to defend makes a very different value statement than one where it’s difficult to attack and easy to defend.

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Cos’ha Snapchat di diverso dalle altre applicazioni per scambiarsi messaggi

Louis Harboe:

Video calling. You thought you understood how it worked. It’s Skype. It’s FaceTime. It’s your friend requesting to see you in real time. (Probably when you don’t want them to.) You thought you understood how it looked too. Your friend’s face, fullscreen, front and center. Your face, smaller, off in the corner. (You look over there when you want to adjust your hair.) That’s video calling. Right?

Wrong. Just when you thought you had it all figured out—just when you got comfortable with video calling—it’s changing. That’s right. That FaceTime thing? Old news.

Snapchat non è solo una chat senza memoria; offre un modo unico per restare in contatto e affacciarsi sulla vita dei propri amici.

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Perché tutte le stampanti fanno schifo

The Wirecutter, sito che si occupa di recensire e trovare il migliore prodotto in una categoria, spiega perché non esistono stampanti decenti:

Most of you are going to hate something about any printer that you buy, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Instead of fighting it, try to reframe the issue in your mind: You’re not buying a printer because you’re supposed to have one at home. You’re buying a printer because it’s (just barely) less inconvenient than going to a copy center. […]

Your printer is worth a lot more than you’re paying for it. Seriously, there is some amazingly complicated technology in your printer, including the printheads, the ink, and the mapping software. You take your printer for granted, but that box can cover a piece of paper in millions of dots of precisely located, color-matched ink in a few seconds. You’re probably buying the printer for the cost of parts and distribution, which means the manufacturer is effectively subsidizing the thing on the premise that they’ll recoup their research and development costs (and the rest of their overhead) from your ink purchases.

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WhatsApp ha attivato la crittografia end-to-end per oltre un miliardo di persone

Bravi. Wired ha un lungo articolo a riguardo:

Encryption is widely available to anyone motivated to use it, but WhatsApp is pushing it much farther into the mainstream than anyone else. Apple, for instance, encrypts the data sitting on an iPhone, and it uses end-to-end encryption to hide the messages that travel over its own iMessage texting service. But iMessage is only available on iPhones. Over the years, Apple has sold about 800 million iPhones. But it’s hard to know how many are still in use, or how many people who have them are communicating via iMessage anyway. WhatsApp runs on just about every kind of phone. Plus, Apple’s techniques have some gaping holes. Most notably, many users back up their iMessages to Apple’s iCloud service, which negates the end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp, meanwhile, has a billion users on its service right now.

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Medium come alternativa a WordPress?

Medium ha lanciato una versione della sua piattaforma per editori e blogger, che dà più possibilità di personalizzazione (poche, comunque, mi pare di capire), un tool per migrare il proprio archivio/sito facilmente, possibilità di mantenere il proprio dominio (senza dover reindirizzare i lettori a medium.com) e alcune vie per guadagnare — offrendo una membership ai propri lettori, rendendo certi articoli visibili solo dopo il pagamento, o attraverso l’inclusione dei post sponsorizzati delle aziende che scelgono di farsi pubblicità su Medium (fra queste, per il momento: Bose, SoFi, Nest e Intel).

Medium for Publishers, oltretutto, sarà completamente gratuito — un bel vantaggio sul costo di creazione/manutenzione del proprio CMS e sito. Diversi editori, come The Awl, il Pacific Standard e Electric Literature ne stanno già facendo uso e si sono spostati lì sopra.

Dal post dell’annuncio:

We want Medium to be your write-once, publish-anywhere destination. That’s why we’ll soon launch compatibility support for Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). We’ve also brought collections to the web, showcasing the breadth and best of Medium.

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Supporta Bicycle Mind — se ti piace, ovvio, eh — così: acquistando su Amazon (partendo da qua), abbonandoti alla membership o con una donazione. Leggi di più

I design complicati sono migliori

Di tutti i pesci d’Aprile arrivati ieri, considero il migliore l’articolo pubblicato dal Nielsen Norman Group titolato “Difficult Designs Are Better“.

Migliorando l’usabilità di un’interfaccia, spiegano, costringiamo gli utenti ad essere mediocri e a non impegnare le loro meningi:

There is something else that limits our deep thinking: too simple interfaces. It is time for designers to question the effect that universally easy designs have on humans and society. Consider, for example, when a web search returns top results that include helpful information that the user wants. Is the search engine really doing people the best service? Would a teacher just tell a student the correct answer if the student did not get it on the first try? Would a coach give a point to a novice basketball player when the shot bounced off the basket’s rim? If they did, their students would never learn.

In short, easy designs encourage people to be mediocre users. What’s the solution? Designers should not be so universally motivated to make interfaces easy. Instead, they can make the designs more difficult and thus, provide stimulation for people to think harder, exercise their brain more, and become the next Galileo or Einstein.

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L’economia dopo l’automatizzazione

Paul Manson, per il Guardian:

The automation revolution is possible, but without a radical change in the social conventions surrounding work it will not happen. The real dystopia is that, fearing the mass unemployment and psychological aimlessness it might bring, we stall the third industrial revolution. Instead we end up creating millions of low skilled jobs that do not need to exist.

The solution is to begin to de-link work from wages. You can see the beginnings of the separation on any business flight. Men and women hunched over laptops and tablets, elbows so close that if it were a factory it would be closed on health and safety grounds. […]

But to properly unleash the automation revolution we will probably need a combination of a universal basic income, paid out of taxation, and an aggressive reduction of the official working day. Typically, northern Europe is ahead of the curve: Sweden cut the working day to six hours, while Finland is experimenting with the idea of a basic citizen’s income.

Un altro articolo recente di FastCompany, prendendo spunto da Postcapitalismo (scritto, appunto, da Paul Manson), discute l’idea di un reddito di base universale:

The fundamental problem could be that work is losing its value. The thing that provided—that allowed families to prosper and individuals to build a sense-of-self—is under attack. […]

A basic income is key in a non-market economy. It’s what allows people to volunteer at nonprofit businesses, set up food co-ops, or design something using a 3-D design module. It wouldn’t stop people from working—those with well-paying, satisfying jobs would continue to do them—but it would stop people from having to do things that machines can do more easily and more safely.

A basic income is a way to spread the rewards of work across socially useful activities, only some of which are currently rewarded, economically speaking. “A basic income says, in effect, there are too few work hours to go around, so we need to inject liquidity into the mechanism that allocates them,” Mason writes. “The lawyer and the daycare worker would both need to be able to exchange hours of work at full pay, for hours of free time paid for by the state.”

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È Chrome il nuovo IE?

Chris Thoburn:

It’s awesome that Chrome had this feature, right?

If that last thought was actually your last thought… congrats, you just mentally accepted years of torture doing exactly this to fix the other “most feature rich browsers”… IE6, 7, 8, and 9. …but “Standards!”. Yes, these features are on standards tracks, and thankfully far enough along they aren’t likely to be rejected. But guess what, a lot of IE’s ideas were proposals too, and a lot of them are only just now being accepted as standards today, just under different names and with improved APIs. Being first does not make you the best.

Safari è più lento nell’adottare feature che ancora sono in discussione e devono diventare standard. Chrome, nel frattempo, adotta tutto in un lampo preoccupandosi poco delle prestazioni.

Posto in altri termini: Safari è più preoccupato col soddisfare gli utenti, Chrome col soddisfare gli sviluppatori.

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La bandiera fuori dal Campus

Immagine

La bandiera fuori dal Campus

La bandiera fuori dal campus di Apple oggi — oggi che celebra 40 anni d’esistenza (via @twfarley).

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iMessageAnalyzer: un’utility per analizzare i propri messaggi di iMessage

Applicazione

iMessageAnalyzer: un’utility per analizzare i propri messaggi di iMessage

È gratuita, e si scarica da GitHub. Potete realizzare grafici con la frequenza dei messaggi scambiati con una persona, paragonandoli per esempio all’interità dei messaggi scambiati in un giorno o semplicemente visualizzando com’è variata quantitativamente l’intensità di una conversazione/relazione nel tempo.

Non so a che possa in realtà servire, se non agli ossessionati fra noi del quantified self (alzo la mano).

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Apple ha rilasciato Safari Technology Preview, una versione di Safari per sviluppatori

Simile negli intenti a Chrome Canary, Safari Technology Preview è una versione di Safari per sviluppatori web, con funzionalità sperimentali — le cose che abilita sono elencate in questa pagina del sito di Apple.

Dal blog di WebKit:

Safari Technology Preview is a standalone application that can be used side-by-side with Safari or other web browsers, making it easy to compare behaviors between them. Besides having the latest web features and bug fixes from WebKit, Safari Technology Preview includes the latest improvements to Web Inspector, which you can use to develop and debug your websites. Updates for Safari Technology Preview will be available every two weeks through the Updates pane of the Mac App Store.

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I prossimi 40

Horace Dediu riflette sui 40 anni di Apple (Apple venne fondata il 1 Aprile del 1976):

In Apple’s first 40 years it shipped 1,591,092,250 computers.

This shipment total is higher than any other computer company in its first 40 years. Actually there are no PC makers that are 40 years old. One computer maker (IBM) is older but they only sold PCs for 24 years and what they still sell they don’t sell in high numbers.

That does not make it the top seller in a given year. Looking at only the Mac, Apple’s traditional form factor personal computer, Apple has only returned to the top 5 last year. Only if including the iPad it was the top computer vendor in 2011 and including iPhone, it was first in 2009.

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macOS: immaginando il successore di OS X

Andrew Ambrosino ha delle buone idee su come dovrebbe essere il prossimo OS X (o macOS, data la nomenclatura recente: watchOS, tvOS), che ha raccolto su Medium. Il primo OS X risale al 2001, circa 15 anni fa. È evoluto molto negli anni — sia in termini di design che funzionalità — finendo con l’includere App Store, Continuity, e altre funzionalità perlopiù prese da iOS, ma non ha cambiato il modo in cui pensa e funziona: l’organizzazione delle cose (file system al centro di tutto) è rimasta la stessa:

We produce far too much content and our work is too often collaborative to rely on a manual model that was designed many, many years ago.

Last year I had the privilege of working at Upthere (if you haven’t seen what they’re doing, go take a look). Started by Bertrand Serlet and others a few years ago, the goal has been to introduce a brand new stack that forms a cloud filesystem and model for organizing content. The model is simple and the implementation complex– it lacks hierarchy and relies on powerful search and self-organization, along with building in sharing and collaboration into the filesystem itself. It’s about time for macOS to shift to this type of organization.

Un altro punto debole di OS X riportato dall’articolo è l’assenza di molte delle applicazioni sociali di cui facciamo uso sui dispositivi mobili. Perché c’è un app per Instagr.am, Facebook, Gmail, etc. sull’iPhone mentre sul Mac, spesso, dobbiamo ricorrere a un browser — riempiendoci di tab?

MacOS 11 should introduce a common framework for presentation, a brand new model for content, and a common thread for people.

On iOS we’re used to using native apps for just about everything, yet on OS X, much of the same services are only available as web apps. While they don’t suffer from the same performance degradation as the mobile web (or at least the old mobile web), does it really make sense that so many of us keep open 10 tabs for the services we use most? The browser is really a terrible window manager. But of course, developers haven’t wanted to build their apps for yet another platform, so web apps have been simply good enough.

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Apple Pay ha un problema ‘Siri’? No.

The Verge dice che Apple Pay si trova nella stessa situazione di Siri: nel momento in cui si prova ad usarlo non funziona mai: non è supportato dai commercianti e non è affidabile — così che, dopo un po’ di insuccessi, si finisce col farne a meno per evitare imbarazzi.

Dissento fortemente. La maggior parte delle mie transazioni avviene oggi via Apple Pay. Forse il Regno Unito si trova in una situazione particolarmente avanzata per quanto riguarda i pagamenti contactless, ma Apple Pay mi accompagna sul bus e sulla metropolitana, da Starbucks e altre catene, supermercati e, con sempre meno intoppi, pure nei negozi piccoli e indipendenti. I posti in cui non mi è possibile pagare con Apple Pay si riducono sempre più: oramai ricorro alla carta solo quando la cifra è superiore al limite imposto ai pagamenti contactless. (La situazione è diversa Paese per Paese, e trovarsi in una grande città sicuramente aiuta.)

Nel mio utilizzo, ritengo che Apple Pay e Wallet siano stati un successo. Solo nell’ultimo mese ho usato quest’ultimo per salire su un aereo, per entrare a un concerto, per le varie tessere di affiliazione/raccolta punti e per accedere a un hotel. Wallet mi ha finalmente permesso di fare a meno di una stampante (fino a poco fa, ancora mi serviva un cinque/sei volte l’anno per stampare biglietti/prenotazioni), ed Apple Pay quasi sempre di fare a meno del contante.

Se mai è l’Apple Watch ad avere un problema Siri. Non perché non funzioni ma perché suscita sempre interesse e ilarità — simpatico, all’inizio, divertente, ma è anche una rottura che ogni volta mi si faccia notare quanto sia strano che stia pagando con l’orologio.

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Apple porterà Apple Pay sul web

Secondo le fonti di Re/Code, al prossimo WWDC Apple potrebbe espandere Apple Pay al web. In tal modo, se avete un iPhone dotato di Touch ID, potrete sfruttare Apple Pay per i pagamenti online (e fatti su Safari):

Apple has been telling potential partners that its payment service, which lets shoppers complete a purchase on mobile apps with their fingerprint rather than by entering credit card details, is expanding to websites later this year, multiple sources told Re/code.

The service will be available to shoppers using the Safari browser on models of iPhones and iPads that possess Apple’s TouchID fingerprint technology, these people said. Apple has also considered making the service available on Apple laptops and desktops, too, though it’s not clear if the company will launch that capability.

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Come lavora Liam, il distruttore di iPhone

Apple ha dato a Mashable l’opportunità di incontrare Liam, il distruttore di iPhone, da vicino. Liam è dotato di 29 braccia robotiche, ciascuna specializzata nello smantellare una specifica parte dello smartphone:

Liam completes an iPhone disassembly process every 11 seconds, with dozens running through the system at all times. About 350 units are turned around each hour, equivalent to 1.2 million iPhones each year. Apple wouldn’t say when Liam started its work, but emphasized the project is still in the research and development stages.

As of right now, the company puts Liam to work Monday through Friday — it gets the weekend off.

Essendo ottimizzato per uno specifico device, Apple è al momento in grado di sfruttare Liam solo per gli iPhone 6s.

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Mondo: come vorrei fosse l’app della mia banca

Applicazione

Mondo: come vorrei fosse l’app della mia banca

Mondo è una nuova banca nata su mobile: ha un’app bellissima che fa quelle cose che vorrei avesse fatto la mia banca principale — aiuta a tenere traccia delle spese, classificandole in categorie e elencandole con nomi comprensibili. Rende facile inviare e ricevere denaro, e ha delle API. La mia speranza è che un giorno Apple introduca un “PayKit” che permetta a applicazioni di terze parti di accedere alle transazioni via Apple Pay — rendendo così immediato tracciare le proprie spese, e un po’ inutile una cosa come Mondo.

Per il momento, comunque, intriga e sembra promettente. Bisogna mettersi in coda per provarla [1. E se vi iscrivete dal link, la mia si accorcia ;)] e dovete risiedere nel Regno Unito.

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L’unico modo in cui Facebook riuscirà ad entrare in Cina è diventando uno strumento del governo

Quartz:

While WeChat is accessible to users all over the world, it runs on a different app inside and outside China. People or organizations anywhere can register for Chinese official accounts (roughly analogous to public Facebook pages), where they’re screened for sensitive content and visible to anyone. Separate official accounts exist for people located outside of China. Data from overseas accounts are stored on overseas servers, and not subject to the same censorship policies. They’re also not accessible to WeChat users who have registered from within China.

Facebook could employ similar tactics, in effect creating a “Great Firewall” from within Facebook itself. Chinese users might still be able to friend individuals outside the country, but be restricted from seeing some of their posts or creating pages the whole world could see. Likewise, foreign companies that create public pages might have to create separate ones for Chinese users.

Praticamente, ci sarebbero due Facebook: quello che usano tutti gli altri, e quello accessibile in Cina.

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Le macchine che si guidano da sole arriveranno presto per alcuni, fra anni per altri

Chris Urmson, a capo del progetto della self-driving car a Google, ha detto che probabilmente arriveranno prima per quelli che abitano in città soleggiate (dato che hanno ancora problemi con la pioggia) e in città con strade molto larghe:

Not only might it take much longer to arrive than the company has ever indicated—as long as 30 years, said Urmson—but the early commercial versions might well be limited to certain geographies and weather conditions. Self-driving cars are much easier to engineer for sunny weather and wide-open roads, and Urmson suggested the cars might be sold for those markets first.

Urmson put it this way in his speech. “How quickly can we get this into people’s hands? If you read the papers, you see maybe it’s three years, maybe it’s thirty years. And I am here to tell you that honestly, it’s a bit of both.”

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Liam, il robot che distrugge gli iPhone

Video

Liam, il robot che distrugge gli iPhone

L’ha presentato Apple con un video durante la conferenza di oggi. È malefico, e svolge benissimo il suo compito: smantellare l’iPhone. Probabilmente al vostro iPhone non starà particolarmente simpatico.

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