Entries in aol (3)


America Online 3.0, HTML5, and APIs: part iii  

i will keep this short, concise.

[i failed at that so here is the conclusion from all the way at the bottom:]

suffice it to say, microsoft creates an illusion of protection, apple dumbs you down so you dont know to want more. if real life experience could inform user level experience, we would have a very different attitude toward both.

i dont want to pursue this topic much further since a lot of better writers are already going after it*. i would like to hold up one attitude particular post to scrutiny however as it represents a dangerous attitude better than anything i could try to describe. i guess he already is trafficked enough to have a rep, but here is john gruber / daring fireball's explanation of the core justification of jobs comment that adobe is lazy; http://daringfireball.net/2010/01/apple_adobe_flash .

this article has little to do with the iPad. it has little to do with DRM even. the attitude that is being touted and revered is that its appropriate for a company to control a hardware platform, a software platform, and a harem of consumer-grade peripherals. what is the end result of such a situation? apple, jobs, and gruber would have the world believe that it results in a better... something. depending on the situation the something changes. sometimes it is a better user experience, sometimes it is a better development experience, sometimes it is a better world. all of these things, of course, feed and bathe in the same ecosystem, so none of these are exactly diametrically opposed like tax cuts and budget deficit reduction (oh noe!).

however, jobs and his apologists are apt to justify any movement along the lines of, its my ball, you can play the game my way or go home. i dont mean to call jobs a bully, that is not the important thing here. what is are not only his apologists who evangelize to the masses, but additionally that no other CEOs "have the balls to stand up to cupertino." i throw that in alarm quotes, because that is where the diversion begins, and then its microsoft who isnt driving the market, or creative who isnt making a good enough mp3 player. however, similar to the problem i noted before, none of these other companies have the lateral monopoly that apple does.

itunes and the reported price scheduling for the iPad are not only bad insofar as they are apple-taxed. they also kill markets' elasticity. apple is an anti-competitive company. they work in the worst interest of the consumer. the price of music, and the fifteen dollar e-book on their servers is a four-alarm fire people seem to greet with open arms.

search amazon and macmillan and youll see thread after thread of people critical of amazon (sure they have supporters too), and the idea that an ebook should cost about ten dollars. for some reason people seem to unite behind macmillan and believe that an electronic book should cost twelve to fifteen dollars, or more. i dont understand this, its like people screaming and picketing that jammie russet should owe the riaa 126million. its insane.

people have been paying too much for music on the itunes store for a long time, and they likely wont stop any time soon. i personally believe that amazon is in the right. markets should seek their bottom when they are inflated. when you take the commodity out of the picture and are left purely with the intellectual property (in this case, of a book), should there really only be a 20% reduction in user cost? is that really better for customers?

as far as adobe goes, and the whole HTML5 and APIs header, suffice it to say that apple is lazy or poisoning the well to make the comments they have made. i dont support Adobe's flash. it probably is a pile of coding horror; its version ten and has probably never been torn down. however, to act like you can abandon 32-bit programs tout de suite and act like the dev is to blame bespeaks a foulness in apple.

they dont care about devs. if youre a dev, apple doesnt give a shit about you. proof of concept: if there are a billion apps, and a million devs who made them, and their combined revenue now dwarfs the entirety of the niche and cachet adobe once helped apple maintain all those years, then apple can piss on any number of big developers for the sake of their platform. what makes you special?

why is microsoft so bad? they stopped listening. they also stopped being innovative once they stopped listening. so apple et apologists thinks 264 is a solution, its not that i think ogg is ideal to scale, but it is a foundation for an open platform. h.264 is certainly not. it might be free, like beer, at the discretion of the ownership collective. however, if you return to daring fireballs article where hes talking about flash on the iphone, and the justification for non-support, youll note it takes a user's experience edge for justification. however, when you move to the flip side, its the developers who get screwed.

sure, you can watch youtube with h.264, but if you try to do anything higher up in sophistication youre going to need to license it. if you want to have a program that edits or has corporate functionality, fork over some money. or, even easier, dont make your program. just let quick time do it. let apple do it. pay them instead.

at any rate, there is a subtle coercion of users by microsoft that the user is 'secured,' and its not true. the subtle coercion of apple is that the user is 'happy,' and they may have something, but they have supported the excise of freedom. i dont think it fits, but ill throw the 'he who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither' maxim in here for some fizzle of a finish.

suffice it to say, microsoft creates an illusion of protection, apple dumbs you down so you dont know to want more. if real life expereince could inform user level experience, we would have a very different attitude toward both.

*i liked these posts and they convinced me just to finish up:


America Online 3.0, HTML5, and APIs: part ii / iii 


  • why would i pay for internet explorer or netscape when i am already paying for america online (unlimited!)? i can’t afford another world wide web

Tell yourself right now: “I am NOT a Tourist.”

Coming to the computer, the only skill people should require is the ability to leverage their sense of real world knowledge and apply it to their expectations of their web presence. Considering that most people have some rough grasp of how they would fare being stranded on a desert island, it seems odd to consider that most people have no idea that the same scenario applies when they are dropped in front of a computer. Most people think would compare it with being dropped into a foreign city, though most of the time the people assume the people speak the same language, just with a dialect (based on users aptitude). remember the concept that people are familiar with the computer environment because the computer has a corporeal existence in some room in the user's home? this is a concept the user must, by now struggle to overcome.

However, as in the case of a desert island, a return to our baser instincts is necessary for survival and prosperity. For the sake of example assume rescue was never going to happen. Further, you want to build up a civilization. First you’ll need a foundation. In this endeavor we find the leveraging of our real world experience, knowledge, and expectations in addition to our constant need to test and re-test methods. Moreover, one needs to start thinking beyond the resources he or she hopes or expects to find and must become more tinkerous in finding ways to create tools and uses for things unknown.

Fortunately, in the case of a computer as opposed to a desert island, the operating environment and objects involved are much more resilient than if you eat that thing with the really, really pretty flowers both in maintenance and recovery.  Moreover, most trivial things don’t need to be learned over and over by trial and error, but can be researched quickly.

What I am driving at is not simply a survivalist attitude with respect to your computer, but rather to back down from the pedestrian attitude that you should rely on others like some complacent, idiot tourist. There is an increasingly limited space for the luxury of web tourism as more and more of our vital and standard life processes are basically embedded implementations of these technologies.

To begin with, why should you still be paying for cable and internet, or debating paying for one or the other? These are the same place, the same backbone, the exact same service. Is it not akin to paying for America online 3.0 and Cable internet? Essentially, the cable is the medium and the service provider wants to quibble over the service(“s”) coming out of the other end because they don’t want to cope with the elasticity of consumer goods (i.e. internetservice AND television). It should be $50 a pipe, additional services extra.

However, as is common in scenarios like this you have two industries fused that should have nothing to do with each other. Content creators/distributors should have no affiliation with content delivery. This amounts not to a horizontal monopoly, where the company in mind controls a price fixable amount of the market. Rather it is a lateral problem where a merger of the two, as in the case of Time Warner, has a direct interest in stifling the market and providing a low level user experience due to a vertical monopoly. The merger of infrastructure-resource (I-R) is a problem because you have an entity that is able to apply market pressure on two different ends of the spectrum, you have two outcomes:

  1. the I-R company outweighs the interests of competitors by virtue of restricting either the I- companies’ access to -R, or vice versa
  2. the I-R can fix prices and retain inelastic product growth, wherein the goods as a resource-delivery never see innovation in pricing or productivity, creation or medium
  3. the I-R company will be a contradictory bag of motivations, and it will act on behalf of one half in spite of the other. I.e. throttling internet connections utilizing p2p software due to piracy concerns, or DRM encumberance despite the supposed open platform of the network

This is akin to why health insurers should not also own hospitals. When you have one entity with sufficient clout to not only inform the decisions of an industry, but to place all others into a defensive crouch it is bad for said industry. But what does this have to do with the users?

The users ultimately have their wants and desires, expectations and ambitions shaped by the network and the providers. Here is where the hospital-insurer analogy is particularly apt. Rather than it being competitive between doctors providing good better best services, and then paying insurance, we have a system where you pay your premium, step in line, and hope for decent, mediocre, or just bad. But when the hospital-insurer linkage extends throughout the system, one might say, don’t the lateral monopolies compete against each other to provide better doctors and better prices in their networks? Ultimately no, they are a battle of lesser evils racing for the mediocre in an effort to appeal to bigger contracts. Its not that eventually you cant settle into a complacent happiness with whomever you find. The problem is that they beat you into samey complacency and settle-for-something-edness.

Think about this. Eveytime I go to my one doctor, I need blood work. I get hit with an EOB (“Explanation of Benefits”) from Aetna and an invoice from the Lab that hasn’t been paid. Now I know that if I wait long enough, Aetna will get around to paying some of it. Typically, the claims get re-submitted against me though since aetna’s EOB says only $X.XX is appropriate for any given service, and since the invoice is in excess someone is responsible for the rest. So I get a second invoice, reduced, but am I responsible for this one? My deductible is done and I paid the copay, so what is this extra out-of-pocket fee?

Does this make me want to find out more and learn about HMOs, PNPs, etc; or am I likelier to just pay the second invoice, or worse, change doctors for the sake of not getting this bothersome mail? Its not like any amount of reading your policy will make you prepared for these scenarios, just like reading your windows vista manual isn’t going to help you with resizing an active OS partition. Yet ninety percent of my transactions with aetna, a company I and my employer pay to provide me services, are like this?

So this results in reinforced ignorance. Should I pay for both my American online and my Internet Explorer service? Should I pay my doctors office twice and send more money to Aetna? Was the infrastructure involved in it at all? Better not ask. the networks and content providers conspire to inspire this mental reticence. Its in their dollar to dollar best interests.

What does this mean when we return from that analogy and apply it to html5 and APIs? The answer is in what kind of Hardware-Software, Internet-Content lateral monopolies there are. But before we tackle that, we must address the issue of ignorance.

(Aside from ‘leveraging blah-blah’ obviously,) how does one arrive at the understanding that, “hey wait, I don’t need to pay for America online and my web browser, it’s the same thing?” this is where we return to the desert island, and try to boost users’ self esteem and hope for eventual self-awareness. Don’t let the lateral monopolies convince you that living off the sea water and fronds is nutritious, or like you have any idea already how to survive. Don’t let the lateral monopolies make you in the mold of a tourist. You're not a tourist, you're there for good, and its yours to do with as you see fit, not what's in their best interest. They don’t know what's best for you, remember, they are supposed to react to changing markets rather than contrive market changes.


America Online 3.0, HTML5, and APIs: part i / iii

  1. why would i www something else, when i can just read it from america online? its all the same news.
  2. why would i pay for internet explorer or netscape when i am already paying for america online (unlimited!)? i cant afford another world wide web.
  3. i heard i could buy just the internet, but i need to have an entire platform built around the internet to keep me safe.

These three mentalities have lasted us from (at least) 1991 through to the current day. For those who used the early dial in BBs, weird dial-up online services (TSN, aka imagiNation!), and usenet etc we saw progressions and possibilities and a dark mass of unrealized space for development. For those introduced with america online, issues involved come down to lack of transferring real world knowledge to the platform, ignorance, and coerced ignorance. many users have only scratched the surface of the post-AOL 3.0 world.

here in part i, i will address the first mentality: transferring real world knowledge to the platform

Users were reticent to apply their real world intelligence to grasping the new technology. They had no desire, let alone any guidance in doing so. also, it was in the better interest of the initial ISPs for users to never become power users. Consequently, there were two latent complementary pressures on users against: users were happy to never expand their abilities and ISPs/Platforms have a vested interest in users never pressing their systems.

The problems with these two pressures were that a user who has no desire to expand their base abilities was complacent with the user experience to which he or she is accustomed. people who are complacent are no longer users, they are watching a modified television to perform tasks. they never learn to find a voice. complacent users are passive content consumers, rather than active content producers. From Geocities to Livejournal to Tumblr to Twitter we have seen a gradual opening of free speech on the internet with the barrier to entry becoming lower and lower. however, these were not the complacent users who drove this movement.

On the other side of the disease are the ISPs, who were happy to serve up plenty of cheap and dirty content from buyouts of whoever in the case of america online, or in the case of a straight ISP were happy enough to provide you with sufficient bandwidth to load a web page with text and maybe a compressed picture here or there. however, as the telco's got wise after 1993 they realized tout de suite, active users are bad for networks. for anyone trying to play doom or duke nukem 3d multiplayer it eventually wasnt about the modem's baud rate. it was about under-delivered bandwidth. the fire shawn was really fanning had less, ultimately, to do with RIAA douche-bags and the even douchier Lars Ulrich, than it did with the networks.

These two problems (Complacency, Stifling Platforms) and their eventual examples of empowerment (Twitter, Napster) form a wider context in in wrangling transferring real world knowledge to the family-ready www.com of 1991. if i told my co-worker that she cannot speak out, and could only listen, she would cross her arms and stare sternly and ask me who the heck am i. but thats because she has been taught (by herself and others) that speaking out, acting out is the only way to participate. with the internet, and computers generally, we havent been taught to think of them as personal machines aside from the fact that they occupy space in our homes. If i told her that the naughty adult book she was reading couldnt be lent to anyone else indefinitely, even if they never read it, she would certainly have words. Moreover, if i told her that, no, you can only use something in the way it was designed and intended to be used, and in no other way, she would take the mouse shes been trying to kill that pesky office fly with and start whipping me with it.

Twitter and the death of media is an interesting way of phrasing the situation on the one hand. Media outlets telling newly activated users to shut up and quit diluting "pure" news is probably more accurate though. Napster and the illegal sharing of music is an interesting way of parsing the situation involving networks and users; you have a separate situation altogether when contrasting it with users making fuller use out of the $1000 machine and available bandwidth they have in front of them. Napster would never have gone to trial were it not for the Network Judases, the ISPs. The networks themselves were at risk of users using them, and the ISPs knew it then as they do now. We were supposed to believe that we were making ourselves user-aware, when in fact we were being user-controlled.

The trouble with not applying your real world grit and ambition to the ISP/PC platform could best be framed as full User expression versus Network Capacity for expression.There is a direct market ratio of user created content to dollar for dollar infrastructure investment. Hence, there is a direct complement between a network's vested interests and stifling the creative output of users.

what is devastating is that when you couple stifled users with an un-nurtured sense of understandings one's surroundings, you reinforce user complacency. although they have no desire to develop, most have no sense that its possible. to most desktop users, being able to switch backgrounds, screen savers, or personalize their log in sounds was fine. developing on one's pc or any correlary platform to the complacent is the stuff of the gods considering that conceptually to the users, computers werent hosting a platform environment. rather the computer was a static box in the user's physical environment (one to which they were accustomed to changing), thus did he or she maintain complete and utter domain and control over it.

#also, the examples of Twitter and Napster are terrible examples of upright human-ness. If i tried to interview for a job in 140 or fewer characters, or date a girl based on my shared directory of hijacked mp3s I fear the ultimate scale of the slippery slope. Yet nonetheless, bigger networks want to shut these up and shut these base instincts down rather than offer sophisticated solutions beyond the scope of america online 3.0.