Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Web Secret #208: Cryptocat

Internet privacy is a growing concern. When you participate in an online chat, can others listen in? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

Fortunately, thanks to Nadim Kobeissi, a brilliant 21 year old college student, there is Once you are on Cryptocat, you click a link and you’re chatting with someone over an encrypted chat room. Better yet, up to 9 of your friends/family/associates can join you.

Cryptocat is ridiculously easy to use, but just in case you want to know more, watch the video.

Spy vs. Spy

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Web Secret #207: FamilyLeaf

About a year ago, I wrote a post on Dunbar's Number. Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist, suggested that from a neurological standpoint, the human brain can handle no more than 150 meaningful relationships. The implication for social media is that you may not need 1,000 followers on Twitter to be effective.

Every time I give a social media presentation, a number of audience members will express their horror at the openness and magnitude of Facebook and Twitter.

Well, attendees, your concerns have been heard - enter FamilyLeaf. FamilyLeaf is designed to be that small, closed, private network for your closest compadres. Check out the demo.

For your smartphone, there is Path. A Path network, allows you a maximum of 150 friends.

PS According to the article in the New York Times (by Randall Stross) that inspired this post, Dunbar, is alive and kicking as a professor at Oxford. He further elaborated his theory as follows: "social networks resemble a set of concentric circles: 150 people constitute the outer boundary of friends, 50 is the limit for trusted friends, 15 for good friends, and 5 for best friends."


I can handle that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Web Secret #206: The Age of Spiritual Machines

Raymond Kurzweil is a well known futurist who has been lauded for his uncanny ability to predict the future of artificial intelligence and the human race. In 1999, Ray published his second book of predictions, "The Age of Spiritual Machines."

Here are some of them:

2019 (only 7 years from now)
  • A $1,000 personal computer has as much raw power as the human brain.
  • Computers are embedded everywhere in the environment (inside of furniture, jewelry, walls, clothing, etc.).
  • People experience 3-D virtual reality through glasses and contact lenses that beam images directly to their retinas (retinal display). Guess What? Google is already working on that! Check out "Project Glass":

  • People communicate with their computers via two-way speech and gestures instead of with keyboards.
  • Cables connecting computers and peripherals have almost completely disappeared. Almost there right now!
  • Computers have made paper books and documents almost completely obsolete. Kindle anyone?
  • Household robots are ubiquitous and reliable. Where is my Roomba?
  • Humans are beginning to have deep relationships with automated personalities. The depth of some computer personalities convinces some people that they should be accorded more rights.
2029 (only 17 years from now)
  • A $1,000 personal computer is 1,000 times more powerful than the human brain.
  • Computers are now capable of learning and creating new knowledge entirely on their own and with no human help. Some computers "know" literally every scientific discovery, book and movie, every public statement, etc. generated by human beings.
  • The rise of Artificial Intelligence creates a real "robot rights" movement, and there is public debate over what sorts of civil rights and legal protections machines should have. The existence of humans with heavy levels of cybernetic augmentation and implants lead to further arguments over what constitutes a "human being." Ever see "AI"?
  • Machines have attained equal legal status with humans.
I stopped reading after that - I was getting too freaked out.


In 1974, Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet and the personal computer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Web Secret #205: Steve Jobs

Between myself, my spouse and my 3 kids, we own the following Apple devices:
  • Four iPhone 4
  • One iPhone 4s
  • 2 MacBook Pros
  • 1 MacBook
  • 1 iMac desktop
  • 2 iPads
So you would think that with 11 Apple products in my immediate family, (including the three I use at least 9 hours a day,) I would have a pretty good grasp of the genius of Steve Jobs, Apple's founder and CEO. Well I didn't.

Reading his biography educated me.

Steve, thank you for:
  • The Apple II - first personal computer not just for geeks
  • The Macintosh - birth of the home computer revolution
  • Being CEO of Pixar - responsible for Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E and other digital animations delights
  • Apple stores - the store as brand
  • The iPod - giving me music everywhere
  • The iTunes store - saved the music industry from falling entirely in the hands of pirates.
  • The iPhone - my whole life in a hand held device.
  • The App store - spawned a new content creation industry. (Besides, I can't live without "Words With Friends.")
  • The iPad - launched tablet computing - went from "why do I need that", to "I can't live without that".
  • iCloud - all my content is backed up and all my devices communicate with each other.
  • Apple - the world's most valuable company, worth over $500 billion, and home to the best in imagination and creativity - a place where technology, art and design intersect.
Steve was a maniacal perfectionist, and intensely involved in every facet of the devices, technologies and companies listed above.

Steve Jobs, responsible for more disruptive technologies than perhaps anyone since Thomas Edison.

I salute you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Web Secret#204: How to Make a Viral Video

I had a dream: to one day sit in the audience at a TED conference, a very expensive proposition costing thousands of dollars.

On November 19, 2011, I was able to attend the first EVER TedYouth conference courtesy of my teenage son Eric, whose successful application earned him one of the 300 seats in the auditorium. I got a seat because he put me down as a chaperone...

True to TED form - the presenters were amazing
. I will feature some of my favorite talks in upcoming blog posts. Here is the first:

Kevin Allocca has my dream job - he watches YouTube videos for a living. Actually he is YouTube's trend manager, analyzing what makes a successful viral video.

In this video, he shared the 3 reasons a video goes viral:
  1. unexpectedness - this is the lightning in a bottle, something happens in a video that no one would expect. Remember when Susan Boyle walked onto the stage of the X-Factor looking like a bag lady? Then she opened her mouth to sing - over 6 million hits.
  2. tastemakers - a person who is famous or influential talks, tweets or otherwise communicates about your video.
  3. communities of participation - a large group of the tastemaker's followers tweets or e-mails the video to their friends and followers.
But this is not just about entertainment. Companies and individuals can also harness the power of the viral video to promote products, services and themselves.

Watch Kevin as he further dissects viral videos:

Thank you Eric!