Category Archives: Ideas

User-configurable Keyboard Shortcuts

Concept: A System that allows web surfers to configure their own Keyboard Shortcuts for web applications.

Probably a firefox extension or chrome plugin, but also a web directory where visitors can install greasemonkey scripts that will add keyboard shortcut functionality to various apps. The full add-on will be promoted to be able to notify you of configuration change possibilities and specific website productivity tips, all based on the current URL in view. Users will be able to change/add/remove keyboard shortcuts for every URL.

Challenges:
– compatibility
– change monitoring
– conflict resolution

Position Yourself For The Future

My latest interest: trying to predict the future, and position myself so as to be able to influence outcomes moving forward.

For example, when a new web application is launched, my public reviews can bring new users to the site, provide strong feedback to the developers, and even change the public understanding, and thus, the concept of the site itself.

We can all have great impact on how events and changes come about. You just have to stick your head in and poke around. Then use Twitter or your blog, or Facebook or your social network of choice to spread your ideas and gather support for your cause.

To end on an entirely different note, wouldn’t it be cool if our education system, and in particular, high school history classes, taught not only ancient history and recent history but moved forward on that continuum and surveyed the popular predictions for the future?

A Small Plan

A Small Plan For an America in Recession. (What I would do if I didn’t have a good job right now)

Out of a job? Can’t pay rent? Credit stacking up? You’re not alone. More Americans are looking for a job right now than in the past XX years. If you feel like just getting away from it all, I have a solution that might just work for you… Re-farming America.

Good land is cheap. You can get 5 acres on a hillside, with running water or a well for less than $40K if you’re willing to drive just 5 hours away. You can get a much smaller place for even a lot less (blah for blah right now on Craigslist).

You can be self-sufficient. You can grow all of your own food. There are many available resources to help you. And it can be really fun. You can build a treehouse… even live in one. You could even dwell in the side of a hill (If, you know, you’re really into JRR Tolkein Novels).

But Rex, you say, what about internet access? “I’m not addicted, but uh, I get uncomfortable when my iPhone dies”. Well, you have a few options there… Satellite Internet is widely available, pretty affordable, but pretty slow I believe. Mobile Broadband (Cellular) could be an option if you have decent 3G coverage on the property, but that’s also not very fast yet. If you’re lucky, you can get really high speed internet through a LASER. This is currently available near where I live, but I have yet to try it, as it is more expensive, and traffic is metered. (And I get 16Mbit Burst from Comcast, which I’ve been pretty happy with).

Obviously, you can’t grow everything you need, so you’ll have some expenses… So you’ll need to find a way to make some money. If you manage to get a decent internet connection, there are various ways to make money with the help of the internet. If you’re reading this, you might be interested in blogging professionally. If you go that route, it won’t be easy unless you’re really passionate about something and you’ve got a good plan for marketing your work. There are various businesses that will pay you to work online. You can make music on your computer and sell it on iTunes. Get a following on Twitter and leverage your expertise and connections. Study up on the stock market and buy and sell shares. Do work for the Mechanical Turk.

You can also use the internet to provide a local service… like you could do tech support for neighbors to help them get online, maybe even to teach them how to use things like YouTube. On the other hand, you can use your location to provide online services, like provide a natural getaway weekend experience for urbanites (maybe do countryside tours, or hikes). Or make arts and handicrafts with local inspirations and sell them online. The possibilities are endless, because you don’t need to make that much money when you own your own property and grow most of your own food.

If none of those businesses sound appealing, you can default to tradition and be a real farmer… growing and selling food. If you’re going to the effort of growing you’re own food already, it’s only an partial increase in effort to produce fruits and vegetables in significantly higher quantities. You’d just need to stay relatively close to communities with farmer’s markets, preferably multiple for the sake of competition and mitigate risk. And you’d probably want a truck.

Please let me know if this inspires you to do something. I want to see your pictures, and hear your stories. You should write a blog about it.

Citizen Journalism, Redefined

What comes to mind when you think of “citizen journalism”? Probably mediocre reporting, mildly entertaining but maybe a bit sensational or biased, and subject matter that isn’t necessarily important. These characterizations are likely well-founded too. But pick up a newspaper and consider those articles with the same kind of scrutiny… I’m sure you’ll still find sensationalism, bias, and subject matter that isn’t necessarily important. And that’s okay. We just have to overcome our fear of citizen journalism… because it’s coming, and here’s why…

Everyone is a journalist. No? Fine. Not yet. But we need to be. Here’s the thing though, hopefully the key distinction for you… When I ask you to be a citizen journalist, I’m not asking you to make a time commitment. I’m not asking you to interview people. I’m not asking you to go look for leads on stories, to go take photos, or be an expert on anything. Now certainly, those things would be cool, but totally not something I can expect of you. What I’m asking is this: to be an alert citizen. To notice things that aren’t right. And when there’s something that needs attention to just speak up. But instead of mentioning it to your friends or coworkings in passing, you need to be able to tell the world. You need to be able to write an article for your newspaper. And it needs to be easy.

It’s not about creating more content. It’s about giving you a megaphone when you need one.

We’re Taking Back The Media

I’m writing an undergraduate research paper on the economics of citizen journalism. Or, more specifically, I’m researching and applying for a grant to build an open source platform for Collaborative Citizen Journalism.

I don’t want to waste your time with a really long paper. It’s not good enough yet.

However, I’m very passionate about this. I really think Citizen Journalism can happen, and needs to happen.
I recently explained the idea to a friend in an email, and it went something like this:

I imagine you’re sometimes suspicious of the news we’re told, and probably have a feeling that our government sometimes lies to us. But the extent to which we are controlled by corporate media is largely unnoticed.

Our world today is an a sad state, and in so many different ways. For some reason, I can’t just sit around and watch the world crumble… like everyone around us seems to be doing. Pollution, Erosion, Disease, Human Rights Violations, Hunger and Starvation…

Humanity can do better.

I want to make a difference. I want to make the world a better place. I hope you do too.

For myself, the way I think I can best make a positive impact is by helping “the people” take back “the media”. Yes, I’m talking about Citizen Journalism and Social Media.

Corporate news and corporate television networks rule our nation… and ever more of the world as our western culture is globalized through our government’s brand of capitalism. Corporate media has us in a reality distortion field.

The average American watches 28 HOURS of television per week.

As nice as watching TV can be, that’s just wayyy too much time to spend doing something so unproductive… that’s time better spent actually enjoying life on this planet. We buy the crap food we see on TV, buy the crap products we see on TV and listen to the crap music we hear on TV et cetera et cetera.

Anyway, I blame corporate media for leading people to live like this…

But now we have the Internet… something so fundamentally different from any form of communication humanity has ever experienced before. (I’m reading a great book called “A History Of News: From the Drum to the Satellite” … it’s an epic story, talking about how every human has been obsessed with news… that it’s a fundamental part of life, and this all leads me to think that everyone today is starved for real, true, important information and that we just stare at the fucking TV hoping to satisfy that desire… our natural desire to be informed is being exploited by corporations.

So what can we do about it?

Fast forward to the 21st century.

Everyone is a reporter now.

You, me, everyone you know.

Anything you do that’s awesome, I’ll write an article about it for the local newspaper.

Your family and friends will read about it. If it’s a really cool story it will spread. Neighbors will hear about it.

This is the promise of citizen journalism. A world where we inform each other about what is important to us.

I’m working on a platform for collaborative citizen journalism… a way for communities to work together to produce news easily and efficiently and provide it for free. Technically speaking, I’m applying for a grant to modify Drupal into an open source website system that we’ll offer for free to local newspapers so they can open up their reporting to citizen journalists. Readers of newspapers can get involved and write their own articles. The best may be edited for print.

So this system hasn’t been built yet. And instead of going out and trying to make money on this idea, and get VC funding and everything, I want to make it open source… with the hope that we can truly free the media from its corporate stranglehold.

I think this project could develop into something really cool… potentially incorporating the functionality of sites like Qik and Mogulus so these citizen reporters could even broadcast live video from events etc…

Imagine citizens covering every important local event. The latest cellphones will let you broadcast live video to the web. Other websites will let you aggregate those live video streams and produce a live online TV channel. Citizen Journalism doesn’t have to look like an online newspaper. Citizen Journalism can be fully multimedia and be more interactive and more accessible and better informed than anything we’re getting these days from the corporate news networks.

I’m not suggesting we totally dismantle the news industry. I don’t think that would be smart at all. I do, however, think that a little healthy competition would ultimately be good for everyone.

Are you ready for Citizen Journalism? Will you be a Citizen Journalist?