stev0dundun 270005274B Tags:  protocol http internet google backend spdy web_basics team_red web_standards microsoft 1,466 Visits
-Scott Gilbertson, via WedMonkey.com
Microsoft wants in on the drive to speed up the web. The company plans to submit its proposal for a faster internet protocol to the standards body charged with creating HTTP 2.0.
Not coincidentally, that standards body, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is meeting this week to discuss the future of the venerable Hypertext Transfer Protocol, better known as HTTP. On the agenda is creating HTTP 2.0, a faster, modern approach to internet communication.
One candidate for HTTP 2.0 is Google’s SPDY protocol. Pronounced “speedy,” Google’s proposal would replace the HTTP protocol — the language currently used when your browser talks to a web server. When you request a webpage or a file from a server, chances are your browser sends that request using HTTP. The server answers using HTTP, too. This is why “http” appears at the beginning of most web addresses.
The SPDY protocol handles all the same tasks as HTTP, but SPDY can do it all about 50 percent faster. Chrome and Firefox both support SPDY and several large sites, including Google and Twitter, are already serving pages over SPDY where possible.
Part of the IETF’s agenda this week is to discuss the SPDY proposal, and the possibility of turning it into a standard.
But now Microsoft is submitting another proposal for the IETF to consider.
Microsoft’s new HTTP Speed+Mobility lacks a catchy name, but otherwise appears to cover much of the same territory SPDY has staked out. Though details on exactly what HTTP Speed+Mobility entails are thin, judging by the blog post announcing it, HTTP Speed+Mobility builds on SPDY but also includes improvements drawn from work on the HTML5 WebSockets API. The emphasis is on not just the web and web browsers, but mobile apps.
“We think that apps — not just browsers — should get faster,” writes Microsoft’s Jean Paoli, General Manager of Interoperability Strategy.
To do that, Microsoft’s HTTP Speed+Mobility “starts from both the Google SPDY protocol and the work the industry has done around WebSockets.” What’s unclear from the initial post is exactly where HTTP Speed+Mobility goes from that hybrid starting point.
But clearly Microsoft isn’t opposed to SPDY. “SPDY has done a great job raising awareness of web performance and taking a ‘clean slate’ approach to improving HTTP,” writes Paoli. “The main departures from SPDY are to address the needs of mobile devices and applications.”
SPDY co-inventor Mike Belshe writes on Google+ that he welcomes Microsoft’s efforts and looks forward to “real-world performance metrics and open source implementations so that we can all evaluate them.”
Belshe also notes that Microsoft’s implication that SPDY is not optimized for mobile “is not true.” Belshe says that the available evidence suggests that developers are generally happy using SPDY in mobile apps, “but it could always be better, of course.”
The process of creating a faster HTTP replacement will not mean simply picking any one vendor’s protocol and standardizing it. Hopefully the IETF will take the best ideas from all sides and combine them into a single protocol that can speed up the web. The exact details — and any potential speed gains — from Microsoft’s HTTP Speed+Mobility contribution remain to be seen, but the more input the IETF gets the better HTTP 2.0 will likely be.
-Scott Gilbertson, via WebMonkey.com
The corporate social web still sucks
Expert Labs, the non-profit organization behind ThinkUp, a web-based data-liberation and analytics application, is rebooting into a commercial entity.
No need to panic if you use ThinkUp to back up your social network life; the application will remain open source and freely available.
But Expert Labs is going away and ThinkUp is refocusing on a larger goal — liberating your online social life from the clutches of corporate web entities.
In its own words the new ThinkUp wants to build “an information network that connects to today’s social networks, but isn’t centralized and dependent on a company or investors.”
That’s not an entirely new idea. Diaspora and some other projects are trying to do the same thing, but ThinkUp is taking a different approach — it wants to build an app first and focus on the user experience rather than the underlying technology.
In fact ThinkUp already is an app that’s pretty close to what it’s aiming to do. ThinkUp is a web-based app that pulls your data out of social silos like Facebook or Twitter and stores it on your own server. You control your own data, and have a record of your conversations potentially long after Facebook, Twitter and the rest have become mere footnotes in the history of the web.
For more on how ThinkUp works and how you can use it be sure to check out our earlier coverage and then grab the code and try it for yourself.
So what of ThinkUp’s new, loftier goals? Is any attempt to replace Facebook doomed to failure? Of course not. Everything is replaceable, just ask MySpace. And ThinkUp believes its approach is different. “Prior attempts have tried to solve this problem based on the assumption that it is a technical challenge,” says ThinkUp’s Knight News Challenge application. “We believe it to be a social one.” ThinkUp’s focus going forward will be on the social and the interface:
We will draw people in through a compelling media site that encourages participation via our decentralized platform… a peer-to-peer network that powers a great media property with broad appeal — imagine if Digg or Reddit were open, decentralized and powered by a network instead of votes.
If you’re curious to know what that might look like, head on over to the ThinkUp proposal for the Knight News Challenge and click the heart icon to “like” it (incidentally if the Knight New Challenge sounds familiar, that might be because it’s also the birthplace of EveryBlock). In the meantime, work on the ThinkUp app continues with a new release that improves the charts and graphs and paves the way for the coming Foursquare support. Check out the ThinkUp GitHub page for more details.
Samsung has been dedicated to making a better world through diverse businesses that today span advanced technology, semiconductors, skyscraper and plant construction, petrochemicals, fashion, medicine, finance, and hotels. It leads the global market in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media. Through innovative, reliable products and services; talented people; a responsible approach to business and global citizenship; and collaboration with their partners and customers; Samsung is taking the world in imaginative new directions. They allow their customers to contact them through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, and phone. They also have a window that is on their services page to start chatting with a representative.
-Scott Gilbertson, via WebMonkey.com
Yahoo has announced it will soon support the Do Not Track privacy header across its sprawling network of websites. Supporting Do Not Track means you will soon be able to easily tell Yahoo to stop tracking your movements around the web.
Much like the Do Not Call registry, the Do Not Track system offers a way to opt out of this third-party web tracking.
The Do Not Track header began life at Mozilla, but has since moved to the W3C where it was converted into a web standard by the Tracking Protection Working Group.
The Do Not Track header now works in every major desktop browser except Google Chrome, though none of them turn it on by default. Still, for privacy-concerned users savvy enough to enable Do Not Track, the header offers a quick and easy way to tell advertisers that you don’t want to be followed while you browse the web.
Numerous online advertising groups already respect the Do Not Track header and refrain from tracking users that enable it. Today’s announcement means that, starting this summer, you can add Yahoo to the list of companies that will stop tracking you if you’ve enabled Do Not Track in your web browser.
Of course, there are still many advertisers and websites that don’t yet support Do Not Track. If you’re concerned about your online privacy and don’t want to rely on the goodwill of advertisers, there are other, more aggressive steps you can take to limit how your tracked on the web.
stev0dundun 270005274B Tags:  blog team_red reward risk cloud-computing cloud meltdown 1,264 Visits
In “The hidden risk of a meltdown in the cloud,” a Technology Review blogger reacts to a paper by Bryan Ford on “the unrecognised risks of cloud computing.” I don’t know, the risks seem familiar to me. Beyond security, they are:
Unpredictable interactions among loosely-coupled services
Inability to preserve or reproduce an application or data set
The Technology Review blogger, who is evidently known only by the nom de plume Kentucky FC, echoes Ford’s conclusion: We ought to study these risks “before our socioeconomic system becomes completely and irreversibly dependent on a computing model whose foundations may still be incompletely understood.”
OK, yes, we should study the risks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t engage with the cloud while doing so. It isn’t an all-or-none proposition.
Think about our relationship to the power grid. We are, in fact, irrevocably committed to it. And it is prone to occasional dramatic failures. I have a few friends who live off the grid, but most of us plug in, and then some hedge their bets to varying degrees. Do you own a generator? If so, how much of your demand does it power? And for long? An hour? A day? A week?
For enterprises, a hybrid strategy that blends cloud and on-premise resources is gaining traction. That’ll make sense for individuals too. Our personal clouds encompass resources both in the sky and scattered across our own devices. As we extend into the cloud we’ll learn how to use it to complement the strengths and offset the weakness of our local setups. There is, as always, a continuum of risk and benefit. We’ll make personal choices to occupy points along that continuum. And those points will drift over time.
Meanwhile, let’s consider one analogy drawn by Bryan Ford and echoed by Kentucky FC.
Ford: Non-transparent layering structures … may create unexpected and potentially catastrophic failure correlations, reminiscent of financial industry crashes.
KFC: The cloud could suffer the same kind of collapses that plague the financial system….
It’s true that the unpredictability of complex interaction is a similar concern in both realms. But when things have gone wrong, cloud providers have been refreshingly open about it. Consider the post-mortems for some notable Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure outages. Both set a high standard, explaining what went wrong, why, how it was fixed, and what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence.
We can only dream of a financial industry that runs as transparently, and holds itself to such a standard.
Search is the great triumph of computer science and mathematics. A multi-billion dollar industry was built from a highly technical paper about random walks on the web, which was becoming more obtuse as it grew exponentially.
Google’s search breakthrough ensured that the web would not be a victim of its own success.
Now, the social web faces a similar problem. It is enormous, and growing, and central to our lives. There are many successful companies in the social space, just as there were search leaders before Google emerged. Yet so far there is no Google for the social graph.
It’s a huge opportunity. But the challenges may even be more daunting than dynamically assigning relevance to any given webpage — as huge an idea as that was when Google re-invented search with PageRank.
There are obvious similarities to the challenge of indexing the social graph, but special problems as well. For one thing, there doesn’t appear to be anything to generalize over the entire social graph, so maybe there’s no search-level problem that needs to be solved: Perhaps it’s a collection of specific problems.
Like the larger web graph — the sum total of all web pages and the hyperlinks — the social graph is people and the connections among them. A non-virtual social graph has always existed: People get married, have children, have friends, are employed, and so on. More and more non-virtual relationships have an analog in the digital realm, like a “real” friend who is also your Facebook friend. But some relationships exist only in the digital realm — poking someone on Facebook or following someone on Twitter.
To be fair, there are specialized applications within specific social networks, such as LinkedIn’s “People you may know” feature and Twitter’s (grammatically suspect) “Who to follow.” Other applications of social web data are often domain-specific: last.fm recommends music that you might like, and Netflix recommends movies that you might like by looking at the preferences of millions of people.
What’s needed is something which links up these islands, where we all live part of the time, into a single, contiguous nation.
It won’t be easy. I’d like to offer up four challenges that I find important, though undoubtedly there are more:
What problem are we trying to solve? Search solved the problem of proliferation of web pages that were no longer captured by directories. A good question to ask is: What’s the guiding central problem of the social universe?
A person is the sum of all of their profiles: Identity across social networks must be solved. Linking Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, LinkedIn, etc. would be invaluable to researchers. Actions across social networks are similar (liking, following/friending, sharing, etc.), so to have a complete list of actions from a single individual across networks would vastly increase the amount of data available from looking at a single social network.
Every user has her own slice of the social graph: No two social graphs look alike, whereas the web graph looks the same for everyone.
Let data be free: Many types of social data are not public or are difficult to get. All Twitter data is only accessible to the select few members of the firehose club. Facebook data is available for only a select few users. Search was made possible by web crawlers and a similar accessibility of data must be in place for the social graph. Of course, accessibility of data brings up lots of privacy concerns.
So, cool things are being done with subsets of the social graph, but is there going to be one company to rule them all? Put another way, web graph is to Google as social graph is to … what?
Many new players, including my company, are betting on discovery as the answer. Today, discovery is applied to specific genres — restaurants, movies, books, friends — but to give you recommendations, it needs to harness and use a lot of data from the social graph. In theory, once you’ve done one genre well you should be able to do the others.
I’m interested in your opinions. Have I missed a company that’s using the social graph in a really unique way? Perhaps I’m asking for too much? I’m still optimistic: That there will be a Google-equivalent to the social graph and that company will be the next big thing.
-Michael Clausen of Coventry, CT.
"Slacktivism" and "clicktivism" have been used as criticisms to social media activism. The so-called slacker activism theorizes that people on social media platforms only participate in feel-good clicking (they may like something, but have little care for it later), which doesn't cause real change and action in the world. I keep thinking about KONY 2012 and what may happen to the movement this year (will it be a success?).
So then, how effective is social media activism, if at all? Are people who use social media platforms more likely to cause change than those who do not? How should activism campaigns be designed? How can they be more effective in creating change?
Ok so I thought the Google Map's April Fools joke was funny until I recently discovered Gmail Tap. There has been numerous complaints about how texting can be a problem in certain scenarios. What Gmail TAP does is it replaces the normal qwerty keyboard and fills it with a "dot" and a "line." The idea behind Google TAP is Morse code. It is Google's method to bring back a dying communication form. This video is a must see.
Getting back to topic, all these jokes and gimmicks that Google is posting today on April fools is a strategic method of social media. Even though these jokes are irrelevant/just for fun they bring a load of traffic to the Google website. This is truly a fun way to use social media to create a positive upon the Google branding.
Google Maps 8-bit LOL!
Google made a hilarious and extremely entertaining video about Google Maps. Within the video the developers created a 8-bit version of Google Maps to be compatible with the old school Nintendo NES. To really get the true enjoyment you must check out the video for yourself. The neat aspect of this April Fools joke is that it actually is real and functioning. If you visit you Google Maps simply click on "Quest" to view the 8-bit version of Google Maps. It is quite remarkable how Google has so much fun with their applications. This is probably the coolest April Fools joke I have seen to date. I'll keep you all updated if there is anymore.
Yochai Benkler dubs it 'the wealth of networks." Howard Rheingold's term is "smart mobs." It's the idea of technology-enabled collaboration … and it's making us all smarter.
Of the many experts weighing in on this subject, I wanted to take a comment by Seamus McGrenery, technical manager at Riverdocs Bureau Service:
Arguably mass human activity is more like the migration of Mormon crickets, driven by extreme competition, than the planned cooperation of an ant colony. If we look at technological progress over that Twentieth Century it is hard to make the case that cooperation has been the main driver of progress. Extreme competition was involved in the rapid adoption of motor transport and flight in World War 1. World War 2 saw the introduction of jet engines, rockets, radar and atomic bombs. Developments in early space flight, computers and even the genesis of the internet were as a result of Cold War competition. None of these achievements could have come about without humans working together - in many cases with individual contributors having no sight of the overall goal. But the driving force behind these developments was not cooperation.