Jacob O'Bryant
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Stuff I read: 10 October 2022
10 October 2022

No More Walled Gardens by Ernie Smith (Midrange). A succinct explanation of some qualms I have with Substack. Relatedly, I liked this nugget from Dave Winer's Rules for standards-makers:

We want interop so that our users are free to move.
So our products compete on the basis of performance, features and price, and not lock-in.
This is as basic as the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take.
It honors and respects the users of our products.

That being said, lock-in can benefit users insofar as it enables companies to allocate resources to a product's development—a product with lock-in developed by a well-funded company will quite plausibly produce more value for end users than a non-locked-in product developed by one person in their spare time. So while I don't in general think that building things with lock-in is the same as e.g. violating the Hippocratic Oath, I am very interested in finding sustainable ways to allocate resources to common goods.

(Back to the original article, by coincidence on the same day I wrote up some thoughts about how Substack's recommendation feature could be replicated in a cross-platform way.)

A better ranking algorithm by Herman Martinus. The creator of Bear Blog, a minimalist blogging platform, discusses the implementation of Bear Blog's discovery feed.

Also on the subject of ranking algorithms: The truth behind filter bubbles: Bursting some myths by Richard Fletcher, Director of Research at Reuters Institute. A good one to link whenever the recommendation-algorithms-are-bad assertion is made. Amusingly, DuckDuckGo tweeted this article, saying "Since our private search engine doesn't keep your search history, our search results don't suffer from this harmful effect"... when in fact, the article says that Google et. al. increase the diversity of sources that people are exposed to.

Millennial obsolescence by Caitlin Dewey. Memes' origins are more centralized than they used to be.

Study the style of doing science from successes and engineering from failures on Engineering Ideas. "Engineers often write success stories at the 'Golden Age' moment soon after the system has been deployed to production. All engineers who designed the system still work on it so the maintainability risks haven't had a chance to manifest yet. The production load hasn't changed much since the time when the system was designed and deployed so the scalability risks are also invisible."

The Story of Zen. An online course about Zen. I've read a couple of the pages in it so far.

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