Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Globloc social media company idea

Found myself thinking a few hours ago about how many social media companies I use, and then started wondering what kind of social media company I might create, and then brainstormed for an hour or so and decided, why not do a post? So here are some quick thoughts on a framework for a social media company built on a global-local focus, which I call Globloc for short. So I'm just idly speculating and tossing something out to finish out the year, so criticism of it is boring. Just going to start typing now and worry about editing it later.

There is an oddity to social media to me in that it's not like when you pick up a phone as you can assume some social media company has to receive your data but Globloc would give you a key certificate, allowing you to connect to other Globloc clients on other people's computing devices. Then information, including files, would be shared by bittorrent.

Globloc would maintain a global list of users though, but wouldn't care what people shared privately, unless law enforcement came knocking of course. But even then Globloc wouldn't have any information about what was shared, only whether or not a user was valid on the system, oh and be able to offer de-encryption keys, but getting ahead of myself.

Globloc users would, could share with an expectation of privacy, like phone users already have, so nothing new in that sense, and shared data would be encrypted on their device's storage, using what I call DMESE as I may as well use my ideas, in a Possibly Public space. But you'd only have the full thing, like a picture, if requested, as otherwise you'd get a digest version in the stream.

So digest version would be by default. If you, say, clicked on something interesting to you, the request would go to the device of the originator which would serve it to you by bittorrent. Then if the originator had given permission you could save to your device, in case you wanted to see it later, but it would be encrypted. To leave the Globloc system, the item would have to be tagged as exportable, and you'd have to export, like to get a JPEG file if it were a picture. That would trigger a log back to the originator as an exceptional use. Favoriting the item or simply viewing it would not, as considered expected--as putting it out there in the digest you expect people to look at it.

Oh yeah, so clearing a lot of privacy concerns with these notions. People could share with a private network on the local aspect of the Globloc system, and even then some information wouldn't automatically be shared, while giving maximum flexibility, so like they wouldn't have to keep serving the same data over and over again if they wanted to let their friends store locally. But even then it's encrypted, and they get notified if the data is exported out.

Globally people could publish to the Globloc public stream, which is where it looks like other social media companies, except I'd give the option of follow without broadcast, where you can get public posts from anyone public without giving out who you are. Or follow broadcast, where you'd be seen as a follower. But there would be a count of you if you followed without broadcast, so that user might have a million followers, but only twenty thousand broadcast their identity.

The data meant to be broadcast public would be kept on Globloc servers. Everything else is being traded by users locally. So that's the global-local characteristic.

Even locally though the Globloc app would imprint requesting user information on data which I call IDDI in various ways, including ways on photographs meant to be invisible to users but detectable by machines.

Oh yeah, almost forgot--system would try to eliminate use of passwords, and at least between Globloc globally and the local client would use one of my favorite ideas. Hmmm...looks like I never named that idea. But that's where the key server would come into things, which is what would keep up with the user key certificates.

So Globloc could yank your keys, eliminating your ability to talk to other Globloc clients, if you did something really bad, like violating the rules or something.

And I'm starting to run out here...hmmm...seem to think there were some other things when I was brainstorming earlier, but maybe I lost them. That's the trouble if you don't write things down.

Oh yeah! Not thinking a lot about legal things. This idea is free and open source and I make no pretension of having even begun to handle legal issues. The "Globloc" mentioned above is a hypothetical notion for a possible company which someone may or may not implement in the future.

If you like these ideas, steal them!!! I don't care.

Actually, it wouldn't really be stealing as I'm giving them away.

But regardless I might conceivably build this company myself, if I could get some help. There is SO MUCH left that would have to be done, like designing the user interface, actually implementing concrete examples of things quickly mentioned here which could be major coding challenges. And people would have to go for it.

Why might they?

Well I like the idea of not just assuming some company is looking over everything I send, with the same expectation as with a phone call, which is how I grew up. And I like local encryption protecting the data from being illegally shared, as well as the methods to catch people if they share without permission.

And I like the idea of having most of the data shared locally so the company at the top level deals has far less data than social media companies today, which also could protect from, um, certain folks pushing national security down your throat as they routinely raid, hack or otherwise try to get inside your tech company so they can SPY all, ranting now.

Maybe I should stop there. Wonder if I'll keep this thing up! Wonder if I'll post it. Yeah, I'll post it. Going to post now.

And coming back, found I did limited editing, as kind of intrigued at this thing being mostly a stream of ideas as more of just a brainstorm post without me worrying about making it pretty. Maybe will think later tomorrow, but that's another year. Time to push away from the keyboard. To next year.

James Harris

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Separating private from potentially public

With privacy so big in the news as a coder I've been in the past worried about the lack of a clear demarcation line, like on a personal computer as that's what's most familiar to me, between information that is potentially public and that which is locked from the web. For instance in the past I've coded applications that have full disk access, and I'm like, why?

So I'm not as sure about what's going on currently, though I'm talking about it as something that I need to figure out for current ideas, and talking things out is what I do, so sorry if things are better now, but no, very glad if things are better now. And this post is going to be simple concepts, like think about how most people go into their own homes.

You know, you unlock the door, walk into it, close the door and have what's called an expectation of privacy.

Contrast with a computer application you downloaded, opened the door one could say, and that thing is now like a best friend who can walk into your house, go into the fridge and drink some of your milk, but why?

Why not have a public area, like a front yard, where the apps can go? Or maybe even a living room, but get really suspicious if they start rummaging through your bedroom, metaphorically.

The clearest demarcation would be private versus potentially public, where people could have data that their system would refuse to share to the web. So to share that data they'd have to move it out of the Private Area to the Potentially Public Area. Then their system is like their home. It has boundaries, and for people to see into their home, they have to break through those boundaries but it's not just open.

How restrictive would that be? For lots of apps, not at all. Like if you have music, and apps that handle music, would they care if your music is in the Potentially Public Area? Nope. Would you have music in the Private Area? Sure, if for instance you were a musician, or someone who likes to sing for their own amusement and would be horrified if that were shared, but those apps don't need that information either.

The home analogy is a good one I think, as on your personal computer it is like a part of your home. For a company, you can simply shift the analogy, like you can have a lobby and these aren't complicated ideas and I'm sure I'm not the only person who has had them, but am talking some thing out.

Actually posted on this subject April of this year. Here's the link for the curious:

Why not a Java sandbox?

There I was grousing a bit on the security side, as I think that you can do app security in a completely different way if an app knows it only can access certain data, like only your music files in your Potentially Public Area, adding in that idea. Then app security is trivial for the developer.

It's such a natural kind of thing that I wonder why computer operating systems were built the way they were, but suspect that long, long ago in a time far, far away when operating systems were being built there were other issues that were major concerns.

Enough for now, as I can edit later. Ok, will edit later, that's just about guaranteed.

James Harris

Monday, December 22, 2014

My sum of squares discovery

Found a number theory iterator for quadratic Diophantine equations. It lets you find nonzero x and y, such that for an integer n equal to 0 or higher, and an integer m equal to 3 or higher:

x2 + (m-1)y2 = mn+1


Here I have m raised to n+1 so n is a count of iterations.

Gave it a kind of funky name as wanted something cool, so decided to call it a Binary Quadratic Diophantine iterator, or BDQ iterator for short. And it's remarkably easy:

u2 + (m - 1)v2 = F

then it must also be true that

(u - (m - 1)v)2 + (m - 1)(u + v)2 = m*F

So if you start the iterator with u = v = 1, or u = v = -1, then F = m.

So, like if m - 1 is a square you have a sum of squares equal to this integer raised to the nth power. And the first case is with m = 5, so here's an example:

Start is:

12 + 4*12 = 5

then it must also be true that

(-3)2 + 4(2)2 = 25 = 52

Next iteration: (-11)2 + 4(-1)2 = 125 = 53

And third iteration: (-7)2 + 4(-12)2 = 625 = 54

Fourth iteration: (41)2 + 4(-19)2 = 3125 = 55

Fifth iteration: (117)2 + 4(22)2 = 15625 = 56

Sixth iteration: (29)2 + 4(139)2 = 78125 = 57

Oh yeah, so of course 4 can be pulled into the square. I keep it out to do the iterations, as in each case I'm getting each iteration by just going back to:

(u - 4v)2 + 4(u + v)2 = 5*F

So for instance at the fifth iteration u = 117, v = 22, and F = 56, and you plug those in and get the sixth one.

Pulling the 4 in with the fifth gives:

(117)2 + (44)2 = 15625 = 56

Gives you something to do if you're bored, and like playing with numbers. Or hey, I guess could be useful as a way to test out a math processor. Who knows. I LOVE finding these kinds of things for some reason. Helps keep the mind sharp, you know?

James Harris

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Content providers are the rare bunch

A lot of times now I tell myself we're in the primitive days of the web, which makes me feel better. Lots of lessons are being learned, like who could forget the notion that NO ONE would pay for music any more now that digital copying had arrived? The talk then was that music artists should just give up and make their money from other means which lead to the idea of the 360 deal.

And the people saying that paying for music would go away were quite serious. And part of the primitive web beginnings.

I think some people just like the idea of everything being free because they don't provide content. And I think as time goes on, it will become clear that content providers are rare.

That was a point I tried to make to Twitter, when I gave them some advice. Whether they took it or not isn't a concern of mine as I can give advice here as it's my blog.

But I'm going to use the current growth of Instagram to try and make the point stick.

And I am on Instagram where I have 13 posts, 17 followers and I'm following 27.

Yet that account, considering hits I get from elsewhere, probably has viewers from over 50 countries. I wonder if Instagram puzzles why.

Starting the account was about having a place to put certain types of photos where I expect there will be more later, while there are some there now, like bumping into a star WNBA player.

Here's a photo from it:

A photo posted by James Harris (@jstevh) on

And am quite happy with the account, and gratified that Instagram doesn't bug me the way Twitter does.

They don't suggest users that I've noticed. If they do and I missed it, sorry. They don't ask for access to my email so they can find more people to try and join my network. Does Twitter do that or am I mixing them up with LinkedIn?

Actually Instagram hasn't bugged me at all as far as I've noticed, and yet Twitter might notice the company is still growing users! What gives?

Gasp. Could it be that techniques Twitter is using might do little to grow their user base and more to irritate their current users?

Why can't I turn off suggested users? Or limit its frequency? Why does Twitter keep trying to force Twitter accounts on me?

Those could just be personal gripes, ok, those ARE personal gripes, but I can compare across social media companies, and it's not like they all do it, though most do. Why not give loyal users a little more control?

Not currently posting photos on Instagram means I'm mostly looking at the photos of others which I tend to do daily. And I'm enjoying it too! Down the line I'm sure I'll be taking my own pictures again, but right now I'm not producing content but instead am enjoying the content provided by others.

The next wave through social media will be accepting that most people do not provide content.

And even when they do they do so rarely, while a few people provide the bulk of the content, and fewer still provide the highest quality content that draws the greatest attention from others.

And YouTube has these principles accepted while it has other problems.

So yeah, in my earlier advice to Twitter I brought up YouTube and here I talk a lot about Instagram.

But the principles are still the same, and I don't know Instagram stats. And I could be wrong but I doubt it because content is hard. That's why art people go to art schools. It's why singers tend to take singing lessons. After millennia of effort human beings are kind of good at the content thing, so the people who are best at it tend to be dedicated--many having started as small children.

You want to be a pop star someday? Then it helps if you were singing in front of a crowd at the age of 6.

(Though of course there are plenty of exceptions like Danielle Bradbery.)

If you weren't, then you have a LOT of catching up to do, and most people don't bother. Most people don't want to be pop stars. It's so much more fun enjoying the best from the best who have practiced to get there.

But social media companies today act like everyone wants to be--or should want to be--the next big web star, with millions of followers. Do you realize that millions of followers have high expectations?

Why would most people want millions of followers anywhere if they understood the work involved? The standards necessary to be one of the best in the world? You need serious training, effort, and practice, practice, practice.

Can everyone live up to such standards? Nope. Most people won't even try.

As the web matures and social media companies learn hard lessons, then our world will get more efficient, and maybe growing social media companies will be a lot better about how to grow.

James Harris

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ideas as attention engines

Coming up with ideas is fun, as I love ideas. I also like tossing an idea out here on the web. The potential then is that you can draw a good bit of attention, so I like to say: ideas can be attention engines.

But to me that opinion calls for a demonstration.

And one of my more recent ideas is SO simple and basic it seems like it would be fun to give myself permission to just run wild with speculations. So I gave away a completely free and open source idea which is to use shared images to help in validating guests, for some kind of event like a party. At its simplest, it's just that: someone shows up at the door brings out their smartphone, opens the app, and taps the screen and it shows the correct image, validating them. It is in essence an image invitation, or an image ticket.

I don't know if there are any apps out there doing that and I came up with it just idly thinking about wedding crashers and ways to make that harder. It's so basic I don't take it too seriously and with no intentions of developing it myself, it gives me what I like to call a throwaway idea where I can just have fun. And no, would not care if somehow this is a valuable business idea and someone made a billion dollars with it, and gave me none, as they would owe me none. That gives me complete freedom to run wild with some speculative analysis. Play at a business case.

Which is the point of this post. So point of disclaimers is: free and open source idea, I consider it a give-away, it's so basic I don't think it should be charged for anyway, and now I'm going to play with speculations.

Ok, so with images you have automatically out of the box that this approach has international potential. It's a very basic approach, so limited explanation, and the transaction value is highly specific which I like. So yes, anyone can share images to potential guests but an app can block that sharing so only people you list get the image, allow a professional feel, and monitor as guests arrive so you have a constantly updated list of guests onsite. And that's just what comes to me just kind of freethinking it.

With a potential customer, who has friends willing to have the app on their smartphones, a purchase decision, where let's say $1 US for an event of one hundred or fewer guests just to throw out numbers, would involve convenience, security, and trust. The value of the transaction is in giving a convenient tool that allows guests to have a "ticket" to the event with minimum fuss or hastle.

Pricing is about value to the customer. So, for instance at 500 guests you could have a higher price point not necessarily because the app would work that much harder, but because of the accepted benefit for the customer, so it's pricing on security, professionalism, ease of use and benefit to guests and host.

And pricing would vary by so many ways as it's about the value to the host! So shifting to Tokyo which is another premium level international city, price points could vary based on how valuable people in the city see this type of security for an event.

At the transaction level it would be a lot about what value a host sees in the service and pricing at that value which could be much higher than costs. But it's like singing, how much really is it for that person to belt out a song? But how much does the value shift? Quite a lot depending on who is singing and what, and where.

Oh yeah, images as I brainstorm here, could be very high profile at higher price points, like even designers or artists? Willing to allow use of their images for the promotional value? That could be a prestige point as well for an event.

At the highest level price points, you could link to even more security services, or a security firm might have such an app as part of its service, allowing it to control access to the event, and easily check guests. They just bring out their smartphone and you have an image to consider.

Visual images communicate well, and cross language barriers.

For instance here's one of my favorite photos of San Francisco.

It would also not hamper the visually impaired as though they might not see the image themselves, the point is for others checking the guests, so they could still use the app. App could have features designed to ease their use of it, like auditory aids.

It would be harder to bluff your way into an event, if it was clear that you should have the required app on your smartphone though someone might say they lost it, but then they'd be shifted over to a higher level of scrutiny to validate, and wouldn't make it past the first person at the door, who wouldn't have to think at all, just check an image.

In terms of potential market I think automatically of New York City as a premiere top level city, and the potential market is every event in the city during some particular time. And price points can vary based on host easily. At the bottom level price point you could have a basic image and the app priced to move, like at the $1 per event level mentioned. At higher levels you might have $10 per event for added security. And at premium levels you could use your imagination, including high level art images, and linkage with onsite physical security or even concierge services.

Fun exercise so far. These are the kinds of things I do. Sit around and muse about all kinds of things, and what I like is just putting something out there with an actual idea because it is fun to speculate with something that could actually be done by someone. I'm kind of wondering if something like this thing is already out there, and if not, why not?

Images are cool. They travel well. Using shared images as a security feature is easily explained. Hardest thing might be getting everyone to download an app to their smartphones, but that app would be free, and people have all kinds of apps now.

Gonna toss these speculations up, and maybe fiddle with this thing on an ongoing basis. I like posting things and editing which is a process that can take days or weeks or even longer--as I write it, so I can change it.

Will give me time to consider if I covered everything that I wish to ponder. Oh yeah, so the fun to me with this idea is that it IS given away so I can just run wild with speculations. I think the concept of using shared images is so basic that it would seem silly to patent something or whatever but that's just my personal feeling where others do not have to agree.

To me it's like a great basic potential community tool that can help facilitate greater community: just giving to the world this possible path to helping secure events, like say, weddings from things like wedding crashers.

And it's fun to put out some of my process. For me there's this giddy excitement in doing this kind of thing. Where I'm someone who just enjoys playing around with ideas--and throwing them out there. It can be a very messy process too! So if all the above just sounds wacky, I don't care. I'm having fun.

So how much attention can an idea like this draw? Well it can go wherever the web goes.

I try to monitor ideas as best I can, and one way is with search!

To see what results with your own search with this one you might try: guest validate app

Or: guest validate idea

James Harris