Still room for Future Email System?

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I wrote a piece of text about personal information management, some 14 years ago. The term PIM, back then, was a hot trend. PIM was referring to the technology that could handle your calendar, email, and any other messaging needs – plus any pieces of information that you simply needed to have always available. Long story short; there were a dozen different brands of PDAs – personal digital assistants. They were typically clamshell smartphones, with a black&white or color display, without native mobile data connection. Internet was available through WiFi in local networks.

What we know now, is that smartphones came, saw and conquered.

However, the question remains:

are our information needs met in an optimal way by this new era of intelligence?

For backgrounders, if you’re curious, take a peek at my original Future Email System -article.

Since 2005 a lot has happened:

  • technically our devices have become much more capable: in terms of device memory, speed, etc
  • we have even more messaging channels (media)
  • in business, various collaboration platforms reign currently
  • the volume of messaging has probably increased
  • digitalization has enabled us to take care of many real-world services online (think: dentist reservations, car maintenance, groceries, etc.)
  • number of passwords we need daily has increased somewhat (my estimate being around 20-40 per person)

In the near future, some trends to anticipate:

  • strong authentication may obsolete the user of passwords in near future: less hassle, easier & better security in accessing services
  • 5G mobile networks (2020-> onwards), as continuation to 4G, might bring a nice performance + usability boost to digital services, especially those that we access while on the road: faster and more ubiquitous
  • basically as IT advances as a profession, services should cost less (not clear whether it is the whole truth)
  • as people get online and use more smart services, some “network effects” (synergy) should make also a positive change

The Discoball analysis of WordPress

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Getting SEO wrong is probably quite easy.

That’s not a bold statement. This is – in addition to the rather fancy project name, Discoball:

I had blogged for 10 years, until I had a glimpse into the reality that my content wasn’t exactly “selling”.

Here. Raw diary of how I:

  • discovered the status quo in terms of search engine optimization, and my content quality on Jukkasoft blog
  • learned how Google search and ranking works
  • what methods I used to gauge my blog’s post ranking on Google
  • how much it all cost
  • what was the effect of doing remedies on the blog

Google uses a variety of spice in what is called PageRank, an algorithm that determines the weights – and the order of search results display. PageRank scores web pages, and gives the result in which order (descending importance) the Google search results page shows sites. Rank high, and you will get hits. Rank worse than the first 10 results (default size of search results), and you will get a few % of the hits that would have been available at higher ranks.

The original structure, algorithm and plan for making Google’s spider software is very openly documented. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine is a base document that you can view to get a glimpse into Google’s inner workings, at a time when the Web consisted of about 20-30 million documents.

During years, and as Google has had fundamentally an open approach to developing its methodology, there were also many attempts by various parties to tweak their search results, ranking higher in Google searches. Google responded with adjustments to the search algorithm. They used to be rather infrequent, but have since become much more prevalent.

Intuitively I was baffled by the fact that sometimes searching even with explicit keywords that I knew to be contained in some of Jukkasoft’s (my blog) posts, I couldn’t get a hit on Google. This led me to believe that my site was not exactly built by the book, in terms of search engine discoverability.

With a manual next to me, I set forth to first investigate how indeed am I ranked generally on Google, then make a plan to make Jukkasoft articles fully discoverable by search engines.

My aim is not to become a master of web as advertising media, but to better utilize the hours already spent on writing the content.

As I started planning it seemed obvious that I would be facing two kinds of things: technical and quantitative. The technical part has to do with things such as..

  • how does the Google search spider work
  • what search spider expects from a well-behaving blog
  • what are some of the obvious findings I need to fix in my blog’s articles?

Whereas the quantitative is raw data, numbers, which is indicative of probably both the writing quality and how interesting the article’s topic in general is to my audience:

  • what’s the expected background traffic (hits per month) that I sustain regardless of efforts to improve content searchability?
  • is the blog being used as a kind of reference, popping into individual articles, or more like a book with interesting content devoured article after article?

The Plan

  • make a inventory of status quo: # of articles on Jukkasoft; followers (readers), and viewer statistics (hits per week, month, year)
  • what’s the trend on yearly view statistics
  • understand Google’s PageRank basics (the search engine)
  • refresh and ingest the main points of the modern (2019) PageRank algorithm
  • understand which portion of the articles makes top 80% of traffic quantified by page requests (hits)
  • determine which of the articles are discoverable and which are not

Voluntary state of happiness

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In the age that we currently live, we are approaching 400 years since the beginning of an other era – the Age of Enlightenment; also known as Age of Reason, that era was considered time of great advancement especially in Western world.

During Age of Enlightenment science and generally the knowledge of mathematical-logical thinking spread throughout the population. Lot of things attributed to ‘Dark forces’, or superstition, were proven to be caused by completely understandable and logical physical phenomena.

Today’s takeaway thought cookie is here:

For as long as we do not enforce the pursuit of personal happiness, the world is in check.

We could demand people be happy. But this would be very problematic, since happiness is generally quite vague concept.

I studied some interesting clinical neuroscience and affective neuroscience courses at Aalto University. They gave wonderful glimpses into how the brain works, and what is the role of emotions.

Albeit non-problematic, I think we are in a good position to have emotions. Their “ultimate function” is to my understanding, still unexplained by science, but emotions most likely have had a big role in the shortcircuit logic and quick reactions of individuals in situations of challenge and danger. The brain correlates (circuits that are being activated by specific emotional states) are already quite well pinpointed.

Happiness.

Isn’t it a wonderful word?

It elicits for me images of sunshine, being content; perhaps a bit of pride of achieving something; but most I identify happiness as a transient state of mind, while it is not heavily engaged in a explicit cognitive action.

I think, deep down, that the pursuit of happiness should be all in all a personal goal. It should never be a requirement from the outside. Happiness for me means probably something quite different than for you.

Why am I mentioning this kind of subject? Perhaps because I think happiness is a slippery subject, and it’s been “on sale” for a long time. We’re seeing some kind of ritual addiction of measuring and talking about increasing our happiness; yet perhaps the discussion is quite devoid of relevance.

The above is not problematic. I think it’s completely ok to make a living selling books, courses and services related to happiness. But there’s also a undercurrent that I think is perhaps more dire: requiring people to exhibit happiness, “or else…” What else? Or else you’re a loser. You’re out. You’re a black pigeon. Spoiler.

We would probably, as humanity, be devoid of many risky projects, if happiness was the only goal. Success seems to require not only wisdom, knowledge, self-knowledge and humility to persist and execute the vision, but also occasionally success seems to mean suffering, sweating, tears, failure and occasional feeling of misery.

Human nervous system is such that it can actually detect relative changes in quantites, rarely the “absolute” measure. Thus we are prone to seek change, in order to keep our brain “feeling” and sensing. Change is

In communications theory, a person is always offset slighly by the absorption of new piece of information. Change is thus a source of stress; possibly unhappiness. We could draw early conclusions and try to minimize change. That means we’d be going toward a more rigid and homogenous society. Perhaps synchronized as well. There’s another word for a rigid, synchronized, homogenous society: fascist society.

I don’t want a fascist society. I want a society that allows the full spectrum of feelings.

Wildfire apps – 21st Century Doc explains

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Old kind of design just won’t cut it in the fast-paced, extremely competitive world of post-2100s.

This simple recipe will give you power to facing software solution dilemmas in 2499AD. Hold on to your hats! Let’s dive in!

The world is filled and fuelled with ideas and implementations, so the way these are going to compete is by being sexy, fast, usable, lean and useful.

Recap: Why?

We want to compose our life a little bit like, say… Ruby objects in Rails programming. Ah; pardon me for involving you with parlance from the early second industrial revolution. Rails was a framework for making apps. But getting back to the ‘compositing’ – that’s real. Compositing means:

  • layering; but without strings attached
  • perfecting a service cocktail that suits our needs

Glimpses and side views

Rich text? Sure. ‘Rich text’ has a special meaning and it’s one prone to raise a shy smile on any techie’s face. Why? Because rich text is such a perfect example of an attempt and ongoing formulation of this Rosetta’s stone for information representation.

Computers started with really raw visual elements: we had basically no colors, just a monochrome (green-black, or yellow-black) terminal with one fixed font. No emojis, I can guarantee.

Release of the official Gutenberg (totally renewed WordPress) editor, was probably one of the biggest news in blogging throughout 2018. WordPress, the 5th incarnation of batteries-included platform for bloggers and artists. However the underlying currents seem to be coalescing; just recently I heard of upcoming finalization of Rails version 6. The sixth incarnation – or iteration – of the batteries-included framework for… developers!

Boxing never goes out of style.

So let’s drop this awesome rich text editor to the publishing platform. Easy?

I want to talk about wildfire apps.

We’re bombarded with software nowadays.

It’s easy to test drive an app – and forget about in less than 5 minutes.

Organizations strive to make lasting change, even though there’s an abundance of digital tools. Why?

And do you know how much it takes money to make that app?

The average mobile app cost is around a few hundred thousand bucks.

Companies might get into a positive lift, once they have user base on the app. But here’s the trick: it’s a kind of chicken-and-egg situation. To justify the costs, there has to be reasonable expectations of the app’s utility for the company.

There’s actually not so many goals that an app is primarily built for:

  • internal operative tool
  • community tool for previously undisclosed public
  • games
  • precise app for a niche market

Costs of mobile app development, what’s the direction?

I estimate that development cost will go down, for a few reasons. Frameworks are getting better, and during the past 4 years I’ve seen really interesting directions in rapid prototyping. Whilst perhaps the eternal ‘low code’ dream wouldn’t materialize, still all the pointers are towards more compact (shorter) implementation times in mobile software projects. Thus it would be reasonable to assume lower costs.

Let’s take a second step in this path of lower costs scenario. What would happen, then? Assuming that still apps would be developed by not-your-average-joe (my strong bet on this), there could be an increase in the sheer number of apps on the market. From a company’s point of view, it would thus be easier to produce an app, but competition gets dense. This puts pressure on the quality and suitability, but also one interesting thing: bang for buck.

Worth (or utility) of the app to end user

I’m talking about a specific bang for buck, the cognitive one. So: how much utility does the end user get from that app? Is the app like: “Ok, I gotta use this out of reasons – yeah, does the job. But naaaah…. boring and clumsy” or “OMG! This is s-w-e-e-t. I’m in love!”

Think about the last.