Microsoft is betting on an open-source future.

Microsoft is betting that a future of open-source, cloud-based applications that exist independent of platforms will be a large-and-increasing share of the future, and that there is room in that future for a company to win by offering a superior user experience for developers directly, not simply exerting leverage on them.

via The Cost of Developers (Stratechery)

Look at what they’ve done with Linux integration, VS Code, and most recently, the acquisition of GitHub.

Learn from Strava and find your niche.

“The content that you’re gonna post in those posts is gonna be very specific to training, or where you’re at, or fitness-related—as opposed to Facebook or Instagram, where it’s gonna be baby pictures and all of that,” says Rich Roll, who famously overcame drug and alcohol troubles to, at age 40, dedicate himself to clean living and ultra-endurance competitions.

Learn from Strava. Find your niche. This is an opportunity to break out from the major social networks.

The incentivized cycle of social media outrage

The terror was far more contagious than the virus itself, and had the perfect network through which to propagate — a digital ecosystem built to spread emotional fear far and wide.

via This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit

This is another part of the negative social media equation, alongside unscrupulous data gathering, that leads to the hostile climate we’re currently dealing with.

Outrage leads to engagement, engagement leads to strong algorithmic performance, which leads to greater visibility of outrageous content.

The platforms — i.e. Facebook — want to get that content in front of the people most likely to engage, so the content gets thrown into the echo chamber of a particular user segment. Then the outrage grows and grows and grows until it reaches a fevered pitch.

Platform critics see this behaviour as evidence of a broken system.

Apologists see this behaviour as evidence of unexpected consequences.

Supporters see this behaviour as evidence of society’s flaws. (#notabug)

I’m not sure where I sit. If anything, I think it’s evidence that platforms can’t rely on algorithms alone.

If social networks are going to operate a network while reaping the benefits of acting as a media business, they need to take a stance and enforce content and moderation policies, complete with core values. Or they need to step back and actually act as a platform, leaving others to build on top of their utilities.

Right now they’re trying to be everything, and absolve themselves of responsibility by using their in-house AI as the neutral third party.

So maybe that’s what I fundamentally disagree with – that you can just leave it to AI and machine learning and automate the moderation of civil discourse.

Guest post: Using custom forms to your advantage.

Forms are responsible for most of the interaction we see on the web.

I recently had the pleasure of writing a guest post for the fine folks at Caldera Forms to dig into this a bit more.

Excerpt:

Contact forms are great. They give people a way to reach you via your website without exposing your email address.

But you can use forms for so much more than sending a message.

[…]

We should think of forms as tools to create interactive experiences. That way we’ll find more opportunities for using them.

Here are five examples to get you going.

Check it out: How to use custom forms to your advantage.

My WordPress workshops in 2018

A couple weeks ago I shared my personal goals for 2018.

My first big goal is to raise $10,000 for charity bike rides coming up in the spring, namely the Manulife Ride for Heart; the Ride to Conquer Cancer; and the PWA Friends For Life Bike Rally.

To hit that goal, I’m going to be hosting a series of beginner WordPress workshops across Ontario.

Why across Ontario? Because I think smaller communities outside of the GTA don’t get enough attention when it comes to topics like this.

We’re all caught up in the tech bubble here in Toronto. But what about everywhere else? It’d be great to share knowledge with those smaller communities, squeezing in some roadtrips, and raising money for a good cause along the way.

Keep reading…My WordPress workshops in 2018