Software, Sharing, and Music

Here’s what was important this week…

Software is everywhere lately. My boyfriend asked me what I thought the next big website would be (after the success of Google, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and I realized it’s just as likely (if not more likely) to be a software application rather than a website. Paul Ford took some time to enshrine some works of software in a “software canon” — Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Pacman, the Unix operating system, and eMacs (which I’d never heard of until this essay came out).

Software has had a noticeable effect on our day to day lives (especially those with smartphones), but it’s also had a huge impact on music and the way it’s created, recorded, and produced. Fact Magazine went through 14 works of software that shaped modern music (electronic music started way earlier than I thought). One of those software applications is Auto-Tune, and the Sounding Out! blog happened to post about the history of Auto-Tune.


The sharing economy has been a big buzzword of the last few years, driven by the rise in services like Air BnB, Lyft, Uber, and many others. Community-focused efforts like tool libraries and gardens are viable based on their inclusion in community networks. However, the more recent versions of the sharing economy involve making money off sharing something that one person has with another person that doesn’t. In some cases it’s based on the true utility of it, share something you’re not using with someone who will use it. It could be an exchange based on a developing trust in American society.

However it’s just as likely that it’s based on desperation. Growing as the nation recovers from the throes of recession and unemployment, the sharing economy provides a way for unemployed people to take advantage of assets that they still possess (a car, an apartment, a home) and monetize them into a form of income. And in terms of unemployment options, renting out your things can be far better than renting out yourself.

I’ve written here before about the importance of vaccinations. So let me write about that again. Communist Hungary fought several polio epidemics before managing to reach a high enough immunity among the population. Fascinating as well is how there were two separate types of vaccines involved in this effort, and both were vital to eradicating the disease.

And because everything in the world lately has to feel doomed, polio is not completely gone! In fact it’s coming back! And so are other diseases. At least we got rid of smallpox.

We may be doomed but at least there is still good music in the world. Some of it is on vinyl, and being listened to by a librarian, whose husband is the owner of a large vinyl collection. The librarian blogs about it, it is delightful, and Collectors Weekly interviewed the two of them. It is also delightful.

To add more delight to doomsday feelings, here is an indie-folkish song by The Family Crest called Love Don’t Go.

(to continue tech-speak and tie 2 out of 3 topics together…)

The Internet of Things (another huge buzzword lately) is something that people talk about far more than it’s actually happening (but that’s probably just the tech crowd). As Tim O’Reilly points out, we’re still pretty far off from a full-fledged Internet of Things, but “there are many “halfway house” applications that are really Internet of Things applications in waiting, which use humans for one or more parts of the entire system. When you understand that the general pattern of #IoTH applications is not just sensor + network + actuator but various combinations of human + network + actuator or sensor + network, you will broaden the possibilities for interfaces and business models.”

We’re all just cogs in a machine. While the existence of Mechanical Turk as a service makes me sad for many reasons, it’s clear evidence that at least for the time being, humans are still better at enough tasks that there is an entire marketplace devoted to outsourcing those tasks to humans instead of machines. Plus there is still the entire workforce that indicates humans still do something. Luckily, as Mike Loukides writes on O’Reilly’s site, the Internet of Things isn’t going to be successful unless it ends up as interoperable as the Internet itself. If devices can’t communicate with each other, you don’t have an Internet of Things, you have Internet of Thing + Internet of Thing + Internet of Thing + Internet of Thing, each with their own app!

The economy still needs us, for now. Thanks for reading.