Interactions compound towards Computability

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stage: early draft

this post gets somewhat technical in places

The browser has become the center for knowledge work and online life. Most apps are or will be web apps [1]. [Clumsy phrasing, low content sentence]

Every time we interact with content or people, we express and reify tastes and preferences. And yet we have not seen a way to adequately capture and leverage them.  [Capture and leverage what? The interaction data? Be more clear with this sentence]

Soon, if they don't totally replace us, intelligent programs that know our personal preferences, and possibly a few of our goals [Awkward, be more confident], will perform much better than zero-context models. [Zero context models like what? Give examples]

Capture what interactions?
Everything you do on the web: books you buy, how long you read some article [Maybe be more lively/funny. "how long you read this post/look at some hot girl on ig etc"] , the paths that led you to a piece of content, what products you pay for, the tweets you read (and skip), what web apps you use and for how long, when you started following an account, how much time you spend on news sites, how many emails you send a day, any interactions with profiles, stocks, tweets, videos, articles, companies, books and so on .... that’s all interactions that you currently don’t own. [Good content, could be written in a more entertaining way]

We can hook into the browser to harvest interactions with any online experience[*]. At the moment, no interactions of that sort are captured for us to leverage2. [Maybe rephrase this like, "Why aren't we capturing this data for our own personal use?/ Why is this data going into the trash?"]

Whenever an interface captures a glimpse of us, we should own it. Many jobs that are currently done by $M or $B apps will consolidate into a few graph queries with a standard UI component slapped on data that comes back5.

Why would I want this?
What if your web interactions could be saved and turned into a compounding asset.[Question mark?] The decisions you make form your interests, tastes and preferences. Social media companies make billions owning a small slice of that data. You could get a cut of that. [Expand on this more. How would you get a cut exactly? One counter argument that you should address: Is your personal data alone sufficient to create a truly competitive and useful model?]

[Local data vault vs global]

A few applications come to mind. You can use those assets to:

  • `compile content recommendations [Is this different than what google etc do for you?]
  • get notifications when you watched the same video as a friend [Can't google do this?]
  • find a group’s overlapping tastes with your reading history
  • run a poor-man’s emulation of you3 [You should expand on this here, not in some note]
  • pay you for a slice of data for a population study
  • overlay smart content-filters over social media feeds
  • receive targeted marketing against payment
  • rent out slices of your store to 3rd party services or a government
  • solve cold-starter problems with whatever the next Netflix, meetup.com, Twitter is
  • compile personal analytics on reading habits
  • ...and a million other ideas that a market can get creative about.

This sounds weird. Where is this going?
Let’s start from the future and work our way back. Software really is eating the world and the world makes itself more edible to software.

With that, large chunks of reality move into databases. We are becoming increasingly computational wherein humans are expected to sponsor the same affordances as computers. Unfortunately, Human-computer interaction (HCI) innovation has slowed down after Xerox Park (GUIs, mouse, touch pads) and so we are forced to become like computers from the 70s instead of computers becoming like humans from 2021.

That forcing might lead to people having API endpoints that agents with permissions (governments, 3rd party services, chat group members, coworkers, friends, institutions) can query against...enabling actual peer-2-peer messaging.

This removes the need for presence and abstracts a slew of lower-level cognition, ie. aggregating and filtering over simple entities5.5. Suddenly, complex group coordination like a multi-book club meeting with strangers in a new city shifts from extremely unlikely to simple.

To some extent we already sponsor real-time APIs through devices. Ride sharing apps query your location for example. Yet nobody can ask questions across devices, apps, histories  (ie. multi-hop queries) and more importantly: groups of people. That’s because every piece of data is owned by someone who isn’t you and scattered through a bunch of private, venture-funded databases.

Alright, still that was really weird...
It might seem frivolous but capturing and hosting your computer-readable data is a key part of becoming a distributed humanoid6 species.


[ TODO: Idea 2; Every entity type (Person, Stock, Tweet, Video, Article, Company, Book and so on) is a category in a marketplace of serverless functions and services. ]


The web has caught up with everything operating systems can do.  The web runs most of the applications in the world. Browsers have become a stable, backward-compatible platform. It takes care of account management, rendering, GPU access, voice calls, device abstraction (webcam, microphone), USB access, VR, and more.

[*]as long as there’s a sort of event adapter1 for it

[1] Event Adapters: In web apps that’s attaching event listeners to elements in the rendered document - using the DOM. These are hooks into the browser (possibly as extensions) which will map arbitrary user actions to meaningful datums. For example [clicking that button on this domain (ie. youtube)] maps to [upvoted a video]. That datum then goes into3  the user’s private, local data store.

[2] I had to write a script just to export browser history and a few more scripts to answer “What articles did I spend time to read this month?”

[3] depending how many data points... in general the more behavior is digital, the easier it is to digitally clone someone’s behavior

[5] Like in reactive programming, services would subscribe to a subset of your state

[5.5] Like Person, Stock, Tweet, Video, Account, Article, Company, Book and so on

[6] not my choice, but that’s what tends to happen when apes start playing with transistors