Les utilisateurs reprennent Internet

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Votre guide de cinq minutes sur le meilleur du protocole (et d’Internet) de la semaine qui a été, de l’avenir de la technologie axé sur l’utilisateur à la lutte pour une mine de bitcoins en passant par la guerre désordonnée entre Facebook et TikTok.

S’approprier Internet

J’ai utilisé à peu près tous les outils de productivité qui existent. Et en essayant de comprendre pourquoi aucun d’entre eux ne s’est jamais senti tout à fait juste pour moi, j’ai parlé à d’innombrables experts en productivité, qui m’ont tous dit à peu près la même chose : que le problème avec les outils de productivité, c’est qu’ils vous disent comment travailler. Ils ont des structures et des systèmes, des idées spécifiques sur la conception et des opinions non fongibles sur la façon dont les gens font les choses. C’est pourquoi tant de geeks de la productivité finissent par utiliser un stylo et du papier : il n’y a rien de numérique qui soit aussi adaptable à notre façon de travailler.

L’une des raisons pour lesquelles Obsidian a récemment captivé l’imagination de tant de personnes dans le monde de la technologie est qu’elle est sur le point de renverser ce modèle. Obsidian est, à elle seule, une application simple (et assez peu attrayante) pour prendre des notes. Il a deux grands arguments de vente : votre carnet Obsidian n’est qu’un dossier de fichiers en texte brut, que vous pouvez stocker ou enregistrer n’importe où et que vous contrôlez toujours, et vous pouvez lier des notes avec le style Wikipédia. [[ command that has become popular in lots of productivity tools. In the app as you download it, thats about all there is.

Most of the best stuff about Obsidian wasnt made by Obsidian. It was made by an increasingly large and dedicated group of developers who build themes and plug-ins that can change just about everything about the app. Many of those developers started building things just to solve their own issues with the app: like Stephan Ango, a co-founder at Lumi who has become a mini-celebrity in the Obsidian world thanks to his Minimal theme, which turns the app into something much simpler and more native-feeling.

Ango started using Obsidian a few years ago, and loved everything about how it worked, but the one thing is that the UI is so ugly for me. He wanted a Mac app that felt like a Mac app, not whatever weird, Space Age-y thing Obsidian was. So he redesigned the app for himself. Eventually, he published it on GitHub, and now tens of thousands of people use Obsidian the Minimal way.

Other developers have built plug-ins that let you create functional tables from text documents, or dynamically pull data from thousands of different notes into a single one. You can manage tasks in Obsidian, create mind maps, organize your notes any way you can imagine, sync data with other apps and much more, all through third-party plug-ins. Because theyre all open source, and they all run natively in your app, theres no risk of them going away. And on the off chance something catastrophic happens and Obsidian breaks entirely? Youve still got a folder of plain text files, which are as versatile a digital object as youre ever going to find.

Ango told me that durability is why he fell in love with Obsidian in the first place. Im making all my decisions based on the Lindy effect, he said. Plain text has been around for 50 years, itll probably be around another 50. The apps might change, the syntax might break a little, but I want my notes to still be readable 50 years from now. Hes not betting on a VC-backed app existing that long, or praying that AWS doesnt break. His thousands of notes belong to him, and he can use them however he sees fit.

I say all this not to tell you to use Obsidian. (Though you should, its great.) Obsidians growth is part of a bigger trend, a thing were starting to see all over the internet: a push to change how we control our data and how we give it away. One of the core pillars of Web3 is that information is permanent and immutable: A developer can stop updating their app, but they cant pull the rug out from under users. Tim Berners-Lee, the godfather of the internet himself, is working on a new standard through which you create and control a database with all your personal information, and you can dole out and revoke access as you like.

Matt Mullenweg told me last year he believes that as more and more of our lives start to be run and dictated by the technology we use, it’s a human right to be able to see how that technology works and modify it. » Of course, he would say that: Hes a huge open-source advocate. But the shift hes describing is not dissimilar from what the EUs Digital Markets Act is promising by forcing messaging apps to interoperate, or what Twitter is doing with Bluesky, or what all the companies working on metaverse avatars want to create, or the rulings that are forcing Apple to open up the App Store a bit. Theyre all asking the same question: What if the internet wasnt a set of competing, siloed platforms, each with its own rules and systems and walls? What if it were more fluid, more open, and put users in control of their experience?

Thats a hard thing to pull off in a notes app, where design matters and most users dont want to spend hours installing plug-ins and tweaking settings. (Right now, Obsidian is still mostly optimized for the tinkerers, not the I just need to write this down crowd.) Its orders of magnitude harder in social spaces or communication tools, where people need to have some shared understanding and context in order for the system to work. And it will require a set of business models and standards that mostly dont exist. But the more I talk to people, the more I realize this is what theyre talking about. The technology and apps change, but the push to give technology back to users is everywhere. And its going to change everything.

You tell us

We asked you to tell us how you get things done, and you responded! We got a lot of chaotic systems, a lot of frustrated notes app users and a bunch of pen-and-paper diehards. Here are a few of our favorite responses:

I use Todoist to track tasks. I would be absolutely lost without it. For project-y things (including blog writing and meal planning), I use Taiga and Trello. Ben Cotton

iPhone Calendar. Bruno Kristensen

My most used productivity tools:

  1. OneNote I use this for everything from dissertation research to my own cookbook, to lists for books, things to do, etc
  2. Apple Notes I use this every day for to-do lists at work and home easy sync from Mac to iPhone.
  3. Google Keep I use this to grocery shop because I can check stuff off my list and it disappears. All my other lists shifted to Notes because I like that format better, but they dont have a checklist that removes items as you go.
  4. Remarkable I like this simple tablet for note-taking in meetings and journaling. No email or internet, so limits distractions. Dont need any paper, can download and write on PDFs, and can email my notes later. For some reason, writing over typing is still my preferred way to take down info in conversations or processing my thinking. Also has templates for all sorts of things. I use it to create tablature for guitar.
  5. Wallet iPhone app ease of Apple Pay, smart card for bus/metro and vaccination record for COVID like because of ease of use and helps to keep the real wallet minimalist.

Bryan Todd

I have a psychotic old-school system where I maintain a master to-do list in a notebook and then I make mini to-do lists for each day (sometimes multiple a day, depending on volume) on Post-Its. I recognize that this system warrants chaos my desk is a graveyard of discarded Post-Its and my handwriting is basically illegible, but somehow it works for me. I’ve tried to use Google Docs to organize myself, but there’s just something about physically crossing off a task on paper that gives me the productivity high I need to get my work done. Allie Murphy

I’ve tried things like Asana and a few other to-do list apps, but ultimately all the functions to make these ~~more customizable~~ take away from the bottom line goal: to get something crossed off my list. I’ve found the basic Notes app paired with standard Google Calendar reminders and an old-school (but color-coded) handwritten to-do list make sure I stay on track, productive, and that no tasks fall off my radar. Gina Gacad

Sunsama has been amazing for me. Its focused on your individual tasks and I like the planning ritual you go through at the start and end of your work day. The interface is clean and syncs with a bunch of other tools. I have used a plethora of other planning tools. Sunsama is the first one Ive used consistently for over nine months now. Chris McConnell


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The best of Protocol

The crypto reckoning in the Finger Lakes, by Brian Kahn

  • The Greenidge power plant is now mostly a bitcoin mine, and the company behind it has big expansion plans. Those plans and what theyd mean for the climate, the economy and the community desperately fighting to keep them from happening could be a bellwether for the future of crypto mining in the U.S.

Messaging apps may soon be forced to work together. It wont be easy, by Sarah Roach

  • The EUs Digital Markets Act wants to force messaging apps to interoperate, so you could use Instagram to message a friend on Snapchat and then respond with iMessage. It seems like a good idea! Its going to be really hard to pull off without compromising some of the best things about messaging apps.

How social media became a ‘debate-themed video game’ and why the internet is destroying democracy, by Hirsh Chitkara

  • Justin E. H. Smiths new book, The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning, does not mince words about what the digital world has wrought. But Smith also argues that the best way to fix the internet is with the internet. And we have to start now.

Think you know how NFT taxes work? Try getting a write-off, by Lindsey Choo

  • Happy Tax Season! And best of luck to everyone with an OpenSea account. Theres not much yet in the way of specific NFT tax law, but most experts are starting to agree on how it works. But if you gave your fancy JPG to Ukraine or some other charity this year, and you want a write-off on the big-ticket item? Nobody knows.

Sexual harassment training is outdated. VR might be a fix, by Nat Rubio-Licht

  • VR can be immersive to the point of convincing your brain its real life. That creates lots of opportunities, but also raises ethical questions practically everywhere you turn. The companies working on sexual harassment training in VR and expanding into other kinds of corporate skilling and training have a lot to figure out.

Jack Dongarras supercomputing work just won a Turing. Now hes looking to Big Cloud, by Kate Kaye

  • Jack Dongarra helped build a computer the size of two tennis courts with a thoroughly preposterous amount of computing power. Those supercomputers are hugely important to research and science around the world. And yet hes also looking to cloud computing to help power the future.

The best of everything else

Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok The Washington Post

  • When a competitor appears to be stealing approximately every single ounce of your cool, what do you do? When youre Meta, you try tearing TikTok down to size by turning it into a story about China, content moderation and more. And you hope nobody notices its you behind it.
  • If thats the shot, heres the chaser: Instead of stopping content it identified as problematic, Facebook was elevating that content for months.

Rumble, the rights go-to video site, has much bigger ambitions The New York Times

  • Most of the free speech! social apps arent working. But Rumble looks like an exception: A video site set up in direct opposition to YouTube and Big Tech in general is growing fast and starting to think bigger.

I finally reached computing Nirvana. What was it all for? Wired

  • Anyone whos ever spent too many hours optimizing, tweaking and perfecting their computing setup will resonate with this story about what happens when everything finally feels right. And you learn what you were actually building for.
  • In a similar vein, heres a good piece on how infinite storage and forever-long camera rolls are changing our brains.

Online shopping in the middle of the ocean Rest of World

  • This startup story is way more fun than dude graduates from Stanford, moves north, joins YC. Ecommerce may be eating the world, but its not yet everywhere, and the folks filling in the gaps are opening new opportunities to new people.

He chased Silicon Valley dreams amid the cannabis boom. But did his ambition lead to his murder? Inc.

  • The story of Tushar Atre is horrible and complicated, and to be honest only tangentially a tech story. Its mostly about drive, and capitalism, and the relentlessness that tech prizes and all the ways that can go wrong. Its also just a hell of a true crime story.

How did a hacker steal over $600 million from a crypto gaming blockchain? Ars Technica

  • The Axie Infinity hack is going to be a Moment in the history of crypto, the kind of thing that either inspired companies and developers to do better or made clear just how broken the system was. (As with so much in crypto, which way itll go is anyones guess.) This is a good look at how the tech failed and what has to happen next.


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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to our tips line, [email protected] Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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