With $30 Million More in Hand, IFTTT Looks to the Internet of Things – [NYTimes.com]

One ambitious start-up wants to reroute the plumbing of the consumer Internet. Now it has the money to try to make it happen.

The start-up, called IFTTT pronounced like “gift” without the “g”, announced on Thursday it had raised $30 million in funding, its largest round yet, from the venture capital firms Norwest Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.

If nothing else, IFTTT’s service is rather clever. The title is an acronym — short for “If This Then That” — which neatly describes the function of the product. It is essentially a giant switchboard to connect disparate services, anything from Facebook to text messages to telephone calls. Users can create “recipes” in which an action on one service can trigger an action on another entirely different service.

via With $30 Million More in Hand, IFTTT Looks to the Internet of Things – NYTimes.com.

Amazon Opens Up Its Enterprise Cloud Storage Service Zocalo To All

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Amazon today announced that it’s making Zocalo, its secure document storage and sharing service designed for enterprise use, generally available. The news comes, not coincidentally, on a day when cloud storage competitor Dropbox announced lowered pricing and storage increases for its Pro customers.

Zocalo, which is Spanish for town square, launched into a limited preview just last month, along with very aggressive price points. For $5 per user per month, end users would receive 200 GB of storage. They can then use that service to store all manner of files, comment on and within files, share them with others, upload new versions and more, all from any device, including PCs and Macs, as well as Android and iOS devices.

Meanwhile, IT admins are able to manage Zocalo, integrating it with existing corporate directories, including Active Directory, which allows users to sign in with their existing Active Directory credentials. IT can…

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Why e-learning should be in perpetual beta – [clive-shepherd.blogspot.com.es/]

Why e-learning should be in perpetual beta

I once asked the CEO of a major e-learning company how much of their work was maintenance of existing content, thinking that this would be a substantial revenue earner. I was surprised to find that hardly anyone maintains their content. They just wait four or five years for the content to become obsolete, then they start all over again.

A right first time approach works if you are building skyscrapers or making Hollywood movies. The safety considerations or the cost of re-work simply demand it. And if you are sending out physical product, like printed books, it is clearly uneconomic to keep printing and distributing new versions.

But in an era in which software apps and web content are updated almost constantly and usually painlessly, there is simply no argument for treating e-learning content as if we were making $100m movies or printing books.

Agile development of learning content is a process of successive approximation – getting closer and closer to what is right for the user.

via Why e-learning should be in perpetual beta.

What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet

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Originally posted on Quartz:

Technology has a lot to answer for: killing old businesses, destroying the middle class, Buzzfeed. Technology in the form of the internet is especially villainous, having been accused of everything from making us dumber (paywall) to aiding dictatorships. But Michael Harris, riffing on the observations of Melvin Kranzberg, argues that “technology is neither good nor evil. The most we can say about it is this: It has come.”

Harris is the author of “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection,” a new book about how technology affects society. It follows in the footsteps of Nicholas Carr, whose “The Shallows” is a modern classic of internet criticism. But Harris takes a different path from those that have come before. Instead of a broad investigation into the effects on constant connectivity on human behaviour, Harris looks at a very specific demographic: people born before…

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Twitter vs. Facebook as a news source: Ferguson shows the downsides of an algorithmic filter

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

While Twitter has been alive with breaking news about the events in Ferguson, Mo. after the shooting of an unarmed black man — video clips posted by participants, live-tweeting the arrest of journalists, and so on — many users say Facebook has been largely silent on the topic, with more info about ice-bucket challenges by various celebrities. Is this a sign of a fundamental difference between the two platforms? In a sense, yes. But it’s also a testament to the power of the algorithms that Facebook uses to filter what we see in our newsfeeds, and that has some potentially serious social implications.

Part of the reason why Twitter is more news-focused than Facebook has to do with the underlying mechanics of both sites, and the way user behavior has evolved as a result. Because of its brevity, and the ease with which updates can be shared, Twitter is a…

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In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty – [NYTimes.com]

Just after 4 a.m. on a recent Friday, while most of the neighbors in her leafy Boston suburb were still asleep, Jennifer Guidry was in the driveway of her rental apartment, her blond hair pulled back in a tidy French braid, vacuuming the inside of her car. The early-bird routine is a strategy that Ms. Guidry, a Navy veteran and former accountant, uses to mitigate the uncertainty of working in what’s known as the sharing economy.

via In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty – NYTimes.com.

Algorithms Are Replacing Unions As The Champions of Workers

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_dropcap]Quality of life is perhaps the single largest factor underpinning human happiness, and that quality is largely determined by one’s job. It should be no wonder then that so many activists and politicians have made improving work a key element of their advocacy for generations. The history of America is, in many ways, the history of work.[/tc_dropcap]

So when I look around the world today and observe who are the next champions of workers, I surprisingly don’t see them where you would normally expect. Unions were once the bastions of progressive improvements for labor, but they have been relegated to defending the status quo and are facing serious irrelevance in the United States today. Politicians as well seem almost ignorant of the changes underway in our economy, proposing laws that do little to help people and everything to help their campaign donors.

They have been replaced. The people with…

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