Archive for December, 2013

Medium is at 1.0 but I think it lost something along the way.

Dear Evan,

You probably don’t know I exist. Which is fine. There is a billion people in the world. One can’t simply be aware of everyone’s existence let alone know them. But I admire your work and you seem like a decent chap.

When I first got invited to the Medium beta, I was ecstatic. It truly seemed like something different than WordPress/Blogger (Yes one of yours no offence intended) and a dozen other blogs/platforms out there. It focused on quality. Quality of writing and quality of the community. I discovered interesting, thoughtful, soulful and beautiful pieces of writing. It brought back the joy of reading books and essays as a teenager. The time before publishing was democratized and there was not so much noise and vanity metrics.

But then I started finding some ‘disappointing’ posts on Medium. Posts that had a snappy title like ‘10 Ways To Increase Your SEO’. Worse still they have the horrid line at the end ‘ If You Like This Please Hit The Recommend Button Below <3’ — yes that’s right, some folks even make a tiny heart to emotionally blackmail people into recommending their posts. From there the algorithm(?) takes over and it displays all the ‘most recommended’ posts from collections I follow to the top despite the fact that these posts perhaps don’t belong on Medium, which in your own words is a place to share ideas, read and write better (not quoting you here). Now it feels like its driven by page views and recommendations. This reminds me alot of Quora and Reddit where up-votes don’t always bring out the best quality of content.

I feel a certain nostalgia to the early days of Medium when I would login and see Editors Picks on the front page. Now I am bombarded with the collections I follow and I can’t seem to find Editors Pick exclusively on my front page, which would put me in the flow to discover more content with the help of the next recommended reading.

Without a second thought I knew the prose that made Editors Picks would enrich my day, teach me something new and make me reflect on life in general. When I first started reading Medium I was relieved to see a writing & reading platform that focused on quality. I was relieved to see stories and meaningful content. I think somewhere during that time Medium at-least for me is turning into another publishing platform and lost the focus on quality of writing & community.

I am by no means implying that I am one of those people who write thoughtful, reflective pieces but I distinctively remember when I decided to write my first post on Ramadan, I was intimidated and overwhelmed by the quality of writing on Medium and was not sure if I should even write something.

I know that Medium is at 1.0 now which is a big step in its life. I wish it the best years ahead and I am and will be a user (both writing and reading) but I feel like Medium lost a little something along the way and I would for one love to see it back.

Kamil Rextin

P.S: If I am being irrational or ‘taking it the wrong way’ on any of the above, I would like nothing more then to be proven otherwise.

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How buying Bitcoins made me think of QR Codes.

Everyone is talking about bitcoins, litecoins and all sorts of crypto-currency and just today I purchased my first bitcoins here in KW. Not a alot. Just worth CAD 100.

I realize I jumped to the party a little late. I first heard about bitcoins in January perhaps? They were still at around $80. I found a couple of exchanges selling bitcoins but their process was so complicated and resistive that I gave up. They required me to send physical cash through the mail and then wait for a week or two till they received it. After which they would proceed to send me bitcoins to my wallet.

Hell no.

Another exchange was open to depositing CAD with them to buy bitcoins. But they required verification by uploading my drivers license and utility bills.

Seems too fishy.

Then came CoinBase but they only operate within the US with US banks and that was a quick bust.

I had almost given up when bitcoin value hit $1000. Better late then never I thought so I found a local seller on Local Coin and setup a meet.

Trevor who is running a small bitcoin startup out of the velocity garage met me at a local coffee shop. He explained that that the cafe we were sitting at had just been signed up by his startup to be a reseller. Would I mind being a beta tester? (I am not affiliated with the startup in any way)

Of-course not!

I put on a smile and walked to the counter and asked to buy some bitcoins. I handed over my cash, the cashier pulled out her iPhone. She opened a an app & I pulled up my wallet’s QR code on my phone. A quick scan and it was done.

Just like that.

That got me thinking what if I was buying my coffee like that instead of bitcoins? Easy enough to imagine, just substitute ‘bitcoin’ for ‘coffee’ while imagining the interaction in your head as you read those lines.

QR codes have been around for a couple of years now and NFC a shorter while but both technologies have not seen that traction they expected with the consumer market. QR codes have been scattered around and become a joke in some sense. I have a history with NFC (Not too long ago, I wanted to build an NFC based business card exchange app which is now defunct). Could bitcoins be the answer? Starbucks uses a QR code for their loyalty app already though I have only people use it a handful of time while observing (not a good sample size)

So what if bitcoins are the answer? QR Codes and NFC can and should ride the bitcoin wave as a technology. Rightly so. Bitcoins are a digital currency making paper currency defunct. QR Codes and NFC offer an almost frictionless experience in this context (Trust me you don’t want to type in someone’s wallet address). If they pick up in the near future and I can buy a morning coffee and bagel with bitcoins, I would happily tap & scan my phone. That is if the banks don’t start offering bitcoin accounts and Debit Cards, which is unlikely.

Can bitcoins make QR codes sexy again? Is bitcoin where mobile payments is heading? Perhaps even help NFC get more mainstream beyond Visa/MasterCard PayPass?

Just some questions to ponder upon.

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