A Simple Machines startup combines distributed computing architecture with a personal end user development platform (to be determined). It is one response to the problem George Gilder calls "Silicon Valley's nervous breakdown" in his book Life After Google (2018). Other visionaries offer different critiques of computing-- and some aspects have alarmed the U.S. Congress, disrupted global geopolitics, and threatened human privacy. Most observers agree the age of Google built on "big data" and machine learning has been amazing and useful. But while Gilder posits a revolution (the "cryptocosm"), I predict a 21st Century war in which computer end users struggle to reclaim ownership of their personal data.
Who am I?
My name is John Bliss Sr. (firstname.lastname@example.org). I studied venture finance at Princeton followed by market-positioning technology research at Stanford Research Institute (SRI International) at the beginning of the digital era. I later founded two Boston companies (The 33rd Floor Corp and InfoProcessing Inc) that pioneered the concept of coworking leaseholds, which afforded me an opportunity to study the problem Gilder is speculating about. The Simple Machines startup will cast the problem as a unique window of opportunity.
What you'll get from simplemachines.com
I began my research on this problem by defining a small set of user-tailorable screen artifacts ("simple machines") that radically personalize and simplify computer use by naive non-programmers. At least three aspects of this tentative software end user interface solution require explanation:
1. Owning your identity
2. Saving yourself time
3. Getting yourself paid
By owning your identity, I'm referring to the benefits of an unmediated, certified, self-sovereign “digital self”. Your digital self is an aggregation of your data, everyday interactions, and documents, all securely stored in a personal repository you curate on a peer to peer network.
By saving time, I'm suggesting that non-programmers themselves can curate a unique set of visual formalisms to radically personalize and economize a personal repository, getting stuff done faster by orders of magnitude. Today only a tiny elite of coders has a remotely comparable computing power, writing code and markup to define your digital universe. The rest of us have little choice but to give our valued time and attention to the "walled gardens" of a few mega corporations-- Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple. They control huge amounts of our everyday digital life. The problem is that those systems are narrowly-defined and basically closed, filled with opaque code, objectively canned procedures, and needlessly detailed scenarios, typically coupled to irrelevant advertising and unproductive or unfocused relationships.
For getting paid, I point out that today's prevailing business model is not "free", but instead is connected to massive private surveillance and cultivated advertising addiction, algorithmically mediated, centralized, and monetized. That's a model that can rob you of values you unwittingly contribute, for which payments might otherwise be a proprietary right to collect, using an alternative platform and a distributed architecture.
How to subscribe
Social (to be determined)
I hold test positions in a few cryptocurrencies:EthereumEOSCardanoIOTA
My interest in distributed infrastructure (e.g. the Gilder "cryptocosm") includes:Blockstack's security architectureUnlock-Protocol's micropay business modelGolem, Eich, and OTOY micropaymentsJuan Benet’s Protocol Labs and Web 3Solid-Inrupt
You might read some tentative thoughts (from 2013) about a possible non-programmer computing environment at touch-buttons.com.