Tech that should exist

Browser addon for site advisory

When you are on a webpage, the entire viewport is controlled by that site. This leads to all kinds of manipulation. I'd like a browser extension that shows me community-curated warnings such as:

  • Security risks of using this site, past data leakages

  • Dark-patterns

  • Alternative products and services which are "better"

  • Social harms caused by this company

  • Problematic past behavior by company execs or investors

  • And more

I am taking a stab at this here: https://github.com/nileshtrivedi/better. If you'd like to contribute, please contact.

Google+GoodReads for lifelong learning with all media types

Today's learning platforms are not actually learner-centric. They want the students to be locked within their apps & websites, learn ONLY from their own content and their own preferred formats. But the way we learn in 21st century is far too rich. We learn from blogs, podcasts, videos, tweetstorms, livestreams, games, newsletters, infographics, Q&A sites, forums and much more. Discovering the right kind of learning material for YOU at the right time is still too hard.

I have been building LearnAwesome.org - an open-source GoodReads-like network for learning resources here. Check it out: https://github.com/learn-awesome/learn and contribute if possible.

Easy self-hosting for webapps

Although there are a number of open-source apps, deploying and maintaining them is still quite difficult. There are tools like Cloudron with good features, but it's not open-source (not even with a delay) and pricing is very difficult. The most promising project seems to be: https://docs.coopcloud.tech/faq/ . Others options are HomeLabOS, YUNoHost, Sandstorm, Caprover, Kubernetes Helm Charts, Ansible scripts, Docker Compose files etc. I intend to look into this problem and probably contribute to an existing project. If needed, I would also love to run a hosted service to make it super-easy for small businesses and families. If you want to collaborate on this, please contact.

Better Discourse

Arguments and debates on social media use free-form text which runs into the same probles again and again: logical flaws, personal attacks, suspicious data sourcing, incomplete reasoning etc. With computers, we ought to do better.

Have a look at ArgDown. It uses markdown-like syntax to create structured arguments. Wouldn't it be nice, if the social/political/intellectual discourse was done in this format? Because it's pure-text, we can leverage entire ecosystem of ActivityPub apps like Mastodon for this.

Relevant projects to watch in this space are Kialo, Underlay.org. Also, see this old idea I had.

Learning as a game

People are willing to learn a LOT for playing games. Can use game-like elements for life skills? This idea is explored in multiple books: The DIamond Age, Level Up and more. I have started experimenting on this within LearnAwesome.org. There's a course format which has a series of challenges and chat rooms which get unlocked only after you clear a challenge.

Open-source alternative to Webflow

Enough said. There is GrapesJS but it falls short by a big margin.

Open-source alternative to Beeper

Matrix bridges are fantastic but it will take an app like Beeper to get people to actually adopt it.

Personal search engine

We consume a lot of content - articles, videos, internal google docs and spreadsheets etc. But the browser, where all this happens, can at best track the URLs, not the content itself. People have suggested note-taking (perhaps with bi-directional linking like TiddlyWiki or Roam), but this manual work ought to be unnecessary.

Personal CRM

Why isn't there an app that keeps track of all my relationships - personal, professional etc? Relationships require effort to cultivate, but having our communication fragmented in dozens of apps have made this impossible to achieve.

Personal AI assistant

Siri, Cortana, Google will never truly act in my interest. I need a bot that is truly MY agent. I should be fully comfortable handing over my calendar, my email/SMS, my goals and even bank account to this bot to take care of my errands.

Visual programming environments

The best example I have seen so far is Snap! by Berkeley/SAP. But there's huge potential if we can build an environment where real programming work can be done. Some feature ideas:

  • Impossible syntax errors

  • Zoom in and out from big picture to details

  • Live test-cases (see my livecoding idea)