Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App Half-Life

App Half-Life . . .
Ok, “Half-Life" as in:
Half-life (t½) is the amount of time required for a quantity to fall to half its value as measured at the beginning of the time period. While the term "half-life" can be used to describe any quantity which follows an exponential decay, it is most often used within the context of nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry—that is, the time required, probabilistically, for half of the unstable, radioactive atoms in a sample to undergo radioactive decay.

Not “Half-Life” as in the Half-Life App on Android.—although you can get a Half-Life calculator for your Smartphone, should you wish to calculate the half-life of a radioactive isotope.
But I digress. I am wondering about the half-life of computer-Smartphone, or just Internet applications generally.  I have been noting that Facebook has been largely deserted by our grandkids (that is today’s teenagers). Apparently, when the old folks began adopting Facebook as a preferred social media channel, the kids all said, “whoa, I’m out’a here.” It’s now  akin to an old folks home.  And that started me thinking about application half-lives.  I am wondering first, how we might describe the half-life of an app. First, perhaps, why do we have things like free apps, e.g., Facebook.  Well, Mark Zuckerberg allows you to become a member of Facebook without charge, because he then gets to throw advertisements at you and to track your every move –he’s sort of your friendly neighborhood commercial NSA guy. He probably knows more about you than does NSA, and that's worth megabucks.  So, given that he has hundreds of millions of users now being tracked by his Facebook servers, why would Zuckerberg pay $19 billion for What’sApp? In case you have been living in a cave,
WhatsApp Messenger is a proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging subscription service for Smartphone’s. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, video, and audio media messages as well as their location using integrated mapping features.”
Well my guess is that Zuckerberg understands that Facebook is already past it’s half-life and is on the way down (not out, but down . . . old apps never actually die, they just languish on old folks’ computers).  So, soon I imagine, today’s teenagers will talk about Facebook as we might about the Commodore.
And then I started paying attention to E-Mail. I receive maybe 60-70 E-Mails a day.  But, of that number, I receive maybe one from a real person, a friend or family member.  The rest are either news, or commercial enterprises trying to sell me something.  I get e-mails from The Emirates, who want me to travel there. I get several a day from V-Tech, Radio Shack, Sears,  BH Photo, LD Products, Group-on. . . but you get the message. I also get newsy stuff several times daily from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Manchester Guardian, the BBC, the Canadian service (CBC) the Australian service (ABC) and a half dozen other news outlets.  But from people?? Oh my, No.
Now, the other thing I notice is that I get periodic e-mails from the Nigerian scam folks, in its many incarnations, or I get notices from our ISP that they detected and deleted from our inbox a virus-laden e-mail.  So, the risks of being on the Internet are increasing daily. So, that makes me wonder about the half life of E-Mail (at least the open road kind of E-Mail). I know that many businesses and health entities use E-Mail as in-house communications channels and those might be different.
I am wondering when ordinary folks, the ones being targeted by our commercial NSA-like entities, will tire of E-Mail, and then tire of the Internet itself because of the risks and the annoyance factor of commercials.  So, does the “open-Internet” itself have a half life fast closing on itself and degrading as we speak?
What then—go back to writing letters?  I wondered about Smart-Phones, which have replaced conventional desktop computers for our teen friends. They largely don’t use desktop communications, preferring to texting, tweeting, et al, on their Smartphones. But Smartphone’s are just little computers connected to the Internet, so they are as likely as PCs to be overloaded with commerce as the PC applications, and our teen friends may begin moving to other safer high grounds (where old folks fear to tread). Not sure where that might be, but look to your teens for news of the new forms (I understand that teens have discovered that two tin cans, connected by a string performs well as a communications device. Think of that. What will they think of next??
And on another of our exoplanets, it is said that the Mexican police, aided by our American crime fighters, have captured El Chapo, the king of drugs. They plan to incarcerate him, at least until he can buy and renovate their prison system and then move it to the  Cayman Islands. But, with this news, I began to wonder about our global banks, you know, the ones that have been handling his cash transactions and managing his off-shore banks. What ever will they do now that they are losing their biggest customer? Bank bonuses may well be on the way down. Poor babies.

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