Publish, like, and find: building an open and curated ecosystem

Most ecosystems such as app stores are either open or curated. But why can’t we have both? Well, we can — all you need is three verbs: publish, find, and like. That goes for technology and anything else.

Usually there are two options when you want to publish an app: publish it to something like the iOS App Store (where people will find your app, but Apple reviewers can deny your submission) or just put it on your website (where it’s easy to publish, but there’s no guarantee anyone will see it.) Not the greatest set of options.

Isn’t there a way to combine the strengths of both of these to make for the best possible experience for both publishers and consumers? I think there is. It’s called an open and curated ecosystem. Let’s take a look at:

  • What open and curated ecosystems are
  • Examples of open and curated ecosystems
  • What you need to make an open and curated ecosystem
  • Examples of these ecosystems beyond just technology

and see if we can discover something about the power of crowdsourcing, innovation, and the three verbs publish, find, and like.

Curated vs. open ecosystems

The iOS App Store and open internet, among others, are app ecosystems — places where apps can be published and found. And I think the big factors that differentiate one ecosystem from another are whether the ecosystem is open, where anyone can publish apps and whether it is curated, where the best apps rise to the top and users are assured quality apps. That’s the major difference between the iOS store and the internet at large, which I mentioned earlier.

Let’s look at examples of curated and open ecosystems and what differentiates them.

5 invaluable free productivity apps for college

A few years ago I wrote about useful apps for high school — but now college is here, and it brings a whole new set of demands. Since I arrived at Harvard, I’ve had to do more, and my apps have had to do more too.

These new apps need to run on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS), sync seamlessly between them, and help me keep my data organized. They have to be versatile, robust, and easy-to-use. And they have to be free.

With that in mind, here are the five apps that I’ve relied on most at Harvard and that I recommend to anyone in college or anywhere else in life. They’re ranked in order of usefulness.

Evernote, Wunderlist, Mailbox, Sunrise, Pocket
5 free, essential apps for college: Evernote, Wunderlist, Mailbox, Sunrise, and Pocket.

Making some new Android version names

Cute graphic of android version evolution
From Cupcake to Jelly Bean, Android’s gotten cuter every version.

Android, the open source operating system for phones/tablets, has become really well known for their incredibly cute version nicknames – each version is named after a dessert, and they go alphabetically. So far they’ve had Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat (the latest one.)

Google must employ a team of geniuses to make these version names. So I’m going to try my hand at making some potential names. Here are a few I’ve thought of, in order:

  • Lemon Drop
  • Milkshake/Muffin

May the source be with you: an intro to open source software

Funny open-source cartoon with Tux
Open source software: anyone can edit it and make it even more awesome. Here’s a rundown of why.

Open source software. Sounds like another tech buzzword like agile development, MVC frameworks, waterfall models, and so on.

But really, it’s much more cool than all of those.

Simply put, open source software is software that anyone can edit. And because of that, it’s awesome. Read on to see how your favorite open source software (Firefox and Android, for example) works.

How it works

I think it’s easiest to explain open-source software with a little story. Get some popcorn – this has action, drama, and copyright infringement.

Can’t get enough Angry Birds? Play it online

Playing Angry Birds 1-1
A red bird crashing into a structure, killing a pig in the process

If your phone’s battery keeps dying on you because you spend all your time playing the wildly popular mobile game Angry Birds (or if you’re too cheap to buy Angry Birds), you should be pretty excited about this latest development.

You can now play Angry Birds online here. Here’s what you need:

  1. A decent browser (more on that later)
  2. Adobe Flash (sorry, iDevice users)

As the URL ( might hint, Angry Birds works best in Chrome. I’ve tried it on several browsers and here’s what I’ve found: