Here’s comments and links on what I enjoyed reading this week.
1. Facebook Facebook Facebook. The 2018 deluge continues. Which aspects seemed underreported? I’d say: A. Only a vocal minority care about privacy. B. Hence privacy is weaponized in a proxy war for what people really care about — Facebook’s power over news and which political tribe wins. C. Regulations will likely backfire, locking in Facebook’s dominance. D. Facebook’s leadership has a natural cultural affinity to globalist, elite, college educated, status-quo power. E. Yet Facebook’s economic incentives derive from broad based advertising, making them natural allies to populist nationalism. Perhaps you noticed a tension between those last two. Continue reading Saturday Links 14-Apr-2018: Facebook, China Tech fusing with government, Birds see magnetic fields, Media a side hustle for tech giants
Here’s what I most enjoyed reading this week.
1. End of Windows. An excellent play-by-play analysis by Ben Thompson on how Satya Nadella has shifted Microsoft away from it’s (massively successful) past, and towards it’s only realistic future. One where Windows is treated as a legacy business. link
Continue reading Saturday Links 07-Apr-2018 End of Windows, Harris and Klein and IQ, Wasps and Whales, 2001 is the best
Commentary and links on what I found interesting to read this week.
1. Middle Stone Age Tools 320k years old. Homo erectus (our ancestors) used Ascheulean stone hand axes. These are big pear shaped rocks for cutting and pounding. Whereas Homo sapiens used more advanced stone tools, termed Middle Stone Age. These include spear tips, scrapers, awls, etc. So the news this week is a paper Long-distance stone transport and pigment use in the earliest Middle Stone Age, pushing back the date of Middle State Age tools to 320k years ago. That’s 30k years earlier than previously known. These tools were also associated with pigment use, and transport of obsidian 100 km away, which implies trade networks. The main point is this new paper adds more support for a major shift in how we think humans evolved. The old view: Homo sapiens evolved modern physical form first, then only became modern behaviorally roughly 100-200k years later. See the wikipedia page behavioral modernity. Newer rising view (not yet reflected in wikipedia): Homo sapiens evolved out of the box with modern behaviors, or they followed very closely. Link to excellent Ed Yong piece.
Continue reading Saturday Links 17-Mar-2018 Human tools 320k years old, Children and paychecks, Drake plays Fortnite, astronaut DNA
1. President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely. Xi abolishing the decades old China communist party rule for term limits is undoubtedly the biggest news of the past week. New York Times piece is pretty good.
Continue reading Saturday Links 03-Mar-2018 President Xi, Elephant aDNA, tribalism, stock and flow
1. Chris Dixon Why Decentralization Matters. Dixon in top form. He covers how the decentralized internet of the 1980-2000s was built on open protocols. But then the internet became centralized in the current 2000-present era, under companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon. Then posits how decentralization will happen again under a new set of protocols built around cryptonetworks. I find the second half endorsing cryptonetworks as the obvious next wave of decentralization more speculative, especially since the killer app for cryptonetworks remain unclear. But Dixon is very sharp and my inclination would be he’s generally correct. Link. Also, if you subscribe ($), Ben Thompson comments on Dixon as well. Here’s one key chart from Dixon’s post.
Continue reading Saturday Links 24-Feb-2018 (part 2). Decentralized crtyponetworks, Neatherthal art, STEM Women, Magic Leap becoming Segway
Note: I’m doing two Saturday link posts today, part 1 and part 2. Why? I missed last week Feb 17 due to bronchitis. Which was bad, but I’m fine now a week later. So with two weeks worth of links/commentary, I decided to split the links into two separate posts.
1. Cheddar man. The BBC’s Channel 4 TV headline their coverage with the below rendition of the 10,000 year old Briton with blue eyes and dark skin.
Continue reading Saturday Links 24-Feb-2018 (part 1). Cheddar Man, YIMBY housing, musical puberty, Alto’s Odyssey
1. Subscription news will inevitably skew partisan. The journalistic code of objective news is a legacy from last century. With only three national TV stations and at most a handful of newspapers per city, news gatekeepers had monopoly power. And that power led to a journalistic code of balance, showing two sides to every story. What Jay Rosen calls the view from nowhere. Fine. This gloss of impartiality was helpful in its day, and clearly in the public interest. But what’s less obvious is a second support for the view from nowhere: advertising. Journalism funded by advertising created powerful financial incentives to reach a mass audience and exclude no one. These two great pillars supporting journalism’s (now stubbornly legacy) culture have crumbled to dust. The internet took away the news monopoly. And now is taking away advertising. Moving journalism towards subscriptions. And don’t get me wrong. Subscriptions are great! A viable way to support news in our internet age. With an honorably history going back to the earliest subscription print magazines. But let’s not fool ourselves. The subscription model, like the loss of monopoly, skews incentives strongly towards having an actual point of view. That is, towards partisanship. The hard job of today’s journalists is to exercise the omniscient ghost Walter Cronkite, still haunting our newspaper dreams. And instead find an honest kind of partisanship appropriate for today. Perhaps, if so inclined, attempting highbrow partisan. Say the Jacobin (subscription since 2010) or The Economist (subscription since 1843, predating the 20th century mass media era!). And with that, here’s Alex Tabarrok:
I’d add one more factor to Potter’s analysis. Since the advertisers care about eyeballs, advertisement-funded media are incentivized to produce more eyeballs. Such incentives tends to encourage lowest-common-denominator entertainment but also more political balance. Subscription-funded media, in contrast, face a tradeoff: subscribers want content that supports their world view so moderating the content to appeal to a larger audience will likely reduce the price that any one reader is willing to pay. Revenues are therefore larger with a smaller but more political extreme audience.
Continue reading Saturday Links 10-Feb-2018 Subscription news is innately partisan, Voice UI, Europa and Enceladus, Hobbits back to the trees