Category: Opinion

Pichai is a mistake

Silicon Valley is still politely shrugging after the mildly interesting, but definitely important news broke yesterday that Alphabet’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, also the founders of Google, were “stepping aside” from their leadership positions. In a company blog post, the duo said it was time to simplify the two company’s command structures and that both of them would be replaced by Google’s current CEO Sundar Pichai, who has now assumed control of both companies. Well, at least on paper anyway. This story is both exciting – Alphabet is probably the most important company in the world – and boring. Did…

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Vladmir Putin is extricating Russia from the world-wide-web

Tonight, if you live in Russia, it’s time to party like it’s not yet 1989. Soviet KGB agent  President Vladmir Putin is on the brink of unveiling a wall. Some might call it the most beautiful wall the world’s ever seen. It’ll be huge. It’ll cover every square-centimeter of Russian border and, unlike the ridiculous fence we’re building here in the US, his will actually be effective: it keeps ideas out. Reuters today reported that Putin will execute a plan to “replace” Wikipedia with a state-run online encyclopedia. Per the report, the government will spend about $30 million (US) on the…

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Tesla’s Cybertruck looks weird, but so did Apple’s AirPods

Elon Musk warned us. Prior to launch, he’d repeatedly described the Cybertruck as something out of Blade Runner. In 2018, he literally claimed he didn’t care if people liked it, hinting at its divisive design. I should’ve paid attention. For all of Musk’s quirks, I didn’t expect him to roll out a low-poly PS1-looking batmobile last night. How is Tesla actually going to sell this to normal people? Well, probably the same way Apple managed to make AirPods a thing. Admittedly, part of me digs the look in a that-would-be-cool-in-a-movie type of way, but appreciating an aesthetic in a certain context is very different from thinking…

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Just putting it out there: I’m a sucker for influencer marketing

In this column, “Just putting this out there…,” we write about the odd ways we engage with tech and the unpopular opinions we form about it. You can read the rest of the articles in this series here. Hi, my name is Yessi and, even though I should know better, I’m a complete sucker for influencer marketing. While it brings me great shame to admit this, recent research suggests I’m not alone. The industry is huge. In 2017, eMarketer reported that marketers spent $570 million on influencer marketing globally. In 2018, a staggering $1.6 billion was funneled into sponsored posts on…

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Facebook let anti-vaxxers run rampant with misinformation ads, because money

Earlier this year Facebook said it would crack down on ads from groups peddling misinformation about vaccines. The announcement was heralded by medical professionals and pundits as a capstone in their efforts to fight the pro-disease movement. However, in the time since the announcement, Facebook‘s done the exact opposite. A recent study from researchers at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins shows that Facebook blocked pro-vaccination ads on the basis that they were too political, while simultaneously allowing hundreds of advertisements from anti-vaccination groups to display for millions of users. Many of these ads were targeted…

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