Digital companies work the same way as their extractive forebears. When a big box store moves to a new neighborhood, it undercuts local businesses and eventually becomes the sole retailer and employer in the region. With its local monopoly, it can then raise prices while lowering wages, reduce labor to part-time status, and externalize the costs of healthcare and food stamps to the government.
The net effect of the business on the community is extractive. The town becomes poorer, not richer. The corporation takes money out of the economy—out of the land and labor—and delivers it to its shareholders.
A digital business does the same thing, only faster. It picks an inefficiently run industry, like taxis or book publishing, and optimizes the system by cutting out most of the people who used to participate. So a taxi service platform charges drivers and passengers for a ride while externalizing the cost of the car, the roads, and the traffic to others. The bookselling website doesn’t care if authors or publishers make a sustainable income; it uses its sole buyer or “monopsony” power to force both sides to accept less money for their labor. The initial monopoly can then expand to other industries, like retail, movies, or cloud services.
Such businesses end up destroying the marketplaces on which they initially depend.
Douglas Rushkoff blames capitalism.
Cute little anecdote about the orientation of the logo on the back of Apple laptops.
Reminds me of the bat ring I used to wear,1 and the girl in high school art class who couldn’t deal with the fact I wore it so it appeared “head up” for other people looking at my hands. She was convinced rings should be worn so they appeared “correct” from the point-of-view of the wearer, not the viewer, so used to physically grab my hands and switch it around on me.
High school was wild, man.
Also, I will note Microsoft solves the “which way does the logo go” problem by having a logo on the backs of its Surfaces that’s both horizontally and vertically symmetrical. Hah! Take that, Steve Jobs!
- For like fifteen years. Eventually the cheap metal got so bent—the “ring” was basically in the shape of a D—it got too uncomfortable. [↩]
Tech isn’t just software anymore. They’re coming for ag, food, & manufacturing- & they’re bringing a negligent attitudes towards risk & safety that they learned in the cushy world of apps.
Those “ossified corporate structures” [in non-tech industries] that Silicon Valley hates so much because they “keep you from moving fast”? Yeah, a lot of them exist to keep top brass from doing hideously stupid things.
SV doesn’t see the need, because the mistakes that SV understands- broken code- can be fixed with software patches. Why do you need a social structure in the company that prevents errors, when you can just move fast, break things, & fix them?
Dr. Sarah Taber on industries.
This is totally one of those “Twitter threads that should be a blog post” but, mostly, I do think Taber glosses over the fact that all Really Real World industries have developed things like safety standards because governments made them.
Silicon Valley now is basically where manufacturing was in the late 1800s, with depressingly similar problems, as any disaffected former techgrrl1 who has, for example, just sat through all fifty-ish hours of Capital: Volume One would be forced to admit…
- Not naming any names or anything. [↩]
So I find stories like this kinda wild because Davey’s job in the SPACE DEMONS book is basically buying alien films and TV shows, and “redubbing” them with human actors for distribution in human-controlled space.
And it’s like… the tech to do that didn’t really exist in 2017 when I wrote the manuscript for that book. And now it totally does.
Editing photos of faces using basic sketches, and letting a GAN do the rest. Lets you add/change: earrings, glasses, hair style, dimples, & more.
Code: https://t.co/yuWgQ8EN3E pic.twitter.com/zleKI1TNDH
— Reza Zadeh (@Reza_Zadeh) February 21, 2019
With GANs, everyone’s a photo-realistic artist!
News Limited editors did not argue any of these points during our meeting, but by the end of the discussion it was clear that none of these facts was convincing for them. News Limited’s position regarding the NBN seemed to be one of principle. Never mind that the private sector would never build an NBN, or that the current market structure was flawed, or that government had a successful history of fixed-line infrastructure building. The view from News Limited’s side of the table was that the government just shouldn’t be building this sort of public infrastructure.
News Limited was not alone in its position. One of the most frequent comments I heard during the dozens of public speeches and presentations that I gave on the NBN was “Why are you building this? No commercial company would undertake this project. The returns are too low and the risks are too high.” That was precisely the reason the government was doing it, I would reply – because no purely commercial entity would undertake a project like the NBN.
Michael Quigley on infrastructure.
Quigley is, of course, the first and former head of NBN Co, the government-owned corporation established to deploy high-speed broadband throughout Australia. Particularly, as pointed out above, to regional and rural areas under-served by existing private sector telcos because, not to put too fine a point on it, there’s not enough profit in rolling out broadband internet across the desert.
To say that the NBN was sabotaged by right-wing and corporate interests would be putting it mildly. Again, as mentioned in the quote, News Limited (i.e. Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch’s media empire) was one of the prime saboteurs, aided by the existing commercial telcos, basically because, again, having to compete against nationalized infrastructure would cut into profits.
Tl;dr, what happened to the NBN—what was allowed to happen to the NBN—was nothing less than wholesale theft against the Australian public for the enrichment of a handful of millionaire CEOs and their boot-licking cronies.
If you want to know why I’ve pretty much never seriously run my site on a third-party host,2 this list is basically the answer.