If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the Internet is great at producing intense reactions to nonessential things.
Our computers and smartphones already have a frightening amount of information about us — what we buy, what we watch, what ailments we fear we have. The connected home increases the amount of that information exponentially, yet scant to zero efforts are in place to protect consumer privacy and security. You may be able to get your phone to project bright colors if your window sensor detects a burglar, but what is protecting you from your phone?
What the products on display have in common is that they don’t solve problems people actually have. Technology is integrated not because it is necessary, but because the technology exists to integrate it — and because it will enable companies to sell you stuff you never knew you were missing.
It was the gateway to the early web. It was a cool company with a great name. Netscape—back in the mid ’90s, it evoked this wide open frontier with all sorts of possibilities.
An early pioneer of tech arrogance: Netscape had a certain air of irreverence that piqued the media’s intrigue and helped shape Silicon Valley culture. The company was loud, brash, and obnoxious, and it didn’t care about playing by others’ rules.
At one point in the 1990s, 50% of all CDs produced worldwide were for AOL.
Snapchat ‘lets you be lazy. You don’t have to think of something substantive to say or consider how it’s going to be interpreted. Snapchat helps you understand tonality much quicker than texting. A teen said, “A ‘hey’ over text can be really loaded, but if you see it over Snapchat with a photo you can tell that it’s a friendly ‘hey.’”
What more people are doing, though, instead of getting rid of their cable TV, is that they’re actually getting rid of their home Internet service. 1% of households, in fact—which may still seem like a small number, but it’s more than twice as big as the number of cable cord cutters. These people choose to rely on free WiFi offered by places like libraries and coffee shops, they use the Internet at work, or most significantly, they rely on their smartphone data plan.
At least 7,776 languages are in use in the greater offline world … Less than five percent of languages in use now exist online.
The Internet rewards the curious. I don’t think it has as many positive effects on the incurious. If you just go there to follow Justin Beiber around, it’s not necessarily going to expand your intellectual world. No disrespect to Justin Beiber.
The internet makes human desires more easily attainable. In other words, it offers convenience. Convenience on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease. If you study what the really big things on the internet are, you realize they are masters at making things fast and not making people think.
Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company. Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time. Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.
Consider what happens to text once you submit it to Facebook. Unless it’s a private message, it is likely both public and permanent. A message you posted five years ago, which felt like it was visible only to a small group of friends, still exists on your timelines, where it has become more, not less, visible over time. Facebook is now in the process of making that post searchable, making it more visible than ever and fundamentally changing what it is — not a post on a wall, or on a profile, but a field in a searchable database. Facebook’s effect on data is to make it permanent, to make it easy to find. Facebook memorializes everything you give it, including likes, comments, and reactions — an awkward layer that exists to assure you of engagement, which contrasts sharply with Snapchat’s characteristically ephemeral but deeply satisfying instant read receipts.
Snapchat’s effect on all data is to cause it to deteriorate… If you do nothing on Snapchat, you disappear from Snapchat. This is a profound difference: Facebook profiles stay public whether or not they’re current, and only change if you update or delete them. Snapchat profiles only exist when you ask them to, and they go away as soon as you stop thinking about them.
What was most depressing for many (including me) about the Horse_ebooks revelations was that this magical bot, which appeared to have no purpose other than unintentional hilarity and randomness, was just a marketing pitch for a book or movie deal. It’s a bit like hearing your favorite old rock-and-roll or punk tune used as the backdrop for a shoe commercial — there’s almost an implicit sense of betrayal.