October 22, 2021

Snippet: Facebook is Too Big, Fail ☍

M.G. Siegler:

Facebook is not dying as a business, but they’ve died as a brand. The company needs to move on to ‘what’s next’ as quickly as possible to distance themselves from the social network. This is nothing new, of course — I wrote this over six years ago. They’ve more or less been trying to do this for years. But even in creating an umbrella company, they called it ‘Facebook’, which was dumb. It was the exact opposite of what they should have done. Because, again, Facebook, the brand, is over.

It seems pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg both realizes this and doesn’t want to realize this. But the latter is his mistake. It’s too late and the longer he and they take to realize this, the worse off the company will be as a result. They might think that all of this will blow over, as it always does, or that all of this is “illogical”, which it also is to some extent. But again, that doesn’t matter. There’s the rationalist world and then there’s the reality of the situation. The powers that be have chosen Facebook as the poster child. The tech elites are tired of Facebook. And the younger generation has no desire to use Facebook. So…

I think when Facebook was starting out, we all liked it, but were used to a new social network taking over every few years—it replaced Friendster and MySpace and we assumed Twitter or something else would eventually pick up, except Facebook is still around. People feel anxious about leaving because they might miss out. Nonetheless, the growth isn’t there and it might be time to think about what’s next for the company.

October 9, 2021

Snippet: Japan’s Love Affair with the Fax Machine ☍

Hansun Hsiung for The Conversation:

Fast forward to 2021, and Japan’s high-tech image is peeling away. “Japan needs a software update”, the New York Times tells us. The country’s octogenarian IT minister, Naokazu Takemoto, has been mocked for his inability to maintain a functioning website. Japan, it seems, is lagging behind in the global race to digitise, despite being the home of Panasonic and Mitsubishi, of bullet trains and neon-lit urban life.

And nowhere is this better symbolised than in the country’s ongoing love affair with the fax machine. The 20th-century technology is still a fixture in many Japanese offices, where there remains an insistence on paper documents bearing personal seals. But rather than asking why Japanese businesses have patiently stood by their buzzing fax machines, perhaps we should really be asking: why do we find it so surprising? Why do representations equating Japan to high technologies persist so tenaciously, despite evidence to the contrary?

While fax machines haven’t gone away entirely here, it has always fascinated me how they were something that seemed extremely common in Japan even recently.

Snippet: A Text Message Routing Company Suffered a Five-Year-Long Breach ☍

Ian Carlos Campbell for The Verge:

Syniverse, a telecom company that helps carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T route messages between each other and other carriers abroad, disclosed last week that it was the subject of a possible five year long hack. If the name Syniverse sounds familiar, the company was also responsible for the disappearance of a swath of Valentine’s Day text messages in 2019.

The hack in question was brought to light in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Syniverse published last week. In it, Syniverse shares that in May 2021 it “became aware of unauthorized access to its operational and information technology systems by an unknown individual or organization.” The company did its due diligence notifying law enforcement and conducting an internal investigation, resulting in the discovery that the security breach first started in May 2016. That’s five years of (possibly) unfettered access.

I don’t really understand why Syniverse needs to exist in the first place and why they’re not under more scrutiny. In the US, there’s only a handful of carriers (if you count the big three and the regionals), so why can’t they handle something as basic as text message routing? At this point, with so many things outsourced, do the telecom companies do anything themselves?

Snippet: In Case Brent Doesn’t Write There Again ☍

Brent Simmons:

This blog is almost 22 years old, and in all that time I’ve been solid about posting regularly — until this recent dry spell.

I skipped the summer. Last post was in June. There was just one that month, and just one in May.

I have an explanation: while my health and physical circumstances are unchanged and, happily, fine, I have not felt the drive to write here that I always felt.

*Checks footer*…oh, I’ve also been doing this for 22 years and *checks sparse list of recent posts* things have also slowed down here. I get what Simmons is going through—while there’s a lot of technology-related things to talk about, so much of it is mature or I’ve already expressed an opinion on. The Facebook outage? Probably would’ve been worth a post in 2007. New iPhones? Even if I didn’t get one, would’ve been worth covering.

Instead, I’ve sort of found in the last year that I want to cover or share things that I think are worth posting, rather than just because it’s a big story or everyone else is covering it somehow. It might have changed the frequency of posts, but I’ll be sticking around for a bit. If you’re subscribed via RSS or Twitter, thank you. If not, there are a number of ways to (shameless plug).

Snippet: Ted Lasso is No Superhero (He’s Even Better Than That) ☍

Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic (via Matt Birchler):

One character alone can’t fully rid pop culture’s masculine paradigm of violence, cruelty, and destruction, a millennia-old model. (Although Gareth Southgate exists, so anything’s possible.) But the impact the series has had among viewers is pronounced because Ted is such a unicorn in a landscape of TV fathers and father figures who torture their children, murder their mistresses, cheat with interns, or fail their family altogether.

Considering my last post, it’s a bit weird to see the the various dynamics towards the end of this season of Ted Lasso (avoiding spoilers).

I found the first season wonderful, beingso upbeat and sweet in a time that we needed it. While the second season had its criticisms, I thought it did a wonderful job demonstrating the growth and development of characters and those interpersonal relationships. There’s not some obvious conflict, and I think that caused some people to complain there was no “villain” like Rebecca in the first season. I think it took some chances, and while some did not pay off, there were a lot of challenging and complex storylines, and the finale managed to wrap up many and set the stage for season three.

Finally, for what it’s worth, there’s a notion (including in Gilbert’s article) that the development of the Nate character might have been something cooked up for this season, but it seems some things were there from the very start.