Posts tagged ‘CNN’


In the ‘I told you so’ file: Google Plus could be stripped for parts, says Quartz

03.03.2015

Quartz reckons Google Plus is going to be stripped for parts: it’s going the way of Google Wave and Google Buzz.
   I was consistent from the start about Google Plus, unlike a good part of the tech press, which drank the Google Kool-Aid and talked about how it would be a Facebook-killer.
   The logic was never there to begin with. If Google organized the internet, and Facebook organized your friends, then what on earth was Google Plus for?
   I have an account and I even like the user interface, despite my misgivings about Google.
   But I never saw a real purpose for it. Mine tends to be used to post warnings about Google, because I enjoy irony. On occasion it didn’t even work.
   I have friends who are Plus fans, because they have built up decent followings and have, I presume, more intimate discussions on there than one would have on Facebook, which, if you are like me, has friends from all walks of life. Personally, I prefer seeing different viewpoints so I can learn about how others think—I’m seldom dismissive of thoughts that disagree with my own unless that person has proved to waste my time with content-less drivel on too many occasions—so I never really had a need to build up a new bunch of folks who might share a narrower range of interests with me.
   However, for me, my Google Plus activity never even exceeded my Myspace activity. And these days, Myspace is in the crapper again, introducing a YouTube player that plays songs that have no relationship to the ones you choose. It has ceased to be a viable platform despite a very good interface and music library at the time of its second coming. After epic fails on the part of Myspace to play the correct music, I gave up on it, and I haven’t been back for a long time.
   Google Plus never did a thing for me, and now I see from the Quartz article that Google is changing its narrative again.
   â€˜For us, Google Plus was always two things, a stream and a social layer. The stream has a passionate community of users, but the second goal was larger for us. We’re at a point where things like photos and communications are very important, we’re reorganizing around that. Hangouts will still exist,’ said Android boss Sundar Pichai.
   Apparently it was meant to be a “social layer” from the start. You could argue that this isn’t entirely inaccurate, if you read Google’s launch blog post about Plus. However, there’s every sign it was meant to be a Facebook rival, and that’s what the tech press took from Google at the time. It was even called ‘Googbook’ internally. It was just like Microsoft Internet Explorer, trying to take on Netscape. Except Internet Explorer actually did much better in getting market share.
   The failure of Plus—sure, I could be premature, because Quartz‘s article is careful not to make this a dead cert—cements Gordon Kelly’s view that Google and Microsoft have swapped places to some extent. Microsoft is acting like an upstart, while Google is defending old businesses, resting on its laurels. Kelly also says:

   Google’s pillars of ads and search have become its Windows and Office. Both are being chipped away by more targeted advertising within social media and the compartmentalisation of an apps-based world. Your details and desires are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram more than in your Google search requests and we increasingly go to specific apps (eg weather) rather than web searching for it.
   The knock-on effect: Adsense is declining and Google’s search market share is currently at its lowest point in seven years. Like Microsoft had done with Windows and Office, Google understandably still tightly holds onto the duo as its primary revenue pillars but the future implies only further slow decline with no obvious escape route.
   Furthermore Google appears to be making another old Microsoft error: deprioritizing mobile.

The rest of the article makes a good read.
   If Facebook is becoming a thing of the past, and Google is rethinking Plus, then the latter half of the decade could be very interesting in terms of what new websites might take up our time.

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Posted in internet, media, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


Time for a rewatch: Reza Aslan interviewed on CNN about Muslim violence

14.01.2015

Found on my wall today. While it’s over three months old, the responses from Prof Reza Aslan of the University of California Riverside address a lot of the comments that have surfaced post-Charlie Hebdo head-on—which shows that we continue to go round and round the same arguments and not making an awful lot of progress.

   In October, he contrasted the coverage between Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian Muslim who murdered Cpl Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa, and the Norwegian Christian mass murderer Anders Breivik who killed 77 people, in an op–ed for CNN:

In the case of Bibeau, his violent behavior could have been influenced as much by his religious beliefs as by his documented mental problems, his extensive criminal past or his history of drug addiction. Yet, because Bibeau was a Muslim, it is simply assumed that the sole motivating factor for his abhorrent behavior was his religious beliefs …
   Nevertheless, a great deal of the media coverage surrounding [Breivik’s] actions seemed to take for granted that his crime had nothing to do with his Christian identity—that it was based instead on his right-wing ideology, or his anti-immigrant views, or his neglectful upbringing, or even, as Ayan Hirshi Ali famously argued, because his view that “Europe will be overrun by Islam” was being censored by a politically correct media, leaving him “no other choice but to use violence.”

   Aslan does accept that ‘religious beliefs can often lead to actions that violate basic human rights. It is also true that a great many of those actions are taking place right now among Muslims,’ which will require more than a blog post to analyse, but adds, ‘When we condemn an entire community of faith for sharing certain beliefs with extremists in their community, we end up alienating the very people who are best positioned to counter such extremism in the first place.’
   Aslan probably came to most people’s awareness after his interview on Fox News about his new book Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, where he was questioned why, as a Muslim, he would write a book about Jesus Christ.
   As a religion expert who has to defend his position academically—and in the mainstream media—Aslan makes a far more compelling case, backed by research, than some of the anti-Islamic rhetoric that has made a reappearance in social media lately.

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Posted in culture, general, media, USA | No Comments »


MH370: the simplest explanations are probably the best

18.03.2014

I have followed very little mainstream media coverage of Malaysian Airlines’ flight 370, apart from National Radio. It seems that not paying attention to mainstream media has made me clearer about what might have happened to it.
   All those way-out theories never held any sway for me. Or the idea about tracking cellphones or some of them clicking through to voicemail being a sign that the passengers were alive: don’t most cellphones do this when you are out of range? These just appeared to have been cooked up through sensationalism, by some media outlets wanting to fill air time or pages. The Malaysian government has managed to mess things up even further so there are meta-stories: stories within the story.
   Only two articles made it on to my Facebook wall, since Facebook appears to be the new Digg. The first was an engineer with a Ph.D., entitled, ‘Flight 370 did not explode; it vanished—really? That is your scientific argument?’. This was written three days after the aeroplane disappeared and kept things rather simple: the plane did not just vanish because that is a scientific impossibility. The writer goes on to explain why the black box signal had not been located, rationally and expertly. She believes that the plane could have gone down for an attempted emergency landing.
   The second was posted today on my wall, via Robert Catto. An experienced pilot, Chris Goodfellow, points out some basic facts on his Google Plus account. Goodfellow begins:

A lot of speculation about MH370. Terrorism, hijack, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN—almost disturbing.

   He obviously shares my concern at how the media have been filling us with water-cooler junk, and proceeds to have a simpler explanation. He continues (sic):

Two days later we hear of reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar meaning the plane is being tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca.
   When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and I searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest.
   The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do—you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.

   Goodfellow theorizes there was a mid-air fire and the plane did not make it, but that it was heading to Langkawi after the emergency broke out.
   Instinctively, this tragedy seems like a deeply unfortunate mid-air accident, and while these other theories might help families believe their loved ones are alive somewhere, I am sorry to say that I believe the two simplest explanations above. Of course, I would like the truth to come forth earlier so, if these experts are right, these families can commence mourning. Taking them through these unlikely possibilities—a hijacking with the plane descending below radar and landing on some Lost island among them—seems cruel and irresponsible.

PS.: Esquire has a complementary editorial on the mainstream media reporting—which apparently now includes a supernatural possibility. I’ve also head one where MH370 supposedly flew perfectly under another aeroplane, thereby evading detection. I’m delighted not to have entertained either first-hand.—JY

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Posted in internet, media | 3 Comments »


Ricky Gervais offends … actually, I don’t know whom

23.01.2011

Normally I think Piers Morgan is a plonker, and the time Jeremy Clarkson punched him at the BAFTAs remains one of entertainment’s best stories.
   However, I have enjoyed Life Stories, and he has been a worthy successor, in my mind, to Larry King. Of course it’s not the same show, but the important thing about interview shows is getting the guest to talk (Jonathan Ross take note). The Ricky Gervais interview was the first Piers Morgan Tonight I have seen.
   As to Gervais hosting the Golden Globes, I didn’t have a problem with his jokes. There were no jokes based on race or sexuality, as Gervais says in his interview (embedded below). I don’t believe he’s even offended anyone who’s religious. There were plenty about the Hollywood machine and current affairs. It just so happens that a lot of the people in that room are the subject of what society deems ‘current affairs’ today. And don’t people love topical humour?

   I have a lot of contacts Stateside and none have mentioned to me that they were offended. So all these media reports, mainly from the US, making Gervais out to have offended so many don’t ring true to me. Have most of these journalists gone up to some of Gervais’s roasted victims and enquired?
   A few journalists have tried to get some quotations, but they’re in the minority. One Hollywood Foreign Press Association rep was apparently offended, and that ‘several celebrities’ called up with complaints. Yeah, so offended that (s)he wouldn’t put his or her name to the remark, and revealed that the Association was not above reprimanding someone because they didn’t share the same sense of humour. And here I was, thinking the Golden Globes were supposed to be about the work. Maybe not:

Ricky will not be invited back to host the show next year, for sure … For sure any movie he makes he can forget about getting nominated. He humiliated the organization last night and went too far with several celebrities whose representatives have already called to complain.’

If that’s how the Association works unofficially, maybe Gervais was 100 per cent right to have aimed some of the jokes at it. (As to which member this was, find the one who keeps saying ‘For sure’, has a narrow mind, can’t see much worth in their name, and is the sort of person who thinks it’s right to target Gervais in their work but that it’s wrong for Gervais to target others in his.) The member might not have realized that even prior to hosting, Gervais said he wouldn’t be back for 2012.
   I agree with Gervais’s hint, though he does not say this expressly in Piers Morgan Tonight, that if some of these celebs were actually so narrow-minded as to be offended, they would not have got to where they are. In some of the post-Globes coverage I’ve seen at Lucire, there is no mention of celebrities fuming at one of the parties out of offence. You’d have to be quite petty to have a Ricky Gervais joke spoil your evening—because you’d then have to go after every single journo who wrote a cross word about you, and a not unsubstantial number of bloggers, too.
   So some reps apparently called the Association. Reps making mountains out of molehills to show their indispensability, perhaps?
   This isn’t about a US–UK humour divide, either, though I saw one remark that a British host could get away with this style in Britain. Didn’t the Americans come up with The Simpsons, whose early episodes had this very sort of humour, or The Critic and Family Guy? Or, if we are to look at live-action, Murphy Brown? Doesn’t Jon Stewart do something like this every weekday? Aren’t Sarah Palin jokes the sort of fodder Hollywood types engage in on an hourly basis?
   It’s too bad, because the 2012 Golden Globes’ ceremony will likely be a tepid affair hosted by someone entirely inappropriate and lacking. Just because a few prima donnas got their knickers in a twist because of their own behaviour (how dare Gervais talk about something that everyone knows about!), and a few other people got offended on behalf of some celebrities who themselves have already shrugged off the jokes.

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Posted in culture, humour, interests, media, TV, UK, USA | 2 Comments »