My friend Richard MacManus commemorated the 14th anniversary of ReadWrite, an online publication he founded as a blog (then called ReadWriteWeb) in 2003, by examining blogging and how the open web has suffered with the rise of Facebook and others.
It’s worth a read, and earlier tonight I fed in the following comment.
I remember those days well, although my progress was probably the opposite of yours, and, in my circles, blogging began very selfishly. Lucire began as a publication, laid out the old-school way with HTML, and one of the first sites in the fashion sector to add a blog was a very crappy one where it was about an ill-informed and somewhat amoral editorâs point of view. For years I refused to blog, preferring to continue publishing an online magazine.
Come 2002, and we at the Medinge Group [as it then was; we’ve since dropped the definite article] were planning a book called Beyond Branding. One of the thoughts was that we needed one of these newfangled blogs to promote the book, and to add to it for our readers. I was one (the only?) dissenter at the June 2003 meeting, saying that, as far as my contacts were concerned, blogging was for tossers. (Obviously, I didnât know you back in those days, and didnât frequent ReadWriteWeb.) [Hugh MacLeod might agree with me though.] By August 2003 it had been set up, and I designed the template for it to match the rest of the bookâs artwork. How wrong I was in June. The blog began (and finished, in 2006) with posts in the altruistic, passionate spirit of RWW, and before long (I think it was September 2003), I joined my friends and colleagues.
An excerpt from the Beyond Branding Blog index page.
In 2006, I went off and did my own blog, and even though there were hundreds of thousands (millions?) of blogs by now, decent bloggers were still few. I say this because within the first few weeks, a major German newspaper was already quoting my blog, and I got my first al-Jazeera English gig as a result of my blogging a few years later. It was the province of the passionate writer, and the good ones still got noticed.
I still have faith in the blogosphere simply because social media, as you say, have different motives and shared links are fleeting. Want to find a decent post you made on Facebook five years ago? Good luck. Social media might be good for instant gratificationâyour friends will like stuff you writeâbut so what? Where are the analysis and the passion? I agree with everything you say here, Richard: the current media arenât the same, and thereâs still a place for long-form blogging. The fact I am commenting (after two others) shows there is. Itâs a better place to exchange thoughts, and at least here weâre spared Facebook pushing malware on to people (no, not phishing: Facebook itself).
Eleven years on, and Iâm still blogging at my own space. I even manage a collective blogging site for a friend, called Blogcozy. My Tumblr began in 2007 and itâs still going. We should be going away from the big sites, because thereâs one more danger that I should point out.
Google, Facebook et al are the establishment now, and, as such, they prop up others in the establishment. Google News was once meritorious, now it favours big media names ahead of independents. This dangerously drowns out those independent voices, and credible writers and viewpoints can get lost. The only exception I can think of is The Intercept, which gets noticed on a wide scale.
Take this argument further and is there still the same encouragement for innovators to give it a go, as we did in the early 2000s, when we realize that our work might never be seen, or if it is to be seen, we need deep pockets to get it seen?
Maybe we need to encourage people to go away from these walled gardens, to find ways to promote the passionate voices again. Maybe a future search engineâor a current one that sees the lightâcould have a search specifically for these so weâre not reliant on the same old voices and the same old sites. And Iâm sure there are other ways besides. For I see little point in posting on places that lack âcharismaâ, as you put it. They just donât excite me as much as discovering a blog I really like, and sticking with it. With Facebookâs personal sharing down 25 and 29 per cent in 2015 and 2016 respectively, there is a shift away from uninspiring, privacy-destroying places. Hopefully we can catch them at more compelling and interesting blogs and make them feel at home.
Above: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Earlier this month, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote an open letter expressing his concerns about the evolution of his invention, the World Wide Web. (Interestingly, he writes the term all in lowercase.)
It wasnât just about âfake newsâ, which is how the media have reported it. His first concern was, in fact, about our losing control over our personal data, and determining when and with whom we share them. Itâs something Iâve touched on regularly since 2011, when Google breached its own stated policies over user-preference collection for advertising purposes, something that Facebook appears to be following suit with mid-decade. This was long before Edward Snowden blew the lid on his governmentâs monitoring, something thatâs happening to citizens of other occidental nations, too.
Sir Tim writes, âThrough collaboration withâor coercion ofâcompanies, governments are also increasingly watching our every move online, and passing extreme laws that trample on our rights to privacy. In repressive regimes, itâs easy to see the harm that can be causedâbloggers can be arrested or killed, and political opponents can be monitored. But even in countries where we believe governments have citizensâ best interests at heart, watching everyone, all the time is simply going too far. It creates a chilling effect on free speech and stops the web from being used as a space to explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality or religion.â
But the one that struck me as very pertinent to publishing is Sir Timâs second point. Itâs the one that most news outlets seized on, linking it back to âfake newsâ, a term now corrupted by the executive branch of the US Government when attacking coverage that it doesnât like. However, Sir Timâs points were far broader than that. And itâs evident how his first point links to his second.
Itâs not hard to see that there is biased coverage on both the right and right wings of US politics (interestingly, they call it left and right), although Sir Tim points to how âa handful of social media sites or search enginesâ show us the things that appeal to our own biases through their algorithms. âFake newsâ then spreads through these algorithms because they play to our prejudices. He writes, âthose with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain.â These sites are able to determine what we see based on the data weâve given them, willingly or unwillingly.
Itâs so far from the ideals of the World Wide Web that itâs sad that the medium, which was once so expansive and inspirational as we surfed from one site to the next to read and absorb information, has come to this: a tool for becoming more insular, the first path to the idiocracy.
Google, as I wrote last year, biases itself toward larger sites, no longer rewarding the media outlet that breaks a news item. The incentive to be that maverick medium is, therefore, lessened greatly online, because the web isnât being ranked on merit by the largest player in the search-engine business. Itâs why Duck Duck Go, which doesnât collect user data, gives search results that are generally fairer. We think itâs important to learn alternative viewpoints, especially in politics, otherwise the division that we already see in some countries will only deepenâand at worst this can lead to war. In peacetime countries, a compatriot with opposing political thoughts is not our enemy.
Facebookâs continued data collection of user preferences is also dangerous. Even after users opt out, Facebookâs ad preferencesâ page demonstrates that it will keep collecting. Whether or not Facebook then uses these preferences is unknownâcertainly Facebook itself clams upâbut since the site reports journalists who alert them to kiddie porn, kicks off drag queens after saying they wouldnât, and forces people to download software in the guise of malware detection, who knows if any of Facebookâs positions are real or merely âfake newsâ? Knowing the misdeeds of sites like Facebookâand Google which itself has been found guilty of hackingâdo they actually deserve our ongoing support?
Of course I have an interest in getting people to look beyond the same-again players, because I run one media outlet that isnât among them. But we have an interest to seek information from the independents, and to support a fair and neutral internet. We may learn an angle we hadnât explored before, or we may find news and features others arenât covering. Better yet, we may learn alternative viewpoints that break us out of our prejudices. Surely we canât be that scared of learning about alternatives (maybe one that is better than what we believe), or having a reasoned debate based on fact rather than emotion or hatred? And if you are sharing on social media, do you want to be one of the sheep who uses the same click-bait as everyone else, or show that youâre someone whoâs capable of independent thought?
It shouldnât be that difficult to distinguish fake-news sites from legitimate media (even though the line gets blurred) by looking at how well something is subedited and how many spelling mistakes there are. Perhaps the headlines are less emotive. There is a tier of independent media that deserves your support, whether it is this site or many competing ones that weâve linked ourselves. Going beyond the same-again sources can only benefit us all.
Above: Brave Bison’s predecessor, Rightster, left much to be desired in how it dealt with publishers, while investment commentators had concerns, too.
Twenty-sixteen had some strange developments on the publishing front.
First, we noticed Alexa rankings for a lot of sites changed. Facebook itself went from second to third, where it has stayed. Our own sites dropped as well, across the board, even though our own stats showed that traffic was pretty much where it was. In Autocadeâs case, it was rising quickly.
We checked, and Alexa had announced that it had increased its panel again in 2016. There was an announcement about this in 2014, but things improved even more greatly during the last Gregorian calendar year, specifically in April. (April 2016, it seems, was a huge month of change: read on.) This means Alexa began sampling more people to get a more accurate picture. Given that Facebook fell as well as us, then we drew the conclusion that the new panel must include audiences in China and other non-Anglophone places. It makes sense: Alexa is a global service and should take global data points. Never mind that weâve suffered as a result, we actually agree with this approach. And weâre taking steps in 2017 to look at capturing extra traffic with our content.
Alexa, when we approached them, said it could not comment about the origins of the panellists. Again, fair enough. Weâve made an educated guess and will work accordingly.
Secondly, there were two ad networks whose advertising disappeared off our sites. The first, Gorilla Nation, started dropping off long before 2016. In 2015, we asked why and were asked to fill out some form relating to Google ads. Anyone whoâs followed this blog will know why that was unpalatable to usâand we want to make sure our readers donât fall victim to Googleâs snooping, either. Iâm not saying that Google ads donât appear at allâitâs the largest advertising network in the world, and its tentacles are everywhereâbut if I can avoid opening our properties up to Google willingly, then Iâll do so.
Itâs a shame because weâve worked exceedingly well with Gorilla Nation and found them very professional.
We have, sadly, entered an era whereâas found by my friend and colleague Bill Shepherdâonline advertising is controlled by a duopoly. In The New York Times, April 18, 2016 (italics added): âAdvertisers adjusted spending accordingly. In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook, said Brian Nowak, a Morgan Stanley analyst.â I donât think this is fair, as theyâre not the ones generating the content. Google has also managed to game services like Adblock Plus: theyâve paid for their ads not to be blocked. (Better has more information on why certain ad blockers are ineffective.) Itâs not difficult to see why native advertising has increased, and this is generally more favourable to the publisher. In 2017, itâs time to build up the advertising side again: two years ago we already saw quarters where online overtook print in terms of ad revenue.
Burst Media’s ads also disappeared, and we had been working with them since 1998. Now called Rhythm One, they responded, âWe recently migrated to a new platform and your account was flagged by an automated process as part of that. All that being saidâwe can absolutely get you live again.â That was April. I added one of their team to Skype, as requested, but we never connectedâthe helpful staff member wasnât around when I called in. Again, a bit of a shame. As I wrote this blog post, I sent another message just to see if we could deal with the matter via email rather than real-time on Skype.
At least this wasnât a unilateral cessation of a business arrangement, which Rightster sprung on us without notice in April. Rightster’s Christos Constantinou wrote, âIt is with regret that we inform you that from yesterday we ceased providing video content services to your account.â This wasnât the first change Rightster sprung on usâits code had changed in the past, leaving big gaps in our online layoutsâand soon after, everyone there clammed up, despite an initial email from another Rightster staffer that feigned surprise at what had happened. Mr Constantinou never picked up phone calls made since that point, and we couldnât get an answer out of them. No breaches of their terms and conditions were ever made by us.
We were only interested in a small handful of their video sources anyway, all of whom exist on other platforms, so one would have thought that it was to Rightsterâs advantage to continue working with a well respected brand (Lucire). A bit of digging discovered that the firm was not in good shape: a pre-tax loss in the first half of 2015 of ÂŁ11Â·5 million, with shares trading in October of that year at 10Â·50p per share, down from its float price of 60p. That year, it was forecast by Share Prophets that things would only get worse for the firm, and they were proved right within months. Not long after ceasing to work with us (and presumably others), Rightster became Brave Bison Group, restructured, and became a âsocial video broadcasterâ, but it was still burning cash (to the tune of ÂŁ1Â·3 million, according to the same website in July 2016).
Gorilla Nation and Burstâs slots have largely been replaced by other networks as well as ads secured in-house, while Rightster effectively did us a favour, though its opaqueness didnât help. In fact, when they didnât answer questions, it was only natural to surf online to investigate what was going on. Initially, there was some negative stuff about Burst, though my concerns were put to rest when they emailed me back. With Rightster, there was no such solace: finding all the news about the firm being a lemon confirmed to me that we were actually very lucky to have them farewell us.
We revived an old player that we used, through Springboard, itself linked to Gorilla Nation, so weâre still serving advertising from them, just in a different form. Video content has not vanished from the Lucire sites, for those who are interested in it.
How a company behaves can be linked to how well it ultimately performs, and what itâs worth. Given our treatment by Rightster, it wasnât that surprising to learn that something was rotten in Denmark (or London). Maybe that first staff member was genuinely surprised, with employees not being told about their company running out of money. And unless things have truly changed within, it could well continue to function dysfunctionally, which will give those AIM columnists more ammunition.
Top Earlier today, attempting to get into Style.com meant a virus warningâthe only trace of this curiosity is in the web history. AboveStyle.com is back, with a note that it will be transforming into an e-tail site.
As promised to the MMBA 505 class at Victoria University of Wellington last night, here are my slides. My thanks to Dr Kala Retna for inviting me along as the guest speaker. To the students: thank you for attending at such a late hour. MBAs are hard work.
I just realized I used to have a whole page of downloadable slides, which I believe we removed when we redid the site for the 2013 Wellington mayoral election. It might be time to reinstate the page with the presentations I’ve been doing here and abroad. Thoughts on Leadership is probably self-explanatory as a title, with my main five points being:
1. Be the first.
2. Prove something can be done when conventional wisdom says it canât be.
3. Change the world for the better.
4. Break glass ceilings wherever you can find them.
5. Find the people who understand your vision.
The first four tend to be the “rules” that have guided me, while the fifth is one I had to learn the hard way some years ago, and can retitled: ‘Find the people who understand your vision and don’t get suckered by those who spout buzzwords.’ As a firm we tend to be a bit more of a closed shop than we used to be, and like any other, we get our share of fakes trying to ride off our coat-tails. Lucire seems to attract quite a few, in particular, which is what the fifth point addresses in some part.
For a bit of levity after the academic stuff, there’s always this great podcast by Mike Riversdale and Raj Khushal, published today with me as their guest, as part of their ongoing Access Granted series. Only a little bit has been cut for commercial sensitivity, and the rest is a bit of light-hearted banterâthe sort you’d have between mates, and I have known Mike and Raj for many yearsâwith no hair-pulling.
For the last few years, Iâve looked back at the events of the year in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. (In fact, in 2009, I looked back at the decade.) Tumblrâs the place I look at these days for these summaries, since it tends to have my random thoughts, ones complemented by very little critical thinking. They tell me what piqued my interest over the year.
These days, Iâve been posting more about the TV show I watch the most regularly, the German Alarm fĂŒr Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei. A good part of my Tumblr, at least, and of Danielle Careyâs, whom I first connected with via this blog, features screen shots and other photographs from it. But Cobra 11 asideâand for those âculturedâ Germans who tell me itâs the worst show on their telly, may I remind you that you still make Das Traumschiff?âI still will be influenced by everyday events.
So what do I spy?
Sadly, despite my intent in wanting to blog humorously, it turns out that 2014 doesnât necessarily give us a lot to laugh about. And weâve had over a year after that Mayan calendar gag, and 13 years after Y2K. Itâs still not time to laugh yet.
I made a spoof English Hustle poster given all the hype about American Hustle, which seems to have, prima facie, the same idea. It meets with Adrian Lesterâs approval (well, he said, âHa,â which I gather is positive).
I post about Idris Elba giving a response about the James Bond character. (Slightly ahead of my time, as it turns out.)
Robert Catto wrote of Justin Bieberâs arrest: âSo, J. Biebs is arrested for racing a rented Lamborghini in a residential neighbourhood while under the influence (of drugs and alcohol) while on an expired license, resisting arrest, and a bunch of previous stuff including egging a neighbourâs house. With that many accusations being thrown at him, this can only mean one thing.
âThe race for Mayor of Toronto just got interesting.â
I wrote to a friend, âIf there was a Facebook New Zealand Ltd. registered here then it might make more sense ensuring that there were fewer loopholes for that company to minimize its tax obligations, but the fact is there isnât. Either major party would be better off encouraging New Zealand to be the head office for global corporations, or encourage good New Zealand businesses to become global players, if this was an issue (and I believe that it is). There is this thing called the internet that they may have heard of, but both parties have seen it as the enemy (e.g. the whole furore over s. 92A, first proposed by Labour, enacted by National).
âRight now, we have some policy and procedural problems preventing us from becoming more effective exporters.
âItâs no coincidence that I took an innovation tack in my two mayoral campaigns. If central government was too slow in acting to capture or create these players, then I was going to do it at a local level.â
And there are $700 trillion (I imagine that means $700 billion, if you used the old definitionsâ12 zeroes after the 700) worth of derivatives yet to implode, according to I Acknowledge. Global GDP is $69Â·4 (American) trillion a year. âThis means that (primarily) Wall Street and the City of London have run up phantom paper debts of more than ten times of the annual earnings of the entire planet.â
The Sochi Olympics: in Soviet Russia, Olympics watch you! Dmitry Kozak, the deputy PM, says that westerners are deliberately sabotaging things there. How does he know? âWe have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day.â Sports Illustrated does an Air New Zealand safety video.
This was the month I first saw the graphic containing a version of these words: âJesus was a guy who was a peaceful, radical, nonviolent revolutionary, who hung around with lepers, hookers, and criminals, who never spoke English, was not an American citizen, a man who was anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-public prayer (yes he was Matthew 6:5), anti-death penalty but never once remotely anti-gay, didnât mention abortion, didnât mention premarital sex, a man who never justified torture, who never called the poor âlazyâ, who never asked a leper for a co-pay, who never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, who was a long haired, brown skinned (thatâs in revelations), homeless, middle eastern Jew? Of course, thatâs only if you believe whatâs actually in the Bibleâ (sic). For those who want a response, this blog post answers the points from a Catholic point of view, but the original quoteâs not completely off-base.
My friend Dmitry protests in Moskva against Russiaâs actions in the Crimea. This was posted on this blog at the time. He reports things arenât all rosy in Russia when it comes to free speech.
Another friend, Carolyn Enting, gets her mug in the Upper Hutt Leader after writing her first fictional book, The Medallion of Auratus.
MH370 goes missing.
And this great cartoon, called âIf Breaking Bad Had Been Set in the UKâ:
I call Lupita Nyongâo âWoman of the Year 2014â.
A post featuring Robin Williams (before that horrible moment in August), where he talks about the influence of Peter Sellers and Dr Strangelove on him. I seem to have posted a lot of Robin that month, from his CBS TV show, The Crazy Ones.
A Lancastrian reader, Gerald Vinestock, writes to The Times: âSir, Wednesdayâs paper did not have a photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge. I do hope she is all right.â
A first post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1987âs The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
The fiftieth anniversary of the on-sale date of the Ford Mustang (April 17).
The death of Bob Hoskins. Of course I had to post his last speech in The Long Good Friday, as well as the clip from Top Gear where Richard Hammond mistook Ray Winstone for Hoskins. They all look the same to me.
Judith Collinsâ story about what she was doing in China with Oravida collapses.
Someone points out there is a resemblance between Benedict Cumberbatch and Butthead from Beavis and Butthead.
Jean Pisani Ferryâs view on the origins of the euro crisis in The Economist: âSuppose that the crisis had begun, as it might easily have done, in Ireland? It would then have been obvious that fiscal irresponsibility was not the culprit: Ireland had a budget surplus and very low debt. More to blame were economic imbalances, inflated property prices and dodgy bank loans. The priority should not have been tax rises and spending cuts, but reforms to improve competitiveness and a swift resolution of troubled banks, including German and French ones, that lent so irresponsibly.â
Sir Ian McKellen says, âDid I want to go and live in New Zealand for a year? As it turns out, I was very happy that I did. I canât recommend New Zealand strongly enough. Itâs a wonderful, wonderful place, quite unlike [the] western world. Itâs in the southern hemisphere and itâs far, far away and although they speak English, donât be fooled. Theyâre not like us. Theyâre something better than us.â
Lots of Alarm fĂŒr Cobra 11 posts.
Liam Fitzpatrick writes of Hong Kong, before the Occupy protests, âHong Kongersâsober, decent, pragmatic and hardworkingâare mostly not the sort of people who gravitate to the barricades and the streets. Neither do they need to be made aware of the political realities of having China as a sovereign power, for the simple fact that postwar Hong Kong has only ever existed with Chinaâs permission. In the 1960s, the local joke was that Mao Zedong could send the British packing with a mere phone call.
âWith that vast, brooding power lying just over the Kowloon hills, tiny Hong Kongâs style has always been to play China cleverlyâto push where it can (in matters such as education and national-security legislation, where it has won important battles) and to back off where it cannot.â
It didnât seem completely prescient.
The General Election campaign: National billboards are edited. Doctor Who goes on tour prior to Peter Capaldiâs first season in the lead role.
The suicide of Robin Williams.
Michael Brown is killed. Greg Howard writes, âThere was Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., and Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., and so many more. Michael Brownâs death wasnât shocking at all. All over the country, unarmed black men are being killed by the very people who have sworn to protect them, as has been going on for a very long time now âŠ
âThere are reasons why white gunâs rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying childrenâs toys.â
Like so many things, such a statement of fact became politicized in months to come.
Darren Watson releases âUp Here on Planet Keyâ, only to have it banned by the Electoral Commission. With his permission, I did a spoken-word version.
Journalist Nicky Hager, who those of us old enough will remember was a right-wing conspiracy theorist, is branded a left-wing conspiracy theorist by the PM because this time, he wrote about National and not Labour. The Deputy PM, Bill English, who commended Hagerâs work 12 years ago over Seeds of Distrust, and even quoted from it, remained fairly quiet.
It wasnât atypical. I wrote in one post, âIn 2011, Warren Tucker said three times in one letter that he told PM John Key about the SIS release. Now he says he only told his office but not the PM personallyâafter an investigation was announced (when the correct protocol would be to let the investigation proceed) âŠ
âKey did not know about GCSB director Ian Fletcherâs appointment (week one of that saga) before he knew about it (week two).
âKey cannot remember how many TranzRail shares he owned.
âKey cannot remember if and when he was briefed by the GCSB over Kim Dotcom.
âKey did not know about Kim Dotcomâs name before he did not know about Kim Dotcom at all.
âKey cannot remember if he was for or against the 1981 Springbok tour.â
Some folks on YouTube did a wonderful series of satirical videos lampooning the PM. Kiwi satire was back. This was the first:
Matt Crawford recalled, âAt this point in the last election campaign, the police were threatening to order search warrants for TV3, The Herald on Sunday, RadioNZ et alâover a complaint by the Prime Minister. Over a digital recording inadvertently made in a public space literally during a media stunt put on for the pressâa figurative media circus.â
Quoting Robert Muldoon in 1977âs Muldoon by Muldoon: âNew Zealand does not have a colour bar, it has a behaviour bar, and throughout the length and breadth of this country we have always been prepared to accept each other on the basis of behaviour and regardless of colour, creed, origin or wealth. That is the most valuable feature of New Zealand society and the reason why I have time and again stuck my neck out to challenge those who would try to destroy this harmony and set people against people inside our country.â
And my reaction to the Conservative Partyâs latest publicity, which was recorded on this blog, and repeated for good measure on Tumblr: âEssentially what they are saying is: our policy is that race doesnât matter. Except when it comes to vilifying a group, it does. Letâs ignore the real culprits, because: âThe Chineseâ.â
The passing of Richard âJawsâ Kiel.
John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures sums up Nicky Hager: âHager is a gadfly who often causes us to examine our society. He has attacked both the right and the left before. Itâs too easy to dismiss it as a left wing loony conspiracy. We tend to shoot the messengers rather than examine the messages.â
New Zealanders begin vilifying Kim Dotcom: I respond. I blog about Occupy Central in Hong Kongâwhich led to a television appearance on Breakfast in early October.
Iâm not sure where this quotation comes from, but I reposted it: âA white man is promoted: He does good work, he deserved it.
âA white woman is promoted: Whose dick did she suck?
âA man of color is promoted: Oh, great, I guess we have to âfill quotasâ now.
âA woman of color is promoted: j/k. That never happens.â
Facebook gets overrun by bots: I manage to encounter 277 in a single day. (I eventually reach someone at Facebook New Zealand, who is trying to solicit business for one of the fan pages we have, and point this out. I never hear back from him.) The trouble is Facebook limits you to reporting 40 a day, effectively tolerating the bots. It definitely tolerates the click farms: I know of dozens of accounts that the company has left untouched, despite reports.
Kim Dotcomâs lawyers file a motion to dismiss in Virginia in United States v. Dotcom and others, and summarize the case so far: âNearly three years ago, the United States Government effectively wiped out Megaupload Limited, a cloud storage provider, along with related businesses, based on novel theories of criminal copyright infringement that were offered by the Government ex parte and have yet to be subjected to adversarial testing. Thus, the Government has already seized the criminal defendantsâ websites, destroyed their business, and frozen their assets around the worldâall without benefit of an evidentiary hearing or any semblance of due process.
âWithout even attempting to serve the corporate defendants per the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Government has exercised all its might in a concerted, calculated effort to foreclose any opportunity for the defendants to challenge the allegations against them and also to deprive them of the funds and other tools (including exculpatory evidence residing on servers, counsel of choice, and ability to appear) that would equip robust defense in the criminal proceedings.
âBut all that, for the Government, was not enough. Now it seeks to pile on against ostensibly defenseless targets with a parallel civil action, seeking civil forfeiture, based on the same alleged copyright crimes that, when scrutinized, turn out to be figments of the Governmentâs boundless imagination. In fact, the crimes for which the Government seeks to punish the Megaupload defendants (now within the civil as well as the criminal realm) do not exist. Although there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement, that is the crime on which the Governmentâs Superseding Indictment and instant Complaint are predicated. That is the nonexistent crime for which Megaupload was destroyed and all of its innocent users were denied their rightful property. That is the nonexistent crime for which individual defendants were arrested, in their homes and at gunpoint, back in January 2012. And that is the nonexistent crime for which the Government would now strip the criminal defendants, and their families, of all their assets.â
Stuart Heritage thinks The Apprentice UK has run its course, and writes in The Guardian: âThe Apprentice has had its day. Itâs running on fumes. Itâs time to replace it with something more exciting, such as a 40-part retrospective on the history of the milk carton, or a static shot of someone trying to dislodge some food from between their teeth with the corner of an envelope.â
Doctor Who takes a selfie and photobombs himself.
Andrew Little becomes Labour leader, and is quoted in the Fairfax Press (who, according to one caption, says his motherâs name is Cecil): âIâm not going to resile from being passionate about working men and women being looked after, having a voice, and being able to go to work safe and earn well. Thatâs what I stand for.
âThe National party have continued to run what I think is a very 1970s prejudice about unions âŠ We have [in New Zealand] accepted a culture that if you are big, bold and brassy you will stand up for yourself. But [this] Government is even stripping away protections [from] those who are bold enough to do so.
âI think New Zealanders are ready for someone who will talk bluntly about those who are being left behind. Thatâs what Iâll be doing.â
Iâm not a Labour voter but I was impressed.
I advise my friend Keith Adams in Britain, who laments the driving standards there, that in order to have the road toll we have, theyâd need to kill another 2,000 per annum. âThe British driver is a well honed, precision pilot compared to oneâs Kiwi counterpart.â
Julian Assange on Google, and confirmation that the company has handed over personal data to the US Government. He calls Eric Schmidt âGoogleâs secretary of state, a Henry Kissinger-like figure whose job it is to go out and meet with foreign leaders and their opponents and position Google in the world.â
The Sydney siege and the tragic deaths of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
The killing of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The NYPD doesnât look very white to me, but a murderer used the death of Eric Garner as an excuse to murder a Dad and a newlywed.
My second post on those CBS TV attempts to create a show about Sherlock Holmes set in the modern day in the US, partnered with a woman: on 1993âs 1994 Baker Street.
Craig Ferguson hosts his last Late Late Show. And moreâs the pity: heâs one of the old school, never bitter, and never jumped on the bandwagon attacking celebrities.
My forced Facebook sabbatical came to an end in the late morning. So what did I think of it all? One of my Tweets last night was: âI hope [it is temporary], though I have found people out for 7â12 days now. Now itâs Monday I hope they have got over their hangovers!â At the time I thought: this Facebook is probably not a 24-hour operation. These guys are probably off for the weekend, and they work part-time. We might see them on Monday morning, US time, or whenever they come back from Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Bill Cosby Day, or whatever it is they celebrate over there. Oh, itâs California, so they are probably stoned.
Sixty-nine hours werenât quite enough to break my habits, though they were beginning to change. No more was I looking up Facebook in bed before I go to the office, or having a quick gander at night. But on the desktop, I left one tab open, which would always draw me there to have a glance at what friends were up to.
The timing was a bit exceptional: we had the top 23 pages for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists to launch. Had it not been for that, I wonder if I would have bothered with Facebook at all. I had queries to field, direct messages to respond to.
The direct messaging is obviously separate from the rest of Facebook, as it was the one thing that hadnât failed. But everything else was worsening: initially losing liking, commenting and posting, then losing the fan pages I administered. Friends could not see my wall, while a few who could see it tried to like things and were given errors. Aside from a few exceptions, no one seemed to think this was out of the ordinary and worth chatting to me about. Not that I mind this: they could all get in touch with me via other media. But this signals that it is OK to get an error when liking something, and shrug it off as temporary, because we believed Facebook when it told us to try again in a few minutes. Never mind that in Facebookland, âa fewâ means 4,000. We have low expectations of these dot coms.
So when people joke about how these things always tend to happen to me, I wonder. Iâve always maintained they happen to us all. Maybe the difference is I donât believe these buggers when they tell me that things will be back in a few minutes, because invariably they donât. So I put an entry in to Get Satisfaction, or on this blog, so others donât feel they are alone.
And if I had found the limits of the siteâbecause I believe on Vox I did in 2009, when exactly the same thing happened, and the techs had no way outâthen Facebook should know about this.
Facebook was, through all of this, useless. It had closed down its Known Issues on Facebook page, which seemed foolhardy, because this certainly was a known issue with the increasing number of Tweets about it. There were no acknowledgements, and most of the time, feeding anything into its report forms resulted in errors. Sometimes I got a blank screen. Its own help pages told you to do things that were impossible. If it were any other firm, people would be crying bloody murder or wanting their money back. (And I am technically a customer, through my mayoral campaign last year.)
A few other accounts came back, for the people I interacted with on Twitter and Get Satisfaction in the same predicament.
So what now? I might Facebook less. The 69 hours were a good reminder. One of the things I had watched during the sabbatical was the following video via Johnnie Moore, where Douglas Rushkoff speaks about how these big innovators arenât really adding value, only capital. He gives the example of Twitter:
The company that was going to be the maker of things now has to be the site where he aggregates the other makers of things âŠ so that you can show multi-billion-dollar returns instead of the hundred millions that you were doing âŠ You know, for Twitter, I just saw yesterday, they’re failing! Only $43 million last quarter! Isn’t that awful? Oh my God! Only $43 million, which is, I mean, how many employees do they have? I think that would be enough but their market cap is so outlandishly huge, so much money has gotten stuck in there, that they’re gonna be stuck looking for a new way to somehow milk more money out of an otherwise great tool and they’re gonna kill it. They have toâthey have to, âcause they need that home run.
Can we expect there to be greater innovation in such an environment, for any of these platforms? If we arenât feeling the same buzz we once did with these sites, thereâs a good reason, and the above is part of the problem. They arenât creating value any more, only market cap and stock, or, as Rushkoff says, âstatic capital.â
This is what [Thomas] Piketty was really writing about âŠ Capital has the ability to actually create profit, so all these companies, all this development, are really just different versions gaming the system rather than rewiring the system, rebooting it, which is the opportunity here.
I spent part of the last few days looking at the PDF proofs for Lucire Arabia, where at least I know I am part of making something that is creating value and, through its content, helping people. While my original motive for being on Facebook et al was promotional, for my businesses, I have to question if that was the best use of my time, and for creating value. Facebook organized my friends, as Google organized the webânow that those are done, there is the next step.
I left Voxâor rather, Vox left me when the site died and I was no longer able to postâand put more time elsewhere, namely into my first mayoral election campaign. I knew I was creating an opportunity to help people, and the upshot of that is the free wifi system we have in Wellington today (ironically probably very heavily used to update Facebook). It meant more than a means to Facebook and Instagram: the bigger picture was to signal to the tech sector that Wellington is open for business, and that we arenât being left behind in an industry that can create frictionless exports and intellectual capital.
We arenât quite there again in 2014, as Facebook is back, but it may be worth contemplating just where Iâm creating value for business and society when itâs not election year. This year, I don’t have a book plannedâbut it may have to be something where a good bunch of people are going to get some benefit.