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The Age of Tech Is Over - The Atlantic
So the “tech is over” crowd and the “end of the beginning” crowd are, perhaps, telling the same story: Tech stocks have fallen, because the media mountain has been scaled. Now the largest tech companies aren’t standing at a pinnacle; they’re plotting on a plateau. The challenge of owning the entire life cycle of our spending habits—that’s the real summit. And it’s just up ahead.
#$#monopoly  #techpol  #t#state  %econ 
4 weeks ago by lemeb
Restaurants Are Scrambling for Cheap Labor in 2019 - Bloomberg
restaurants are trying every way to recruit young folks without, you know, raising wages:
How desperate are fast-food operators to reach the right people? Instead of business cards, managers at Church’s Chicken outlets in October started handing out recruiting cards that say, “We are looking for great talent like you!” The cards include phone numbers and emails for cook and cashier prospects to get in touch.
#xxi#work  #$#labor  #$#ineq  #$#monopoly  %econ 
6 weeks ago by lemeb
on twitter: thread: the decentralization delusion
a very good thread about the delusion of decentralization, which begins thus:
In 2018 the blockchain/decentralization story fell apart. For example, a study of 43 use cases found a 0% success rate.…

Let's talk about some mistaken assumptions about decentralization that led to the blockchain hype, and what we can learn from them.

follow up from the author (
OP here. A small clarification: there are some legitimate criticisms of the Register piece that I cited in the first tweet, but I merely cited it as an example of why I think the hype is calming down. The arguments I make are independent of that piece; the limitations I point out have always been there, rather than something new that happened in 2018.
I also wanted to add a couple of points that I didn't get to in the Twitter thread.
Economics. Blockchain technologists seem to overestimate the extent to which new insights in economics are needed to understand cryptocurrencies and blockchains, as opposed to applying basic principles from economics and game theory. For example, a recent paper shows that thinking about miners and attackers in terms of stock and flow exposes important limitations of the security of Proof of Work. [1] I learnt of many other such examples at a recent conference on the economics of blockchains. [2] So I think a lot of the "cryptoeconomics" hype is misplaced.
Privacy. It's often taken for granted that decentralized architectures will improve privacy. This seems obvious given everything we've learnt about Facebook, but a better way to think about it is that decentralized systems exchange one set of privacy problems with another. I coauthored a paper a few years ago skeptical of the "decentralization ==> privacy" story in the context of social networks [3], but I think many of the arguments in that paper apply to blockchain/dApps that are being built today.
#t#blockch  #t#beyondsv  #techpol  #$#monopoly  #t#state  %econ  #t#theory 
6 weeks ago by lemeb
“Everyone’s for Sale”: A Generation of Digital-Media Darlings Prepares for a Frigid Winter | Vanity Fair
the state of digital news media:
The stakes are arguably the highest, it appears, for the much ballyhooed cabal of independent, venture-funded, super-scale companies, such as Vice, BuzzFeed, and Vox. Reacting to Peretti’s confederacy-merger proposal, one prominent founder and C.E.O. wondered whether there was “a problem for the whole space,” or “a problem for a handful of companies that really over-raised and over-expected and are now trying to re-adjust.” Consumer spending is up, and billions of dollars are being sunk into content, this executive noted, and yet “you have this little pocket of the universe looking desperate. So the reality is: is there a problem in the digital-media space overall, or a strategy problem for a certain set of companies?” In a somber parting memo on the day of Mic’s mass layoffs, outgoing publisher Cory Haik lamented the current state of the media universe: “Our business models are unsettled, and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest. If anyone tells you they have it figured out, a special plan to save us all, or that it’s all due to a singular fault, know that is categorically false.”
#$#journalism  #$#monopoly  %journalism 
6 weeks ago by lemeb
My Stepdad's Huge Dataset
data in everything
Over the course of these experiences, I learned about a major new force reshaping the industry: data. That day on set, the director’s instructions came directly from the production company, which decided on the topic and vetted the script. And the company based its creative direction on specific fantasies proposed by paying customers on an online forum that it owned. (“The stepsister should catch her stepbrother masturbating and she should humiliate him for being a dork,” one commenter suggested. And that was cut, pasted, and embellished into the script emailed to the director.)

In the pre-internet days, a producer might notice that a particular kind of porn movie sold well, and then try to make more like it. Today, a corporate porn conglomerate can analyze a continuous stream of information from online viewers, who supply feedback in the form of comments, and leave behind a data trail as they travel around porn sites.

monopoly in everything
MindGeek is a Montreal-based juggernaut that owns most of the top-ten tube sites, including Pornhub. It also owns key LA-based studios like Brazzers, Reality Kings, Digital Playground, Mofos, and the gay-focused Sean Cody. Its major competitors include Gamma Entertainment, another Montreal company that provides affiliate services (the standard marketing monetization scheme that allows people to collect money for online customer referrals) and owns several popular studios; and WGCZ Holdings, which owns,, the BangBros studio, and recently acquired the Penthouse brand.

on the difference between porn watchers and porn payers (customers)
Porn companies, when trying to figure out what people want, focus on the customers who convert. It’s their tastes that set the tone for professionally produced content and the industry as a whole.

~porn  %data  %crowdscd  *whatatime  #$#monopoly  %econ%behav  !bestof 
7 weeks ago by lemeb
Even janitors have noncompetes now. Nobody is safe. - The Washington Post
In any case, the point is that noncompetes, which used to be about keeping top executives from taking trade secrets to rival firms, have now become much more common among all types of workers. Indeed, according to University of Maryland economist Evan Starr and his co-researchers from the University of Michigan, J.J. Prescott and Norman Bishara, noncompetes cover 18 percent of all U.S. workers and have covered 38 percent at some point in time. And while it’s true that they’re still more prevalent among high-wage workers, noncompetes do cover a full 14 percent of workers without college degrees.

Companies have started suing over them more frequently, too. A Wall Street Journal analysis, for one, found that noncompete lawsuits increased by 60 percent between 2002 and 2013.
#$#labor  #$#👺  #$#monopoly 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea - The New York Times
The resistance is fierce and prominent. Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, wrote that if companies like Amazon are targeted simply because their low prices hurt competitors, we might “quickly drive the economy back into the Stone Age, imposing hysterical costs on everyone.”

Timothy Muris, a former chairman of the F.T.C., and Jonathan Nuechterlein, a former F.T.C. general counsel, published a paper in June that was a response to Ms. Khan and the antitrust reform movement. Called “Antitrust in the Internet Era,” it was about the A.&P. grocery chain.

A.&P. essentially invented the modern supermarket in the 1920s. With its low prices, wide range of products and penchant for disruption, the chain became the leading retailer of its era. It owned 70 factories and eliminated middlemen, which allowed it to keep costs down. Yet, Mr. Muris and Mr. Nuechterlein wrote, “A.&P.’s very popularity triggered a backlash.” The government pursued A.&P. on antitrust grounds during the 1940s, egged on by competitors that could not compete. After decades of decline, A.&P. shut its doors for good in 2015.

The analogies with Amazon are explicit. Don’t let the government pursue Amazon the way it pursued A.&P., Mr. Muris and Mr. Nuechterlein warned.
%law  #xxi#antitrust  #$#monopoly  #t#commerce  #t#state 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
Everything on Amazon Is Amazon! - The New York Times
Amazon-affiliated brands are promoted in search results on the site and inflated by reviews from Amazon’s Vine program, in which users receive items in exchange for their feedback. And, compared to better known competitors, they tend to be priced aggressively. In creating its own brands Amazon is indeed like any other large store. But Amazon isn’t any other large store. It’s Amazon: the world-historical logistical experiment that happens to call itself a store. It has unlimited shelf space and a boss with an eye on global domination. It tends to try a lot of things at once.

And so while there are non-Amazon brands, and there are Amazon brands, there are also brands that live in the vast in-between. Some are exclusive to Amazon, but not exclusively owned by Amazon. Basic Care, which markets a variety of over-the-counter medications, is only available on Amazon; on the product page for “Basic Care Night Time Cold & Flu, Cherry Flavor, 12 Fluid Ounce,” Amazon’s relationship to the product is not so obvious.
#t#state  #t#commerce  *visual*ill  #$#monopoly  #t#👺 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
We Broke Into A Bunch Of Android Phones With A 3D-Printed Head
No such luck with the iPhone X, though. Apple's investment in its tech - which saw the company work with a Hollywood studio to create realistic masks to test Face ID - has clearly paid off. It was impossible to break in with the model.

Microsoft appeared to have done a fine job too. It's new Windows Hello facial recognition also didn't accept the fake head as real.

Little surprise the two most valuable companies in the world offer the best security.

another advantage in being big
~security  #t#gafa  !write!scale  #$#monopoly  #t#state 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
Dirty dealing in the $175 billion Amazon Marketplace - The Verge
For sellers, Amazon is a quasi-state. They rely on its infrastructure — its warehouses, shipping network, financial systems, and portal to millions of customers — and pay taxes in the form of fees. They also live in terror of its rules, which often change and are harshly enforced. A cryptic email like the one Plansky received can send a seller’s business into bankruptcy, with few avenues for appeal
#t#state  #$#👺  #$#monopoly  #t#commerce  #t#👺 
8 weeks ago by lemeb
Instacart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods are parting ways | TechCrunch
Instacart has announced this morning it will no longer be doing business with Whole Foods, a U.S. organic grocery chain the company launched a partnership with in 2014. This comes roughly one year after Amazon closed its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods; Amazon, of course, has its own grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh.

writing on the wall etc
#t#closingdown  #$#monopoly  #t#commerce 
9 weeks ago by lemeb
What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About ‘the Deal’ - The New York Times
Manhattan real estate development is about as far as it is possible to get, within the United States, from that Econ 101 notion of mutually beneficial transactions. This is not a marketplace characterized by competition and dynamism; instead, Manhattan real estate looks an awful lot more like a Middle Eastern rentier economy. It is a hereditary system. We talk about families, not entrepreneurs. A handful of families have dominated the city’s real estate development for decades: Speyer, Tishman, Durst, Fisher, Malkin, Milstein, Resnick, LeFrak, Rose, Zeckendorf. Having grown up in Manhattan myself, I think of these names the way I heard Middle Easterners speak of the great sheikhs who ran big families in Jordan, Iraq and Syria. These are people of immense power and influence, but their actual skills and abilities are opaque. They do, however, make ‘‘deals.’’

In recent weeks, hearing Trump talk, I’ve realized that his economic worldview is entirely coherent. It makes sense. He is not just a rent-seeker himself; his whole worldview is based on a rent-seeking vision of the economy, in which there’s a fixed amount of wealth that can only be redistributed, never grow. It is a world­view that makes perfect sense for the son of a New York real estate tycoon who grew up to be one, too. Everything he has gotten — as he proudly brags — came from cutting deals. Accepting the notion of a zero-sum world, he set out to grab more than his share. And his policies would push the American economy to conform with that worldview.
#$#monopoly  #$#👺  #us#trumpland  #swamp  %explainer  %econ 
10 weeks ago by lemeb
An Amazon revolt could be brewing as the tech giant exerts more control over brands - Recode
“I don’t think Amazon understands how close they are to blowing themselves up,” said Eamon Kelly, a senior research analyst who tracks Amazon closely at Edgewater Research, where he is a partner.

Kelly cited brands like Birkenstock that have pulled themselves off the platform in recent years, and said he has had conversations with others that are ready to jump, too, if Amazon’s behavior doesn’t change.

PopSockets’ Barnett agrees.

“I don’t think it’s a sustainable model,” he said. “Maybe for controlling the small players whose business depends on Amazon. But to endure this kind of treatment? There’s a lot of great brands out there who can make that choice to leave.”
#t#commerce  #$#monopoly 
11 weeks ago by lemeb
Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis - The New York Times
Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

these two sentences cobbled together are chefs kiss
#$#👺  !write!technologist  !write!scale  !write!dystopia  !tech!practicalprivacy  !write!readthenews  #$#monopoly  #xxi#tech  #techpol  #swamp  #t#oops 
november 2018 by lemeb

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