TikTok, death of the share bar and sleeping in cars
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°01.ep09 - 2019.07.15
More news from the autonomous car front, yeah! Firstly, Apple acquired a startup called Drive.ai. Secondly, Ford-backed Argo AI just received a $2.6bn investment from Volkswagen, which brought both fresh cash and its autonomous driving subsidiary. Ford and Volkswagen are now equal shareholders of Argo AI. (T)
Rihanna and Lady Gaga may be considered as competitors, in some ways. It is less the case for LVMH and Amazon, two radically different types of corporate giants. But when Rihanna launches for LVMH its first new brand in more than 30 years, Fenty, and Amazon partners with Lady Gaga to create Haus, the first major beauty brand to be released exclusively on the platform, going head to head, something big is happening in the post-internet beauty industry and show business… Link (S)
TikTok, a social network focused on short-form videos, is a fascinating service. First because its parent, Bytedance, is one of the rare Chinese tech companies that has achieved tremendous success abroad (now with 1.5bn MAUs). Then for its impact on culture: short videos x memes = where hits are born (when they’re well tailored to this new medium). Link (T)
Bad news, the returns on science seem to vanish. Good news, the solution is at the corner and may rely on machine learning, now, or quantum computing before 2040. (S)
Death of the share bar – and what that says of our contemporary digital world
Reading an article recently on a not-so-up-to-date website, I stumbled upon a vestige of the good old Web 2.0… an old-fashioned share bar (those long lists of icons that enabled you to… share content towards a breadth of services).
Here’s the one I found:
Given the logos, I’d say it probably dates back to circa 2007. From left to right are: Digg (news aggregator), Facebook, Google Bookmarks, Windows Live Favorites, MySpace, Netvibes (personalized web dashboard), Technorati (blogosphere directory), Twitter, Viadeo (French equivalent of LinkedIn), and Yahoo! Buzz (hadn’t heard of it before, apparently a Digg knock-off).
This unexpected encounter calls for a few comments.
First, web services don’t die! Except Windows Live Favorites and Yahoo! Buzz, all of them still exist. Except the obvious winners Facebook and Twitter, and the afterthought that is Google Bookmarks, they were acquired (and reacquired sometimes) on the cheap, shadows of their glorious former selves.
Do apps die more easily? I wonder.
Secondly, the use cases they served are still alive and well. For instance, Reddit has taken on the news aggregator / community mantle from Digg, and MySpace was taken over both by Facebook as the dominant social network and SoundCloud as the digital gathering place for the music scene. As for Netvibes, I’d say that its aim of serving as the homepage towards your favorite services has found heirs in all of our smartphones’ homescreens.
Thirdly, the disappearance of (long) share bars epitomizes the concentration of our attention within the hands of a few giant tech companies. Today, if you want to share an article, the suggested logos are generally just those of Facebook and Twitter, with LinkedIn a frequent third.
(And if you want to create a MySpace account, you’re prompted to use your Facebook or Twitter ID. What a crazy world we’re living in.)
Lastly, and more importantly, the death of the share bar shows how much the values of the web have changed. I think that for a large part we’ve shifted from a personal individualism to a mass individualism (both oxymorons) – and the former was more empowering.
Back in 2007, sharing was not so much social as functional: several of the sharing buttons were directed towards your very own spaces – bookmarks, home page. And even when your spaces were publicly accessible, they were still personalized for a good part – the MySpace page you could tweak, the blog where both form and content were yours to create.
Whereas today, experiences are heavily standardized (e.g. everyone of us has the same Facebook profile layout), and sharing things to yourself is almost worthless.
Expressing your self (yes, in 2 words) has become less important than being seen or heard. We wanted a voice, instead we got like counters.
The State of Love and the World after Internet
In Research Note: Disintermediating your friends, Michael Rosenfeld, Department of Sociology, Stanford University
Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, unveiled its master plan for the Toronto area it is developing. You may not like to see a giant tech company designing a city, but it sure is a compelling vision of where urbanism is heading – new-mobility-friendly streets, dynamic walkways, modular buildings… Link (T)
Venn is taking co-living, co-working and other real estate innovations to the next level. It offers a network of apartments and shared spaces (café, co-working, gallery…) in the same neighborhood, for the moment in Tel Aviv, Berlin and Brooklyn. Interesting decentralized model but it awfully sounds like Gentifrication-as-a-Service. Link (T)
Look at me in the eyes. Or no, in the webcam.
This is odd, isn’t it?
Well, Apple has an app, again, for that. Link (S)
Is there any reason to rent a car and not to drive it? Working, eating, having a nap, recharging your phone… it is a trend in Japan and may be for the future of our cities. Link (S)
We all knew the story, but now that the digital dust has settled, we can ask historians to do their job. Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, explains why it’s time to move past the tech sector’s creator myths: no, Zuck, Musk and Jobs are not super humans, and yes, the US government was more than instrumental and today’s platforms look a lot like Big Oil monopolies back in the 1920s. Link (S)
Some game fans try hard to preserve old games – machines, cartridges or discs. And counterintuitively enough, their job may become really difficult in the future: digital-only games vanish more easily. Link (T)
“The number of heartbeats in a lifetime is approximately the same for all mammals (...) Thus, shrews have heart rates of roughly 1,500 beats a minute and live for about two years, whereas heart rates of elephants are only about 30 beats a minute but they live for about seventy-five years.” From Scale by Geoffrey West. (T)
Fascinating piece on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a critical asset for the platform and a powerful bridge and playground between algorithms and humans. Just imagine a digital Far West made of bits, bids and bees. Link (S)
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Edited by Stéphane Distinguin & Tom Morisse
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