Friday 4 November, 2022

Autumnal fruits

Seen on a woodland walk yesterday.

Quote of the Day

“Microsoft says it has an AI that can replicate thousands of different types of jobs. It also has some kinks: For example, when asked to name the most corrupt company, it answered ‘Microsoft’.”

  • Bloomberg, Tech Daily

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

The Dubliners | Christchurch


Simple tune, but lovely.

Long Read of the Day

Ways to think about a metaverse

Nice essay by Ben Evans, one of the most perceptive observers of the tech industry. He has a lean, clean style and a good BS-detector.

Here’s how it opens…

Sometimes it seems like every big company CEO has read the same article about the same tech trend, and sent the same email to their team, asking “What’s our strategy for this?!” A couple of years ago there were a lot of emails asking for a 5G strategy, and now there are a lot of emails asking about metaverse.

Answering the 5G email was actually pretty easy, partly because almost no-one needs a 5G strategy at all (I wrote about this here), but also because we knew what 5G meant. We probably don’t know what ‘metaverse’ means. More precisely, we don’t know what someone else means. This word has become so vague and broad that you cannot really know for sure what the speaker has in mind when they say it, since they might be thinking of a lot of different things. Neal Stephenson coined the word but he no longer owns it, and there’s no Académie Française that can act as the tech buzzword police and give an official definition. Instead ‘metaverse’ has taken on a life of its own, absorbing so many different concepts that I think the word is now pretty much meaningless – it conveys no meaning, and you have to ask, ‘well, what specifically are you asking about?”

And between those two paragraphs he throws in a wonderful Dilbert cartoon.

Worth reading in full.

Elon Musk knows exactly what he’s doing at Twitter.

Usefully detached piece by Timothy B. Lee in Slate. It’s the most sensible take on what’s going on at Twitter that I’ve seen.

Since Musk formally gained control of Twitter last Thursday, the media has portrayed it as a company in chaos. We can expect a lot more stories like this in the coming months. But as you read these stories, you should resist the urge to conclude—as I did four years ago—that Musk is an ineffective manager. Musk’s management style frequently generates chaos for his subordinates. But there is usually a method to his madness.

There is. It ain’t pretty and its characteristically irresponsible, but it’s pretty clear that he thinks that (a) Twitter is massively over-staffed, and (b) that charging people for ‘certified’ identities will raise some revenue and reduce spam. As far as (a) is concerned, there are two ways of doing it: firing people directly, but that can raise legal issues, even in Silicon Valley; or making life so intolerable that they quit of their own accord. This would be known as ‘constructive dismissal’ in the UK, but maybe there’s no equivalent in the US.

My commonplace booklet

From The Onion

 Republican Voters Given Toll-Free Number To Call If They Witness Legitimate Vote

AUSTIN, TX—In an effort to tamp down on the “outrageous” practice, Texas GOP officials reportedly shared a toll-free number Wednesday that Republican voters could call if they witnessed someone casting a legitimate vote. “If you see anyone who looks like they’re getting in line or speaking to poll workers, we urge you to call or text 1-88-REAL-VOTE immediately,” said Republican Party of Texas chair Matt Rinaldi, who warned that legal voting was running rampant throughout the state, and that it was up to everyday conservative men and women to stop these registered voters before they could submit their ballots. “Our hotline is staffed 24/7 by Republican officials who will dispatch trained professionals to the scene where any alleged voting is taking place. We cannot let these legitimate votes happen. Please report any suspicious behavior you witness, especially if you see someone who does not appear to be Caucasian.” At press time, GOP officials were urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to protect polling places from voters by deploying the National Guard.

A joke? Wait till next week.

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