The Internets

A Glass Half-Full of Billions of Dollars

The massive consolidation of telecom companies into a handful of mega-companies is maybe probably a bad thing? I mean, I guess. But things can only get better, because they actually cannot get any worse, since there is basically nothing left for them to glomerate, for now: Telecommunications bankers are running out of deals to pitch. Over the past three years, a rush of multibillion-dollar acquisitions has reshaped the United States wireless market. Now, with Sprint and T-Mobile zeroing in on an agreement to join forces, one of the last big deals for the industry may be nearing an announcement.


You're Popular

The median Twitter account has exactly one follower.

— Jon Bruner (@JonBruner) December 18, 2013

"In comparative terms, almost nobody on Twitter is somebody: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Among the much smaller subset of accounts that have posted in the last 30 days, the median account has just 61 followers. If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users."

Look at you! You're so pretty and everyone likes you!


What Happens After You Sell Your Startup

This Tumblr is just hypnotic: Our Incredible Journey collects the deadly combination of "We've been acquired, now our company will be amazing!" with the inevitable "We've suspended service to focus on Google/Facebook/Yahoo's core products" announcements. (via)


The Pretty New Web and the Future of "Native" Advertising

Something is going on with the Internet, and, once again, it's fun, but maybe not that fun. There's a rash of actually quite cool new "products"—services, websites, "apps" (sigh)—and they have a lot in common. From our pals at Branch to things like Medium and Svbtle (oh that name) and on back to Pinterest, and then forward to a few other projects in development, well… there's a visual language going on, for one thing, and it's like John Herrman writes: It's an internet where every blog is Daring Fireball, where every post looks like Instapaper, where every discussion is led by its rightful leaders, and where [...]


Will Twitter Shut Down This Crazy Thunderclap Experiment Today? Probably!

Today's the day that Thunderclap releases its first mass tweet into the wild. Late this morning, almost 2000 people are going to simultaneously Tweet a message from Matt Taibbi. If you don't know of it, Thunderclap is like Kickstarter for mass tweets: if enough people sign on to a message, it goes live. (This particular tweet now counts its total reach at "3,793,447 people.") I have mixed feelings about this project! It's sort of genius? And yet I also dislike shilling and intrusiveness on Twitter. (And FYI, we "signed on" to this tweet as an experiment, because we wanted to see what would happen. In other disclaimer news, [...]


The Story So Far

"In an e-mail to Stickybits's investors, the pair explained Turntable and gave them a choice: They could take back what money remained or stick with them. All except one kept the faith. Chasen's announcement, made the day the staff returned from the winter holiday, was abrupt: The developers, with one exception, would cease work on Stickybits immediately. The business side would wind down client relationships. Left unsaid: All except a skeleton crew would soon leave the company." —An enjoyable story about the path to date of It's also an interesting reminder that entrepreneurs may be "job creators" but also sometimes they lay off everyone along the way.


Your Favorite Internet App Doesn't Come with Privacy Rights

Judge ruled against me on standing, on intervention, and on the subpoena. So uh Twitter is compelled to hand over @destructuremal's tweets

— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) April 23, 2012

In the strange case of the Manhattan D.A. subpoenaing Occupy Wall Street arrestees' Twitters, so far we've come to a place where the state can request copies of three months of the things that people have published on the Internet. That seems… reasonable! Not very chilling! (The Internet being the Internet and all!) What is bizarre is to see the D.A. prepare such a labor-intensive assault in the matter of a violation—these charges [...]


The Shape of Internet for All

New York City is going to replace its ninety-six hundred or so public pay phones, which obviously nobody uses anymore because a) who even talks on the phone and b) on the occasions when people do speak into a small grill to transport their voices across time and space, it's typically one that they carry with them except c) people who can't afford miniature computers or the oppressively priced monthly service plans that allow them to work. They're going to be supplanted by some ten thousand "public communications structures" that will provide free Wi-Fi to anyone, so long as he or she stands close enough to view the [...]


Twitter Stomps Out Micropayments

A bunch of us have been using Flattr recently. It's a goofy but sweet European company that allows you to set a budget for micropayments that get delivered through social media services: Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Github, You favorite a thing? Part of your monthly budget goes to that favorite.

This was going semi-well. One problem was that Flattr isn't that widespread yet, though it had to start somewhere. So payments tended to be a bit circular. I made about 7 Euros in the last month, and I spent about 15 Euros. A lot of this, it looks like, was just money sort of equally changing hands.


Debating "Dark Social": Where the Rest of the Internet Is

This conversation pursuant to this recent piece on "Dark Social" (that is, sharing via IM or chat or email or IDK, IRC?) is interesting. It started with a look at traffic to the Atlantic, where they found that "all the social networks that you know" were really on just "about 43.5 percent of our social traffic. On the other, you have this previously unmeasured darknet that's delivering 56.5 percent of people to individual stories. This is not a niche phenomenon! It's more than 2.5x Facebook's impact on the site." What do you think? TELL US ON A SOCIAL NETWORK SOMEWHERE IN SPACE.


I Can't Face Being Subscribed to WND's Horrifying Emails Any More

I can't do this anymore. I was staying subscribed to World Net Daily's email blasts because I figured it was important to know what the wingnut right thinks about our COMMUNIST IN CHIEF and about olive oil. (???) But it's just like opening your gmail every day and having Nicolas Cage as Ghostrider emerge and spit in your mouth. It's not like that even. It IS that. A hideous digital face. Spitting. In my open mouth. I thought this was my job! But no job is worth this! Can someone take over monitoring them for me? Like I think this is the Southern Poverty Law Center's job or [...]


Why Are You People Watching Socialcam 9/11 Truther Videos?

There are things I don't need to know about my Facebook acquaintances! Seriously people, that's it, turn that garbage off.


Greedy Website Vile

How does everything about this not make you want to run to Al Gore's house and pull the plug on the whole Internet? (via)


The Ninth Circuit: "Lying on Social Media Websites Is Common" (and Not Criminal)

Thank the atheist Cylon God once again for the Ninth Circuit: in US v Nosal, yesterday they ruled (PDF) that, among other things, the ridiculous user agreements that we all "sign" online aren't really something that should be crimes if we violate them. That's not crazy: up until quite recently, the court points out, minors couldn't even "legally" use any Google product. On Facebook, it would have been "illegal" for any user to give another his password. The dissent—and other courts—claim their conclusion is silly, because just because the government can prosecute something doesn't mean they will. But that's not really how America works: "The government assures [...]


Content Honored

“Using Sidenotes, publishers and readers can generate thoughtful reactions to any type of online content from articles to lyrics to live updates and more. Whether inspired or curious for more information, a reader can Sidenote any part of an article—a paragraph, a sentence, a quote, or an image.” Comments on these individual "social objects" will be placed right alongside stories instead of way down below them (congratulations), but will be hidden by default (oh, hahaha). Of course nobody asked for this, or else it wouldn't be an innovation.


Where Not To Go, But Also Who Not To Go There With

OH YES. It's TripAdvisaargh. The name, we should think, is self-explanatory. (via)


Our Next First Lady

I've raised five sons, none of whom have ever brought home a girl named Denise. Call me arrogant, but I'm proud of that.

— Anne Romney (@AnneRomney1) August 29, 2012

So this Twitter account is happening.


Thunderclap Is Baaaack

My obsession Thunderclap—it was Kickstarter-style mass-Tweeting to promote causes and/or products—was shut down under Twitter's API rules but is now back—on Facebook! (Which will also likely frown upon the API uses! But hey, fun for all.) Fast Company, without a shred of evidence, suggests it was shut down because it "steals thunder" from Twitter's advertising model. That's a fun thing to assert.


When "Trigger Warning" Lost All Its Meaning

Once upon a time, "trigger warning" was an Internet shorthand for "Hey, look out, in what follows on this website, we are going to talk about rape or child sexual abuse or something really intense, and if you're not in the right emotional place for that, maybe go away and come back." This was a useful kind of thing! If sometimes applied a little broadly, but you know: fair warning is fair warning.

A couple of years ago now, a big dust-up went down. Oh, those were good times: "The debate over the feminist blog staple began with sex writer Susannah Breslin, who thinks trigger warnings are condescending [...]


The Latest Sad Fate of an Aggregation Serf

What’s new, you might ask, in another tale of careless youth broken on the galley of journalism? Well, someone in power finally stood up—sort of—for the little guy.  In a column on the resignation of 20-something Elizabeth Flock after charges of “a significant ethical lapse” and “serious factual errors,” the Washington Post’s Ombudsman Patrick Pexton said, you know what? The newspaper was just as culpable as the reporter: “The Post” he wrote, “failed her as much as she failed The Post.”

As stirring as it is to find a hint of post-hoc compassion in a professional culture where any mistake appears increasingly to be fatal, the question is: [...]