The Problem With “Content”  


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Everyone has a pet peeve. At least currently, mine is the word “content.” It falls in the category of words like “quality,” “luxury,” and “awesome” that have been overused and abused so much that they often feel like they have lost all meaning. “Content,” however, is a bit more insidious than these other examples.

“Content” is the black hole of the Internet. Incredibly well-produced videos, all sorts of songs, and articulate blog posts — they are all “content.” Are short stories “content”? I hope not, since that is one of the most soul-destroying of words, used to strip a creation of its creative effort.

You can tell a lot about a person and how they think about their work based on whether or not they use “content” to describe what they do. A photographer who says that he is creating “content” for his YouTube channel is nothing more than a marketer churning out fodder to fill the proverbial Internet airwaves with marketing noise. Continue reading “The Problem With “Content”  “

7 Stories worth reading this weekend


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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When the world’s most famous mystery writer vanished: As a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, I quite enjoyed this wonderful retelling of a story that turned her into the star of her own mystery.

The bean counters turned Boeing’s culture upside down: Are they responsible for the 737 MAX disaster? It is an interesting viewpoint. However, my bigger argument is that acquiescing to the tyranny of the quarterly results and rampant greed is the ruin of many erstwhile great companies.

The I in We: This is the story of WeWork, its founder Adam Neumann, and what is right and wrong with the tech unicorn phenomenon. I absolutely loved this story.

What is happening to streaming’s superstars?: Over the past three years, algorithms have started to take away market share from the world’s biggest artists in favor of a new group. Good analysis for Continue reading “7 Stories worth reading this weekend”

How & why to buy computers properly


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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in many places, computers are treated as capital equipment with a fairly long lifespan, and as devices that need operation but not maintenance. These attitudes may date back to the 1950s, when the first was fairly true and the cost of maintenance was hidden in the operational cost. Neither is true today. Computers are consumables that require regular, skilled care. Skipping this care is like not changing the oil in your car: you can get away with it for a little while, but at some point you’re in trouble. In fact, and as I explain below, it’s worse than dirty engine oil: not only are you at risk for a security incident, you end up in a maintenance trap.

Steven Bellovin, Professor of computer science at Columbia University and a security expert, believes that security of computers and computing infrastructure is hampered by the 1950s thinking. Patching, upgrading, and maintaining security Continue reading “How & why to buy computers properly”

Bitcoin is a real energy hog


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Researchers from the Technical University of Munich and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took a look at how much energy was consumed by computers used to generate bitcoins and process transactions. Their conclusion:

in late 2018, the entire bitcoin network was responsible for 22-22.9 million tons of CO2 per year — similar to a large Western city or an entire developing country like Sri Lanka. Total global emissions of the greenhouse gas from the burning of fossil fuels were about 37 billion tons last year.  The researchers said about 68% of the computing power used to generate, or mine, bitcoins is in Asia, 17% is in Europe and 15% is in North America. [Fortune/AP]

The whole study is worth reading. (link)

The Bing of Maps


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Seven years ago, Apple decided that it’d had enough of using Google’s mapping data. They realized that maps and mapping services were so strategic that they couldn’t really afford to depend on a smartphone rival. So, they began building their own, and in September 2012, the company launched Apple Maps. And if I am being honest, the program has always been akin to that baby face that only a mother can love.

When it launched, Apple Maps was widely panned for being inaccurate and missing key information. Google launched its own dedicated Google Maps for iOS three months later and has never looked back. Apple, on the other hand, has spent billions on Apple Maps in an effort to build a more accurate and rich experience. Yet, in many dense locations, like San Francisco Bay Area or the Big Apple, it still performs like the kid who got into the private school because their grandfather’s name was on one of the buildings. On sheer merit, Google Maps was and still is better. Continue reading “The Bing of Maps”

Twitter is Big in Japan


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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In the U.S., Twitter has been dogged by the perception that it’s a non-intuitive platform, more suited for public figures, entertainers, and journalists. But in Japan, it has mass appeal.

Twitter seems to have found a place in Japan. If you read the story, you realize it is cultural. People preferred to be anonymous and focus on their niche interests, and are happy to create multiple accounts. The usage is pretty high, as well. No wonder the Japanese advertisers aren’t afraid to spend on Twitter Japan —  $136 million last year. The good news can’t mask the same problems that make it a toxic cauldron of abuse, hatred, bullying, and trolling. Fun Fact: Japanese users used the “Like” button to save tweets to read later. And Twitter came up with the bookmarking feature.

I am soooo excited about iPadOS


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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iPad Pro has been my primary work computer for over two years. Despite its shortcomings, I have managed to turn into a productivity machine, but the gulf between the iPad and the Apple Macs is still quite vast. However, that is all set to change with the new iPadOS, a version of iOS dedicated to the iPad. It has many improvements that make it easy to banish the laptop to the drawer of forgotten devices. Hopefully, this will bring an end to a debate that has flared up in the Apple enthusiast community again and again. Continue reading “I am soooo excited about iPadOS”

How to deal with Big Tech regulation, smartly


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Cory Doctorow, in an opinion piece for the Economist, makes some salient points about challenges and unintended consequences of regulating tech companies. Instead, he proposes what needs to happen. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. The readers here know of my often repeated arguments that big tech giants welcome oversight because it puts the little companies at a disadvantage and thus increasing their grip. Facebook and its fellow giants are enemy of the innovation economy, the very one that allowed them to thrive and become this big. Continue reading “How to deal with Big Tech regulation, smartly”

Why these are Google’s 7 best acquisitions


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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From Wall Streeters to members of the media, it is not uncommon to hear people wax eloquent about Facebook’s high-profile acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp as prescient moves toward future-proofing the business. But Google’s success with perhaps innocuous-seeming acquisitions often gets overlooked.

The jury is still out on Looker, the data analytics company Google bought to add muscle to its fledgling cloud business for $2.6 billion. Whether or not it turns out to be the next YouTube or next Motorola, it is an interesting bet. In its history, Google has bought over 200 companies, spending quite a substantial chunk of change on them. Many of them were well-known and, in some cases, established businesses — Doubleclick, for example.

However, I want to focus on strategic deals that have helped Google evolve and have kept it a dominant player in the ever-changing Internet ecosystem. Here is my list of their top acquisitions based on the best return on investment for the company and the potential for future-proofing it effectively. Continue reading “Why these are Google’s 7 best acquisitions”

What’s Worth Reading


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Photo by Clen Onojeghuo via Unslash https://unsplash.com/@clemono2

Fiber Networks fear the Four-Legged Hackers


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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There is often talk about hostile nations disrupting fiber networks and the Internet infrastructure. We also worry about hackers doing permanent damage to the networks. But we rarely think about culprits who often cause the most extensive damage — you know squirrels, gophers, birds, insects, and even cows. Ever since I have been writing about broadband, I have been regaled by many incidents of animal tomfoolery bringing down the pipes.

Tech & the Trade Wars


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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America is at war with China. Instead of guns, bombs, and bullets, the war is being fought in the business arena. The media calls it a trade war. And like all wars, there will be those who end up paying the price for it — namely, everyday Americans. As Brad Feld, partner with The Foundry Group, wrote on his blog about the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, “Many BigCos are simply treating the tariff like a tax and passing it on, either directly or indirectly, to the consumer.”

The New York Times points out that many companies are looking to figure out how to become less reliant on China, including finding second sources for their products. While many industries can find ways around China, the technology sector is going to be very messy. For example, there is very little manufacturing capability in the US when it comes to semiconductors, as many of the production lines have been outsourced to China and other parts of Asia. Continue reading “Tech & the Trade Wars”

Are you a Sharent?


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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In the past few years, the term “sharenting” has gained popularity in the media press and among academics, indicating the act of parents posting pictures, videos, and stories about the offspring on social media. The expression is so widespread that has been added to dictionary. Sharenting seems to be a common trend in the global North, with 85% of mothers in the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan reporting to have shared pictures of their children under two on social media.

I had no idea about this word — why should I? After all, I am neither a parent nor do I approve of sharing photos of kids. I sometimes have shared photos of my goddaughter and instantly regretted it, and now stopped sharing altogether.  However, sharenting is a cultural phenomenon, and there are some broader implications around children, their privacy, and the impact of Continue reading “Are you a Sharent?”

Why Social Media Detox is so hard


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Sally Adee tries Twitter detox or as she calls it, Intermittent fasting, but for Twitter, only to realize:

And that’s when it hit me – the reason my habit is so bad is me. By lovingly curating and pruning and adjusting and selectively muting my news feed for the past ten years, I’ve turned Twitter into my own unbreakable gravity well. All this time, I have been cooking my own heroin and then paying* Twitter to let me stick it in my own veins!

I have managed to quit Facebook by going cold turkey. I have limited my Instagram usage to one photo a week, and I use Twitter exclusively in the browser, but mostly I use Nuzzel to get all the links that are shared by friends and my favorite technology reporters. That’s my way of detoxing!

The Cost of Lies


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is who is to blame.

Those are the opening lines of Chernobyl, the much talked about HBO miniseries. Valery Legasov, the chief of the commission investigating the infamous nuclear disaster, utters them before committing suicide. Even after binging all of the first four episodes (the fifth and final one is on Monday, June 3rd), I couldn’t get those initial lines out of my mind. Continue reading “The Cost of Lies”

(Mickey) Drexler vs (Elon) Musk


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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I loved J.Crew. And I admired Mickey Drexler. And that is why I am often confounded how the coolest brand in the world become faded, a footnote in the history of retail. There is absolutely nothing they offer that I want to own. And this is me, who lives in their T-shirts, white shirts and khakis. This article in the recent issue of Vanity Fair tells the story of its decline. However, for me, this was the standout  paragraph:

That intercom, as omnipresent and disruptive as the squawking principal’s office P.A. system of yore, was his unsubtle way of keeping an entire company both slightly on edge and immersed at all times in his own rapid-fire mental stream. Day in, day out, he flicked it on, whether to play the Springsteen song that had just popped up on his iPhone, or to share a meditation on something he’d Continue reading “(Mickey) Drexler vs (Elon) Musk”

What’s Worth Reading Now


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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  1. The best shows are on HBO, Seriously! Vulture ranks the catalog of the network, and after you are done reading the article, you realize how much quality is packed into the HBO archives. The Wire is probably the number one show on HBO ever, though these writers don’t agree with me on that.
  2. Technology is as biased as its makers. Machine learning and algorithms have received recent attention for being biased, but technology has always been this way.
  3. What’s with Khaki? Where did it come from?
  4. The unlikely origins of USB, the port that changed everything. This is by one of my favorite writers, Joel Johnson. So, you know it is very good and deeply researched.
  5. How YouTube’s related algorithm is helping create a new genre of music: Vice calls it “the first genre of Algorithm Age.”

This first appeared on my June 2, 2019, weekly newsletter. If Continue reading “What’s Worth Reading Now”

The Decimal Clock


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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If we had ten hours in a day, instead of 24, and if each of these hours had 100 minutes instead of 60, and if every minute had 100 seconds, our clocks would look like this, and the time would be …

Why do we have to restrict ourselves to the 60 minutes and 60 seconds as a construct for time? I would love to see a watch design based on 10-100-100 logic.

Intentionet wins the Best of the (Interop) Show


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Intentionet, one of True Ventures’ family of companies, has won the Best of Interop Award in the infrastructure category. Interop is a large conference and trade show focused on enterprise and infrastructure technologies. We partnered with the Seattle-based company two years ago, betting that the increasing complexity of networks and omnipresence of networking would require technologies that help engineers design and evolve their networks safely and rapidly.

Since then, the company has grown, and some of the largest companies are currently using its products. I am so proud of the Intentionet team. As an aside, as a reporter, Interop would be one of the shows I would visit to meet a lot of people who were my sources. And to think, one of our investments won the best of the show!

World Cup (of Cricket) 2019


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Photo by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash

Photo by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash

Around this time tomorrow, the World Cup of Cricket, a once in four-year extravaganza will be underway. England, the hosts, will be squaring off against South Africa. To a majority of the residents of the planet, cricket means nothing. To about a billion-and-a-half people, however, it is life and death. I grew up as one of those cricket crazy fans.

These days, I reserve my sporting enthusiasm for the vagaries of baseball, another game of bat and ball. The 162-game long season, the injuries, the disappointments, the last minute victories, the home runs, and the unlikely heroes — baseball is a sport that has nuance and drama. It also allows me to indulge my love of data and participate in fantasy baseball leagues. Continue reading “World Cup (of Cricket) 2019”