Big Tech's active moderation promise is also a potential source of eternal commercial advantage over newcomers

Farhad Manjoo (previously) writes in the New York Times about his cautious optimism that the big platforms are finally taking some steps to prevent harassment, but he also worries that this is setting the stage for a new era in tech, one in which the rules guarantee that Big Tech never has to worry about being challenged by upstarts. Read the rest

Sign of the times: Big Tech comes together to create interoperability tool so users can move between services

Once upon a time, online services differentiated themselves from competitors by promising not to lock their users in (memorably, Flickr offered an API that would let you export all your photos, your social graph and the comments and other metadata to any other service that had a similar API), but as slumbering antitrust regulators allowed wave after wave of mergers and acquisitions, so tech become Big Tech, walled gardens made a roaring comeback, with services quietly shelving the ability to move between them. Read the rest

The EU's Link Tax will be voted on in TWO DAYS: if passed, you won't be able to link to the news except on Big Tech's licensed platforms

Article 11 is the EU's bizarre proposal for transferring money from Google and Facebook to newspapers: it creates a special copyright over links to news stories and bans services from linking to the news unless they pay for a license to link. Read the rest

Big Tech has established a "kill zone" of business ideas that startups can't get funded to try

In 2014, the Economist described a "Cambrian explosion" of tech startups trying every conceivable idea in every conceivable variation, competing to find better ways to deliver better services at lower costs; today it laments the "kill-zone" of business ideas that are unfundable, either because Big Tech is already doing them, or because Big Tech might someday do them. Read the rest

Thanks to streaming, recording industry revenues are back up to pre-internet levels, but musicians are poorer than ever

Since the days of Napster, record labels have recruited recording artists as allies in their fight against unauthorized music services, arguing that what was good for capital was also good for labor. Read the rest

Offering users transparency and privacy is the only way Big Tech can avoid being turned into content cops

Dan Gillmor's got an excellent point about tech platforms: they more they act as technological regulators of what we see (the more they spy on us and filter-bubble us), the more they're going to face calls to be political regulators of what we see. Read the rest

How to be better at being pissed off at Big Tech

My latest Locus column, "Let’s Get Better at Demanding Better from Tech," looks at how science fiction can make us better critics of technology by imagining how tech could be used in difference social and economic contexts than the one we live in today. Read the rest

The first-ever rigorous quantitative study of US artistic revenue from internet indies: 14.8M Americans earned $5.9B in 2016

The Re:Create coalition has just published Unlocking the Gates: America's New Creative Economy, a quantitative report that uses rigorous statistical methods to derive the total income, by state, earned by creators who use the internet to reach their audiences. Read the rest

Facebook hired a pollster to track Zuck's public image, but he quit because working for Facebook filled him with shame

Tavis McGinn came to a job interview at Facebook to do the kind of work he'd done at Google, using analytics to help advertisers refine their campaigns; instead he was offered a job as Zuck's personal pollster, tracking the CEO's approval rating in fine-grained detail as he toured America and the world. Read the rest

Inside big tech's last-minute scramble to comply with Europe's new privacy rules

The General Data Protection Regulation will be enforced as of May, and once it does, internet companies will no longer be able to collect or share your data unless they give you a clear, simple explanation of how it will be used, and get your consent, along with contact details for named individuals who report directly to the business's senior management. Read the rest

How depending on a platform is a ticket to financial ruin, and what to do about it

UC Berkeley economist J Bradford DeLong's wide-ranging Reinvent interview covers a lot of ground, but is especially fascinating on the long-term trajectory of small businesspeople who bet their commercial futures on platforms -- he uses Uber drivers as an example, but this has implications in lots of sectors. Read the rest

The Paradox of Tolerance: should intolerance be tolerated?

With the rise of white nationalist groups whose allies in government extend all the way to the President of the United States, tech companies are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding where tolerance begins and ends -- where they have a duty to step in and silence certain kinds of speech. Read the rest

To build the future, we must escape the present, or, "The bullet hole misconception"

Air force pilots in WWII got shot like crazy and suffered farcical levels of fatalities; in an effort to save airmen, the Allies used statistical analysis to determine where the planes that limped home had taken flak and armored up those sections -- which totally failed to work. That's because the planes that made it home had suffered non-critical damage, so shoring up the sections where they'd been hit had virtually no effect on the rate at which flak to critical sections of the aircraft caused it to be shot out of the sky. In other words, by looking at survivors rather than the dead, they were protecting the least important parts of the planes. Read the rest