Why we should dismantle Facebook and other tech giants
Robert Reich, former secretary of labor in the US has penned an article with this hypothesis in the Guardian and it's been picking up steam. Reich makes some interesting points about how we've dismantled giant companies like these in the past (e.g. Rockefeller's oil empire) which in turn gave way to better innovation from smaller companies.
His hypothesis is that if we break Facebook apart and hand its technology to the public, we'll see even more innovation and small business growth.
You can read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/20/facebook-google-antitrust-laws-gilded-age
I wish I could agree with him. In theory this works, but in reality his idea is flawed specifically around two key issues:
- Technology Democratization - the tech that Facebook uses has already been democratized, or at least enough that there's nothing stopping anyone from building the next Facebook. If you have doubts, check out Ello - an attempt at creating a non-ad based version of Facebook. It started in 2014 and has a whopping 1MM users. This relates to my next point:
- Social Necessity - Facebook's value isn't in its tech. While it may hold patents that may be worth billions of dollars, that's not what shareholders hold near and dear. The value is in its users. With nearly half the population of the world using Facebook - it's all about its user base. You can try to dismantle the company, but you'd have to break apart the users to make any real dent, which would destroy the entire value proposition of Facebook in the first place.
Bitcoin sinks below the $4,000 mark
One of the funniest memes on Reddit this week was about Bitcoin Thanksgiving. The joke that this time last year, many millennials were recommending purchasing Bitcoin or other blockchain based "coin" with "new financial authority"; but being embarrassed this year as the value plummeted down from $11,000.
Of note - many of the discussions have been focused on how bitcoin is decentralized and therefore more valuable. Ultimately, many a non-financial-expert have been shamed as a result of the hit to coin value.
Here's a decent wrap-up of the cringeyness: https://www.recode.net/2018/11/20/18103622/bitcoin-cryptocurrency-thanksgiving-price-ethereum-litecoin
Do I still believe Bitcoin can appreciate in value? Yes, but not for any reasons of decentralization. The idea that technology would make a traded currency (is that the right word?) more valuable than any other currency is a little bit like saying "All humans appreciate technology and therefore they'll all flock to bitcoin".
If Bitcoin rises in value, it will be due to global perceptions of the value of Blockchain, which will only improve when we see it solve big enterprise and social problems. We haven't seen those stories or use cases yet, and so we're not seeing increased value yet.
Ever wanted to know which tech firms know you best? This infographic breaks it all down.
Filed under "interesting things to bookmark", this infographic serves as a great visualization of what information each tech firm has on you. Unsurprisingly, Facebook basically owns most of your data: http://www.visualcapitalist.com/heres-what-the-big-tech-companies-know-about-you/
Aside from being an interesting take on how much of our personal lives is stored in a database somewhere that we don't own - this is a great map to help people think about the information that they're providing to these companies, and how they should think about their permissions.
That said - I just got a "free" Amazon Dot. If anybody wants it, let me know ;)
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