Amazon: Specialist in Complexity

October 22, 2019

The word “complexification” is tailor made for Amazon. A couple of examples might be helpful, right?

  • Third party sellers provide expired food. Something’s wrong it seems. Complexification of the vendor vetting, product vetting, and warehouse vetting processes might be a reason. (I am setting aside “profit at all costs” because who wants to rain on the Amazon bulldozer.
  • AWS services. Really, who can name the different types of Amazon databases. There’s an Oracle killer, an unstructured data killer, there’s an Amazon blockchain solution that’s just perfect for Dubai. Can’t keep ‘em straight? Take a cheap course in how to speak Amazon, you dynamo, you.
  • Return authorizations. Use Opera? Well, the labels don’t print correctly. Call a human? It is helpful to speak two or three languages other than English. English as she is spoken at Amazon is — well, let’s think about it this way — may not be what talking heads on CNBC speak.

But the most interesting complexity problem concerns Twitch. Twitch may be a problem for YouTube and — get this, gentle reader — Facebook.

The hitch in the git along was summarized this way by Verge’s interview with Emmett Shear, the big Twitcher. Here’s the passage I noted:

The changes are coming, Shear said, because the company didn’t think it was doing well enough when it talked to streamers about moderating their channels. There were streamers with teams that had everything working, but there were also streamers who felt overwhelmed and like they couldn’t figure out how to use all of Twitch’s moderation tools. “It popped as a problem,” Shear said. “We decided we had to do better. And I think it’s a big step in the right direction.” Twitch’s moderation philosophy, in general, comprises two parts: enforcement works on the level of the individual and on the level of the platform.

Okay, complexity, two tier moderation, and a lack of “transparency.” Transparency is an interesting word because it suggests making stuff clear. A lack of transparency means stuff is not clear.

Complexity?

Yes.

In my recent lecture at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference I offered a few examples of Twitch’s challenges:

  1. Streaming gambling with links to donate money to the gamblers and tips for getting an advantage
  2. SweetSaltyPeach’s soft excitement morphing into RachelKay’s really dull doing nothing but providing a momentary glimpse of the old formula for success
  3. A first run movie available via a stream.

Net net: Amazon’s fatal flaw may be its burgeoning complexity. Not even Bezos billions can make some things simple, clear, and easy to understand.

If Twitchers can’t figure out what to do, what will lesser mortals in government agencies achieve? Let’s watch Dubai for clues.

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2019

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