Another Facebook Innovation: Imitating Twitch

August 11, 2022

I don’t know if the information in “Meta Is Testing a New Live Streaming Super Platform for Influencers Called Super.” I like the name of the alleged new Einsteinian-grade service. It’s super.k

The article reports:

The new platform allows influencers to host live streams, earn revenue and engage with viewers. The company has reportedly paid influencers between $200 and $3,000 to use the platform for 30 minutes.

How is the Zuckster’s Super new Super going to lure those who produce Twitchy stuff? The write up says:

Meta has recently reached out to multiple creators asking them to try out the new project. The platform, which looks to have similar functionality to Twitch, is currently being tested with fewer than 100 creators, including tech influencer Andru Edwards and TikTok star Vienna Skye.

My hunch is that Zuckbucks are going to be needed to “lure” some talent. Microsoft demonstrated its ability to create a streaming service not too long ago. Remember that? Yeah, neither does anyone on my research team. I wonder if MSFT’s CFO has any records of the money paid to a certain game streamer. Nah. Of course not.

The creativity of the Zucksters is amazing. Super in fact.

Stephen E Arnold, August 11, 2022

Time Travel in the Datasphere: Lock In Is Here Again

August 3, 2022

“Lock in” was a phrase I associated with my university’s data processing and computer center in 1962. I was a 17 year old freshman, and I got a tour of the school’s state of the art IBM mainframes located in one of the buildings in the heart of the campus. Remember I went to a middling private college because I fooled some scholarship outfit into ponying up money to pay for tuition and books. That still amazes me 60 years later.

I do remember looking at the IBM machines lined up inside a room within a room. A counter separated the “user” from the machines. Another room held three keypunch machines. There was a desk with a sign in sheet and a sign that said, “Help wanted.” Hey, even then it was clear that money was to be had doing the computer thing.

The tour was uneventful. Big machines blinked and hummed. The person giving the tour did not want to explain anything to a small group of students who qualified to enter the digital sanctuary. No problem. I got it. If a person wanted to use a computer, one had to work in the computer center. It was infinitely better to work behind the counter, wear a white lab coat, and stuff the front pocket with pencils. I was in. I even wore a slide rule strapped to my belt like Roy Rogers with a math fetish. Quick log, Stephen was my moniker.

I learned very quickly that using computers was done the IBM way. Don’t bend, fold, spindle, or mutilate. Don’t push buttons on the keyboard unless you knew what that key press did. Don’t think about learning anything about any of the other computing devices. IBM was the way. Why? The funding for the computer center and much of the engineering department came from an outfit engaged in manufacturing equipment to produce big holes in the ground or eliminate pesky trees from the path of the Trans Amazon Highway. The company was an IBM outfit.

Ergo, lock in. My mind was locked into IBM. Even today if someone mentions an MIT LINC, I am quick to snort. Hey, big iron.

Well, lock in is back, and there are many Millennials, GenXers, and whatever other category marketers use to describe young people who don’t know about lock in. Navigate to “A Third of Businesses Feel Locked In to Major Cloud Providers.” The write up explains that lock in is here again:

new research from Civo shows that 34 percent of users feel locked into the services these major providers deliver, with 65 percent of these saying that data transfer costs are too expensive for them to move off their current cloud.

This is the goal of lock in. Switching costs are too high. A lousy economy provides an endless parade of people who think that those low entry fees for the cloud will persist. Then the lucky customers discover the joy of per unit transactional pricing. Now the deal is more expensive than other ways to access computers and software. But to kick the cloud habit, one has to do more than spend a month in rehab. One must reengineer, invest, plan, and be smart enough to actively manage complex systems.

Yep, lock in.

That 33 percent figure may be bogus. But one thing is absolutely certain. More companies will embrace the cloud and find them with me, back in the university’s computer center, learning that there is one way to do computers. What’s amusing is that lock in is here again. Too bad IBM was not able to become the big dog. But the IBM notion of lock in lives on. And for some today, it is a fresh and new as a Rivian truck. There is one difference. That 1962 computer set up was actually pretty reliable. Today’s cloud systems are a work in progress. Choose cloud providers wisely. Digital divorces, like real world divorces, can be messy, expensive, and damaging.

Stephen E Arnold, August 3, 2022

Life Too Crazy? Game-ify It

July 14, 2022

A decade or more ago, one of my project managers explained that NASA was into games. The idea was interesting, but the majority of our work did not involve computer games. Several years ago I mentioned to a concert promoter that online games were generating “music.” That individual, who lived in Nevada, said he had a couple of employees tracking the influence of game music on the music events he organized. In a sense, I have been aware of the game-ification of digital thinking and innovation.

The write up “How the Technology Behind Fortnite Is Being Used to Design IRL Buildings” added another angle to my admittedly shallow understanding of the eGame revolution. The write up explains:

…the technology behind Fortnite and other video games is being adapted for use in the very real world of architecture, urban planning, and development.

Just as Apple imposes the mobile interface on its laptop and desktop computers, the eGame influence is moving beyond a simple way to pass time. (Time, I would point out, that might better be spent reading, volunteering, studying physics, working math problems, or walking in the woods.)

Several thoughts crossed my mind:

  1. Those who grow up immersed in eGames appear to be interested in pushing the “not really real” idea into areas once decidedly un-game like. Will the “real” world turn into more of a game than it already is? The answer, I surmise, is, “Yes.”
  2. Hooking up a game engine to an architect leads to what seems a logical link. Plug the game engine into AutoCAD, SolidWorks, something jazzier. Let smart software convert the game world into drawings, specs, and part supplier components or a model for a 3D printer. Seems like a useful project for a architect entrepreneur (assuming that the two words do not generate an oxymoron).
  3. Create artifacts which make it very clear that one is living in a simulation. Imagine a world in which a smart car will not run over a person standing next to a traffic cone.

What happens if one hooks the ByteDance super app into the eGame software? Answer to some CIA and British intel professionals: Happy Chinese propaganda professionals.

Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2022

US High Tech Outfits Innovate by Copying

June 29, 2022

Several amusing anecdotes about US innovation. (Remember the comments about Japanese knockoff and Chinese Gucci purses?)

ITEM 1: “Google Public Sector Is a New Subsidiary Focused on US Government, Education” Google has been pushing itself as an alternative to Apple, Microsoft, and any other outfit standing in the way of education and government data involvement. Original? Answer: Nah. I love the Madison Avenue “new” word.

ITEM 2: “Facebook Groups Are Being Revamped to Look Like Discord.” The title pretty much sums of this bold move. The gamer fave which is also being used by assorted crypto kiddies and online fraudsters will be the fresh, youthful face of the Zuck stuff. Original? Answer: Sure, if you are Rip Van Winkle and like Slack.

ITEM 3: The “new” Gmail. The explanation of Gmail’s somewhat clumsy transition from sending email to a wonky super app continues. You can read one explanation in “Gmail’s Resigned Interface Including Chat and Meet Is Now the New Default.” Is this new? Answer: Way to go or is it Weibo? You may have to opt out to this “innovation,” not opt in. That’s not new either, however.

I want to highlight one semi-innovative idea. Amazon may allow your dead grandmother to remind you of her birthday. For details, see this story. An innovation? Answer: Of course not. Check out this Amazon video.

Brilliant stuff flowing from the high tech innovation labs!

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2022

TikTok Shell Shock: In App Gaming

May 24, 2022

I think that outfits like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are less interesting than TikTok. Facebook or Zuckbook has the layoffs, the cutbacks, and the Zuck. Twitter has — for better or worse — the Tesla person. YouTube has its outstanding human resource management system. But the TikTok has a small test which may not amount to much. On the other hand, the test in Vietnam way have some upside.

TikTok Tests In-App Gaming Feature in Vietnam” reports:

TikTok is testing a new feature to let users play games within the short-video app in Vietnam…

Facebook and Netflix are sniffing around this application of game mania as well.

The article continues:

In addition to gaming, TikTok has also been expanding its ecommerce efforts, recently rolling out its online shopping platform TikTok Shop in Malaysia. The efforts come as the company’s ecommerce arm entered Thailand and Vietnam in February, where it has been hiring local teams.

My take is:

  • TikTok and testing in a non-US piece of real estate is interesting
  • The TikTok monitoring technology may open the door to dynamic personalization of eGames
  • The TikTok app may become a portal to a TikTok metaverse.

Net net: TikTok may be poking around the the super app space. Me-too time for some US tech outfits? Yep.

Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2022

Does Fear Trigger Me-Too Innovation?

May 20, 2022

Everyone values creativity and wants to be surrounded by innovative people. At least, that is what most of us say. The virtue is heavily promoted in business and features prominently on many a motivational poster. It seems that subconsciously, though, the uncertainty inherent in creative solutions makes people sick. This conclusion comes courtesy of the New York Times‘ article, “We Have a Creativity Problem.” The article tells us:

“Creativity is lauded as vital, and seen as the lifeblood of great entertainment, innovation, progress and forward-thinking ideas. Who doesn’t want to be creative or to hire inventive employees? But the emerging science of implicit bias has revealed that what people say about creativity isn’t necessarily how they feel about it. Research has found that we actually harbor an aversion to creators and creativity; subconsciously, we see creativity as noxious and disruptive, and as a recent study demonstrated, this bias can potentially discourage us from undertaking an innovative project or hiring a creative employee. ‘People actually have strong associations between the concept of creativity and other negative associations like vomit and poison,’ said Jack Goncalo, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the lead author on the new study. ‘Agony was another one.'”

Yikes. The piece looks at a pair of studies that measured subjects’ conscious and unconscious responses to creativity. The recent one referenced above examines attitudes toward creative workers. (Apparently it makes a difference whether one is working on sneakers or sex toys.) Another done in 2012, led by the University of San Diego’s Jennifer Mueller, explored participants’ conscious responses to questions about creativity and their implicit bias on the topic. Researchers introduced an element of real-world uncertainty to some of the subjects and found those respondents cringed even more at creative concepts. See the article for descriptions of each study’s methodology. The write-up notes:

“’Leaders will say, “We’re innovative,” and employees say, “Here’s an idea,” and the idea goes nowhere,’ Dr. Mueller said. ‘Then employees are angry.’ But, she said, the people invested in the status quo have plenty of incentive not to change. ‘Novel ideas have almost no upside for a middle manager — almost none,’ she said. ‘The goal of a middle manager is meeting metrics of an existing paradigm.’ That creates another conundrum, the researchers noted, because people in uncertain circumstances may really need a creative solution and yet have trouble accepting it.”

Yes, that is quite the paradox. Perhaps we should all consider whether an unconscious bias against innovative solutions is hindering us and our teams.

Cynthia Murrell, May 20, 2022

Smart Software: Repeat the Third Grade, Please

February 15, 2022

I read an interesting analysis of new products culled from Product Hunt. The work is presented in “Are Product Hunt’s Featured Products Still Online Today?” If you are not familiar with Product Hunt, you can get a good summary from the article. The data are interesting, but there is one chart which struck me as thought provoking.

Here’s the chart. The data are the worst products in terms of user goodness in the period under study.

image

I know the chart is tiny, but the write up offers a larger one at this link. The topics for failures includes the “winners” in the fail category. Notice that one failure in the penultimate position is the feel-good buzz phrase “user experience.” The new product category grabbing the golden crown is the super hyped “artificial intelligence.”

I interpreted the results this way. Creating products that deliver user experience and artificial intelligence could be perceived by “users” or “customers” as flops. Marketers infused with Silicon Valley joy juice, may not agree. UX and AI are the best-est.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2022

Facebook Innovates: Beating Heart Emojis

December 29, 2021

I could not resist citing this write up: “WhatsApp Working on Animated Heart Emojis for Android, iOS: Report.” What’s the big news for 2022 from the most loved, oops sorry, worst company in the United States? Here’s the answer according to Gadgets360:

WhatsApp is reportedly planning to add animation to all the heart emojis of various colors for Android and iOS. This could be linked to the message reaction feature that the platform is said to be working on. The feature has been already added to WhatsApp Web/ Desktop via a stable update.

The beating hearts are chock full of meaning. The pulsing image files provide notification information. The compelling news story added:

WhatsApp is rumored to allow users to react to a specific message in a chat with specific emojis. There is also a reaction info tab to show who reacted to a message. Message reactions are reported to be rolled out to individual chat threads and group chat threads.

Definitely impressive. What use will bad actors using WhatsApp for interesting use cases find for pulsing hearts or other quivering emojis?

Stephen E Arnold, December 29, 2021

Silicon Valley: Fraud or Fake Is an Incorrect Characterization

September 10, 2021

I read “Elizabeth Holmes: Has the Theranos Scandal Changed Silicon Valley?” The write up contains a passage I found interesting; to wit:

In Silicon Valley, hyping up your product – over-promising – isn’t unusual…

Marketing is more important than the technology sold by the cash hype artists. Notice that I don’t use the word “entrepreneur,” “innovator,” “programmer,” or the new moniker “AIOps” (that’s artificial intelligence operations).

The Theranos story went wrong because there was not a “good enough” method provided. The fact that Theranos could not cook up a marginally better way of testing blood is less interesting than the fact about the money. She had plenty of money, and her failure is what I call the transition from PowerPoint to “good enough.”

Why not pull a me-too and change the packaging? Why not license a method from Eastern Europe or Thailand and rebrand it? Why not white label a system known to work, offer a discount, and convince the almost clueless Walgreen’s-type operation that the  Zirconia was dug out of a hole in a far-off country.

Each of these methods has been used to allow an exit strategy with honor and not a career-ending Tesla-like electric battery fire which burns for days.

The write up explains:

Particularly at an early stage, when a start-up is in its infancy, investors are often looking at people and ideas rather than substantive technology anyway. General wisdom holds that the technology will come with the right concept – and the right people to make it work. Ms Holmes was brilliant at selling that dream, exercising a very Silicon Valley practice: ‘fake it until you make it’. Her problem was she couldn’t make it work.

The transgression, in my opinion, was a failure to use a me-too model. That points to what I call a denial of reality.

Here are some examples of how a not-so-good solution has delivered to users a disappointing product or service yet flourished. How many of these have entered your personal ionosphere?

  1. Proprietary app stores which offer mobile software which is malware? The purpose of the proprietary app store is to prevent malfeasance, right?
  2. Operating systems which cannot provide security? My newsfeed is stuffed full of breaches, intrusions, phishing scams, and cloud vulnerabilities. How about that Microsoft Exchange and Azure security or the booming business of NSO Group-types of surveillance functionality?
  3. Self-driving vehicles anyone? Sorry, not for me.
  4. Smart software which is tuned to deliver irrelevant advertising despite a service’s access to browser history, user location, and email mail? If I see one more ad for Grammarly or Ke Chava when I watch a Thomas Gast French Foreign Legion video in German, I may have a stroke. (Smart software is great, isn’t it? Just like ad-supported Web search results!)
  5. Palantir-type systems are the business intelligence solutions for everyone with a question and deep pockets.

The article is interesting, but it sidesteps the principal reason why Theranos has become a touchstone for some people. The primum movens from my vantage point is:

There are no meaningful consequences: For the funders. For the educational institutions. For the “innovators.”

The people who get hurt are not part of the technology club. Maybe Ms. Holmes, the “face” of Theranos will go to jail, be slapped with a digital scarlet A, and end up begging in Berkeley?

I can’t predict the future, but I can visualize a Michael Milkin-type or Kevin Mitnick-type of phoenixing after walking out of jail.

Theranos is a consequence of the have and have not technology social construct. Technology is a tool. Ms. Holmes cut off her finger in woodworking class. That’s sort of embarrassing. Repurposing is so darned obvious and easy.

More adept pioneers have done the marketing thing and made a me-too approach to innovation work. But it does not matter. This year has been a good one for start ups. Get your digital currency. Embrace AIOps. Lease a self driving vehicle. Use TikTok. No problem.

Stephen E Arnold, September 10. 2021

Microsoft LinkedIn: A TikTok Target?

July 12, 2021

Microsoft LinkedIn had an opportunity to dominate the video résumé market. Now the allegedly Chinese influenced TikTok appears to be chasing this sector. More importantly, LinkedIn users are “old school.” Rah rah text and video snippets explaining how a life coach can jumpstart a career. Are those wrinkles I see on most of the LinkedIn video performers’ programs. Yep, they are wrinkles.

Now TikTok is creating a video résumé service in a “official” way. The idea is that even TikTok creators may need a real job. The write up “TikTok Lets Users Apply for Jobs in the US with Video Resumes” says:

Short-video sharing app TikTok on Wednesday, July 7, launched a pilot program that lets users upload video resumes for US-based jobs ranging from a WWE Superstar to a senior data engineer at Shopify or a creative producer at TikTok itself.

The idea is that unhip “real” companies need workers. LinkedIn profiles don’t signal “I will flip burgers” or “I will watch your super over achieving high performing really wonderful children”. Thus, a gap exists and TikTok aims to fill it. Or will this service just provide a flow of data into TikTok’s servers and then maybe to other interesting data centers in lovely Wuhan.

Microsoft and LinkedIn is dealing with the hashtag #securitybreach. TikTok is moving forward with the #CareerTok and related metadata.

Stephen E Arnold, July 12, 2021

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