October 22, 2018
Category archive


Snapchat now has cat lenses. (Yes, for your cat.)

in Cats/Delhi/don't read this/go out and live your life/India/Internet/Lenses/Politics/Snap/Snapchat/Social by

It’s 8:00 PM on Friday night and you’re home alone and already drunk. Oh, is that just me? Well no matter. Snapchat has made lenses for your cat now. Yes, that’s right. Your cat! This is what the internet is made for, friends. Not all that fake news and trolling. Not having to read tweets where people use words like “woke” unironically. Cat lenses! 

So technically, I guess, Snapchat added the ability to recognize things in your photos last November, like food, sports, and even pets, then suggest appropriate filters – like a sticker that says “IT’S A PAWTY” above a photo of a dog.

But now you can put a set of matching glasses on yourself and your cat.

Or give you and your cat rainbow unicorn horns.

Or give Mr. Fluffypants some big ol’ googley eyes.

Or put a piece of toast over his face, which makes him look even less amused than usual.

What the actual f***

You can even give you and kitty big, fat lips as you kissy face the camera.

You can be the angel, while the cat gets devil horns and wings, as is – of course, appropriate.

I mean, this may or may not solve Snap’s long list of problems, like its rushed redesign, the mess that’s Snapchat Discover, its inability to attract adult users, falling share price, and ooooh, all that money it’s bleeding. ($353M last quarter!)

And that Saudi money, don’t forget that! (No, seriously, don’t.)

But I mean, c’mon. C’MON. 

Internet, we deserve this.

This is what 2018 needs.

Cat lenses.

Cat lenses to make everything better.

Cat lenses, and this here drink.

News Source = techcrunch.com

The Internet Bill of Rights is just one piece of our moral obligations

in Column/Delhi/digital media/digital rights/Facebook/India/Internet/internet access/internet service providers/isp/net neutrality/new media/open Internet/Politics/smartphones/Technology/Tim-berners lee/United States/Virtual Reality by

Congressman Ro Khanna’s proposed Internet Bill of Rights pushes individual rights on the Internet forward in a positive manner. It provides guidelines for critical elements where the United States’ and the world’s current legislation is lacking, and it packages it in a way that speaks to all parties. The devil, as always, is in the details—and Congressman Khanna’s Internet Bill of Rights still leaves quite a bit to subjective interpretation.

But what should not be neglected is that we as individuals have not just rights but also moral obligations to this public good—the Internet. The web positively impacts our lives in a meaningful fashion, and we have a collective responsibility to nurture and keep it that way.

Speaking to the specific rights listed in the Bill, we can likely all agree that citizens should have control over information collected about them, and that we should not be discriminated against based on that personal data. We probably all concur that Internet Service Providers should not be permitted to block, throttle, or engage in paid prioritization that would negatively impact our ability to access the world’s information. And I’m sure we all want access to numerous affordable internet providers with clear and transparent pricing.

These are all elements included in Congressman Khanna’s proposal; all things that I wholeheartedly support.

As we’ve seen of late with Facebook, Google, and other large corporations, there is an absolute need to bring proper legislation into the digital age. Technological advancements have progressed far faster than regulatory changes, and drastic improvements are needed to protect users.

What we must understand, however, is that corporations, governments, and individuals all rely on the same Internet to prosper. Each group should have its own set of rights as well as responsibilities. And it’s those responsibilities that need more focus.

Take, for example, littering. There may be regulations in place that prevent people from discarding their trash by the side of the road. But regardless of these laws, there’s also a moral obligation we have to protect our environment and the world in which we live. For the most part, people abide by these obligations because it’s the right thing to do and because of social pressure to keep the place they live beautiful—not because they have a fear of being fined for littering.

We should approach the protection of the Internet in the same way.

We should hold individuals, corporations, and governments to a higher standard and delineate their responsibilities to the Internet. All three groups should accept and fulfill those responsibilities, not because we create laws and fines, but because it is in their best interests.

For individuals, the Internet has given them powers beyond their wildest dreams and it continues to connect us in amazing ways. For corporations, it has granted access to massively lucrative markets far and wide that would never have been accessible before. For governments, it has allowed them to provide better services to their citizens and has created never before seen levels of tax revenue from the creation of businesses both between and outside their physical borders.

Everyone — and I mean everyone — has gained (and will continue to gain) from protecting an open Internet, and we as a society need to recognize that and start imposing strong pressure against those who do not live up to their responsibilities.

We as people of the world should feel tremendously grateful to all the parties that contributed to the Internet we have today. If a short-sighted government decides it wants to restrict the Internet within its physical borders, this should not be permitted. It will not only hurt us, but it will hurt that very government by decreasing international trade and thus tax revenue, as well as decreasing the trust that the citizens of that country place in their government. Governments often act against their long-term interests in pursuit of short-term thinking, thus we have 2 billion people living in places with heavy restrictions on access to online information.

When an Internet Service Provider seeks full control over what content it provides over its part of the Internet, this, again, should not be allowed. It will, in the end, hurt that very Internet Service Provider’s revenue; a weaker, less diverse Internet will inevitably create less demand for the very service they are providing along with a loss of trust and loyalty from their customers.

Without the Internet, our world would come grinding to a halt. Any limitations on the open Internet will simply slow our progress and prosperity as a human race. And, poignantly, the perpetrators of those limitations stand to lose just as much as any of us.

We have a moral responsibility, then, to ensure the Internet remains aligned with its original purpose. Sure, none of us could have predicted the vast impact the World Wide Web would have back in 1989—probably not even Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself—but in a nutshell, it exists to connect people, WHEREVER they may be, to a wealth of online information, to other people, and to empower individuals to make their lives better.

This is only possible with an open and free Internet.

Over the next five years, billions of devices—such as our garage door openers, refrigerators, thermostats, and mattresses—will be connected to the web via the Internet of Things. Further, five billion users living in developing markets will join the Internet for the first time, moving from feature phones to smartphones. These two major shifts will create incredible opportunities for good, but also for exploiting our data—making us increasingly vulnerable as Internet users.

Now is the time to adequately provide Americans and people around the world with basic online protections, and it is encouraging to see people like Congressman Khanna advancing the conversation. We can only hope this Internet Bill of Rights remains bipartisan and real change occurs.

Regardless of the outcome, we must not neglect our moral obligations—whether individual Internet users, large corporations, or governments. We all shoulder a responsibility to maintain an open Internet. After all, it is perhaps the most significant and impactful creation in modern society.

News Source = techcrunch.com

E-commerce drives Southeast Asia’s Sea to record revenue but big losses remain

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Sea, one of Southeast Asia’s largest internet companies, continues to see losses although its growing e-commerce business helped it hit record revenue.

The Tencent-backed company went public back in October when it raised around $1 billion through an NYSE listing. Its latest earnings released today show revenue broke $200 million for the first time ($219.6 million) but losses continue to pile up. Revenue was up 71 percent year-on-year to hit the record figure but Sea’s losses continue to stack up. The company lost $250.8 million in Q2, up significantly from a $92.1 million loss one year previous and $216.2 million negative in the previous quarter.

Sea’s main business, its Garena gaming unit, grew 19 percent to reach $116.9 million in revenue, but the firm is placing a lot of emphasis on its Shopee e-commerce service — which is the benefactor of a recent $500 million capital raise — and its growth continues to be promising.

Shopee GMV, the total value of all goods sold on the service, grew 171 percent to $2.2 billion. That doesn’t include take-home revenue, but for the first time that figure has been broken: Shopee grossed $58.8 million in sales. That figure is up over 2,000 percent annually, but Sea has only just begun to monetize the service which is reflected in the huge rise.

For now, a lot of that revenue looks to be based on aggressive user acquisition as Shopee battles with rivals that include Lazada, the e-commerce service owned by Alibaba that has a large budget to work with.

Sea’s cost of marketing across all services — Shopee, Garena and its AirPay service — jumped 131 percent year-on-year to reach $175.2 million in Q2. But, it pointed out that sales and marketing as a percentage of GMV shrunk to 6.2 percent from 6.8 percent and 6.6 percent in the previous two quarters.

“Shopee continued to expand rapidly across all markets, strengthening its leadership in the region. Our monetization strategy for Shopee is delivering ahead of expectations, even at this early stage,” said Sea CEO Forrest Li in a statement.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Google builds its own subsea cable from the US to France

in Artificial Intelligence/belgium/Chile/Delhi/France/Google/India/Internet/Los Angeles/Politics/red cross/subsea cable/TC/United States by

Google, like all major internet companies, often participates in building new subsea cables because it wants to own the connectivity between its data centers around the world. Those cables are typically built and owned by a consortium of companies (and sometimes shared by competitors). Now, however, Google is building its own cable that will span from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to the Atlantic coast of France.

This marks Google’s fourth private cable. Its first two efforts spanned significantly shorter distances, though its ‘Curie’ cable connects Los Angeles and Chile. Over the course of the last few years, Google has also made significant investments in consortium-driven cables that span the Atlantic and the Pacific, and quite a few of these will go online in 2019.

The new so-called ‘Dunant’ cable (named after the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Red Cross) will likely go online in 2020. And while it will land in France, it will actually connect Google’s North Virginia region directly to its Belgium region.

TE SubCom is the contractor for the project, which will be an almost 4000-miles long four-fiber pair system.

As Google notes, owning the cable means that it can lay it exactly where it needs it to be to connect its data centers, without having to take the needs of other consortium partners into account. Owning the cable also means that Google owns all the bandwidth for the lifetime of the cable (usually 15 to 25 years).


News Source = techcrunch.com

Majority of U.S. adults still think the internet is ‘mostly’ good for society – but that number is falling

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A growing number of U.S. adults no longer view the internet as a largely “good thing” for society, according to a new report from Pew Research Center out today. To be clear, a sizable majority –  70 percent – continue to believe the internet’s development has been mostly good. But that number has dropped by 6 percentage points since 2014, the study finds. Meanwhile, more adults now perceive the internet – perhaps more accurately – as something of a mixed bag. That number has climbed from 8 percent in 2014 to now 14 percent, Pew says.

However, the group of those who believe the internet is mostly a “bad thing” for society hasn’t changed much over the years. Those who can’t see the upside to global connectivity, has gone from 15 percent in 2014 down to 14 percent in 2018, which isn’t a notable difference, statistically.

Pew attributes the decline in the positive sentiment to the reactions from older Americans, and particularly seniors who have come online in growing numbers in recent years. According to data released by Pew last May, for example, Americans 65 and older now account for 15 percent of the overall U.S. population. And by 2050, 22 percent of those 65 and older will be online.

Like most Americans, the large majority of the senior group still feels the internet is mostly a good thing – but that number has dropped 14 points from 78 percent in 2014 to 64 percent today.

In addition to seniors, a smaller number of younger U.S. adults today believe that the internet is “mostly good.” While again, that sentiment is still held by the large majority by far – 74 percent say this is their opinion – that number has fallen from 79 percent in 2014.


Pew’s report didn’t detail why more U.S. adults are increasingly ambivalent about the internet. Instead, it focused on the reasons cited by the group who claims it’s “mostly bad.” (Presumably, these sentiments are shared by those who now believe the internet isn’t mostly good.)

The adults who think the internet is “mostly bad” had a large list of grievances, as it turned out. And their top concerns are somewhat surprising.

A quarter of the internet’s naysayers cited its paradoxical ability to isolate people even as it connects them – saying it leads to people spending more time with devices instead of with other people.

16 percent mentioned the problems related to the spread of misinformation and fake news, and 14 percent were concerned about the effect the internet has on children. Another 13 percent said it encourages illegal activity.

Only a small share – 5 percent – were worried about their privacy and their personal information being shared online.

That small percentage focused data privacy concerns is interesting – especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, where the personal data of some 87 million Facebook users was hijacked without their knowledge or consent. Instead, Pew’s data seems to imply that people are generally more upset about the cultural and emotional impacts attributed to the internet, rather than having their personal data stolen or misused.

Maybe that’s because personal data has already been stolen time and time again, through security breaches at places like Yahoo, Equifax, Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, Anthem, and others. Or maybe it’s because users have a hard time identifying or understanding the real-world impacts of personal data breaches, unless it leads to some concrete changes – like identity theft or targeted harassment. Or maybe people already assume the days of personal privacy online are long dead, and just shrug their shoulders at new reports of yet another breach of trust with a fatalistic, “oh, who was it this time?”

In any event, it’s already been observed that the fallout from the Facebook scandal has been minimal, in terms of user behavior. There have been no sizable changes on that front, including user-initiated changes to privacy settings and sharing, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. In addition, Facebook just surprised investors by reporting continued user growth and beating earnings expectations.

Pew’s data supports the idea that more users seem to think – despite everything that’s happened – the internet is still mostly a good thing. And if there are concerns, they’re around its ability to lessen our connections to others – because we’re spending too much time online, fighting about information because we read different sources, or because we’re worried how it’s impacting our kids.

Meanwhile, those with a more positive take on the internet cited reasons like how it makes information much easier and faster to access (62% said this). 23 percent saw its networking benefits as a largely good thing – including connecting with others, and keeping up with friends and family.

Unrelated to perceptions about the internet, Pew also reported today that one-in-five Americans (20%) are now “smartphone only” internet users at home – meaning, they don’t subscribe to broadband. This is up 7 percent from 2015.

The figure is associated with those living in low-income (<$30K/year) households and those who are less likely to have attended college – it’s not some sort of reaction to concerns about the internet’s impact.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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