Links of the day | 在网上找到

The Guardian website will no longer allow comments under articles about race, immigration and Islam | JOE.ie – controversial given its stance on censorship

Chips on their shoulders | The Economist – THE Chinese government has been trying, on and off, since the 1970s to build an indigenous semiconductor industry. But its ambitions have never been as high, nor its budgets so big, as they are now.

How Facebook tracks and profits from voters in a $10bn US election | US news | The Guardian – there goes the West Wing approach to campaigns

Attackers Use Word Docs to Deliver BlackEnergy Malware | SecurityWeek.Com – The advanced persistent threat (APT) actor behind the recent attacks targeting Ukraine has started delivering BlackEnergy malware using specially crafted Word documents with embedded macros.

Twitter Execs Are Annoyed At Facebook For Referring To Them As “Social Media” – BuzzFeed News – At any moment Facebook trending posts always include 2 stories about things happening “on social media” … — Whitewashing Twitter out of news agenda

Completely Ignoring the DMCA an Option for Torrent Sites? – Rutracker gets blocked in Russia so strips anti piracy bodies of special ‘takedown’ accounts

TransferWise’s revenues grew by 5x in 2015 — but so did losses – For many companies unicorn status seem to share dot bomb characteristics

Does Better Internet Access Wind Up Disenfranchising Lower Income Groups? – As counterintuitive as it seems, reducing the digital divide isn’t necessarily beneficial: Our results show that participation in local elections has dramatically declined in recent years, in part as the internet has displaced other media with greater local news content

Vampire Weekend Played This Classic Song in Honor of Bernie Sanders in Iowa – use of music industry supporters to gather votes is interesting, particularly in the mid-west

Oprah time: China’s Coming War With Asia by Jonathan Holslag

Where do I start with a book title this inflammatory? I went to the trouble of reading the book twice before starting this review. In the end, the only conclusion I can come to is ‘Policy Faultlines in East Asia’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Untitled
Holsag marshals a huge range of facts and opinions within the book. If you want to have a basic understanding of modern Chinese state, the book is a good primer.

He provides insight into the Chinese Communist’s Party’s policy cornerstone of territory maximisation. They were happy to put off their agenda for tactical advantage, but never gave up on their goals. China’s neighbours have similar inflexible policy goals. There is is no win-win solution.

Time has brought increased pressures. A fight for resources to fuel further growth and water rights conflicts. Relative declines in economic growth also fuels nationalistic politics. In China, nationalistic sentiments in citizens grew with prosperity. It has become convenient for politicians to tap into nationalistic sentiments.

Holsag doesn’t attempt to provide a solution for de-escalation of these edges. His book only provides a macro-level understanding of the countries involved. For the reader who wants to understand Asia, Holsag’s book is an excellent primer.  More on China’s Coming War With Asia by Jonathan Holsag.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

VGA In Memoriam | Hackaday – interesting overview of the technology

Why the iPad Is Going Extinct | New Republic – tablets also have long replacement cycles

What Influences the Influencers? ComRes/Burson-Marsteller 2016 EU Media Poll findings unveiled – Burson-Marsteller – interesting to see Politico rank highly

5 new luxury retail formats to look out for this year – Luxury Daily – Columns – peer to peer fashion lending (AirBnB for bags), sort of the role that the pawn broker played

The trouble with Twitter

You can read elsewhere about the troubles facing Twitter, I have linked to some of the best analyses I found out there at the bottom of this article.
Twitter
If you don’t have time to go through them, here’s the ‘CliffsNotes’ version:

  • Management turnover. Three different heads of engineering in 18 months, five different product leads in the past two years, three CFOs in 18 months and 2 COOs (mainly because the role was left vacant for over 12 months)
  • Growth in user numbers has been stagnant in the U.S.. The three published quarters of 2015 showed U.S. active users at 66 million. The last two quarters of 2014 were steady at 64 million
  • Growth in user numbers globally has been a modest 11 percent. Growth outside the U.S. was just 13% year on year in quarter three of 2015

James Whatley and Marshall Manson called the user number plateau ‘Twitter Zero’.

There have been product-related issues:

  • The ‘Promoted Moments’ advertising option is confusing to look at
  • Will it, won’t move beyond 140 characters
  • Algorithmic filtering of the timeline
  • Utility of the news feed is becoming diminished for the digerati
  • Likely reduction in user engagement
  • Likely uptake in bot content publication
  • Inability to deal with community issues like #Gamergate
  • Twitter’s auto-playing videos are barely more than a rounding error in the battle between YouTube and Facebook for video supremacy

What less people are talking about is what trouble at Twitter means beyond Twitter.

Advertising purchases are a near-zero sum game. Facebook and other high growth native advertising platforms gain from Twitter not winning business. But for marketers this is not all good news. Facebook is poor at giving marketers actionable insights and intelligence. There is no Facebook firehouse of data. Facebook only provides aggregated data.

The OTT (Over The Top) messaging platforms (WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE, KakaoTalk, Kik) are data black holes. Commercial dashboards on some accounts allow you to see how your account is doing. There is no insight of what is happening across accounts. There is no measure of influence beyond follower numbers and click-throughs.

Twitter’s declining relevance, has a direct effect on social media monitoring and analytics platforms.

Social media analysis of Twitter data is widespread. From consumer insights / passive market research to brand measurement and financial trading models.

I had seen data which showed a direct correlation between brand related market research conducted by respected market research firms and social media analysis using Twitter data. The implication of this was that Twitter data could provide a more cost effective alternative. 

All of these research benefits are moot if Twitter is in decline or becoming irrelevant.

Twitter data has its use beyond market research. It is the source of breaking news for the western media. Twitter’s firehouse also goes into making smarter phones. Apple’s Siri sources Twitter content to answer news-related requests.
Siri using Twitter as news
A poor performing Twitter has implications across the tech sector beyond online advertising. There are no obvious substitute solutions for its data waiting in the wings.

Perhaps Twitter’s earning’s call on February 10 will give a hint of improvements at the company. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

More information
Twitter Inc. quarterly results
How Facebook Squashed Twitter – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Can Twitter turn stagnation into progress, or has it hit the wall? | Technology | The Guardian
Twitter’s Fiscal 2015: Up, Flat, And Down | TechCrunch
Twitter is teetering because it has turned into one big pyramid scheme | Andrew Smith
Twitter Might Ditch The 140-Character Limit: What This Means For Marketers | SocialTimes
Daily Report: The Tough Realities of a Twitter Turnaround – NYTimes.com
Next Twitter boss faces complex challenges, says departing Dick Costolo | The Guardian
Twitter data show that a few powerful users can control the conversation – Quartz
Twitter’s Jakarta office is now open. Here are 6 reasons why Costolo is focusing on Indonesia | Techinasia
Inside Twitter’s plan to fix itself
How efficient is Twitter’s Business Model?
Black Widow | Dustin Curtis – interesting analysis of Twitter and a warning about APIs

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week included:

Great interview with Susan Kare

Kare is famous for her icon designs on the first nine versions of the Mac OS.

Luxxury have cut a new slice of 1980s dance music that Maze or Hall & Oates would have been happy with. Take it Slow is out on iTunes

JG Ballard’s High Rise makes it to the big screen alongside some great late 1960s / 1970s set dressing and a Kraut Rock soundtrack that Daft Punk would love

Finally, an Acceptable Use of the Apple Watch | Hackaday and 3D printing for that matter. A lovely Mac Classic homage as watch stand.

Great interview with Greg Wilson and Francois K talking about the early days of modern dance music

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Safari Suggestions bug causes browser crashes in iOS and OS X | Ars Technica – I noticed this first thing in the morning on my Mac, goes to show how dependent we are on network based services

Apple is preparing for a future where individual iPhone sales don’t matter | Quartz – but what about how the investors see it?

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin takes aim at the global credit card system, promising to become No 1 | South China Morning Post – Dalian Wanda think their internet finance business will upset global credit card payment system (paywall)

Meizu set to layoff 4000 staff | Gizchina – Despite seeing a surge in sales by as much as 350% last year, Meizu are planning to slash its work force by 5%.

No other tech company spends more on lobbying than Google, new stats show – GeekWire – and it doesn’t seem to be doing that much good. Apple needs to up its spend, as does Uber

Spotify Ready to Introduce Video Product – WSJ – tough going up against Netflix, iTunes, Amazon etc (paywall)

Censorship in the social media age – Columbia Journalism Review – news published on third party platforms like social has platform level editorial control on top of the journalistic process. What are the ethics?

LaMem Demo – how interesting is a visual?

The FireChat Post

FireChat became famous due to its mesh networking function that allowed Hong Kong protestors to connect with each other when the mobile network wouldn’t support their discussions. The clever underlying technology belies the key consumer benefit of a messenger application.
Why it's a feature not an app
I logged into FireChat for the time in a while the other day, as I was in two minds to keep the app on my phone as part of my occasional spring cleaning process. I got confronted with the screen shot above. The mesh network technology was very interesting with some largely niche use cases unlikely to drive large adoption of the app. In order for FireChat to get an audience, it has to piggyback on Twitter or Weibo – which delegates it to just becoming a feature rather than a product in its own right.

More information
FireChat | Crunchbase
FireChat