Quotable (#225)


As the forces of reaction outpace movements predicated on the ideal of progress, and as traditional norms of political competition are tossed aside, it’s clear that the internet and social media have succeeded in doing what many feared and some hoped they would. They have disrupted and destroyed institutional constraints on what can be said, when and where it can be said and who can say it. …

Gutenberg 2.0 (undeniably?).

Quotable (#217)

Mighty WeChat:

WeChat’s ability to create a bustling payments economy echoes the general success of its parent company. In September, Tencent became China’s largest company by value, surpassing state-owned China Mobile, when it reported its third-quarter revenue: $6 billion, up 52% year over year. How much of that can be attributed to Wallet and WePay was not specified: WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, makes money largely from online gaming, advertising, and selling sticker packs. But Tencent — which began with the instant messaging app QQ and is now pursuing artificial intelligence and electric cars alongside investments in a range of companies, including China’s dominant ride-sharing operation, Didi Chuxing — did cite WePay as a major reason for its “other” businesses’ growth, which increased $726 million in the third quarter, or 348% over the same period last year. According to estimates by HSBC, based on current tech company valuations, WeChat could already be worth more than $80 billion, about half of Tencent’s market capitalization.


Further down, there’s an excellent quote from Connie Chan (of Andreessen Horowitz) on WeChat’s electronic red envelopes: “This was money as a message.”

Internet Deregulation

Net neutrality is apparently in the cross-hairs of the incoming US administration. Hamilton might be back, but this looks like a clear win for classical liberalism (and the Silicon Valley sociopolitical agenda).

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two outspoken opponents of net neutrality rules to oversee the Federal Communications Commission’s transition from Democratic to Republican control. […] The appointees announced yesterday are Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison. Eisenach is director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), while Jamison is a visiting fellow at the same institution. Eisenach previously worked on behalf of Verizon and other telecoms as a consultant, and Jamison used to manage regulatory policy at Sprint. […] Eisenach and Jamison aren’t necessarily candidates for FCC chairman, but they will help set the commission’s direction and could help Trump choose FCC leadership. Their views on net neutrality match those of Trump, who opposed the net neutrality rules passed under current Chairman Tom Wheeler. …

Triumph of the Meme

How things have changed:

Back in 2010, the idea of using memes to political ends was still housed within a fairly slim leftist-activist corridor – it was a tool that seemed entirely of our own creation, and entirely under our control. We viewed memes as a vehicle through which activists could speak truth to power – they were molotov Jpegs to be thrown at corporate hegemony’s bulletproof limousine. […] Never in our most ironic dreams did we the think that the spirit of our tired, lager-fueled pisstakes would end up leading to a resurgence of white nationalism and make the prospect of a fascist America faintly realistic. …

Digital Thing

Iceland could be about to become a redoubt for Cyberspace liberty:

The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago. […] Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls — and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home. […] And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king. …

Quotable (#196)

Socially-networked media warfare:

ISIS stumbled upon something new. It became, in the words of Jared Cohen, a former State Department staffer and now the director of Jigsaw (Google’s internal think tank), “the first terrorist group to hold both physical and digital territory.” […] It will not be the last. The fate of the self-declared caliphate, now under the assault of nearly two dozen national militaries, is uncertain. Yet the group has already proved something that should concern any observer of war and peace, law and anarchy. While the Islamic State has shown savvy in its use of social media, it is the technology itself—not any unique genius on the part of the jihadists—that lies at the heart of the group’s disruptive power and outsize success. Other groups will follow. …

Remember what the printing press did? That’s the precedent.