Web 20 and the Heartbreak of Algorithmia

Nevertheless, I have to confess some discomfort with the digital revolution as it has unfolded to date, and with those who take delight in all its works.  At some of the forums on interactive media at the recent South by Southwest Conference, the air was thick with self-congratulation, and the phrase “careless plunder” kept coming to mind.There is obviously a great deal to celebrate about the Internet and the promise of digital broadband, especially a vast increase in access to knowledge, global communications and opportunity. But there is much that should give us pause as well, including the absence so far of a healthy business model for content creators and publishers. “How long is too long to wait?” Jaron Lanier asks on behalf of Internet-starved musicians in his new book, You Are Not a Gadget. “Isn’t 15 years long enough to wait before we switch from hope to empiricism?”The most promising new business models for journalism are not promising at all. Consider “content farms” like Demand Media, a factory of drive-by, slave-wage piecework on such enervating nano-topics as the best way to unbend knitting needles or scour a soiled hubcap. Why such subjects? There is an algorithm for that: Simply mine billions of search results, match keyword results to ad-adjacency rates, then cross-ruff the likeliest terms with their search rankings and assign the result to reporters ($15 per piece), videographers ($20), a copy editor ($2.50) and a fact-checker ($1). Demand Media publishes 4,000 articles and video clips every day. Their goal for next year is a million a month.Demand Media started out doing its work the usual way, but its editors lost their jobs when it was discovered that the algorithm could do all the assigning while delivering almost five times the revenue and 20 times the profit. Presto: “You can take something that is thought of as a creative process,” the algorithm’s inventor told Wired, “and turn it into a manufacturing process.”A New Social DiseaseWhat we have here may be the early symptoms of a new social disease—call it algorithmia—in which the magic of literally unthinkable, computer-enabled mathematics can mesmerize the culture, just as it dazzled the best minds of Wall Street and nearly took down the U.S. economy.The Internet’s principle effect on commerce has been disintermediation, a fittingly clinical term for cutting out the middle of the supply chain between producer and consumer.  But the holy algorithms of Web 2.0 enable an even more fateful and ugly disruption: the disintermediation of content and meaning.We can comfort ourselves with the thought that more people are reading more “news” than ever before, but in fact most real news is still being reported by our increasingly enfeebled newspapers, and our common wealth of information is declining as their staffs do. What has really increased is dissemination and opinion, a lot of reheated rephrasings meant to thicken the aggregatorial stew.It is difficult to see the way from here to a more humane digital world, but it is not hard to see some aspects of the business model that will get us there: It will place the power of granting significance back into human hands, reward the pursuit of truth and beauty and put digits to the work of hearts and minds. James R. Gaines is the founder of Story River Media, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher devoted to interactive multimedia story-telling across all digital platforms for corporate, government, non-profit and publishing clients. He is the former managing editor of TIME, Life and People magazines, and was corporate editor of Time Inc. “On the one hand, information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable…On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” [Emphasis added]So said Stewart Brand at the first Hackers’ Conference, in 1984. In its entirety, the statement was true and far-sighted, but most of it has been forgotten. That famous italicized fragment, taken out of context, became the call-to-arms of an ideology loosely known as Web 2.0, embracing a broad challenge to principles of copyright, the concept of intellectual property and the usefulness and viability of “old media.” The fight that Brand predicted now verges on cultural war.Despite my long background at Time Inc., I have sometimes sided with those who blithely blame “old media” for their own distress, faulting them for blindness, arrogance and failure to adapt. As someone who has moved into digital publishing myself, I have a stake in the success of the new models that threaten their existence.Online Arrogance read more

Verizon to offer YouTube TV to wireless and Fios customers

first_img Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) Amazon $999 See It Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) Read the AirPods review Tags Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) Read Lenovo Smart Clock review $999 I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. Angela Lang/CNET Preview • YouTube TV has promise, but needs to grow before it’s worth $35 (hands-on) Rylo An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. Tips and tricks to master YouTube TV TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays $999 Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) $6 at Tidal Sarah Tew/CNET YouTube TV, one of several services that delivers live TV over the Internet, recently raised its price to $50 per month. The service is available nationwide and includes more than 70 channels, including local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC networks in most markets.Originally published April 23, 7:59 a.m. PT.Update, 8:39 a.m.: Adds more information on YouTube TV and Verizon partnership. Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. Share your voice Comments The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. $999 DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. Media Streamers Phones Sprint $520 at HP Sarah Tew/CNET Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. See It $155 at Google Express Read the Rylo camera preview Read Google Home Hub review Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) Comments CNET may get a commission from retail offers. $59 at eBaycenter_img $210 at Best Buy Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) News • YouTube TV is now available across the US $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express Sarah Tew/CNET 7 $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express 3 Sarah Tew/CNET YouTube TV has signed a deal with Verizon. Sarah Tew/CNET Verizon has teamed up with Google to offer YouTube TV to its wireless, 5G Home and Fios broadband customers. Customers will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV through Verizon, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Verizon said it’ll offer “unique, high-value YouTube TV promotions” to its customers but didn’t offer specifics on pricing or availability. A representative for the carrier said it will have more to share later this year. “We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose,” Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon, said in the statement. Verizon YouTube,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. $299 at Amazon Share your voice Review • YouTube TV review: The best premium live TV streaming service Turo $60 at Best Buy The Cheapskate YouTube TV Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR See it Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) 2:12 Best Buy DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X See at Turo Apple iPhone XS See It Now playing: Watch this: HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) Read DJI Osmo Action preview Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. Tags Chris Monroe/CNET See at Amazon Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. Boost Mobilelast_img read more