Total Surrender to Big Tech

You think that when Big Tech lands in your backyard you get jobs, innovation and that a little bit of that sweet silicon valley imago will rub off on your provincial backwater. Instead, what happens is that a mostly automated black box, built by foreign contractors, and staffed by remote workers, sucks all water and energy resources dry whilst sending all surplus value back to the U.S.A. (or Bahamas). All of this at the expense of actual local economic actors, who can no longer develop their industries.


iOS jailbreaks as part of essential chinese youth culture of the last decade. Not just for free apps, but also for essential functionality.

Yet on the other hand, jailbreaking was immensely common, if not almost essential, in China, where I lived: on Taobao, where cheaper, parallel-imported iPhone units went to market, vendors would offer a small fee to jailbreak your device beforehand. The earliest generation of the iPhone didn’t come with good multilingual support, and when it did, third-party apps were often in English only; you couldn’t install community translations without jailbreaking. The imported units were often locked to their original carriers. No one was buying apps on iTunes, either: paying for software had barely crossed anyone’s mind, and few of us owned the kind of international credit card that was required for a 99-cent copy of Doodle Jump. Jailbreaking also allowed users to access features that were, even then, common among other Chinese phones: one popular tweak was KuaiDial, which showed the origin city of every phone call and blocked numbers that were marked spam in public databases.

Diseconomies of Scale (Platforms)

This piece is way too long and all over the place, but has some interesting anecdotes about how scale becomes a disadvantage for a platform company. Most examples are to do with content moderation and things like scams. This site could really use some CSS though.

On Scams

Scams are always fascinating because, despite knowing better, people fall for them, it leaves the victims startled and often ashamed. These two pieces are personal recountings of how and why people fell for the scams. More digitalization and franctic stressy worklives mean that this will only get more common.

Junkyard Computing

A study looking at repurposing discarded smartphones as as a physical infrastructure for cloud-type computing workloads. Interesting re-use together with things like renwable-energy-availability-aware charging etc. I bet the cable salad is pretty gnarly in such a setup. It is also a shame that things like screens etc are not used. Perhaps recycling only the SBCs would be a next step in this?