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January 25, 2014

The guys behind HistoryPics have made a career of building popular feeds, selling them to marketers

Also these kids seem to have a real asshole attitude towards the photographers they pirate. The 2 Teenagers Who Run the Wildly Popular Twitter Feed @HistoryInPics - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
I interviewed Di Petta on Skype and got him to walk me through the details of building this little empire of Twitter accounts. As he openly talked through how he and Cameron had built the accounts, I asked him how he felt about criticism that they didn't source or pay for images. "The majority of the images are public domain haha," he responded. So I said, great, let's look through the last five together. And not all of them were in the public domain. So, I said, "How do you think about the use of these images?" "Photographers are welcome to file a complaint with Twitter, as long as they provide proof. Twitter contacts me and I'd be happy to remove it," he said. "I'm sure the majority of photographers would be glad to have their work seen by the massives." I pressed him on this point. Shouldn't the onus be on him and Cameron to get those rights from the photographers they assume would be grateful? "It would not be practical," he said. "The majority of the photographers are deceased. Or hard to find who took the images." Then he said, "Look at Buzzfeed. Their business model is more or less using copyright images."

January 24, 2014

Disrupting the disruptors

And this dear readers is the huge problem with Uber's business plan: after they've gone out and fought for the right to ignore taxi laws all over the country there is nothing stopping a leaner, meaner, better company from doing it cheaper. Enter: Gett. Uber vs. Gett: A big problem for car-sharing apps.
A startup called Gett had a pretty good idea for a business, provide basically the exact same service Uber does but introduce a measure of product distinction by not doing the surge-pricing thing. It's not in nearly as many cities as Uber, but it is in New York City and Sam Biddle has the story of how Uber's NYC office tried to kneecap the competition by creating lots of fake accounts to call for Gett rides and then cancel them. Now that the truth is out and the story's getting covered, Gett is receiving a nice surge of publicity which should help it break into the market. Uber's shall-we-say hypersensitivity about facing competition reflects what may be a very serious problem with its business model. Traditionally the cab dispatch or fleet-ownership game has been lucrative precisely because of the regulatory barriers to entry that Uber is trying to hack or tear down. Drivers don't make very much money, because the supply of potential drivers is large. The real scarcity is permission to drive, and so the people who own the permits make the money. But Uber's basic tactic for busting down those taxi permit monopolies can be turned against it easily enough. And in a highly competitive marketplace between rival car-hailing apps, more and more of the revenue is going to end up flowing to the drivers since you'll essentially be in a war to maximize car availability and therefore ridership. Now I suspect Uber's official answer to actual or potential investors would be that this isn't a problem since Uber's routing algorithms and other technology or so good that they're hard to copy. And maybe they are. But if they're really that good, then it's hard to see why it needs to resort to pranking Gett.

January 15, 2014

Facebook is keeping things from you

Facebook only shows you a fraction of what your friends and feeds post.

December 19, 2013

Life hacks are for the white

Please, read the whole thing. And the first person who makes a browser add-on that adds "if you're white" to all Life Hack posts gets a special Newswire prize. When “Life Hacking” Is Really White Privilege — Medium
The line at the post office was 18 people deep. I’d been waiting awhile, and was thinking about something I’d read: that in Europe, public services are for the public — meaning everyone — whereas in the US, public services are for those who can’t afford a private alternative. Hence the wait. I looked around and noticed that no one among the patrons or the employees was a white man. At the Hanover Street post office, a half block off Wall Street, that was notable. A white man walked in. He surveyed the line and confidently jetted past it, over to an employee pushing a wheeled bin across the floor. He put his hand on the employee’s back. He said, “Hey buddy … can you do me a favor? I just have this one thing.” I also just have this one thing, I thought. And, this line is for people who have one or more things, douchebag. And, you have no right to ask a “favor” that dicks over 18 people uninvolved in granting the “favor.” Fortunately, the mystified employee — who was not white — sent him to the back of the line. I gloated. I tweeted. I’ve met that guy before. We all have. Unless you ARE that guy, and you’re like a fish who doesn’t realize the water is wet. . . .

December 04, 2013

How to make yourself look better in photos #2: the squinch

The first video in the series is pretty good, too.