shit talkers

‘The subject of a good tragedy must not be realistic.’ –Corneille

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[Yahoo C.E.O. Marissa] Mayer also had a habit of operating on her own time. Every Monday at 3 p.m. Pacific, she asked her direct reports to gather for a three-hour meeting. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Invariably, Mayer herself would be at least 45 minutes late; some calls were so delayed that Yahoo executives in Europe couldn’t hang up till after 3 a.m. […]

Within weeks of becoming C.E.O., she received an email from Henrique de Castro, the fashionable Portuguese president of Google’s media, mobile and platforms businesses. […] Over dinner, de Castro impressed Mayer with his knowledge of Yahoo’s business and his specific proposals for building it. For several mornings in a row, the two exchanged emails to negotiate de Castro’s salary. Every night, Mayer would make an offer, only to wake up to a reply with a list of more conditions. Eventually de Castro negotiated himself a contract worth around $60 million, depending on the value of Yahoo stock. […] Despite the board’s urging, Mayer opted against vetting Henrique de Castro. As a result, she was unaware that de Castro had a poor reputation among his colleagues in Google’s advertising business. Many had derisively called him the Most Interesting Man in the World, in reference to the satirically fatuous spokesman for Dos Equis beer. […] Advertising revenue declined in every quarter since he was hired. Within a year, Mayer had personally taken control of Yahoo’s ad team. De Castro would leave the company in January 2014. For about 15 months of work, he would be paid $109 million.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘If you need a friend, get a dog.’ –Gordon Gekko

Several weeks ago, Vidra communicated the new vision to the staff in what I am told was an uncomfortable stream of business clichés ungrounded in any apparent strategy other than saying things like “let’s break shit” and “we’re a tech company now.”

{ NY mag | Continue reading | Daily Beast }

Million ways to cry

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{ CYNK, a ”social networking” startup that has no assets, no revenue, no members, and one employee, is worth $4.75 billion }

art { Paul Klee }

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini in your face

Yo, the app, has been hacked

‘Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.’ –Bertrand Russell

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Yo is the hottest new app that will leave you scratching your head. The entire premise of the app is to send other users a single word: Yo. […] Without ever having officially launched, co-founder and CEO Or Arbel managed to secure $1.2 million in funding.

{ Tech Crunch | Continue reading }

That $1m funding should cover costs for a year to find out whether Yo really can succeed, Mr Arbel says. […] “It’s not just an app that says Yo,” says Mr Arbel. “It’s a whole new means of communication.”

{ FT | Continue reading }

‘All writing is pigshit. People who leave the obscure and try to define whatever it is that goes on in their heads, are pigs.’ —Antonin Artaud

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Ultracrepidarian (n):”Somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about.”

Groke (v): “To gaze at somebody while they’re eating in the hope that they’ll give you some of their food.” My dog constantly grokes at me longingly while I eat dinner.

{ BI | Continue reading }

‘Self-parody precedes selfhood.’ —Rob Horning

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Twitter co-creator whose real name is actually Biz Stone has a new project called “Jelly.” No one knows what it is, other than an epicenter of vagaries and tech intrigue. […] In a blog post on its mystery Tumblr, Jelly announced its latest financials backers:

Jack Dorsey, Co-founder and CEO of Square
Bono, Musician and Activist
Al Gore, Politician, Philanthropist, Nobel Laureate
Greg Yaitanes, Emmy Winning Director
Roya Mahboob, Afghan Entrepreneur and Businesswoman

[…]

By Jelly’s own admissions, the “product” is still in “early prototyping,” so these celeb investors aren’t even completely sure what they’re investing in. Whatever it is, it will have something to do with “mobile devices [taking] an increasingly central role in our lives,” since “humanity has grown more connected than ever,” and “herein lies massive opportunity.”

{ ValleyVag | Continue reading }

“Jelly” has been a closely guarded secret. […] Now, it has revealed itself. It’s a way to ask your friends questions.

Watch the video and be not amazed. Watch as, for the first time ever, a dude takes a picture of a tree in the woods and sends it to someone else because he doesn’t know what he’s looking at—Yahoo! Answers for the bourgeoisie.

Have you ever posted on Facebook, asking if anyone knows a good barber? Or tweeted to your followers asking if “House of Cards” is any good? That’s Jelly—a search engine that uses your friends—only more convoluted than ever before. […]

Jelly says “it’s not hard to imagine that the true promise of a connected society is people helping each other.” This truly is a revolution in engorged, cloying, dumbstruck rhetoric, a true disruption of horse shit. With Jelly, “you can crop, reframe, zoom, and draw on your images to get more specific”—you can also do that with countless other apps. But that doesn’t matter—this is a vanity project, remember. It’s an opportunity for Biz Stone to Vimeopine on the nature of human knowledge, interconnectedness, and exotic flora. It’s an app for the sake of apps—a software Fabergé egg.

{ ValleyWag | Continue reading }

‘Nothing endures but change.’ –Heraclitus

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Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.

The idea that the same experiments always get the same results, no matter who performs them, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to objective truth. If a systematic campaign of replication does not lead to the same results, then either the original research is flawed (as the replicators claim) or the replications are (as many of the original researchers on priming contend). Either way, something is awry.

{ The Economist | Continue reading }

Then did you, chivalrous Terence, hand forth, as to the manner born, that nectarous beverage

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In 2005, Harry Frankfurt wrote a monograph entitled On Bullshit and this work received a flurry of attention. At its core, Frankfurt argues that while lying is a misrepresentation of the truth, bullshit is a misrepresentation of the self, and an indifference to truth, which in his mind is worse than lying. […]

Bullshit is more dangerous to democracy than lying. Unlike a lie, bullshit is destructive of even concern for the truth. Thus, in politics, it creates conditions where it is easier to present a lie as truth, and indifference to truth in public discourse renders public discourse impotent or worse. Even more destructively, it infects thinking. The corruption of language is bad enough, but even worse is the corruption of thinking. This is Plato’s insight into the problem with rhetoric, where the weaker argument can defeat the stronger.

{ Paul Babbitt /SSRN | Continue reading }

Potions of green tea endow them during their brief existence with natural pincushions of quite colossal blubber

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A team of scientists in the UK claims they’ve found evidence for alien life coming to Earth. According to their paper, published in the Journal of Cosmology (more on that in a moment) they lofted a balloon to a height of 22-27 kilometers (13-17 miles). When they retrieved it, they found a single particle that appears to be part of a diatom, a microscopic plant. This, they claim, is evidence of life coming from space. […]

The team publishing this paper includes […] a man who has claimed, time and again, to have found diatoms in meteorites. However, his previous claims have been less than convincing: The methodology was sloppy, the conclusions were not at all supported by the evidence, and heck, he hadn’t even established that the rocks they found were in fact meteorites. He also has a history of seeing life from space everywhere based on pretty thin evidence.

Moreover, this team published their results in the Journal of Cosmology, an online journal that doesn’t have the most discerning track record with science.

{ Slate | Continue reading }

On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense

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How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the “like” button – even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.

There’s just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand “likes” at his “click farm”. […]

That particular Facebook page on courgettes was set up by the programme makers to demonstrate how click farms can give web properties spurious popularity. […]

Sir Billi, a British cartoon film voiced by Sir Sean Connery, has more than 65,000 Facebook likes – more than some Hollywood films.

Although it has so far only been released in South Korea, Facebook data suggests the city of Dhaka is the source of the third-largest number of likes. (The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is presently the source of the highest number.)

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

‘Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.’ –George Carlon

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Forget patenting an invention. These days, companies patent conceptual categories for future inventions.

During the first dot-com boom, Amazon famously patented the concept of buying things online with one click. More recently, companies have patented concepts such as scanning documents to an e-mail account, clearing checks electronically and sending e-mail over a wireless network.

The problem with these kinds of abstract patents is that lots of people will independently discover the same basic concept and infringe by accident. Then the original patent holder — who may not have come up with the concept first, or even turned the concept into a usable technology — can sue. That allows for the kind of abusive litigation that has been on the rise in recent years.

A lawsuit over an Internet advertising patent offered a key appeals court an opportunity to rein in these abstract patents. Instead, the court gave such patents its endorsement on Friday, setting the stage for rampant patent litigation to continue unchecked.

A firm called Ultramercial claims to have invented the concept of showing a customer an ad instead of charging for content. The company has sought royalties from a number of Web sites, including Hulu and YouTube. Ultramercial’s patent isn’t limited to any specific software algorithm, server configuration or user interface design. If you build a Web site that follows the general business strategy claimed by the patent, Ultramercial thinks you owe them money.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }