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There is no spoon

23 July Subscribe
Tech news, HAT-slanted 
Issue 134

We are all guessing, all the time

There's a Medium publication called Gen that writes about "politics, power, and culture" and it put out an interesting piece last week. Apparently we have no idea how big tech companies or markets really are.

Some examples, because they entertain me. 

Google makes $4.7 billion in annual revenue from news publishers, according to (no joke) an extrapolation over ten years of a single off-handed comment Marissa Mayer made in 2008.

Amazon earns advertising revenue worth either more than $10 billion, or just about $5 billion, depending on which analyst you ask, because they file the revenue under "other". (Oh, to be a deca-billion dollar afterthought) They also take care of more than 50% of all US online sales, or 37% (the updated figure), or who knows how much - the number is never properly reported by anyone.

Retail in the US could be a $5 trillion industry (eMarketer, an analyst). It could also be a 3.8 trillion industry (does retail include Gas and Restaurants?). It could also be a $2.6 trillion dollar industry. What's $2.4 trillion between friends? 

I think one of the interesting things about all of this is that we literally don't care how true the figures we're reporting are. Information dissemination globally is narrative - we literally only ever listen to stories, nothing else even enters the eardrums. As hooks for a narrative, is there a difference by 37 billion and 50 billion? 

The Medium article that caught my attention made the point that our challenge here is the wide reporting of these statistics. Our global information networks are so dense now that any reported figure is "true" or "false" (neither?) at point of publication. That's what ought to be reined in I guess. NBD.

Maybe this is why we're having such a crap time dealing with maniac despots.

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The present


There's another shot been fired in the revolutionary war against the Sovereign App Store. Tinder is bypassing the Google Play Store's 30% tax on revenues (!!!!!!) - by setting up an intermediary page between Google and their payable app, they can make it so the payment system doesn't have to be Google. 

WeChat has to censor images in messages in real-time. Yikes.

Fun! There has been a growth in "vertical dramas" specifically made for smartphones in China. Want to see the future? Look East.

The past


An incredibly awesome interactive of how close Notre Dame came to properly collapsing.

The future


Wait, the millions of records worth of comprehensive health data held by one of the world's largest public health issuers could potentially be valuable? Well, colour me shocked.

The UK is leading the way (with Japan maybe?) on a national project to standardize HD maps for use in autonomous vehicle manufacturing. It's a bit like the genome project - we don't really want a company having an edge of this sort (necessarily) and so let's build the edge as a nation instead.

A former Vanity Fair editor has launched a premium email newsletter. Interesting.

The doghouse


Don't use FaceApp, the thing is a nightmare (as it was in 2017, when it last went viral).

HAT News

Smart Data. The BEIS in Westminster is looking at open up the Communications sector the way it did with banking. We're responding (don't both, just give people HATs), but interesting to see that we genuinely are trying to properly lead the way with data and tech policy in this country (yay!).

Friends in high places. Cambridge's largest (I think?) deep tech investor just raised a fresh $300m to invest in the future - huge congratulations to them, it means a lot for our community. Way to go.

Snoozles. It's the month of rest - we're all desperately trying to recharge our batteries in time for September by scratching out holidays wherever we possibly can. Wish us luck, as the round still hasn't closed...

Jonathan Holtby, HAT Community Manager

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