Earlier today I put up a post about Evan Williams telling Sarah Lacy to "fuck off." I've gone in and changed that post a bunch of times after I originally hit "publish." I changed the headline. I changed the first paragraph. I struck out a few lines, and added some others. I took out some stuff that didn't read well, or was detracting from the post. I added a video of Jim Croce singing "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" at the bottom. And so on.
Evan Williams founded Blogger, Twitter and Medium, and he's perfected the aw-shucks role of a nice, pleasant choir boy CEO. Nevertheless, last week Williams told angelic role model and hero mom Sarah Lacy to "Fuck off," and now he's Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Baddest Man in the Whole Damn Town. In San Francisco, this is what passes for entertainment.
Wired editor in chief Scott Dadich, is an
anal retentive neat freak organized and highly creative fellow who recently sent a memo to the filthy, slobby, disgusting hacks on the magazine's editorial staff explaining a list of rules about how they were to behave in their brand-new office space. Someone leaked it to The Awl.
Microsoft has shuttered its ridiculous and awful "Scroogled" ad campaign, in which it created a string of horrible ads attacking Google and ended up looking like a crazy old man in a bathrobe yelling at kids to get off his lawn. If you go to the scroogled.com page, you now get redirected to whymicrosoft.com. This insanely ham-fisted campaign was the brainchild of Mark Penn, the political pollster who destroyed Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008 and was rewarded for this by getting an incredibly well-paid job at Microsoft, where he fucked up again, and again was rewarded with a promotion. He is now Microsoft's "chief strategy officer." Well played, Mark Penn. Well played.
You may remember that there was once a company in Canada called RIM — no, really, that was its name — and this company made a product called the BlackBerry. The BlackBerry was a kind of precursor to the iPhone and was quite popular in the early 2000s. Peopled called them CrackBerries, because they were so addictive.
Everyone is raving about Neil Young's new high-rez PonoPlayer, but Mario Aguilar of Gizmodo is not impressed. Young says you can hear the difference. But can he hear the difference? He's 69 years old, and has spent his life standing in front of deafening amplifiers.
I'm not making this up. A bunch of people including some top AI researchers are adding their signatures to an open letter urging everyone to keep AI research from careening into darkness and destroying the human race. Actually the letter just says researchers should focus only on doing good things with AI, and there is a link to a document (extremely tl;dr) that outlines what some of those things might be.
In just nine days the world's most self-important people will descend on a tiny ski village in the Alps to rub shoulders with Nobel laureates and big-shot CEOs. They will talk about very important things like "transformational leadership," "volatility as the new normal," and "designing out poverty" at the World Economic Forum, under the protection of snipers in snow camouflage.
Oil and water. Journalists are a different breed, and don't play well with normals. I'm sure the Genius guys have convinced Sasha Frere-Jones that they're not like all those other corporate jerks — they're cool and hip! And they've no doubt thrown a lot of money at him.
Stephen Hawking sees the danger of artificial intelligence. So does Elon Musk. Oxford professor Nick Bostrom, head of the Future of Humanity Institute, has written a whole book about it. Even the scientists at Google DeepMind, who are developing artificial intelligence, seem a little spooked about it.
There's a brand new dance craze that all the tech kids need to start doing. Stand in front of a mirror at midnight, wave your arms like this, and say the words, "Developers, developers, developers, developers." Ballmer will appear in your bedroom and force you to use a Zune.
There are few people whose careers have taken a worse nosedive than mine, but Ben Parr might be one of them. At the very least I can say that Ben and I have been on similar downward trajectories, and for that reason alone I feel a kind of kinship for him. And I am loath to mock him for making money in men's rooms in Las Vegas, because I fear that after this gig at Valleywag that kind of work might be all that is left to me, and at my age it won't be easy.
At first I thought this must be a week for hoaxes. First was Troy Hitch, the guy who claims he's going to wear Oculus goggles non-stop for a year, which has to be a prank, especially since he's the guy who makes those "You Suck at Photoshop" videos. Nevertheless, hit the link and see the video, because it's pretty funny. That's him in the photo above.
That in a nutshell is the gist of a new 8-million-word article in Fast Company that starts out blaming Bezos for the failure of the Fire Phone and then says the Fire Phone is just one of several dubious new ventures like delivering groceries and making TV shows that probably make no sense. Also, Amazon's growth is slowing and investors are getting impatient with its inability to turn a profit.