😶 The crisis potential of technology
Tech can help in a big way but a handful of tech companies could send a whole nation to the internet dark ages.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
Tech & war
What to expect from the upcoming Apple event
Instagram is rolling out auto-generated captions for videos
The hidden potential of technology in times of war
This week I couldn’t keep up with all the news regarding technology companies stepping up (usually after pressure) to ban or leave or stop servicing Russia because its invasion in Ukraine.
CNN keeps a running list of all the companies, not just from the technology sector, that are pulling back from Russia. The list is growing each day.
There are a lot of stories of the information (meme) war Ukraine is waging online and it seems that it has largely won over most of the world. All the memes and jokes are welcome amid the horrifying news of bombing.
Recently, I talked to a colleague who pointed out something interesting. If a couple of companies wanted to, they could send you to the internet dark ages, quite literally.
If Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft decided to cut you off from all of their services you could still get on the web but that alone would prove to be harder then before.
Though, a stronger point he made was regarding the news that Airbnb set up a special service to match refugees from Ukraine with willing people who would volunteer their rooms or apartments for free.
Airbnb has a very good platform that only needed to be tweaked a little bit and suddenly they could offer it for free to match volunteers with refugees seeking housing.
Sure, many of the tech companies stepped up after pressure from the government or after being called out on Twitter by Ukraine’s vice-prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who oversees digital operations.
Of course, there are some, like the crypto exchanges that refused to help because such move would be against their libertarian views. Though, said they would comply with the law if it was to be changed.
Still, stories like the one about Airbnb offering free housing by using its platform could be a way to restore some faith in tech companies.
But more importantly it shows how they have the potential to help if they are willing.
Elon Musk activated SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine and sent terminals to the country. Experts warn that Russia can use satellite signals to geolocate and target Starlink users in Ukraine. Musk admitted the probability of being targeted was high. [CNN]
Inside Ukraine’s meme war. The country has waged a shitposting war for years. Now, the whole world is watching. [Protocol]
Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik are officially banned in the EU. [Politico.eu]
A good overview on the chaos going on at HQs of Meta, Telegram, Twitter, Google. They are facing two kinds of pressures. One from Russia to crack down on users within the country. And the other from outside to ban all Russian-linked media. Ukraine’s vice-prime minister called on Meta, Apple, Netflix and Google on Friday to restrict access to their services inside Russia to isolate the country. [NYT]
TikTok war: How Russia's invasion of Ukraine played to social media's youngest audience. [Reuters]
👀 Apple announces March 8 event: low-cost 5G iPhone and new iPad expected. Also, according to Bloomberg, some new Macs. [CNBC]
👏 Raspberry Pi is ten years old. Watch the super cute video of its inception and how it’s grown. [Raspberry Pi]
📲 All the news from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. [The Verge]
🤦♂️ Meta says its metaverse ambitions won’t be possible without better cellular networks. I mean, everyone told them so… [CNBC]
🤨 A good point that going all-digital means cutting off the elderly. A man in his seventies successfully organized a petition in Spain to rally authorities to stop closing banks. This notion is actually in line with some of the changes to work under consideration with coming automation - services and business that add something extra for customers will win. And that extra thing is going to be the best customer care, good old-fashioned people talking to people. [FT]
💁 Review: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus is the high-end Android phone most shoppers in the US should buy in 2022. [The Verge]
💍 Review: Oura Ring 3. Still a fail, but the potential is there. [NYT]
🙃 Instagram is rolling out auto-generated captions for videos. The feature is launching in 17 languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese. Instagram says support for more languages is coming soon. TikTok first rolled out the same feature for English and Japanese in April 2021. [TechCrunch]
📣 Why facts matter and how to go viral more than once. In a recent interview, BBC News presenter Ros Atkins discussed how his popular show is being produced and Reuters picked 7 takeaways and tips. [RISJ]
🗣 Tips from the Guardian on live-blogging and covering breaking news on Ukraine. [RISJ]
📖 What makes writing more readable? Trust me, you need to read this and you will write better. [Pudding]
📺 Discovery now has 22 million streaming subscribers, the bulk of that going towards Discovery+. [Axios]
📈 We are very far away from the subscription limit. Hint: Look at Norway where 45% are willing to pay for news and there is little evidence it is because of wealth. [Baekdal]
👍 Super helpful guide: SEO for breaking news. [WTF SEO]
😮 Moves: Chris Licht, the executive producer of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, will become CNN’s new head, replacing Jeff Zucker. And NYT’s managing editor Joe Kahn will replace Dean Baquet as editor-in-chief. [Puck.news]
🤔 A new media “Smith” venture is forming and looking for capital. Justin Smith, the former head of Bloomberg Media, and Ben Smith, the former New York Times media columnist, have approached some of the biggest names in media in an effort to raise $20-30m to launch a news organization by fall of 2022. [Axios]
🙌 Financial Times reaches one million digital subscribers. The FT first introduced a paywall in 2002. It pioneered a ‘metered’ access model in 2007 before moving in 2015 to paid trials as its primary model. [FT]
😮 CNN+ will offer a permanent 50% discount to anyone who signs up within the first four weeks. The new streaming service will cost $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. [CNN]
🙄 Only 8% of Generation Z customers think marketers understand them. [Adweek]
FROM THE FIX
[ 📬 Get The Fix newsletter delivered to your inbox every week with the latest insights, news, and analysis about the European media market. Sign up here > ]
😲 Spooler, a new podcast tech company from Insider and Axel Springer, formed and is looking to create podcasts that will continually update. A news show could publish in the morning and then, throughout the day, add new segments, update earlier clips, or swap around the order of the broadcast. The first show using the tech will be The Refresh from Insider. [Spooler]
📝 How to write the perfect podcast description. [Podcast Page]
📲 How to use Twitter to promote your podcast. [Audry]
😅 A loved this SNL sketch on a podcasting kit for white men. [YouTube]
🕹 Amazon Luna — the company’s cloud-based game streaming service — officially launched in the US. It’s available for anyone to use, in addition to adding a variety of new features, including free games for Amazon Prime members. It’s interesting to see how Amazon is making this happen while Google is failing with Stadia. Amazon is also adding native support for one-click broadcasting to Twitch, owned also by the company. [The Verge]
❓ Poll: How much are you following the war in Ukraine?
Last poll results: What are your thoughts on vertical video? 34% answered it’s a good complementary format to horizontal video. 25% prefer vertical video. 23% prefer horizontal video. 18% don’t care.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.