Every AWS outage should remind us that Amazon runs big parts of the internet

Hey Amazon, we felt that, again.

👋 Welcome to the FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.

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In this edition

⚠️ AWS outage (we felt that)

5️⃣ Top tech stories

💬 Other tech, media, gaming, audio & podcasting news

👻 BONUS: My latest column for The Fix titled Three lessons in community building, leveraging hype cycles, and sustainable funding.

What could happen, if the internet is run by one company

📸 by AWS

Oh, wait, we are kind of living that.

On Wednesday, you could probably feel there was a couple of hours taking AWS outage, meaning something went wrong at the Amazon Web Services.

If you host a podcast on Anchor, you could not upload a new episode nor could you listen to one that is hosted on the Spotify-owned service.

The same story was applicable for other affected services, The Verge has a pretty good list, just to name a few: 1Password, Adobe Spark, Coinbase, DataCamp, Flickr, iRobot, Pocket, Roku & more...

According to the latest data, AWS controls more than 40% of cloud computing. Take away Amazon’s servers and a bunch of services (Netflix, Uber…) will not work.

That’s a pretty big thing.

And that’s why if there is an outage we know about it almost instantly because it might be affecting at least one of the services you are using that are running on AWS.

Microsoft and Google are trying to carve out bigger pieces from the overall cloud business but Amazon has been a leader for years. Not only in terms of market power and customer but also innovation - it developed its own server chips called Graviton.

On one side, AWS has a lot of services so that for many it is super easy to spin up a server and run whatever software or application you like.

On the other side, any misstep is felt globally.

Whenever there is a major cloud outage (and to be fair, there aren’t many on a global scale that often), I count the hours to fix it. So far, at the time of finishing this newsletter, it has been over 5 hours and many of the services are still down.

To better understand Amazon’s dominance, watch this short video explainer:

Top tech stories, briefly

You know how I said last week this is not a new format and that I am busy, well, same this week. But also this format is growing on me, so I might keep it. Any objections, please, send my way, just hit reply.

1️⃣ Facebook makes editorial tweaks to its algorithm. According to sources The New York Times spoke to, after the election, Zuckerberg agreed to temporarily tweak Facebook's algorithm to make authoritative news like CNN and NYT appear more prominently. Basically, the company knows how to set up the platform to be less toxic, the problem is, that the outcome means less time spent by users. Just mindblowing.

2️⃣ The incoming [Bide] administration is working remotely, operating on a standard, paid Google network.

The federal government, which has some of the most sophisticated anti-hacking technologies in the world, is offering limited assistance to Mr. Biden’s transition operation in securing its email and other communications, despite concerns that the team is likely a top espionage target for Russia, China, and other adversaries, according to people familiar with the transition.

3️⃣ Snap announces Spotlight, a vertically scrollable TikTok-like feed. Also, Snapchat will pay $1M every day to users who create the top Snaps through 2020. Snapchat says its algorithms will work to surface the most engaging Snaps to display to each user on a personalized basis.

4️⃣ Germany agrees to a mandatory quota for female executives. OK, not a straight-forward tech story, but still. Good story on Financial Times.

5️⃣ Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a global QR code system to help free up travel. If this wasn't coming from a totalitarian state leader, I would be much more excited.

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In other news, briefly


📩 How the Daily Memphian grew newsletter subscribers to more than 40,000 in fewer than two years. [Better News]

We convert about 10% of our newsletter subscribers to digital subscribers. By expanding the number of newsletter subscribers we increase our digital subscription rates, and we currently have a little more than 14,000 digital subscribers.

📲 Apple announced that app publishers could now offer special offers via discount codes. As Joshua Benton points out, it’s good news for publishers who can now price more flexibly as targeted discounting seems to be essential to a successful digital subscription strategy. [NiemanLab]

📈 Inside Morning Brew’s approach to subscriber growth. Lots of lessons here from a newsletter media company that got recently acquired for more than $50 million by Business Insider. [Entrepreneur’s Handbook]

🦾 AI and journalism in 2020. [JournalismAI]

📜 How to price a paid subscription newsletter. [Newsletter Crew]

😮 The New York Times and The Washington Post tripled their subscribers during Trump. [Axios]


🎧 Who are audiograms for? [HotPod]

🗣️ 4 Insights from #1 rated branded podcasts. [Captivate]

🎙️ 10 tips for turning your podcast episode into a plog post (that people will want to read). [Podreacher]


👾 On the future of games with Phil Spencer. The executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft ( = in charge of Xbox) gave a lengthy interview to The Verge’s new podcast. [Decoder]

P.S.: If you speak 🇸🇰 I recommend subscribing to a new weekly newsletter on gaming co-produced by my podcast co-host. I am not a gamer, but read it weekly and it keeps me up to date >> Herný update.


📚 100 Notable Books of 2020. [The New York Times]

👍 The most useful article of 2020 (according to me): How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Webcam. Tried it and works wonderfully. Time to become a Youtuber. [Wired]

Watch it on Instagram, it’s good, as usual.

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