5 min read

Weekly Digest of Must-Read Articles (11.10)

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 11, 2019
May 29, 2024

Every week we meticulously browse through tons of articles, read a variety of editorials and features to find 10 most interesting pieces you can’t miss on any occasion. This week you’ll find out why the ad tech market can face a downturn. You’ll learn how Jeff Bezos gains power controlling almost half of the cloud-computing industry and how the Silicon Valley fuels the climate crisis. Read all of this and more in our new weekly digest of 10 articles we’d like you to like.

Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan. – The Atlantic

“Today, Bezos controls nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce in the United States. More product searches are conducted on Amazon than on Google, which has allowed Bezos to build an advertising business as valuable as the entirety of IBM. One estimate has Amazon Web Services controlling almost half of the cloud-computing industry—institutions as varied as General Electric, Unilever, and even the CIA rely on its servers. Forty-two percent of paper book sales and a third of the market for streaming video are controlled by the company; Twitch, its video platform popular among gamers, attracts 15 million users a day. Add The Washington Post to this portfolio and Bezos is, at a minimum, a rival to the likes of Disney’s Bob Iger or the suits at AT&T, and arguably the most powerful man in American culture.” Read the article.

What Does PewDiePie Really Believe? – Thew New York Times

“One crucial thing to understand about YouTube is that there are really two of them. The first YouTube is the YouTube that everyone knows — the vast reference library filled with sports highlights, music videos and old Comedy Central roasts. But there’s a second YouTube inside that one. It is a self-contained universe with its own values and customs, its own incentive structures and market dynamics and its own fully developed celebrity culture that includes gamers, beauty vloggers, musicians, D.I.Y.ers, political commentators, artists and pranksters. The biggest of these personalities have millions of subscribers and Oprah-level influence over their fandoms. Many Inner YouTubers never watch TV and develop elaborate parasocial bonds with their favorite creators. For people who frequent Inner YouTube — generally people under 25, along with some older people with abundant free time — the site is not just a video platform but a prism through which all culture and information is refracted.” Read the article.

From Critic to Believer: How Martin Sorrell Changed His Tune on Google and Facebook. – Digiday

“Martin Sorrell was one of the most vocal critics of Google when he ran WPP. Now, he’s one of the search giant’s most vocal cheerleaders as his S4 Capital venture establishes itself as a business partner to the largest digital companies.

The ad veteran shelled out $150 million on agency Firewood earlier this week. On the face of it, it’s hard to see how the agency’s blend of strategy, creative and digital isn’t already covered to varying degrees by the other agencies within S4 Capital. A closer look at Firewood’s client list, however, suggests otherwise. Google is the biggest client for the San Francisco-based agency, which also delivers other blue-chip clients to Sorrell in fast-growing sectors like Salesforce, LinkedIn and VMWare.” Read the article.

The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Orchids. – Longreads

“Everyone thought it was gone. The woods would no longer welcome the late-spring appearance of its pendulous yellow lip, twisted maroon petals, and thick green foliage. Although lady’s slipper orchids continued to bloom throughout the wild woods of Europe and North America, this particular species (Cypripedium calceolus) had been declared extinct in England as of 1917. Collectors had destroyed the plant in the early 20th century, suffering from what was then known as “orchidelirium,” an incurable psychological illness marked by a need to pillage and possess, to strip the landscape bare and imprison one’s precious findings behind the four walls of a personal greenhouse. 

But Cypripedium calceolus wasn’t entirely lost. There were a few small plants growing wild from seed, working their thick white roots into the forest soil. It grew slowly and survived in secret. When a botanist found one growing in Yorkshire in the ’30s, it was kept secret. Botanists feared the plant would be poached again, and so for four decades, no one knew about the lady’s slipper’s return to Britain.” Read the article.

The Great Unbundling: Why Some High-Priced Strategic Ad Tech Deals Could Unravel. – Digiday

“The ad tech M&A market was abuzz in the middle of this decade as a wave of strategic buyers, from telecommunications companies to publishers, swooped in to pick up assets in the hope of programmatically supercharging their data and content. But now some of those deals look set to unravel.

Altice has considered flipping Teads. RTL is rejiggering its ad tech business and reviewing its full ownership of SpotX. And News Corp’s News UK hired a bank to oversee an auction process for video ad platform Unruly.

With an economic downturn looming, ad tech experts said they foresee further similar announcements on the horizon as cable companies, broadcasters and publishers assess which of their valuable assets they can flip in order to pay down debt before a recession hits.” Read the article.

Your Mass Consumer Data Collection Is Destroying Consumer Trust. – Techcrunch

“Like everyone else, we’ve been blinded by the promise of tech’s false promise of “Big Data Solves Everything.” Martech is driving the dialog in our industry right now, and they’re telling us that collecting as much consumer data as possible — regardless of the actual value of that data, and regardless of our consumer’s best interests — will reveal a magic growth formula.

That’s a farce. There is no magic growth formula, and tech won’t do your job for you. Believing that amassing data will save your business instead of focusing on fundamentals has only led to lazy marketing, plummeting consumer trust and a two-fold increase in the number of expensive martech solutions over the last two years.” Read the article.

The Mind at Work: Alison Gopnik on Learning More Like Children. – Dropbox

“The paradox of focus is that our brains avoid it with single-minded conviction. We make exceptions for things we’re really motivated to do. Focusing is hard, grownup work that we have to learn to master. Unless—as we learn from children—our work is play and provides its own motivation.

Knowledge work is about learning, and we learn the most as children. So how can we learn more like children even as grownups with jobs?

Cognitive psychologist Alison Gopnik has been studying this landscape of children and play for her whole career. In her book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, she explains the fascinating intricacy of how children learn, and who they learn from. The carpenter in the title is Gopnik’s term for today’s overprotective helicopter parent, driven by economic anxiety and the collapse of meaningful communities. The gardener, by contrast, plants the seeds and, as much as possible, lets them grow. It’s children’s job to play, and ours to give them just enough protection while they do it. “Babies and young children are the R&D division of the human species,” Gopnik says.” Read the article.

To Understand Climate Change, You Must First Understand Clouds. – The Verge

“Clouds play a profound role in the climate system: some types block sunlight, cooling the Earth, while others act as greenhouse gasses and heat it. Yet no one knows exactly how the clouds will behave as the climate warms. Ever since scientists started running climate models in the late 1960s, clouds have remained the largest single source of uncertainty about just how hot the Earth will get in response to carbon dioxide. They are a major part of the reason why scientists give predictions about the future climate as a range: about 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit if carbon dioxide concentrations rise to twice their preindustrial levels, which is a point we are on track to reach by mid-century. It’s a margin of error that runs from bad to catastrophic — the difference between billions more people subjected to deadly heat, between damaged coral reefs and the end of them, between the inundation of not just Miami but of Osaka, Shanghai, Kolkata as well.” Read the article. 

We Shouldn’t Be Too Concerned About Forgetfulness. – The Independent

Memory is the essence of our psychological functioning, essential for every move we make – getting dressed, having breakfast, driving to work, doing a crossword, making a cup of tea. Nothing we do in our conscious daily lives does not require memory. So, given our reliance on it, why is it that memory sometimes – or often – lets us down? And is this something to be concerned about, or might it actually be healthy?

Consider some of the many ways in which our memories feel like they’re not working properly. There’s the name you’re told on meeting someone new which you forget within seconds; the act of going upstairs to get something and then forgetting what you went there for; or blissfully remembering a foreign holiday several years ago without any memory of the incident at the airport that upset the family. Read the article.

In Its Insatiable Pursuit of Power, Silicon Valley Is Fuelling the Climate Crisis. – The Guardian

“The climate crimes of big tech are legion. This summer the Amazon burned. Why? In part because of the policies of the new anti-environmental, anti-human-rights president, Jair Bolsonaro.

How did Bolsonaro rise to prominence and then the presidency? YouTube, and certain of its algorithms that push people toward more extreme content, played a large part. As the New York Times reported in August, not long ago Bolsonaro was “a marginal figure in national politics – but a star in YouTube’s far-right community in Brazil, where the platform has become more widely watched than all but one TV channel”. Members of the nation’s newly empowered far right – from grassroots organisers to federal lawmakers – say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube’s recommendation engine.” Read the article.

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