Too Big To Work

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Ten years ago as the economy floundered, we were introduced to the expression that something was too big to fail. That was impressive for a minute – the notion that so many eggs were in so few baskets still flies in the face of wisdom. Allowing so few financial institutions to be responsible for so much of the US economy was something to avoid before it went sour – this isn’t a banking post. I’m just borrowing the expression.

Forget the terrible privacy angle of so few social network sites managing so much personal data; we’d be here all day. Too Big To Work is a title that refers to the hate and lies and discontent that social networks breed. Even if data privacy were assured, the negativity and propoganda would be securely locked in place making all that secure data useless.

What began as normal exploitative ideas (and the profitable ones often are), Twitter and Facebook for example have grown into shooting galleries. The concepts didn’t scale.

Watching either Facebook or Twitter combat fake news and chase down bad actors and propoganda accounts is a joke. They nab a few hundred bad guys sometimes but it’s third-party investigations that identify thousands of accounts that require policing. Twitter can’t keep up with the information it might or might not gather. It harvests data although it doesn’t have clear advertising goals. One day they might, and millions of gigabytes of Personally Identifiable Information will be there if it’s needed. Facebook has clear goals but they just lie or change their mind in a hot second about information they collect.

Both companies have appeared before the US Senate and at the time, that seemed quite a thing to take seriously. Before a month had elapsed it was as though either company had just grown out of its first Silicon Valley garage and the rookie privacy mistakes were piling up again.

From tax dodges to quirky public personas (Elon Musk’s manic late Summer) to cultural elitists to just being aloof, Big Tech is illustrating that any of its peers can grow too big to work. Data governance seems to get utterly unmanageble not with the size of the cache or data sets, but with the increased number of sources. It seems like these companies and banks and email services that experience horrific security gaffes are being pecked to death by their very success. And they remain stock market darlings?

Can you imagine if a car maker got more successful and sold more cars and then made cars that were consistently more dangerous? Or if this quality inverse to its success came from the food industry? Or a city as people moved in? This sort of gross failure and constant risk doesn’t happen in more traditional business models; and for Big Tech, the failures are happening at the scale of the whole industry, not just a few, select businesses.

The platform is not [what is valuable] — The entire sector needs to step up. – Owen Walker of Financial

The recent tech stock dive has turned back upward. Companies are forecast to value with Q2 2019 IPOs at over 40 BILLION dollars. I mean Palantir, and Uber’s IPO forecasts over three times higher. Palantir is so secret there’s not much to say about it and Uber’s history is filled with re-negotiating blame and strong-arming city governments – Austin TX and SF City and Seattle WA – and activey working to replace its human workforce with robots.

I believe the Big Tech=Money party will end once regular people leverage their own privacy and the importance of their well-being and mental hygeine against the profit raking practices of placating and P.R. and appearant indifference that Big Tech has so far safely relied on. Big Tech already doesn’t work – now that has to be called out.

Updated 10/20 to include links and blockquote from Financial Times. The concept is also highlighted in a NYTimes Opinion piece yesterday.

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