Comment on ‘I already pay for Apple News+’

$10 per month all-you-can-eat from 300-plus publishers

Source: The danger of ‘I already pay for Apple News+’ | TechCrunch

 

Apple News+ sounds a lot more like Netflix in its early years to me. Over time, when publishers realize that “yes, this is indeed a losing proposition for us, in favor of the customer”, they’ll either launch their own similar services, or threaten to pull out of News+, or throw tantrums, which will mean a slowly increasing cost of News+ over time.

The problem here, that Netflix must respect and Apple won’t, is that news is not a single source thing for the most part. If there’s an in-depth report that people want, but only Bloomberg provides, then Apple will either need Bloomberg (just like Netflix needs Friends), or will have to provide à la carte options the way Hulu does. But for most other news, if I can’t get it from publisher A, then I’ll just read Newspaper B’s report. Apple is making it easier for customers to ignore who the source is, just like Facebook did and Google AMP does. Good for consumers, bad for brand recognition.

Yes, this will open up a new avenue for some, and will be great for customers, and will break niche storytellers (of the LongReads types) and also big newsrooms. But you can’t blame Apple on capitalizing on a broken market. They’ve had a long time to fix this. So many business models have come and gone, from Better Ads, to services that allowed people to pay a monthly fee for ad-free experiences on a set of participating sites, to stupid stuff like Adblocker Blocker. The industry has fumbled through everything but collaborating and making their own version of News+ where they wouldn’t have had to pay Apple fifty cents on the dollar.

Just like Netflix broke an already dying business, and reinvented the way we consume TV, News+ is poised to do the same. Thing is, the innovation cycle has sped up this time and you’ll be seeing News+ competitors as early as next year. First, it’ll be half-assed attempts by Samsung, Microsoft, or Google, and then publishers themselves, who will shoot themselves in the foot by giving customers limited options (one reason I’m not subscribed to online services like CBS). What’s worth seeing is if they’re able to band together and learn something from this experience.

Apple acquired the magazine industry’s self-distribution app Texture a year ago

I was looking at solutions around this some time ago (just idle browsing, mind you) and realized that Apple had bought Texture and done nothing with it. The News app is not a natural extension of what Texture did, but News+ is. Good for them.

More than anything, it seems that Apple wanted to build a product around magazines for iPad consumers, and news media was an afterthought that just happened to be in need. When Apple announced News+, I thought it was the opposite, but the Texture explanation makes sense.

That means those magazines are likely to absorb a ton of taps and engagement time before users even make it to the WSJ, which will then only score few cents per reader.

I don’t know how Netflix pays their sources, but this is how Spotify pays theirs. As a consumer of Indian music, I have to push Spotify’s constant prattle of American artists aside to get to the music I want to listen to. But thems the chops. If publishers want more engagement, they need to now build a better relationship with Apple. This means the smaller ones will absolutely suffer. They should keep out of News+

 

No, climate change will not cause more boys to be born. It’s probably the opposite.

I don’t understand why mainstream media gets things so wrong.

A few weeks ago I heard something from a friend – climate change will mean more boys will be born. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought because we were having a conversation and I didn’t have any facts one way or the other.

Revisiting the idea, I realized that I’ve recently read a conflicting notion. I read a comic book by Aminder Dhaliwal called Woman World that talks about a world where men have disappeared and women have to form society again. It’s a Utopia –

No, I’m not claiming that a comic book is scientifically accurate, but it does seem to be telling more truth than Fox News. I searched for the idea online and tried to find its source. Here’s what a search for it looks like –

You’ll notice that most articles don’t give you a clear answer to the question and want you to read the article to come to a conclusion. Some of them, like IFLScience clearly state that a higher proportion of girls will be born due to Climate Change.

But then there’s Fox8.com – “Warmer temperatures bring sons”

Total lie. Well, not really. But mostly a lie, because the people living in Cleveland, which is where Fox8 belongs, do NOT live in preindustrial Finland.

There’s a research paper out of Japan, linked here, which all of these articles quote. If you open the link and read no more than the “Conclusion” line, it’ll be quite clear to you that the evidence says that less boys will be born over time because the male fetus is more susceptible to external factors. (I’ll come back to external factors)

Since this narrative doesn’t suit Fox 8 Cleveland they warped the headline to what they want to state. The article includes research by one Samuli Helle, from the University of Finland, that states that in the case of the Sami people of Finland, warmer temperatures will mean more male children for that community.

The way it’s worded in the article, it says –

Clearly, the person writing the article or their editor decided that single line should be the headline. I wanted to call out said person who wrote the Fox News article, but if you look for the author, it’s attributed to CNNWire.

What?

I opened a few more of the articles on the search page and they all attribute ‘CNN’ as the author of the article.

I searched for the keywords and CNN and found out that one Susan Scutti, who writes on medical topics for CNN, wrote the article here, and it was syndicated to all these other outlets, including Fox. Fox8, however, had the bad sense to change the headline to what suits them, because in this age of information overload, their readers will only read the headline and move on, sadly misinformed on the topic. From what I understand about wires, news organizations receiving the wire can’t change the text significantly, but can change the headline to suit their needs.

But, that doesn’t let CNN off the hook either. I don’t know what the interaction between Susan Scutti and Samuli Helle was (the article mentions emails), but the article words it to say that warmer temperatures will bring more male children everywhere.

The truth couldn’t be farther from that statement. The Japanese research, and Helle’s own research seems to state that in colder regions like Finland, warming up will bring more male children, but in the majority of the world, where ‘external factors’ such as forest fires, floods, and droughts are going to be the norm, more girls will be born. Helle even admits in the article itself that the effects of climate change on reproduction will not be uniform worldwide. Yet that’s exactly how the article seems to portray it.

I reached out to Susan Scutti and Samuli Helle a few days ago to get clarification on the topic. While I didn’t hear back from Scutti, Helle responded back. I’m going to put his response in full below, instead of the hit job that Susan has done on Helle’s work and responses.

Yes that study considered only Sami people who lived some two hundred years ago in northern Finland. We aimed not to generalize that result to other populations, at least not to modern humans. I am not quite sure how strong is the evidence for such an association in modern or western populations, since haven’t been following that literature too closely for years now. We did however publish another article in 2009 showing that in whole Finland during 1865-2003, high temperature was associated with proportionally more male births. Please see:

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01598.x

Samuli Helle via email

So, there’s research that during a large period of time, higher male births did happen in Finland during ‘warm years’. However, by the author’s own admission, this does not apply to other modern or western populations. Further, even if you accept the results of the 2009 paper, do the same apply to the US, where the weather profile varies wildly from Finland? I don’t think so.

Media outlets can often be seen doing one of two things – terrible oversimplification, and muddying the waters. Clearly, Fox oversimplified the results explained in the article, all while others who syndicated the article left it untouched for the nuance the headline provides. On the other hand, it seems that CNN found this piece of evidence from the Japanese study and decided that they can’t write a one-sided article, so they went out and found conflicting information, however misguided, and published it alongside.

Had Susan Scutti referenced the 2009 paper, it still would have made some sense, as the results actually do seem to be in favor of the argument. However, referencing the Sami people study clearly shows a misguided attempt at ‘balancing’ the reporting.

I don’t know whether it was the author of the article, or her editor, who decided that the reporting needed to have two sides, but this sort of silly mistake is what erodes trust in the fourth estate. Anyone skimming these articles will be swayed to think one way or another, but anyone who takes a breath and reads the content will see the aimless wandering that media outlets call the news nowadays. This is how cynics are created.

In the end, take the whole thing with a grain of salt – in some countries, more boys will be born, while in most, it seems, more girls will be born. Wait for the research to talk about your country, your demographic, and your time. Everything else is noise.

Sourcing information

We all do most of our browsing on our phones. When we come across something we don’t know about, we google it to find out more. More often than not, the link that gives us the most information is either Wikipedia or a news site.

If it’s current affairs, it’s a news site. If it’s general information, Wikipedia. Then why do we still google the thing? Why waste time on the middleman? Is it force of habit? Is it because we believe that google will give us the most comprehensive information and links? Is it just laziness?

Perhaps it’s all of the above. Google is our one stop shop for all information. Whether we’re looking to buy something, looking for a website which we don’t often go to, looking for some news, or solving some mystery on the web, google will give you the knowledge you’re looking for. That’s a great product, regardless of any other implications on privacy, advertising, politics etc.

So why should we opt to change this excellent workflow? (Need information, ask google, get information)

Because it’s worth it to go to the source.

  • Google often scrapes data from Wikipedia, but most of the time, it’s incomplete. It’ll be the first line or paragraph in a topic that’s complex and needs some more study to understand. Or, google will tell you a part of the information, expecting you to select a link to learn more from. So why not go to the source directly?
  • When the topic is a current affair, Google will show you links that it judges to be of your interest, or of value to them (advertising, collaborations with sites like twitter which will be surfaced above others). Instead, if you go to a solution such as Apple News (or Google News perhaps) and search for the topic you’re looking for, you’ll see a more balanced perspective because all Apple News is doing is collecting links from various news sources and presenting those to you. Notice that I didn’t say you should go to a particular news site for this, because if you want real news, you’d better be looking at more than one source.

Now, how do we make this easier? How do we give up our google habit and go to the source? On mobile, the simplest way to do this is to move your apps around. On my phone, the Wikipedia app sits on the main home screen and the Apple News app sits inside a folder on the dock (most of the time, I end up searching for the news app on spotlight search, but I’m trying to get rid that habit too).

This is not ideal. In an ideal world, I would not have to go to each app individually to search for the topic at hand. I would be able to select a word or phrase and use the share sheet in iOS to jump to Wikipedia or Apple News, neither of which seem to support this simple functionality.

But those are the technical details, which may change at any time. What matters is where we source our information from and why. I recommend that you start cutting out the middleman and go directly to the sources, sites, and services that you trust, because those are the same ones your middleman trusts too. As for the why, well, start doing this and you’ll see a change in how you receive information and perceive the news. Search is good, but search algorithms may very well not be.

Spool is joining Facebook

Spool is joining Facebook «

I can’t believe this is happening. Facebook has a habit of buying a lot of companies and shutting them down. It’s almost a ritual for them. I used this service often when I was on the bus to work and didn’t want to waste my Data plan. So this is a major inconvenience for people like me. I wonder how many are out there and how this happened.

How Indian Politics is doing what China can’t in a Hundred years

The politicians of India are decidedly against the concept of India as a Nation, a single entity with One Status and One System, an Open country with no biases and certainly no reservations against any of it’s long parts. While citizens of many other countries in the world fight over sports, break each other’s bones over the singular football match or hate each other over long histories of wins and losses in Ice Hockey matches but come together when the Country’s solidarity is questioned, Indians fight and kill when it comes to region, religion and water, but don’t care a paisa’s worth over local sports, partly because of it’s non-existent local sports and partly because it’s easier for it’s politicians to raise anger against other communities and religions instead of building dams, bridges and stadiums.

The Chinese think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies claims that Beijing

“should work towards the the break-up of India into 20-30 independent states with the help of friendly countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, support Ulfa in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet”.

It argues that a fragmented India would be in China’s interests and would also lead to prosperity in the region. Further, it goes on to say that if China “takes a little action, the so-called great Indian federation can be broken up”.

A lot of people on This Pakistani Forum agree with the Chinese and have even provided a ‘Map’ of India after Partition and claim that India has never existed as a Nation but Pakistan has been around since 3300 BC. Tall claims, for sure, but they need not crib so much against India.

Gandhiji had strict instructions regarding Quotas, they were a system to bring the backward classes of India’s Society into the mainstream so as to provide Total Equality, yet more than 60 years after his death, the system continues, reinforcing the sickly condition of India’s education, job, social and moral infrastructure. Some time back, a few more quotas were introduced into the Education system with a keen eye on the voters. Then the concept of quotas for teachers was thought up, bring up a whole new system of prejudice ( People can say, “I am a Khatri, why should I study from a lowly class teacher?? “). Recently, Maharashtra reserved 80% jobs in state industries for locals. Shiv Sena and BJP promised to implement this rule strictly if voted to power.  There’s not going to be much time before every state starts playing the ‘sons of the soil’ card and promising such ridiculous reservations. What will the outcome be?? Well, what happens when you reserve jobs, the most important reason for migration of people? The flux of people stops and soon regions become tightly locked strongholds of Politico-Religious affiliations and look at every outsider as an enemy or worse. This kind of attitude leads to glorification of the State above the Nation and though this is relatively healthy for the growth and cleanliness of areas within the State, it is bad for the concept of the Nation as a whole and Pride in the Nation. How many Indians today even utter the words, “I am proud of India”? The ultimate result, that of disjointed, hateful and suspicious states, is what many political powers wish to achieve about India.

Let us now look at an Organisation where this will not happen. The Defense Forces of India, the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy, are prime examples of anti-quota systems. No matter what his father earns or what his caste is, every soldier kisses the mud in the NDA training. No matter how much bank balance a person has, they all get the same houses at the same Rank, they all drive the same vehicles to work and get the same ration to eat food. A Squadron posted in Madras does not crib when it gets a Commander from Kashmir and a Platoon deep in the jungles of Assam will not say a word if a Rajasthani boss comes and tells them how to execute guerrilla warfare. Nor do they reserve 80 pc quota for locals. For this reason alone, they do not have any qualms about making friends with people of different religions, cultures, color or social standing. They have an open institution where anyone can be posted to any part of the country, ensuring that they fall in love with India and not Maharashtra, Assam or Haryana.

There are a lot of NGOs willing to fight the Tatas from building Seaports and to launch massive protests against private organisations for their wrong doings, but very few NGOs stand up against such blatant misuse of Public power by politicians to destroy the sovereign status of India.

Do you really want to see India as this one day??

The future??

The future??

Very few organize human chains, unending sms lists, forwarded emails and collect online signatures to present a letter to the President of India (who, strangely, has no power at all).

Very few organize human chains, unending sms lists, forwarded emails and collect online signatures to present a letter to the President of India (who, strangely, has no power at all) when politicians continually abuse Indians with Vote-gathering schemes based on instigating the common man’s anger against ‘outsiders’. Very few indeed…

There ought to be more.