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Big Revolution - A history full of holes

Welcome to Big Revolution, brought to you by very little sleep and a promise to myself that I'll have
January 9 · Issue #312 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Big Revolution, brought to you by very little sleep and a promise to myself that I’ll have a big cup of coffee after I hit ‘send.’ It’s almost as motivating as having had the coffee first.

Big things you need to know today
  • Google Assistant has a bunch of new abilities. It can auto-translate your conversations using a smart speaker, integrate with Google Maps and more. There are new tools to make it easier for third-party developers to leverage Assistant, too.
  • Twitter is launching a new public beta programme. The company has shown off new experimental features aimed at creating a more relaxed, conversational vibe in recent months, and soon it will invite users to apply to try them. Only a few thousand will get access at first.
The big thought
Credit: Donald Giannatti on Unsplash
A history full of holes
BuzzFeed has published a useful reminder that Flickr will delete your photos on February 5 if you have a free account with more than 1,000 photos in it.
While Flickr’s policy makes sense for a service under new ownership wanting to remove unnecessary bloat, there’s something a little unsettling about things you uploaded to the web being deleted by someone else. Sure, it’s Flickr’s right to do that, but I can’t help but mourn the ‘collective memory’ we’re wiping every time something like this happens.
Think about the events that will be wiped from the public record when photographs of them are deleted from Flickr. It’s not just about people who may want to reuse the images, but about those who simply want to look at them in the future. Think of the links that will become dead on old web pages, and the records of human activity – no matter how minor they may seem on their own – that will be lost.
The EU has stirred up much debate in recent years with its 'right to be forgotten.’ I agree with the EU that it’s important for individuals to be able to have something relating to them taken down if they wish (within limits). But whether you’re an individual or the operator of a huge online platform, it’s important to bear in mind the value of a collective public record.
Historians of the future will have incredible data to explore about life on Earth in the early 21st century, and they’ll no doubt have the tools needed to make the most of it. Why leave them with unnecessary holes in the data?
One big read
The Real Story Behind the Havana Embassy Mystery The Real Story Behind the Havana Embassy Mystery
Remember that mysterious ‘sonic attack’ at the US embassy in Cuba? It may have been completely imaginary. Vanity Fair looks at all the theories so far, and the latest – and in many ways most plausible – explanation.
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with more. Don’t forget, if you’d like to support me in bringing you this newsletter every day, you can become a member. Thanks to all the brilliant members so far – you’re very much appreciated.
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