View profile

Big Revolution - On the internet, nobody knows you're 13 years old

June 18 · Issue #113 · View online
Big Revolution
Big things you need to know today
- Google is investing $550m into Chinese e-commerce company as the latter expands beyond its home country. As TechCrunch’s Jon Russell explains, “the goal here is to merge’s experience and technology in supply chain and logistics — in China, it has opened warehouses that use robots rather than workers — with Google’s customer reach, data and marketing to produce new kinds of online retail.”
- Meanwhile, Axios has a fascinating look at how Chinese e-commerce giants are competing to turn mom-and-pop stores across the country into hi-tech convenience stores. Western retail is behind the curve when it comes to merging traditional commerce with e-commerce.
- WhatsApp has begun testing its payments service with 1m people in India. It plans to roll the service out to more people in the country over time.
The big thought
Devil May Cry's Nero. Or is it Dante? I don't dare get it wrong.
On the internet, nobody knows you’re 13 years old
This morning, the first tweet I saw was from a games journalist noting that 12 days after he accidentally published a mistake in an article (which was corrected within 30 minutes) he was still getting a torrent of abuse about it.
Kirk McKeand had mixed up two brothers in the Devil May Cry series, and a bunch of accounts with anime avatars had bombarded him with abuse about how terrible a journalist he was for making this awful faux-pas that led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Oh wait, it was entirely inconsequential and not worth worrying about for five minutes, let alone two weeks.
It reminded me of the time someone accused me of making the “greatest mistake in the history of tech journalism” by mixing up the names of IBM and Intel in an article – an error that was live for about two minutes. Take that and ramp it up by a billion percent and you’re somewhere near the level some people online can go these days.
One thing that strikes me in these disputes is you often can’t tell anything about the abusers. And when it comes to games, a lot of the abuse strikes me as the kind of thing 13-year-old me would have thought of vital importance if I’d had access to social media back then.
When you really love games, don’t have a lot going in your life except school, and have no real life experience or concept that the adults who write about the games you love are just ordinary people, it’s easy to get wrapped up in completely pointless battles. And because you don’t have a lot going on in your life, you have nothing to lose by hammering away at your inconsequential fighting for weeks on end.
It’s this youthful combination of passion, boredom, and immaturity that the people behind Gamergate weaponised. But it manifests itself every day in petty battles online.
The anonymity the internet affords means nobody knows if any individual troll is a mean-spirited adult or just one of these dumb kids. 
Threats of violence aside, a lot of online abuse is at least a little easier to deal with if you imagine it’s coming from a bored 13-year-old with immature social skills, who really loves Devil May Cry.
One big read
Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain. Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain.
How journalists laid off at a US regional newspaper are coming back with a new publication that is part of a new network of blockchain-based titles across the USA.
Will blockchain tech do anything truly useful here? It’s hard to see beyond the good intentions and buzzwords right now.
One big tweet
This tweet serves as an addendum to my bit above about teenage arguments. Many adults prefer their abuse to be performative and in their own name. 
Charlie Warzel
recently my entire twitter feed is just people screaming at /attempting to dunk on those they disagree with by quote RTing them
5:42 AM - 18 Jun 2018
That’s all for today...
Like Big Revolution? Encourage a friend to subscribe. Just share this link by email or social media.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Martin SFP Bryant
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue