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Big Revolution - When the internet breaks and stakes keep rising

Welcome to Friday's newsletter; I hope your week is rounding off nicely. — Martin at Big Revolution
July 5 · Issue #463 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s newsletter; I hope your week is rounding off nicely.
— Martin at Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Once-hot quiz app startup HQ Trivia has laid off around 20% of its staff. This comes alongside news that its app downloads are down 92% on last year. The company is trying to reverse its fortunes with a forthcoming subscription product.
  • Can a videogame ‘vaccinate’ people against fake news? That’s what Cambridge University researchers sought to find out.
  • Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard is getting Memoji-style characters called ‘Puppets’ that help you communicate without typing.
The big thought
Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
When the internet breaks and stakes keep rising
iCloud was down yesterday, Facebook’s family of apps couldn’t load images the day before, a Cloudflare outage caused problems across the internet the day before that, Slack was down last week… it seems downtime for the services we rely on is bang on trend right now.
There’s no suggestion these outages are linked in any way. Usually we don’t get a public explanation for why these services stop working, but when we do, human error is often to blame. That was the case with the Cloudflare downtime, which reportedly took 10% of the global internet with it. It was a bad day at the office for someone there.
Such stories are a reminder that the apps and services we increasingly rely on are held together by string, sticky tape, and engineers being in the right frame of mind to get everything right. It’s fine to talk about the potential for nation-state hackers to take down power stations, but a dumb mistake by someone who didn’t get enough sleep last night is far more likely to cause us serious problems.
When my home internet router died last week, my ISP booked an engineer to come round the next day. But the customer support rep asked me something that’s stuck with me. I don’t remember his exact words, but they were along the lines of: ‘does anyone in your house rely on an internet connection to operate equipment critical to their health?’ Presumably if I’d have said yes, they’d have got someone round the same day.
While ISPs sell internet connections on all the browsing, TV viewing and gaming you can do, that question was a reminder that even even technology we use to stay healthy — or alive — can require an internet connection these days.
The benefits of an increasingly internet-connected world are undeniable, but when a silly mistake breaks our connectivity, we should remember that the stakes are just going to keep getting higher.
One big read
The Knight of Apple’s Old Republic The Knight of Apple’s Old Republic
The news of Jony Ive’s departure brought out plenty of hot takes so you might feel like you’ve had your fill, but it’s always worth reading journalist-turned-VC MG Siegler’s perspective on any major Apple news.
One big tweet
Someone has immortalised the classic Simpsons ‘steamed hams’ scene in Super Mario Maker 2.
J Fresh
"Ah, Super Mario, welcome! I hope you're prepared for an unforgettable luncheon!"

#SuperMarioMaker2 #NintendoSwitch
7:35 PM - 3 Jul 2019
That’s all for today...
Catch you in your inbox tomorrow for your weekend big reads.
Catch you in your inbox tomorrow for
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