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Big Revolution - Will Google trip over its Shoelace?

Today is an important day at Big Revolution HQ, with a dry run taking place for one of our new podcas
July 12 · Issue #469 · View online
Big Revolution
Today is an important day at Big Revolution HQ, with a dry run taking place for one of our new podcast productions. More on that soon! But first, welcome to Friday’s newsletter. 
— Martin at Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Twitter is set to test the ability to hide replies to tweets, initially only in Canada. This has been criticised as it could mean users hide fact-checks and legitimate criticism from other users. But at the same time, if Facebook lets users delete comments, why shouldn’t Twitter have a similar feature?
  • Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a bot that can play Texas Hold'em poker better than top human players. It has even taught the pros new tricks. This is the latest example of complicated games being mastered by A.I.
  • Google has defended the use of humans to listen to a small percentage of queries directed at Google Assistant. It says this is necessary to ensure that Assistant properly serves users. Amazon said a similar thing when it was revealed that it has humans listening to some Alexa queries.
The big thought
Will Google trip over its Shoelace?
Eyes were rolled and giggles were aplenty as it emerged Google has built a yet another new social app.
Shoelace comes from Google’s experimental Area 120 team, and is currently in invite-only mode, and only works in New York City.
Unlike the standard social networks which focus on current relationships between people, Shoelace is oriented toward meeting new people and growing your social circle. The basic experience is structured around matching users based on their interests and making it easier to plan and meet up at events.
It’s easy to look at Google’s track record with social apps (Buzz! Google+! Schemer! Other things I’ve completely forgotten!) and decide that Shoelace is probably doomed from the off. It’s easy to do that, and experience tells us it’s probably the right thing to do. Google has a reputation for brutally killing things off if they don’t stick in a big way.
And really, if Google wants to offer social apps, it should look at enhancing the social elements of its existing apps. Google Docs is used as a social network by school kids; Google Maps has some useful social features; the chat feature in Gmail could have been huge if Google hadn’t have got distracted by building an million other chat apps… and of course YouTube is already one of the biggest social destinations on the internet.
With a bit of nurturing and refinement, Google’s existing apps could offer well-rounded social elements that people could use if they chose. And Google wouldn’t have to try to kickstart another social network from ground level — something probably isn’t really possible unless you’re doing something totally fresh and new, unlike Shoelace.
Shoelace sounds like a hundred other apps I’ve been pitched over the years. It’s wrong to completely write it off at this stage without giving Area 120 a chance, but let’s face it, its long-term prospects aren’t great.
One big read
New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered. New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered.
Not a tech-focused piece, but a very interesting business story about Coca-Cola’s attempt to reinvent its flagship drink in the ‘80s, and why the folklore around New Coke may not be correct.
One big tweet
Donald Trump isn’t a fan of Bitcoin. Click through for his followup tweets. Does this mean big things for the future of cryptocurrency regulation? Or will Trump just change his mind after five minutes chatting to a cryptocurrency enthusiast?
Donald J. Trump
I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity....
1:15 AM - 12 Jul 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with your weekend big reads. See you in your inbox then!
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