Despite becoming embroiled in the UK’s increasingly controversial row about injunctions which gag the press but not Twitter users, Twitter itself is going ahead with plans to open a new office in London.
The only question is where the office will be in London. It started hiring back in February and we’ve previously speculated that Twitter would use a London base to suck engineering talent out of Google’s UK HQ. Google has recently opened yet another office in Victoria, of 160,000 square feet.
But, it looks less likely that this will be the case (sad face), as the FT suggests. Wang is – as his profile suggests: “I work at Twitter doing deals” – a sales guy, and the London office looks like it will be focused on advertising sales and partnerships. The official @TwitterUK account is even talking about office designs. This is how Facebook plays it: small sales office in London, European HQ in Dublin which is largely accounting, admin (though where Twitter puts an EU HQ is not yet confirmed).
So although government spin masters have been showing Twitter execs the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ Startup cluster in London’s East End, it seems more likely that Wang will be based in the media-friendly West End, where the deals with advertising agencies and telcos are typically done over lunch and a nice bottle of Pinot.
However, having a London office could be a double-edged sword. Twitter will be able to do international ad deals – but it might mean Twitter’s UK limited company becomes a lightning rod for trigger-happy celebrities who love the UK’s strict libel laws.
Google has unveiled a few changes to Gmail, describing the updates as “small tweaks.” Indeed the changes seem like fixes to some of the minor annoyances with the email service. Gmail will now have fewer annoying pop-ups when you receive an error message, for example. Even better, you’ll get a warning when there’s a typo in an email address, such you left out the “.” in “.com.”
Perhaps the most interesting and important new feature is the ability to turn off the “auto-save to contacts.”
Gmail’s ability to automatically save every email address you send messages to has long been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes it easier to find contact information, particularly when that contact is obscure or infrequent. The feature then auto-completes when you type people’s name or address. But on the other hand, when every address from every person you’ve ever emailed ends up there, it can make Contacts cluttered.
Now, you can turn that feature off, giving you more control over whose address is stored there. To do so, go to Mail settings page and toggle the button under the General tab.
Having better control over your Contacts is helpful in terms of organization, no doubt. But it may also represent an important shift as Google adds more social features. One of the longstanding problems with a Google (social) network is that it’s been a mish-mash of relationships – the differences between who you want in a professional address book versus a personal address book, the differences of who you follow on Buzz or on Reader and who’s an email contact.
More finely tuned control of Contacts may be one “small tweak,” to use Google’s words, as it moves towards a purported social service.
As the second Humble Indie Bundle flourishes, having taken in over $1.5 million in pay-what-you-want sales, the Opposable Thumbs blog has taken a look at indie game pricing in general, trying to determine how low price points and frequent sales affect their popularity in an ocean of $60 blockbusters. Quoting: “… in the short term these sales are a good thing. They bring in more sales, more revenue, and expand the reach of games that frequently have very little marketing support behind them, if any. For those games, getting on the front page of Steam is a huge boost, putting it in front of a huge audience of gamers. But what are the long-term effects? If most players are buying these games at a severely reduced price, how does that influence the perception of indie games at large? It’s not an easy question to answer, especially considering how relatively new these sales are, making it difficult to judge their long-term effects. But it’s clear they’re somewhat of a double-edged sword. Exposure is good, but price erosion isn’t. ‘When it comes to perception, a deep discount gets people playing the game that [they] wouldn’t play otherwise, and I think that has both positive and negative effects,’ [2D Boy co-founder Ron Carmel] told Ars. ‘The negative is that if I’m willing to pay $5 but not $20, I probably don’t want to play that game very much, so maybe I’m not as excited about it after I play it and maybe I drive down the average appreciation of the game.’”
Source: Examining Indie Game Pricing
Our post earlier tonight about Google shutting down Facebook’s access to Gmail data exports makes me think two things. First, I’m not sure there’s much data that Facebook doesn’t already have with it’s 600 million users (although 1.3 billion people visit Google sites a week, so they’re not exactly slumming). And second, the data protectionist era has now begun in earnest.
Trade restrictions, tariffs, etc., called protectionism, is always a double edged sword. It has the short term benefit of helping domestic companies stay competitive and profitable, and that also protects jobs. On the downside the consumer is hit with higher prices on whatever industry is being protected. And protected industries tend to lag behind competitively, so when/if the restrictions are lifted they are in a very bad situation.
But here’s the very worst part of protectionism. If you start it, you can expect the other side to start it too. That’s when you get what’s called a trade war, and lots of potential economic gain evaporates.
I’m seeing all the signs of a “data war” beginning now. It’s not among nations, though. The players are the big Internet companies who have lots of user data today, and want more (all of it) tomorrow.
For a long while the webmail companies have generally been lenient about exporting user data via an API to other applications. It’s what the user wants, and most everyone is reciprocal. Or, they’re too small to matter yet. This is a “free data trade” type situation with the best economic consequences.
Well, everyone but Facebook. They’ve just pretty much refused to let users export social graph data, even though they import it like crazy from every source they can get their hands on.
This is a game theory situation. One party isn’t playing ball, but it’s reaping the benefits of open data policies by all its big competitors. That forces competitors to protect their data as well (Google’s done it in a surgical way to avoid fallout with other non-Facebook companies). But once this ball starts rolling, and it has, it’s pretty hard to stop it.
Expect it to get worse from here.
Ultimately that’s very bad for the companies involved, but it’s also bad for consumers who now have fewer choices with what to do with their…err..Google’s data. In other words, we all lose.
theodp writes “The National Park Service is finding technology to be a double-edged sword. While new technologies can and do save lives, the NPS is also finding that unseasoned hikers and campers are now boldly going where they never would have gone before, counting on cellphones, GPS, and SPOT devices to bail them out if they get into trouble. Last fall, a group of hikers in the Grand Canyon called in rescue helicopters three times by pressing the emergency button on their satellite location device. When rangers arrived the second time, the hikers complained that their water supply tasted salty. ‘Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued,’ said a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park. ‘Every once in a while we get a call from someone who has gone to the top of a peak, the weather has turned and they are confused about how to get down and they want someone to personally escort them. The answer is that you are up there for the night.’”
eldavojohn writes “It’s a classic case that comes up when dealing with patents. A hospital’s research on the donated brains of deceased children has been in limbo for three years because of a challenge from a patent holder. The double-edged sword of patents that spurred investment into the field will also cause chilling effects on research like the case of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. They’ve now been forced to shift the money from the lab to lawyers in order to deal with this ongoing patent dispute over a technique that was developed to extract stem cells at the Salk Institute. Unfortunately the Salk Institute failed to patent the technology, so a company named StemCells happily had it approved. The real disheartening news is that CHOC’s Dr. Philip H. Schwartz — the doctor collecting the cells — was one of the original researchers who helped developed this technique at the Salk Institute. Now he can’t even use the technique he helped create. Schwartz has since been instructed not to publicly discuss the case further. Research interests are clashing with commercial interests in a classic case that causes one to wonder if patents surrounding medical techniques like this stretch too far. As for the people that donated their dead child’s brain to research, those valuable stem cell cultures have been kept in storage instead of being disseminated to research labs (who desperately need them) across the country.”