Bookmarked How Google and Amazon Got So Big Without Being Regulated by an author (WIRED)
Internet companies used to grow big and dieโ€”fast. But now a few of them are huge and entrenched, because regulators didn't foresee their dominance.
In this extract from The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports), Tim Wu explains how today’s monopolies were able to avoid regulation. He give the particular example of Facebook and Instagram:

When a dominant firm buys its a nascent challenger, alarm bells are supposed to ring. Yet both American and European regulators found themselves unable to find anything wrong with the takeover. The American analysis remains secret, but we have the United Kingdomโ€™s report. Its analysis, such as it was, went as follows: Facebook did not have an important photo-taking app, meaning that Facebook was not competing with Instagram for consumers. Instagram did not have advertising revenue, so it did not compete with Facebook either. Hence, the report was able to reach the extraordinary conclusion that Facebook and Instagram were not competitors.

Bookmarked Itโ€™s time to break up Facebook by Nilay Patel (The Verge)
"Start by breaking off WhatsApp and Instagram."
Nilay Patel explores the idea of reimagining anti-trust laws. At the moment there is too much grey for lawyers to argue about in regards to changes in price. Tim Wu and Hal Singer suggest that we need to think of anti-trust from the perspective of competition, not just cost. This is something that has been said about Google as much as Facebook. Cory Doctorow has also written about the problems big tech.
Bookmarked Opinion | The Tyranny of Convenience (nytimes.com)
All the personal tasks in our lives are being made easier. But at what cost?
Tim Wu plots a convienient history, with the first revolution being of the household (Oven, Vacuum etc) and then the personal revolution (Walkman, Facebook etc). He argues that the irony of this individualisation is the creation of ‘templated selfs’:

The paradoxical truth Iโ€™m driving at is that todayโ€™s technologies of individualization are technologies of mass individualization. Customization can be surprisingly homogenizing. Everyone, or nearly everyone, is on Facebook: It is the most convenient way to keep track of your friends and family, who in theory should represent what is unique about you and your life. Yet Facebook seems to make us all the same. Its format and conventions strip us of all but the most superficial expressions of individuality, such as which particular photo of a beach or mountain range we select as our background image.

I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks โ€” the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Wu argues that struggling and working things out is about identity:

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient โ€” not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

I recently reflected on the impact of convienience on learning. I guess that is a part of my ‘identity’.

via Audrey Watters