onfocus

garbageday.email
To even entertain the idea of building AI-powered search engines means, in some sense, that you are comfortable with eventually being the reason those creators no longer exist. It is an undeniably apocalyptic project, but not just for the web as we know it, but also your own product. Unless you plan on subsidizing an entire internet’s worth of constantly new content with the revenue from your AI chatbot, the information it’s spitting out will get worse as people stop contributing to the network.
Speaking of newsletters that recently moved away from Substack, Garbage Day made the jump to Beehiiv. Go read about AI search nihilism and a bunch of other stuff.
Vox
Two recent verdicts have now left Donald Trump on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars.
Some accountability in this world after all.
Politico
Drone armies, expanded overtime pay and over-the-counter birth control pills are just some of the new things Biden has ushered in as president that you might not have heard about.
Things we might know about if we had a functioning media.
citationneeded.news
In recent years, the web has become increasingly monopolized by the small group of powerful companies that have come to be known as "Big Tech". He will hear no argument from me on that point, although the role his own company played in that particular shift is a large and completely unmentioned elephant in the room throughout a book in which he continually condemns these "power brokers" and "capricious gatekeepers" that "squelch competitors" and keep a "stranglehold ... on our lives".

We're all trying to find the guy who did this.
Speaking of newsletters that recently moved away from Substack, Molly White's Citation Needed is always great and this review of a recent "bestselling" crypto hype book is devastating and hilarious.
todayintabs.com
Obviously a guaranteed ten percent raise is wonderful, and I assumed that whatever subscriber losses I suffered in migrating would at least be offset by that. But in fact, as you can see, paid subscriptions are significantly higher since the move. There were about 175 new paid subscribers in my first two days on Beehiiv, which looks to me like a direct measure of the demand that was being suppressed by potential customers not wanting to pay for Substack.
I'm one of these 175 that didn't want to pay for Substack. Nice to see the transparency here and it's great to be able to support and read Tabs again. I hope others can follow Rusty's lead.
npr.org
All of the major tech companies conducting another wave of layoffs this year are sitting atop mountains of cash and are wildly profitable, so the job-shedding is far from a matter of necessity or survival.
Short term stock boost is more important than people. Thanks, job creators!
The Guardian
“Costs have come down substantially, and while corporations were quick to pass on their increased costs to consumers, they are surprisingly less quick to pass on their savings to consumers,” Liz Pancotti, a Groundwork strategic advisor and paper co-author, told the Guardian.
ah, just the natural cycle of high prices at the supermarket due to [checks notes] record profits.
Washington Post
The surprisingly good GDP figures prompted Biden aides to launch a more aggressive push to tout the economy’s strength as the presidential campaign heats up, hoping to flip what has long been perceived as one of the president’s biggest political vulnerabilities into an asset heading into the presidential campaign season.
Thanks, Bidenomics! Too bad about the corporate layoffs due to [checks notes] record profits.
Ars Technica
Wyden suggested that the intelligence community might be helping data brokers violate an FTC order requiring that Americans are provided "clear and conspicuous" disclosures and give informed consent before their data can be sold to third parties. In the seven years that Wyden has been investigating data brokers, he said that he has not been made "aware of any company that provides such a warning to users before collecting their data."
If you’re curious about why we need much stronger privacy laws in the US, this article is a good start. Thanks Senator Wyden for fighting the good fight.
404 Media
The researchers warn that this rankings war is likely to get much worse with the advent of AI-generated spam, and that it genuinely threatens the future utility of search engines: "the line between benign content and spam in the form of content and link farms becomes increasingly blurry—a situation that will surely worsen in the wake of generative AI. We conclude that dynamic adversarial spam in the form of low-quality, mass-produced commercial content deserves more attention."
I think domain-specific link curation is going to be extremely important very soon. But I've always thought that so who knows?
Politico
California Senate candidate and Congressmember Adam Schiff is calling for a major overhaul of American institutions, including getting rid of the Electoral College, expanding the Supreme Court and eliminating the filibuster.
More like this, please.
Tech Policy Press
Based on the measures developed for the study, the researchers find that in aggregate, after one year online attention towards a deplatformed personality is reduced by 64% on Google and by 43% on Wikipedia.
Deplatforming is an important tool that we shouldn’t throw out as useless.
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