JPMorgan pays CEO Jamie Dimon $20 million, and it’s instantly the subject of widespread angst—online, in newspapers, and all over cable news. Then, this week, Google announces a $106 million payday for Chairman Eric Schmidt, and the reaction is relatively mute.
This was the subject of a Steven Davidoff’s column (that notably left out the word “bailout.”) People have every reason to be mad at JPMorgan and Dimon, given the way the last seven years have gone, not just for the bailout but also for all the lawbreaking that has characterized Dimon’s watch (nepotism in China, LIBOR, money laundering, and the list goes on.). While there are reasons to be mad at Google, they don’t involve blowing up the world economy, consuming billions of dollars of taxpayer money, and then whining about being treated unfairly.
That’s why people are upset about Dimon’s paltry $20 million rather than Schmidt’s princely $106 million. But it doesn’t make Silicon Valley’s huge payouts right.
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The graph above tells maybe the most interesting—and definitely the most surprising—story of the past year of digital media.
It shows two years of referrals from Facebook and Google to the Buzzfeed Partner Network, a collection of websites (including this one!) that share their traffic stats with Buzzfeed. It quantifies what so many publishers have experienced: a massive surge of traffic from Facebook, unparalleled in its regular, day-after-day size and scope.
Read more. [Image via Recode]
Google unveiled a new way to look at the history of music today, Music Timeline.
Drawing on the songs that reside in the collections of millions of Google Play users, the company created a visualization of the popularity of various artists and genres from 1950 to today.
That time period captures the explosion of guitar-based music in the form of country and rock, and all their variants. It charts the rise of hip hop and the various resurgences of R&B. It even tries to parse the many sub-genres of rock with the kind of are-you-serious precision employed by teenage aficionados everywhere.
Charging tech buses to use city stops opens up a discussion about who else should pay to hog the street.
Did Fiddler on the Roof make chutzpah popular? Law databases—and Google—give us a clue.
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There was a time in the not so distant past when hardly any Internet company wanted to release a transparency report—a report that summarized the number of law enforcement and intelligence requests that they received and responded to. What started with just Google and Twitter in 2010 and 2012, respectively, has become a steady stream of companies joining the bandwagon in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations. Companies that had no interest in reporting one year ago now hold out their reports in an attempt to earn back eroded customer trust. The problem is that transparency reports actually tell us very little about whether we should trust these companies.
According to Google’s latest transparency report, in the first six months of 2013, they received 25,879 requests for user data, and complied with 65 percent of them. Sounds like big numbers. And they are. As Google points out in their report, the number of requests has doubled since 2010. But what does that tell us about Google? Less than you might think.
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In July 2012, when Marissa Mayer became the new CEO of Yahoo, she told The New York Times about her plans for the company. “My focus at Google has been to deliver great end-user experiences, to delight and inspire our end users,” Mayer explained. “That is what I plan to do at Yahoo: give the end user something valuable and delightful that makes them want to come to Yahoo every day.”
"Delight" is a fitting goal for tech firms like Google and Yahoo, whose business models rely on keeping users happy—not just occasionally, but daily and over time. "Twitter’s products influence everything from pop culture to politics, delight our users and change lives," a recent job posting for the company put it. An ad for Facebook’s head of global recruiting summed up the role thusly: “Facebook will need a recruiting leader to scale while continuing to delight users, candidates, and customers through hyper growth.”
It’s not just tech firms, though, that are taking (and talking) delight in the world. Everything, it seems, is delightful right now. Literally. Everything.
Google opens up its mapping functionality to allow for DIY imagery.
In an open letter to President Obama and Congress, eight of the most prominent U.S. tech companies have demanded that strict new limits be put on government surveillance, citing revelations made earlier this summer, when stories based Edward Snowden’s leaked documents began running in The Guardian. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual,” they argue, “rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”
They’ve staked out an extraordinary position.
Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL all have an interest in restoring public trust in their products and averting new regulatory challenges in countries disinclined to let a spying hegemon control the Internet. My colleague James Fallows has written eloquently about the damage the NSA’s behavior could do to U.S. economic might as other countries react to it. The companies could’ve made a compelling case for reform on those grounds alone.
Instead, they’ve gone quite a bit farther.
Read more. [Image: Jason Lee/Reuters]