The Good Old Days

Comment

Image Credits:

Stream of consciousness you say? Trying to find something on what used to be called the Internet is now officially a full time job. It’s not so much that various media strategies and hardware devices have carved things up into a tangle. It’s that what passes for interesting has been shorn of a reliable index in the move toward social filtering. We’re not there yet, the message seems to be. Is there a there there we are going to get to? Not clear.

Navigating Apple TV and its various peeks into the presumed future has been a valuable waste of time. For $100 plus an HDMI cable I get to sample various media dead ends including NetFlix, iTunes rental, buy, and streaming options, YouTube, and other stuff I can’t remember right now. In the past, I would have spent more time testing the work arounds for adding podcasts and ripped music to broaden the choices, but something about the device suggests we’re in such a rapid shakeout it might be easier to wait.

But for what? Google TV seems caught in little brother mode behind the next loser tablet wave. What ultimate value is there in trading Apple’s dead ends for another set of second rate dead ends? The idea that we can replace the aggregate value of the Hollywood studio system with some loose coalition of rag tag revolutionary product ignores the tendency for the avant-garde to go mainstream. At some point, having everything work from one device is the best way of killing any possible interest in what’s available.

We’re getting to the same place in the social software sweepstakes too, and I have Rackmouth to thank for it. In a recent update, Facebook messages are now randomly popping up with messages (I think) from everyone who I’ve “friended” since the dawn of time. Sometimes these chicklets or toasters or requestors as they used to be called or badges as they might now be called come 30 at a time, staying onscreen just long enough for me to miss any one of them as I scan. It’s like a dream where I keep trying to figure something out and keep getting distracted by another thing I never quite figure out before….

The new Twitter clients perpetuate this feeling of never quite catching up, of clicking from one random comment to a full stream of comments by some random person. The metadata and inferences surrounding each identity are becoming the way we know each other. If you want to know who this person is like, follow these people and see what they are interested in. Good luck ever finding your way back to the original comment or person, however. It’s probably better to wait until they pop up again randomly.

Switching media helps a little. While watching conventional TV last night, I saw an ad for Kindle books that pointed out you could continue reading a purchase you bought on the iPhone over on an Android phone or a Blackberry or whatever. When we have twenty loser tablets to also choose from, we’ll be that much happier. In other words, they’re selling against the pain of Apple TV, Roku, Google TV, etc., promising you the respite of universal access to a good old book.

This is where the mainstream is going, selling escape from the business of hunting down content across overlapping silos. And it’s going to work too. Like the enterprise players understand, it’s the maintenance contract that will provide the most durable relationship. It’s almost as though these guys are in league together, making it so difficult to own anything that you’ll be grateful for a smaller menu of choices that are streamed at you no matter what device you’re on. This is the new shelf space, the guaranteed mediocrity of the new common denominator.

Eventually, after waiting a while to hear from that interesting new friend who had something ephemerally clever to say, after surviving the NetFlix window or the network boycott of whichever device I have already collected, I will go back to my various bookshelves or @mentions or aging bookmarks and find something interesting to do. Even though I know the stream is littered with the as yet undiscovered time waster of tomorrow, I’m confident a careful sort of yesterday’s rejects will turn up something. It’s only in retrospect we realize these are the good old days.

More TechCrunch

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back