Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lack Of Anti-Trust Enforcement

The accelerating negative effects that have accumulated since the collapse of anti-trust enforcement in the US have been a prominent theme on this blog. This search currently returns 16 posts stretching back to 2009. Recently, perhaps started by Lina M. Khan's masterful January 2017 Yale Law Journal article Amazon's Antitrust Paradox a consensus has been gradually emerging as to these negative effects. One problem for this consensus is that "real economists" don't believe the real world, they only believe mathematical models that produce approximations to the real world.

Now, Yves Smith's Fed Economists Finger Monopoly Concentration as Underlying Driver of Neoliberal Economic Restructuring; Barry Lynn in Harpers and Fortnite Lawsuit Put Hot Light on Tech Monopoly Power covers three developments in the emerging anti-monopoly consensus:
  1. Apple and Google ganging up on Epic Games.
  2. Lina M. Khan's ex-boss Barry Lynn's The Big Tech Extortion Racket: How Google, Amazon, and Facebook control our lives.
  3. Market Power, Inequality, and Financial Instability by Fed economists Isabel CairĂ³ and Jae Sim
The first two will have to wait for future posts, but the last of these may start to convince "real economists" because, as Yves Smith writes:
they developed a model to simulate the impact of companies’ rising market power, in conjunction with the assumption that the owners of capital liked to hold financial assets (here, bonds) as a sign of social status. They wanted to see it it would explain six developments over the last forty years. ... And it did!
Follow me below the fold for the details.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Optical Media Durability: Update

Two years ago I posted Optical Media Durability and discovered:
Surprisingly, I'm getting good data from CD-Rs more than 14 years old, and from DVD-Rs nearly 12 years old. Your mileage may vary.
A year ago I repeated the mind-numbing process of feeding 45 disks through the reader and verifying their checksums. It is time again for this annual chore, and once again this year I failed to find any errors. Below the fold, the details.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Atlantic Council Report On Software Supply Chains

Eighteen months ago I posted a four-part series called Trust In Digital Content. The second part was Securing The Software Supply Chain, about how we know we're running the software we intended to. Now, Bruce Schneier's Survey of Supply Chain Attacks starts:
The Atlantic Council has released a report that looks at the history of computer supply chain attacks.
The Atlantic Council also has a summary of the report entitled Breaking trust: Shades of crisis across an insecure software supply chain:
Software supply chain security remains an under-appreciated domain of national security policymaking. Working to improve the security of software supporting private sector enterprise as well as sensitive Defense and Intelligence organizations requires more coherent policy response together industry and open source communities. This report profiles 115 attacks and disclosures against the software supply chain from the past decade to highlight the need for action and presents recommendations to both raise the cost of these attacks and limit their harm.
Below the fold, some commentary on the report and more recent attacks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

"Good" News For Bitcoin!

David Gerard is fond of pointing out how adept Bitcoin cultists are at spinning every item of news as "good news for Bitcoin". His latest news post has two notable items suited to this spin cycle:
  • Two successive successful 51% attacks on Ethereum Classic.
  • A new, more realistic estimate of Bitcoin's energy usage; it is only as much as Belgium
Follow me below the fold for details and commentary.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Contextual vs. Behavioral Advertising

In his New York Times op-ed entitled What if We All Just Sold Non-Creepy Advertising? Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo (Jack Dorsey's and my default search engine), draws a clear distinction between the two types of Web advertising:
There is no reason to fear that sites cannot still make money with advertising. That’s because there are already two kinds of highly profitable online ads: contextual ads, based on the content being shown on screen, and behavioral ads, based on personal data collected about the person viewing the ad. Behavioral ads work by tracking your online behavior and compiling a profile about you using your internet activities (and even your offline activities in some cases) to send you targeted ads.
He argues that the creepiness of behavioral ads isn't necessary for sites to make money from ads. Below the fold I look at the evidence that Weinberg is right.