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10 Jun 2013
The Palace of Versailles is probably one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world, which is just as well because as a place of residence and governance it helped bankrupt the French state, back in the day.
However, such hubristic, ridiculous palaces serve as a reminder that nemesis invariably follows hubris, and that a “fall” will inevitably come. Which is why some trouble-making analysts have been taking a closer look at the modern-day palaces that companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are building as their new HQs.
It’s not just all the funky colours, architecture and “whacky” (ie: bonkers) interior design that tends to go into such places, but what such plans reveal about the corporate psyche – ie: that the companies’ top management are quite possible turning all Louis XIV and the whole thing is about to go all “French revolution” in a century or two.
Google even gives its new HQ a name – the Googleplex, which sounds more like an unpleasant instrument of torture from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Facebook, meanwhile, hired fancy (ie: expensive) architect Frank Gehry, who tends to draw squiggles on pieces of paper and get his underlings to turn them into something more, well, building-like. Pity the poor engineers who have to make the actual physics of the resulting proposal work in real life.
Analysts, though, ever-more polite than Backbytes, have dubbed it the “campus curse”. Borland Software, once the second-largest software vendor in the world (no, really) spent $100m on its Silicon Valley HQ in the early 1990s. Replete with ponds, tennis courts and swimming pool, a decade or so later it was worth more than than company.
AOL-Time Warner built its swanky 2.8 million square foot HQ slap-bang in the middle of Manhatten, right on the edge of Central Park. In 2000, just before three-quarters of the company’s value was immolated in the dot-com crash. Whatever happened to AOL?
05 Sep 2012
One day soon, when Backbytes has worked out a way to fix the Euromillions lottery, he’ll buy a massive house with a library. And in that library will be all the finest books ever published in the whole history of civilisation – as well as some crap ones.
When Backbytes perishes, though, he’ll want that fine collection to be passed on to his progeny.
But what if the paperback and the hardback are rendered extinct by the e-book before those plans come to fruition? Not only will a markedly smaller library be required, but the collection will be electronically extinguished when the owner shuffles off this mortal coil, according to lawyers.
“I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” Evan Carroll, co-author of Your Digital Afterlife, told Marketwatch. “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”
The problem is that with digital downloads, an owner only ever acquires the (non-transferable) right to use them. “You do not acquire any ownership rights in the software or music content,” states Amazon’s Ts and Cs, while Apple limits the use of digital files to Apple devices belonging to the account holder only.
Our cunning plans may need to be brought forward...
19 Jun 2012
ICANN’s once-in-a-lifetime generic top-level domain (gTLD) sale has been criticised for permitting an "internet land grab" by the moneyed elites of the web.
That may or may not be true. But a perusal of the applications by Amazon, Google, Apple and others at least reveals something of their strategic thinking.
Apple seems only to have bid for its own name, .apple, which seems sensible enough.
Amazon, though, seems to want to rule the world. You would expect the company to apply for .Amazon, and naturally enough it has. But the scores of additional applications are revealing.
They include .author, .audible, .book, .buy, .call, .cloud, .game, .imdb, .kindle, .mail, .mobile, .movie, music, .news, .pay, .room, .search, .secure, .shop, .song, .store, .talk, and .video – among many others.
Google was equally greedy, although a bit craftier. It applied under the name of subsidiary company, Charleston Road Registry. In its bid for world domination, it applied for the entire family – .mom (but not .mum), .kid (but not .child) and .dad, as well as .eat (but not .drink) and many of the same gTLDs that Amazon wants.
Of course, that list doesn’t include the 116 applications for internationalised domain names (IDNs), for gTLDs in scripts such as Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic. Not that people in China or parts of the Middle East would be allowed to look at some of the actual websites, of course.
Still: nice to have on the off-chance.
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