Assorted links

by on July 4, 2013 at 9:01 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. More from Robin Hanson on bets.  And a bit from GarettA good post from Eli.  A short tweet from me.  Noah on whether beliefs even matterAshok Rao on betting.

2. Another theory as to why Google shut down Google Reader:  It’s all about Google Plus.

3. New Chinese shopping mall almost as large as Monaco.

4. The llama is in.

5. The French spying on the French.

prior_approval July 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

5. What, the French use the same German abbreviation as the Americans for their security apparatus? Really, the Germans do have a word for everything, in this case that word being Stasi.

Ask Merkel about it – she has a nice thick file, after all, being able to travel to the land of the Klassenfeind. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel#Early_life – and don’t worry about the https – the NSA is thoroughly capable of keeping track of who is reading what at wikipedia, especially when referencing a leading German figure – after all, if the Germans don’t want Stasi anymore, Germany’s Grosser Bruder is quite willing to fill the gap).

dearieme July 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

Oh go and eat your sausages, man. Have a break.

Ashok Rao July 4, 2013 at 11:11 am

As psychology would predict, I read “DGSE” as “DSGE” and was a very confused reader for a moment.

And Marco gives an interesting theory on Reader, but we should note that monopoly power has before prevented balkanization of the web. My favorite example is the dynamics between Netscape – basically a bunch of ex-NCSA who wanted to commodotize their product – and Internet Explorer. When Bill Gates sent IE free with each copy of the world’s dominant OS, Netscape couldn’t compete, and IE respected open standards of web operability.

Of course, BG didn’t do this for the greater good (or at least I doubt it). It just turned out that (relatively) open was just the right choice for the monopolist.

To those who’ve followed the rise of the Internet, balkanization isn’t anything new, and was there from the time of Mosaic.

Rohan July 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm

“IE respected open standards of web operability”

You have a very skewed version of browser history. IE was notorious for *not* complying with web standards. The entire concept of “Embrace, extend, and extinguish” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend_and_extinguish) comes from IE.

In fact, the latest version of IE, IE 11, no longer identifies itself as IE. It identifies itself as a current version of Mozilla, to indicate that it is standards compliant, and to prevent web sites from using all the hacks that used to be necessary to get pages to work properly in IE.

Rahul July 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

+1 IE for the longest period of time needed / allowed / encouraged web designers to write IE-specific, non-standard code hacks that were unique to the platform. I have no clue why someone would think IE was serious about being standards-compliant.

Ashok Rao July 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Yes, I have an unorthodox view of browser history.

IE is not particularly standards compliant, you’re right. By today’s standards (Mitchell Baker of course started with Netscape but went on to head Mozilla). But by bundling IE complimentary, Microsoft might have gotten into legal trouble (which is ridiculous) but cemented the institution of a free web browser.

Netscape wanted many operations (like word processing) to *work through the browser* and force you to pay for it. Through sheer self interest and bullying, Microsoft prevented that.

Monopoly selfishness has bad effects, my point is it can have good effects as well. And that dominating the web is nothing new with Facebook.

Rahul July 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm

“Netscape wanted many operations (like word processing) to *work through the browser* and force you to pay for it.”

So why is that (if true) any worse than Microsoft “forcing you to pay” for Word? Or any of the gazillion Cloud applications that “force” you to pay for whatever-processing?

Ashok Rao July 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Sorry, but you’re not forced to pay for Word.

And paying for the add-on is very different than the base. So a bad analogy.

gwern July 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

> 2. Another theory as to why Google shut down Google Reader: It’s all about Google Plus.

I can’t agree with Marco there. If it had been all about G+, why did they make no efforts to sensibly merge Reader into G+? There must’ve been tons of ways to shift the load over and merge the >24m users of Reader onto G+. We saw essentially nothing done before it was shut down.

More specifically, we don’t see that done for many of Google’s social stuff at all – no merging into G+ before being shut down. When I looked at ~300 Google services etc and counted anything merged into another service as still being alive (see http://www.gwern.net/Google%20shutdowns ), I still found that being ‘social’ was a predictor of a service dying!

wait July 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm

They did try–back when they originally got rid of sharing specific stories with your friend list. When they got rid of friends in google reader they would give us notifications that instead you should share it to Google Plus (which there was now a button for in Reader) so that your friends there could see it, instead of only your Reader friends.

Wallace Forman July 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

1. I’m still somewhat perplexed by your previous claim that “I don’t see comparable evidence on the other side of this debate, which I interpret as a preference for witnessing comeuppance for its own sake.” I know you’ve presented your more considered views elsewhere, but this just strikes me as a Turing test fail, and unfair besides. So far as I know, none of your interlocutors have accused you of opposing betting in order to secretly curry favor with the academic establishment, by way of contrast. You know Caplan etc. personally, though, so maybe you have fair reasons for claiming that the arguments they are putting forward are just a disingenuous rationalization for gamesmanship. Perhaps, however, Caplan supports betting because he really believes, quixotically or otherwise, that the comeuppance is advancing a desirable and information-increasing culture of rationality.

Enrique July 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I want to defend both Tyler and Robin here … each one is right, depending on whether we look at bets at a “micro” or “macro” level … if we look at a large number of bets on a given topic or question at a macro level, then Robin is right: all these bets in the aggregate tell us something, and this is why prediction markets are so awesome … but at the same time, each individual bet on a micro scale may not necessarily reveal all that much information, for the reasons Noah and others have given (and, I would add, because individuals might make inconsistent bets over time) … so Tyler is right when we look at bets on a micro or individual scale … maybe MR could add a play “prediction market” where us loyal fans could place bets on various assertions made by Tyler or Alex

Adrian Ratnapala July 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

#5 re France spying on its people.

The author pissing on his duty as a citizen when he say “Frankly, I’m resigned to it.” Talking, not specifically about French eavesdropping, rather his own suggestion that “what can be done will be done.” Some things that can be done are indeed done. And some of those things spark a backlash from those who are not resigned to it.

Eternal vigilance and all that.

Claude Emer July 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Scout July 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

#2: “Well, fuck them, and fuck that.

We need to…”

Written by a psychopath?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/07/20/using-twitter-to-help-expose-psychopaths/

Bob July 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Of course it’s all about plus: It’s always been all about plus. It’s the same reason they took away all the social features of Reader long ago. I don’t think it’s going to work though: They’ve made every google account a plus account, but that doesn’t mean people will actually use plus.

Instead of trying to kill other services so that people use plus, they’d be way better off finding a reason for people to actually want to use it.

JWatts July 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

“3. New Chinese shopping mall almost as large as Monaco.”

I’m curious if a Mall on that scale is viable or even close to viable. Are the Chinese just starting to throw their money at infrastructure projects because there is insufficient feedback or ROI calculations in their economy?

This new Mall:
New Century Global Center – 1.7 Million sq. meters (2013)

Vs the 2nd largest Mall in the world:
New South China Mall – 0.89 million sq. meters (2005)

Remarks about New South China Mall:
99% vacant since 2005. Potential 2,350 stores. Classified as a “dead mall” by Emporis, a global building data firm.

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