⭐ Before we begin, let's just be real for a sec: as you may have noticed, I love using this newsletter to laugh-cry about the horrifying inequities of the tech industry. While I enjoy doing this every week, I have ideas to write longer, more well-researched thought pieces. But I simply do not have time. If you like/love my writing, please start paying for this newsletter (£4pm/£40pa) so that I can create MORE content which is more varied for your beautiful, moist brain.
👉 If you can't pay, just share this with someone who you think will like it. THANKS :)
Now on with the show! This week was a fiendish slice of something I could have done without 👎. Because...
- I spoke to River Honer, a tech union rep, about Apple's public pay equity mess
- I spoke to my own brain about another dumb thing Apple are doing (this time with satellites, not employees)
- Something something a new AR feature is about to hit our sad little phones
🥗 For starters: a silly piece of augmented reality that no one asked for
Snapchat have updated a feature of theirs called Scan. This feature essentially recognises objects in the real world and tells you about them. All I can do is imagine 12 year olds pointing their phones at floppy disks and furbies and other things which are completely beyond their reckoning.
You, a millennial, might point your camera at a plant and ask Snapchat what it is. So, in short, this new Snapchat feature basically categorises the world around you as if our goal in life is to stick a nutrition label on absolutely everything
Of course, the real use of this feature is to 'make recommendations' to you, based entirely on what you happen to standing next to. And by 'make recommendations' I do mean 'advertise'. For instance, you scan you walking boots to see if they are good enough to go on a long hike with. Snapchat says no; buy more hiking boots. Oh and while you're at it, buy this camping equipment. Essentially, it's a digital tool that really knows how to upsell. Why yes, I would love a new pair of sunglasses with my recent mailbox flower subscription, thank you.
🐕 Oh Apple, you dumb shits
Work chat during working hours should be limited to workplace topics: dogs, cats, dad jokes, deep fried memes, favourite pizza toppings. You know... work stuff. What ANNOYS me is when one company invoke the terms and conditions of another company to enforce very bad policies.
I am of course talking about Apple's now very public move to ban any chat about pay equity from their Slack channels. Apple say that Slack channels are meant "to conduct Apple business and must advance the work, deliverables, or mission of Apple departments and teams."
Yes yes good, if I worked for Apple I'm sure I'd advance all of my deliverables via the #fun-dogs channel, along with 5,000 of my colleagues. Yep, I just love to smack the shit out of my KPI's by discussing who my favourite Apex Legends character is in #gaming, obviously.
Right anyway, hopefully it's very clear to all of us that Apple are not doing pay equity correctly (e.g. instead of just paying employees fairly, they are banning any talk of paying employees fairly — that is the wrong thing to do).
To get a more rounded understanding of this issue, I spoke with River Honer, an officer at United Tech and Allied Workers, which is one of the only tech unions out there. She mentioned that workers at Apple very likely made a company-wide Slack channel about pay equity knowing full well that this would happen — because they are engaging in an awareness campaign, which also points at the hypocrisy of Apple's policies. River also made these excellent, delectable points:
"Tech companies love the aesthetics of progressivism, and Apple have pay equality policies on the books. But they believe that the way to "live their values" isn't through collective industrial action. Banning the Slack channel shows that they believe in "equitable pay" but don't agree with the means the workers use to achieve it. The policies they have are nothing more than marketing that they can use to consumers, and to potential employees who could easily go to other companies like Google."
River Honer, Women and Gender Non Conforming People's Officer at UTAW
Her final point about potential employees did get my rusty old brain cogs turning: with situations like this (e.g. remember Basecamp?), I usually default to 'okay well who's going to ever work for you now, when you have dumb policies like THAT?'. The answer is: neoliberal men who drink the kool-aid before even applying for a job. Take for instance this guy, who's tweet in response to all this speaks volumes:
There are PLENTY of people like this who would love to work for Apple, and who Apple cannot wait to hire
🛰️ Speaking of Apple, they are jumping on the LEO train
LEO = Low Earth Orbit. That's right, if I'm not moaning about the metaverse or NFT's, I'm moaning about all the satellites that are slowly encasing our Earth. Apple wants to use these in the next iPhone iteration, so that when you're somewhere without 4G (e.g. the middle of the Nevada desert?? IDK), you can still tweet your latest luke-warm takes on the Marvel cinematic universe.
🤔 Here are some new items for your thought palace:
- Using satellite internet together with, uh, ground internet is expensive and difficult and will not work that well.
- That means that this feature will probably only be used in emergency situations
- And THAT means that, as usual, better connectivity is reserved for those who can afford things like iPhones. If you're poor and without internet, you have to use Facebook Free Basics, sorry.
I think what always bothers me about all manner of connectivity projects is two key things:
- It's always expensive, not accessible, and slow, which is the exact opposite of what it's meant to be, if the goal is to 'get more people online'. E.g. Starlink is available in countries full of mostly white people and you need to pay $499 for equipment.
- Connecting more people to the internet is a good idea, but it's happening for the wrong reasons: it enables large companies to expand their user bases, and exploit the global poor in fresh new ways.
There's a reason why Facebook buy up dark fibre, and why Google are building a giant transatlantic internet cable. They want to make sure their services hit as many people as possible, as fast as possible. Because expanding is all they know.
🎲 Here's some pure nonsense
Have you ever watched The Queen's Gambit on Netflix? Watch it, it's great. It's about a woman who's really good at chess. It's based on a book. Anyway, someone has made a game of the show. Wouldn't that just be chess, you ask? No it's a game, based on a show, based on a book, based on a woman who's really good at chess. And it's not chess.
Thanks for reading, if I know you in person I owe you one hug