Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
- It’s both International Women’s Day and the Day Without A Woman protest, and about half of The Verge’s staff took the day to participate. So it was quiet around the office today. But our female staffers wrote a number of tremendous pieces about women in tech, science, culture, and transportation, and we were happy to feature them all day.
- Here’s Kaitlyn Tiffany on the complicated relationship women in media have with strikes like this. It’s just an excellent piece of reporting, with insight and observations from a variety of women in digital media taking a variety of approaches.
- Liz Lopatto, who runs our all-female science section, wrote about the reasons women drop out of STEM careers. Read this: it’s the foundation for understanding why so many industries are disproportionately male. It’s not because women aren’t interested or successful in studying science and tech, but because they get forced out.
- Natt Garun wrote an enormously moving piece on her experiences with cancer and finding the support of other women on Facebook.
- Tamara Warren wrote about the many, many women who’ve pushed the transportation industry forward but haven’t received the credit they deserve.
- Lauren Goode noted that women in the tech industry weren’t shocked by the explosive Uber allegations — because they’ve long faced similar situations at workplaces throughout the tech industry.
- And Alessandra Potenza interviewed Sam Maggs, the author of Wonder Women, a book that profiles female pioneers in STEM. This is a fun read.
WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS MEAN AJIT
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee today, where he heard the following nonsense metaphor from Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson:
Let's say a group of neighbors want to build a bridge over a creek so they can cross over and talk to each other a lot. So it's really for the neighborhood, maybe a dozen people. But then they find out the local government is going to require that [the] bridge is open to the entire community of a million people. No prioritization whatsoever. They don't get to cross first to see their neighbor. A million people can come onto their property, ruin their lawns, and walk over that bridge. Isn't that kind of a similar analogy? Isn't that a pretty good analogy in terms of what net neutrality is all about? ... Tell me where that analogy's maybe not accurate.
- Literally none of this is accurate, Ron!
- For starters, Verizon and Comcast and AT&T did not build “bridges over creeks” for their “neighborhoods”; they build massive broadband networks across the country, using enormous amounts of cash to secure wireless spectrum licenses and municipal permits to lay fiber.
- Wireless spectrum, in particular, is a scarce public resource that the government controls because otherwise nothing would work. Unlicensed bands, like 2.4GHz, are great and allow things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to proliferate, but um, radio interference from other 2.4GHz devices is why Nintendo is having problems with Switch controllers. You don’t want that to happen with every band, especially ones that support things like LTE.
- And it’s not like anyone wants hundreds of companies investing in digging up roads to lay fiber.
- So the premise of Johnson’s analogy is insanely wrong from the jump. But where he goes from there is equally ridiculous: the idea that net neutrality is the equivalent of “the local government” requiring that “a million people can come onto their property, ruin their lawns, and walk over that bridge.”
- Casting Comcast as a little old lady whose rosebushes are getting trampled by open internet traffic requires an almost breathtaking amount of self-deception.
- Additionally, the value of the internet is derived from millions of people gaining the ability to send and receive information freely. Entire companies have generated billions in value because of open network access. Prominent examples that Ron Johnson may have heard of include two little outfits called Google and Facebook. The internet does not exist so AT&T can “cross first to see their neighbor.” Come on.
- How did Ajit Pai respond to this insanely inaccurate metaphor designed to make huge ISPs seem like innocent townspeople crushed under the weight of tyrannical government? “Senator, you’ve put your finger on one of the core concerns.”
- Sigh. Sigh.
- Chairman Pai (and hell, Ron Johnson, who represents my home state of Wisconsin) are welcome on The Vergecast at any time to discuss these issues.
- Pinterest acquired Jelly, which is such a nonsense leftover phrase from the halycon days of the tech bubble. Read Casey Newton demolish what’s left of this world.
- Google’s having a big ol’ cloud computing conference this week, and today the company announced that it can now recognize objects in videos using machine vision. Awesome. Terrifying. Awesomely terrifying.
- More AI news: Facebook announced that its new AI training servers are now twice as fast. Because we all want Facebook to scan our personal data twice as fast as before.
- Even more AI news! China’s Didi Chuxing announced that it’s building an R&D center in Silicon Valley, focused on AI and self-driving. Didi, if you’ll recall, just kicked Uber’s ass in China and took a billion-dollar investment from Apple. The new research center will include employees like Charlie Miller, who famously hacked a Jeep remotely in 2015 and who... Didi poached from Uber.
- The war for tech talent around cars is hotter than ever, and the knives are out for Uber. This is going to be interesting.
- Nest rumors? Sure, Nest rumors: the company is reportedly working on cheaper thermostats and a home security system. Which makes sense, if only because Nest should be working on literally anything new.
- Finally, Nintendo says the Switch will get Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon video apps “in time.” Which should terrify every other tablet maker, because a $299 tablet that can play AAA games and watch Netflix is more useful than virtually every Android tablet and most of the ancient iPads still lying around people’s homes.