What’s wrong with this picture?
The front page of The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday:
“Amazon Lures 238 Bids for its Second Home.”
It’s not a good thing that a single company can get the political leaders of so many American cities and states to scramble over each other to try to lure $5 billion in spending on some new buildings.
The story shows that Amazon’s influence over American urban life is far more than one company deserves: over tax policies, over city planning decisions, over the aesthetics and culture of our communities. Society’s interests lie in sustaining a dynamic, innovative and evolving economy, not one in which hegemonic companies have oversized sway over everyone’s decision-making.
This is the core problem of centralization in the internet age – a pet topic for those of us who believe the ideas behind blockchain technology can point us toward a better economic model.
Amazon is not alone, of course. But it’s in a very select group. An acronym has emerged to define the small club of digital behemoths to which it belongs: GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple).
Two other WSJ stories this past week bring home the distorting influence of two other members of that club. One was Christopher Mims’ column about Facebook’s “master algorithm,” which in determining what we see and read is literally dictating how we think. The other was about Google winning the quantum computing race, a prize that will afford the winner unimaginable competitive advantages in data-processing capabilities.
Meanwhile, with my iPhone 6’s screen cracked and its functionality deteriorated since I upgraded to iOS 11, I’m tempted to switch to a Samsung phone, but don’t want to lose all the data and connectivity that the Apple universe has locked me into. And I know that with the Android OS, I’d just be getting Google’s version of the same dependency anyway.
Read more: CoinDesk