The Age of Loneliness

What do we call this time? It’s not the information age: the collapse of popular education movements left a void now filled by marketing and conspiracy theories. Like the stone age, iron age and space age, the digital age says plenty about our artefacts but little about society. The anthropocene, in which humans exert a major impact on the biosphere, fails to distinguish this century from the previous twenty. What clear social change marks out our time from those that precede it? To me it’s obvious. This is the Age of Loneliness.

By George Monbiot.

Everything is sales

The most important word in the sentence “I’m starting a tech business” is business.

  • Convincing talented people to join you is sales
  • Securing a business bank account is sales
  • Getting third-party providers to give you services at a decent rate is sales
  • Getting press and PR coverage is sales
  • Convincing your team of your vision is sales
  • Getting users to use your product is sales
  • Getting customers to pay for your product is sales
  • Securing investment from angel investors or VC funds is sales

If you’re great at tech, but not so great at sales – you need to work with someone who is.

Flappy Bird and the purpose of the company

Flappy Bird, the infuriatingly-difficult mobile game that went from obscurity to the number one free game on iOS, taking $50,000 per day in ad revenue, is no more:


I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014


Its creator Dong Nguyen, tired of the relentless attention the game brought him, has removed Flappy Bird from the App Store.

I couldn’t help but feel that, if he had better advisors around him, someone would have advised that he start a company – and hire some people.

Apart from making money, what’s the purpose of a company?

It could be:

  • To provide a ‘protective shell’ to operate within
  • To provide tools and resources to its team
  • To provide legal protection
  • To provide a structure in which teams can operate effectively

All so that talented people can do their best work, without worrying about this stuff.

If Mr Dong had hired some talented people to look after marketing, PR, support, finances, ad networks, etc – he could get back to making games and trying out ideas – instead of feeling overwhelmed with the burden of doing all this stuff himself.


The black box of data

I’m on O2 at the moment, but my partner is on EE (Orange) and she just got a bill for 800Mb of data in a month – 300Mb over her normal data allowance, which she never normally exceeds.

Being tech-savvy and cost-aware, she checked her cellular data usage counter in iOS – it shows 126Mb – since it was last reset months ago. Even accounting for errors, that’s a massive discrepancy.

A call to their customer service was typically useless, the representative tried:

  • “Has anyone else had access to your phone?”
  • “Do you have a lot of background services running?”
  • “When you’re on Wifi at home, do you turn cellular data off?”

The last one, of course, is default behaviour for iOS anyway – it doesn’t use cell data if a known network is available and joined.

It got me thinking about how data monitoring in telecoms companies is a black box – it’s totally sealed, nobody can audit it or tell when there’s a fault. If they say you’ve used 800Mb – how can you prove you didn’t?

At the very least, a service provider could improve the visibility on this data: a web dashboard where you can see data by day or time of day – or free SMS alerts when certain usage levels are met.

It’s almost like they don’t want you to be able to keep track of your usage…