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Silicon Round-up: Facebook gets all cosy, are robots taking over? Haggerston Times gets an online store!


In a week that saw former Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman unleash an expletive laden assault on Apple, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek declare himself “extremely frustrated” and upset “big time” in a ranting riposte to Taylor Swift’s decision to remove her album from his musical platform, and Blackberry CEO John Chen unceremoniously dump Kim Kardashian as a spokesperson for Blackberry, declaring “I’m not into bringing celebrities on board”, we could be forgiven for thinking that cracks are beginning to emerge in the normally benign and smiling face that the world of technology presents to us, the public. Had somebody been forgetting to apply the usual dollop of moisturising platitudinism to the crow’s feet of disharmony this week?

Facebook Q &A tackles none of the big questions?

Thank goodness then, for Facebook, whose first ever live Q&A with founder Mark Zuckerberg was about as harmless an exercise in well-meaning blandness as you are ever likely to see. Amongst the assembled guests, some flown in especially from technologically deprived areas such as Dakota, Addis Ababa and Leeds, England, cooing over, giggling at and clapping Zuckerberg was an incredible who’s who of senior Facebook staff. Cheryl Sandberg was there, Elliot Schrage, “who runs policy”, Dave Weiner, Chief Financial Officer, and many others besides.

zuckerbergIn days gone by having so many of Facebook’s senior management in one room may have felt like a major security risk, akin to a G8 summit taking place in Baghdad with Salman Rushdie as special guest and kicking off with a panel discussion, “so how we gonna get rid of Putin”, but, this video seems to suggest a Town Hall with Zuckerberg and his friends was the most natural thing in the world. “Why-ever didn’t they do this right from the start?” it made us naively wonder. (Answer, because Mark was too busy screwing his business partners and getting high on Acapulco Gold with that bloke from Napster, perhaps?)

Amongst the political hot potatoes Zuckerberg was forced to juggle with were questions like “why do you always wear the same grey T-shirt”, and, “do you really drink Appletini’s like in the film of you?”, which must have really thrown the multi-billionaire, psychological experiment conducting, owner of the world’s biggest spying network.

As sanitised as the broadcast may have been, however, perhaps it taught us all a valuable lesson. Could Zuckerberg really just be a fairly humble, incredibly bright motivator with a brilliant idea and a skilfully handpicked collection of super-qualified advisors? Nah. In the next vid expect to see him behind a desk, stroking a white cat and pointing to a launch button whilst demanding a ransom payment of “one meeellion pounds” and trying to discover the whereabouts of Daniel Craig and the queen.

Robots will save workers an arm and a leg?

The robots are coming. But are they? Is that a Sinclair C5 I can see out of the corner of my eye, rapidly running out of battery whilst juddering and banging like its doing a particularly poor taste impression of Stephen Hawking at a drunken party? According to the Times, one in three jobs are at risk of being replaced by a robot in the next 20 years, and, as always, it’s the unskilled workers earning less than £30k who are most at risk.

sinclair c5We’ve been here before, robots have been replacing humans in the workplace for years, but the word on the street today is that we are rapidly approaching an age that will become known as the “technological singularity”, where tech will be so advanced we will all start to feel like WALLEE the robot from the Pixar film of the same name. But look, do you really think that a low wage worker in Darlington is going to be infuriated about the fact that a hyper efficient C3P0-a-like can panel beat a car door faster than him. Of course he won’t, but he will be worrying about being cheated out of his compensation package by governments or big business, and not given anything useful to do now that he is free to demonstrate that he too has plenty of intellect, and therefore a significant contribution to make to the country’s future. So let’s get ready to help him. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, as they say.

Haggerston Times Store open for business thanks to

Finally, a story to warm the heart of any blogger or website owner. Some ingenious entrepreneurs brought to the UK under the auspices of the UK Department of Trade and Investment’s SIRIUS scheme, which helps recently graduated entrepreneurs study and develop their products in the UK, have devised a piece of software that can install an ecommerce store on your website in under 60 seconds.

At present the project is fairly hush-hush as the founders prepare for launch, and there are one or two big names from the Tech world throwing their weight behind it too, but Haggerston Times has been the lucky beneficiary of their work to date. You will note an extra category in the menu at the top of this page, namely “online store”. Ok, ok, so there is just one book for sale right now (although it’s a rollicking good read and deserves recognition) but very soon I will be able to add products myself with but the click of a mouse!

It really did take 60 seconds to generate the few lines of code that I simply paste into the top of my WordPress theme (it works even easier if you use Tumblr or Blogger) to add my online store, and the best part is I get to keep 10% of every purchase made through this site! This has the potential to rock the blogosphere; we (ahem) know that bloggers are modern day trendsetters, beholden only to their sponsors, or “brand partners”, but now there is an alternative way to monetise; find it, review it, sell it! There are 210 million blogs out there. Brace yourselves for a whole new kind of shopping experience!


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