SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:47:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bitcoin standard update causes problems with miners, generation of invalid Bitcoins Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:44:42 +0000 An upgrade to Bitcoin standards over the weekend has caused a glitch among Bitcoin miners resulting in the creation of invalid Bitcoins.

In a post at, the problem was explained as being due to a problem that affects Bitcoin mining clients that haven’t been updated, with the flow on effect being that those un-updated clients are “currently vulnerable to double-spending of confirmed transactions,” and making matters worse, “Almost all software (besides Bitcoin Core 0.9.5 and later) will accept these invalid blocks under certain conditions.”

“All software that assumes blocks are valid (because invalid blocks cost miners money) is at risk of showing transactions as confirmed when they really aren’t,” the post continues, before adding “This particularly affects lightweight (SPV) wallets and software such as old versions of Bitcoin Core which have been downgraded to SPV-level security by the new BIP66 consensus rules.”

Further, the post explained that the fix is for all miners off of Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) mining as “lightweight (SPV) wallets are not safe for less than 30 confirmations until all the major pools switch to full validation.”

In addition, since web wallets run varying infrastructure, “unless you know for sure that they use Bitcoin Core 0.9.5 or later for full validation, you should assume they have the same security as the lightweight wallets.”

The problem does not extend to everyday, regular Bitcoin users, who remain completely fine to buy, sell and purchase goods in Bitcoin.

Ghosts in the machine

While not affecting general Bitcoin transactions, the change is a wake up call for Bitcoin miners who, despite adverse conditions surrounding mining given the current exchange rate of Bitcoin, continue to slug on and mine away in a good fight against the flawed notion of fiat currency.

The good news is that it’s not the end of the Bitcoin world, and according to various reports miners are updating to fix the issue, but it is a wake up call that there is always the potential for their to be ghosts in the machine.

Over its history Bitcoin has been remarkably resilient, and this is but a minor hiccup along the road, which let’s face it, anything and everything suffers from at least at some stage.

Image credit: glencooper/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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China plans a Big Data revolution with Internet Plus initiative Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:39:14 +0000 China has revealed more details about its “Internet Plus” initiative that aims to help foster the growth of e-commerce and Web companies in the country as part of a wider effort aimed at stimulating the economy.

That plan, which was launched in March by China’s Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang, officially aims to “further deepen the integration of the Internet with the economic and social sectors, making new industrial modes a main driving force of growth by 2018,” the Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying.

According to Li, the Internet Plus plan maps various development targets and supportive measures for key sectors of the country’s economy, and the government’s great hope is this will lead to “new industrial modes, including mass entrepreneurship and innovation, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, finance, public services, logistics, e-commerce, traffic, biology and artificial intelligence.”

To make this happen, Li says the government will encourage and assist more Chinese firms to boost their presence in international markets, while training and making better use of both local and foreign talents. In addition, the plan calls for financial support and tax references to be provided to key projects related to it, and encourages local governments to participate in this, and at the same time will also try to secure backing from private investors.

Going forward, China is also hoping to “launch more pilot zones and encourage innovation demonstration zones such as Zhongguancun, the Chinese version of Silicon Valley”.

Alongside Internet Plus, China has also conceived a new “national Big Data strategy” aimed at improving public administration. According to the State Council, China’s government agencies are suffering from that familiar bugbear of “siloed data”, which would be much better off being crunched and analyzed to deliver better insights.

One final tidbit from the announcement. Xinhua says that, the official Chinese government site devoted to human rights, has gotten a refresh, its third since the site was first launched in 1998. The newly revamped site remains, according to Xinhua, “the only authoritative website on the issue [of human rights]” where among other things, interested netizens can read up on China’s progress in human rights protection and international research on human rights.

Photo Credit: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, UofT via Compfight cc
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Google’s next Glass might be an ‘Enterprise Edition’ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 07:07:34 +0000 For all the fanfare, Google Glass wasn’t exactly a resounding success. Indeed, Google announced it was killing off the contraption back in January of this year, even though some businesses users and healthcare providers actually found it quite useful.

But Google’s announcement was somewhat premature, for it’s now widely believed the company is planning to release a Glass 2.0 in the near future, and the latest reports claim it’s going to be targeted squarely at the enterprise users who actually put it to good use. According to 9to5Google, the newly revamped gadget will even be called the “Enterprise Edition” (EE). However, that could mean consumers are no longer able to get their hands on one.

Google has been quietly rounding up new staff ahead of Glass 2.0’s release, and there have been lots of other signs to indicate something new is in the works. A patent that many believe is linked to Glass 2.0 appeared late last year, and suggests the new Glass will be slimmer and lighter than the original. It’s also thought that Intel is working with Google to provide some of Glass’s internal circuitry.

The pressure from other companies could also be a factor pushing Google to come up with something new. It’s arch rival Microsoft recently unveiled its HoloLens, essentially a bigger and more powerful type of Glass, while companies like Sony Corp. are also building alternative smart specs of their own.

But while Microsoft is hoping for HoloLens to appeal to consumers in addition to enterprise users, Google seems to believe the enterprise is the only place to establish its wearable tech. It’s not the only one either, because Forbes contributer Theo Priestly described how Glass 2.0 could well be a game changer for wearables in the work place, becoming the catalyst for true mobility at last.

“So, what if you’re sitting in a call-center and instead of staring at a productivity pie-chart on a screen you pop your supervisory head above the parapet and with your Enterprise Edition Glasses can see each individuals performance figures?” Priestly wrote. “By calling up the person in question using the interface you can see their stats in a heads-up (HUD) display. Plus with not being tied to your desk you can floor-walk at the same time or do this anywhere, anytime, without the need to carry a tablet or phone interface with you.”

There’s still no indication of when Google Glass 2.0 might be released, but 9to5Google‘s sources claim that extensive testing is set to take place later this year, which means an announcement may not be too far off.

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc
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Uber crumbles under French protests, suspends services Mon, 06 Jul 2015 06:13:26 +0000 Uber Technologies Inc. has temporarily suspended its UberPop service in France, following mass protests from taxi drivers there who insist the service is against the law.

After a week of sometimes violent protests by regular taxi drivers, Uber announced the suspension of its UberPop service last Friday, adding that it had done so to protect passengers and drivers, and that the app will be removed from user’s phones.

“In recent weeks intimidation and violent aggression by an out-of-control minority, where drivers and users of UberPop were ambushed, has increased in France. Uber does not want to put drivers or passengers at risk, so for the sake of peace has decided to suspend Uberpop,” the company said in a statement.

UberPop is similar to Uber X in the U.S. in that it allows people to grab rides from unlicensed drivers. The app has been disrupting the transport industry all over the world, but few cities have reacted as angrily as Paris, where taxi drivers have taken to blocking highways and airports with burning tires in protest at the company. There were also some incidents of attacks on Uber vehicles, with some drivers and passengers reportedly hurt.

France’s taxi drivers are angry at Uber because they say it breaches a law banning unlicensed drivers from picking up passengers that was introduced last January.

Uber has a history of acting in what can be described as an arrogant fashion, and in France it was no different. The company decided to ignore the new law and continue operating its services regardless. However, the company says it’s now suspending its services as it waits for its case to reach France’s Constitutional Court on September 30.

Interestingly, there’s a decent chance the Constitutional Court could rule in Uber’s favor. Last month in the city of Lille, a French Uber driver was acquitted after being charged under the new law, after the court found that Uber isn’t an illegal taxi service as defined under French law.

Despite this setback, French authorities went out and arrested two of Uber’s most senior French executives last Monday, on suspicion of inciting people to work without paying the necessary social security charges on their income.

In its statement, Uber said it wanted to show its appreciation to the “thousands of men and women from Lille to Marseille, via Paris, Bordeaux or Lyon who participated with enthusiasm in the urban transport revolution,” adding that it hopes to be up and running again soon.

Photo Credit: marcovdz via Compfight cc
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New version of Minecraft to be released same day as Windows 10 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 04:03:33 +0000 Microsoft Corp. won’t be leaving Minecraft fans out in the cold come Windows 10 later this month with an announcement over the weekend that a new version of the wildly popular building game will be released at the same time as the new operating system.

Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta is said to be effectively the Pocket Edition of Minecraft for all Windows 10 devices, and will also allow users to create and explore online with up to seven other friends using Xbox Live.

Mojang (the Microsoft-owned company behind Minecraft) said in a blog post that the new version will develop and evolve over time with the help of user feedback, and hence that’s why it’s being launched as a beta version, as, in their words “it’s not quite finished, and will become even more fun over time.”

The new version will allow users to play online and local multiplayer with other Pocket Edition players (with an update due to arrive soon after launch,) offers multiple control schemes, allowing users to switch between controller, touch, and keyboard controls “with little to no effort,” and the ability to record and share game play highlights with built-in GameDVR.

Minecraft for Windows 10 will also allow users to help shape the future of Minecraft “with built-in player feedback mechanisms,” although it isn’t clear exactly how in depth or easy to use the feature is.

Limited features

The pocket version of Minecraft is usually considered to be a limited version of Minecraft by dedicated players/ users, or as Jeff Gerstmann at GiantBomb points out:

..including compatibility with Pocket Edition must mean that this version is limited in its feature set, right? I’m no engineer, but I suspect moving away from Java could result in a more optimized and feature-rich Minecraft client. But this sounds like a separate thing built for more cross-platform compatibility that sort of brings the console-level feature set back to PCs. I’m not really sure why PC players would actually want that, considering the core version of Minecraft has been way more functional for years now, but again… it’s hard to parse out the full details from this initial announcement.

The move away from the Java client was always eventually going to happen under Microsoft’s ownership, but the question becomes one of at what cost to Minecraft players?

The new version of Minecraft for Windows 10 beta will be free for existing players, or $10 for new users.

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FullDive VR headset for the masses turns your smartphone into a virtual viewport Sun, 05 Jul 2015 22:21:09 +0000 The world of Virtual Reality (VR) development is currently dominated by headsets that run their own hardware such as Oculus Rift and Sony Corporation’s Project Morpheus. This makes headsets powerful, but expensive. The alternative is to use already-existing hardware such as smartphones. California-based startup FullDive Inc. hopes add a cheaper everyday alternative to the VR landscape with a case and controller that turns consumer smartphones into fully-fledged VR devices.

FullDive supplies a smartphone application—available for Android devices, an iOS version is planned. The app acts to turn the smartphone into the VR screen and FullDive then supplies a plastic headset, FullDive Wear, customized to the Android or iOS phone in use, with an adjustable head-strap.

Control is provided to users by head movement tracking and a sensor-driven controller wand, the FullDive Wand (shaped a lot like a short pencil.) The head tracking and controller act together in what FullDive calls “mixed reality,” that is an application of augmented reality. According to FullDive users can create and interact with “3D holograms” using the mixed reality mode.

To do this, the FullDive Wear case has an opening in the outside that provides a lens for the smartphone camera for augmented reality applications. Therefore users can see what they’re looking at through the headset and the VR application provides the framework for the 3D holograms.

Finally, the FullDive app and system will provide an SDK for developers to create VR applications and content.

The glimmer behind FullDive’s app, controller, and case started in August 2014 and gave way to a prototype in February 2015. The company is planning a Kickstarter to begin this month to help fund the production of the device as well.

Preorders for the FullDive Wear and Wand are currently up on the website set at $29.00 (with a suggested retail of $69.00.) The case covers a wide variety of current Android and iOS devices, with special instructions for others not listed as currently supported.

Competition for Google Cardboard

The concept of turning a smartphone into a VR device is not a new one. Google already has an app and project named Google Cardboard that permits users to download an app onto their Android device and then fold together a literal cardboard case that isolates the users’ vision.

FullDive’s Wear functions under a very similar concept, except that FullDive provides the case and FullDive also provides a controller. What will set FullDive apart from Google Cardboard more than the case is the controller.

Both VR and AR applications provide users a different way to interact with computer systems. Already many proponents of AR have hoped to see interfaces similar to that seen in the 2002 movie Minority Report, something that the Microsoft Kinect kinda delivered for gaming and TV sets. VR and AR devices provide a new way to interact with environments, both virtual and real, and one of the hard problems is gesture and motion detection for user control.

A sensor-wand controller gives the FullDive app the opportunity to provide easier tracking and control for users, which may be potentially more precise than gesture and motion detection.

Although it also adds an extra component that could be misplaced by users (rendering it useless if lost) the results of that trade-off remain to be seen. And, there’s also the possibility that FullDive will eventually build in gesture detection to the VR/AR app.

Photo credit: FullDive Wear and Wand, via FullDive Inc.
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SnapShot bids to bring hospitality into the Big Data era Sun, 05 Jul 2015 08:51:40 +0000 SnapShot GmbH, a Berlin-based Big Data startup focused on the hospitality industry, received a big boost this week with €25 million in series B funding from Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co., (Shiji Networks) to help scale out its suite of data analytics tools aimed at hoteliers.

There aren’t many bigger buzzwords in tech than “Big Data” at the moment, and with good reason too. Wikibon predicts that the Big Data market will be worth in excess of $61 billion by 2020, and we’ve all heard about the success stories from companies like Netflix Inc.,, Inc and IBM, just to name just a few. As profitable as these companies can be slicing and dicing customer data though, there’s no industry better suited to leverage data than hotels. As third parties like online travel agencies (OTAs) siphon off more of every hotel’s bookings, data management is becoming an antidote for a balanced sales funnel.

Laying off the marketing speak for a moment, we must remember that Big Data technologies are still relatively nascent. Outside of a few tech giants and innovative marketing, retail and finance firms, it’s clear that few industries have tapped into it, and even those who have are reticent to fully utilize the potential. Indeed, many companies are still stuck in a siloed rut, with little idea of how to even begin tapping into their data. Even for those companies “all in” for integrating this vast resource, they find very few toolmakers to help them cope.

Hospitality’s data disaster

Focusing on this hospitality sector, the news Shiji Networks has just infused SnapShot with capital is something of a red flag. For those unfamiliar, Shiji was founded by the man Forbes recently called “Alibaba’s secret weapon”, Li Zhonghchu. This Chinese businessman has almost single handedly transformed China’s hotel industry from an IT perspective in the last 17 years.


Martin Soler, Chief Marketing Officer, SnapShot

Now SnapShot, the first tech startup to focus on building a platform to structure and analyze hotel information, seems to be a catalyst for a Shiji IT expansion into Europe. Martin Soler, Chief Marketing Officer at SnapShot (pictured left), explained to SiliconANGLE how the travel industry epitomizes the potential uses of data, and the problems that arise in doing so. In his own words, “hotel data is a disaster”, with very few hotels outside of the big international chains that have an inkling how to access their data, let alone try to extract valuable business insights from it.

The biggest problem for hotels is their data is often siloed in containers beyond their control, locked away in property management systems or in customer relationship management (CRM) systems, Soler explained. This data is largely inaccesible to the average hotelier, and kept entirely separate from other, Web-based data like social media, hotel reviews and so on.

“Working as a hotel general manager, then a marketing exectutive, I’ve experienced first hand the hotel data problem,” Soler said. “It’s not that we as hotels don’t have data, rather it’s that we have data in so many different places.”

“General managers simply don’t have time to dig into the data to try and spot trends, and so forth. When I joined SnapShot I began to see a solution to that problem, structuring the data, speeding up the decision process, even providing a prediction matrix, if you will.”

Solving “what digital customers do”

That “solution” is to develop a suite of data analytics services that brings together items like distribution, finance, marketing and revenue management. According to Soler, that is what SnapShot is building, what it calls a “demand management” platform focused on driving optimal profit and performance by helping hotels to effectively budget, strategize and forecast demand. This all seems like a tall order, and it is according to the veteran marketing guru.

SnapShot Analytics right now is a data aggregation platform provides a grid-like interface that delivers basic business intelligence to hotel operators. It’s a powerful tool, but the company itself admits the complexity involved will deter a lot of hoteliers from using it in this form. What’s needed, it would seem, is a tool with the same powerful back end, but a slimline and simplified operational dashboard (my words).

To fulfil its potential, SnapShot needs to ensure its platform can tap into the wealth of booking data and reviews hotels generate, and this is where its new benefactor Shiji Networks comes into play. Although still relatively unknown in the West, Shiji is actually something of a powerhouse in China’s IT industry. It provides IP solutions to more than 6,000 hotels as customers, recently teamed up with Alibaba’s Alitrip Travel site, and will now integrate SnapShot’s own services into its wider offerings.

Shiji’s partnerships with Alibaba and SnapShot are important because they underscore how the company is trying to squeeze out the human element as it builds an all-encompassing platform for the hospitality business.

Right here is where the symbiosis of technology demand arises. A huge IT and software entity focused on an innovative solution provider, both targeting what data and business gurus have preached the last five years. To help us focus on what’s happening in this deal better, Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group and famed digital analyst and anthropologist, speaker and author, reiterated something to us from one of his last speaking engagements. The cunundrum for B2C and B2B marketing for hotels is perfectly attuned to Solis’ whole “change” in business speak:

“One of the greatest catalysts for change is that of customer behavior, and the fact their values are so radically different from current norms and models. Simply solving for “what digital customers would do”, reveals your business’ priorities and next steps.”

And that’s exactly what SnapShot is aiming to do, by democratizing data in the hospitality industry and ensuring its availability for everyone, not just the big name hotels. There’s hotel data, and then there’s hotel data driven by customer behaviors, geography, season, and a million other facets. In the end, the customer is an irrefutable variable in the success equation. SnapShot’s marketing chief encapsulates my conclusion best.

“Imagine if one could analyze that every weekend when there is good weather we have ten points more occupancy, and that next weekend is forecast to have great weather,” SnapShot’s Soler explained. “It sounds stupid, but it’s really that basic. Simple things like that aren’t being tracked, and hotels need help with that.”

When asked about the coming tools mentioned in SnapShot Travel’s press, Soler was reluctant to talk specifics. Nonetheless we can surmise the company’s so-called “Grid” platform offers massive utility for hoteliers with expert analytics and revenue people in teams. But such grid-like behemoths daunt even the most intelligent SMEs and private entities now. What the SnapShot- Shiji-Alibaba triad suggests (and this is only a suggestion) is a one-size-fits-all mega solution. Perhaps this is too optimistic, but given the need it’s only logic. Whether SnapShot can make the toolbox or not, we’ll have to wait and see.

Image credits: SnapShot GmbH;
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Forget smart cars, just geek up the steering wheel Sat, 04 Jul 2015 13:56:50 +0000 This week’s Smart City roundup features new technology for turning steering wheels “smart,” a partnership to turn a U.S. city into a smart one, and a tech company provides the foundation for smarter cities.

Smart steering wheels for safer roads

Hoffmann + Krippner, Inc., in cooperation with Guttersberg Consulting GmbH, announced SensoFoil, a thin strip of technology that detects both pressure and position. The technology is intended to be embedded in steering wheels to detect whether the driver is dozing off or is in an emergency based on the pressure applied by their hands, as well as how they are handling the wheel.

When it senses that the driver is dozing off, it can send a buzz to wake the driver up. It will also be a significant upgrade for autonomous-driving vehicles, because when it senses an emergency, it can drive directly to the nearest hospital. Or if the driver is dozing off, the vehicle can pull over on the side of the road to prevent an accident.

The pressure control feature can be assigned various functions. For instance, placing hands on a certain spot can trigger emergency, entertainment or communications systems.

“Pressure Sensing SensoFoil cost-effectively provides extra features and capabilities to a diverse range of products,” said Jens Kautzor, CEO of Hoffmann + Krippner, Inc., in a statement. “In addition, this sensing technology requires very little external energy since power consumption is very low. The sensor system is insensitive to electromagnetic radiation and therefore ideal for the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors.”

SoZo and Huawei turn Dothan, AL into a smart city

SoZo Group Holdings Company, Ltd. announced a partnership with Huawei USA and Troy Cablevision that will turn turn the Alabama city of Dothan into a 100-gigabit city. The announcement was made at the Dothan Opera House, and the project will include ultra high-speed Internet, telemedicine, teleconference, smart stadium, smart office, smart industry, smart communities and smart homes.

“Imagine coming home and not worrying about turning on the lights or your air conditioner; it automatically comes on,” SoZo Chief Solutions Officer Wesley Riley said. “Or, being at a football game and ordering a hot dog and beer with your smartphone and in five minutes it’s delivered to you.”

Some of the businesses that will be impacted by the project include Freedom Business Technologies, LLC, Dothan Warehouse, Inc. and even hospitals in the Circle City. SoZo also announced that the project will be supporting the Wiregrass Children’s Home, Love in Action International Ministries, Wiregrass United Way 211 and the United Way Wiregrass Area Food Bank.

Cisco IoT System provides foundation to transform industries

Cisco Systems, Inc. estimates that by 2020, there will be 50 billion devices that are able to connect to the Internet. But, currently, a majority of “our things” are still not able to do so. Because of this, Cisco announced the Cisco IoT System, which aims to address the complexities associated with connecting things to the Internet.

The Cisco IoT System is comprised of six pillars or critical technology elements, namely network connectivity, Fog computing, security, data analytics, management and automation, and application enablement platform. The company also announced new products and services for IoT, which includes new routers, IP cameras, Fog director and Fog Data services, to name a few.

Image source: Hoffmann+Krippner
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Latest leaked iPhone 6s images reveal upgraded NFC, same 16GB storage Sat, 04 Jul 2015 05:31:44 +0000 The iPhone 6s leaks continued Friday as new images supposedly showing the internal components of Apple’s next iPhone were published. The images reportedly show updated NFC hardware, fewer and less power-hungry chips, and new flash memory.

The new components were identified by 9to5Mac – who published the images of what is claimed to be the iPhone 6s’ logic board – in conjunction with patent and technology intelligence consultancy, Chipworks Inc.

Upgraded NFC chip, fewer components

The NFC chip in the current iPhone models has been in use since 2012, although Apple only started including NFC as of the iPhone 6 models in 2014. Chipworks found that the iPhone 6s has an upgraded NFC chip from the same supplier and, although it is not known what the upgrade brings, it may include a secure element processor – until now this was provided by a separate chip.

The report found that the iPhone 6s’ logic board was marginally smaller than that in the iPhone 6 and contains fewer chips as well. Along with a reduction in parts – down to three from 10 in some cases – the remaining chips, including flash memory and CPU, have been reduced in size and made more efficient to deliver better application performance and reduce drain on the battery.

While much of the remaining components remain unchanged, Chipworks think that the accelerometer and gyroscope may be replaced with the smaller module Apple recently used in the Apple Watch.

Entry-level iPhone 6s may only have 16GB flash memory

Despite rumors suggesting Apple may do away with the 16GB entry-level iPhone in favor of a 32GB model, 9to5Mac’s analysis of the leaked images found that the prototype has a 16GB Toshiba Flash Memory chip.

The report did add that this may only be for testing purposes and Apple could still plan to include 32GB internal storage for the entry-level iPhone 6s when it goes into final production.

Then again, more storage – at least for price conscious buyers of entry-level iPhones – may be a moot point given the smaller footprint of iOS 9 combined with the new operating system’s app-slimming features aimed at freeing up storage space.

Image via

Image via

iPhone 6s design and other features

Earlier this week leaked images revealed that the iPhone 6s will look identical to the iPhone 6 – at least externally.

A second set of images showed a new Qualcomm LTE chip that may bring faster download speeds to the iPhone 6s – up to double what the iPhone 6 is capable of.

Other rumored features and component upgrades coming to the iPhone 6s include a more powerful A9 processor with 2GB of RAMForce Touch7000 Series aluminum, a 12 megapixel rear camera, and an upgraded FaceTime camera.

Main image credit: kropekk_pl via
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Reddit’s disintegration continues as dozens of subreddits go private Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:50:24 +0000 Some of Reddit Inc’s most popular forums are dropping like flies as more and more moderators set their subreddits to private, locking users out from reading or posting to them.

The movement; which redditors have dubbed as Blackout 2015, AMAgeddon, and Victoria’s Secret; began with r/IAmA yesterday after Reddit’s official  “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) organizer Victoria Taylor was “unexpectedly let go” from the company.

Taylor served as an official contact for Reddit’s AMAs, and with her abrupt removal from the company, the moderators of several subreddits found themselves unable to reach out to some of the high-profile celebrities that were scheduled to conduct an AMA this week.

Reddit user Karmanaut, one of the lead moderators of r/IAmA, explained that without Victoria “we need to figure out a different way for it to work.”

One user pointed out that setting r/IAmA to private “makes reddit seem more unstable than firing an employee who did those tasks,” and Karmanaut’s response highlights why user-generated content is risky business for companies.

“My concern isn’t really with how Reddit looks,” Karmanaut said. “I am not an employee of Reddit and I’m not responsible for Reddit’s public image.”

The last straw

What first began as damage control to prevent AMAs from getting out of hand quickly spun out into a revolt against Reddit’s admins.

The moderators of some of the most popular subreddits locked down their forums in protests against what they see as a growing disconnect between Reddit and its users, and many have pointed to Taylor’s removal from the company as “the last straw” in what had already been a serious problem with the way the site is run.

“As much as Victoria is loved, this reaction is not all a result of her departure,” wrote Gilgamesh-, moderator of several of the subreddits that are now private. “There is a feeling among many of the moderators of reddit that the admins do not respect the work that is put in by the thousands of unpaid volunteers who maintain the communities of the 9,656 active subreddits, which they feel is expressed by, among other things, the lack of communication between them and the admins, and their disregard of the thousands of mods who keep reddit’s communities going.”

Many of Reddit’s users have rallied around the moderators’ cause, and some of the popular subreddits that have not gone private, such as r/Pics, are filled with posts criticizing the site and its administrators.

The Admins’ response

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, also known by his Reddit username “kn0thing,” responded to some of the site’s users regarding the shutdown.

Ohanian wrote:

Your message was received loud and clear. The communication between Reddit and the moderators needs to improve dramatically. We will work closely with you all going forward to ensure events like today don’t happen again. At this point, however, the blackout has served its purpose, and now it’s time to get Reddit functioning again. I know many of you are still upset. We will continue to work through these issues with you all, but redditors don’t deserve to be punished any further over an issue that is ultimately between Reddit and the moderators.

Ohanian explained that Reddit’s two main priorities now are “get the blacked out subreddits back online” and “work out a plan for going forward.”

His comments did not receive the most positive response.

Alexis Ohanian downvoted

Aside from a few hundred downvotes, several Reddit users criticized Ohanian’s post for being full of vague corporate speak that still did not address the issue.

“Translation: ‘We didn’t take moderators and users seriously, and underestimated how much we could take the Reddit community for granted. We’re scared now for our company and profits,’ wrote Reddit user alfonso238.

Other users voiced similar opinions, again suggesting that Ohanian and Reddit’s other administrators are more concerned with profit than with the state of the community.

“The community took the subreddits offline and you still don’t get it,” wrote Reddit user Seized7x. “You give this extremely vague ‘We will work closely with you all going forward to ensure events like today don’t happen again.’ Of course you will, but you won’t outline or promise anything. You want your money makers online ASAP, but you won’t make any promises.”

Will Reddit be the next Digg?

Reddit has seen several controversies that divided the community over the last year, including the recent censorship of subreddits like r/FatPeopleHate, but the current subreddit blackout has users more united than previously.

Before Reddit became the juggernaut that it is today, its primary competitor was Digg Inc, another link aggregator that allowed users to vote on content. Digg released a site-wide update in 2010 called Digg v4, and the update was such a fiasco that it all but killed the company, driving off thousands of users, most of whom settled on Reddit.

Many redditors have been vocal about their disappointment in the direction of the site for some time, and a few alternative communities have already started to gain popularity, especially In fact, Voat has become so popular that the site is having trouble coping with the new traffic.

While Reddit is larger now than Digg ever was, the administrators need to tread carefully if they do not want to see history repeat itself.

Screenshots via
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