Tech Monopolies

I saw John Oliver’s piece on Tech Monopolies. I already knew most of what was in there. But I did not know that Chuck Schumer’s family worked for big tech. I hope that the US does not lose the opportunity to significantly improve the competitive landscape for the wrong reasons.

I recommend reading the original report. It links out to most of the sources John used. And this video from PBS Frontline is also worth watching.


I had the video drop into my inbox (MUST WATCH :rotating_light: John Oliver eviscerates self-preferencing by Google, Amazon and Apple - thanks, The Week In Google Antitrust Newsletter). I was aware of the Schumer connection, revolving doors and familial connections working against sensible improvements. :cry:

Also, always happy to see The Curse of Bigness getting TV airtime.

I have not watched The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos (now on my list, thanks a lot) but both myself and @Colin leafed through the investigation. I just revisited my notes and the first one is:

In a span of 20 years, Google purchased well over 260 companies—a figure that likely understates the full breadth of Google’s acquisitions, given that many of the firm’s purchases have gone unreported.

I show those notes to a lot of friends and family when they say I’m overstating the power of these few companies, it’s surprisingly effective. Hard to argue with too.

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I want to take a moment to talk to anybody who struggles with reading and share some advice I found useful.

The report I linked to is 450 pages long. I would not normally read something so long because I would get frustrated and lose interest before I finished reading.

But I want to encourage people to try reading it.

What helped me was copying the entire document into Notepad, and then reading it in Notepad. This let me do two things. One, I could select text with the keyboard and mouse. This highlights the text I am reading and helps me focus. And, two, I could delete text and save my progress at the end of the day. I have trouble finding my place when I return to a large document. But, by deleting text as I read, the line I’m reading remains near the top of the document in Notepad. Being able to highlight text and find my place makes it much easier to manage the reading process over time.

The other thing I did was read for 30-60 minutes and then stop until the next day. I did not keep track of how much I read. I only kept track of time. And this strategy lets me continue reading until the end without getting frustrated.

There are a few details you should know. Some of the words will be run together after copying. Any pictures or figures will be lost when pasting into a text-only editor. And hyperlinks will be lost. In these cases, I refer back to the original document in the original format. One thing that can help is to copy some nearby text and to search for that in the original document. That will take you directly to the place in the original document where you can find the missing pictures or original text.

Also, it can be difficult to find a PDF reader that allows you to select the entire document at once so you can copy it. I found that opening a PDF in Vivaldi works for me. I also use Sumatra PDF on Windows. I didn’t have any luck selecting the whole document and pasting from Firefox. It is also important to find a copy of the original document where the text can be selected. Some PDFs don’t allow you to select text. But I’ve had luck searching for other versions of the same document which did allow copying.

Over time, I’ve also switched to using Vim instead of Notepad. This lets me maintain a highlight without having to hold the Shift key for a long time. And I am able to reformat the document with the gq command. That can be used to turn the entire document into one long column.

I hope this helps and makes it a little easier to refer to original print sources rather than relying on video and news articles.