Hello folks…no podcast this week, as I’m recovering from (yet another) cold and consulting work at my day job moves forward unabated. However, I did find the time to write a goofy alliteration for today’s newsletter title—which of course references the news of Chris Cox’ surprise departure from Facebook. Cox was long-time key figure in the development of Facebook both as a product and as a company, and served as Chief Product Office since 2014. The Wikipedia entry notes he was known for his focus on bringing people and technology together, and he would frequently speak to groups of new hires at Facebook about the company’s culture and mission.
As is often the case with these corporate reshuffles, it’s hard to tell if CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked Cox out as part of his new restructuring around privacy and encrypted services, or if Cox left of his own volition. Either way, the timing doesn’t look good. Facebook is under an enormous amount of political pressure right now, federal investigators are now looking into past data-sharing deals with other big tech companies, and to top it all off, Facebook usage in the U.S. has declined for the first time ever.
Could this be the end of a long and downward spiral for the company? Will we witness an exodus of top talent in the days ahead? It’s still too early to tell, but one thing’s for sure: if Zuckerberg’s risky bet on unifying Facebook’s product trifecta (Facebook itself, Instagram, and WhatsApp) and building it all atop a fresh foundation of cryptographically-secure, private communications doesn’t pan out, Facebook’s halcyon days of fast-growing profits and ubiquitous presence in the global market will come to an end.
Meanwhile, the fediverse continues to boom and Mastodon in particular continues to see growth in the neighborhood of 23,000 new accounts a week. At that pace, we’ll see Mastodon hit the three million mark by December. Now that’s still a drop in the bucket compared to Twitter for example, but considering the number of Mastodon users in October 2016 was…45…that’s just staggering. And of course, since Mastodon is a federated social network, most of those accounts are spread across independent servers around the world. The “main” instance at mastodon.social only has about 300,000 users.
Exciting times for the open web.
Items I’ve Posted Recently…
Though the beginnings of the Byzantine Empire are unclear, its demise is not. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire, from its foundation in 324 to its conquest in 1453, is one of war, plague, architectural triumphs and fear of God’s wrath.
Like most Americans I suspect, my general knowledge of Western European history—particularly the British Isles—is far more robust than what little I learned about the East. I knew about Constantinople and the fractured relationship the Byzantine Empire had with the West…first after the initial schism of the Roman Empire, and then at times following the fall of Rome and subsequent rise of the various “barbarian” nation-states in the West. But other than those broad strokes, nothing. This essay by Dionysios Stathakopoulos is a fantastic overview, and it whets my appetite to dive into further study of Byzantine history and culture.
Well this year is shaping up to be one in which I use a Linux command line more than I have in any other year prior. Largely for practical reasons, yes, but I must admit I’m kind of turning into a Unix nerd and I’m not ashamed to admit it. 🤓
Hey, thank you so much for being a reader of the <Open Markup> newsletter and supporting independent authorship on the web. You rock!
Have a great St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and I’ll be back here next week. Cheers 🍻