Archive for September 17, 2018

Instagram Hits One Billion Users

The internet is of course full of meteoric rises, small web sites suddenly rising from nowhere to become global brands.  These stories are not quite as common as they used to be and nowadays for every one site or application that makes a success there are a myriad of well-funded failures that we’ll never even hear of.

Probably the biggest success story of the last year or so is that of Instagram, the social media site which is growing exponentially especially among the younger generation.  It’s audience is young, socially active and numbers over one billion active users. The fact that those users are active is crucial, there are millions of websites with massive amounts of users but if they don’t engage they are of limited value as far as the value of the company is concerned.

Take for instance the previous two ‘stellar’ performers in the social media market – Facebook and Snapchat.  Both of these have seen their growth pretty much stagnate and worse many users are leaving their accounts inactive and moving to other platforms.  Younger users in particularly are abandoning Facebook in their droves, moving to sites like Instagram and leaving their accounts dormant.

It’s not all bad news for Facebook though as they bought the Instagram platform a few years ago at what now seems like quite a reasonable price.  However Instagram has the usual problem to overcome with these wildly popular social media platforms – how to make money from them.   No-one is sure how much money Instagram currently makes out of advertising revenue.  It’s true though that many people already make their livings out of the platform already – running thousands of accounts by utilizing private proxies for instagram. Many of them use the platform to promote products, goods and services which appeal to the youth market.

Instagram is likely to become more and more important to Facebook if the growth levels continue at the same rate. The growth of Facebook is around 3% whereas Instagram has just crossed 5% and shows no signs of slowing just yet. There are reports that suggest that Instagram already accounts for nearly 30 of Facebook’s advertising revenue although only on the mobile platform
It’s this success on mobile phones that is largely responsible for Instagram’s amazing growth. It started as a very simple photo sharing site but has since developed into a full scale multimedia social platform.

If the fortunes of Facebook continue to decline especially combined with all the security and privacy issues they face, Instagram is likely to become much more important.  Many people are probably unaware that Facebook even own Instagram but that doesn’t stop the photo sharing application become more and more popular.

Many experts believe that the platform offers more potential than Facebook being more suited to selling products and services.  It’s certainly more suited than traditional online media and most of the commercial TV stations are very wary of it’s success.  You can see some interesting reports on the current growth rates and economic forecasts on the mainstream media.  Check out channels like the BBC for more up to date information, you can access it for free outside the UK by using a BBC iPlayer DNS solution at least temporarily although this is not required for people in the UK.

Essay on Globalization and Human Friction

The great Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung spoke of “structural violence”–the very real undermining of the well-being of life that results from policies, ways of producing and consuming, legal precedents, and bureaucratic and institutional practices. The profound macroeconomic changes involved in corporate globalization and the free trade treaties represent many instances of structural violence. It is vital that we recognize and name how these economic policies engender friction and violence, rather than attributing these effects to basic emotions and human nature, as Helena Norberg-Hodge points out. Then, rather than believing such violence is inevitable, we see how we can change these human-made policies.

Johan Galtung spoke of the silent nature of structural violence–and this makes it particularly pernicious. Today, as the negative impacts of globalization–the economic, environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual forms of breakdown–are being felt more and more, it is crucial that we attribute cause to silent economic changes rather than blaming ourselves, or others. Peoples’ self-esteem around issues of livelihood, identity, and culture could remain strong even when crises emerge in these areas. People could work to counter an economic system rather than people with darker skin. Here we see how essential it is to make the connections between the abstract policies of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, on the one hand, and life on the ground, on the other–both here, in the overdeveloped world and in the “developing” world.

Many economic policies of globalization engender greater poverty for the majority, and environmental, social, cultural, and psychological insecurity. As fear intensifies, the seeds are sown for growing fascism and fundamentalism. These were the influences that gave rise to Naziism in Germany in the 30’s. Today, we see the election of right-wing governments in many countries. If George Bush II continues to wreak havoc with the economy in a very fragile and volatile global economy, and if he bankrupts us and cuts social services in the name of war, the resulting economic breakdown will be extremely fertile soil for further fascism.

Eroded relationships result from globalization in many ways. We find ourselves running to keep up in the “competitive global economy,” driving more and more to get to larger and larger chain stores for basic necessities, living at a faster and faster pace that is dictated by modern technologies rather than by human rhythms, and having less time for each other. We compete more and more for scarcer and scarcer resources; ethnic friction and fundamentalism burgeon the planet over as people are severed from their communities, pulled from the land into megalopolises where they find high rates of unemployment. As Helena Norberg-Hodge describes, if you are not part of the consumer monoculture, your self-esteem can plummet in the face of a media that glamorizes white, urban culture.

As cultural diversity is eroded, and identities are undermined and lost, life’s meanings are often reduced to superficial values. As services are privatized, rather than provided for one another within a community as they have been for time immemorial, money rules more and more aspects of life. As land, water, the sky, and life itself in the form of DNA are privatized, nothing is valued for it’s own intrinsic worth, but instead for what it can garner on the world market. As the doctrine of comparative advantage dictates that each region should specialize in producing what it is best at producing and produce it on a large scale for export, we specialize in a few products and become dependent upon imports for the rest of our needs. Local decision-making and a sense of power and sovereignty is thus weaker.

The divides have been eroded by the internet, yet in some senses it still acts as a bridge to our nationality.  For example, if you visit any group of British expats anywhere in the world you’re likely to find they’re experts on things like proxies and VPNs.  This is because despite being across the world, most UK natives will be very attacked to British TV and will use things like these tools – BBC iPlayer DNS, to watch from wherever they happen to be.

As we transport products over vaster and vaster distances, the C02 emissions are creating climate change and we wage war with the natural world. This transport also means that our economy depends on oil, and a huge military to ensure that the world’s oil is ours at a price we dictate. And certainly as we, in the north, consume approximately ten times our fair share of global resources, resentment grows in the hearts of those many who are in more and more desperate need of the basics for survival. This is why, already in 1948 George Kennan wrote in a State Department Policy Planning Paper, “We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.

Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to retain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction. We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

Or, more recently, the influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

It is possible to change these economic policies. Indeed, George Bush, the Senior, was incorrect when he said at the first World Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro ten years ago that “The American way of life is not in question.” In Santa Fe, and all over the world, people are deeply questioning this suicidal way of life and beginning to build a new, life-affirming way.

Additional Resource: Watching BBC Abroad for Free

Employment On The Rise But Salaries Still At Risk

The latest data on unemployment figures- currently on a downward trend at 8.5%- has prompted an upswing in polls for the Obama administration, and may improve his chances for re-election, according to the Financial Times.

While this change is indeed a positive one, it is worth taking a look at the factors behind this figure. The BLS website defines “employed” as a person over the age of sixteen who has a job, while “unemployed” is a person over sixteen who has done no profitable work in the past week and has actively been looking for a job within the last four weeks.

American DNS for Netflix

What this survey does not take into account are the under-employed (workers who have had their paid hours cut or cannot get enough hours in their current job), the chronically unemployed (those who have given up looking for work) and workers who have had their salary or benefits cut as a result of the troubled economy. These ‘unseen’ categories are just as significant to the millions of workers in the US today as the basic employment rate.

Workers in sectors that are generally considered “dispensable” are the worst hit by any recession; this is especially true of those in the financial and retail sectors, for example, who experience an increase in redundancies and salary reductions across the board. Qualified professionals in essential services such as healthcare do better, such as doctors, dentists, pathologists and ultrasound technicians. For example, the ultrasound technician salary has been largely unaffected in the years since 2008, with a steady increase in pay and benefits, and job openings on the rise. Unqualified individuals within that same sector, such as pharmacy technicians, may not be so lucky in terms of salary although the demand for their services remains high.

You can see the state of the employment market in specific areas by looking online.  Most of the major job sites allow you to customize the search very specifically.  Most independent researchers however will use buy mobile proxies in order to change their IP address to a regional one to check out other sources like Craigslist.

What this year will bring for those of us still in the workforce in terms of employment and pay rates remains to be seen. For the young ones just starting their qualifications or looking for jobs, a good bet is the strong healthcare industry or other essential services where the demand for workers is projected to remain high. If you are in a position to obtain a strong qualification in such a sector, so much the better; you are separating yourself from the masses of job seekers out there who would willingly step into your shoes. In today’s economy, a reliable salary and good benefits are well worth the extra effort.