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A Tech Time Retrospective: Looking Back At The Year That Was, 2023

Tim Groot
Tim Groot
21 Dec 2023 - 22 min read

Thank you all so much for reading my newsletter this past year! Since my newsletters are quite chunky, and everything happens so much, all the time, I present to you this retrospective. Unlike my usual 6 items, this newsletter will feature 8, and they’ll give you a whirlwind tour of the most impactful big-picture events of the year. Those might not always be the things you expect, but they most certainly will be things with lasting relevance. That’s what I focus on with my newsletter after all, items with long shelf-lives so they’ll still be fun to read and useful to you if you don’t read things on release. The word count of this newsletter may seem rather intimidating, but that’s purely because I’ve also included my curated selection of the year’s most striking serendipity and deep dive items. The main content of the newsletter itself is still around the same length as usual.

As for the images this time…well. My dog Millie celebrated her very first birthday in December. Since she’s been my faithful companion in what was such an eventful and transformative year, I opted to use pictures of Millie’s shenanigans instead of the usual generative AI images for this end of year special. Hope you like them. Happy holidays and a happy new year from Tim & Millie!

The year at a glance

Boy, that year escalated quickly.
•    The Year That Was: 8 of the most prominent items of the year, divided into quarters
•    A Year Of Serendipity: a selection of the year’s most interesting serendipity items
•    The Deep End Of The Year: a selection of the year's most interesting long-forms
•    One More Year Of Things: A look back at my personal journey this year 

The year that was

It’s beginning to look at lot like tech time.

the year that was 2023 img 1


I thought that this would be a relatively slow start to the year, the financial sector disagreed.

Dungeons & Debacles, Jan 11th – Jan 18th

Way back in January a seemingly niche controversy in the world of Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRPGS) ended up as somewhat of a prelude to the epic User Generated Content (UGC) and Name Image Likeness (NIL) based clashes that would come to dominate headlines via such events as the historical Hollywood strikes, bitter clashes in the gaming industry, and the multiple court cases over generative AI. Also tragic in retrospect as the ones that would end up having to pay the price for this dramatic blunder by Hasbro would be about 15% of Hasbro’s own workforce, fired in December. Here’s the original item:

Welcome to today’s episode of ‘failing to read the room.’ Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WotC) tried to change the Open Gaming Licence (OGL) of the industry-leading Dungeons & Dragons into a more… Dungeons & Draconian version. It picked the worst possible time. Hobbyists and professional creators who share their work online are at war against perceived theft of their User Generated Content (UGC). One of their biggest accusations is that they were neither asked for consent, nor compensated for the alleged use of their work to train AI. It is in this climate that WotC tried to essentially take full ownership of any and all UGC for D&D, with the rights to monetize it as they see fit. It went over about as well as could be expected. LINK

I didn’t actually know until now that tattoos could interfere so strongly with fitness devices, the more you know. That might be a bit of a problem for surfers considering Apple watches are now official equipment for the World Surf League (called it). Usability problems and low adoption rates are certainly nothing new for developing technologies, but it makes it extra exciting to see how the ‘Reality Pro’ XR headset by Apple might fare if it really does end up being released in such tough circumstances as we find ourselves in today. Sources familiar with the headset say that executives want an emphasis on health and exercise, which could leverage the popularity of the Apple Watch in that particular market. Perhaps more interesting though is Apple’s rumored ecosystem approach, potentially using Siri as a means to streamline app development. This could then help Apple overcome consumer skepticism. LINK

The Silicon Valley Bank…ruptcy, Mar 7th – Mar 15th

In March, the collapse of venture capitalist darling Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) started off a spectacularly destructive Fintech chain reaction. The cryptocurrency sector in particular would be in for quite a bloodbath, as all major players such as FTX, Coinbase, Terraform labs, and Binance would lose their charismatic figureheads, most even fully collapsing. As YouTuber Dan Olsen put it “as a large tree falls, it also shreds its neighbours.” And OH BOY, were these some large trees. Unlike 2008, regulators swiftly, and efficiently intervened. Yet the price for that intervention was that financial overseers were all out of patience, and fiscal sugar daddies were all out of mercy for their problem children. Here’s the original item:

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) ‘was’ a regional bank with disproportionate influence and popularity (16th largest in the US). It was a darling of high-profile Venture Capitalists (VC’s) such as Pieter Thiel and Marc Andreessen. Due to the hyper-concentration of tech companies at SVB, its failure is considered the biggest since the 2008 financial crisis.

What happened?

When SVB began experiencing difficulties, the same high-profile figures that had lent it credibility instructed all companies under their wing to pull out. The ‘bank run’ that followed is now regarded as a key cause of its collapse.

The Fallout:

Panic spread throughout the banking world, with shockwaves being felt from India to Europe. Which brings us to another Silicon Valley bank collapse last week: Silvergate, the preferred bank for crypto oriented VC’s and companies. Silvergate’s deposits were less deposits, and more so bonds, which is to say, debts owed to traders and exchanges. If that sounds familiar

The Bailout:

Unlike Silvergate, a small fish that quickly drowned in the ocean, the federal reserve stepped in almost immediately to save SVB’s ‘victims.’ The speed and finer details of this intervention are both unprecedented. The speed was, according to critics, because of how high-profile those affected where. A group of extremely wealthy, extremely well connected individuals screaming bloody murder? Boom, results.

It only really gets interesting upon looking at the finer details of the bailout though. President Biden noted in his announcement of the bailout that only savings accounts would be, well, ‘saved.’ Investors would not be. That may just be lip service, but it is a rather dramatic departure from his predecessor’s stance all the same. LINK

the year that was 2023 img 2


Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) dominated this quarter, as usual, yet something was amiss…

Discord Dalliances And Issues of Verifiability, Apr 11th – Apr 18th

2023 was one hell of a year for social media. Mired in more controversy than usual, against opponents that were better prepared than usual, with regulators less inclined to be easily paid off or otherwise distracted than usual. Not only that, monetization issues would see cost cutting in trust and safety departments which would come around to bite later in the year through dramatic leaks, abuse lawsuits, and major advertiser boycotts. Pushing unpopular and divisive UI changes on users and developers alike was a trend throughout the year, but one of the more dramatic examples of it was how Discord started things off in April. Here’s the original article:

A funny/unfortunate coincidence this past week. Discord proudly announced that it was increasing file upload size limits for free users from 8 to 25 megabytes. It less proudly announced that it was cooperating with the FBI regarding the Pentagon leaks. Digging a little deeper, some anonymous members of the group claimed that the alleged culprit behind these leaks uploaded images as a means of verification. Supposedly, the leaker felt like his claims on military matters weren’t taken seriously, so he decided to show ‘proof.’

Indeed, whilst it makes for a catchy headline to say that Russia is trying to infiltrate gaming communities, a more pressing issue, and much more worrisome trend, is sloppy and/or frustrated insiders saving them the trouble. Which brings us back to Twitter… or at least it would if Twitter still existed in the legal sense. It’s been absorbed into Elon Musk’s ‘X-Corporation’ holding company.

Musk’s blessing and curse is that he is often right about things in the most monkey’s paw way possible. This is proving to be the case with ‘verification’ being rolled out across other social media companies. How do you prove who you say you are, or that the claims you are making are legitimate? Especially now that generative AI has entered the ring? By doubling down on Verification As A Service (VAAS) it seems. When talking about decentralised social networks and their lack of central control, it is even more important to verify things. Though not to the extent that evangelists of full centralisation would like to see, semi-private group chats are already one of, if not the most powerful forces on the internet today. LINK

Vision Without Foresight Is Blind Folly, May 29th - Jun 6th

Apple’s long awaited reveal of the Vision Pro Headset used all the big buzzy technologies and techniques of the year, but in typical Apple fashion avoided using the names other people had given them. Something that struck me about the conference was how many companies and their offerings stood to be upended or assimilated if the Vision Pro succeeded. Both small app developers, and massive media conglomerates such as Disney appeared to be slowly drifting towards the open maw of consolidation. Only towards the end of the year, would the wider tech world begin to see these jaws close around them. This would also start another major trend, namely the ‘reveal of announcements’ where more information would be promised later for newly ‘revealed’ products that were nowhere near ready for public scrutiny. Here’s the original item:

So here we finally are, Apple’s big Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) livestream kicked off in a major way and, indeed, it was capped off with the reveal of theannouncement of their ‘Vision Pro’ headset. Some familiar terms dominated the livestream. They were the Avatars, the Metaverse and, of course, AI.

Apple chose to call its spin on avatars ‘digital personas’ instead, much like how it referred to the Metaverse as ‘spatial computing’ and used terms like ‘machine learning’ and ‘neural networks’ to speak of AI. It is the persona that is most important here though. We’re not going to launch into a lecture of Jungian philosophy here, instead we’re going to talk about video games. In the persona video game series, the shadow is a dark counterpart to the persona. It is a manifestation of the frustrations and ambitions of its originator. In Persona 4 in particular, a shadow will attempt to assault and usurp it’s original, killing them in the process. Apple, is the ‘Shadow’ of tech.

There’s an exquisite, beautiful cruelty to the fact that Apple called this device vision. So blinded by the lustre of a new device, a new ecosystem to be, that developers and rivals alike don’t see the darkness encroaching upon them. They have been presented a vision, yes, yet they do not see. No one else wishes to talk about what a bloodbath this 2-hour press conference actually was? To give just a few examples of what stands to bite the dust or was at least issued a major challenge:

What might happen once this new ecosystem is built and self-sufficient. It’ll be very interesting to see. For those that want a hype piece about what is genuinely quite an interesting and promising upcoming device… here you go! LINK

the year that was 2023 img 3

July – September:

The summer holidays are particularly busy for the gaming and movie industries, though this year’s season was rather unique.

Nintendoes What Hollywoodn’t, July 11th – July 18th

Scarcity has always been the cornerstone of film monetisation. These days, with a crisis of abundance rather than any semblance of scarcity, it is artificial scarcity that is used instead. Artificial scarcity derives its name from the fact that it is manufactured and maintained by companies. Both the Hollywood strikes, and the wider rights wars they are a part of along with generative AI are encapsulated in this item from July, which talked about how successfully Nintendo has been at doing what Hollywood is now paying for its failure in. Artificial scarcity management. Here’s the original item:

Let’s talk about scarcity, primarily about its importance to the film industry of yore. Back around the 1960’s when major strikes of the same scale as this one rocked Hollywood, there were limited slots in theatres and on TV. Limited hours in a week could be used for viewing by potential audiences. ‘Residuals’ were a point of contention because talent was essentially competing with itself whenever a rerun took time away from new content. This was the scarcity that studios and creators fought over. Today though, with the internet enabling global distribution and on demand consumption of media, that scarcity no longer exists. Thus, companies struggle to attract and retain customers who they themselves drowned in an ocean of choices.

That brings us to Nintendo. Commonly thought of as a gaming company until one looks closer at its merchandising empire, or checks the figures of its feature length movies, that recent Mario movie for example. What allowed Nintendo to be the Switzerland of the console wars was its mastery of artificial scarcity. Artificial scarcity is the company’s secret weapon, a control valve to manipulate supply and demand in Nintendo’s favour. Streaming exclusives were intended to accomplish this same effect. However, therein lies the issue. Researchers estimate that around 87% of classic games are out of print. What this means in practical terms is that Nintendo gets to use the old and gone as leverage, whereas new and exciting is what streaming success depends on.

Studios have cornered themselves. They now need to cut as much costs as possible, to streamline as much as possible. Using AI to replace content creators represents an easy way out, which is why studios are particularly obsessed with the technology. Indeed, whilst AI tech is often touted as giving people superpowers, the villain of Pixar’s Incredibles once observed that, “when everyone’s super, no one will be.” So long as studio executives want superpowers at the cost of their normal workforce, the crisis of abundance will only deepen. This streaming war can only end in Mutually Assured Deficits (MAD), an acronym that might ring a bell for some. LINK

No King Rules Forever, Sept 18th – Sept 25th

I kinda struggled to choose between this item, my original coverage of Tucker Carson’s firing, or any of the many social media controversies and legal battles between the likes of Google, Meta, and various parts of their content pipelines. Ultimately, it felt as if this item from September, about Rupert riding off into the sunset encapsulated all the underlying issues and complexities of media tech’s role in, and influence over society in the most ‘big-picture’ manner. Here’s the original item:

Rupert Murdoch, the 92 year old founder of the Fox media empire is stepping down as CEO of his companies Fox Corporation, which runs companies such as Fox News, and News Corp, which runs companies such as The Wallstreet Journal. Murdoch was the last US media mogul to personally lead the businesses he’d created. Though him actually ceding control of his empire in any meaningful way is debatable at best, the timing of his departure as CEO is certainly interesting. I’d argue that the current landmark antitrust trial of Google is best contextualised by Murdoch’s departure. In fact, I’d say that Unity’s failure to push its terms of service changes on unwilling users is the same. “No king rules forever” and there is always a limit to power.

There’s several major factors at play here, first and foremost the fact that this man is about 8 years removed from being an actual century old. He was always going to retire at some point. As for the other factors, let’s look at them. Earlier this year, Fox news in particular suffered two major setbacks. First was a prominent election fraud court case. Dominion and Smartmatic made the software and hardware used to count votes in the 2020 US elections. Fox news elevated and actively pushed conspiratorial narratives, largely via star news anchor Tucker Carlson. After Fox settled with Dominion for $787.5 million to avoid the case actually going to court, Murdoch is widely believed to have directly ordered Carlson’s firing in what is still a poorly understood, highly secretive chain of events.

Tucker Carson being fired was as big a surprise as it was because no one thought he could even be fired. It was a stark reminder that there was only one god at Fox News, and his name was Rupert. But therein lies the rub for entities, be they people or companies, which wield absolute power. You can only play your ace once. The contemporary understanding of monopoly, which is presently being fought over in the Google trial about its alleged search monopoly, rests largely in the concept of plausible deniability. Plausible deniability means that you have a reasonably believable (plausible) excuse for why you are not actually doing something you stand accused of. In the case of Unity or Google, this would be forcing whatever you wanted upon unwilling users or actively ‘murdering’ rivals in broad daylight. In Murdoch’s case, it’d be showing that the ultimate source of authority and decision making rests with you.

This is purely hypothetical on my end, but I believe that Murdoch is choosing to tap out now so that it will be more difficult to hold him personally accountable for the longstanding controversies that his empire has long managed to hold at bay until now. On top of, you know, the whole old age thing, the importance of which can’t be overstated. I wonder how Murdoch’s empire will fare without him though, perhaps it will start to buckle under its own weight, perhaps it’ll be fine. No king rules forever, so I’ll continue to monitor the situation with interest, whether by forceful removal or voluntary abdication, a media tech monarch vacating the throne is quite the occasion. LINK

the year that was 2023 img 4

October – December:

Both ground warfare and corporate warfare round out the year. Don’t suppose some extra mistletoe would help things…?

The Lethal Blind Spots Of Mass Surveillance, Oct 2nd – Oct 9th

As politically sensitive as it was, I did feel it was my duty at the time to talk about the technological side of the war between Hamas and Israel when it started on October 7th. Much like the war in Ukraine, I felt it important not to let the tense political debates and agendas being pushed around and via these conflicts blind us to the important technological aspects. Many new developments, technologies, techniques, and discoveries came about over the course of these conflicts, and they will have an impact on the future world of tech for sure. In this case, Israel’s failure to see Hamas’ surprise attack coming said a lot about the lethal blind spots of surveillance technology. Here’s the original article:

Hamas, a Palestinian political and military organisation primarily active in the fiercely contested Palestinian/Israeli (that’s what the conflict is about) Gaza Strip, launched a large scale multi-pronged offensive against Israel on Saturday October 7th, 2023. Hamas was able to breach both physical and digital barriers meant to keep them out. Early coverage of the attack has focused in large part on how atypical it is for one of the most advanced and comprehensive surveillance apparatuses in the world to have failed to anticipate this attack.

That’s what we’ll be looking at today. Politically charged though this topic may be, it is the perfect example of one of the core contradictions inherent to mass surveillance. Mass surveillance, the kind Israel conducts with regards to the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants, produces unfathomable amounts of data. There is a critical mass beyond which the human parts of a surveillance apparatus will no longer be capable of keeping up with the deluge of information pouring down on them. In such cases the contradiction is this: the more one observes, the less one perceives.

Computer software and algorithms can only ever act within the boundaries of what their programmers could think of. And what they didn’t think of…the internet will. The degree of precision with which state authorities are able to pierce veils of anonymity, and how closely they can stalk elusive ‘prey’ is largely the difference between less advanced and more advanced systems. Yet all such systems have blind spots, which is how Chinese netizens (network + citizen) keep finding new ways to subvert and undermine their state censorship for example.

But there’s also another problem, a system that’s too good. If blind spots are tiny, if barely anything slips between the cracks, there’s that much more to stuff in need of human processing. If it doesn’t get processed properly, this otherwise critical information becomes less than worthless, it becomes an obstacle. We’ve been using water analogies so far, so let’s call this ‘drowning’ in data. ‘Drowning in data’ is the Achilles heel of effective surveillance, good job, you see everything, now how to prioritise… LINK

To CTRL ALTman, Nov 14th - Nov 21st

I have been somewhat outspoken since the very beginning about how I felt that neither CEO Sam Altman, nor the ousted board of directors were ever actually in charge at OpenAI, the most talked about company of the year. Though called crazy by some earlier in the year, I got my ‘told you so’ moment this November in one of the weirdest and briefest bouts of corporate warfare in recent history. This item also covers the basic reality that money talks when people needs shoes and SoC’s. SoC stands for system on a chip, which many companies want to shift towards. It is also a Killers pun, which is an old band that I used to like. ‘The Killers’ songs were oddly relaxed, contrary to their name. contradicting their name is something this band has in common with the lead subject of this item, haha! That’s the biggest issue with AI at present though, who’s going to foot the bill, and who even can at this point. Answer? Big tech’s biggest players, such as the true ruler of the OpenAI roost…Microsoft. Here’s the original item:

Both OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and I took 5 days off from work before getting back to the grind. His break was rather more chaotic than mine though. The return to the office seems to have been particularly awkward. Somewhat buried in the hysteria over Altman tabbing out for a bit was the willing departure of an executive at major rival Anthropic, which OpenAI’s now ousted board attempted to merge with, to no avail.

Now, we could spend all newsletter and then some going through the couple dozen press releases, opinion pieces, and other assorted articles on the matter. I have about 69 of them, which is pretty nice, but not very practical. So let’s cut to the chase. The most popular theory focuses on OpenAI’s chief scientist Illya Sutskever. Disclaimer, the situation is still too chaotic and rapidly changing to say anything with certainty, this is simply the most popular narrative at time of writing.

Supposedly Sutskever convinced OpenAI’s other former board members to fire Altman, at which point Altman’s loyal lieutenant Greg Brockman also quit. His very upset wife then called Sutskever in tears. Sutskever felt bad then and was about to feel a whole lot worse. Unfortunately for Sutskever and the former OpenAI board, the investors, and staff of OpenAI were on Altman’s side. Investors in particular wanted heads to roll. And roll they did.

Altman coming back is being lauded by some as a ‘return of the king’ moment. That’s not quite right though. The real king of OpenAI was never Sam Altman, it was Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. Indeed, you’ll notice that there’s a policy maker with no particular tech background amongst those new board members. This is for the same reason that Microsoft has only ever owned 49% of the company. OpenAI, and especially Microsoft have been under a regulatory microscope this entire year, it would be insane for Nadella to go for a direct takeover when he already, as I’ve been saying all this time, functionally owns the company anyway. That is what it truly means to CTRL ALTman. Whether he defected to Microsoft or came back to OpenAI was only ever a superficial difference in the grand scheme of things. AI training and operations are simply too ruinously expensive right now. Microsoft has the funds and the infrastructure Altman needs. He’s still actively looking for a way out from under Nadella’s thumb, but not quite found it yet. LINK

A Year Of Serendipity

Everywhere you go.

  • Elden Brain LINK
  • Esports Scandals LINK
  • The Living Shore LINK
  • PC History LINK
  • Yeast Philosophy LINK
  • Roblox ISIS LINK
  • Steam Sale Schedule LINK
  • Tardigrade Toughness LINK
  • Dyson Spheres LINK
  • Data Contamination LINK
  • Movies and Games LINK
  • Deep See Baby LINK
  • Lightsabres LINK
  • Schrödinger’s Chonker LINK
  • Disunity LINK
  • Nomophobia LINK
  • Look Ma, No Screens! LINK
  • Ive’s New Groove LINK
  • Speedrun Denied LINK
  • Parmesan DRM LINK
  • Chinese Ghost Town LINK
  • Lunar Living LINK
  • Collab Burnout LINK
  • Unity Is Very Sorry LINK
  • Amazon’s Anthropic? LINK
  • Open Tofu LINK
  • Passing The V-Buck LINK
  • Forgetting Your Dreams LINK
  • Smal lWorld After All LINK
  • WGA State Of Affairs LINK
  • Whole Earth Catalogue LINK
  • Handheld History LINK
  • Insect Flight Plans LINK
  • Sports Viewership LINK
  • Tim Being Right About Xbox LINK
  • Just Heads LINK
  • Strawberry Squid LINK
  • Security Roundup LINK
  • Tardis Plausibility LINK
  • Axolotl Aid LINK
  • Catch Deez Robot Hands LINK
  • Alchemy LINK
  • MacBook AirJet LINK

The Deep End Of The Year

Take a look at the inbox friend. It’s glistening once again.

We’ve Lost The Plot:

An article by The Atlantic with the subtitle “our constant need for entertainment has blurred the line between fiction and reality—on television, in American politics, and in our everyday lives.” LINK

Inside three turbulent months at Foxconn’s iPhone factory

For those hungry for another exposé in the style of last week’s ‘Extremely Hardcore’ feature article about twitter. A detailed recounting of conditions at Apple’s ‘iPhone City’ mega-factory. LINK

The Nvidia 4th Quarter Financial Results:

I’ve talked in the past about Nvidia’s ambitions to move upstream and become an infrastructure owner rather than a consumer facing hardware platform. In this earnings call, CEO Jensen Huang explains those ambitions in his own words. LINK


A video about the surprise unravelling of a beloved mod for popular online game Final Fantasy XIV. This case highlights the singular point of failure of free plugins and mods. Their developers. LINK

How the wealthy save billions in taxes by skirting a century old law:

Want to learn a little secret about billionaire tax evasion? Here you go! LINK

The Vindication Of Ask Jeeves:

The creator of the ‘Ask Jeeves’ service reflects on losing the battle to Google, yet having the spirit of his service potentially win the war they started so long ago. LINK

The Freight Train That Is Android:

You thought I was done hammering home the point about infrastructure control? Hahaha, you thought wrong! This is an old essay from all the way back in 2011. It holds up pretty well today, 12 years later. LINK

Time To Penis:

Hard lessons learned by a veteran game designer on what users can and will do when let loose upon a digital world, and how quickly they’ll do it. LINK

React Is Holding Me Hostage:

People talk a lot about ecosystem lock-in, but what does that look like in practise? Here’s a tale about a love/hate relationship with react. LINK

How Discord Stores Trillions Of Messages:

We’re seeing a lot of companies focussing on text based social media platforms right now. What actually goes into storing messages? LINK

Parasocial Activity:

An article about the wild, sometimes terrifying nature of ‘meta-content’ and parasocial relationships. LINK

A Look At LAION’s Creator Christoph Schuhmann:

A look at the creator of the LAION database LINK

A History of NASA’s Super Computers:

A thorough look at the how early computing evolved to make historic events like the lunar landing possible. LINK

Microsoft’s Digital Defence Report For 2022:

Though obviously intended to make Microsoft themselves look good, this report is nonetheless an extremely in-depth look at the overall cybersecurity threat landscape. LINK

Predator Deep Dive:

A deep dive into the inner workings of the Predator spyware. LINK

Decentralisation vs Centralisation:

Decentralisation And Centralisation in Sociocratic Organisations. LINK

Vision No:

A technical analysis and critique of the Vision Pro headset’s hardware. LINK

AI = Nukes?

An analysis of the comparisons frequently being made between AI and nuclear weapons. LINK

A review of a book about time and how we experience it. LINK

Dishonesty Inception:

Those in the fields of sociology and psychology often fall victim to the traps they study. LINK

Deepmind Interview:

An Interview with Google Deepmind’s Demis Hassabis. LINK

Ctrl + Altman + Delete:

An interview with Sam Altman about his stance on several AI ethics issues. LINK

Where’s Your Proof?

So you want to see ‘the research’ for and against social media’s negative health impact do you…? LINK

Open Source Musing:

An MIT tech review item on the complexities of Open-Source in our current climate of consolidation and proprietary tech. LINK

Ah, I USB-C What You Mean:

A computer engineer explains the USB-C connector standard. LINK

The Man Who Trapped Us In Databases:

The profile of Hank Asher, a former drug smuggler that invented database methodologies still widely used today around the world. LINK

Supply Chain Musings:

An interview with AMD CEO Lisa Su about the global competitive landscape of GPU’s. LINK

Zuck’s Vision:

An interview with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his vision for the future of Meta’s various platforms. LINK

FIFA Addicts Anonymous:

An expose on several men and their struggles to hide (form friends and family) their crippling addiction to the gambling elements of Electronic Art’s (formerly) FIFA branded soccer game from. LINK

1984, By George Orwell:

The book that so many people in Silicon Valley love to quote incorrectly is actually a really good, if somewhat showing its age, piece of dystopian science fiction. LINK

The Anatomy Of A Notification:

Ever wondered about just what goes into all those notifications you see and hear everywhere, every day? Wonder no more! LINK

A Close Look At Watermarking And Content Authentication:

US president Joe Biden emphasised AI-labelling technologies in his recent executive order. For those that aren’t quite sure what that entails, and for those that just want a quick overview, here it is! LINK

The Mirai Confessions:

Three teens broke some of the biggest platforms on the internet then got hired by the FBI. LINK

Steam Deck OLED Review:

A technical breakdown of what makes this refined steam deck effective as a product. LINK

A Fireside Chat:

A chat with Nvidia’s Jensen Huang and OpenAI’s potential former Head Scientist Illya Sutskever. Also very interesting in light of present circumstances. LINK

Europe’s (Potential) Hidden Security Crisis:

An Irish NGO’s rather dramatic allegations of how foreign states and threat actors are exploiting Real-Time Bidding (RTB) for data. LINK

Twitter’s Former Head Of Trust And Safety Breaks Her Silence:

An interview with Twitter’s former head of trust and safety on the lose/lose scenarios she often found herself in. LINK

The Tale of Titanium:

Those titanium coatings that are starting to be used on phones sure are neat huh? Ever wondered where, when, and how our use of this metal started? LINK

One More Year Of Things

With an end of year special that’s aglow!


  • I met Millie for the first time, just a wee newborn pupper at this point
  • Mailchimp was definitively phased out and replaced by the LinkedIn + Substack combo


  • I pondered how “being beholden to a big tech company is quite like waiting for a bus during a strike. You don’t know when it will show up, you don’t know if it will show up. Yet there you stand, at the central station. Waiting. And I guess this might be it, the realisation that instead of waiting at the station for that bus that might never show up, you just go where you want to go with your own strength. You always have options if you keep your mind’s eye open enough to see them. Modern problems, as they say, require modern solutions.”


  • A growing Millie learned how to wiggle into flowerpots but couldn’t quite figure out how to get out.


  • Millie grew large and powerful enough to destroy the plastic flowerpots that she used to keep getting stuck in. The dramatically different reactions Millie had to flowerpots as they changed overtime made me ponder the nature of interfaces.


  • I thought I was being clever by adapting a famous Game of Thrones song to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s financial difficulties. “And who are you?” The proud fintech lord said, “that I must bow so low? Only an exchange of a different coin, that’s all the truth I know. A Line of code, a line of credit, a banker still has pockets. And mine are deep, and vast my lord, as deep and vast as yours.” And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that lord of the cryptosphere. But now regulators circle o’er his hall, with no one there to hear.” Hilariously/tragically (depending on your position) enough, this ended up being way more accurate than I could have ever imagined. Who would have ever thought that ALL the major crypto power players would lie bloodied and broken at the end of the year? And that this would actually make crypto prices go UP?


  • The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity felt like it was even heavier on advertising this year than the previous ones. The balance has shifted too far, something that would also happen with other Ad based awards ceremonies like ‘The Game Awards’ later in the year.


  • I noticed ‘Temu’ creeping up on Amazon using the same loss leading strategies Amazon itself used in the past. This is now a major source of conflict between the two and other Chinese retailer Shein.
  • Microsoft’s Office autosaving decided that there would be no saving and it struck me once again how hypocritical ‘always online’ requirement are. Users have to always be online, yet servers are becoming ever more unreliable. Hardly fair, is it?
  • With help from my friend, I got a Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC). The setup sucked, the protective case was damaged out of the box…twice… shit initial experience but man was it worth it to be patient and look past the surface blemishes. Comfy music vibing ever since.


  • I got hooked on Armored Core 6 and man, that took down some engineering rabbit holes. Maaaaaaaaan.


  • I got philosophical about the cafeteria’s new blender wondering “gravity, huh… All ingredients falling back into the blender no matter how far they end up getting launched by the centrifugal force of the blending process. I think there’s an analogy in there about how when we allow platforms to become too critical to our everyday lives and societal functioning, we’re all just gonna keep being pulled back into those spinning blades.”
  • So anyway, I bought my mother a blender so she too could have lunchtime smoothies. My mother was extremely happy with this. Millie was upset she wasn’t allowed to have any.


  • I read a friend’s MA thesis on using AI image recognition to reliably spot rumen flukes in cow shit. His difficulties in making the system reliable enough were remarkably similar to moderation efforts in social media, and the difficulty of fine-tuning machine learning systems.
  • I found a whole bunch of edible chestnuts and whilst cleaning them felt as if they were quite like the truth sometimes. Prickly, annoying, and at times painful to actually get to, but so, so good when you do. It’s well worth it, but a lot of people just can’t be bothered with the hassle.


  • One bright November morning, whilst walking Millie, I saw light reflect off of the wooden stairs in the dunes that I walked up and down countless times this year. Old, weathered wood isn’t reflective, so naturally, something else must have been going on there. Ads. They put ads on every step of the stairs! Even in the heart of nature, some people will still find a way to make you look at their ads. However, Millie’s choice of shitting spot also showed that even in the heart of nature, some people will still find a way to block your ads.


And here we are again, the present tense, as I write these final words of the year to you, dear readers. We are still caught in a great tech transition and those have never been easy or painless. Yet I truly believe that we can see each other again on the other side. To borrow a term from the crypto space, which definitely won’t be needing it anymore, ‘We’re all going to make it,” hopefully not too hung over from the new year’s celebration to recognise one another. I look forward to another year of Tech Time spent together with you!

TimTim Groot, Tech Time by Tim author