Weekly Roundup 14th June 2020

Dinakaran Sankaranarayanan


Weekly Roundup 14th June 2020

Interesting reads for this week.

1. Amazon removing product data from email notifications to thwart competition from email harvesters?

A very interesting development and observation. Amazon removing product-level delivery updates from emails. It is obvious Gmail and other 3rd party mail plugin can use this data to collect analytics on how well Amazon is doing and the kind of products in demand. And Amazon would not want to part with this data that easily. Considering that Amazon does good of sending app notifications and in many cases, the option to deliver notifications via SMS, it would not be much of a problem. But as a customer, we may get annoyed with email notifications that do not give enough context when multiple orders are placed and being delivered at the same time.


2. Twitter rolling out Snapchat clone Stories feature - Will all social networks end up looking the same?

Twitter has launched the Stories feature immensely popularized by Snapchat, which was lavishly copied by Instagram. While the ephemeral stories make absolute sense for Snapchat and for some extent to Instagram too, not sure how it can make sense for Twitter. Most of the Twitter content is casual, we mostly tweet fleeting thoughts that occupy the corners of our mind. And what would be the better use-case for fleets vs tweets? Probably, there is some desire for people to fleet hot takes without thinking too much about the longevity of the thought in the long term and not wanting to be held for the opinion in future? For Twitter, the aim could be more user engagement, more time spent on the site means more money.

It is super weird that LinkedIn is also building ephemeral stories like feature. So essentially all social products Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin have shamelessly copied the feature from Snapchat.


3. Wikipedia site visits are reduced thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph. Will zero search results affect the revenues of sites?

Thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph, most of the information that we search for these days are provided with zero clicks. Google’s scrapes through a lot of information from all sites and try to provide relevant information even without visiting the site. As a result of this, Wikipedia is seeing less and less traffic these days. Given that Wikipedia is non-profit, there may not be a concern around this. It helps in some ways to reduce server and compute costs as Google caches up a lot of information via Knowledge Graph.

But Google does the same to 3rd party websites too which are built on page visits and ad model. Instead of users clicking their site to view the answer if Google scrapes the answer and provides zero clicks to the 3rd party site, it is going to kill the revenue for the site. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next few years.