Weekly Digital News Roundup: Aug 6 – Aug 11
Alphabet Wordplay and Google’s Name Change
- According to the New York Times, on Monday, Google announced that it was changing the name of the company to Alphabet, creating a structure that would encompass multiple parts. The search engine division will be separate from some of the more futuristic parts of the company, such as an anti-aging biotech firm and the lab that builds self-driving cars. The move is meant to better characterize what the company has become — a conglomerate that has a hand in everything from drones to pharmaceuticals to venture capital.
- It is probably best described as a parent company with several subsidiaries. Google will be one of them. Here are the others:
- Calico, the anti-aging biotech company.
- Sidewalk, a company focused on smart cities.
- Nest, a maker of Internet-connected devices for the home.
- Fiber, high-speed Internet service in a number of American cities.
- Investment arms, such as Google Ventures and Google Capital.
- Incubator projects, such as Google X, which is developing self-driving cars and delivery drones.
- The point, according to Larry Page, the Google co-founder who will be Alphabet’s chief executive, is for the separate parts to be independent and develop their own brands. That would never happen with all of them under the Google banner, given that many associate the name solely with a consumer search product. Mr. Page, in a blog post announcing the move, took the opportunity to note some wordplay in the name. “We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark),” he wrote, “which we strive for!
It’s not just protesters: Police are starting to livestream
- According to the Washington Post, when police clashed with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., last year, America watched — and many watched online.Livestream coverage of the chaos gave people around the world a front row seat to how the community was reacting after the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Now police are taking a page out of the protesters’ playbook. On Monday night, the St. Louis Police Department tweeted a link to a feed on the live video-streaming app Periscope from Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, who is the commanding officer for the agency’s patrol division, according to his Twitter bio.
- The video, which appears to show the officer watching a group of individuals from across the street, didn’t capture the height of the tension that has hit the city in recent days. St. Louis County declared a state of emergency on Monday after protests to mark the anniversary of Brown’s death were marred by clashes and dozens of arrests.
- A wave of bystander videos have put extra scrutiny on police behavior over the past year. It seems unlikely we’ll see the use of apps like Periscope or Meerkat replace the ongoing call for body-mounted police video cameras, but it’s interesting to see the police try to take ownership of an online narrative using the same sort of digital tactics as demonstrators.
#ILookLikeAnEngineer spreads from Twitter to billboards
- According to LA Times, women across the tech industry took to Twitter early this week, posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Now they hope to take their stereotype-defying mantra to a crowdfunded billboard overlooking San Francisco.
- The project raised $8,550 in one day on Indiegogo, surpassing the $3,500 needed for one billboard. For one of the organizers, software engineer Isis Anchalee, the sign would spread her resolve to redefine what “an engineer looks like” after she was called out for not fitting a stereotypical mold. As she wrote in a personal essay posted last week, some people questioned whether she was an engineer after she appeared in a recruiting ad for her employer, software company OneLogin, because she was not a white or Asian male.
- “This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” Anchalee wrote. That sentiment has resonated widely among women as well as men, who have also posted photos labeled #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The hashtag has been mentioned more than 80,600 times on Twitter in the last week, according to analytics firm Topsy.