Tag: Amazon (page 1 of 6)

On the digital literacies of regular web users

Terence Eden opened a new private browsing window and started typing “https…” and received the results of lots of different sites.

He uses this to surmise, and I think he’s probably correct, that users conflate search bars and address bars. Why shouldn’t they? They’ve been one and the same thing in browsers for years now.

Perhaps more worrying is that there’s a whole generation of students who don’t know what a file system structure is…

There are a few lessons to take away from this.

  • Users don’t really understand interfaces
  • Computers don’t really understand users
  • Big Data assumes that users are behaving in semi-rational manner

Source: Every search bar looks like a URL bar to users | Terence Eden’s Blog

Algorithmic work overlords

When I read articles like this that remind me of the film Elysium, I try and tell myself that, in the end, people won’t allow themselves to be treated like this.

But, on the other hand, there are always desperate people. Also, practices like this, if they become embedded in an industry, are hard to shift. This is why trade unions exist and are necessary to counter the power of huge organisations.

Flex hirings, performance reports, and firings are all handled by software, with minimal intervention by humans. Drivers sign up and upload required documents via a smartphone app, through which they also sign up for shifts, coordinate deliveries, and report problems. It’s also how drivers monitor their ratings, which fall into four broad buckets—Fantastic, Great, Fair, or At Risk. Flex drivers are assessed on a range of variables, including on-time performance, details like whether the package is sufficiently hidden from the street, and a driver’s ability to fulfill customer requests.

Source: Amazon is using algorithms with little human intervention to fire Flex workers | Ars Technica

“Alexa, disable arbitration”

Companies add ‘binding arbitration’ to their terms and conditions because it usually means they have to pay out less money. However, Amazon had to change their terms last month after Amazon Echo users hoisted them by their own petard. Poetic justice.

Yet, this wasn’t quite the “win” that Amazon wanted. Echo users have now brought more than 75,000 arbitration demands against the company, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Because Amazon’s previous terms said that the company would pay for arbitration filing fees, the retail giant was on the hook for tens of millions of dollars before a single case was heard. Amazon has now changed course.

Source: After 75,000 Echo arbitration demands, Amazon now lets you sue it | Ars Technica