It is clear we are about to see far too much political power exercised by the US internet companies (Snooper’s charter will have limited shelf life, warns industry, 8 January). Before the Home Office and then parliament accepts the level of influence from the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Microsoft, as indicated in the criticism they level at the draft bill before a joint committee of both houses, we need a few homes truths on the table.
The first is to spell out that not one of these companies could have started up business anywhere other than a western liberal democracy founded on the rule of law. Yes, that means that these companies that preach globalism would not have been able to start business in (say) Russia, where company lawyers get beaten to death; or China, where they just disappear.
Chief executive on creating value, the impact of adblocking, and why HuffPo isn’t chasing profits
When he joined AOL as chief executive in 2009, Tim Armstrong had to unravel “the biggest mistake in corporate history”, spinning the company off at a value of $2.5bn, not much more than a 100th of what it was worth when it merged with Time Warner at the height of the dotcom bubble. Last year, he oversaw its sale to mobile network Verizon for $4.4bn.
“It’s a climb up,” Armstrong told the Guardian during a trip to the UK before Christmas. “AOL was a company that went from a $150bn valuation down to a billion dollars overall. At the same time that was happening, when I was at Google, we went from sub-$1bn valuation up to $150bn.”
In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories.
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Alienware’s smallest notebook will receive its best display this spring. While the notebook’s design unfortunately won’t receive a major update, the system will apologize for that slight with its surprisingly affordable price.
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‘Games are about pulling people into a world, making a space for creativity and building a dialogue’
80 Days, the rip-roaring, award-winning iPhone and PC game in which you assume the role of Passepartout, put-upon butler to the world-travelling 19th-century explorer Phileas Fogg, boasts more than eight times the word count of the novel on which it’s based. The journey described in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is complete in a little over 60,000 words. 80 Days, by contrast, contains more than half a million – although you’ll have to play many times before you read them all.
Meg Jayanth, a writer for video games who splits her time between London and her home city, Bangalore, was responsible for much of the sprawling word count. During 80 Days‘ development, she wrote hundreds of thousands of lines of text, snippets of dialogue and the taut descriptions that fill out the game’s landscape as vividly as any 3D artist could.
‘Castles in the Sky evokes the awe and energy of being a kid. In a way, it helped me let go of childhood’
When Dan Pearce was in primary school, he told his friends that he had won a competition to have one of his ideas made into a video game by an international video game publisher. It was a lie, but one Pearce coolly upheld, inviting his friends to pitch in ideas for how the game could be improved. “It basically turned into a two-year exercise in designing as a group and getting feedback on my ideas,” he recalls today. “That said, I do still feel very guilty about maintaining the lie for so long.”
Thanks to this formative experience, by the age of 10, Pearce, who lives in Maidenhead, Berkshire, knew that he wanted to become a game designer. The following year he bought a copy of RPG Maker, a simple game-making tool for Sony’s PlayStation. The first game he made was a pastiche of his favourite Nintendo games – The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Pokémon. “It was basically just me taking aesthetic elements that I liked in various pieces of media,” he says. “There was an island floating in the sky because I liked a Gorillaz music video. I once bunked off school for two weeks so that I could just work on that game.”