Wednesday Web Round-up (December 18, 2019)
• link roundup • oil • public transit • Syria • Kazakhstan
Where am I on the internet? What am I reading? Link-roundups are a chance for me to compile some of that information togther. The articles may not directly match my perspective, but they do raise interesting questions.
This roundup's articles are on big tech's love affair with big oil, ethical quandries of western tourists visiting Syria, and whether big companies should be able to buy naming rights to mass transit stations...
Oil is the New Data | LogicMag
If you didn't know it, big oil and big tech are excellent bed mates. Even as companies like Amazon tout pledges to reduce carbon emissions they remain determined to continue partnering with oil extraction. In Amazon's case, they went os far as to list providing oil companies with good technologies as one of their core positions, despite employees petitioning Amazon to... maybe not do that.
In 2017, Chevron signed a seven-year deal with Microsoft, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to establish Microsoft as its primary cloud provider. Oil companies like Chevron are the perfect customer for cloud providers. For years, they have been generating enormous amounts of data about their oil wells. Chevron alone has thousands of oil wells around the world, and each well is covered with sensors that generate more than a terabyte of data per day. (A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.)
This particular piece, by anonymous Microsoft worker Zero Cool, discusses the matter from the perspective of a cloud engineer sent to Kazakhstan for a meeting, and it is a really fascinating look into these partnerships, as well as how they play out in an oil rich country. Highly recommended read.
Syria Faces A New Foreign Invasion: Travel Bloggers | Daily Beast
The short is that some westerners have started visiting Syria for tourism. This is problematic in a number of ways. Travel bloggers are not journalists and may inadvertently serve as quasi-government propagandists. They may take advantage of local hospitality, act insensitively, or be detained for any number of reasons. Moreover, they are priveledged in being able to visit Syria, a country to which many refugees cannot return.
There are millions in a diaspora who cannot do what a white tourist can: step foot in their homeland. On an emotional level, the tourists I interviewed understood this, even if they ultimately rejected the logic for boycotting travel to Syria. It’s not lost on their tour operators, either.
“Yeah, I know this,” the Damascus tour operator confessed, after a pregnant silence, when I asked if he could understand some Syrians’ anger toward the mostly European tourists who purchase his services. “I lost my home during the war,” he said, and “a lot of my friends” are now abroad, most in Germany. They cannot enter regime-held Syria, suspected of opposition sympathies or wanted for military service—or subject to arrest just for leaving the country without permission.
There's a lot to unpack here.
The ‘Namewashing’ of Public Transit | CityLab
This is a really nice CityLab piece, discussing the trend of allowing corporate sponsorship of public transit stations in the U.S., and some of the reasons for opposition to it.
With every shift in nomenclature comes new costs that must be borne by the city. Changing station names means reprinting or adjusting apps, maps, brochures, and other media. Generic, corporate place names that are essentially placeless (“AT&T”) can be as confusing to visitors and as they are insulting to residents.
Thanks for reading!
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