It's been three hours since I last heard voices outside. Since then, no one rushed past my office and the parking lot is visibly more empty than usual. It seems, most have survived this years Christmas party (though some livers may need more time to fully recover) and all remaining deadlines are in 2019. Offices are abandoned and Advent calendars emptied. Even the obligatory smell of coffee is missing. Soon, the last light will go out at Ashampoo headquarters and quiet will settle in for a few days.
In 2014, the music industry experienced an unprecedented crisis. World-wide music sales plummeted to 14 billion dollars, 11 billion less than in 1999. In the past, the biggest threats to music sales were bootlegs and radio recordings. Today, it's the internet. There used to be a time when users could simply search for "top 100 charts download" online and find a dozen sites with downloadable songs. But with €10 music flat rates and giant song collections, music streaming has slowly taken over the market. So can it save the industry, as many believe?
Recently, I got a new cellphone to review. After I had gone through a couple of its features, I accessed the front camera and took a selfie. When I saw the result, I couldn't believe my eyes. I looked like, well, a buttermilk biscuit with eyes. Was the camera broken? Had a co-worker played a trick on me and spread butter over the lens? Nope, it was the beauty filter, enabled by default. Had I asked for it? No. Do I look better as a nebulous figure? Maybe, on Halloween. There's a bigger issue here, though.
In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, two men are nearly beaten to death by an angry mob, in Brazil, made-up news are used to massively influence voters and German kids are living in fear of a monster - all because of WhatsApp. What sounds like a mediocre science fiction novel has now become a reality. The popular messenger is no longer just a messenger but a news platform that spreads fear, prejudice and hatred to millions, leaving its owners wondering how put the genie back in the bottle.
Many stereotypes fall apart on closer inspection. One is that young folks who grew up with technology must have mastered it while, in contrast, elders are believed more likely to break something when having to install, say, a graphics driver. But is that really true? I beg to differ! A recent study from Microsoft found users under 40 easily fall prey to fraudulent calls and emails, no surprise there, but how can you grow up with technology and still be an amateur at it?