The following are the source and reference materials used for The Papercuts Library #8 – Fragment Your Exposure to Big Tech

Warning: Spoilers ahead…

p4-5 –

If you rebuff the notion that you are not technically savvy, try this out: Visit Y Combinator’s Hacker News site and see how many of the current top-30 headlines you actually understand.

Then try out the comments for a headline you think you do know about.

There is much more going on under the hood of all our apps and devices than the average lay-consumer knows, but we can make up part of the difference by simply being aware of our disadvantage.

p6-7 –

p8-9 –

For aspiring Luddites…
Off-grid living beckons more than just hardy pioneer types – AP News, June 2022

p10-11 –

p18-19 –

Most if not all of the products in the centerfold have a Wikipedia page or can be found with a quick search, so below we’ve only compiled the bulk resources used as part of the research for compiling these product and service lists.

The resulting word clouds are mainly meant to be consumer-facing, while also trying to capture as many of the offerings we might be exposed to as of May 2022.

The centerfold visualization is not exhaustive however, and as with all the lists below, will age quickly.


List of Amazon products and services – Wikipedia

List of mergers and acquisitions by Amazon­ – Wikipedia

Were time in the day and space in the centerfold unlimited, there would be much more in Amazon’s cloud.

The first major set would be the services within AWS, which are plentiful, but about as non-consumer-facing as it gets:
AWS Cloud Products – Amazon

Next would be all of Amazon’s brands, which is a rabbit hole of its own. You can start with the list of brands they freely identify with… All Departments – Amazon

Wikipedia’s current list doesn’t go much further…
List of Amazon brands – Wikipedia

But here’s one of the best and most recent reviews of Amazon’s brands, and eventually we’ll release the version of the centerfold that includes all of the US brands, because we sifted through them all before realizing it was too much for this book.

In-Depth Study of All 88 Amazon Private Label Brands – EcomCrew, April 2022

As for the number of products these brands comprise on…
25 Juicy Tidbits That Congress Forced Out of Amazon – EconCrew, March 2022

These lists are only good for so long though, and perusing this one from 2019 in comparison to a more recent one shows how much Amazon churns through brands and business plans…
These Are All the Businesses You Never Knew Were Owned by Amazon – BuzzFeed, July 2019


see p24-25 notes regarding Apple Search Engine


This is the list for considering alternatives to all of Google’s offerings:
Cutting Google out of your life – degoogle


The difficulty of creating this centerfold visualization might be best exemplified by Microsoft’s site map, which contains a few discontinued items.
Microsoft Site M­ap –

See also the Wikipedia footer for Microsoft at the bottom of their entry:
Microsoft – Wikipedia

List of Microsoft 365 Applications – Wikipedia

If we missed apps, it’s because we got tired of scrolling through endless personalizations…
Apps from “Microsoft Corporation” – Microsoft

As with Apple and Google, there are many more basic components/apps that could be mentioned, but at some subjective point it becomes too much, so if you don’t see something it might be here…
List of Microsoft Windows components – Wikipedia

Acquisitions are the hardest to keep track of, with Microsoft clocking six per year (with a record of 18 in 2006). Most end up getting folded into other products or discontinued, so though some made the centerfold, other independent Microsoft subsidiaries are likely missing.

List of mergers and acquisitions by Microsoft – Microsoft

p20-21 –

p22-23 –

History of the web browser – Wikipedia

Note that claims about share peaks in the history entry above do not match what is currently documented here:

For more on the browser wars:

But as the month of publication for #8, Mozilla says their latest move makes them the most private and secure of the major browsers…           
Firefox rolls out Total Cookie Protection by default to all users worldwide – Mozilla, June 2022

Where they stand technically to rivals is nearly secondary though, because just as Microsoft had the money to mirror any features Netscape might add, Google and Apple are not quite fair competitors for Mozilla, whose mission should speak to you more than technical specs most of us don’t understand in the first place…
When it comes to privacy, default settings matter! – Mozilla, June 2019

p24-25 –

See p24 for the 2015 segment breakdown:
Alphabet Inc. Form 10-K 2016 [PDF] 

See p33 for the 2021 segment results:
Alphabet Inc. Form 10-K 2022 [PDF]

See also:
How Google (Alphabet) Makes Money – Investopedia

Disappointingly, even Mozilla takes money from Google to have Chrome as the default in Firefox.

The question is, are the rumors of Apple developing a search engine just cover for them taking the Google Chrome default payday, or are rumors about the rumors just rumors?

Ecosia says it will boycott ‘search choice’ auction on Android in Europe – Search Engine Land, August 2019

Source of $50B-ish SEO industry stat:

As for alternatives to Google search, the best place to start is:
“alternatives to Google search” – Google

Though here is where we found some of the best leads:
The Next Google – DKB, April 2022

And here is where we vetted as many as possible: – comparison of search engines

It is not easy making recommendations in this space though and as with all of your tech, the searcher should beware.
Where the Earth is flat and 9/11 is an inside job: A comparative algorithm
audit of conspiratorial information in web search results [PDF]
– Arxiv, 2021?

As for Google breaking search…

p26-27 –

And for one example of random exposure in the cloud…

What Is the Telecommunications Sector? – Investopedia

p28-29 –

It was not easy to decide which brands to list in Smart Home categories because the lines are blurry and each company is going about it a little differently.

With Amazon, there are a cavalcade of smart offerings under multiple category, including multiple brands under Amazon and third-party products.

With Google, their Smart Home branding is very tight around “Nest”, though like Apple they have hardware and wearables with smart functionality as well.
Connect Home/Google Nest – Google

Then there is Apple, with a single product, the HomePod mini, being extended by a long, long list of third-party manufacturers operating through Apple’s HomeKit.
Home Accessories – Apple

Microsoft drops Cortana consumer skills in new Windows 10 update – The Verge, Feb. 2020

Your Echos are Heard: Tracking, Profiling, and Ad Targeting in the Amazon Smart Speaker Ecosystem – Arxiv, Cornell University, Apr. 2022

Amazon Astro Review: Why My Family Loves and Hates This Home Robot – Wall Street Journal, April 2022

And in case you don’t catch the 2001 reference:
Open the pod bay doors, Hal – YouTube

Otherwise, meet the beginning of a new thread we will be increasingly pulling…
Google Sidelines Engineer Who Claims Its A.I. Is Sentient – New York Times, June 2022

p30-31 –

A variation of this Sesame Street song was in the draft until very late in the process, but eventually the challenge of fitting three charts comfortably into this spread left no room for the joke…

Sesame Street – Three Of These Kids (Sports) – YouTube

… but one of these companies is doing it’s own thing…

Regarding subsistence…

2021 Poverty Guidelines – US Department of Health and Human Services

See page 17 for Amazon’s Q4 2021 results by segment: Form 8-K Feb 2022 [PDF]

It took Amazon 14 years to make as much in net profit as it did last quarter – Quartz, Feb 2018

Get deeper in the earnings here:
Segment Revenue and Operating Income FY22 Q2 – Microsoft Investor Relations

p32-33 –

The numbers that inspired Google…

Amazon is far from alone in having a dedicated page of criticisms on Wikipedia of course…

And here’s Cory Doctorow using FB’s complaints to call out Apple, which harkens to the responsibility we attribute to them thanks to their walled garden…
Facebook Says Apple is Too Powerful. They’re Right. – EFF, June 2022

Otherwise, Amazon’s tangled web is reported on regularly…

There is no market too big or too small for Amazon…

And before you get too hopeful about this headline…
Andy Jassy’s First Year at Amazon: Undoing Bezos-Led Overexpansion – Wall Street Journal, June 2022

… remember that CEOs come and go… so we’ll see how these plans actually play out before dropping the caution flag.

…particularly as they take to the skies…
Amazon to deliver packages by drone, after a decade of promises – Politico, June 2022

p34-35 –

Wired makes the case for Apple and Google Pay:
Yes, You Should Be Using Apple Pay or Google Pay – Wired, Nov. 2020

Google has more reasons why it doesn’t like antitrust law that affects Google – The Register, June 2022

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