Farhad’s and Mike’s Week in Tech: A Snap and Google Tie-Up?

Farhad: Reddit has always been a strange business. It’s the internet’s most productive viral machine; every other meme or GIF you encounter online probably came from Reddit first. But if it creates lots of stuff for the rest of the internet to gawk at, it hasn’t been very good at becoming a mainstream site by itself. For the uninitiated, it’s tricky to navigate Reddit and find yourself a comfortable corner there.

And it sounds like the company understands that. The new money will go to redesigning the site and creating a better mobile version, in the mold of more modern services — it will look like Facebook or Twitter, per Recode, the technology site. This sounds smart, but entrenched communities tend to hate change, so we’ll see what Reddit’s hordes have to say about this.

Mike: Right, well, you get one downvote for that comment. And I certainly can’t imagine the hordes of Redditors being superenthusiastic about a Facebook-esque version of the site.

Moving on, Facebook bought a small team of artificial intelligence experts who were working on Ozlo, a smart virtual assistant that seemed to do rather well with natural language processing. That is, you could text with Ozlo and he (she? it?) would respond with suggestions and serve up answers to your questions.

I can’t imagine what I’d do with a virtual assistant, though perhaps it would help me remember to pay rent on time, which I am constitutionally incapable of doing. In any case, I’m curious to see how Facebook decides to use the tech. Perhaps they’ll incorporate it into Messenger, the chat app that was playing around with its own virtual assistant ideas.

Farhad: I’m glad to see Facebook is still plugging away at the message bot idea. Sure, it’s so 2015, but hey, as you say, people like you need all the help they can get.

Mike: Uh huh. Well, if none of this works out, you can always have your old job back as my assistant. At a lower pay grade, of course.

Also in Facebook news, the company is apparently working on a video chat hardware device, something along the lines of what Cisco or Polycom offer, I believe, but also possibly similar to Amazon’s most recent video tablet offering.

I thought it was crazy and something I’d never use, but a lot of folks on Twitter told me it’s absolutely perfect for older people like their grandparents, who love to use video chat to keep in touch with family. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’m just…

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