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Feb 26, 2018

Automated propaganda

here's an interesting piece that, thankfully, isn't just a simple "techlash"-rant. But of course, the question is legitimate: If software, machine learning, AI and technology progress in general makes producing content more effective, faster, harder, better, then of course it will make evil-doers more effective, faster, harder and better, too: This article sees fake news merely as a subset of automated propaganda.

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/algorithm-russia-facebook.php

Remote work outperforms offices

I have been saying this since two decades now (and after reading "work naked" (a book from 2001) to my then-boss, with success) and I am glad there are studies supporting this thought: that remote work is more productive. I just wonder why so many companies bother to install coffee corners, playgrounds for kids and adults and many more things that are meant to make your stay at offices less terrible instead of working to implement better, more effective remote work models that will probably turn out to be cheaper and more effective at the same time.

https://www.inc.com/brian-de-haaff/3-ways-remote-workers-outperform-office-workers.html


Implications of driverless cars & trucks

Interesting list of 73 implications of driverless cars and trucks. Some may look obvious (no one will actually own a transportation device, data rich, software companies will organize algorithm-based routes for ost effective transport of people and goods, city infrastructures will change completely...), some you may not have thought of yet (when local transport of everything will become cheap and ubiquitous, physical sales of goods at a store will probably vanish; malls will become places of service or face entirely new use cases; municipalities and governments will have seriously less revenue from speeding and parking tickets and other fines, petroleum and car taxes etc.). It is an interesting read, and I don't say that often, but here the comments to the article include some inspiring thoughts, too.

https://medium.com/hult-business-school-draft/73-mind-blowing-implications-of-a-driverless-future-58d23d1f338d

Google replaces Facebook traffic to publishers

Google sent 40% more traffic to publishers in the first week of February 2018 compared to Jan 2017, while Facebook sent approx. 20% less. Of course, this has to do with Facebook's algorithm changes, but also with the growing (and still accelerating) adoption of Google AMP.

Interesting data from Chartbeat for the last 13 months:
https://www.recode.net/2018/2/15/17013618/google-facebook-traffic-publishers-amp-chartbeat 

Similar numbers from Shareaholic:
https://venturebeat.com/2018/02/22/shareaholic-search-overtook-social-for-referral-traffic-in-2017-as-google-passed-facebook/

Analysis on Digiday with interesting numbers from Popsugar, NBC, TrueAnthem and others:
https://digiday.com/media/promised-facebook-traffic-news-publishers-declines-post-news-free-change/

Streaming at CBS / Paywalls

Unlike print publishers, TV stations had a digital advertising business that was less affected by the mobile shift, substitution in social etc: pre rolls. Still, very much like print publishers, digital ads do not pay for the content they require, and B2C payment models are introduced everywhere (below a link CBS' approach). It's also about time that paywalls (and freemium/upgrade based streaming models) get more sophisticated.

Streaming at CBS:
https://digiday.com/media/entertainment-news-and-now-sports-inside-cbss-efforts-to-go-over-the-top/

Individualized paywall at Wall Street Journal:
http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/02/after-years-of-testing-the-wall-street-journal-has-built-a-paywall-that-bends-to-the-individual-reader

Also, Google's AMP project embraces paywalls more and more:
https://amphtml.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/amp-supporting-paywalls-and-subscriptions/

Feb 23, 2018

Buzzfeed was the biggest video publisher on Social in 2017

According to Tubuluar Labs, BuzzFeed's brands generated 64.8 billion views accross platforms in 2017. While the single brand ranking has been dominated bei Unilad over the past months (almost entirely based on Facebook reach), an aggregate of 110 BuzzFeed brands made 7.4 billion views on YouTube and 57.4 bn views on Facebook (remember that Facebook counts a video view after 3 seconds, with autoplay, while YouTube needs 30 seconds or 50% completion). The interesting question here is: how much money can you make with these numbers? According to Tubular, approx 8% of the video views generated by BuzzFeed's probably best marketed channel, Tasty, were sponsored content. Roughly 1 billion views from the 12 bn Tasty views. No clue how much money was in there. It just shows: You need many, many views to make money with sponsored content (as a publisher), and Facebook ad breaks are probably not there yet.

Overview from Variety:
http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/buzzfeed-65-billion-video-views-2017-advertising-1202704765/

Sponsored Video Charts (Feb 18):
http://tubularinsights.com/tubular-top-sponsored-video-chart/

Leaderboards January 18:
https://tubularlabs.com/app/leaderboards/creator/overall

Feb 20, 2018

What is "quality" in sports?

I have always argued that the actual "quality" of sports that we are watching on TV is maybe a quarter of its success (and value). With Winter Olympics running, do I care if it's a world class performance if some guy flies 145 meters on his skiers, or isn't it more important where people come from (nations), what they stand for (characters, whatever the commentator tells me), how close the competition is (rivalries etc.) - if all of them where coming in at 119m, 118.8m and 117.9m meters under the same circumstances, I wouldn't have noticed that "real world class ski jumpers" would have gone 25 meters more. What I am trying to say here: put some second class footballers in Real Madrid & Barcelona Jerseys and in front of 100k people in a sold out stadium in Spain's capital, you will still have great entertainment, and put Messi and Ronaldo under fake names and with fake beards in a 3rd tier match in Romania, and no one will care, or notice. If one of them does something crazy, you will get a viral video out of it, forgotten tomorrow. No TV station will show interest to license rights of 3rd tier football in Romania. So:
The actual, objective quality of what we see is just a tiny part of sports entertainment. There are some interesting experiments around this, from people trying to invent and establish new sports (which I am big fan of) or people who think of how to disrupt the Olympics (which I am also a fan of, but can't link anywhere). One other interesting example is this: Barstool Sports sells PPV on boxing events. The thing is: the boxers are complete amateurs. Last time, they hit 41000 subscribers at 10 USD. That's serious money.

https://digiday.com/media/barstool-sports-got-41000-people-to-pay-for-its-latest-amateur-boxing-ppv/

Why decentralization matters

Chris Dixon explains - without telling you to buy coins of any kind, although (like: once) the terms blockchain and Ethereum are used - why decentralization matters. The interesting case that he makes is the structural comparison to the alternative (internet of today): centralized platforms, GAFA, and how they (must) behave. The more I truly understand about blockchain and decentralization, the more I would love to know what is *really* going on in Zuckerberg's head about this.

https://medium.com/@cdixon/why-decentralization-matters-5e3f79f7638e

Feb 16, 2018

Technology is not neutral (re ethics, say Harvard, MIT, Stanford and others)

"Technology ethics" may be something that we all would want, but unless we have some clear legal and regulatory guidelines, I am not sure there will be an effect. But besides training future managers and scientists, maybe courses at top universities about ethics in tech will ultimately lead to such rules & laws. Interesting piece by NYT about ethics courses at ivy league universities (and, by the way, interesting to see how far advanced they are in their mindset compared to Europe).

Feb 15, 2018

The Guardian on Instagram

Interesting insights on Digiday about The Guardian's activities on Instagram. Most intriguing to me is that it is seen as part of an effort to build a young, loyal audience that doesn't visit its main digital properties. Still haven't wrapped my head around whether that is a promising endeavour, at least on a platform like Instagram. Will be interesting to observe.

https://digiday.com/media/guardians-instagram-strategy-winning-new-readers/ 

The infocalypse: when everyone can produce fake news that are believable

You may remember a few weeks ago, when everybody reported about how easy it has become to generate fake porn with celebrity faces. In light of fake news and the tech available to all of us, Aviv Ovadya thinks about what happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did. The answer is: the infocalypse. Really worth a read, spoiler alert though: it won't make you more optimistic about the future. And BuzzFeed CAN do really good journalism.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/the-terrifying-future-of-fake-news

Satoshi Nakamoto versus Karl Marx

It might be a bit early to give Satoshi Nakamoto a historic and world changing role. Just a tiny little bit. But it's interesting to see parallels between the contents of the Bitcoin white paper (a PDF of few pages) and Marx's theories (extracted from his exhaustive publications). Brain teaser, not more, but not less:

https://www.coindesk.com/understand-bitcoin-studied-karl-marx/

Feb 13, 2018

It's not only Facebook: YouTube has an algorithm problem, too

In light of Trump, Brexit, Russia we have all focused on Facebook's way of organizing information, distributing media and how it favors 'fake' stories apparently because they create more shares and engagement. It's not only Facebook, and it is likely that not only Facebook's mechanism were "hacked" in order to spread stories. Great piece in the Guardian about YouTube's algorithm:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/02/how-youtubes-algorithm-distorts-truth

Tinder at the Olympics

This is amazing: 1850% increase of people passporting to South Korea in order to match on Tinder - who wouldn't want to match with their Snowboarding idol or that gorgeous ice princess? .-)) there's a 644% increase of mathes in the area. More interesting stats in the article linked below, and waiting for the Pornhub stats of the Olympic village to follow :-)

https://mashable.com/2018/02/12/winter-olympics-tinder-usage/#Mn3dtNeNKsOq

Regulation of the big four / GAFA will come

Great article by Scott Galloway with a number of highly interesting charts and facts that reflect the total insanity of our economy if you see where 4 single companies can go compared to... the rest of the economy. The call to regulate them and break them up would traditionally come from the far left - politically - but we have reached a point where hardcore capitalists believe this is unsustainable and Bill Gates calls for robots to pay taxes, which is basically the idea that who owns the means of production has to benefit the public - hello Marx! Absurd times. But a great article:

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a15895746/bust-big-tech-silicon-valley/

Advertising on Amazon

Reportedly, Amazon already sells more ads than Snap or Twitter. Compared to the rest of its businesses, this is still small, but for the media, advertising and search industry it isn't. If I were a SEO guy, I'd position myself as an Amazon search specialist today. Two interesting reads on this:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/amazon-has-a-plan-tobecome-profitable-it-s-called-advertising

https://www.fastcompany.com/40523584/amazon-already-sells-more-ads-than-snap-and-twitter



And related to that: Amazon for media/publishers: https://aps.amazon.com/aps/index.html

Blockchain vs. "the big four" - GAFA

I don't agree with 100% of the observations here, but most I share and I also find it a bit baffling how little and defensive Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon deal with crypto and blockchain. Very few public statements, very few showcases, demos, visions - it my very well be that these companies see crypto as a major threat, the way an offline retailer or publisher must have seen the internet as a threat: there surely are opportunities, but they are at a point where they have more to lose than to gain.

https://hackernoon.com/blockchain-vs-the-big-four-92829cb42bb1

Blockchain vs. "old" internet

Although many have reached 4.0, 5.0 and whatnot in their internet or industry iterations, I agree that a true vision of what "3.0" could be wasn't there until blockchain. Matteo Zago tries to show how "dApps" relate to their possible future predecessors.

https://medium.com/@matteozago/why-the-web-3-0-matters-and-you-should-know-about-it-a5851d63c949

The true potential of blockchain

NYT's "Beyond the Bitcoin bubble" is easily in the top3 articles I have ever read on this topic. Exhaustive information on both the technology side as well as the crazy financial side of crypto. Without the panic or euphoria most other authors use to make their point. Longer read, but you won't regret it if you stop what you're doing right now and read this thing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/magazine/beyond-the-bitcoin-bubble.html?referer=

The last 2 years at Facebook

This is amazing journalism. Very long read, but not only do you get a better understanding about the relationship between publishers / news / media and Facebook, you also get deep insights into how Facebook works - in terms of inner workings and mechanisms inside the company as well as "the platform".

https://www.wired.com/story/inside-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-2-years-of-hell/