"A lot of people spend a lot of time playing video games on Facebook — roughly 15 percent of all time spent on Facebook.com is by users playing games, the company says.Facebook is bringing games like Pac-Man to its mobile app and Messenger - Recode
Surprisingly, though, Facebook’s mobile app, where the bulk of Facebook’s users spend the bulk of their time, doesn’t offer on-Facebook games. Facebook just pushes people to the App Store or Google Play store to download games instead.
That’s about to change, the company announced Tuesday. Facebook is rolling out a product called Instant Games, which lets users play mobile games like Pac-Man and Words With Friends inside the core Facebook app and Facebook Messenger."
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
See Game On: You Can Now Play Games on Messenger (Facebook Newsroom) for details
Tangentially, see News Outlets Rethink Usage of the Term ‘Alt-Right’ (NYT)
"In a way, “the purge” was the best thing to ever happen to Gab. Suddenly, the small social network that was built by a conservative Christian Republican and promises “free speech” for all, became more active than it had ever been.Banned from Twitter? This site promises you can say whatever you want. - The Washington Post
“The purge” is what the alt-right — a small, far-right movement that embraces racist, white nationalist and populist beliefs — called a sweeping series of permanent suspensions carried out by Twitter just after the election, beginning hours after the platform strengthened its policies on “hateful conduct” and made it much easier for users to report accounts in violation."
Also see Snapchat’s Path to a Big Payday (NYT)
"Snap is still relatively small; its 150 million daily user base pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1.2 billion, and its success is far from assured. In its novelty, it can sometimes veer toward the bizarre and inscrutable. And it’s not obvious that all of its advances are positive. (For instance, I’m not sure that it’s always better for our relationships to lose a record of our chats with friends.)While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks - The New York Times
Yet it’s no wonder that Facebook and its subsidiaries appear obsessed with imitating Snap. As a font of ideas that many in the tech industry hadn’t considered before, Snap isn’t just popular, but also increasingly important.
“Regardless of what happens, they’ve reshaped the social media landscape,” said Joseph B. Bayer, a communications professor at Ohio State University who has studied Snapchat’s impact on how people communicate. “They’re making risky moves, trying to rethink what people want online as opposed to taking what’s already been done and adding a new flash.”"
Something to see; also check Will Amazon Silence Alexa with a Screen? (Tech.pinions)
"Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.Amazon Plans Premium Alexa Speaker With Large Screen - Bloomberg
The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced."
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Fun while it lasted
"The moves to reengage the existing fan base come none too soon for Pokémon Go, which remains one of the most popular games in history, but has seen usage wane significantly from the weeks after its July debut when the game was packing local parks and spurring citywide pub crawls.How Pokémon Go is trying to lure back the millions who have abandoned it - Recode
Daily active use among U.S. iPhone users is less than 4 percent of what it was at its peak in August, when more than 10 million people were playing each day, according to Mobile Action.
“Pokémon Go's had a very strong start, and now Niantic has to work to keep consumers continuously engaged after the initial honeymoon period,” said Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at App Annie."
Monday, November 28, 2016
Excerpt from a Jean-Louis Gassée perspective on the Mac as it approaches its 32nd anniversary
"I write this on a MacBook running on a 1.2GHz Intel processor. (It’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned, small, great "Retina" screen for my old eyes, light as a 12.9" iPad Pro and its cover.) My iPhone 7+, which I sometimes use as a cellular modem for my MacBook, runs on a 2.34 GHz A10 processor that is, in many respects, more muscular than my Macbook’s CPU.The Macintosh Endgame
This is becoming ridiculous and inevitably raises another version of the Mac vs. iPad question. In a fantasy world, Apple produces an Ax-based Mac. Easy enough as the company controls its silicon and software tools, and the organs that are common to iOS and MacOS already run on both ARM and Intel CPUs. But what would an Ax Mac mean in the real world, to software developers? The mind reels at the thought of yet another upheaval as developers rush to convert third-party Mac apps."
The 5th annual AWS re:Invent conference starts tomorrow
"One distinct difference, however, is that Amazon, unlike Microsoft, stands to make money when AWS customers use partners’ services. Microsoft customers until recently paid only once for a Windows license, but AWS customers pay more as they spend more time on the platform.Amazon Broadens Cloud Services as Big Companies Sign On - WSJ
“Andy is doing a better job than I did, in part because the business model is different,” said Bob Muglia, a former Windows executive who now serves as CEO of Snowflake Computing, a data-warehouse service that customers use to analyze stored information. Snowflake both runs on AWS and competes with Amazon’s Redshift service.
As the market matures, Mr. Muglia expects to see Amazon compete more with what the company calls its “ecosystem partners.”"
Saturday, November 26, 2016
We are all "agile" now...
"With cloud computing, the risk — at least for now — appears more subtle. The average worker may have more flexible hours. What that can really mean is they are expected to work all the time. And they are expected to react faster to bosses’ demands with more varied skills.The New Workplace Is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up? - The New York Times
“Work has changed, and everyone needs more expertise, more consultation,” said Pamela Hinds, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford. “There’s more speed with which projects have to get out, because of competition, and people are pulled on and off projects much more.”"
"In the prelude to the election, bogus reports about Mrs. Clinton’s health and highly favorable ones about Mr. Trump were promoted with gusto by Russian state-controlled news media outlets and legions of pro-Russian internet agitators. This has stirred suspicions that the Kremlin has had a hand in the fake news industry, prompting American researchers to assert in recent studies that the online blurring of the boundary between truth and falsehood is in part the result of Russian manipulation.Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’ - The New York Times
But Mr. Latsabidze and others here say they serve only their bank balances, not Russia or anything else."
Friday, November 25, 2016
Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say - The Washington Post
Maybe the FBI's new Twitter-based initiatives will be able to address this issue by 2020...
"There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say - The Washington Post
“They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who along with two other researchers has tracked Russian propaganda since 2014. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”"
"Mr. Hussain, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, American and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the F.B.I. calls “the Legion,” as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the United States in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda."One by One, ISIS Social Media Experts Are Killed as Result of F.B.I. Program - The New York Times
Another innovative bitcoin application domain
"Earlier this week, researchers from IBM identified a phishing campaign that appeared to come from an actual Amazon.com corporate e-mail address, with a subject line reading: “Your Amazon.com order has dispatched,” along with a fake tracking number.Distracted by holiday stress? E-mail hackers are banking on it - The Boston Globe
The messages contained an attachment that downloaded a program called Locky, a type of ransomware that renders someone’s digital files inaccessible until they cough up a payment, typically several hundred dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, said Caleb Barlow, a vice president with Cambridge’s IBM security division."
Surprised the FBI reportedly didn't already have full access
"In a summary of the deal, the FBI said the deal will allow the agency to “directly access the full firehose” and to “search the complete Twitter firehose, in near real-time, using customizable filters.”The FBI just got access to the entire Twitterverse. Should you be concerned? - The Boston Globe
The deal will also allow the FBI to change those filters to “reflect changes in investigative priorities,” according to the document, which was posted this month on a federal website that details government contracts with businesses.
“The FBI has a need to obtain information about relevant breaking news and events in real-time,” the document said. “Twitter is a platform where news first breaks on terrorist attacks, military actions, epidemiological events, and natural disasters, among other topics.”"
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Impressive ... and a bit disconcerting, in terms of potential surveillance applications
"Researchers from Google’s AI division DeepMind and the University of Oxford have used artificial intelligence to create the most accurate lip-reading software ever. Using thousands of hours of TV footage from the BBC, scientists trained a neural network to annotate video footage with 46.8 percent accuracy. That might not seem that impressive at first — especially compared to AI accuracy rates when transcribing audio — but tested on the same footage, a professional human lip-reader was only able to get the right word 12.4 percent of the time."Google’s AI can now lip read better than humans after watching thousands of hours of TV - The Verge
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Also see Google's AI just created its own universal 'language' (Wired)
"This “interlingua” seems to exist as a deeper level of representation that sees similarities between a sentence or word in all three languages. Beyond that, it’s hard to say, since the inner processes of complex neural networks are infamously difficult to describe.Google’s AI translation tool seems to have invented its own secret internal language | TechCrunch
It could be something sophisticated, or it could be something simple. But the fact that it exists at all — an original creation of the system’s own to aid in its understanding of concepts it has not been trained to understand — is, philosophically speaking, pretty powerful stuff."
More like replaced than redesigned, although, later in the article: "A Google spokesperson told us that Google will provide and recommend options for migrating from the classic Sites to the new Sites in 2017." Check this Google post for more details.
"For the longest time, Google Sites felt like the forgotten app in Google’s productivity suite. Earlier this year, though, the company announced that it would finally give Sites a full overhaul. Today, after a short beta, this new version of Sites is going live for all users.Google’s redesigned Google Sites goes live | TechCrunch
Google Sites is essentially a drag-and-drop website builder for creating both public facing web pages and intranet sites that’s deeply integrated with the rest of Google’s tools. You can easily insert documents from Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and the rest of the (unfortunately named) G Suite tools into any site, for example. It also directly integrates with Google Analytics. The new sites now also allows multiple users to collaboratively edit a site (using the same tech the company also uses in Google Docs)."
There's a useful global-scale work-related social networking site other than LinkedIn?...
"Microsoft has reportedly offered concessions to the European Union to try and secure approval of its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has offered to allow rivals to access Outlook add-ins to display profiles from social networking sites other than LinkedIn. Microsoft is also reportedly allowing PC makers like Dell and HP to disable a LinkedIn shortcut that’s packaged on the desktop of some machines.Microsoft offers EU an Outlook deal to secure LinkedIn acquisition - The Verge
Microsoft originally released its social connector for Outlook as a separate add-on around seven years ago, allowing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Windows Live contact integration into Outlook. The connector is now built into recent copies of Outlook, and it largely serves as a way to integrate LinkedIn data. It’s this data that is at the center of the European Union’s antitrust approval, and it's a key part of Microsoft's acquisition."
A contentious coopetition context
"The two camps once lived in harmony. The travel giants appeared on top of Google travel search results, either by buying ads or tweaking their websites to suit Google’s algorithm. But in recent years, Google remade its search engine to show its own flight and hotel information above links to Priceline and Expedia. It launched a trip-planning app in September and sometimes lets travelers book hotels and flights on Google. Some industry players expect more direct competition like this.Google’s Online Travel Adventure Upsets Its Biggest Advertisers - Bloomberg
"Google has a bigger vision than just purely how much they’re making on ad revenue," said Kayak co-Founder Paul English, who left in late 2013 and is now building a travel-concierge service called Lola. "
Check the full article for details on some apps and usage contexts such as CarPlay that already restrict app usage while driving
"Apple iPhones and other hand-held devices have long had an airplane mode that shuts off wireless communications to prevent interference with the vast electronics systems that control modern aircraft.Auto Safety Regulators Seek a Driver Mode to Block Apps - The New York Times
Now federal auto safety regulators want makers of these devices to add a driver mode to modify or block certain apps and features to keep a driver’s attention on the road.
The initiative comes in the form of voluntary guidelines that will be issued Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They arrive amid a spike in traffic fatalities in the last two years and increasing concerns about the distractions posed by smartphones and the many apps that Americans are using while behind the wheel."
A tough couple weeks for the Facebook PR department, although this article also notes "The feature, whose code is visible to engineers inside the company, has so far gone unused, and there is no indication that Facebook has offered it to the authorities in China."
"But the project illustrates the extent to which Facebook may be willing to compromise one of its core mission statements, “to make the world more open and connected,” to gain access to a market of 1.4 billion Chinese people. Even as Facebook faces pressure to continue growing — Mr. Zuckerberg has often asked where the company’s next billion users will come from — China has been cordoned off to the social network since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship of user content.Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China - The New York Times
The suppression software has been contentious within Facebook, which is separately grappling with what should or should not be shown to its users after the American presidential election’s unexpected outcome spurred questions over fake news on the social network. Several employees who were working on the project have left Facebook after expressing misgivings about it, according to the current and former employees."
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Trump’s new telecom advisers are a good sign for the AT&T and Time Warner deal, despite his threats against the merger - Recode
Also see Trump’s FCC transition team may spell the end of net neutrality (Recode)
"While the president-elect railed against companies like NBCUniversal and Amazon for being too big and threatened antitrust action during his campaign, the advisers Trump named today to help oversee his FCC and Justice Department transitions have a history of being very pro-industry and anti-regulation, particularly when it comes to mergers.Trump’s new telecom advisers are a good sign for the AT&T and Time Warner deal, despite his threats against the merger - Recode
That’s good news for AT&T’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner, despite what Trump said on the campaign trail. The merger is currently under review by antitrust regulators at the Justice Department, where a decision will probably not be reached until Trump is in office."
Surprising only in that this didn't happen sooner
"Now Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is rolling out two more new features. On Monday, the company is unveiling one feature focused on live video and one on ephemeral messaging. Both tap into a type of sharing popularized in recent years by companies like Snap Inc., which runs Snapchat, and Twitter, in its live-streaming video app Periscope.Instagram Introduces New Features That Mimic Twitter and Snap Tools - The New York Times
“We want Instagram to be a place where you can share all of your moments, to create a pressure-free space to do so,” Kevin Weil, head of product at Instagram, said in an interview. Mr. Weil said this philosophy, and the feature choices that stem from it, would encourage people to use Instagram for more than the selected, highly polished feeds for which it is known."
Move fast and break things
"No one was hurt in the incident, which came during the unmanned aircraft’s first test flight on June 28. It marks the latest hiccup in Facebook’s plans to wirelessly connect the world, following an explosion earlier this year that destroyed one of its satellites and political resistance to the service in India.Accident Involving Facebook Experimental Drone Under Investigation - Bloomberg
The high-altitude drone, which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing Co. 737 and is powered by four electric engines, suffered a “structural failure” as it was coming in for a landing, according to a previously undisclosed investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board."
No future for Apple's wireless networking products, but you can buy a nifty new Apple book (low-end model available at $199)...
"Apple’s AirPorts have historically lagged behind those of companies such as D-Link Corp., Netgear Inc. and Belkin International Inc., which have rushed to adopt new standards. Apple, which has charged more for its routers, has focused more on integrating control of its devices into its computer operating system and industrial design. The company’s decision to leave the business may be a boon for other wireless router makers.Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers - Bloomberg
Earlier this year, Apple stopped making its own external monitors and in October introduced a new strategy by selling new high-resolution screens for professional users with LG Electronics Inc."
It'd probably be a short-term endeavor anyway... A Thiel tangent: Peter Thiel’s Other Hobby is Nuclear Fusion (Bloomberg)
"Entrepreneurs working in emerging areas that the government has yet to fully regulate, such as the virtual currency bitcoin and drones, see the value in having a line to an administration that so far has had few ties in the tech world.The secretive brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders who are helping Trump - The Washington Post
But people who have turned Thiel down felt Trump’s campaign had been too divisive and that an association with Trump could have toxic repercussions in their social and business circles, several people said.
The reaction in Silicon Valley reflects a broader dilemma for the incoming administration: Many of the best and brightest are wary of contributing to the incoming government because they fear the ramifications of having ties to Trump. These concerns have played out in recent days among Republicans who are considering whether to serve."
Monday, November 21, 2016
Final paragraph from a stark mainstream media reality check
"The mediasphere suddenly singles out fake stories on Facebook as a key culprit in Trump's win. It played a role, that much is certain. We can even expect that, someday, Facebook will pull its head from the sand and start acting responsibly. But the fact remains that mainstream media and their twisted economics can’t exonerate themselves from their own shortcomings. They need to rethink a business model that rewards robust journalism."The shift in media’s business model played a critical role in Trump's victory
Don't shoot the messenger...
"One, either human editors, or artificial intelligence editors, by removing one item or another will appear to introduce bias into the system. The group who’s content is being removed or edited will feel targeted by the platform and claim it, rightly or wrongly, is biased against their cause. Even if the content is vetted and found to be true or false.Let’s get real. Facebook is not to blame for Trump. - Recode
Two, censorship in any form is bad for the national discourse.
So rather than blaming Facebook or other platforms for the trouble in which we find ourselves, let’s give credit where credit is due: The American people.
This comes down to two very important concepts that our society has been turning its back on, in the age of social media: Confirmation bias and epistemology."
Compute different; also see Microsoft doubles down on quantum computing bet (The Official Microsoft blog)
"There is a growing optimism in the tech world that quantum computers, superpowerful devices that were once the stuff of science fiction, are possible — and may even be practical. If these machines work, they will have an impact on work in areas such as drug design and artificial intelligence, as well as offer a better understanding of the foundations of modern physics.Microsoft Spends Big to Build a Computer Out of Science Fiction - The New York Times
Microsoft’s decision to move from pure research to an expensive effort to build a working prototype underscores a global competition among technology companies, including Google and IBM, which are also making significant investments in search of breakthroughs."
Friday, November 18, 2016
"More than 85 percent of shareholders voted to approve the acquisition, according to a Tesla spokesperson.Tesla’s shareholders approved the SolarCity acquisition - Recode
The deal wasn’t exactly guaranteed to happen. Since Tesla CEO Elon Musk made his offer to buy the solar panel company his cousin Lyndon Rive is the head of for $2.6 billion in stock in August, the deal has been scrutinized by a number of shareholders — seven of whom filed lawsuits against Musk for breaching his fiduciary duty for not disclosing the proposed merger appropriately.
Despite criticism from some of its shareholders, the company decided to move forward with the deal."
Vertical integration, SpaceX style
"SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk announced the plan in 2015, saying it would cost $10 billion and provide an alternative to slow, uncompetitive Internet providers on the ground.SpaceX just took another step toward delivering superfast Internet from space - The Washington Post
“In cases where people are stuck with Time Warner or Comcast, this would provide an opportunity to leave,” he said.
Other companies have looked to space as a way to provide Internet access. Facebook and Google have both explored the idea of using satellites and drones to beam broadband down to earth. Also competing to provide satellite broadband is OneWeb, a broadband startup that plans a network of several hundred satellites. The big bottleneck, analysts say, is getting access to the wireless airwaves required to make the system work. Google and another company, Fidelity, have invested in SpaceX to support the project."
"Researchers at DeepMind wrote in a paper published online Thursday that they had achieved a leap in the speed and performance of a machine learning system. It was accomplished by, among other things, imbuing technology with attributes that function in a way similar to how animals are thought to dream.Google DeepMind Gives Computer ‘Dreams’ to Improve Learning - Bloomberg
The paper explains how DeepMind’s new system -- named Unsupervised Reinforcement and Auxiliary Learning agent, or Unreal -- learned to master a three-dimensional maze game called Labyrinth 10 times faster than the existing best AI software. It can now play the game at 87 percent the performance of expert human players, the DeepMind researchers said."
In other U.S. employment news, Trump’s victory is proving to be great news…if you’re in the therapy business (Washington Post)
"President-elect Donald Trump made the vilification of China a key plank of his stormy campaign. Yet its technology giants are already figuring out how they can profit off his victorious White House bid, from the chance to poach disillusioned Silicon Valley workers to possibly cementing business ties with a more pragmatic U.S.China’s Internet Moguls See Chance to Capitalize on Era of Trump - Bloomberg
For starters, they could swell their ranks of prized tech talent. If the former reality TV star makes good on a pledge to bar foreign workers, some of the tens of thousands of overseas-born workers now plying their trade in the Valley could instead consider a career in the world’s second largest economy, said Robin Li, the billionaire chief executive of Baidu Inc."
But no need for concern, because, later in the article, "“Anyone who claims that automated spam accounts that tweeted about the U.S. election had an effect on voters’ opinions or influenced the national Twitter conversation clearly underestimates voters and fails to understand how Twitter works,” said Nick Pacilio, a Twitter spokesman."
"Because the chatbots were almost entirely anonymous and were frequently bought in secret from companies or individual programmers, it was not possible to directly link the activity to either campaign, except for a handful of “joke” bots created by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, they noted.Automated Pro-Trump Bots Overwhelmed Pro-Clinton Messages, Researchers Say - The New York Times
However, there was evidence that the mystery chatbots were part of an organized effort.
“There does seem to be strategy behind the bots,” Dr. Howard said. “By the third debate, Trump bots were launching into their activity early and we noticed that automated accounts were actually colonizing Clinton hashtags.”"
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Later in the article: "TBWA Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Starbucks and Heineken are among the more than 1,000 companies using Facebook Workplace"
"Slack has never quite caught on at brands and agencies, but now Slack alternatives from Facebook and Microsoft are making in-roads among marketers.Slack-averse brands and agencies gravitate to Facebook, Microsoft alternatives
Facebook’s Workplace and Microsoft’s Teams are gaining adaption at marketers in ways Slack largely has not. This is owing to the fact that Slack, being a singular product, lacks the suite of enterprise tools that Microsoft and Facebook others can provide alongside. So it’s easier for IT and procurement departments to shop from a single vendor whose products they already use and also more efficient for licensing purposes."
Conveniently just a short drive from the new White House North
"Inside 33 Thomas Street there is a major international “gateway switch,” according to a former AT&T engineer, which routes phone calls between the United States and countries across the world. A series of top-secret NSA memos suggest that the agency has tapped into these calls from a secure facility within the AT&T building. The Manhattan skyscraper appears to be a core location used for a controversial NSA surveillance program that has targeted the communications of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and at least 38 countries, including close U.S. allies such as Germany, Japan, and France.The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight
It has long been known that AT&T has cooperated with the NSA on surveillance, but few details have emerged about the role of specific facilities in carrying out the top-secret programs. The Snowden documents provide new information about how NSA equipment has been integrated as part of AT&T’s network in New York City, revealing in unprecedented detail the methods and technology the agency uses to vacuum up communications from the company’s systems."
I'm looking forward to having something like Spectacles by next spring; the killer app for me will be idiot driver shaming from bike rides (I live in a target-rich area...). Also see REVIEW: Snapchat's Spectacles live up to the hype, but have a ways to go (Business Insider)
"The best thing about Spectacles is their simplicity. Whereas Google Glass tried to cram a computer and the entire internet literally on your face and in front of your eyes, Spectacles just has a camera for recording moments.Snapchat Spectacles review: Wearables have never been this cool
The camera-equipped sunglasses, roughly the size of a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, come in three colors (black, coral and teal), and are more toy than gadget (Snap CEO Evan Spiegel even described them as such)."
Perhaps there's an opportunity for Google (or Amazon, or Apple) to disrupt Facebook and Twitter in this domain, if it is willing to operate as a socially responsible media company. The article subtitle: "Getting platforms to pay for the Fourth Estate"
On a related note, see Introducing a smarter and more beautiful Google Play Newsstand (Google Blog) and Facebook, Google, Twitter et al need to be champions for media literacy (Dan Gillmor)
On a related note, see Introducing a smarter and more beautiful Google Play Newsstand (Google Blog) and Facebook, Google, Twitter et al need to be champions for media literacy (Dan Gillmor)
"There are good reasons why Facebook doesn’t want to be a media company, and the reasons, he said, are not simply legal or regulatory. It’s also a matter of brand management, talent, revenue, and regulation, in that order. "It’s cooler to be a tech company," he said. And consumers want cool. Tech status helps attract talent. "Legacy media have reputations as bad places to work." As a business model, if defined as media, ad revenue will be scrutinized, and, Mele predicted, "regulation will force them to address how they meet the public sphere, which will increase [employee] headcount and increase rates."Facebook won’t call itself a media company. Here’s how it can still support journalism - The Verge
In his 2016 book Free Speech, Timothy Garton Ash calls Facebook and Google superpowers, built exclusively on a profit model absent the moral and legal mechanisms of accountability that exist for traditional media. They control vast privately owned public spaces. They do not have the formal lawmaking authority of sovereign states. There is no formal mechanism of accountability. Their leaders are not accountable to their users. "Yet their capacity to enable or limit freedom of information and expression is greater than most states.""
Check the full article for details; tangentially, Microsoft—yes, Microsoft—joins the Linux Foundation (Ars Technica) and Google signs on to the .NET Foundation as Samsung brings .NET support to Tizen (TechCrunch)
"Those who wondered what it would be like to run Microsoft SQL Server on Linux now have an answer. Microsoft has released the first public preview of the long-promised product.Microsoft: SQL Server for Linux is the real deal | InfoWorld
Microsoft also wants to make clear this isn’t a “SQL Server Lite” for those satisfied with a reduced feature set. Microsoft has a four-point plan to make this happen."
Move fast and fake things; also see Facebook Acts to Restore Trust After Overstating Video Views (NYT)
"Facebook Inc. said it has uncovered several more flawed measurements related to how consumers interact with content, raising more questions about the metrics marketers lean on to decide whether to buy ads on the social media network.Facebook Says It Found More Miscalculated Metrics - WSJ
The company publicly disclosed on Wednesday that a comprehensive internal metrics audit found that discrepancies, or “bugs,” led to the undercounting or overcounting of four measurements, including the weekly and monthly reach of marketers’ posts, the number of full video views and time spent with publishers’ Instant Articles."
So now we'll only see not-for-profit fake news...
"That means these sites won’t be able to display ads generated by either company. Purveyors of fake news will be cut off from the Internet’s biggest revenue stream.Is fake news the first casualty of Trump election? - The Boston Globe
There’s no risk of censorship here. Ideologues and hoax-mongers will be free to keep on cranking out inflammatory fables, and their Facebook fans can keep sharing the phony news with their phony friends. But if fake stories can no longer turn a profit, we’ll probably see a lot fewer of them."
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Perhaps someday, if unregulated communication channels still exist in the United States, Facebook and Twitter can explain why they didn't consistently enforce this type of policy years ago
"The alt-right movement has flourished on both Facebook and Twitter, despite complaints over the group's hateful rhetoric and abuse. A study from George Washington University in September found that although Twitter has effectively cracked down on accounts linked to ISIS, white nationalists and neo-Nazis have continued to thrive on the platform "with relative impunity." In July, Twitter banned notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos after he encouraged his followers to tweet racist messages to Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, though before Tuesday, the site had never suspended alt-right accounts en masse.Twitter suspends major alt-right accounts - The Verge
The suspensions also come after Trump's controversial decision to appoint Steve Bannon as chief strategist in his administration. Bannon, the executive chairman of the right-wing site Breitbart News, served as Trump's campaign CEO and has openly espoused racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic views in the past. His appointment to a top White House post has raised serious concerns over the influence he may wield over the Trump administration."
Next stop: the Rust Belt
"Dex Torricke-Barton, who has served as a speechwriter for Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is leaving his current post working for Elon Musk at SpaceX to helm an effort intended to bridge what he sees as a disconnect between Silicon Valley and the rest of the country.Former Comms Lead For Schmidt, Zuckerberg And Musk Pledges To Fight Trumpism - BuzzFeed News
In the week since Trump’s election, Torricke-Barton has assembled a collection of employees at Silicon Valley companies charged with addressing what he describes as a “growing gulf in understanding, empathy and policy; between coastal elites and communities left behind by globalization, between those who seek greater diversity and those who are fearful of it, between the “winners” and “losers” in a changing world.” The grassroots project is yet-unnamed, but can be found at onwards.world."
Don't add this to the #BlameFacebook list; the Trump campaign didn't need to waste much money on traditional media advertising because the mainstream media "news" channels were already freely giving the campaign ~$infinite coverage
"Mark Zuckerberg is trying hard to convince voters that Facebook had no nefarious role in this election. But according to President-elect Donald Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale, the social media giant was massively influential—not because it was tipping the scales with fake news, but because it helped generate the bulk of the campaign’s $250 million in online fundraising.Here’s How Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency | WIRED
“Our biggest incubator that allowed us to generate that money was Facebook,” says Parscale, who has been working for the campaign since before Trump officially announced his candidacy last summer. Over the course of the election cycle, Trump’s campaign funneled $90 million to Parscale’s San Antonio-based firm, most of which went toward digital advertising. And Parscale says more of that ad money went to Facebook than to any other platform."
Apparently missed the Microsoft Teams intro (and Office Online, introduced in 2008)
"Woodside described the company’s goal as bridging “the file world and the file-less world,” meaning making it easy for teams to collaborate both internally and with outside partners. Dropbox itself runs its day-to-day meetings, proposals and pitches on Dropbox Paper, a collaborative editing app.Dropbox is all in on collaborative work, COO Dennis Woodside says - Recode
“Think about [Microsoft] Word,” he said of Paper. “Word was built initially 30 years ago. The core use case was by yourself. Now, most files, you don’t print at all, and the inherent use case ought to be collaborative.”"
Web users’ online rights are on the decline worldwide as governments target messaging apps - The Washington Post
Facebook services top another chart -- Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram were the 1st, 2nd, and 5th services restricted by the most countries
"Internet freedom declined for the sixth year in a row, the pro-democracy think tank's “Freedom on the Net” report shows. The report looks at online access, censorship and surveillance in 65 countries around the world.Web users’ online rights are on the decline worldwide as governments target messaging apps - The Washington Post
“In a new development, the most routinely targeted tools this year were instant messaging and calling platforms, with restrictions often imposed during times of protests or due to national security concerns,” the report says.
Twenty-four countries restricted access to social media platforms and communication tools between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016, according to the report — up from the 15 countries that Freedom House identified the previous year."
Candidate meme of the week (discussed later in the article): the Overton Window
"Many factors accounted for Mr. Trump’s win: middle-class economic anxiety in the industrial Midwest; an inchoate desire for some kind of change in the national direction; and some mix of latent racism, xenophobia and sexism across the electorate. But as even Mr. Trump acknowledged in an interview with “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, social media played a determining role in the race.Social Media’s Globe-Shaking Power - The New York Times
In the past, Mr. Bremmer said, the concerns of Mr. Trump’s supporters might have been ignored, and his candidacy would almost certainly have foundered. After all, he was universally written off by just about every mainstream pundit, and he faced disadvantages in money, organization and access to traditional political expertise. Yet by putting out a message that resonated with people online, Mr. Trump hacked through every established political order."
Another example of Chinese businesses compressing the cycle time on a U.S. innovation
"One of the greatest beneficiaries – or perhaps victims – of hyperbolic expectations about all things China internet is Xiaomi, the Beijing-based smartphone maker. Founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Lei, the startup shot to fame selling high-performance, low-cost smartphones through "flash sales" on its web site. For several months in late 2014 and early 2015, Xiaomi was China's top smartphone seller. Three months after Alibaba’s IPO, Xiaomi capitalized on the fervor with a funding round that valued the company at a breathless $46 billion, making it briefly the world's shiniest unicorn (it's now second only to Uber).China's Tech Unicorns Look Increasingly Cursed - Bloomberg
Yet its dominance proved fleeting. Over the past year and a half, Xiaomi's position in China's handset market tumbled from first to fourth. The company is certainly still a unicorn, but its current value may be $4 billion to $10 billion if it tried to raise more money now, estimated Clay Shirky, an associate professor at NYU Shanghai and author of the 2015 book, Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream. "Over the past 18 months, they’ve lost 90 percent of their value, or thereabouts," he said."
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
tl;dr gee sorry we became a Trump campaign pawn; we'll try harder now, honest
"Because Twitter happens in public and in real-time, we’ve had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct. We took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve. There are three areas we’re focused on, and happy to announce progress around today: controls, reporting, and enforcement.Progress on addressing online abuse | Twitter Blogs
Twitter has long had a feature called “mute” which enables you to mute accounts you don’t want to see Tweets from. Now we’re expanding mute to where people need it the most: in notifications. We’re enabling you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don’t want to see notifications about, rolling out to everyone in the coming days. This is a feature we’ve heard many of you ask for, and we’re going to keep listening to make it better and more comprehensive over time."
Unclear if Marc Benioff considers that a Twitter bug or feature; for other Benioff perspectives, see Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: 'The new Microsoft is actually the old Microsoft' (Business Insider)
"“I think it’s a great company, I think it’s a great CEO. I think it has a huge vision and has a unique position in the world. As evidenced by this election, I think it’s more important than ever,” Benioff told Recode’s Kara Swisher at the Code Enterprise conference in San Francisco Tuesday night. “Without Twitter, I don’t think you would have President-elect Trump.”Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: ‘Without Twitter, you wouldn’t have President-elect Trump’ - Recode
Benioff was singing Twitter’s praises, but not until first explaining why he ultimately decided to pass on making a bid to acquire the social communications company last month. Benioff had looked hard at Twitter as a possible acquisition, and no-commented noisily for a few weeks about the potential deal before ultimately backing away from the idea altogether."
Adult FriendFinder hit with one of the biggest data breaches ever, report says - The Washington Post
Personal investigators focused on infidelity are having it almost as easy as political comedians these days
"A hack against popular adult dating and entertainment company FriendFinder Networks exposed data related to more than 412 million user accounts, according to a report from breach notification site LeakedSource.Adult FriendFinder hit with one of the biggest data breaches ever, report says - The Washington Post
If the report is correct, that would make the breach one of the largest on record in terms of the number of accounts affected. It also would mark the second such incident at the company in two years."
"When distracted driving entered the national consciousness a decade ago, the problem was mainly people who made calls or sent texts from their cellphones. The solution then was to introduce new technologies to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel. Innovations since then — car Wi-Fi and a host of new apps — have led to a boom in internet use in vehicles that safety experts say is contributing to a surge in highway deaths.Tech Distractions Blamed for Rise in Traffic Fatalities - The New York Times
After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
No doubt >= 99% authentic inventory, but just to be sure...
"The lawsuits provide details about Amazon’s efforts to fight counterfeits, which include spending “tens of millions” of dollars each year on technology to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products. Amazon employs teams of investigators and software engineers who continuously refine the anti-counterfeiting program, which uses artificial intelligence to try to stay ahead of those selling fake goods. Still, the company said that counterfeit sellers kicked off the site can resurface with new accounts to sell the fake goods again.Amazon Files Lawsuits to Keep Counterfeit Goods Off Website - Bloomberg
Amazon acknowledged its ability to fight fakes on its own is limited, so it sought court action to prevent the defendants from opening new accounts and selling the goods again."
"While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.Apple Considers Wearables Expansion With Digital Glasses - Bloomberg
Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added."
The scope of the #BlameFacebook meme expands; meanwhile, I suspect many marketers are recalibrating their models in terms of the extent to which consumers are apt to buy into destructive cons when relentlessly fed brazen fearmongering lies
"“It’s a wake-up call,” she said. “One data set is not going to give you the full picture, because with people, what people say is not always what they think or what they do, whether intentional or not.”After Election Surprise, Marketers Rethink How to Study Consumers - The New York Times
At the same time, advertisers are prepared for a new period of second-guessing any customer data, whether it has been gathered internally or supplied by the brands they work with. Some of that is rooted in recognizing the one-sided nature of the world they experienced on Facebook and Twitter during the election.
“In a world of social and filtered media, we are not getting enough signals that we might be wrong,” Mr. Tobaccowala said. “All marketers must actually look for evidence and actually search out why they may not be right.”"
Tbd: the extent to which this shift will have an impact on their earnings estimates; also see Mark Zuckerberg Is in Denial and Renegade Facebook Employees Form Task Force To Battle Fake News (BuzzFeed); #BetterLateThanNever in any case
"Google kicked off the action on Monday afternoon when the Silicon Valley search giant said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook, the social network, updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.Google and Facebook Take Aim at Fake News Sites - The New York Times
“We have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”"
Monday, November 14, 2016
Excerpt from a timely Fourth Estate reality check
"Core freedoms – of expression, association, and more – should be everyone’s right. Media literacy is everyone’s duty. Journalists, and journalism educators like me, have a duty to be their active defenders, and explainers.Trump, free speech, and why journalists must be activists | Dan Gillmor
Otherwise we’ll live in a world of choke points and control by others – and Donald Trump surely craves control. Otherwise we’ll live in a world where lies are as plausible as truth because the public that doesn’t know how to tell the difference – and based on this campaign that’s the world Trump prefers, too.
We have to defend ourselves, and our societies, from these anti-freedom trends. We have to take stands. It’s part of our job now."
Also see Donald Trump says his tweeting as president will be ‘very restrained,’ even as he trolls the New York Times today (Recode); tangentially, I think it's time to #BoytcottTwitter (a tag you can of course track ... on Twitter)
"But if there’s one thing Trump’s staff — whose boss’s addiction to tweeting is legend — can do immediately to improve the security of our nation, it is this: Secure his phone.Donald Trump’s Phone Could Be A National Security Crisis - BuzzFeed News
Yesterday, the president-elect met President Obama at the White House. The two are now privy to the exact same top-secret daily intelligence briefing. But while Obama communicates with a device built and configured with safety standards approved by the NSA, Trump is still firing away tweets from his personal account, from a device that may be an iPhone, may be an Android, or may — according to reports — be whatever device is closest at hand. And it is hardly a stretch of the imagination that Trump may be sending texts, emails, or any other conceivable type of electronic communication from this or these devices.
That means anyone who can hack whatever device Trump is using may be able to glean highly classified details about America’s national security."
Facebook to stop allowing racially targeted ads for housing, employment, credit - The Washington Post
Looks like Facebook is having a teachable moment and making some long-overdue corrections; a recommended-reading reminder in this context: The Attention Merchants
"Facebook will stop letting marketers run housing, employment, and credit ads that target or exclude users by racial and ethnic identity on the social network, the company announced Friday.Facebook to stop allowing racially targeted ads for housing, employment, credit - The Washington Post
Facebook have let advertisers target ads using what it calls “ethnic affinity” for some time, but the practice came under fire after a recent ProPublica report showed how the feature could be used to place ads that may violate federal anti-discrimination laws."
Check the full post here; tangentially, see This 21-year-old is turning down $100,000 because Peter Thiel's support helped Trump win the election (Business Insider)
"A partner at Peter Thiel’s venture firm Founders Fund broke with the iconoclastic billionaire, writing in a blog post Sunday that he’s fearful of Donald Trump’s presidency and that he thinks the technology industry bears some of the blame for Trump’s rise.Partner at Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Speaks Out Against Trump - Bloomberg
Founders Fund’s Geoff Lewis became the first partner at the firm to speak out publicly against Trump since the election. The warning comes as Thiel has become ensconced in Trump’s inner circle. Thiel is a member of Trump’s transition team, people told Bloomberg this week. The chief executive officer of Lyft, one of Lewis’s own portfolio companies, was even floated as a possible secretary of transportation in the upcoming administration."
Consider options such as Sideline (mentioned later in the NYT article) and Google Voice for a second phone number
"Yet the cellphone number is not a legally regulated piece of information like a Social Security number, which companies are required to keep private. And we are told to hide and protect our Social Security numbers while most of us don’t hesitate when asked to write a cellphone number on a form or share it with someone we barely know.
That is a growing issue for young people, since two sets of digits may well be with them for life: their Social Security number and their cellphone number.A 10-Digit Key Code to Your Private Life: Your Cellphone Number - The New York Times
Nearly half of all American households have given up their landlines and have only wireless phone service — a figure that has risen more than 10 percentage points in just three years. Among people ages 25 to 29, the share of homes that have only wireless phone service stands at 73 percent, according to government statistics."
No question Slack is a leader for organizations that won't pay for software services
"Mr. Butterfield said the market is large enough for more than one provider, and that there are plenty of companies that don’t use Office 365.Messaging Service Slack Braces for Competition - WSJ
Microsoft agreed. “The goal is not to take away any success others have had,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.
Some analysts say the market is Slack’s to lose. “Microsoft Teams put out a road map and they’re going to build out a lot of business partnerships, but right now this doesn’t take anything away from Slack,” said Mike Gotta, research vice president of Gartner Inc."
On a related note, see How President Trump could abuse big data and the surveillance state (TechCrunch)
"Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sharply criticized the Obama administration’s approach, said it was now clear that Mr. Obama had “missed an opportunity” to fundamentally reject the sort of policies that the Bush administration put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.Harsher Security Tactics? Obama Left Door Ajar, and Donald Trump Is Knocking - The New York Times
“Obama’s failure to rein in George Bush’s national security policies hands Donald Trump a fully loaded weapon,” Mr. Romero said. “The president’s failure to understand that these powers could not be entrusted in the hands of any president, not even his, have now put us in a position where they are in the hands of Donald Trump.”"
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Lots of Twitter and Facebook scrutiny and conversation, following the U.S. election; also see this Mark Zuckerberg post from last night (with 11K comments as I type this)
"But what now? As a business, Twitter had not been having a good run before the presidential election reached its spectacular conclusion. New users aren’t joining the service and longtime denizens have been using it less. When Twitter tried to sell itself this fall, nobody wanted to buy it.Breaking Up With Twitter - The New York Times
Both potential users and would-be acquirers seem turned off by its complexity, its ugliness (Twitter has become a haven for misogynists, racists and other trolls), and most deeply its apparent uselessness for people who aren’t clustered in the bubbles of tech, politics and media."
Friday, November 11, 2016
See Social Media Update 2016 (Pew Research Center) for details
"A new Pew report finds that 52 percent of the adult population use Facebook every day. Simply in terms of audience size, Facebook is like one and a half Super Bowls happening every day of the week.53 Percent of Americans Use Facebook Every Day - The Atlantic
Its reach extends even further when you also count occasional Facebook users. Fully 68 percent of American adults use the site at all*.
No other social network comes close to Facebook’s power. In fact, the second most popular social-media app in the country is also owned by Facebook: Instagram is used by 32 percent of online American adults. Only the third and fourth most-popular social networks, Pinterest and LinkedIn, sit beyond the company’s grasp. About three in ten online American adults use each of those."
All public servants in Singapore to use Workplace by Facebook by 2017, Tech News & Top Stories - The Straits Times
Workplace by Facebook continues to build momentum
"All public servants in Singapore will be using Workplace by Facebook to communicate with one another on their mobile phones and tablets, marking yet another first for Singapore among governments in the world.All public servants in Singapore to use Workplace by Facebook by 2017, Tech News & Top Stories - The Straits Times
Workplace by Facebook, a professional edition of the popular Facebook social networking tool, has been rolled out to 15 public agencies. It is in use by more than 5,300 public officers, the Public Service Division announced today.
The plan is to get all 143,000 public servants from all agencies on board by March next year (2017), said Mr Peter Ong, head of Civil Service. The decision was made taking into consideration factors such as security, cost and ease of use."
Leading by example
"The notes being shared so far carry hopeful tones. Box CEO Levie reiterated the company’s values of "openness and inclusion." Apple’s Cook said the company’s "North Star hasn’t changed," and also included an inspiring quote from Martin Luther King Jr. eBay’s Wenig said to "stay focused." CEOs have a particular interest in keeping employees motivated to do work, and in offering the support that enable employees to do this. All of us, tech employees or otherwise, have to wake up, get out of bed, and go about our days.Tech CEO letters to employees address feelings of unrest after election - The Verge
But it’s the subtext and the context that are most meaningful: the fact that they’re writing these letters in the first place. They want to remind people that their workplaces are diverse, and that they should show mutual respect for each other. They’re asking them to work together in the spirit of generosity. They now feel compelled to tell their employees to just be kind to each other. Please, let’s be decent to one another. This election season has brought us all to this point, whether in Silicon Valley, or anywhere else."
Maybe there will be a new Department of the Fourth Estate Management (a.k.a. Ministry of Truth) Secretary role
"Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley billionaire and Hulk Hogan helper, is reportedly set to join Donald Trump’s transition team. Ex-Fortune editor Dan Primack cites sources that say Thiel has agreed to join the president-elect’s team, but declines to mention in what capacity he will operate.Peter Thiel will reportedly join Donald Trump’s transition team - The Verge
The Huffington Post had reported earlier in the day that Thiel was being considered for chair of Trump’s transition team — a position currently held by New Jersey governor Chris Christie — but Primack says people close to Thiel would be “surprised” if he wanted such a hands-on role."
This domain is poised to become a historic test of the potential of machine learning
"It would still be quite a leap to move from a focus on emotional and physical safety to refereeing the facts in a debate—and, on top of that, it would be really hard to do. The sheer volume of links posted to Facebook every day would make it incredibly difficult for even a large team of human fact-checkers to take on. Yet the current, algorithmic system doesn’t seem to be doing its job, either, judging by the volume of posts that have slipped through the cracks.Should Buy Snopes to Get Serious About Fact-Checking? - The Atlantic
Perhaps the algorithms that currently find disputed posts could flag them for human review by a Snopes-like fact-checking team—heck, it could even buy Snopes. Once they’d researched the facts in the story and determined its accuracy, they could overlay a badge like the ones that already populate the Snopes site—an X in a red circle for “false”; a check mark in a green circle for “true”—on one corner of the link preview in the post."
Tangentially, Trump will be a disaster for online privacy. Here’s how to protect yours before it’s too late. (Recode)
"The election of Republican Donald Trump has stunned Silicon Valley, sparking renewed fears about how the federal government’s powerful surveillance machinery could undermine personal privacy — especially in the hands of a man with a history of threatening retaliation against those who challenge him.Could better Internet security have prevented Trump’s shocking win? - The Washington Post
But as some prepare to take new high-tech defensive measures against government intrusion, there also is a note of regret: The campaign of Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, suffered several disruptions when poorly protected emails fell into the hands of Russian hackers, WikiLeaks and, finally, the FBI. Better digital security, including measures long advocated by some experts, might have prevented Clinton’s defeat, they say."
Also see Mark Zuckerberg says it’s ‘crazy’ to think fake news stories got Donald Trump elected (Recode)
""As norms change and as people want to see more news, we will have to continue to evolve the guidelines to reflect the values that the community holds," Zuckerberg said. "It's tough to make everyone happy, but we care, and we care about learning quickly and making this better and better and better."Facebook's Zuckerberg Says Fake News and Echo Chambers Didn't Drive Election - Bloomberg
When asked about the election result, Zuckerberg said that the country would have a lot of work to do either way.
"One thing that I think it's easy to lose track of is, most progress is made by private citizens," not the government, he said. "That progress will continue.""
As Steve Jobs might have said about the way many people counterproductively consume "news" and participate in social media: "You're using it wrong" (although we do now have a case study in how related dynamics can be exploited to unscrupulously con your way into an unprecedented power grab)
"Faith in the importance of social metrics was a common trait among pro-Trump media, and for obvious reasons. They were clear indicators of support, participation and success, though exposed to no methodology. They were relative to other media and, by proxy, to politics.Online, Everything Is Alternative Media - The New York Times
The pro-Trump media understood that it was an insurgent force in a conversation conducted on social media on an unprecedented scale. It understood that its success could be measured by the extent to which it contributed to the assembled millions carrying out their political reading, watching, sharing, commenting and arguing among family and friends. David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, a conservative nonprofit group that operates a large Facebook news page, boasted of its social media prowess: “Because of our success, we know there are real voters delivering real-time political activism every day on these platforms. The press and the political class, at their own peril, ignored the signs, which is why so many got President-elect Trump’s victory wrong.”"
Thursday, November 10, 2016
(Okay, I think that's enough depressing Trump posts for today...)
"A Donald Trump presidency will shake up key regulatory agencies in Washington, which could lead to a reversal of hard-won decisions on issues like net neutrality and completely upend the relationships the tech industry has worked to foster with regulators.Trump hates net neutrality - Recode
Trump will appoint new leaders to agencies like the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that brought us net neutrality last year.
Yet Trump has also promised a “temporary moratorium on new agency regulations” and to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations.”"
Reminder: you can still vote with your purchase and investment decisions; tangentially, see Read Tim Cook’s Email To Apple Employees After Donald Trump’s Election (BuzzFeed)
"Some of the biggest implications for Tesla may come in the form of new U.S. energy policies that favor traditional fuel sources such as oil and coal, said Kathryn Thomson, a former top lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.Trump’s sweep could be a big setback to Tesla and Elon Musk - The Washington Post
"Anybody who advocates for energy-efficient, sustainable solutions should be worried," said Thomson. "On the one hand, Trump is saying, 'Let's look at all the options,' and that's positive. On the other hand, he seems to be pushing more-conventional fuels and technologies. And that's not good for innovation, and that's not good for efficiency and sustainability.""
Also difficult to factor in recently influential variables such as the mainstream media giving an outlier candidate ~infinite free coverage in order to boost their advertising profits; recommended reading in this context: The Attention Merchants
"In addition to the polling errors, data scientists said the inherent weakness of election models might have caused some forecasting errors. Before an election, forecasters use a combination of historical polls and recent polling data to predict a candidate’s chance of winning. Some may also factor in other variables, such as giving higher weight to a candidate who is an incumbent.The Data Said Clinton Would Win. Why You Shouldn’t Have Believed It. - The New York Times
But even with decades of polls to analyze, it is difficult for forecasters to predict accurately a candidate’s chance of winning the presidency months or even weeks ahead of time. Dr. Mutalik of Yale compared election modeling to weather forecasting."
I expect Facebook will be exonerated in this context, based on its substantive terms and policies; Twitter, not so much -- see, e.g., The Twitter Paradox: How A Platform Designed For Free Speech Enables Internet Trolls (NPR)
"Facebook Inc. will have to contend with mounting dissatisfaction over its role as the most widely used news filter in history. Forty-four percent of American adults get their media through the site, many consuming news from partisan sources with which they agree. The proliferation of fake news on Facebook has also been a problem: false stories about the Clinton family committing murder and Huma Abedin being a terrorist flew fast and furious despite refutations from responsible news organizations. Those stories shaped public opinion, said Ed Wasserman, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.Facebook and Twitter Contend With Their Role in Trump's Victory - Bloomberg
“This is a landmark,” he said. “Trump was able to get his message out in a way that was vastly influential without undergoing the usual kinds of quality checks that we associate with reaching mass public. You had a whole set of media having influence without really having authority. And the media that spoke with authority, the authority that comes after careful fact checking, didn’t really have the influence.”"
I'm guessing the payoff for Peter Thiel's "bet" in this context, in terms of the potential to advance concerns he espouses, is far from a sure thing. The article's last paragraph: "“I did vote,” he said. “I don’t always vote, but I thought you might ask, so I did.”"
"Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor at odds with much of Silicon Valley, will have President Trump’s ear on tech issues.Peter Thiel’s Bet on Donald Trump Pays Off - The New York Times
He won’t be moving to Washington, Mr. Thiel made clear in an interview Wednesday afternoon. He is unlikely to have a formal role. He has no desire to fulfill his youthful dream of joining the United States Supreme Court.
But he will have a voice."
More Twitter transitions; maybe the company should just focus on ways to "monetize" @realDonaldTrump...
"For many months, Twitter has been trying to reshape itself as a growing social media service. That attempt now includes reshaping the company’s top ranks.Twitter’s Chief Operating Officer to Step Down - The New York Times
On Wednesday, Twitter said that Adam Bain, its chief operating officer, plans to leave the company. Mr. Bain was well liked by Wall Street for building up and running Twitter’s once fast-growing advertising business."
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Another facet of the Facebook/Microsoft complementor/competitor landscape
"Facebook might muscle-in on LinkedIn’s recruiting business with ways for business Pages to promote job listings. The new Jobs features could give companies another reason to drive traffic to their Facebook Page beyond marketing their products in the News Feed, while also allowing them to pay the social network to get their open position in front of more candidates.Facebook threatens LinkedIn with job opening features | TechCrunch
Today TechCrunch spotted a Jobs tab on its Page, and now Facebook confirms it’s experimenting with a slew of recruiting features. A Facebook spokesperson tells me, “Based on behavior we’ve seen on Facebook, where many small businesses post about their job openings on their Page, we’re running a test for Page admins to create job postings and receive applications from candidates.”"
Evidently Google now agrees with Microsoft on the importance of maintaining first-class iOS apps
"When you get the next Gmail iOS app update, you’ll notice some exciting changes: The biggest overhaul of the app in nearly four years. It's the Gmail you know and love, with a fresh new look, sleeker transitions and some highly-requested features. It's a lot faster, too.Gmail and Google Calendar get a whole lot better on iOS
With the new app, getting things done on the go is a lot easier — whether you’re trying to find a message your colleague sent you last month, or trying to get through your work inbox on a Monday morning."
Excerpt from a timely Twitter reality check
"To be clear, Twitter has a real abuse problem that it has been derelict in addressing, a decision that is costly in both human and business terms; there is real harm that comes from the ability to address anyone anonymously, including the suppression of viewpoints by de facto vigilantism. But I increasingly despair about the opposite extreme: the construction of cocoons where speech that intrudes on one’s world view with facts is suppressed for fear of what it does to the bottom line, resulting in an inert people incapable of finding common ground with anyone else.Why Twitter Must Be Saved – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
This is why Twitter must be saved: the combination of network and format is irreplaceable, especially now that everyone knows it might not be a great business. For all the good that the Washington Post has done it is but one publication among many; the place where those publications disseminate information is the true scale, but Facebook has made its priorities clear: engagement and dollars, leavened with the certainty that engineers can make it all better; the externalities that result from a focus on making people feel good are not their concern."
Later in the article: "“We thought it was important that Tesla become, in part, a German company,” Musk said, regarding the investment in the country. “That’s what this was all about.”"
"Tesla just announced that it will acquire Germany’s Grohmann Engineering, in a deal that will see the global engineering leader become Tesla’s new Advanced Automation facility based in Germany, a new subdivision of the automaker dedicated to helping Tesla increase the automation and effectiveness of its manufacturing process.Tesla acquires Grohmann engineering to boost production | TechCrunch
“This will really be our first acquisition of significance in our whole history,” explained Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk on a call discussing the news, noting that Grohmann was their “first choice” in terms of bringing on expertise to help it “build the machines that build the machine.”"
After a slow start, Apple News is emerging as a significant traffic driver for some news orgs » Nieman Journalism Lab
Also see Apple is bringing in NBCUniversal to sell ads in Apple News (Recode), which notes "Apple won’t comment on detailed usage numbers, but says the app now has 70 million unique users."
"CNN, for example, says its Apple News content got 36.5 million unique readers in September, a major increase from August’s 5 million. Its pageviews also increased significantly to 274 million, up from 43 million a month before.After a slow start, Apple News is emerging as a significant traffic driver for some news orgs » Nieman Journalism Lab
“It’s really quite a remarkable story,” said Alex Wellen, CNN’s chief product officer. While CNN had seen “steady traffic growth” for most of the year,” said Wellen, Apple’s tweaks to its news app have changed the traffic picture significantly."
Monday, November 07, 2016
See DeepMind and Blizzard to release StarCraft II as an AI research environment (DeepMind blog) for more details
"Earlier this year, researchers' artificial intelligence beat a human in the dazzlingly complex board game known as Go. Not just once, but four times. It was a milestone in machine learning.After mastering Go, these computers are learning to play StarCraft - The Washington Post
Now, the same Google-backed researchers who designed AlphaGo have their sights set on dominating a new game: Starcraft, the classic computer strategy game that has attracted millions of fans, some of whom duel online in professional tournaments hosted by real-life sports leagues.
Researchers from U.K.-based DeepMind want to train a bot that can play StarCraft II in real time — making decisions about which military units to send on scouting missions, and how to allocate resources and ultimately conquer other players."
Related recommended reading: Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
"The American Civil Liberties Union, citing reports that the Chicago Police Department used a computer analysis to create a “heat list” that unfairly associated innocent people with criminal behavior, has warned about the dangers of the police using big data. Even companies that make money doing this sort of work warn that it comes with civil rights risks.The Risk to Civil Liberties of Fighting Crime With Big Data - The New York Times
“We’re heading to a world where every trash can has an identifier. Even I get shocked at the comprehensiveness of what data providers sell,” said Courtney Bowman, who leads the privacy and civil liberties practice at Palantir Technologies, a company in Palo Alto, Calif., that sells data analysis tools. He has lectured on the hazards of predictive policing and the need to prove in court that predictive models follow understandable logic and do not reinforce stereotypes."
A multifaceted rocket science case study
"Last week, SpaceX released a statement that it was focusing the investigation on one of three helium containers within the oxygen tank. During launch, as the liquid oxygen is consumed, the helium is heated up and released to maintain pressure within the tank. The company said that its tests had replicated the rupture of the helium containers, made of carbon fiber composite materials.Elon Musk Says SpaceX Rocket Launches Might Resume Next Month - The New York Times
“It basically involves a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen,” Mr. Musk said. “Oxygen so cold that it actually enters solid phase.”"
It's not just about group chat; it's about activity streams done right, encompassing a number of communication, collaboration, and content apps/services
"Forget artificial intelligence. Forget the cloud. Forget everything you think you know about what will separate the winners and losers among business-technology vendors. The defining turf war of the next decade will be group chat.Group Chat Emerges as the Hottest Thing in IT - WSJ
It sounds ridiculous. How could something pitched primarily as a “replacement for email” prove more important than other technologies, from productivity software to storage?
The answer: Chat is becoming the backbone of many businesses, bringing together both people and multiple software programs."
Support your favorite journalists and scrutinize The Attention Merchants
"The election news bubble that’s about to pop has blocked from plain view the expanding financial sinkhole at the center of the paper-and-ink branch of the news industry, which has recently seen a print advertising plunge that was “much more precipitous, to be honest with you, than anybody expected a year or so ago,” as The Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker told me on Friday.
Papers including The Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Gannett publications and others have responded with plans to reorganize, shed staff, kill off whole sections, or all of the above.
Taken together, it means another rapid depletion in the nation’s ranks of traditionally trained journalists whose main mission is to root out corruption, hold the powerful accountable and sort fact from fiction for voters."Media’s Next Challenge: Overcoming the Threat of Fake News - The New York Times