I’ve been a fan of Quartz for a while. It is a news property that is creating journalistic content really thoughtfully tweaked for mobile consumption, keeping in mind modern content consumption patterns. One of their team came in to talk to us at work late last year and gave us a great look at their business principles, and I’ve also had the chance to meet some of their London team. This morning, I read that they’re expanding into India soon (‘there is something about India that is such a metaphor for the global economy’).
A sort of combination of Google’s ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ (which I just checked is now an archive of Google Doodles – how misleading – after Google Instant effectively made the feature redundant years ago) and the usual marketing emails.
I’ve contributed to Issue 2 of Hack Circus with a story about my bot alter-ego on Twitter, created kindly by Henry Cooke. Henry’s explanation of the tech behind it in the article is what makes it way more interesting, if you ask me. He spoke about bots and suchlike at the Hack Circus event in Sheffield yesterday, can’t wait to see his presentation online.
Issue 2 is themed around reality and features things like:
How to tell for sure whether you’re a brain in a jar
What scientists know about ghosts
Interview with The Long Now Foundation
Peeking inside a radar operators’ manual
Why we find meaning in bots
Real devices from fictional worlds
Kate Genevieve’s magic and sensory perception research
Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.
Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.
I first heard about Keiichi Matsuda when I chanced upon his project Cell a couple of years ago.
So it was a pleasant surprise then when I heard from him this week with information of his latest project Hyper Reality.
Hyper Reality is a series of short films that he is hoping to make very soon, based on a future city (set in Medellin, Colombia) that is maxed out on technology and media. Obviously these are subjects I am passionate about so it piqued me interest immediately – but more importantly, his introductory video is really phenomenal. You have to watch it.
Having seen that, I hope you’re as excited as I am about being able to see the full thing, design fiction to the extreme. It will mean a lot if you can help it get made by supporting Hyper Reality on Kickstarter – it officially launched this morning so everything is a go. Tweet, blog, contribute to the Kickstarter fund – everything is much appreciated, not just by Keiichi but by me because I really want to see the full films!
Keiichi explains the premise for creating these films really well on the Kickstarter page:
Technology is playing an increasingly important part in our everyday lives. Most of the time though, we learn about technology from the people who are trying to sell it to us. I believe that it’s important to be critical; to be aware of how these technologies could shape our future. The films will expose the amazing potential, but also the possibly dark future of some technologies, while presenting them in a way that everyone can understand.
Native advertising inherently makes sense to me because of its potential for spread and recall over clickthroughs and the more murky pageviews of banners and buttons; 77% of display ads are apparently never seen, especially those below the fold. If native ads allow marketers to reach out to their audiences in meaningful ways that go beyond the standard ‘I’m here, look at me’ then that should be a fairly strong reason in itself to be adopted, or at least considered very strongly. Think of native advertising as being closer to ‘product as marketing’, which crucially implies a bigger customer focus, over the traditional, more brand-focussed ‘messaging as marketing’ model that we’re seeing slowly wither away.
I noted down some thoughts about the rise of native advertising and the consequent fall of display in the months to come for the company blog.
Like many of you, I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by spam emails in my inbox. So I was quite interested to hear from Yale Fox, a 2011 TED Fellow, about a new project of his: a Google Chrome extension called SpamBlocker. It basically does what it says on the tin – allowing you to block any email address you want at the click of a button. The project took 5 weeks to develop. In user-testing, Yale and his team found that domain blocking, which they had as a feature early on, resulted in some glitches but those are are currently being worked on – I can see this being useful; after all spammers are an unscrupulous lot with multiple email addresses at their disposal. Another feature in the pipeline is allowing users to vote on the features they want developed next.
While Gmail does a good job at making your inbox more manageable (especially with Tabbed Inbox), it doesn’t remove the problem of spam altogether. That’s what this Gmail hack hopes to do. I’ve tried it for the last couple of days and it works great.
Currently compatible with Gmail and Chrome on OS X, Windows and Linux, Yale plans to add Firefox support early next week. Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and other browsers will hopefully all be tackled in due course.
Pricing is, and will be, completely free, with the option for users to donate. When donations do come in, they will be split with Animal Haven, a charity in New York. I particularly like Yale’s philosophy: ‘everything should have a cause attached to it’.
In addition to his TED pedigree, Yale is also a professional DJ but he’s changing tacks to software development as a route to making people’s live better. He says it’s ‘all part of a bigger picture’.
I’ll be watching him in his endeavours and wish him all the best.
Via the always-smart-if-now-infrequently-updated Snarkmarket, where Tim Carmody talks about Bezos and Amazon, I found a link to Epic, Robin Sloan’s 2004 project for the Museum of Media History, which I missed when it first came out. It evokes 2014 – just 4 months from now (FOUR – where ON EARTH is time flying?), and brings up some very relevant thoughts. The Google Grid finds form in the Play Store, Newsbotster takes shape in some way through Google Plus, and though Google and Amazon haven’t merged to form Googlezon, the Yahoo-Tumblr deal is pretty significant, as has been Microsoft-Skype. I also just read BI’s fascinating profile of Marissa Mayer where the possibility of Yahoo exchanging their search division with MSN.com was mooted (it didn’t happen of course).
As this YouTube poster said, ‘This was made in 2004. There’s no mention of the iPhone or Facebook or Twitter’ – amazingly prescient work worth a quick watch.
This video about Project Loon’s technology is truly an example of what Astro Teller, Google’s Captain of Moonshot Thinking, evangelises day to day (from SXSW to the Big Tent to Cannes, he’s been doing a good job with that this year, if you ask me).