Paid, Earned, Inspired

From Ben Thompson’s latest on Stratechery:

This has profound implications for products and politics. First and foremost, it is fundamentally misguided to simply view “digital” as another channel that you layer on top of traditional marketing/campaign tactics like TV advertisements. In fact, products and politicians designed for the TV age — that is, meant to be palatable to the greatest number of people — are at a fundamental disadvantage on platforms like Facebook. The products and politicians that win inspire passion, stirring up a level of engagement that breaks through on a scale that far exceeds an ad buy. To put it another way, above I mentioned “paid” media and “earned” media; what matters on Facebook is “inspired” media.

Politicians don’t need the media to reach people anymore, and people don’t make decisions based on rational thinking. It’s the new baking soda volcano.

This means national elections aren’t about policy anymore. They are about the gnashing of teeth and who can inspire more teeth to gnash.

Oddly, while we’re naturally attracted to big inspirational ideas, we tend to gravitate towards the rational when doing our own thinking or work.

And in doing so, we risk being ignored.

Every election since the turn of the century has swung based on inspiration and connection. Whoever has the bigger idea will win.

Write-Only Social Media

Cal Newport has written extensively about how social media is ruining our attention spans. He recommends not using it at all. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the best idea. At least for what I do for a living.

So I’ve been thinking about how to create a write-only social media system. A way to still get some of the value out of social networks without getting all of the outrage and distraction.

News and ArticlesNuzzle is an app that aggregates articles that your friends and friends of friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t even have to have the social apps on your phone, because it taps into the services’ APIs.

Posting Dad Jokes or Links or WhateverDrafts.app on iOS is a great way to write whatever you want to write, then share it to another app or service. It’s great for a write-only email experience as well. Open drafts, write whatever it is, and then share it without having to see any timelines or feeds or inboxes. I’m not sure if this will work without having the social apps on your phone, but its a start if you have something to say but don’t need to take on other people’s anxiety.

Facebook without the Feed: For people that still need some of the functionality of Facebook on a desktop, it’s possible to use it without having to deal with the newsfeed.

From an older Venture Beat article:

…thousands of users have installed a new Chrome Extension, “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook,” to silence Facebook’s news feed. And tech-savvy Safari users have opted to eliminate Facebook’s News Feed via a simple CSS tweak.

It’s a start at least.

KFC’s facial-recognition stereotyping machine

Once stereotypes are embedded in The Algorithm, what chance to any of us have?

KFC wants to find out: 

The two companies are opening a new restaurant in Beijing “which employs facial recognition to make recommendations about what customers might order, based on factors like their age, gender and facial expression. Image recognition installed at the KFC will scan customer faces, seeking to infer moods, and guess other information including gender and age in order to inform their recommendation.”

People will use this. Not because it’s better. But because of the novelty. Imagine an online quiz, but without all of that dreadful hard work. And then imagine that after Facebook reveals your house to be House Targaryan, you were handed a 1500-calorie lunch.

I can’t imagine that this will be successful…at first. Eventually, things like this will work their way into the everyday world. The question is whether customers will see any of the benefit.

(via macdrifter)

Stephen Hawking’s Theory of Productivity

From Cal Newport’s blog:

“…here’s some advice: The problem with physics is that most of the days we don’t make any major headway (on our projects). That’s why you should do other stuff: listen to music, meet good friends. There’s one exception to this rule: If you find a solution for a given problem, you work 24 hours a day and forget everything else. Until the problem is solved in its entirety.”

Three Year Olds are Huggers

After you get older than three, you forget that three-year-olds are actually tiny people with a tiny culture.

It started when they were two. Dropping off my son at day care, another two-year-old would say hi, and he’d say hi back.

Like they are real people that have any business communicating with each other.

Now we’re at a place where I can’t get near his room without the other kids yelling out that his “dad is here.”

He’s in the back of the room doing god knows what with his friends, and he’s posted lookouts at the front of the room.

But then there is the hugging. These kids like to hug. And they don’t care who you are. Tonight I had to bend down to help my son get his shoes on, and I was nearly pulled under by a room full of toddlers that were desperate to hug me.

If you are pulled under, remember to swim perpendicular to the tide, rather than against it.