Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 17, 2018 5:22 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #399

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (Solve for InterestingTilt the WindmillHBS, chair of StrataStartupfestPandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another: 

  • The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water - like Cape Town - BBC. "Water's scarce, populations are rising, climate change is altering aquifers and patterns of water distribution. South Africa might be days from running out of water, but other parts of the world aren't far behind. To twist Gibson's words: The misery is here, it's just not evenly distributed." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Chinese cops are wearing glasses that can recognize faces - Technology Review. "Peter Thiel building offshore cities beyond the reach of the law. Fake videos indistinguishable from the truth. Ubiquitous social surveillance. It's dystopia week here in my head, so enough with funny videos and poetry: It's time for some properly Gibsonian future present to spill over into links. Chinese policing using facial recognition. This will happen in every country, soon. For now, if you want a glimpse of the commonplace tomorrow look at China today." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle - BBC. "Fascinating to think that the Mayan population, in a territory about the size of England, may have been ten times bigger than the UK's in 500AD, and perhaps half the population of all of Europe at the same time. New satellite imagery suggests a sprawling, bustling civilization of raised causeways, and significant cities in what is now Guatemalan jungle." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • In Conversation: Erykah Badu - Vulture. "Kooky but great interview with Erykah Badu, 90s R&B iconoclast who still holds some sway." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • No one's coming. It's up to us - Dan Hon - Medium. "This is a very rich and deep piece of thinking. Please make the time to soak it all in. We talk a lot about how we can create a better future by what we do with technology and commerce. In this essay, Dan Hon makes the case that we need some form of technological humanism. This flies in the face of rapid progress and ideologies like, 'move fast and break things'. This is as much about technology as it is about non-technology. Confused? Don't be. Read on..."
  • Waiting For the Robot Rembrandt - Nautilus. "Many people believe that that the creative arts will never be overrun by artificial intelligence. I don't believe that to be true. I think it's just a matter of time. This doesn't mean that humans will be replaced by AI. It does mean that humans and AI will be producing a lot of art (from books to paintings to music and movies). It also means, that it may be hard for consumers to tell the difference. Many people think it's ridiculous that an artificial intelligence will be able to write a bestselling novel. I wonder, what makes us think that AI will stop prior to that point?" (Mitch for Hugh).  

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel

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February 16, 2018 7:46 AM

Mr. Zuckerberg... Tear Down That Algorithm

Every time that Facebook changes their news feed (and the algorithm that feeds it), Facebook changes.

Some of those changes are for the good. Some of them make Facebook (somewhat) unusable for many users. Their most recent shift in the news feed was a big one. In what seems like the right play for the online social network, they wanted to throttle back on content from publishers and brands in the organic feed and amp up content from friends and family. With that, they also want to amplify the content from friends and family that is experiencing the most social interaction (the clarity of what this means is not finite. It could be likes and share, it could be comments and interactions between connections). We don't know the exact secret sauce here, and by the sounds of things, it's unclear what, exactly, Facebook means by these definitions as well. That's not be cynical of the social media platform, that is based on how Adam Mosseri, Facebook's head of News Feed, describes the past, current and possible future state of the news feed at the Code Media event that is currently underway.

This is an important watch: Facebook's head of news partnerships & head of News Feed live from Code Media.

What does Facebook really want? Does it want advertising dollars? Does it want our personal data and interactions? Does it want to connect the world because of altruistic beliefs? Let's cut through the parlance and PR spin: Facebook is a business. Facebook provides its services for free to consumers. The consumer's data is the product (or, you are the product). The advertising (and enterprise solutions) is how Facebook makes it money. There's nothing wrong with this business model, so long as everyone engaged in it is clear in what the intentions are and that consent is given.

It is the consent that makes things difficult.

Sure, everything is laid out in the terms of service on Facebook. Sure, nobody should engage in Facebook without reading and understanding the terms of service. Sure, Facebook should not be held accountable if people don't read (or understand) their terms of service. Still, it's also easy to argue the other side of this: Consumers are not that media and technology literate. Consumers are very unclear what kind of data is being stored, used and sold to the highest bidder. Consumers are not great with the "fine print." And, ultimately, it's a free service... so whatevs, right?

What do you really think of the new news feed. Is it good from a user perspective? Is it good from a brand perspective?

Personally, I am spending more time than ever on Facebook. If we're connected, you might think the opposite. The bulk of my time on Facebook is currently being spent in private groups. This is not me thumbing my nose to public posts. This is not me trying to sound self-important. I have been fortunate to find several tribes that speak directly to my area of interest (from professional speaking and non-fiction writing to podcasting, marketing agency leadership and middle-aged people discussing eighties rock). I've never derived as much value from Facebook as I have in the past five years. With that, the current changes to the news feed have choked it down into a place where it feels like I am only seeing a handful of posts from a handful of people, and the content tends to not refresh but repeat itself through the week. In short, the new algorithm has made Facebook's news feed very bland and boring. 

How can Facebook find the right balance?

I would pay for a better Facebook. Would you? Chris Brogan posted this on Facebook (oh, the irony) just the other day: "I would pay Facebook $5/month to ALWAYS have 'most recent' and ALWAYS have 'turn off notifications'." Chris is not alone. I'm sure that there are, literally, millions of people who would pay for the same services. I've written and spoken about this new business model opportunity for a long time. In fact, I would push Chris' sentiment much further with this statement...

Mr. Zuckerberg... tear down that algorithm! 

Personally, I would pay Netflix-like monthly fees (let's call it $10 - $20 per month) to have a pure and untouched access to my news feed (and, take it easy on the infomercial-like advertising, while I'm paying for it). This means that whoever (friend, family, brand) that I have "liked" or "followed" should be shown to me in the order that it has been posted... no matter what they post. Open up the entire feed, kill the algorithm and let it flow, baby! 

Why pay for the firehose?

Whether it's an issue of fake news or throttling content in attempts to create a better user experience, Facebook is working under the supposition that we - the consumers - have no idea what's good for us. While that may be true for a segment of the population, there probably is another (larger) segment that understands the implications of "like"-ing and following a person or a brand. Give the user the power to mute, unfriend, unfollow or delete the content that they're no longer interested in. What makes this most interesting, is that none of this requires any kind of algorithm. It probably requires them to simply remove the algorithm.

Instead of trying to make the algorithm smarter, why not just empower your users to be smarter?

By Mitch Joel

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February 12, 2018 8:12 AM

The Gravity Of Elon Musk And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly on i Heart Radio, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away about what's going on in the digital world. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry DiMonte morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

By Mitch Joel

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February 11, 2018 8:02 AM

Next Level Negotiation Skills With Chris Voss - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #605 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

His book is easily one of the best books that I have read in a very long time. The concept of negotiating has been a hot topic for authors and business speakers for a very long time. Still, Chris Voss is truly brilliant and his book, Never Split The Difference - Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, is just chock full of genius from start to finish. Chris was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the FBI's hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council's Hostage Working Group. Prior to becoming the FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator, Christopher served as the lead Crisis Negotiator for the New York City Division of the FBI. Christopher was a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force for 14 years. During Chris's 24 year tenure in the Bureau, he was trained in the art of negotiation by not only the FBI but Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School. He is also a recipient of the Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service. Chris currently teaches business negotiation in the MBA program as an adjunct professor at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. So, yeah, he knows a thing or two (or a million) about how to get things done. It's been a while since I was this nervous to speak with a book author (because I admire his work so much). Enjoy the conversation...

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #605.

By Mitch Joel

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February 10, 2018 5:09 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #398

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (Solve for InterestingTilt the WindmillHBS, chair of StrataStartupfestPandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another: 

  • No Filter - The Baffler. "'Instagram allows even the ugly to be beautiful and bad taste to masquerade as good.' I love me some grumpy. This is a look at the awful, beautiful world of Instagram poetry." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America - The Atlantic. "I was in Panama last week for a conference on business and sustainability. One of the topics was the inevitable concentration of companies into fewer, bigger competitors (because of economies of scale) and their exploitation of externalities (to capture profits at the expense of others.) But it turns out this doesn't happen everywhere--in craft beer, for example!" (Alistair for Mitch).
  • CheXNet: an in-depth review - Luke Oakden-Rayner. "This one is not for the faint of heart. It's a detailed examination of the data behind some research claims about AI being used in a medical application, 'an algorithm that can detect pneumonia from chest X-rays at a level exceeding practicing radiologists.' The author of this post says, not so fast." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • AI: Racing Towards The Brink - Sam Harris. "Sam Harris, who can veer towards dogmatism on some topics around politics and religion, is at his best talking about AI and human cognition. In this podcast, he interviews Eliezer Yudkowsky about what we really have to fear from AI (hint: it's not malicious terminator-style robots; it's probably far worse)." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • We're 'addicted' to socializing--not our smartphones - Futurity. "Well, here's an interesting perspective. Maybe all of our smartphone addiction woes has little to do with the engineering of the software and much more to do with something a little more... shall we say... primal: our self-esteem? Maybe we're so attached to our smartphones not because of how the technology is programmed to make it a compulsion, but more to do with how we - as human beings - are evolving. According to this research, we are changing... and we are changing to be much more social by nature. So, it's now in our DNA to snoop on others and take selfies?" (Mitch for Alistair). 
  • John Perry Barlow, 70, Dies; Championed an Unfettered Internet - The New York Times. "The three of us that share links here with the world come from a much more honest and pure internet. We were all there at the beginning. It was a very different time. We had hopes and dreams of open access for all... and place where diverse voices would be connected and heard. A place where anyone with a idea could spread it - for free - to the world. In a way, this world has come to be. In a way, this world looks nothing like those early days. John Perry Barlow was a huge part of what made us all want this internet to be so different. While his voice has been silenced, I'm hopeful that his idea will carry on, and that all of us will carry that torch forward on his behalf. RIP." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel

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February 5, 2018 8:36 AM

The Super Bowl Of Advertising And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the... Read more

By Mitch Joel

Utilities:


February 4, 2018 8:38 AM

Your Customer's Secret Lingo With Jeffrey Shaw - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #604 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Slowly and surely famed commercial photographer, Jeffrey Shaw, is becoming known at the "lingo guy." Who would have thought... Read more

By Mitch Joel

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February 3, 2018 5:36 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #397

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (Solve for Interesting, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, chair of Strata, Startupfest, Pandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks,... Read more

By Mitch Joel

Utilities:


January 29, 2018 8:30 AM

Amazon's New Retail Stores And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the... Read more

By Mitch Joel

Utilities:


January 28, 2018 6:26 AM

Building The Best Creative Teams With Todd Henry - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #603 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. There is no doubt that when it comes to writing business books on the creative process and how it... Read more

By Mitch Joel

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