DataDownload: Facebook’s high profile executive “breakup” A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser
Today, I’m thinking about celebrations. Birthdays, anniversaries, launching new books. Anything with fireworks and people gathering. There’s lots to celebrate, and lots to be thoughtfully concerned about. If you have a celebration, please share it with me — firstname.lastname@example.org. Good news welcome.
Meanwhile — the latest book about Facebook is about to launch, and the NY Times has an excerpt here. TikTok is rapidly becoming a shopping site according to Vox. And Instagram is changing too. Meanwhile, an AI bot is tracking politicians distracted by their phones — and Gizmodo looks to 2030 and finds a future where everything we “own” is little more than borrowed — thanks to IoT. Kind of terrifying.
We’ve got our first video from our Synthetic Media & Storytelling Challenge — with team IMUU. A great demo, well worth a watch. Harvard Business Review has a podcast look at Carlos Ghosn. And our Deeper Look this week is from the American Press Institute.
So hope you’re healthy and well and vaccinated. If not — email me and tell me why. Have a good week. Steve@NYCMediaLab.org
The NYC Media Lab Must-Read Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Partnership Did Not Survive Trump
Once joined at the hip, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg seem to be steadily going their separate ways. Former President Trump and the six-month old Capitol insurrection appear to be a fundamental reason for the breakup. Shortly after the January 6th riots in Washington, Sandberg was pressed on Facebook’s role in the lead up to — and during — the day’s tragic events. “I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards, and don’t have our transparency,” she said. This statement was widely ridiculed at the time and has proven to be untrue. Thomas Caldwell, a (deplatformed) leader of the far right militia organization, Oath Keepers “openly discussed over Facebook the hotel rooms, airfare and other logistics around their trip to Washington.”
One of the primary reasons Zuckerberg lured Sandberg away from Google was to “deal with growing unease about [Facebook] in Washington. But when Trump won election in 2016, the influence of Sandberg — a prominent Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter — quickly waned in D.C. Additionally, Zuckerberg was critical of her handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the PR response to foreign election interference in the 2016 election. With Trump in the White House, Zuckerberg quickly took relations with the President into his own hands. Increasingly, Zuckerberg has taken the public lead on questions of free speech and political content on the platform. According to The Times, Zuckerberg increasingly relies on two internal metrics — Good-for-the-world (GFW) and and Cares-about-users (CAU) — to inform his decision making. “He is concerned about [Facebook’s] position in the world, but he generally is less swayed by Ms. Sandberg’s view, or anyone else’s.”
NY Times / 27 min read Read More TikTok Made Me Buy It
What do Cat Crack catnip, a “miracle” cleaning paste called The Pink Stuff, and a “cooch blessing” shaving cream from Eos all have in common? They’re all in short supply and it’s all thanks to TikTok. The platform is still testing its in-app shopping feature but its Chinese counterpart Douyin racked up $26B in ecommerce sale within its first year. TikTok’s algorithm is unparalleled at promoting viral videos — as well as people, trends, songs, and products. Brands and “microinfluencers” see the enormous potential of the platform, both for marketing and as a lucrative source of income. 22 year old Mikaela Nogueira started receiving endorsement requests from beauty brands about six months after she began posting product reviews on Tik-Tok.
According to Noguira: “TikTok is the viral platform, and brands want their product to sell out.” When asked about her own income, she said: “I just finished filing my taxes. It’s upwards of a million.” But does the platform promote a churn-and-burn mindset? According to Jonah Berger, marketing professor at Wharton and author of Contagious, the answer is yes, and that’s why many more established brands are wary of virality. “Viral is often a flash in the pan; here today, gone tomorrow,” he said. “We don’t need 10 million people sharing our thing today and then talking about something completely different next week. We need them to continue talking about and sharing our stuff, whether online or off.”
Vox / 20 min read
Pics of cute babies and puppies may not be a thing of the past on Instagram just yet, but according to the app’s CEO Adam Mosseri: “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app.” Instead, Insta is in the entertainment business. People come to the platform “to be entertained” and Mosseri realizes he faces stiff competition.
“Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now,” Mosseri said. “TikTok is huge, YouTube is even bigger and there are a lot of other upstarts as well.” But, according to Endgadget, the app is in danger of losing what made it compelling in the first place: the platform’s “dedicated shopping hub, Reels, and Stories have made Instagram feel bloated and less vital than it was before.”
Engadget / 2 min read Read More AI Bot Trolls Politicians With How Much Time They’re Looking at Phones
We don’t even hide the fact that we spend too much time looking at our phones anymore. Recently, Flemish digital artist Dries Depoorter began taking legislators to task for smartphone scrolling on the taxpayer’s euro.
Depoorter’s AI monitors daily YouTube livestreams of government meetings and posts images of distracted lawmakers on Instagram and Twitter under the handle The Flemish Scrollers. The project arrives hot on the heels of Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon’s smartphone scandal when he was caught red handed playing Angry Birds during a policy discussion.
Mashable / 2 min read Read More In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets
“When you don’t own anything, you’re trading autonomy for convenience.”
That fancy Sonos sound system you just bought? Within a few years, it may only be useful as a coffee table or a coaster. You might still own your home. But thanks to IoT and smart home technology, you might not be able to unlock your front door without an app’s permission. Owning stuff unconditionally has long been a fundamental part of consumption, but is that concept becoming obsolete?
Consumers are finding out the hard way that ownership doesn’t mean what it used to. Peloton users who paid over $4k for a treadmill abruptly found access to workout classes gated behind a subscription. In 2020, Sonos announced it was killing off its legacy speakers. When you purchase products that rely on someone else’s services to function, you don’t really own them. Part of the problem is the DMCA, which effectively makes it illegal to “unlock” devices that depend on proprietary software.
Gizmodo / 10 min read
What’s possible now that wasn’t before? That’s the question five teams set out to answer throughout the NYC Media Lab Synthetic Media & Storytelling Challenge. Within just five months, our graduate student teams delivered spectacularly.
On June 10, 2021, the 40+ person Zoom audience watched in awe as the teams showcased their intrepid applications of machine learning, GANs, and other emerging tech to various early-stage creative concepts. Learn more about team IMUU and watch their full presentation here:
nycmedialab (YouTube) / 10 min watch
Watch Now What We’re Listening To Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 1
“When Japan’s most famous CEO is suddenly arrested, conflicts are revealed in the Renault-Nissan Alliance he led for two decades. Then Carlos Ghosn jumps bail by stowing away in a private jet to Lebanon. Ghosn’s daring escape raises new questions about his alleged financial misconduct — and the corporate system that kept him in power.”
This is a four-part series and one of the best pure business podcasts we’ve listened to in a while. It even features an interview with Ghosn himself.
Spotify / 33 min listen
Listen Now Virtual Events Free Event: VentureBeat Transform 2021
Date: July 12–16
“Transform 2021 is the AI event of the year for business executives looking to maintain their competitive edge in an AI-driven world.” Register Here.
Free Event: Live Chat with BBC Executive Product Manager
Date: July 13, 1:30PM-2PM
“An exclusive Ask Me Anything session with Eleni Sharp, Executive Product Manager at BBC.” Register Here. A Deeper Look Track the Diversity of Your Sources With Source Matters — An Easy Automated Tool From API
The American Press Institute (API) recently announced the creation of Source Matters — an automated source tracking tool designed to expand the diversity of voices reported by journalists across the country. According to API: “Sourcing matters, because building broader and deeper relationships with communities who have been excluded from the news requires (among other things) talking and listening to a more diverse group of people. The sources journalists choose to quote in their stories affect whose stories get told, how stories are told, who the news is for, and what communities are served.”
American Press Institute / 6 min read