Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

8th September 2017

From How We Get To Next. ‘It is important to think about what, exactly, the relationship is between our brains and our smartphones, and the impact that that relationship has on our mental health, our social lives, and how young people perceive the world around them. But to focus our worry on how smartphones might be “rewiring kids’ brains” is missing a bigger point. We should think less about changing brains and more about whether we can trust the devices that are doing the changing. After all, they’re designed and built by people trying to make money from us.’ Your Brain is Your Phone.

A fabulous animated and interactive infographic. This visual essay, from Google News Lab, seeks to understand which questions people want answers to; filtered by age, geography and time. Starting with how to fix a toilet. 

From The Economist. ‘What machines can tell from your face. Life in the age of facial recognition.’ ‘In America facial recognition is used by churches to track worshippers’ attendance; in Britain, by retailers to spot past shoplifters. This year Welsh police used it to arrest a suspect outside a football game. Apple’s new iPhone is expected to use it to unlock the home screen. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For me, the abiding image of facial recognition is this clip from Minority Reportpersonal advertising in the future. 

From @adweek. Once a running joke, LinkedIn is suddenly a hot Social Network. Over the last two years, LinkedIn has pumped up its publishing platform, reduced the spam, streamlined its mobile and desktop apps, and introduced new lead-generation and targeting tools.

The gang from Street Wisdom (friends of the Filter) launch their ‘Worldwide Wander’ this weekend. I ran an event in Borough Market this morning, but there are many more events across this weekend. More information here.

From The New Yorker, ‘How to Call ‘B.S.’ on Big Data –  A Practical Guide.’ For example – Upon encountering a piece of information, in any form, ask, “Who is telling me this? How does he or she know it? What is he or she trying to sell me?”

Love this – ‘At this point, I’ve given up. I’m back to Google, back to searching for a database of contacts, because even though I came to the… page knowing exactly what I wanted, I have no idea what they offer.’ For the love of God, please tell me what your company does.

The thick plot continues to thicken. A Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election. ‘Facebook officials reported that they traced the ad sales, totalling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda.’ (HT @andygreenehouse). And here are the fake Americans that Russia created to influence the election.

From Adweek. Digital Advertising’s moment of truth? P&G’s Marc Pritchard and CMOs from Bank of America, Unilever and more have been demanding transparencyGoing into the fourth quarter—mere months from when Pritchard has threatened to pull the rug out from under major players including Facebook, Google, Twitter, agencies and more—the mandate is only 50 to 60 percent complete.

These stories are not often told but can be full of valuable learnings. Here are some of the biggest failed start-ups of 2017, including Juicero, Jawbone, Yik Yak and Lily. 

And finally…A bit of navel gazing this, but I cannot resist mentioning that this year, is the 30 year anniversary of the wonderful Withnail and I. The film was celebrated with a screening this week at the B.F.I. including appearances from Bruce Robinson and Richard E. Grant. Worth another look at the soliloquy from the end? –  ‘I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth….