Turning the camera on Big Brother

NYTimes is analyzing the music used by candidates at their rallies. Music is a powerful emotional signal, transmitting a message deep into the emotional brain where we feel connection. So, it is helpful to know how candidates are using this psychological messaging tool to reach voters.

Extrapolating meaning from data sets, such as song tracks used in political campaigns, can bring to light information that would otherwise not emerge. The growing trend of using big data to help us understand and manipulate the world may be coming more into the hands of the public.

Why it’s hot: Knowledge is power. Whoever has the data and the processing power, has the knowledge and can learn things about the world that no one would have discovered otherwise. Primarily this power has been with brands and governments. But what if more of that power came into the hands of the people? This article points to a possible future where open-source data mining could help us learn things about governments and companies that could level the playing field in the war over territory in our collective consciousness.

If big data was in the hands of the people, what would we do with it? How would it effect our relationship with brands and products.

Source: NYTimes

Service connects tourists with locals for real-time advice in South Korea

Launched in July 2019, the Sidekick platform lets tourists visiting South Korea chat with locals and receive help and recommendations in real-time. It works with a user’s live chat platform of choice (LINE, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat) and provides access to local ‘sidekicks’, who provide tips on restaurants, shopping, etiquette and culture. Tourists are connected with either Korean, English or Japanese speakers who are available from 7 am to 5 pm. The service can be purchased as a one-day, three-day or five-day pass and prices start at USD 20.

Why it’s hot:

  • This points to the future of travel moving away from typical “touristy” things to more bespoke and personalized experiences.
  • It’s a media or channel evolution: From travel guides to channels to blogs to Youtube videos (10 best things to do in X city) to social media travel influencers – to a real time chat service that let’s you live like a local.
  • It also lets you navigate and move around confidently in a country where you aren’t familiar with the language and/or culture.

Source: Trendwatching

Hackers Need Cooler Stock Photos

Hacking and data breaches are a serious issue, but stock photos don’t reflect the reality, instead painting hackers as mysterious phantoms.

To change this, OpenIdeo has announced a “cybersecurity visual challenge” to “re-imagine a more compelling and relatable visual language for cybersecurity.”

Designers of all backgrounds are invited to submit proposals for more accurate (and appealing) stock images, in order to shed light on the danger of data breaches. The hope is that visuals, which represent the reality of cybersecurity, will make the knottiness of data privacy, as a topic, more accessible for a public audience with varying levels of understanding.

Submissions for this (re)design contest are being accepted through August 16. The company has announced that 25 short-listed contestants will receive $500 and a mentorship period with in-house designers; once the final winners are announced October 24, up to five winners will each receive $7,000 prizes for their contributions. And, in an effort to repopulate the public domain, these winning visual creations will all be available via free licensure on Creative Commons.

https://www.openideo.com/challenge-briefs/cybersecurity-visuals 

Why its hot

It’s an interesting tactic to fight cyber crime by ensuring something as simple as a stock photo properly communicates the seriousness of the issue.

Shopify and the Power of Platforms

https://stratechery.com/2019/shopify-and-the-power-of-platforms/

The Shopify platform

Cool blog about how Amazon’s evolution as a marketplace and how Walmart tried to compete and catch up over the years.

Shopify has built a strong eCommerce SaaS platform for anyone, from small to large businesses. The platform bundles payments, designers, customer developers, and now 3rd party logistics for fulfillment, which is Amazon’s key advantages.

Take a look at the blog and more discuss during the hotsauce session.

I can’t read you like a cake.

Amazon’s algorithm is reading a new emotion on faces: fear

Amazon’s Rekognition is a face detecting software that is supposed to know when you are feeling an emotion.

Technically, the algorithm works by learning how people’s faces usually look when they express fear. Then, when you show it a new image, it can tell you with a certain probability whether that person’s face is communicating the emotion of fear, leaving the human to then decide what to do with the information. The company’s descriptions of the product claim that “Amazon Rekognition detects emotions such as happy, sad, or surprise, and demographic information such as gender from facial images.”

Can we build something that humans don’t even know how to do.

Example, we built calculators, because we have figured out math and needed a quicker way to get passed tedious examples to tackle harder ones.

We rarely understand each other, and emotions are so variable for different people. What may seem like a flash of anger might be disgust for some or a twitch for another.

Answer: It’s not working, but Amazon is still selling it. It falsely matched 20% of California’s state legislatures photos. 20%! They’ve sold it to marketing companies, no surprise. But they are marketing to police forces, and immigration agencies. Where there could be a problem.

“In the past, civil rights groups, AI experts, and even some of Amazon’s own investors have asked the company to stop deploying its facial recognition technology given industry-wide issues with accuracy”

Ethically, how can someone buy half-baked technology? Why would you want half a baked pie?

 

 

But Why Isn’t It Called the TacHotel?

Tacobell and Netflix are the two fastest growing brands in the US between 2018 and 19. And it show’s by the lengths Taco Bell has gone to establish their new brand presence. In their most recent update… the Taco Bell Hotel (we think TacHotel would be a superior name).

The Taco Bell Hotel courted micro influencers. Including Taco Bell Sommelier who matches wine pairings to your order…

https://www.instagram.com/tacobellsommelier/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0OBgWRFEqy/

and Yo Quiero Taco Ballads (seen with a shaven Taco Bell logo above) who will compose a song to match your taco bell receipt.

https://www.instagram.com/yoquierotacoballads/

Why it’s hot?
Well this hot sauce is just plain HOT. Spicy tacos’ in Palm beach hot. BUT rewarding micro influencers with one of a kind experiences is why this post is hot. These content creators are building their own fan bases without the expectation of being rewarded, but the rewards will ensure they continue being brand fans to their 500-1500 followers.

Source: https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/we-spent-a-night-at-the-taco-bell-hotel-where-everything-is-supremely-on-brand/

 

big g hacks alexa…


Voice shopping is increasingly becoming mainstream – by next year, it will eclipse $40 billion. And when shopping using Alexa, 85% of people go with its recommendation for products. So, Honey Nut Cheerios used Amazon Prime day to become the #1 cereal brand on Amazon, and the “cereal” default for millions of customers (80% of whom were new to the brand). They offered free Honey Nut Cheerios to anyone who spent over $40 on Amazon Pantry (as well as a $10 discount on their cart), automatically making Honey Nut Cheerios part of peoples’ order history, thus making them the default for those people who might say “order cereal” in the future.

Why it’s hot:

1) It’s hot: Honey Nut Cheerios is getting in on the ground floor. Before voice shopping truly becomes commonplace behavior, they’re powerfully establishing themselves as the default choice and #1 grocery item on Amazon Pantry.

2) It’s not: It feels a bit too aggressive. People choosing Honey Nut Cheerios when they were offered for free (with a $10 cart discount to boot) doesn’t mean they want them in the future. Should brands be placing themselves not just in the consideration set (as a recommendation), but solidifying themselves as the default for transacting?

[Source]

Zalando and PostNord to Pilot Private Delivery and Returns Points in Denmark

Image result for Zalando and PostNord

Recently, German ecommerce platform Zalando began a pilot scheme using private homes in Denmark as delivery points. The 50 homeowners involved offer pick-up and drop-off services from 4pm to 8pm, in return for a small remuneration each month. A collaboration with Swedish postal company Postnord, it is hoped that the three-month trial will provide opportunities for seniors, self-employed, and unemployed individuals who are often home during the day.

Why it’s hot: Making e-commerce more personal and convenient.

Source

Good deals come to those who haggle with a bot


Flipkart, India’s biggest ecommerce retailer, created a voice-based experience enabling customers to haggle for a better deal.

Flipkart gave its online shopping experience a more traditional touch with Hagglebot, which used Google Assistant’s voice technology. When Flipkart shoppers used Google Assistant it encouraged them haggle down the prices of products using their voice.

Flipkart launched several limited-edition products available exclusively via the Hagglebot during its sales promotion. Each day, it released two new products during the sale and crowned the shopper who drove the hardest bargain the ‘Boss’. Whatever deal the ‘Boss’ secured then became the official Flipkart price of that product.

The Hagglebot was created with Google Zoo, the creative think-tank for agencies and brands. Before building the experience the team travelled to thirty bazaars across three cities to identify different bargaining strategies that were commonly used and then simulated them on Hagglebot. The Hagglebot worked with all devices that support Google Assistant, including Android and iOS phones, as well as the Google Home speaker.

Flipkart’s total sales revenue through products offered on Hagglebot reached $12.23m. The experience also had an average engagement time of 6 min 5 seconds, 200 times the average Google Assistant engagement rate, making it Google Assistant’s most engaging experience to date.

Why it’s hot?
A great way to enable adoption of voice technology by merging it with a deep rooted cultural behaviour
In India, the Hagglebot builds on existing cultural behaviour. Bargaining is a deep-rooted part of Indian culture. The Hagglebot humanised transactions to make its Indian consumers feel more at home when purchasing online and, in doing so, bridged the divide between old traditions and new digital experiences.

 

Source: Contagious

Move Over, Alexa

Voice command devices, like Alexa and Siri, enable humans to engage, operate, and interact with technology thanks to the power of voice, but these technologies fail to account for the voiceless among us. Many people— including those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, paralysis, or traumatic brain injuries— are unable to take advantage of such voice-user interface (VUI) devices. That’s where Facebook Reality Labs (FBR) comes in.

Image result for brain computer interface facebook

FBR has partnered with neuroscience professionals at UCSF to give a voice back to the voiceless by attempting to create the first non-invasive, wearable brain-computer interface (BCI) device for speech. This device would marry “the hands-free convenience and speed of voice with the discreteness of typing.” Although BCI technology is not new, the creation of BCI technology capable of converting imagined speech into text, without requiring implanted electrodes, would be.

Image result for brain computer interface gif

In a recently successful—albeit limited—study, UCSF researchers demonstrated that brain activity (recorded while people speak) could be used to decode what people were saying into text on a computer screen in real-time. However, at this time, the algorithm can only decode a small set of words.

Although promising, such results are preliminary, and researchers have a long way to go until the power of this silent speech interface technology can be harnessed non-invasively and in wearable form. What is more, researchers believe this BCI technology “could one day be a powerful input for all-day wearable [augmented reality (AR)] glasses.”

Why it’s hot

Such a radical innovation would not only help those who can’t speak, it could alter how all people interact with today’s digital devices.

Sourcehttps://tech.fb.com

Ghost Restaurants are Here and Growing

In the last year, an estimated $863 billion dollars was spent on restaurants across America. To the barrage of options, from Thai to tamales, white tablecloth to hole-in-the-wall, a new contender is establishing itself–the ghost restaurant.

Ghost restaurants do not have places for customers to sit or even pick up food. They are kitchens with online marquees available on meal delivery services like Deliveroo (Europe) and Uber Eats. They are able to cut costs on square footage, waitstaff, and location while reaching the growing number of customers who get food delivered.

Because a Ghost restaurant’s digital brand is not tied to its physical space, it is possible for one kitchen to operate several ghost restaurants simultaneously. Top Round Roast Beef (above), is a San Francisco restaurant that maintains three distinct identities on Uber Eats: ‘Ribbon Fried Chicken’, ‘TR Burger and Wings’ and ‘Ice Cream Custard.’

Why it’s Hot: 

Digital branding and strategy will play a bigger role in the restaurant industry now that the kitchen has been separated from the service experience.

Mountain Dew Takes Geography 101

In June, Mountain Dew launched their “Dewnited States” campaign art put Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as part of Wisconsin and got called out by the Upper Peninsula’s Twitter (run by Bugsy Sailor who  owns Upper pininsula Supply Co.).

MD decided to actually take him up on the dare and not only do a custom UP bottle, but also an activation at his store and at the UP State Fair where attendees could dunk MD employees into a dunk tank and get free MD and swag.

Why its hot:

A great example of a brand taking a mistake in a campaign and creating a unique customer experience and activation and shifted the conversation from a L to a W.

Four Loko teases a hard seltzer with almost triple the alcohol content of White Claw as booze makers battle to win over ‘bros’

Four Loko appears to be entering the battle to become the drink of choice for the modern “bro” with a new hard seltzer.

On Tuesday, Four Loko posted images on Twitter and Instagram showing a Four Loko seltzer labeled the “hardest seltzer in the universe,” with 14% alcohol by volume. For comparison, White Claw has an ABV of 5%.

“Hard Seltzers ran so we could fly,” the caption reads.

The hard-seltzer business is booming, with sales increasing by more than 200% over the past year, according to Nielsen. Over the Fourth of July weekend, the drink was the top-growing segment in the beer category.

Hard-seltzer-loving bros have been crucial to the beverage’s success, Business Insider’s Bethany Biron reported.

“Throw a dart at my fraternity composite, and you’ll find a guy who’s into hard seltzer,” a college junior and fraternity member told Biron.

White Claw — owned by the private company Mark Anthony, which also operates Mike’s Hard Lemonade — currently dominates, with about 50% of hard-seltzer market share. But other companies are eager to cash in on those seeking hard seltzer with higher ABVs, especially as younger drinkers ditch beer.

This week, Natural Light and PBR announced their own hard seltzers. Natural Light’s hard seltzer is 6% ABV, while PBR’s is 8% ABV.Four Loko seltzer’s 14% ABV would be the highest in the increasingly crowded market. Four Loko, owned by the Chicago alcoholic-beverage company Phusion Projects, did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for further information about the drink.

Why it’s Hot
Picking up on trends we talked about a few weeks ago, this hard seltzer business is somehow picking up even more steam, and getting more ridiculous.

An Old Brand Learns a New Trick Ahead of Prime Day

Amazon is estimated to have pulled in $6-7 billion this year from its 5th annual “Prime Day”, but the e-commerce giant wasn’t the only brand to score big from one of the biggest spending occasions of the year.

Image result for prime day

Amazon’s recommendation algorithm has made it easy to discover and find products you never knew you needed; however, an amazing experience for the user doesn’t always translate to positive outcomes for competing brands. When you buy a product on Amazon, the brand you choose will be the brand Amazon’s Alexa recommends when you make your next purchase within that category. This repeat-buy mechanism poses a challenge to brands that want to become a habitual purchase.

In an effort to “hack” Prime Day, Cheerios offered a free family-size box of Honey Nut Cheerios to any Amazon shopper who spent more than $40 on Amazon Pantry. In addition to the box of cereal, customers received $10 off their order. The offer automatically created a Cheerios shopping history for millions of Amazon Prime shoppers, infiltrating Amazon’s recommendation algorithm and moving Cheerios to number one in the cereal category.

The Results? Cheerios became the #1 grocery item on Prime Day and Y-O-Y sales of Honey Nut Cheerios increased by 64%compared with the week before the activation. The campaign also claims that 80% of those who bought Cheerios in July were new to the brand.

Why it’s hot? More households are adopting voice assistants like Alexa and Google and with that, voice-assisted shopping is on the rise. Although voice-assisted shopping is still far from replacing online shopping,  brands need to get creative and test the limits of these platforms in order to capitalize on the voice-assisted retail boom.

Cheerio’s clever Alexa “hack” not only served as a mass-sampling campaign, but also ensured future purchases.
Source: Contagious

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Expands “Love Notes” to Even More Children

Last year, the Kellogg cereal brand teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to create specialized “Love Notes” with phrases like “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots” written in braille for parents to share with children who are blind. Now Rice Krispies is continuing its mission with a new kind of love note, one designed with children living with autism or on the autism spectrum.

Since not every child communicates love through words, the cereal company partnered with Autism Speaks to create touch-and-feel sensory “Love Notes” so children can actually feel love and support as they transition back to school. The four “lightly reusable” stickers come in a range of supposedly calming colors and different textures, including fleece, faux fur, satin, and velour for sensory-focused kids to feel the love through a tactile experience.

Why it’s hot:
Kellogg’s expansion of its “Love Notes” write-able wrappers demonstrates the brand’s commitment to all parents – providing an otherwise under served audience (parents with children with autism and children who are blind) – helping them provide their children with love and support anywhere they are. They found a simple way to make love notes meaningful to any child.

Sources: Fast Company, Kellogg’s Love Notes

Print Gets Targeted

Hearst is beginning to roll out MagMatch, a service that translates online behaviors into targeted print ads.

By tracking what readers are doing online, MagMatch will allow Hearst to create personalized ads for subscribers of its magazines. For example, if a Marie Claire subscriber’s online behaviors (searching, reading, clicking on ‘buy’ buttons) suggest an interest in a particular beauty product, Hearst could work with the brand of that product to deliver a targeted ad that appears in that reader’s next issue of Marie Claire.

For subscribed readers, that could look like an ad that addresses them by their name, which is the route that skincare company StriVectin took in the latest issue of Elle as the first brand to buy into the ad offering. The ad (shown above) includes a brief message from Elle and is addressed to the magazine subscriber alongside a picture of StriVectin spokeswoman Lauren Hutton.

Subscribers don’t even need to be logged onto the magazines’ sites for Hearst to capture their first-party data: the company anonymously matches their behavior using third parties.

Why it’s Hot:

Print has come under fire for its lack of targeting capabilities for decades, but will this new tool be enough? While it’s undeniably a step up from the print of the past, these new ads can only be targeted to subscribers, which is a dwindling community. Plus, the extensive lead time for print means people could be served ads for a product they were looking at months prior. For new product releases in specific categories (ex. beauty), however, this tool could be helpful.

Source: Contagious, Adweek

 

JCPenney Partners with thredUP in New Business Model Expansion

Image result for thredup
ARTICLE LINK

In 1999, our supreme leader, Jeff Bezos suggested that physical storefronts would survive only if they could provide at least one of two core features: entertainment value or immediate convenience. (Business Insider)

BUT this article is about a third need, likely born or emboldened by social media – the growing demand for unique (Hello streetwear) or customized (Ex. AE Studio) items. Something thrift shopping provides, along with the entertaining thrill of the hunt, all with an eco-friendly twist (separate conversation). 

So here we are in the midst of the retail apocalypse (for some – shout out TJ Maxx) and many are trying to figure out how to survive.  

I don’t personally believe this alone (or anything) will save JCPenney, but at this point, it’s worth a try…

The Ethical Tightrope of Targeted Ads

I’m one of three people on MRM’s Programmatic team. Not a lot of people understand exactly what we do or how we do it, but usually what I tell people who ask is:

You know how you’ll have a dream about a specific product and then you wake up and see an ad for it? It’s my job to show you that ad.

On the Programmatic team we build campaigns with very specific parameters set to buy ad space on websites all across the internet, in real-time, without the need for setting up  private deals with those publishers. We utilize audience data (which we get from Google and about a million other data providers) to find the people most likely to engage with our clients’ ads. So, for the GRE we’ll target recent grads, webpages that contain the word “MBA” or “Career” (and thousands of related keywords), etc. For Latuda, we may want to target people who are up late at night playing video games and eating food, as these activities can go hand-in-hand with bipolar depression.

It gets much more granular than that “in the field.” This infinite complexity creates a gap between the Programmatic traders and the people seeing the ads. The general public doesn’t fully understand why they’re seeing ads that are so damn relevant to them, and that’s no accident. While we on the Programmatic team use our powers for good, it’s easy to abuse. As uncovered in the investigation into Russian election hacking, we know that Russia went and used programmatic channels to target very specific demographics and show them what’s essentially propaganda disguised as ads and Facebook posts. This helped weaken some centrists’ more liberal views and strengthen most conservative viewpoints to sway voters toward the right. This isn’t all they did, but this is what’s pertinent to this article.

To shrink this gap in understanding between the advertiser and the consumer (and thereby increase people’s understanding of what data is collected), the New York Times bought their own audience lists and served ads to people all over the internet. Not to get them to subscribe to NYTimes.com, but also to show them what kind of data is out there on you and me. The Times’ ads looked like this:

Image result for nyt this ad thinks

The live ads don’t have the blue text at the bottom, but that is there to show how we use disparate data points to uncover larger psychological and sociological trends. The ads can get even more drilled down, like this one:

Image result for nyt targeted ads

Each of these blue explanations is derived from audience data that’s bought and sold billions of times every day on the Open Exchange, which can be thought of like eBay for ads all over the internet. New York Times bought ad space and audience data from data providers like Acxiom (owned by our own parent company IPG). Here’s an example of what Acxiom (and your friendly neighborhood Programmatic team) does:

Acxiom…makes predictions by comparing specific people to a much larger group. For example, it might predict whether you’ll buy an S.U.V. by looking at people who did buy S.U.V.s, then checking whether you live in a similar region, or whether you’re around the same age and share similar interests. If you’re similar, they’ll put you in a bucket that says you’re highly likely to buy an S.U.V.

For us, a lot of that highly personal audience data is anonymized (so no, I don’t know if you personally are about to buy an SUV even though I can show you SUV ads).

In the title, I refer to my own industry, and indeed my own job, as an “ethical tightrope.” The reason behind this is what makes this subject so hot. At MRM we use our data to inspire people to get their Master’s degrees (GRE), come to America (TOEFL), get life insurance (AAA), and improve their mental health (Latuda). We target people who can be helped best by our ads not just because it makes our KPIs look better, but because that’s the entire point of advertising; showing people how they can improve their lives. What NYTimes did that’s so hot is show the public how easily we can find out personal information about them based on seemingly innocuous points of data. And that this is just the beginning.

You might not be able to fully stop publishers from getting your data, but at least you know a little more of how it works, and why Programmatic is set to become a $69 billion industry by next year.Image result for programmatic ad spend over time

If that’s not hot as hell, I don’t know what is!

//

Source

Nike’s New Subscription “Club” for Kids

The latest entrant to the world of subscription boxes is Nike Adventure Club – a sneaker service for kids. Parents of kids aged two to ten years old know the struggle — kids’ feet are continually growing so new shoes are seemingly always needed, but fitting in sneaker shopping in busy schedules and getting kids to make a selection is not a fun process. The subscription service aims to solve this pain point with over 100 sneaker styles that will come straight to customers’ doors.

Nike Adventure Club 2

The service will come in three tiers–ranging from four pairs of sneakers a year to twelve pairs a year. If customers like the shoes, they keep them. When they’re ready for new shoes, they can send back the old pair and Nike will donate or recycle the returned shoes.

Nike Adventure Club 2

True to the lifestyle brand, Nike Adventure Club is about more than shoes. It’s also an exclusive experience parents and kids can share through curated outdoor games and activities each month. KaBoom, a nonprofit focused on encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle for kids, has partnered with Nike on crafting these activities.

Why It’s Hot

The Nike Adventure Club isn’t just another novelty subscription box — it solves a real need for parents and their growing children.

Source

Eco-Friendly Homes (For Real)

Eco-friendly, element-resistant, and cost-effective homes are coming soon (maybe). A startup called Geoship has conceptualized homes that are element resistant, energy efficient, non-toxic, and basically zero-waste producing homes made out of bioceramic materials.

But the concept goes beyond the physical home. Affordability is a major concern for the company, so they’re proposing community land trusts where groups of people will be able to design their own communities on one plot of land rather than the traditional one home land ownership model.

Part of the concept is creating a cooperative ownership model where customers will end up owning 30% to 70% of the company. But as great as this sounds, the company is still fundraising for the first production plant, estimating at least 2 years before anything is actually made.

At the bottom of their website, they have explanations of what they mean by “efficient” “non-toxic,” etc.

Example: “By “Efficient” we mean bioceramic geodesic homes will save you money. Turnkey price estimates (including land, delivery, installation, and finishing touches) for Geoship homes range from $55,000 for a tiny home, to $250,000 for a large home. In many cases this will be at least a 50% reduction in mortgage and utility bills compared to a conventional home. We are confident that our technology enables the leap onto a new affordability curve, but pricing will not be set until production begins. Geoship villages will optionally include solar panels, battery packs, and passive solar heating/cooling to reduce energy bills.”

Why it’s hot:

The idea in and of itself is hot because 1. it sounds almost too good to be true 2. it kind of gives off Fyre Fest energy and 3. nothing has actually been built, but I thought a particularly interesting part of this is was it’s newest partner, Zappos. Historically, retail companies haven’t been leading eco-tech conversations, but Zappos is actually the first brand to hop on board with their initiative of creating a “village” of these domes to house some of the homeless population in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to not only see if this works, but also if they will start flooding the housing market.

You can read more on the Geoship website and this Fast Co. article.

Is Uber having an identity crisis?

Uber Wants to Sell You Train Tickets. And Be Your Bus Service, Too.
The ride-hailing company, craving growth, is looking to public transit for riders and revenue. Cities aren’t sure whether to welcome it.

The public transit ticket option in Uber’s app is denoted by a train icon. Riders in Denver can also use the app to obtain train and bus schedule information.

In an April NYTimes article, Uber wanted people to view its ride-sharing business as the foundation for a larger “platform” spanning multiple transportation industries.

And now, Uber is no longer just talking the talk. The company is partnering with municipalities around the world to tap its network of drivers to provide rides in areas that do not have reliable bus routes, provide access to mass transit tickets within the app and transport people with disabilities. Cities will often subsidize the rides so that passengers pay what amounts to a bus fare rather than a typical Uber fee.

Why it’s hot:
Uber has said it wants to be the Amazon of its vertical and that cars are to Uber as books were to the retail giant. With this new initiative, it continues its evolution from a ride platform to a partner for cities in dire need of ramping up their public transportation systems, while at the same time continuing its Amazonian goal that initially started with UberEats.

Source: New York Times

Disney’s new Streaming Service

Disney recently announced it’s new streaming offering – and it’s pretty competitive.
It combines Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month.

The success of the package is interesting when you consider two interesting statistics.
1. 47% of Consumers Think There Are Too Many Streaming Services to Manage
2. The average American subscriber watches 3.4 services ($8.53 each)

Even with 3.4 subscriptions, the monthly total still comes in substantially lower than most cable packages – so the question is, will people put up with feeling overwhelmed and subscribe to one more?  If not what does Disney need to do?

Why it’s hot:
This is a big moment in the battle for streaming eyeballs and important to keep an eye out for as advertisers.

What happens in Vegas shouldn’t always stay in Vegas

The Las Vegas City Council recently piloted a program and allowed parking violators to donate school supplies instead of paying a monetary fine. The temporary program operated from June until mid-July. Parking ticket holders could choose to clear their fine by supplying items including pens, pencils, post-its and rulers to the Teachers Exchange nonprofit within 30 days of receiving their ticket.

Why it’s hot: Making paying fines less painful at the same time encouraging generosity. The program also allowed parking fines to make big impacts where it’s needed.

Source

The World’s Worst UI

A well-designed user interface requires a clear understanding of the end user, easily guiding them toward the information they’re looking for without having to think about the actual interface at all. This is generally done by using universally understood design rules that are considered “best practice” and that provide visual cues toward function. So what happens when the design patterns to which we’re accustomed are turned on their head?

Antwerp, Belgium-based design firm Bagaar did just that by developing User Inyerface, a website that asks the user to complete a series of forms while using “an interface that doesn’t want to please you. An interface that has no clue and no rules.”

ll-caps plain text? That’s a link. Be sure to uncheck the terms and conditions checkbox in order to accept them. And that large button in the middle of the screen isn’t to go to the next page. It’s to cancel.

The task is simple: complete the forms as fast as you can. It might suck the life out of you, but it is possible if you simply look and forget everything you have grown accustomed to.

Why its hot

User Inyerface shows the importance of strong user experience and interaction design, even in something as simple as the word inside a button.

Google launches ‘Live View’ AR walking directions for Google Maps

Google is launching a beta of its augmented reality walking directions feature for Google Maps.

Originally revealed earlier this year, Google Maps’ augmented reality feature has been available in an early alpha mode to both Google Pixel users and to Google Maps Local Guides, but starting today it’ll be rolling out to everyone,.

Just tap on any location nearby in Maps, tap the “Directions” button and then navigate to “Walking,” then tap“Live View” which should appear near the bottom of the screen.

The Live View feature isn’t designed with the idea that you’ll hold up your phone continually as you walk — instead, in provides quick, easy and super-useful orientation by showing you arrows and big, readable street markers overlaid on the real scene in front of you. That makes it much, much easier to orient yourself in unfamiliar settings, which is hugely beneficial when traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Seems like a good use of AR for actual utility and building on existing ecosystem.

 

Domino’s v. Disability

In 2016, Guillermo Robles, a visually impaired man, sued Domino’s Pizza because their website and app were not compatible with screen-reading software, making online delivery impossible. Robles’s lawyers argued that this violated the American Disability Act (ADA), which requires that “places of public accommodation” be accessible. After the case was initially dismissed by a district court because of a lack of Justice Department guidelines, a federal appeals court ruled in Robles’s favor.

Now Domino’s is appealing the decision, asking the Supreme Court to decide that it does not have a legal obligation to follow the ADA online. The case pits a company defined by delivery against the very customers who need it most.

Illustration for article titled Domino's Could Fuck Up the Internet for People With Disabilities Because They Won't Just Fix Their Website

Why it’s hot

At stake is the future of user experience. If courts decide that the American Disability Act extends to the internet, then designers may be legally required to accommodate all users on all projects that accommodate the public.

See the full Gizmodo article here.

Saving the Early Web

Software becomes obsolete, companies that host websites go out of business, people stop paying for domain names – history is being erased, but some brave crusaders are ensuring it remains documented. Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied are on a quest to preserve the early internet. And although it seems like an easy way to mock the early web, their efforts are focused on maintaining an archive as a way to learn how to make the internet better.

original url http://www.geocities.com/nelly_ville_21/ last modified 2003-03-27 22:06:24original url http://www.geocities.com/we_are_brave/ last modified 2003-03-27 19:10:11Source: https://oneterabyteofkilobyteage.tumblr.com/

What started as an archive of what not to do online is slowly becoming a springboard for exploring new ways of experiencing the internet. With design, best practices and cookie-cutter web templates (wix, et al.) the internet has become somewhat of a sterile environment. Like a refined art gallery. And although user experience has improved vastly, much has been lost in the sterilization of the internet.

Today, platforms limit what you can post, and unless you are a developer you are forced into uniformity. But beyond that, the concept that the world wide web was made by individuals and accessible to all is fading. The modern internet is lacking in personality.

But we’re slowly seeing the early web aesthetic having comeback, slowly but surely. Websites are creeping up that embrace pixelated gifs and rainbow comic sans…


Official Captain Marvel Website: https://www.marvel.com/captainmarvel/

Official Bojack Horseman Website: http://www.bojackhorseman.com/

Why It’s Hot: As a digital agency, we should focus on ensuring best in class experiences for users, but should also be open to pushing the boundaries of what is conventional and look into the past for inspiration.

Weed Gets A Museum

Weed, ganja, grass, herb, whatever you call it, has had a multi-century smear campaign leveled against it, but its time in the golden spotlight of acceptability is nigh.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in key states across the country, cannabis is poised for its big-business debut. And those investing in weed today hope it will become as big as Budweiser. A new kind of bud! (I couldn’t help myself.)

But getting to those household-name numbers requires normalizing a substance that’s historically been presented as a tool of the devil to lure hapless souls into eternal hellfire – or at least make them lazy and braindead – or worse, jam-band groupies!

Devil's Harvest marijuana propoganda

What better way to normalize and educate than by pairing weed with one of our most distinguished institutions of learning and culture: the museum? It’s propaganda for the good guys!

Weedmaps, the Seamless/Yelp/Google Maps of cannabis, has employed the Museum Of (Interesting Thing That Doesn’t Belong In A Regular Museum trend to help establish itself as the thought leader in the cannabis space and break down misconceptions about weed in the process.

Why it’s hot

1. Weedmaps is mainstreaming marijuana by putting its product in the same arena as other very legit things found in museums, such as history, science and art. Duchamp would be proud.

2. Never are you more primed to learn than when you’re immersed in an experience.

3. Most people attending the museum are probably already advocates for weed legalization. This will give them fuel and facts to spread the word more.

Source: Fast Company

Your Brain, and how we will tap into it.

How easy will journey/relationship maps be with this new Facebook mind reader?

Facebook is funding and assisting in a University of California San Francisco study aimed at giving people with serious brain injuries the chance to type words with only their minds. The research is showing real results and promise. Facebook hopes to use the underlying technology as a basis for a new brain-computer input mode for augmented-reality glasses that you wear all day.

If Facebook’s researchers can get their headset to accurately detect which neutrons are firing, they may be able to use algorithms based on the USCF research to map neurons to specific letters, then words the user is thinking of.

Facebook Envisions AR GLasses that read your thoughts isn’t just a dream

This is not the first time someone tries to map out a brain and how we process speech though! Here is a podcast about it here -> Freakonomics podcast on how your brain tells stories.

And here is a cool interactive 3-D Semantic Map that the Gallant institute created after creating the brain map that the podcast above details. Gallant Lab 3D Brain

Why it’s hot.

Besides being a cool look into what your brain does in your skull all the time. Ever since you were born. that you don’t have to put an ounce of energy into?

It brings the cliche, living in your own world, to reality. And because there are so many questions we can ask about the future, what that means for our brands, or about language and communication in general.

Weightless living, only connecting.

Questions: How much more personal do our messaging have to be to match this sort of personal 24/7 virtual reality? In how many ways do/can we understand language and meaning? What comes first the language or the meaning?- If you think its meaning, then what happens when you hear a word you don’t know? -If you think its language, what did you naturally feel for a caretaker before you knew the word for it? What would life be like if we could communicate via telepathy -can we communicate solely via meaning? If we could communicate only via meaning, would there ever be arguments? Will there be a group telepathy meeting?

And many more.

 

Doing it for the Gram: Darwin Awards Edition

We all do it for the gram. But how far is too far. Instragram influencers have been falling ill after swimming in a lake that looks beautiful… but is actually toxic sludge.

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Toxic ⚠️

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#01

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“Spanish news outlet Publico reported multiple Instagram influencers were recently hospitalized due to rashes and digestive issues after entering the water.

One Instagram influencer told Publico they began vomiting and developed a rash that lasted for two weeks after entering the water for a photo.

Another influencer said they had to be hospitalized for “damage to the skin and digestive system.”

However, another tourist said that despite getting a nasty rash, “the picture was worth it.”

See the geo-tag… there are children there! 

Oh and the viral news of the lake’s toxicity… has made the spot even more popular.

WHY ITS HOT? 

We’ve heard stories about people falling off cliffs or dying in freak selfie accidents. This shows the way the world will bend to create the social media illusion of a curated life…. even if that pristine selfie is full of WW2 mining chemicals.

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/instagram-influencers-getting-sick-swimming-145600523.html