the National Memorial for Peace and Justice

The first memorial for the victims of white supremacy opened in Montgomery, Alabama at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial commemorates the more than 4,000 black people who were lynched. The adjoining museum, The Legacy Museum tells the stories of racial inequality from slavery to lynching to Jim Crow to today’s era of mass incarceration.

“The memorial itself is composed of 800 six-foot steel plinths, suspended from the ceiling of a large covered walkway. Each gravestone-like column represents the counties in the United States where a racially motivated lynching took place, with the names of those who were murdered engraved into the steel. The concrete floor below them slopes downward. They begin at eye level, but as you begin to make your way through the memorial your eye is forced up–just like the spectators from decades ago who were complicit in perpetuating these acts of racial terrorism, as the New York Times describes.”

Why It’s Hot: We are in a time where we are changing the way we memorialize history. More importantly, previously un-prioritized histories are being highlighted and confronted.


Choosing sides in the era of hashtag activism

It’s not new, but the trend is growing – brands are increasingly being held to account for their ties to politicians, celebrities and other influencers, networks and publishers. Parkland school shooting victim David Hogg, for example, sparked a social media boycott movement that compelled 24 brands (and counting) to drop their advertising support for Laura Ingraham’s program on Fox News after she personally attacked him on-air. (They included such household names as AT&T, Hulu, Wayfair and Bayer). Even though it was simply a matter of re-allocating broadcast placements, brands were forced to take a look at the situation and decide in a public-facing way which side they were on, ethically and financially. And we see it over and over – audiences take to social media to demand an apology, an action, or a comment from brands as a result of events and connections far outside the brand’s scope of control. And the consequences of mishandling the response (Starbucks?) can amplify the scrutiny.

This digital transformation article from Adweek offers a primer on crisis communications, and how they go deeper than simply crafting the right message, along with some great examples of brands engaging in the conversation and clearly expressing their stances (complete with Gen Z generalizations!):

“Traditional brands can no longer sit on their hands and allow well-scripted corporate statements to shape who they are,” says Tripp Donnelly, CEO of digital reputation management firm REQ. “They have to be dynamic and understand they’re talking to multiple generations of people.”

Why it’s hot: Brands who may not think they have anything to worry about should consider that they very likely may find themselves unwittingly sucked into a moment where their current and future customers are looking for a transparent, purpose-driven response. Now is a good time to plan.

Good Charts Are Like Good Jokes

They don’t have to be explained.

April 26th is International Chart Day. You may not have heard of it as it’s being celebrated for the first time this year.

A day-long celebration was scheduled for Thursday. The event and the day are sponsored by Tumblr and the Society for news and design in collaboration with the office of U.S. Rep Mark Takano.

What is the purpose of ICD?

Although charts and other information graphics are important tools for making complex information simple, they are very often be misinterpreted. Whether that’s due to conveying false or misleading information or being too complicated, the goal of the day is to help people become better data, information, and news consumers.

To this end, they shall:

1. Celebrate charts and infographics of all types;
2. Help the public understand how to read charts and gain useful insights from them;
3. Help chart makers of all levels understand the necessary components of a truthful chart;
4. Encourage the wider usage and adoption of charts;
5. Combat the spread of fake news by making the public smarter consumers of information.

Check out the website, where you can see the full manifesto. Below, their resolution:

 Have a suggestion for the wording of the resolution? We invite your input. Congressman Mark Takano will introduce a resolution declaring April 26 as “International Chart Day,” and deliver a speech on the House floor about the importance and history of charts. Other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will be encouraged to participate.

Also, check out this video which really explains the problem the chart day organizers are trying to combat:


Why it’s hot: 

Aside from being data visualization nerds’ dream come true, it brings light to misinformation in a fun new informative way.



How Sweetgreen helped transform a corner store in a food desert

Sweetgreen has spent the last 8 months helping a family-owned liquor store in South LA reinvent itself as a healthy food market.

The original owner’s daughter, Kelli Jackson, took over, and decided she had the opportunity to serve as a beacon for healthy food options in what is otherwise a “food desert.” With the nearest grocery store over a mile away, access to fruits and vegetables for local families was severely lacking.

Working with the LA Food Policy Council, Jackson’s store was deemed appropriate for a full transformation. That’s where Sweetgreen came on board to help. Working side-by-side, they assisted with rebranding and in-store signage (they removed the giant “Liquor” sign out front, and took down the displays that previously drew all your attention to beer). Their designers worked with Jackson on a new visual identity and renderings of the space. They even helped with with sourcing and pricing strategy, and how to track waste and spoilage. Now, the most visible and prominent items are the display of healthy produce.

The owner sees her market as a safe space for kids in the community, adding tables where they can hang out, and hopes to make it a venue for art exhibitions and performances in a community where such spaces are lacking.


We often see major food chains putting family-owned small businesses out of business rather than making a difference in communities, and Sweetgreen is setting a new example. This also demonstrates the power of design transforming how people shop and engage in public spaces. Kelli Jackson may have invented a new breed of corner store.


The Golden State Killer and Your DNA

In an astonishing bit of work, police were able to track down the man they suspect of being the Golden State Killer after matching his DNA with the DNA of distant relatives thanks to a commercial genetics testing company. As StatNews reports:

Investigators took DNA collected years ago from one of the crime scenes and submitted it in some form to one or more websites that have built up a vast database of consumer genetic information.


The results led law enforcement to the suspected killer’s distant relatives, who were presumably among the millions of consumers who have paid up and mailed in a spit kit to track down long-lost family members, learn more about their ancestry, or gauge their risk for medical conditions. That created a pool of potential suspects under the same family tree that investigators eventually narrowed down to 72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, the Sacramento Bee and other news outlets reported.

Genetic testing companies 23andMe, MyHeritage, and Ancestry have all denied they were the company involved in the investigation.

The case of the Golden State Killer has been in the news a lot lately. Written by the late Michelle McNamara, the book was finished after her death and her husband, Patton Oswalt, has spent months promoting its release.

Privacy advocates have long been concerned that consumers are unaware that by submitting their DNA to these companies they are agreeing to let the companies share their DNA with law enforcement. There is also concern that the imperfect tests could put innocent people at risk. All the major commercial genetic testing companies’ policies state they will turn over your DNA to law enforcement when required to with a subpoena or warrant.

Why its hot

For all the discussions around privacy on social media, that’s still just a bunch of “likes” and “shares;” some companies actually own what makes you…YOU. Obviously solving cold cases is extremely important, and DNA evidence regularly helps do just that. But mistakes can be made and companies like Ancestry are not trained law enforcement professionals. In this case, the investigators took DNA from a crime scene and basically asked a company if it matched anyone on record, and it did. From there, law enforcement could probably obtain a warrant. But is it unethical for a company to store your DNA results after your business with them is concluded, and then give your DNA away to some other entity? And if so, is there a line to be drawn somewhere?

Too many men

In China and India combined, men outnumber women by 70 million, mainly due to a couple reasons: cultural preference, government policy and modern medical technology.

And the consequences are severe, including:

  • Epidemic of loneliness, mental health
  •  Imbalanced labor market
  • Increased savings rates
  • Decreased consumption
  • Artificial inflation (housing)
  • Increased crime rate (trafficking, prostitution)

In China alone, there are about 34 million more men than women, that’s almost the entire population of California or Poland. It is common for men to pay “bride price” to prospective parents-in-law to gain approval of engagement and marriage. Due to the gender imbalance, the price has gone from a few hundred dollars a decade a go to nearly $30K in some parts of China.

Some others start to “import” brides from near by Asian countries, paying up to $8K for marriage tours to travel abroad and find wives.

Why it’s hot: Potentially, these 70 million men might never get married or have a family, and might need to live and take care of themselves. Brands (CPG, Healthcare) should think about the implications and impacts it has on them.

Source: The Washington Post

All Blacks vs. Lions at the airport

The sponsors of the New Zealand All Blacks and British & Irish Lions rugby teams turned the display advertising at Auckland airport into a battle for territory between opposing fans.

The All Black’s sponsor, Steinlager created the Battle For Territory activation to boost the brand’s profile during the British & Irish Lions’ six-week tour of New Zealand.

Steinlager bought all 65 digital display screens in Auckland airport and equipped each with image recognition software that could identify whether the person standing in front of it supported Britain or New Zealand. The lager brand then invited Guinness, the official sponsor of the British & Irish Lions, to fight for possession of these boards.

If a fan dressed in team colours stood in front of one of the displays, the image recognition software would register their presence and show an ad from their team’s sponsor. An opposing fan could then stand in front of the same display to claim it back for their team.

Why it’s hot?

The idea was the result of a simple truth: fans spend more time at airports traveling to different games than at the stadium itself

Source: Guinness

the hills walls are alive…

The latest innovation to come out of the Disney Research / Carnegie Mellon partnership would basically move sensors into the very structures around us to enable interaction.

As they say, they’ve created Smart Walls that “function as a gigantic trackpad, sensing a user and their movements. Rather than using a camera to locate a user and track their movement, as other systems do, this system relies on a grid of “large electrodes” covered in a layer of water-based paint that conducts electricity. 

The result: a wall so smart, it could play a game of vertical Twister with you, and also tell if you were cheating. It can even sense if you’re holding a hair dryer really close to it through electromagnetic resonance…users could play video games by using different poses to control them, change the channel on their TV with a wave of their arm, or slap the wall directly to turn off the lights, no need for light switches.”

Why It’s Hot:

Previously, we’ve relied on hardware to do the kind of sensing, responding, and controlling that the Smart Wall concept would. Things like Microsoft Kinect, or controlling our lights through Philips Hue on our smartphone. Having this capability fade into the background could basically allow us to control our spaces as if by magic.


AI Software Predicts Heart Attacks During 911 Calls

An AI program currently in use in Copenhagen, Denmark is set for wider rollout after a series of successful initial testing. The software, called Corti, listens in on emergency calls and detects common heart attack cues such as breathing patterns, tone of voice, and background noises. It then gives the call dispatcher recommendations in real time of how to proceed.

The phone dispatchers in Copenhagen can recognize cardiac arrest from phone calls around 73% of the time; Corti can improve that rate to up to 95% accuracy. This is key because when dealing with someone going into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, time is of the essence–the chance of survival decreases about 10% each minute, so getting to a diagnosis quickly can literally save lives. Making that diagnosis can be challenging for dispatchers, who have to make sense of symptoms that are being relayed by a panicked friend or relative, often competing with a lot of background noise (sirens, yelling, etc) as well.

In one example, when the platform was in testing, it recognized that a man who had fallen off a roof was in cardiac arrest. The dispatcher on the phone deduced that the man had broken his back from the fall, so they gave instructions to the relative on the phone as though the man were otherwise stable. But the AI recognized because of the man’s breathing patterns that he had suffered cardiac arrest and fallen as a result. Since the software was in testing only, it did not alert the dispatcher, and unfortunately the paramedics were unable to revive him. But had the software been able to intervene, it could have alerted the dispatcher, who could have then given CPR instructions to a bystander, better prepared the first responders, instructed someone to find an automated defibrillator, etc.

Expanded tests will take place in four sites across Europe from September 2018 to April 2019, and the startup will soon announce their expansion plans in America as well.

Why It’s Hot: AI in medicine is not new. What about emergency medicine? Are we ready to let AI into our darkest and most fearful moments? In moments of panic, will we trust machines more or less than humans?

Learn More: Fast Company

Meet Tess: the mental health chatbot

If you’re experiencing a panic attack in the middle of the day or want to vent or need to talk things out before going to sleep, you can connect with Tess the mental health chatbot through an instant-messaging app such as Facebook Messenger (or, if you don’t have an internet connection, just text a phone number).

Tess is the the brainchild of Michiel Rauws, the founder of X2 AI, an artificial-intelligence startup in Silicon Valley. The company’s mission is to use AI to provide affordable and on-demand mental health support.

Tess mental health chatbot

A Canadian non-profit that primarily delivers health care to people in their own homes, Saint Elizabeth recently approved Tess as a part of its caregiver in the workplace program and will be offering the chatbot as a free service for staffers.

To provide caregivers with appropriate coping mechanisms, Tess first needed to learn about their emotional needs. In her month-long pilot with the facility, she exchanged over 12,000 text messages with 34 Saint Elizabeth employees. The personal support workers, nurses and therapists that helped train Tess would talk to her about what their week was like, if they lost a patient, what kind of things were troubling them at home – things you might tell your therapist. If Tess gave them a response that wasn’t helpful, they would tell her, and she would remember her mistake. Then her algorithm would correct itself to provide a better reply for next time.

Read more: The Guardian

Why It’s Hot
While the accessibility of support like this is appealing, Tess raises the usual questions of mis-use and ‘mistakes’.

Target Announces ‘Drive Up’ Service

Target announced that it will introduce drive-up service to hundreds of its stores in an attempt to make brick-and-mortar experience as convenient as online shopping. Customers place their order using the Target app and wait in a designated parking space outside of the store. Employees will then hand-deliver the purchases, which are available about two hours after the order is placed.

Stores near the company’s headquarters of Minneapolis adopted the service this past fall. They are not the only brick-and-mortar to try this  — about a year ago, Amazon opened two grocery stores with ‘curbside pickup’ in Seattle, and Walmart began testing an automated kiosk that allowed customers to place their order pull up to retrieve it. Even Walmart implementing their system for employees to drive you your groceries, or Amazon implementing their store with no check out line can fall under this category. By the end of the year, Target “hopes to implement the service in a thousand more stores across the country.”

Why it’s hot: While this isn’t necessarily new and hot, it is yet another example of brick and mortar trying to offer their customers seamless experiences.

Source: PSFK

Ziggy invades the subways

Spotify and the MTA have joined forces by creating a David Bowie subway takeover at the Broadway/Lafayette station in NYC as a way to promote the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.


In addition to the various visual elements, the MTA came through with 5 different David Bowie metrocards sold at the station; 250,000 of them, to be exact.


My wife managed to snag 2 different designs after waiting in line for over 1.5 hrs on Saturday (!!!):


Why It’s Hot:

Books like The End of Advertising remind us that traditional advertising methods are not only played out, they can be intrusive and irritating. When brands think of alternate ways to advertise their brand, it can be a lot of fun.


Consumers will pay more for a better experience

In a new study by PwC, titled “Experience Is Everything,” they found that many customers see a tremendous value in a quality customer experience and will pay a premium for it.

Some of the interesting stats:

  • 42% said they would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience
  • 52% would pay more for a speedy and efficient customer experience
  • 73% said a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties
  • 46% would do business elsewhere if employees lacked knowledge to help them
  • 32% would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience
  • 44% believe employees understand their needs well

So what are people willing to pay for a truly positive customer experience? The price premium is up to 16% for products and services.

Why it’s hot:

We all know how important a great customer experience is, but this further quantifies the impact on a company’s bottom line if they cannot meet customers’ high expectations. But if a company is able to invest in their processes, employees, etc. to deliver a great experience, they’ll see strong returns.

Read more:


Spotify to Raise Prices in Norway in Test of Customer Loyalty

Spotify Technology SA plans to start raising prices in Norway next month, a small-market test that may foreshadow increases for its global listeners later. Prices for new customers will go up by 10 percent in May, and extend to existing users in July, the company said. The increase will apply to all three of Spotify’s paid offerings in the country — the standard subscription, a student plan and a family plan.

 “In order to meet market demands and conditions, while continuing to offer a great personalized service, Spotify will be increasing the price of our premium subscription in Norway,” the company said in a statement. Prices in the U.S. range from $5 to $15 a month.
 After going public earlier this month, Spotify is eager to prove to investors that it has a path to profitability. The company operates at a loss due to high royalty payments to the music industry, costs that have hobbled rivals Pandora Media Inc. and Deezer. Raising prices represents a way to boost sales and margins without seeking concessions from the recording industry. Netflix Inc., another online service with high costs and low margins, has employed price increases to great effect over the past couple years. The company has boosted its average subscriber price by more than 12 percent in the past year.
Why it’s Hot
Lack of loyalty to specific brands is trend we are seeing across industries. Since Spotify’s discounting strategy is what hooked many users initially, it will be interesting to see the outcome of this test and understand the implications of price on loyalty. Stay tuned!

Creepy Crawly

The optical illusion stands at 3.5 meters high, running right to you. The artist, Sergio, painted it in an abandoned building after creating the 3D render in his studio. Though he wouldn’t spill his secrets on the web, he still has people in awe at the quality of his work. But no worries, it won’t actually start crawling right towards you.

Why it’s hot:
Rather than being hot, I think it’s super cool.



Snapchat Enables Shopping Via AR

The last few years have been tough for Snapchat. They’ve officially lost the cosign from Rihanna and it’s been an uphill battle to gain investors. This combination of losses has lead them to a new ad offering for brands: augmented reality shopping ads. 

The commerce lenses are the same as other lenses, and users add them to their videos the same way, but they include a button that leads to a shopping page, an app-install page, a video or a website without leaving Snapchat.

According to Snap, over 70MM people use the lens feature daily and this is Snap’s strongest defense against Instagram. Every lens won’t directly sell a product but can lead to an app download and/or content.

Why it’s hotter than the flower crown filter:

Snapchat has been searching for a way to bring brands to the platform. This new offering from the company enables brands to seamlessly interact with users as they use the app for what it’s most known for. Pairing augmented reality with e-commerce is the next step in advertising.

Full article

Viz Palette

Viz Palette was created by two designers that work at Netflix and the website lets you create and test your color palette for legibility. Specifically, you can test your palette in different formats, line weights, backgrounds, and font colors as well as see your color palette with different types of color blindness. It also lets you know if two colors are too similar.


Why It’s Hot: Accessibility is always an important factor in design, and tools like this make it easier to create accessible color palettes. There are however, existing sites that allow you to easily check your color palette, but this integrate data visualization and calls out some more specific points such as line weights.


Building Ikea Furniture in Harmony


Sounds impossible, right? Well for this pair of robots it’s not. After 3 long years, a research team in Singapore has successfully taught a pair of robots to build an Ikea Chair.

They are not the first to build furniture, but the only previous contender was back in 2003 when MIT robots built a simple Lack table.

“And while a robot can be programmed to do a single assembly-line task efficiently, mastering all of the small tasks that IKEA assembly requires is a bigger challenge. Some of the same things humans struggle with, like fiddling with bags of screws, dowels, and doodads while trying to distinguish the slight variations in shape, are also difficult for robots.”

Their next goal is to go from teaching the robot ‘HOW to do it’, they want it to reason ‘WHAT to do’.

This AI will not just save time and stress, it can also save marriages. “The dynamics of flatpack furniture assembly contain a minefield of relationship conflict triggers, to the point where IKEA-related conflicts come up with surprising frequency in marriage counseling sessions.”

Additional reading: The psychology behind why couples always fight when assembling Ikea furniture

Why it’s Hot: 

  • Once we can train AI to accomplish these complex tasks, the next frontier is independent thinking.
  • We’re one step closer to a world where we don’t have to assemble Ikea furniture ourselves.

Warning: paying for the fastest shipping option might get your online order denied

With the chip-card technology being rolled out in retail stores nationwide and reducing fraud in physical stores, online fraud has risen. A third of the 50 largest retailers in the U.S. has then seen a 30% increase in online fraud.

As a result, retailers as big as Macys and as small as Audeze rely on third party data-mining firms to combat fraud, such as people making purchases with stolen credit cards or falsely claiming a purchase as fraudulent.

These firms use big data to evaluate whether a shopper is making a fraudulent transaction based on that person’s online browsing behaviors, transaction data and geolocation information. The firms will then decide whether to approve or deny the transaction at the time of purchase.

Online behaviors such as paying for the latest shipping method or making a purchase without checking the return policy are sometimes considered as signs of fraud. And oftentimes, falsely declined customers would not even know why they were declined for a transaction.

Why it’s (not) hot: Should big data dictate what we buy and how we buy things?

Source: Wall Street Journal

Don’t stir. Spin

400 million stir sticks are used every day in America alone.
Stirring sticks come in all shapes and sizes, with the wooden ones being much easier to recycle than the plastic alternatives. But even so, we typically use these sticks exactly once before throwing them away and adding to the growing pile of waste us humans create every year. Scott Amron decided stirring sticks needed replacing, and so he developed Stircle.

Stircle is a device meant to be embedded into a table like those found at all major coffee chains, although you could just as easily have one at home if you have an aversion to spoons. Once it is hooked up to a power source the Stircle can stir any drink for you. Simply place your cup on the circular plate and watch it spin. Stircle spins in both directions, forcing the liquid inside to change direction with enough force for the contents to mix thoroughly. As the video above demonstrates, it really does stir drinks well.

At $345, the Stircle certainly isn’t cheap, but well within reach for an independent coffee shop or chain. Running costs are estimated at $0.10 per 50,000 cups stirred, so that’s negligible. Offering consumers a way to stir their freshly-made beverage without creating any waste could/should more than make up for the initial cost in the long run.

Why its hot?
Apart from the obvious good for environment and financial benefits, it gives coffee shops a new way to market themselves

Source: New Atlas and TechCrunch

The latest Instagram influencer feud is noteworthy but maybe not for the reasons you think…

On Tuesday, the Instagram account of Miquela Sousa — also known as @LilMiquela, a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, singer, and Instagram personality with almost a million followers — appeared to have been hacked by a blonde, pro-Trump troll named Bermuda, or @BermudaIsBae.

Why does this matter? Well, neither of them are real people. Both Miquela and Bermuda are computer generated avatars, created by anonymous users.

Lil Miquela, is a Brazilian-American model and singer from Los Angeles and has over 1 million followers on Instagram. She’s also on Tumblr and Twitter and has two singles on Spotify.

She’s thought to be a composite of a real woman and digital renderings, giving her postings an uncanny nature. She posts photos of herself with real people, wearing real clothes given to her by high-fashion brands like Chanel, Proenza Schouler, Supreme, and Vetements.

Fashion magazines including King KongV, and Paper, have all photographed her, and she now has her own press agents, who coordinate photo shoots as well as the gifting/borrowing of designer clothes.

Bermuda on the other hand, is a pro-Trump account with 50k followers (up from 2k before taking over Miquela’s account). Lil Miquela on the other hand, has openly supported immigrants’ rights and organizations like Black Lives Matter. The given cause for the hacking, however, is that Miquela is not being forthcoming enough about her identity. Keep in mind, neither of these people are real.

Naturally, there are a lot of theories out there, including that this is a sign the world is going to end today. (Still here!) Bermuda decided to “hack” Lil Miquela when she reached 2,222 followers. Lil Miquela was born on April 22, which is Sunday. Will Lil Miquela finally reveal herself (or himself/themselves) two years in? The timing feels right. And it feels particularly relevant to have a Trump troll responsible for the leak. Our main question right now, though, is whether or not Bermuda and Lil Miquela are actually colluding.

Why it’s hot

In spite of being one of the most ridiculous things on the internet this week, this Black Mirror style beef has people on the edge of their seats. These accounts, which might be working together to drum up more drama and prestige for themselves, demonstrate how blurred the line is between real and fake online. These accounts use digitally rendered people to make real money, from real brands. It also shows how political tensions can be hijacked by brands to increase visibility and capitalize on the internet’s insatiable lust for Drama.

Read more at The Cut

it’s gotta be the shoes…

And if Nike’s vision evolves, it could, in fact, be the shoes…that are a gateway to exploring more of what we might like.

They’ve already dabbled, and we’ve already discussed connected jerseys, that bring you content specific to the team and player at the tap of an NFC enabled phone. Nike’s latest “AF1 NikeConnect QS NYC”  sneakers “will come with an NFC (near-field communication) chip embedded under a NikeConnect logo on the heel of the sneaker. By using the NikeConnect app on a phone, you can tap your phone on the sensor and gain access to exclusive content and Nike events in New York City, as well as an opportunity to purchase other popular Nike kicks.” 

Why it’s hot:

What Nike is doing is an interesting approach in a world where we’re overwhelmed with stuff and information. By making the things we buy portals to more of what we might like, it seems an attempt to make anything an easy gateway to discovery, circumventing all the noise involved in finding things on our own on the vast and wide internet. And if all Nike Connect products are linked to your personal account, Nike could conceivably provide you with even better inspiration based on the sum total of your “Nike closet”.


FDA Recommends Approval of First Ever Cannabis-Derived Drug

Happy 420! A FDA advisory committee has just recommended approval for the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for prescription use in the US.

The drug, which will be used to treat severe forms of epilepsy, contains cannabidiol (or CBD), which is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals. It differs from THC in that it does not produce a high.

The official FDA approval would limit the drug to epilepsy patients, but as with many prescriptions drugs, doctors have the option to prescribe if “off-label” for different treatment purposes.

One thing that the FDA will continue to monitor with the drug: potential for abuse. The FDA’s Controlled Substance Staff assessed the potential for abuse based on both animal and human experimental data, and they did not find signals indicating a high potential.

Why It’s Hot: First ever cannabis-derived medicine! It sends two signals: that the government is willing to evolve its views on cannabis, and that cannabis-derived materials are not all DaNgErOuS and terrible. Will this help in the push for decriminalization/legalization of cannabis in the country?

Learn More: CNN

Facebook Live Makes the Met Museum More Accessible

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now using Facebook Live to make its museum even more inclusive. The Met started putting tours on Facebook Live a few months ago with an art historian and lecturer taking viewers on a tour of the Rodin exhibit in ASL. It was a success, with more than 52,000 views proving demand for such a program is huge. The ASL tour of Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art was viewed by 18,000 people, many of whom were stumped by the lack of audio on the tour. (It’s in ASL, which doesn’t require audio.) Meanwhile, the live-streamed ASL program on Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” reached 17,000 views in just 24 hours.

In addition to programs for visitors who are deaf, many museums, the Met included, offer programs to make their art accessible to visitors who are blind or partially sighted. For example, in addition to braille guides, the Museum of Modern Art offers tours where specially trained guides give detailed visual descriptions of the works and touch tours where visitors can feel the art.

Why Its Hot

See, Facebook can be used for good too! Increasing access to otherwise inaccessible locations is one of the best uses of social media. So often we see videos on Facebook without captions, so using the popular format and in such an inclusive way is great to see.

Talk about waiting to death….

Pharrell is in it for the long haul in promoting his latest single 100 Years, having taken the slightly unusual decision to set a release date for, er, next century. As in 2117.

Only then will your great-great-great grandchildren be able to jam to Pharrell’s 100 Years, which this weekend was locked in a safe for the next hundo years. The N.E.R.D frontman has linked up with Louis XIII Cognac for the venture, which is aiming to raise awareness about climate change.

The sole copy of 100 Years has been engraved on a clay vinyl made from soil that’s been extracted from the Louis XIII Cognac vineyard, and is now safely locked away, time capsule-style.

But there is a twist…if Earth continues on a path of destruction (aka Global Warming) the vinyl, and only copy of the track, will disintegrate and disappear forever


Why It’s Hot:

– Very interesting unique idea / partnership / twist on a time capsule

– Not sure how effective it will be at changing environmental policy, but works beautifully as a branded stunt

Freshman Dropout Predictions

Have you ever wondered if spending more time in the library actually equates to better academic performance? The University of Arizona is tracking freshman students’ ID card swipes to anticipate which students are more likely to drop out.

The new ID card tracking system keeps a record of how often students interact in social settings on campus (like use the campus rec center), what they buy to eat, and their academic performance. According to the University, the data allows them to predict within a freshman’s first 4 weeks if they will return as a sophomore and eventually graduate.

Based on the data, the university identifies a list of freshman in danger of dropping out and shares it with the students’ advisors every quarter, who do their best to intervene. According to the article, students with shrinking social circles and a lack of a routine might be more likely to drop out.

The efforts have been pretty successful so far. After three years of collecting freshman data, their predictions have been 73% accurate. Last year, the school’s retention rate rose to 86.5% (almost 10% above the national average).

“We think by doing these interventions by the 12th week, which is when students make up their mind, you’re sort of doing what Amazon does—delivering items you didn’t order but will be ordering in the future,” says Sudha Ram, a professor of management information systems who directs the initiative.

Like any predictive technology, some major ethical concerns about privacy arose. It could be argued that this level of analyzing students’ social interaction data, which includes timestamps and locations, potentially violates students’ privacy. Still, algorithms can sometimes be wrong and biased. Ram admits, “We live in an era where you shouldn’t be generalizing about ‘groups of people. You should be personalizing solutions at the individual level.” She calls the data she’s analyzed “just a signal.”

Why It’s Hot: This initiative is using predictive technology in a much more meaningful way than say, suggesting what products you might also like to buy on Amazon. If this machine learning tool can identify behaviors that may lead a student to drop out, who’s to say it couldn’t be developed further to signify behaviors that lead students to attempt suicide or fall into depression? If possible, many students could receive help from advisors or family members who were prompted by the system.


Currency for women only

For the launch of its first womenswear collection, fashion brand Paisley has created a currency that addresses the gender pay gap.

The new FEM notes are worth 21% more than any other currency – a nod to the 21% gender pay gap in Germany. This means that whenever customers use FEM currency, they get 21% more for their money.

The notes have been designed with special security features to avoid misuse and highlight a number of iconic female figures who have helped pave the way for equal gender rights.

Customers can exchange their money for FEM notes by visiting the Paisley flagship store in Hamburg. Paisley is also looking to partner with other companies which want to make FEM currency part of their brand.

Why its hot?
Using a cultural insight they dressed up a run of the mill coupon / discount as a movement

Read more:


Facebook’s Implementing Disclosure on “Issues Ads”

The changes keep coming at Facebook.

Neuroscience and the thoughts and minds of dogs

A scientist looking at how dogs think and relate to humans has trained about a dozen dogs to lie inside of fMRI machines and receive different stimuli. The result is a look inside the minds of dogs that indicates that their mental processes might mirror our own in more ways than previously imagined.


A dog undergoes training, learning how to rest its head on a pad without moving, so that scientists can scan his brain

A dog undergoes training, learning how to rest its head on a pad without moving, so that scientists can scan his brain. Photo by Helen Berns

As part of their first paper published on the work in 2012, they trained dogs to recognize two different hand signals: one that meant the animal would be given a piece of hot dog imminently, and one that meant no hot dog. As they hypothesized, the first signal triggered elevated activity in an area called the caudate nucleus, which is rich in receptors for dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved in the sensation of pleasure). In humans—and in dogs, the research indicated—caudate activity is related to the desire to have something that causes pleasure, and the satisfaction involved in obtaining it.

Subsequent tests showed that sensing familiar humans through sight and scent triggered similar reward receptors in dogs’ brains, possibly indicating the feeling of emotion similar to human emotion.

A dog in an fMRI, receiving one of the hand signals

A dog in an fMRI, receiving one of the hand signals

Why it’s hot

Pet owners already think of their animal friends as more than simply property, and are more likely to consider them members of the family than in previous generations. If studies like these can show that dogs truly feel emotions similar to humans, it might have implications for public policy and cultural sentiment.


adidas makes 30,000 highlight reels…

In advance of this year’s Boston Marathon, Adidas says it’s planning to capture and create personal highlight videos for all 30,000 runners of this year’s race.

According to the plan: “Adidas will deliver videos to the 30,000 runners taking part in the marathon within a few hours of them completing the race. Along with the runner’s personal highlights, the Here to Create Legend videos will also feature general race day footage and music.”

How it works: “RFID tags in the runners’ race bibs and street mats that emit ultra-high frequency radio waves will provide Adidas with data on each runners’ performance. Using this technology, the sportswear brand is able to capture all the footage for the videos with just seven cameras and a team of 20 people spread across the 26.2-mile course.

Why It’s Hot:

We often talk about the trend of ultra-personalized product or service experiences, but marketing hasn’t necessarily been a major part of that conversation. As this becomes peoples’ overall expectation of brands, it will have to adapt.

Plus, in another time, Adidas would’ve just made a nice commercial touting its 30 years of race sponsorship. But instead, it decided to devote time, money, and effort to adding something memorable to the experience of the athletes running the race it’s sponsoring.