Why would Amazon buy Slack? Workers of the world beware…

Amazon is rumored to be mulling a purchase of Slack, the fast-growing corporate chat platform. A deal could give Slack a valuation of $9 billion, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Slack now has 5 million daily users, including more than 1 million paying users.As of last year, Slack claimed 77 Fortune 100 companies among its clients.

Slack

It’s easy to see why Amazon would want to add a popular corporate communications tool to its suite of offerings to Amazon Web Services customers. But the more intriguing explanation of Amazon’s interest has to do with one of the company’s even bolder visions of the future.

Amazon is one of the major players in the fight for dominance in the realm of voice-activated artificial intelligence. As of January, Amazon had sold more than 11 million of its Echo home device, according to a report by the investment banker Morgan Stanley. Lex, the conversation interface that powers the Echo, already has a Slack integration.

Acquiring Slack could position Amazon for shaping the way workers use voice-activated technology at a time when Slack is already considered a possible email slayer. Just think of what bringing all that work data to the Echo’s capabilities would mean for the worker—and the further blurring of any remaining line between work and home.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/06/why-would-amazon-want-to-buy-slack/530430/?utm_source=atltw

Why It’s Hot

The fight to keep work and personal time separate is real. Keep your eyes on this one as the line continues to blur.

Snickers Puts the “Video” in Video Games

 

Knowing that videos tend to run the risk of being skipped, Snickers developed a way to keep viewers engaged by developing video game videos.

In line with their “You’re not you when you are hungry” campaign platform, the first features a school-bus driver whose hunger has turned him into a WWE wrestler with incessant road rage. In the second, a hungry tennis umpire has transformed into a whining rockstar.

In both scenarios, a series of Snickers bars float across the screen towards the character’s outstretched hand, but the viewers must click the pause button at the correct moment to help the characters grab them.

If they’re successful, the WWE wrestler calms down into a bus driver, and the musician morphs back into an umpire. If not, they’ve got nine more tries to get it right.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Smart and entertaining way to engage viewers when consuming video
  • It’s another example of how platforms, such as YouTube, are flexing to service creative ideas led by agencies
  • Shows the growing trend of choosing to develop platform-digital-specific work rather than “copy and paste” TV commercials, which generally don’t perform as well

 

Volkswagen Humor – Yay or Neigh?

There’s only one way to properly advertise trailer assist and it’s obviously with the help of some stable friends. Volkswagen saddled up but almost missed out on the chance of mounting this gem. This German ad showcases the Volkswagen Tiguan doing its thing using Trailer Assist.

http://players.brightcove.net/1126101268/ryIOOTgtg_default/index.html?videoId=5440122332001

The ad was released on YouTube prior to being aired on television due to fear of it stirring a negative response. The ad quickly became viral making VW reconsider its potential and eventually being pushed on to TV.

Why It’s Hot
The emissions scandal was no joke. Cheating emissions tests for the sake of sales and reputation ended up backfiring, essentially leading to a massive decrease of brand trust. But is it time for the emissions scandal talks to hit the hay for the enjoyment of some innocent horsing around?

Reality Winner and dots

A security contractor named Reality Winner was arrested this week for leaking documents about the Russian election hack to The Intercept.

Her arrest set off a conversation about journalism and op-sec, or operational security.

Reality Winner made a number of mistakes, but in particular she was outed by the specific printer that she used to print and carry out the documents.

A security firm contacted by BoingBoing said:

The document leaked by the Intercept was from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218. The document was printed on May 9, 2017 at 6:20. The NSA almost certainly has a record of who used the printer at that time.

The situation is similar to how Vice outed the location of John McAfee, by publishing JPEG photographs of him with the EXIF GPS coordinates still hidden in the file. Or it’s how PDFs are often redacted by adding a black bar on top of image, leaving the underlying contents still in the file for people to read, such as in this NYTime accident with a Snowden document. Or how opening a Microsoft Office document, then accidentally saving it, leaves fingerprints identifying you behind, as repeatedly happened with the Wikileaks election leaks. These sorts of failures are common with leaks. To fix this yellow-dot problem, use a black-and-white printer, black-and-white scanner, or convert to black-and-white with an image editor.

I thought this was an interesting look at how far digital traces can be used to identify us, and if you’re leaking something, just remember to remove all the metadata.

link: https://boingboing.net/2017/06/06/reality-winner-was-outed-by-in.html

Facebook is Connecting You To Your Local Representative

For anyone who knows me, this information truly hits the sweet spot in my wheelhouse. Now, not everyone is Facebook friends with their state rep like me, fortunately, there’s an app for that… Facebook!

Facebook is looking to dive deeper to connect communities locally.

“Our goal is to help people build the communities they want by making it easier for them to engage and have a voice in government – on a daily basis, not just Election Day”

New features include, constituent badges, so representatives can see that they are a constituent when they interact online, as well as a community tab, so you can see what news stories affect your community and hear about local legislation.

To find your reps online go to: https://www.facebook.com/townhall

Turns out I need to update who I follow too!

Why it’s hot:

As Russian’s hack our newsfeeds and we all watch the Comey testimony, some of our most important legislation happens right in our backyards. It’s great that for all the global connections that we make, we are starting to see that social media can do a great job connecting communities. Isn’t that what it was originally built for?

Delta encouraging travel… and love? #DeltaDatingWall

Delta Airlines is partnering with Tinder to make dating app dreams come true with their #DeltaDatingWall.

Delta Air Lines, with help from Wieden + Kennedy New York, has put scenes from nine exotic destinations on a wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so that NYC singles can take selfies for their dating profile—looking like attractive jet-setters.

The printed photos on the wall, surrounded by cute illustrations by Andrew Rae, feature Honolulu, Paris, Los Angeles, Pisa, London, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Zurich. And while the selfie-takers might not have the cash to actually fly there, the work does celebrate the fact that Delta flies to the most destinations of any airline from NYC.

The #DeltaDatingWall will be up throughout the summer. On June 17, Delta, in partnership with Tinder, will hold a singles-centric event where you can actually get a proper photo taken next to the wall by a professional photographer.

Why its hot?

  • i-n-n-o-v-a-t-i-o-n
  • Not a traditional partnership but it works for their target audience
  • Delta and Tinder and hosting a singles event where people can get their picture professionally taken with the wallll……

Delta Painted Exotic Locales on a Brooklyn Wall for Singles to Snap Selfies Like They’re World Travelers

Facebook Filed a Patent To Secretly Watch Users Through Their Webcam

In a Facebook patent published in 2015, it explains how the company would use technology to see how your facial expressions change when you come across different content, and it would use that information to keep you on the site for longer.

 

The patent explained that if you looked away from your screen when a video of a kitten played, Facebook would stop showing similar type of videos in your Feed. If you smiled as you looked at pictures of one of your friends, for instance, Facebook’s algorithm would take note of that and display more pictures of that friend in your News Feed.

(additionally)

This is a picture of Mark’s desk and computer last year, where he has the camera and microphone taped up. If Mark is concerned about privacy and internet security, we should be as well.

WHY THIS ISNT HOT:

Do we really want, or think, that Facebook can make our lives better by keeping us on their site for longer, or tracking and leveraging our emotions as they happen in real time? When does Facebook stop becoming a tool that we feel like we have control over, and when does it become that manipulative sociopathic friend? If Facebook is one giant ad targeting machine, what will get us to stop using Facebook?

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-plans-to-watch-users-through-webcams-spy-patent-application-social-media-a7779711.html

 

Sephora adds new component to tech app

The latest upgrade to the Sephora app-based digital makeover experience has arrived.

The well known beauty retailing has expanded the functionality of its Sephora Virtual Artist, an augmented reality-based feature on its mobile app that enables shoppers to digitally try on make-up. The app’s new Cheek Try On service allows users to virtually try on over 1,000 shades of cheek color, including blush, bronzer, contour, and highlighter shades available in single colors and palettes.

As users choose their favorite shades, a list of the top matching colors available from Sephora is quickly returned to the user. Matches can be immediately tried on in Virtual Artist then purchased in app.

The Sephora Virtual Artist also enables users to virtually try on an assortment of lip colors and false eye lash styles. The tool integrated the ability to try on thousands of shades of eyeshadows earlier this spring.

Source

Why it’s hot:
As the beauty retail industry continues to sore and increased competition from main competitor, Ulta strengthens, the approach to converting your audience without even having them enter a store will only increase brand loyalty. I know from experience, that it is hard to visualize what you will look like with different makeup products on, and by adding this new feature to the Sephora app will help bring the already existing eye shadow and lip color functionality full circle. I may have to download this app!

 

Why Internet Giants are Fighting for Net Neutrality

Heads up for Monday June 12th, when major internet leaders (Amazon, Etsy, and Reddit among them) will join forces in the face of impending decisions by the FCC to potentially roll back Net Neutrality rules.
WHY ITS HOT
What is Net Neutrality and why should I care?

Net neutrality is the idea that internet traffic is treated equally and internet service providers can’t prioritize some traffic over others.

Net neutrality made it possible for Vimeo, along with countless other startups, to innovate and thrive. The FCC’s proposed rollback of the 2015 open internet rules threatens to impede that innovation and allow a handful of incumbent ISPs to determine winners and losers,” Vimeo said in a statement to CNet.

It will be interesting to see how the internet bands together to take action and how the FCC, and Congress, responds.

More Reading on Net Neutrality:

  • A very extensive Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality
  • TechCrunch looks at the arguments against Net Neutrality: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/19/these-are-the-arguments-against-net-neutrality-and-why-theyre-wrong/
  • Letter from Sam Altman of Y Combinator in WIRED making the case to other tech entrepreneurs to speak out Net Neutrality: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/hey-startups-duty-fight-net-neutrality/

Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

Electric Paint

Bare Conductive has created a viscous carbon-based black paint that conducts electricity. Forget sockets, cables or wiring, this paint can act as a light switch painted directly onto your wall. The paint acts as a form of liquid wiring which can be applied to all types of surfaces including paper, plastic, metal and fabric.

Although conductive paint has been used in other applications for years, Bare Conductive is bringing new ways to use the medium.

“We started this project in earnest in 2009,” says Matt Johnson. “We were originally interested in trying to apply electronics to the skin … so we arrived at this idea of applying them as a coating and eventually we got this idea of a conductive paint.” Today, Bare Paint users use it to create everything from interactive color wheels to homemade electric toys.

Why it’s hot: 

  1. Conductive paint opens up an enormous range of creative opportunities. As conductive paint becomes increasingly common, we can look forward to a future where billboards talk back, walls are interactive, and greeting cards come to life in our very hands.
  2. “Devices no longer have to look high tech to be high tech,” Johnson says. “Our goal is to put interactivity onto objects you don’t expect.”

Cultural Understanding Through Typography

Its easy to take for granted the relative ease not to mention the broad selection of character sets English writers have access to. But what happens when your languages typed characters are very close to a neighboring country with a completely different language? You get the The Balkan sprachbund or Balkan language area. This area that contains Serbia and Croatia share similar languages but different writing systems. To ease confusion between these languages.  Designers Nikola Djurek and Marija Juza used design to solve the problem. Enter Balkan Sans. This new font combine Cyrillic and Latin scripts into a single font set. This allows these neighboring countries to share content in a simplified manner. The designers state that the font system

 “… demystifies, depoliticizes, and reconciles them for the sake of education, tolerance, and, above all, communication”.

So whats this all mean? Say you were written an email in  Serbian  but you’re unable to  read Cyrillic? Just change the font to the Balkan Sans!

Why Its Hot

Just imagine the possibilities – education, entertainment…pen pals! This is just another example of how thoughtful design can have an immense impact on peoples lives.

Apple launches new reality show with uninspired title, like, 5 years too late

Apple has wrangled up some A-listers, plus Gary Vaynerchuck, for a Shark Tank-meets-The Voice reality show. It’s a chance for developers to give their best elevator pitch to a panel of 4 judges who will swipe left or right and give app developers an opportunity to be funded so that “they can take the next step to creating one of the great apps of all time.”

Story on The Verge

Is it Hot or Not?
Seems like the best apps might not make the cut if the pitch isn’t good enough. Do we really want to bring app development to the lowest common denominator?

Appocalypse Now

Remember life before apps? Sure, it was liveable. But it was also a time when we owned paper maps, knew phone numbers and recognized the dating potential of next-door neighbors.

What would happen if all the apps in our current app-run world suddenly just … blipped out?

That’s exactly what Apple imagines in “Appocalypse,” a video that kicked off Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this week.

Source

Why It’s Hot

While the video made me laugh, it pointed out how utterly attached to my iPhone I am. These tools we have at our fingertips are time savers but what if they did go away? Could I even read a map at this point? Have we forgotten how to talk to people? In the end, it’s a good reminder not to forget about human connections. But I’ll still be clutching my iPhone closer today.

AI Education by Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson

Sesame Workshop and IBM announced last year that they would work together on a line of cognitive apps, games, and educational toys. The first in that line of apps just completed its first pilot trial, introducing the app to 150 students in Georgia’s Gwinnett County Public Schools. The app incorporates a lot of the learnings on early child education at Sesame Workshop and is powered by IBM’s Watson, with it all dressed up with Sesame Street characters.

The app was tested in live classrooms on tablets, and educational videos and word games were used to enhance each student’s vocabulary. Teachers and parents could monitor each student’s development in real time and adjust lessons for each child based on need. The AI also personalized the app for each child using adaptive assessments.

The first large-scale test was a big success over its two-week run. Students acquired new vocabulary as a result of the app, which translated to real world – students called spiders “arachnid” and began recognizing “camouflaged” animals when in an out-of-app discussion.

Can these 5 Brain Hacking companies give us immortality?

Brain-hacking? Kind of a Frankenstein term.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons firing away all day and night. Can they be channeled, stimulated or directed in some way that benefits society? No surprise, here comes Elon Musk and Neuralink. His and four other companies are all approaching the idea that human-machine interface can change everything — especially for those suffering neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, these could be life transforming.

Here is Elon’s mission statement (and this site is a one-pager!): Neuralink is developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. Initially, the Brain Computer Interface (BCIs) will be used for medical research, but the ultimate goal is to prevent humans from becoming obsolete, by enabling people to merge with artificial intelligence — perhaps even avoiding death.

Sounds amazing…but what does it really mean? Basically, why is this hot?

First, because they all seem to be heading towards an even more grandiose vision; avoiding death. No joke.

Second, the four companies means the competition is real:

FACEBOOK: a few weeks after Neuralink was launched, they announced an initiative to “let people type their thoughts”. Imagine a child with autism, someone with a mental disorder, so many sufferers, being able to “speak” this way. The news reports say it will take two years for a prototype medical implant and is being developed in their top secret Building 8 facility.

KERNEL: Kernel plans to build a flexible platform for recording and stimulating neurons, with the goal of treating diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s. 

EMOTIV: (Their home page says it all):

EMOTIV Mental Commands and SDKs makes our technology an highly effective Brain-Computer-Interface and can put EMOTIV at the center of the Internet of Things and the ability to control the world around you.

DARPA: Ok, the government, but still, they are investing in several companies to develop a device that will record 1 million neurons and stimulate 100,000 in the brain. DARPA wants it the size of a nickel. Since they ‘invented’ the Internet, I’d say they have a good chance of pulling it off.

I encourage you all to visit their web sites and learn more. After all, can brain hacking help us live forever? Or is it hype?

 

Alamo Drafthouse’s Sense of Humor in the Face of “Controversy”

[Reposted from previous week]

Original story: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/28/530490073/some-men-are-not-happy-about-a-women-only-screening-of-wonder-woman

Alamo Drafthouse is a movie chain known for off-the-wall screenings: for a horror movie, they handed out gas masks and drove moviegoers into the woods on a school bus. It screened Pirates of the Carribean on a boat, etc. When they announced an all-female screening of the new Wonder Woman film, “it didn’t sound all that edgy,” reports NPR. But some took offense.

Why it’s hot: Alamo’s handling of what would have been a PR and social media crisis for so many other brands was fantastic. They took the complaints in stride, having the guts to respond to trolls and complaining patrons in a way that retained their values and reinforced their brand. They even scheduled a second women-only screening. That takes some balls. And they were rewarded for it, with tons of praise from their social media followers.

Warning! Your Car May Be A Decepticon

The fictional battle between the Autobots and Decepticons will be coming to the real-world freeways this summer through a partnership between out-of-home media company Lamar Advertising and Paramount Pictures, the company releasing the latest “Transformers” movie. Using technology created by Vehcio, billboards in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and four other markets will deliver personalized messages to passing drivers about which side of the intergalactic war their car is on. A driver of a Honda Civic, for instance, may see a message declaring “Attention! Your Honda Civic is an Autobot” The technology had previously been used for a campaign for Chevrolet. The campaign uses cameras mounted 1,000 feet ahead of the digital billboards, scanning vehicle grills to identify cars. Once a make and model are identified, the board switches from a generic “your car” message to one identifying the passing car. The technology takes into account traffic speed to calculate the precise moment and length of time to display the personalized message.


Why It’s Hot

Today, the technological capabilities of digital advertising takes out-of-home advertising to a new level. You would definitely get an element of surprise when seeing your car called out on the billboard. It’s a great way for the new Transformers 5 movie to create a one-to-one conversation with drivers. Now, if I saw my car announced on a billboard, I might drive off the road. But it would definitely get my attention and I would be sharing this with my friends.

Lighting Up Creativity With Play-Doh

“Tech Will Save Us”, a UK based company making kits that spark the creative imagination of young people using hands on technology. They recently started a Kickstarter for 3 sets of interactive toys that allow kids to bring Play-Doh to life with light, sound, and movement.There is an accompanying tablet app that features stories and projects kids can engage with.

Light

Sound

App

 

Why It’s Hot: 

Other than the fact that it is awesome for kids to learn STEM principles at an early age, this technology incorporates hands-on play. It let’s kids be kids and experiment while providing cool features that opens possibilities for their creations.

The design of the kit is minimal and the user interface of both the toy and app seems simple and clear.

Walmart is turning its employees into delivery drivers to compete with Amazon

Walmart is investing in e-commerce to better compete with Amazon, is unveiling a new strategy: turning its army of 1.5 million US employees into delivery drivers. This is being tested at three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas, and designed to shave costs out of the “last mile” of distribution, the most expensive part of getting goods to customers.

Under the initiative, store employees will be given the option to deliver packages on their way home after work, in exchange for extra pay. They’ll be given an app that allows them to input their routes, and an algorithm will plot the most efficient path. In the pilot, most merchandise was delivered the day after the order was placed, beating Walmart’s pledge of second-day delivery.

The company has 4,700 US stores and 6,100 trucks, and it hopes to be able to use those assets to narrow the gap with Amazon. Walmart is also rolling out a grocery pick up service where online orders are delivered to customers’ cars, and is testing other ways of combining online shopping with its physical stores.

Why it’s hot:

  • This is enhancing the traditional brick-and-mortar structure and giving customers more on-demand goods, competing further with Amazon Prime.

VoteBox

VoteBox is a startup that is looking to de-centralize voting by providing a secure service for local politicians, corporations, unions, and associations to create and manage polls.

How it works:

Create your voting event.

Specify the dates, time and questions.
Choose your authentication method and upload your list of voters.

Voting

Voters arrive at your branded voting website and authenticate.
When they submit a ballot, the results are encrypted and kept anonymous.
The voter is issued a receipt and is now blocked from voting for this election again.

Counting votes

Once voting has ended the results are immediately generated. You can view the results when logged in along with various reports on voting activity.

You can choose to make the results available to the voters on your voting website and allow your voters to verify them by downloading a file containing votes and receipt codes.

 

 

Why it’s hot:

  • Vote from your couch
  • Voting receipt to verify the results

https://www.votebox.co/en/

Condoms or IUD? Ask Tia…

Ask Tia is an iOS app designed to assist and inform women about reproductive and sexual health. Through personal, private text-based conversations, users can find the best birth control, get answers to sexual health questions, find doctors, and track periods and symptoms. It’s the first product from Tia, a company “for millennials by millennials” that aims to help women make informed healthcare decisions.

Tia

Building a trusting relationship with an app isn’t easy. Tia has prioritized personalizing the information for each user. Even a simple question about missing a birth control pill has several factors (type of pill, where in your cycle, etc.), which is why Tia’s guiding questions and personalized assessments so much more valuable than, say, a Google search.

“Our goal is to expand Tia to be your comprehensive go-to women’s health assistant for all of your health care information needs,” says Witte, Tia’s co-founder and CEO.

https://magenta.as/simplifying-the-search-for-birth-control-with-a-conversational-interface-e98d0b2a5af1

Why It’s Hot
Sexual health support made accessible through behavioral insight? Yes please.

Gone In 6 Seconds

Australian retailer Myer hosted a flash sale using YouTube’s six-second pre-roll ad slots.

The 6 Second Sale ads feature more than 100 Myer products with discounts greater than those available in store and online by 5%. Viewers have only six seconds (the length of the pre-roll ad) to secure the deal being offered, with those that manage to click on the offer in time are taken to a pre-populated shopping cart on Myer’s site.

The campaign created using Google’s Vogon –  customization tool that lets brands create unlimited variations of the same ad by changing the text, audio or images. The targeting used in the 6 Second Sale ensures no YouTube user will see the same ad twice.

The 6 Second Sale is being promoted through Myer’s website, social channels, catalog and print.

Why It’s Hot

-It merges shopping impulse with a platform experience that times out in a very short amount of time

-Leverages scarcity to heighten the need to buy and drive sales

-Great example of a brand “hacking” a platform to drive a campaign

 

 

your face is your ticket…


Jet Blue is now piloting airport technology that would replace your boarding pass with a scan of your face.

Here’s how it works:

“The process is fairly simple: Passengers step up to a camera to have their picture taken. The picture is then compared with passport photos in the CBP database and to verify flight details. If successful, the passenger is notified that they are cleared to board by an on-screen message at the camera terminal.”

Why it’s hot:

I’m not sure how smooth the experience sounds at the moment, but the idea of never needing to have a boarding pass either physically or on your phone, and just being able to walk on to your flight sounds pretty no non-sense  (except you still have to remember what seat you’re in). It makes you think – there are probably many such things that “outerweb” technology could replace that we currently do with our phones. What happens to our phones when biometrics and other technologies can enable us to do what we’re now doing with our smartphones?

 

Are algorithms dumbing down culture?

Link: The Rise of Auto-Complete Culture, And Why We Should Resist

Upfront I will say this: I really dislike this article, but I can’t quite put into words why, so I wanted to share it with you all and talk about it.

The premise of the article is that algorithms are sanding down the edges of our language and our individuality through things like auto complete messages, suggested responses, and Google’s AI drawing project.

There’s also a bit of Jaron Lanier angst about selling our data and becoming the product.

The core of the argument seems to be this:

Well, future generations of thinking humans care. Consider how scientists found that the average literate person’s vocabulary has shrunk over the last two centuries, after analyzing unique words used in books since 1800. In exchange for awesome technologies like television, text messaging, and an app called “Yo” that let you type a single word (and raised $1.5 million for it), we slowly handed over the ways we can express how we feel and what we think.

And what he is scared of is this:

What really scares me about the rise of aggregated, averaged, auto-completed culture isn’t just that I feel it chipping away at my own vocabulary, but I fear it will will teach young people how to speak via an anonymous algorithm before they can develop their own splendid, flawed voices, before they can invent new words, and new forms of self-expression, that will enrich our culture and progress as a society.

 

It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Google is coming for our artists! But I want you to think of your favorite author or artist who bucked social norms to herald a new era of human expression and meaning. Now imagine that, instead of creating the most impactful work of their career, they phoned it in that afternoon with an auto-completed sentiment.

This strikes me as a pretty poorly argued and thinly supported argument. He’s picked three examples and cited one random statistic. Also, he appears to only be addressing the Western, English speaking world. Also, famous convention-bucking-artists are famous convention bucking artists because they buck convention!

However, I’m interested in what you guys think: is the rise of algorithms smoothing out the world around us? Do you think that snapchat, instagram, twitter, texting, facebook, email and all of the other new ways we communicate are shrinking the way we express ourselves, or expanding it?

I apologize for yet another dry sauce hot sauce. To make up for it, here’s a Vine classic (RIP Vine).

https://vine.co/v/MFBmImgeYX7

Warby Parker Just Made Getting A Prescription A Lot Easier

Usually, completing a vision test for new glasses requires a trip to the optometrist and the glasses store.  Warby Parker, which started out as a try-before-you-buy mail-order eyeglasses company, is currently looking to use devices you already have in your home to help you get a new pair of glasses without having to drive to a doctor. If you have an expired vision prescription, you can use an iPhone, a computer and about 12 feet of space to find out if your vision has changed since your last exam.

VIDEO HERE!

Why It’s Hot:

Warby Parker has been working on this technology since 2015, while other companies, like Smart Vision Labs, have found ways to use mobile phones for in-store eye exams in 2016. It is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam if your vision has changed since your last one, but those of us who just want to grab a new pair of frames based on a still-valid expired prescription can do so from the comfort of our own home.

Google Chrome to Auto-Block Ads

Google’s Chrome browser will soon come with preinstalled technology that will block the most annoying ads currently marring the web experience, the company confirmed on Thursday.

Publishers will be able to understand how they will be affected through a tool Google is dubbing “The Ad Experience Report.” It will basically score a publisher’s site and inform them which of their ads are “annoying experiences.”

Google isn’t calling its technology an ad blocker, instead classifying it as a “filter” that removes the ads that consumers hate most. These include popups, ads that flash quickly, change colors or force people to wait 10 seconds before accessing content on a publisher’s page.

Google said it expects to roll out the features in early 2018.

Why it’s Hot: This will impact the entire advertising ecosystem because Chrome is the most popular web browser for both desktop and mobile.

 

A better way to fly?

Air New Zealand has partnered with Microsoft to begin beta testing HoloLens augmented reality headsets on flights to help their crews better serve their passengers.

Flight attendants using headsets on their faces might look really strange and scare little children, but the practical applications are pretty cool. Being able to know, for example, which passengers have dietary restrictions or are in a certain mood can enhance the customer experience.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because while this might not be a solution that gets mass adoption with every airline, it is nice to know that there is an airline out there that is trying to improve the travel experience (*cough* unlike United *cough*).

 

Would You Mind?

In an attempt to close their gap with Amazon, Walmart is offering employees the opportunity to deliver online customer purchases on their way home for pay.

Currently running at two stores, one in New Jersey, and one in Arkansas, the program aims at using one of Walmart’s biggest assets – more than a million U.S. store employees. Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said the program is entirely voluntary. He declined to specify the pay, but said finding the right compensation is part of the test. And he said the retailer will comply with all applicable state and federal labor laws, such as those covering overtime.

Walmart says they also considered having other customers deliver packages, but said having employees do it allowed for greater control.

Why It’s Hot

Often under fire from labor groups, Walmart is betting they can compete with online giant Amazon by giving their employees more work (for more pay). Why not just have employees deliver packages during the work day? The employees will be paid extra, but how far out of the way are they expected to go? Seems like a program that has more questions than answers if Walmart wants to dominate the e-commerce scene.