Instagram introduces Emoji Slider Stickers

Want to know just how smiley your followers are from your post? Just slap an emoji slider sticker on your video or image post and see the feedback come in!

Why it’s Hot:

  • Followers can give more detailed reactions to posts
  • Fun and useful way to add interactivity to stickers

How Juuling became a public health crisis (via Instagram and Snapchat)

From a New Yorker article this week, Jia Tolentino explores how Juul has become a major threat to big tobacco, the hottest thing for teenagers across the country, a social media phenomenon, and a public health crisis.

The health professionals are already calling Juuling a “nathional health crisis,” made possible by co-opting a wellness trend in America. And it’s getting huge. “An analyst at Wells Fargo projects that this year the American vaporizer market will grow to five and a half billion dollars, an increase of more than twenty-five per cent from 2017. In the latest data, sixty per cent of that market belongs to Juul.”

According to a 2017 study by the C.D.C., about fifty per cent more high schoolers and middle schoolers vape than smoke. Tolentino writes, “Young people have taken a technology that was supposed to help grownups stop smoking and invented a new kind of bad habit, one that they have molded in their own image. The potential public-health benefit of the e-cigarette is being eclipsed by the unsettling prospect of a generation of children who may really love to vape.”

And on the viral marketing of Juul, Tolentino writes: “Just as the iconic images of Malboro were shaped by Madison Avenue, Juul has been defined by Instagram and Snapchat. The company’s official Instagram account, @juulvapor, is age-appropriate and fairly boring—it has an aesthetic reminiscent of Real Simple,and forty-four thousand followers. But viral, teen-centric Juul fan accounts like @doit4juul (a hundred and ten thousand followers) are populated with a different sort of imagery: a bodybuilder Juuling in a tank top that says “Real Men Eat Ass”; a baby (labelled “me”) being shoved into a birthday cake (“the Juul”) by her mom (“my nicotine addiction”); a topless college student who has a Juul in her mouth and is wearing a pink hat that says “Daddy.” Teen Juul iconography radiates a dirtbag silliness. Vapes are meme-ready, funny in a way that cigarettes never were: the black-and-white photograph of James Dean smoking in shirtsleeves has been replaced with paparazzi snaps of Ben Affleck ripping an e-cig in his car. In one popular video, a girl tries to Juul with four corn dogs in her mouth. In another, teens at a party suck on a flash drive that they’ve mistaken for a Juul. “I know one of the girls in that video!” a high-school senior from Maryland told me. “It was a huge deal at my school.”

Above, the Juul website. Below, a post with the #Juuling hashtag on Instagram.


This is a classic example of a brand stepping back and letting viral marketing do its job – whether it was for the “intended” audience or not – with major consequences.

IKEA is dropping furniture like NIKE drops sneakers

IKEA seems to be taking a Nike approach to its sales and marketing by dropping limited editions into the market to see how a new generation of buyers reacts and the product sells. All items on display were also labeled ‘prototype’ and they were debuted through a livestream from a gallery in NYC and promoted via influencers.

IKEA followed up on the recently announced skateboard-lifestyle inspired line by Chris Stamp with a furniture collection by fashion designer Virgil Abloh. This is aimed Gen Z and Millennial adults moving into their first homes. To appeal to this audience, Abloh took classic pieces and gave them “subtle ironic twists.” As part of the collection, the designer created a glass cabinet with a wooden frame which stores goods but also acts as a showcase of those products.

Why it’s hot: From a brand that usually shows how their furniture items look in your home (from the layout of their store, to their AR app that you can literally see how they look in your home…) – it is an interesting approach to see them separate new items from in-situ and position them like limited-edition art pieces. It seems more like a stunt than a new Gen Z strategy, however I would be interested to see results from this tactic!

Source: PSFK


‘er’, ‘mmm-hmm’ – it’s a robot

Duplex, Google’s robot assistant, now makes eerily lifelike phone calls for you.

The unsettling feature, which will be available to the public later this year, is enabled by a technology called Google Duplex, which can carry out “real world” tasks on the phone, without the other person realising they are talking to a machine. The assistant refers to the person’s calendar to find a suitable time slot and then notifies the user when an appointment is scheduled.

During demonstrations, the virtual assistant did not identify itself and instead appeared to deceive the human at the end of the line. However, in the blogpost, the company indicated that might change.

“It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that. We want to be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context. We’ll be experimenting with the right approach over the coming months.”

Why It’s, Ummmm, Hot
Another entry in our ‘is it good, is it bad’ AI collection. Helpful if used ethically? Maybe. Scary if abused? Absolutely.

Instagram Adds Yet Another Feature: Emoji Slider

Top 5 social channels?

  1. Instagram
  2. Instagram
  3. Instagram
  4. Instagram
  5. Instagram

The newest addition to the growing list of features, the emoji slider.

““The emoji slider lets you ask more nuanced questions when you want to find out how your friends feel about something. By choosing an emoji for your question, you also add a layer of emotional context that helps those answering understand your tone and answer accordingly.”

Instagram is adding more tools to increase the usage of Instagram stories and steal share from Snapchat. At this point, it’s clear who is in the lead since IG has added several highly engaging features to the platform with more on the horizon.

How can brands use emoji sliders? To gain more information from their audience about their content and/or products services. This is 1:1 social listening on a grand scale with seamless and non-intrusive audience participation.

Why it’s hotter than a flame emoji:
This is a cool addition to the tool belt but it’s definitely not the last!
Instagram has also been testing in-app purchase features which would completely elevate the options available to marketers and users. IG is slowly making strides to be on par with WeChat, which has already infiltrated almost all aspects of a users life in the China market.

The Dawn Of The Drone-era Is Upon Us

Elevation, a new film, shows how drones could transform the way we live and construct urban environments, from reimagining architectural design and construction to deliveries to infrastructure and surveillance. Drone development is already progressing rapidly, as drone devices become more accessibly priced for average consumers.

Some of the film’s drone predictions:

-Drones will enable innovative new building construction techniques, as they are powered remotely and can go anywhere

-Human passengers will travel by drone along drone highways

-There will be rooftop drone parking and drone charging stations

-Clouds of drone delivery “wasps” will hover above the city, transporting goods to people.

Architecture might have to change to accommodate delivery drones, whether that’s a giant cat flap on the side of the apartment or a little perch where it lands. The infrastructure around deliveries could change dramatically. If drones become a popular way of traveling, every building is going to have some sort of drone parking on it, so architecture might have to sprout branches and platforms to allow people to leave and enter the building.

As drone technologies start being used en masse by both brands and consumers, discussions are underway about the air traffic control systems, the regulations and even the privacy legislation that need to be developed to manage their impact.

Big brands are quickly getting involved in drone delivery, with Ford investigating how drone technology can be used in vehicles. Amazon has been granted a patent for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures.

Why It’s Hot

-From government surveillance to urban landscape reconfiguration, drones are opening up a world of industries and tech use cases never even dreamed off

-With legalization/regulation of drones will have a huge impact on brands…from how they deliver their products, how they advertise, to how they deliver utilities

-How DOPE would it be to watch a high-speed drone chase between police-drones and some hoodlum drones?!

– I think we all need to start investing in some serious protective headwear for when shit starts falling from the sky




Inclusivity in VR

We talk about inclusive design for websites and apps, and accessibility for VR is now being addressed as well.

Here are two examples from the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems last week:

  • Video chat for deaf people on Hololens: group video chats can be difficult for people who are hard of hearing. The solution was to create an AR based speech recognition software that features a speech bubble on the video chat. This tested better than traditional captioning.
  • Haptic Cane for VR: Microsoft Research project called a Canetroller allows blind or low vision people to navigate the virtual world. This allows users to navigate a virtual room without visual cues. This also would be a good option to help train people on using mobility canes before going out in the real world.


Why It’s Hot: We are the point where accessibility is being considered for emerging technologies.

A coral re(li)ef

From Hawaiian Airlines’ initiative in April to educate visitors on the harmful effects that many generic sunscreens have on the coral reefs, Hawaii has become the first state to introduce a ban on the sunscreens with chemicals believed to harm the reefs! The bill was introduced on Tuesday and if all goes well, it’ll take effect starting January 1st, 2021.

Why it’s hot:
Years of tourism has brutally impacted the reefs and accompanying ocean life leaving Hawaii to step up as they try to preserve what’s left.


“What If We Just Make The Fake News Really Small?” – Mark Zuckerberg (Allegedly)

The first round of attempt to stifle rampant fake news on Facebook via “red flags” were removed due to:

  1. “Buried critical information a.k.a. required too many clicks
  2. Could sometimes backfire because strong language or visuals can reinforce ideas
  3. Required at least two fact-checkers so was a slow process to be applied
  4. Only worked for false ratings so stories that were partly false or unproven were not marked”

What the disputed flag tool looked like

The crack team at Facebook has another idea…just make the fake news real small like….Or at least that’s what Tech Crunch is claiming with their new behind-the-scenes reporting.

“We reduce the visual prominence of feed stories that are fact-checked false,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch at the Fighting Abuse @Scale event in SF.

“Confirmed-to-be-false news stories on mobile show up with their headline and image rolled into a single smaller row of space. Below, a Related Articles box shows “Fact-Checker”-labeled stories debunking the original link. Meanwhile on the right, a real news article’s image appears about 10 times larger, and its headline gets its own space.”

Why it’s hot?

Facebook is trying to find work arounds for it’s duties to be an actual media company with a newsroom. They have a big issue on their hands thats affecting global politics and humanity. But, LOL, let’s just make the fake news small.


Th NYC Comptroller’s Office has released their report on the effect of AirBNB on rents in the city.

The report covers the years 2009-2016, and uses some interesting mechanisms to control for outside factors.

The takeaways (copied from the report):


  • For each one percent of all residential units in a neighborhood listed on AirBNB, rental rates in that neighborhood went up by 1.58 percent.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, approximately 9.2 percent of the citywide increase in rental rates can be attributed to AirBNB.

This rent hike particularly affected the neighborhoods with the greatest concentration of AirBNBs. The two neighborhoods with the highest absolute increase are Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where rent increased on average by $659.

Why it’s hot

The battle over AirBNB and selectively enforced regulations has been going on for awhile. Here we have hard data that in aggregate, AirBNB has a negative effect on NYC specifically. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.

Playing For Good

What if you could plant a tree just by paying a bill online? More than 280 million Chinese consumers are doing just that, alongside other similarly environmentally friendly acts. The Ant Forest app, launched as a pilot initiative in 2016 by Alipay, China’s leading mobile payment platform, gamifies going green. It rewards users who engage in activities with a low carbon footprint, such as using public transportation or walking to work. Through an animated, interactive mobile game, participants can collect “energy points” and compete with friends to grow a virtual tree. Gathering enough points means Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial will plant a real tree in Inner Mongolia or Gansu province.




Alipay takes the challenge very seriously. In light of transparency issues swirling around the philanthropy industry in China, not only does the company use blockchain to power its donation platform, it has also gone so far as to install a live camera feed in its newly planted forests, so that Ant Forest participants, of whom more than half are millennials, can see exactly what their efforts have amounted to. By the end of 2017, Alipay had planted 13.1 million trees as a result of activity on the app, and claimed to have reduced carbon emission by 2.05 million tons.

Ant Forest is not the only Alipay app that uses gamification for social good. Ant Farm lets users make micro-donations from their mobile payments to selected charities, within a framework that resembles a FarmVille-style game. Users compete with others in their social network as they raise a virtual chicken, gaining feed through making payments and eventually using the eggs their chicken lays to donate to organizations supporting children with congenital heart disease. Players have to keep checking the app to manage feeding times, lest their chicken run away to find food in other users’ digital farms.

Users who prefer to be more active can turn their own steps into a donation in another app, and can compare their fitness progress with those in their network.

Why It’s Hot

Gamification is being hailed as a strong contender for propelling the future of sustainability through digital means. It shows that digital finance holds a huge untapped power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power is literally at our fingertips through our mobile devices.




Asking for gender identity or sex on forms

When asking for gender identity or sex on forms, it’s easy for designers and marketers, especially cis designers and marketers, to revert to binary options, or to conflate assigned or biological sex with gender identity. Luckily lots of people have written articles and guides to help with asking questions to help ensure that data captured is quality and that users feel confident in responding. Below are 7 tips for being more inclusive in gender forms from UX Collective writer Sabrina Fonseca.

  1. Give a reason for asking.
  2. Be clear about who is receiving this data for safety and privacy purposes.
  3. Make it optional or provide an “prefer not to say” option.
  4. Include options for “gender nonconforming”, “genderqueer”, or “questioning” responses.
  5. Ask for pronouns to make things simpler to parse, or just an open field.
  6. Allow for custom or complicated answers if you require more detailed information.
  7. Think about if it is really crucial to the information you are capturing.

Bonus: internationalization applies to questions of gender as well, as some cultures have their own labels and pronoun guidelines to follow.

Why it’s hot

Gender diversity inclusion is work. It requires thinking, training, researching, testing, testing, testing, iterating, and keeping up with labels. But it’s worth pursuing it as gender fluidity is likely to become a more and more widely accepted concept in our society. Trans & GNC people and their allies want to see organizations take action rather than just say they’re supportive. Accommodating for people’s different choices is part of that. So making a small change like this can be beneficial to your target audience, they will appreciate your effort and desire to listen, even if the first attempt is not perfect. – Sabrina Fonseca

Read more at UX Collective,, and Mailchimp

What the heck is GDPR?

The European Union is about to roll out sweeping regulations governing how companies collect, use, and share people’s data. And it doesn’t matter where your business is based–if you deal with E.U. residents online, you’re going to be affected too.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25, is designed to give users more control of their information. In total, there are 99 articles in the new GDPR laws. The law will require companies to obtain consent from users before collecting any data. GDPR also requires companies to notify regulators and affected individuals of any breaches of security within 72 hours. Companies that don’t comply with the new rules can be fined as much as 4 percent of their global annual revenue.

To date, the GDPR is one of the broadest and most comprehensive laws devised by a Western country to regulate the Internet and personal data privacy, according to Trevor Hughes, president of the New Hampshire-based International Association of Privacy Professionals. (The United States has only sector-specific laws to protect personal data.)

While the crux of GDPR is about putting the power of data back in the hands of consumers, giving users a better understanding of where our data is and what it’s being used for, for large companies it has resulted in a big bill. British firms have spent over $1 billion dollars getting ready, and for American companies that bill is over $8 billion. And for many, that money is being spent on legal fees trying to navigate the vague regulations.

But what about smaller companies? As of January, only about 40 percent of businesses had heard of GDPR, and of those that had, only a quarter were prepared for it, according to a survey conducted by the University of Portsmouth and a U.K. market research firm.

Why its hot

GDPR is a big, complicated mess. Large companies like Google and Facebook, who make most of their money outside Europe, won’t have much to worry about. But smaller companies are already starting to shut European countries out rather than comply. It’s just easier. Looking specifically at Facebook, their year-over-year revenue growth is more than Europe’s percentage of Facebook revenue. Companies can either dump all their data or stop doing business in Europe.

One thing GDPR may do is kill the targeted ads business in Europe. That’s a big deal to smaller firms who cannot handle the drop in CPM. Facebook won’t have that issue. If anything GDPR may only further entrench giants like Google and Facebook in our every day lives.

google’s magical VR doodle…

If you missed it, Google released its first 360-degreee video doodle yesterday – an homage to a French silent filmmaker and artist Georges Méliès, commemorating his film “The Conquest of the Pole”.

Why It’s Hot:

When even Google Doodles start to show up in 360-degree video, you know it’s bleeding mainstream. Storytelling in 2018 isn’t just a passive experience, it’s an interactive one that immerses the viewer in the story. As we approach video projects in the future, we should be designing for the experience, not just a two-dimensional stream.



Oscar Mayer has launched a Bacon-Based Cryptocurrency, called Bacoin. Oscar Mayer is giving away a limited amount of Bacoin that fans can mine, track the value of and cash out for real packs of Oscar Mayer Bacon at

Similar to other cryptocurrencies, the value of Bacoin can be volatile. However, Bacoin stands out by the fact that Bacon lovers can boost value by spreading the news via Twitter and email on The more they share, the greater Bacoin is worth. When ready, Bacoin owners can select the best time to cash out and receive real packs of Oscar Mayer Bacon.

Why its hot?
The more people share the higher the value of bacoin and you can track its value on an hourly basis





Internet-free smartphone

samsung launches galaxy j2 pro in south korea gold

Samsung launched a new phone, Galaxy J2 Pro, a phone that lets people call make phone calls and send text messages but cannot connect to the internet.

It targets high schools students who need to focus on studying for their college entrance exam in Korea. The goal is to help them stay on task without the distraction of social media, games, or browsing the web.

Other features include an offline electronic dictionary app, a calendar app, an FM radio and a calculator.

There perk is, students who have completed the exam can trade in their Galaxy J2 Pro for a Galaxy S, Note, or A Series phone.

Why it’s hot: Sometimes it’s good and helpful going back to the basics.

Source: Yahoo

Half Dome – Facebook’s prototype VR headset that’s tackling VR’s biggest visual issues

Facebook just released the new Occulus Go, but already has a prototype for a new VR headset that focuses on advancing the hardware to increase the visual quality.

A wider field of view, built-in eye tracking, and moving screens inside the device all work together to create a greater sense of depth in virtual 3D objects, both far and near. This helps users read things and avoid tunnel vision in VR.

Personal images that users take are transformed into “point cloud record structures.” This allows the device to create new 3D panorama images with detailed geometry that users can explore in VR.

Check out the video:

Why it’s Hot:

  • Innovative new ways to have hardware fix common visual VR issues and create 3D spaces from 2D images

Maple Syrup and Honey Producers are Pissed at the FDA

The FDA is in the process of updating nutrition and serving size labeling requirements for packaged foods, a move that is overwhelmingly positive in terms of providing increased transparency for consumers. But one part of these new requirements is causing a huge backlash in the seemingly idyllic circles of maple syrup and honey producers.

According to the FDA’s new rules, nutritional labels on all honey and maple syrup must list the sugars in the product as “added sugars” even though some of the products themselves are entirely naturally produced. This is a huge deal for these natural producers, since the unique selling point of their products is that they are naturally made and do not have any added sugar.

Don’t freak out yet though, the law is not set to go into effect until 2020 and Senator Sanders is totally on it.

Why It’s Hot: A particularly egregious example of applying rules too broadly and without sufficient flexibility. At what point is “helpful to most” not a good enough justification?

Learn More: USA Today | Burlington Free Press

Who doesn’t want to play amateur Maury Povich?

The 23 & Me craze has spilled into the animal kingdom for pet owners who want more info on their pet’s breed and medical predispositions. Companies such as Embark and AnimalBiome will gladly take your money to test your dog or cat’s dna. Is it worth it? Probably more for dog owners curious about their breed, but don’t spend too much.







Click here to see video.

Why It’s Hot

While there’s nothing wrong with digging into your pet’s dna, it does feel like someone is taking advantage of a larger trend.

“Alexa, Let’s Make Some Money”

Today, Amazon made important updates to its monetization model for Alexa.

First, Amazon finally opened up Alexa to developers to make money off third-party skills. Developers can now add purchases to skills and sell physical goods through Alexa. In-Skill Purchases (or ISPs) work almost exactly like in-app purchases for mobile apps. Developers will be able to offer either one-time purchases to unlock new content or ongoing subscriptions that enhance the skill. Developers get 70% of revenue from the in-skill purchase, and Amazon is ensuring that Prime members will always get some sort of extra benefits here, whether that be discounted prices or early access to new features. (It’s important to note that all skills are still free to use).

The second monetization update is that Amazon is now opening up Amazon Pay, letting third-party developers sell their products through their Alexa skills (similar to how you can already order things from Amazon through the voice assistant). TGI Fridays and 1-800-Flowers are the first companies to create skills with the new functionality, letting users order food or flowers through the Alexa voice interface using the same payment information that’s already attached to their Amazon account.


Opening up Alexa purchases to third-party developers will increase the velocity of the Amazon’s expanding ecommerce universe. As voice grows, Amazon makes a compelling platform for any brand or retailer to reach its customers.

Robot Delivery Drivers take Silicon Valley

Starship Technologies, an autonomous delivery startup created in 2014 by two Skype co-founders, has been in public testing mode in 20 countries around the world since 2015. Now the company says it is ready for its first “major commercial rollout”.

Employees of company ‘Intuit’ in Mountain View, California, will be able to order breakfast, lunch and coffee from their staff cafeteria and have it delivered to any point in the company’s Silicon Valley campus by one of Starship’s six-wheeled autonomous robots.

“You place your order, it’s one click, then you drop a pin where you want the robot to meet you,” says Starship co-founder Janus Friis. “We’ve seen huge demand for breakfast. For some reason people just don’t want to wait – they want to go straight to work and avoid the queue in the early hours of the day.”

Starship is now on the lookout for other campuses across western Europe and the US where it can deploy the robots.

Why it’s hot: This is just another step towards the autonomous driving cars and Amazon drone-delivered packages – talk about a seamless customer experience!

Source: PSFK

Death of the newsfeed?

Industry SME Benedict Evans wrote a post recently asking whether the newsfeed concept fundamental to so many social networks and forums will die soon.

His rationale was as follows:
-Facebook’s average user is eligible to see at least 1,500 items per day in their newsfeed, which is absurd
-There are lots of incentives for people (Russians, game developers) to try to manipulate the feed
-Which means 50% of Facebook’s engineering effort goes into stuffing more into the newsfeed, while the other 50% works out ways to filter it (like Google trying to get search results ‘perfect’)
-Assumedly out of frustration, newsfeed engagement is lower and more people are looking to messaging apps for meaningful interaction

Evan reminds us that tech like this tends to move in cycles – we swing from one kind of expression to another and back again, and we might be swinging away from the feed.

He ends with the following riddle:
-All social apps grow until you need a newsfeed
-All newsfeeds grow until you need an algorithmic feed
-All algorithmic feeds grow until you get fed up of not seeing stuff/seeing the wrong stuff & leave for new apps with less overload
-All those new apps grow until…

Read more: Benedict Evans blog

Why It’s Hot
As we continue to debate whether social networks isolate more than connect us, it’s critical to understand how the communication methods the platforms employ contribute to the phenomenon.

Facebook announces dating feature for meeting non-friends

Facebook  is invading Tinder’s space with a new set of dating features. It will let people opt in to creating a dating profile on Facebook. It will only be visible to non-friends who also opted into dating. Facebook will match you by a slew of preferences. And because it has more data on you than any other app, it could deliver more relevant matches. The feature will start testing later this year.

Facebook explains that “potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events.” TechCrunch suggested that Facebook build a feature like this in February.

  1. Opt in to a create a profile with just your first name. Your profile won’t be visible to friends, users who aren’t on the dating feature, and it won’t show up in the News Feed.
  2. You’ll browse Events in your city and Groups that match your interests. You can select to “unlock” one for dating. You’ll then see the profiles of other dating users who’ve unlocked that surface.
  3. You can browse through people’s profiles that show off a few of their photos plus some basic information about them. You’ll be shown people based on mutual interests and friends, plus other data Facebook has on you.
  4. If you both are interested, you’ll be able to start a conversation with someone in a special inbox that’s separate from Messenger and WhatsApp. For safety, only text can be sent for now.

Why It’s Hot

Based on Facebook’s wealth of data and ubiquitous experience, it is no surprise they are entering the dating space. There is no doubt that Facebook is primed for this. However, there are some concerns.

1. Facebook has long fought with the fake profile – and a dating service could only make that “cat fishing” problem worse.

2. It will create a new level of data intimacy that would have great value to marketers. With all of the data privacy issues Facebook is facing currently, it brings Facebook’s priorities into question.

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