Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘social media

Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

Tagged with , , ,

Birdbrained Bird Boxers

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Back in the early-to-mid aughts, before we called everything “social media” (back when I had to walk five miles through the snow to get to the office), we often referred to something that came to be known as the “wisdom of the crowd.”

The New Yorker writer James Surowiecki wrote a book on the phenomenon, “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

The central thesis of the book was the idea that the aggregation of information in groups resulted in decisions are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. 

As an example, in his opening anecdote for the book, he relayed the surprise that a crowd had when their individual guesses of an ox’s weight were accurate when they were all averaged together.

It was a really cool idea, and it seemed to stick around for awhile.

And then, as if out of nowhere, the wisdom of the crowd seems to have gone the way of the do do bird.

Or, should I say, the way of the “Bird Box.”

Some background: Bird Box is a movie (spoiler alert!) recently released by Netflix starring Sandra Bullock in which the basic premise is that everybody must run around blindfolded lest they see the post-apocalyptic zombies running around which, if seen by the human eye, will turn them into zombies as well.

As Netflix movies go, it was pretty bad, but like an inverse of Surowiecki’s theorem, everybody had to see it because it got so much exposure via social media.  

Call it the “constipation” of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the viral meme of seeing the movie didn’t stop there.

No, lacking the wisdom of crowds from even 13 or 14 years ago, instead the “Bird Box Challenge” was born.

The challenge is simple: People inspired by the film are recreating the basic premise of the movie by going about their daily lives blindfolded.

It’s as silly as that, or even as silly as the Tide Pod challenge (another key piece of evidence of the constipation of the crowd) from last year, where people filmed themselves on YouTube eating Tide Pod laundry detergent pellets. Hey, whatever spins your cycle!

Only the Bird box Challenge has taken the constipation of the crowd to new heights, because, well, you’re blindfolded, which, you know, isn’t exactly conducive to things like driving a car or floating through rapids on a river.

It got so bad that Netflix had to issue a Tweet telling us how dangerous the Bird Box Challenge could be: “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE.”

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, we encouraged this kind of outlier behavior…It helps thin out the herd.

But we didn’t have a bunch of bird brains doing the Bird Box Challenge. 

We just called such phenomena “Darwin Awards.”

Go ahead, Google it.  

Just make sure you step away from the ledge.

Or not.

Written by turbotodd

January 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in 2018, social media

Tagged with , ,

Dezinformatsiya

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If you’ve had any interest in following all those alleged goings on by Russia in the 2016 elections, today was a good day. 

The Washington Post wrote that a new report that was prepared for the U.S. Senate “provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign” and “used every major social media platform to deliver words, images, and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump.”

It was the product of a bipartisan effort from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and you can download the full report here.

Me, I’m neither going to wade into or attempt to drown that particular swamp, but I will say one of the revelations was what a significant role Instagram seemed to play in the Russia Internet Research Agency’s efforts (as opposed to the prior focus on Twitter and Facebook).

I guess a picture’s worth a thousand kompromat!

Meanwhile, more political heat on the search and social media front as The Intercept reports that Google was forced to shut down a data analysis system that it had been using to develop a censored search engine for China “after members of the company’s privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them.”

The internal rift over the system has had massive ramifications, effectively ending work on the censored search engine, known as Dragonfly, according to two sources familiar with the plans. The incident represents a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities.

You gotta go deep to get to the bottom of this one, but it does appear that the Grinch may have stolen Google’s Chinese search gift this holiday season. I’ll leave it up.

Queue up Dr. Seuss:

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who Christmas Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!”
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?”

Written by turbotodd

December 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Follow Florence

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Hurricane Florence has arrived, and while it may have dropped to a Cat 1 storm, it looks like an absolute monster on the TV radar.

Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina around 7:15 AM EST with estimated maximum winds of 90 mph and a minimum central pressure estimate of 958 mb.

Following are a few resources for following Florence’s wrath via Twitter:

FEMA Region 4: @femaregion4

National Hurricane Center (Atlantic): @NHC_Atlantic

National Hurricane Center: @NWSNHC

National Weather Service: @NWS

The Weather Channel: @weatherchannel

Stephanie Abrams (Weather Channel Meteorologist): @StephanieAbrams

Folks who still have power and Internet can also follow the storm via the National Weather Service website, or the Weather Channel.

The latest Hurricane Florence Advisory (Number 61) was just issued, and here was the lede: 

…FLORENCE JUST INLAND NEAR CAPE FEAR NORTH CAROLINA…
…LIFE-THREATENING STORM SURGES AND HURRICANE-FORCE WIND GUSTS
CONTINUE…
…CATASTROPHIC FRESHWATER FLOODING EXPECTED OVER PORTIONS OF NORTH
AND SOUTH CAROLINA…

SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT…1500 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————–
LOCATION…34.0N 78.0W
ABOUT 20 MI…30 KM SW OF WILMINGTON NORTH CAROLINA
ABOUT 55 MI…90 KM ENE OF MYRTLE BEACH SOUTH CAROLINA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…80 MPH…130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…WSW OR 245 DEGREES AT 3 MPH…6 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…958 MB…28.29 INCHES

And the more specific details:

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
——————–
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The Tropical Storm Warning has been discontinued north of Duck,
North Carolina, including the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point
Comfort.

The Hurricane Warning has been changed to a Tropical Storm Warning
from Duck, North Carolina, south to Bogue Inlet, including the
Albemarle Sound.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina
* Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico
Rivers

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River South Carolina to Bogue Inlet North Carolina
* Pamlico Sound

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina
* Bogue Inlet North Carolina to Duck North Carolina
* Albemarle Sound

Interests elsewhere in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states
should monitor the progress of Florence.

For storm information specific to your area, including possible
inland watches and warnings, please monitor products issued by your
local National Weather Service forecast office.

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
———————-
At 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Florence was
located near latitude 34.0 North, longitude 78.0 West. Florence is
moving toward the west-southwest near 3 mph (6 km/h). A slow
westward to west-southwestward motion is expected today through
Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move
further inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and
extreme eastern South Carolina today and Saturday. Florence will
then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the
central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph (130 km/h) with higher
gusts. Gradual weakening is forecast later today and tonight.
Significant weakening is expected over the weekend and into early
next week while Florence moves farther inland.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from
the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195
miles (315 km). A wind gust to 75 mph (120 km/h) was recently
reported at the National Ocean Service station in Wrightsville
Beach, and a 72 mph (116 km/h) was recently reported at a
Weatherflow site just north of Cape Fear at Federal Point.

The estimated minimum central pressure based on surface observations
is 958 mb (28.29 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the
tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by
rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the
potential to reach the following heights above ground…

Cape Fear NC to Cape Lookout NC…7-11 ft, with locally higher
amounts in the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo, and Bay Rivers
Cape Lookout NC to Ocracoke Inlet NC…6-9 ft
South Santee River SC to Cape Fear NC…4-6 ft
Ocracoke Inlet NC to Salvo NC…4-6 ft
Salvo NC to Duck NC…2-4 ft
Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC…2-4 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of
onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and
destructive waves. Surge-related flooding can vary greatly over
short distances. For information specific to your area, please see
products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast
office.

RAINFALL: Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive
rainfall in the following areas…

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern South
Carolina…an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals
of 30 to 40 inches. This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash
flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.

Remainder of South Carolina and North Carolina into southwest
Virginia…5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches. This rainfall will
produce life-threatening flash flooding.

Rainfall totals exceeding 14 inches thus far have been reported at
several locations across southeastern North Carolina.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina
today.

SURF: Swells generated by Florence are affecting Bermuda, portions
of the U.S. East Coast, and the northwestern and central Bahamas.
These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip
current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather
office.

To all my friends and colleagues in the Carolinas and surrounding environs, be safe and be smart!

Written by turbotodd

September 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

A Social Bill on Capitol Hill?

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Happy hump day.

Well, I didn’t have the opportunity to watch all of the Senate hearings where our illustrious senators grilled Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

For Google, there was an empty chair, as Larry Page opted not to show or send a representative.

From what I’ve gathered thus far, the two executives told lawmakers they feel they are better prepared to combat foreign interference on their platforms.

The Washington Post reports that Sandberg said "We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act. That’s on us. This interference was completely unacceptable. It violated the values of our company and of the country we love. We are more determined than our opponents and we will keep fighting."

Dorsey, on the other hand, explained that "We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems we’ve acknowledged. Abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots and human coordination, disinformation campaigns and divisive filter bubbles — that’s not a healthy public square."

One highlight of the hearing occurred when a female protester stood up at the back of the hearing room towards the end of the session.

To overshadow (err, physically shadow ban?) the protester, Rep. Billy Long of Missouri launched into full auctioneer filibuster mode until such time as said protester could be removed fro the hearing room.

God, how I love the U.S. Congress.

We can probably start the countdown on how long it takes for a social media or overall Internets regulation bill to roll down Capitol Hill.

Schoolhouse Rock, everybody….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0

Written by turbotodd

September 5, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Big Tech Regulation

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Axios posted some survey results a few hours ago that suggests a majority of Americans are now concerned that the government won’t do enough to regulate How us technology companies operate.

According to the story, across-the-board concern about government in action is up significantly – 15 percentage points – in the past three months. And Axios suggests that it shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but also a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, and the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

More highlights:

  • More than 8 out of 10 people, including big majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing more to safeguard their platforms against election interference.

  • When asked whether social media does more to help promote democracy and free speech or does more to hurt democracy and free speech, most Americans (55%) now say social media does more to hurt democracy and free speech.

Axios suggests that major tech firms response thus far has been to “tout the fact that consumers love their free, innovative products that have become staples of every day life.” But also that these new numbers suggest more people are trying to square their affinity for those services with the downsides that have reared their heads over the past year.

Still, more than 7 out of 10 Americans still believe that technology has had a positive effect on society.

We’ll just have to wait and see if it stays that way.

Written by turbotodd

February 28, 2018 at 9:38 am

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