Media

Gramable

Thursday, 6 April, 2017 0 Comments

The adjective Gramable refers to an image that’s suitable to post on the social media platform Instagram. Example: “Ann’s impressionistic photo of the Clontarf seafront was, like, totally Gramable.”

Today, being Gramable is an asset. “When anyone with a steady hand and a Stila eyeliner can find themselves featured on a brand’s Instagram page, professional makeup artists have to find ways to establish their work. An Instagram portfolio is a start.” So wrote Hilary Milnes on Glossy last Thursday in a piece tilted How the ‘Instagram look’ gave rise to a new makeup artist. Miles says that the top Instagram beauty hashtag, #instabeauty, yields 11.8 million results, and adds that Pixability, the video advertising buying and marketing software company, doesn’t differentiate between “beauty influencers” who have professional training or work as makeup artists because it’s almost impossible to tell. Snippet:

“We’ve found there’s no point in differentiating,” says Jackie Paulino, vp of customer success at Pixability. “Brands are interested in looking at who has the most subscribers and who is growing the fastest. From there, they figure out who’s the best fit for their audience and voice. They’re not asking about professional training. Just like a social media star, makeup artists can build their own brands online.”

Message: Be Gramable. (Hat tip for the word: Niamh O’Brien, Hoodman Blind).

Ann's Gram


The King of the News

Saturday, 25 February, 2017 0 Comments

Sure, he’s the man the press loves to hate, but Donald Trump is also the man who shifts papers and magazines and powers the clickstream like no one else on Earth. From Germany to Spain to Sweden to Japan, the press is all Trump all the time now. Sex sells was the old media mantra. Trump sells is the updated version.

250217elp

250217faz

250217jp

250217spi

250217sven


Trump vs. Media

Thursday, 19 January, 2017 0 Comments

In one of the most surreal moments of these strange times, the Columbia Journalism Review yesterday published “An open letter to Trump from the US press corps” written by a person called Kyle Pope. With no apparent sense of irony, Pope declared, “We will set higher standards for ourselves than ever before.” After eight years of White House press sycophancy, this absurd statement can only be greeted with laughter.

Tom Kuntz is the opposite of Kyle Pope: realistic, honest, serious. His “Trump vs. Media Is Much More Than Meets the Eye” for Real Clear Investigates explains that it’s not just the mainstream media that will be going to war with Donald Trump. The shock troops of the Fourth Estate gathering in Washington are part of regiments with names such Old and Blue, New and Blue, Red and New and Old and Red. Snippets:

“Aside from obvious factors — the mainstream media’s liberal leanings and Trump’s Twitter-centric, anti-elitist combativeness — this perfect storm of presidential-press combustibility reflects a striking transformation of the media landscape since the last White House transition, to President Obama in 2009.

The resulting dynamics seem a fair bet to make Richard Nixon’s relationship with the press in the Watergate era look like a lovefest by comparison.

Every President has faced a press filled with sympathizers and skeptics. Trump may be the first in modern times to face serious fire from all sides. This has as much to do with rapidly evolving media as it does with the man.”

Seconds out!


The media shift from reporting to resistance

Thursday, 29 December, 2016 0 Comments

Michael Wolff predicts that media wars will replace culture wars in Trump Era. To support this thesis, he asserts that “an agape media, full of umbrage, disbelief and panic, has elevated his cabinet picks to daily drama and turned Trump’s business affairs into an impeachable offense weeks before he is even to take office.”

In the Hollywood Reporter, Wolff heaps contempt on the Fourth Estate and he locates the behaviour of some journalists in the annals of terrorism:

“This is part of the sudden new journalism credo about not ‘normalizing” the 45th president (a concept originated by pro-Palestinian groups trying to restrict or ban any ‘normal’ activities — including kids soccer games — between Israelis and Palestinians). In other words, Trump, despite the paradox of his election, ought to be considered a rogue occupant of the White House. And, too, that the media should not commence ordinary relations with him.”

Wolff posits that part of the Trump goal might be to change the narrative of modern American life from “urban-global-multicultural to middle-American-nationalist-populist.” If that’s the case, going after the media, “the chief representative of the former, is bound to solidify his standing with the latter.” The mistrusted media is, says Wolff, a “better, more inclusive enemy in the cultural wars — much better to rally around these days than gays and abortions.” The smug media shift from reporting to resistance means we’re in for a fun four years.


Time well spent

Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 0 Comments

Award-winning storyteller, filmmaker, poet and media strategist Max Stossel is concerned about where the Attention Economy is headed. Exhausted by endless screen-time, he’s calling for a debate about “values”. Max asks: “What if news & media companies were creating content that enriched our lives, vs. catering to our most base instincts for clicks? What if social platforms were designed to help us create our ideal social lives, instead of to maximize ‘likes’? What if dating apps measured success in how well they helped us find what we’re looking for instead of in # of swipes?”

With AR, VR and AI about to radically change the ways in which we’re entertained, Max Stossel and friends have started Time Well Spent to “align technology with our humanity.” Max and his pals mean well, no doubt, but they’ve helped create the problem and one more website, no matter how clever the title or noble goal, is just another website. Still, that dancing panda is so cute, isn’t it?


Sebastian Thrun: The world is becoming flatter

Wednesday, 26 October, 2016 0 Comments

Sebastian Thrun is the Founder-President of Udacity and the brains behind a lot of California’s brightest ideas. He is also a senior advisor at the Credit Suisse Lab in Silicon Valley, which is why, perhaps, Daniel Ammann and Simon Brunner of Credit Suisse spoke to him for the bank’s “Entrepreneurs” content offering.

Technology gives us super-human powers” is the headline of the Ammann-Brunner interview and Thrun is as optimistic as the title. Snippet:

When we think about digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence for instance, are we also thinking about the nature of human beings then?

Exactly. With each new technology, we reexamine the human condition, humanity’s existence and our understanding of ourselves as human beings. It always revolves around the same thing: giving human beings super-human powers. We could not have talked to each other 150 years ago because our voices alone were not loud enough to be heard from the US to Switzerland. We could not swim across the Atlantic either; we’re simply not built to do it. Today, however, we talk over the Internet — or fly from Los Angeles to Zurich in 12 hours.

Daniel Ammann and Simon Brunner put it to Thrun at the end of their conversation that he must have enjoyed reading the science fiction of H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, but he replies: “I preferred Heinrich Böll or Max Frisch. I’ve always been more interested in people than technologies. Technology is just a tool. In the long run, what concerns me in everything I do is people.”


@WPOlympicsbot

Saturday, 6 August, 2016 0 Comments

The Washington Post will use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to report on and from the Rio Olympic Games. Its “Heliograf” technology will automatically generate short multi-sentence updates, offer a daily schedule of events, update results, calculate medal tallies and send alerts 15 minutes before the start of a final event. These updates will appear in the paper’s blog and on Twitter.

“Automated storytelling has the potential to transform The Post’s coverage. More stories, powered by data and machine learning, will lead to a dramatically more personal and customized news experience,” Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at the Washington Post, told Recode.

Heliograf will also play a role in the paper’s coverage of the November US elections, where it will generate stories for some 500 races. Heliograf is part of a suite of AI tools at the core of Arc, the Washington Post publishing platform.

PS: The world’s first website went online 25 years ago today. Created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, it was a basic text page with hyperlinked words that connected to other pages. Berners-Lee used the launch to promote his plan for the service, which would come to affect so many aspects of life and business in the 21st century. From hyperlinks to AI bots filing reports on the Olympic Games, it’s been an extraordinary 25 years.


Marshall McLuhan: today’s media and today’s terror

Wednesday, 15 June, 2016 1 Comment

After Larossi Abballa had killed a French police officer and his partner near Paris on Monday evening, he posted a 12-minute video from the scene to Facebook Live. Speaking in a mix of French and Arabic, he smiled evilly as he urged his viewers to target the police, declared that the Euro 2016 football tournament would “be like a cemetery,” and pondered what to do about the dead couple’s three-year-old son.

“When people get close together they get more savagely impatient with each other,” said Marshall McLuhan in a television interview in 1977. Anticipating the arrival of Facebook Live, he accurately predicted the downsides of social media platforms: “Village people aren’t that much in love with each other, and the global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.”

With France in despair and the European Union in disarray, McLuhan foresaw the current rage, the hooliganism and the hatred of the elites: “All forms of violence are a quest for identity… Identity is always accompanied by violence… Ordinary people find the need for violence as they lose their identities, so it’s only the threat to people’s identity that makes them violent.”

McLuhan also anticipated that the likes of Larossi Abballa would use social media to broadcast their nihilism: “Terrorists, hijackers — these are people minus identity. They are determined to make it somehow, to get coverage, to get noticed.”

And in the same interview he predicted the current clash of civilizations: “The literate man can carry his liquor; the tribal man cannot. That’s why in the Moslem world and in the native world booze is impossible. However, literacy also makes us very accessible to ideas and propaganda. The literate man is the natural sucker for propaganda. You cannot propagandize a native. You can sell him rum and trinkets, but you cannot sell him ideas. Therefore, propaganda is our Achilles Heel, our weak point”

Note: Four hours after Larossi Abballa had made his statement on Facebook Live, French police stormed the house in Magnanville, and shot him dead. (The three-year-old boy was unharmed.)


Who will buy the New York Times?

Friday, 6 May, 2016 0 Comments

“We have tried everything we could but sadly we just haven’t reached the sales figures we needed to make it work financially,” New Day editor, Alison Phillips, on Facebook yesterday. Birthed on 22 February, the newspaper was buried on 5 May.

How can the world’s remaining newspapers avoid the grim fate of New Day? Well, the New York Times is getting into the food delivery business, Bloomberg reports: “This summer, the New York Times will begin selling ingredients for recipes from its NYT Cooking website as the newspaper publisher seeks new revenue sources to offset declines in print. The Times is partnering with meal-delivery startup Chef’d, which will send the ingredients to readers within 48 hours.”

The NYT is also placing a bet on travel. “Times Journeys” charges readers thousands for tours of theocracies and autocracies like Iran and Cuba. “Chernobyl: Nuclear Tourism” is packaged as “A journey focused on science & nature,” while “An Exploration of Southeast Asia” is undertaken “Aboard the 264-passenger L’Austral, designed to serve both the chic and the casual.” The vessel is “sleek and intimate” and “you’ll feel as if you were on your own private yacht.” With the “Owner’s Suite” priced from $18,390, one would hope so.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times, in a “Big Read” piece by Henry Mance titled “UK newspapers: Rewriting the story,” pronounced the newspaper business dead on delivery. There is no viable economic model for a written news product, Mance concluded. There is, of course, the FT’s solution to the problem. It sold itself to Japan’s Nikkei last summer for $1.3 billion. So, who will buy the New York Times?


We’ll fix it with video!

Thursday, 28 April, 2016 0 Comments

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was…” So begins A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and while it would be bordering on the sacrilegious to compare the fates of Facebook and Twitter to the epochal events that took place in “the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five,” the rise and fall of the great (social media) powers is the stuff of which history will be made. The fact that the tumbrels are virtual these days, makes the digital revolution less gruesome, for which we should be grateful.

Yesterday, Facebook exceeded Wall Street forecasts on almost every critical metric. The social network made $5.38 billion during the first three months of this year and grew its base to 1.65 billion monthly users. Profit was 77 cents a share, which blew away the 63 cents analysts had been expecting, and the the stock jumped nine percent in after-hours trading. During his conference call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted: “Today, people around the world spend more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. That doesn’t even include WhatsApp yet.”

COO Sheryl Sandberg put her finger on Facebook’s success secret when she said the company is on a mission to help marketers adapt their ads for a mobile world — where messages must be shorter and often without sound. The auto-captioning feature, she added, has led people to spend 12 percent more time with an ad.

mobile video Contrast all this with Twitter, which has disappointed investors yet again with first-quarter results that showed stagnant revenue growth. Twitter, simply, doesn’t have the scale to compete with Facebook. It’s 320 million monthly users are no match for the 1.65 billion Facebook bring to the game. So, what’s the strategy? Twitter’s answer is the same that everyone else on the web has: We’ll fix it with video. That’s what Peter Kafka says in Twitter is going to have a hard time fixing its ad problem. Snippet:

“The company says it wants to convince its advertisers to upgrade their old text+photo Twitter ads with video ads, which sell at higher prices. This sounds like a good idea, but then again, it’s the same idea everyone else has — and Twitter’s already having trouble competing with everyone else.”

In Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved, Joshua Topolsky, co-founding editor of The Verge and recently head of digital at Bloomberg, pours a big bucket of water on the notion that video will fix it. “Video will not save your media business. Nor will bots, newsletters, a ‘morning briefing’ app, a ‘lean back’ iPad experience, Slack integration, a Snapchat channel, or a great partnership with Twitter.”

To paraphrase Dickens, all these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year two thousand and sixteen.


Dilma & Hillary, Thelma & Louise

Friday, 22 April, 2016 0 Comments

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of the Economist, is offering readers two covers this week. Latin America gets “The great betrayal,” which is about the economic crisis in Brazil and the upcoming impeachment of its president, Dilma Rousseff. The country is in a state of despair as it fights its worst recession since the 1930s, and the real should stop at Ms Rousseff’s desk, but the Economist is magnanimous: “The failure is not only of Ms Rousseff’s making. The entire political class has let the country down through a mix of negligence and corruption.”

For the rest of the world, the Economist cover features Hillary Clinton. “Could she fix it?” America, that is. It’s a lukewarm leader, peppered with reservations such as “Mrs Clinton’s solutions too often seem feeble,” and “her policies are fiddly.” As she rolls up her sleeves to retune the USA’s rusty engine, the lack of enthusiasm is startling: “Yet, rather than thrilling to the promise of taking the White House or of electing America’s first woman president, many Democrats seem joyless.”

The Economist Latin America The Economist Clinton

It’s been 25 years since Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis hit the highway in Thelma & Louise, Ridley Scott’s road movie that put women in the driver’s seat, finally. The film kept them at the wheel all the way to the vivid end as they flew into the blue yonder above the Grand Canyon in a green Thunderbird convertible. In Paste Monthly, Amanda Schurr remains transformed by it all. Snippet:

“… their flight from Oklahoma to Mexico is urgent, telling and inimitably American. Leave it to Ridley Scott, taking visual inspiration from Terrence Malick’s Badlands, and the sweeping flyovers of fellow Brit cinematographer Adrian Biddle to capture the promise and danger of the scorched West — the film was shot largely in California and Utah, and it’s never looked more stunning, nor strangely unsentimental and unforgiving.”

A bit like the electorates in Brazil and the USA, “unsentimental and unforgiving.”