Axios has a short, compelling piece called How tech ate the media and our minds from February that I’ve come back to a few times.

It highlights how “our brains have been literally swamped and reprogrammed” and the conundrum that even though we have all the information ever, “at least for now, the more we know, or can see, the less we trust.”

It’s short, but good. Here’s the summary…

There is more good information than at any point in humanity, but it’s harder than ever to find and trust. Almost every trend cited here is getting worse, not better.

And so much of the power to change it rests in the hands of the few, mainly Facebook but also Google, Twitter and Snapchat. Some publishers are putting the emphasis on quality content, which can help.

And others are moving fast to adapt serious news and information to better fit in these exploding off-platform ecosystems.

But ultimately, the burden will fall on individual consumers to exploit what should be the golden age of information by adjusting their own habits.

Source: How tech ate the media and our minds – Axios

Can’t Get More Culturally-Relevant Than This: Did you know that fidget spinners were disrupting classrooms over 4,000 years ago? No, not really. However, the comparisons have been drawn between an artifact and the modern version. We’re guessing bands weren’t putting their albums on spinners back then. Either way, it’s super wild if you ask us. LINK

 

Twitter Subscription: Earlier this week, Twitter revealed plans for testing a subscription-based version of the platform. Not to be confused with their promoted tweets tool, this new feature enables users to receive better visibility of their content in the feeds of their followers along with a higher frequency of their profile appearing in searches – all of which is decided by Twitter. This is an interesting move that appears to be targeted at small to medium-sized businesses and influencers looking to get better reach and engagement. But I’m not sure we’re shelling out $99 bucks for Twitter just yet. LINK

 

Instagram Stories Surpass Snapchat: As it turns a year old, it was announced that Instagram Stories now enjoy more daily users than Snapchat’s. We’ve all been watching the line become blurred between the two platforms, and with it came a significant portion of Snapchat’s user base. Ultimately, it all came down to the convenience of using the features of Snapchat in Instagram where the majority of people of all ages spend their time. LINK

 

#Humblebrag: Our own Director of Innovation, Marty Wetherall, talks about conversation design in the age of voice technology. As it moves beyond the techies and early adopters, screenless tech gets us more psyched each month. LINK

TV, Now on FB!  How much time do you spend on Facebook during a day? Well, starting in mid-August you might as well stay logged in permanently, because the company’s foraying into online television in an attempt to command even more of its users’ time and advertiser dough. Amazon and Netflix are also keeping a close watch, because the platform has hired former TV and media execs and has multiple high-end original series in the works. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects targeting and placement opportunities. While we’re on the topic, Facebook also shared how they’re continuing to up their tech ante, with sophisticated enhancements for Live 360 and plans to release a smart touchscreen speaker in early 2018. Can’t slow that roll. LINK

 

Phelps in Deep Water Over CGI Shark RaceSorry, we can’t resist the occasional pun. You may have heard the Internet abuzz re:  Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ “race” against a shark as part of the highly anticipated Shark Week’s events. What you may nothave known, is that there’s actually a portion of the population that believes in a shark’s ability to comprehend race regulations and swim undistractedly in a straight line next to what looks like a pretty great dinner. Well, once people learned how the sausage—er, CGI shark—was made, controversy ensued. Phelps’ response? “IDGAF.” LINK

 

Instagram’s Influence Extends to Interior Design:  We’ve been admiring restaurant chain by CHLOE.’s aesthetic for a minute, down to their beautifully branded menus and packaging, but did you know that those details were carefully considered with Instagrammers in mind? Now, businesses are taking this mentality a step further and working with entrepreneurs who specialize in designing Instagrammable spaces. That’s one way to get more buzz, UGC and foot traffic. Also, if you’re in NY, swing by Pietro Nolita for your daily recommended dosage of Pepto—I mean “Millennial”—pink. 💅 LINK

 

Emojis Made it to a Bigger Screen:  The Emoji Movie was released yesterday and is not receiving great reviews. Whether or not you’ve got plans to see the flick, it’s hard to deny the social and cultural impact of emojis and what they enable in communication. Emojis have become a means for us to express emotion and personality, and research studies even assert that emoji users are more effective communicators—just make sure to keep using your words, too. 🆒? LINK

 

Oh Happy Day Announces “Color Factory” Pop-Up Exhibition:  Facing unrelenting competition in the blogging world, influencers are finding new ways to connect with their communities beyond the digital realm. The artist and designer behind the popular blog, Oh Happy Day, recently announced the launch of “Color Factory”, a two-story immersive exhibition in San Francisco that’s opening next month. Visitors can explore this massive collaborative work at their leisure, losing themselves in 10,000 colored ribbons, multiple photo stations or a giant yellow ball pit that’s giving us Museum of Ice Cream vibes. We don’t know totally what to expect, but one thing’s for certain:  There will be ‘grams. LINK

Amazon and Google Debut News Feeds: Because what we needed was more places to consume content each day, both Amazon and Google debuted mobile news feeds this week inside their respective core apps. We see this as a continued play by these brands to turn their apps into a destination for browsing, search and shopping. Yay algorithms, amirite?

 

Snapchat Adds Multi-Snap Recording: This week, Snapchat added ability to record multiple 10 second Snaps continuously, and a new “Tint Brush” that allows you to selectively color specific objects or areas of your snaps. These new features will help brands making content create Snaps that look a little bit more professional and turnt than usual. (LINK)

 

“Despacito” Just Broke Justin Bieber’s Streaming Record: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s reggaeton hit has been streamed 4.6 billion times – more than any other song in history, unseating Bieber’s “Sorry,” which sits at 4.38 billion streams. This tweet pretty much sums up how we’re feeling about it. (LINK)

 

Hot Dogs Take Over Our Feeds: Between National Hot Dog Day, Snapchat’s dancing hot dog filter and Bitmoji’s hot dog themes, we were seeing wieners everywhere this week. This week Heinz rolled out a special “Chicago Dog Sauce” to get around that city’s no ketchup rule, then SURPRISE, revealed it was actually ketchup. But only after sparking a host of social buzz and press attention. For the record, we’re #TeamMustard all the way. (LINK)

 

NBC News Launches ‘Stay Tuned,’ a Snapchat News Show: NBC News just launched a twice-daily news show on Wednesday morning called “Stay Tuned,” which will appear on Snapchat’s Discover platform — the first daily news show on Snapchat. It will cover national and international news, politics and pop culture. Now if we could just remember to actually swipe over to Discover…(LINK)

 

The Drive-By Dunk Challenge Is Emerging as the Meme Of The Summer: Earlier this week, Instagram user @t.currie posted a video of him going from house to house dunking on random basketball hoops, and the video has subsequently been reposted by big sports outlets like Bleacher Report, CBS News, and Heavy. The meme is catching on, with people as far away as Australia getting into it. No hoop is safe from the Drive-By-Dunk! (LINK)

 

Keeping a close eyes on patents, art and culture helps us know where the trends are headed. In this case, Apple has filed for a patent that appears to enable a host of really amazing features in their video calling app, FaceTime…

The patent in point is a new method of creating augmented reality within a live video chat. Augmented reality is basically the ability to overlay graphics onto a screen, and ranges from the simple scores pasted in the corner of your NFL broadcast, up to the cartoon augmented reality of Pokemon Go.

Apple could push things further by displaying alternate–but equally live–backgrounds behind a video caller. It only has to combine the face-on stream of a traditional camera with the stream from a secondary camera that takes in more of participant’s environment to add extra context. You’d be able to see a closeup of your friend’s face within a wider view of the room, café, or park where they were sitting. Conversely, the light field cameras could cut out a video caller’s image and project it onto a different background in true augmented reality style.

So rather than have the scores plastered over your NFL broadcast, your video calling friend’s image could sit there, instead, and you could watch the game on a stream from your computer and overlay your conversation on top of the action. Or, as with Pokemon Go, you could potentially project that cutout over the live viewpoint of an iPhone so it appears that your friend is sitting on the chair opposite you in a café.  It’s a much more personal experience than having your friend encased within the confines of a chat window.

Source: Apple’s Augmented Reality Is Coming to FaceTime, Using Light Field Camera Tech – VC Daily

Amazon Prime Day Fuels the Voice Control Trend: We continue to be excited about voice-control and A.I.-assisted devices becoming mainstream – an adoption curve that received a huge boost on Amazon Prime Day this week. The smaller Echo Dot (as we predicted yesterday) was by far the biggest item sold. Amazon doesn’t highlight any actual sales numbers, but sources say Echo devices were selling at a rate of “thousands per minute,” which Amazon later corroborated by noting that “Prime members in the U.S. are ordering more than 6,000 deals every minute” in an update late yesterday. There are now more than 15,000 Alexa Skills, and brands should continue to think about how their customers will interact with their products and services through this emerging technology. (LINK)

 

Ads Come to Facebook Messenger: Facebook is rolling out ads globally to the home page of its Messenger app. With 1.2 billion active users, we’re not surprised Facebook is looking for ways to monetize this engagement. For brands, this is yet another mobile-first touchpoint to leverage Facebook’s amazing targeting, and look for integration with branded chatbots – now just a quick click away from an ad to chat. (LINK)

 

‘Gangnam Style’ Is No Longer the Biggest YouTube Video: For the past five years, Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ had been YouTube’s most-watched video, but now Wiz Khalifa’s ‘See You Again’ featuring Charlie Puth has topped the Korean superstar’s single. On YouTube, ‘Gangnam Style’ had become so popular that it literally broke the platform’s view counter.  Back then, videos on the platform had a maximum possible number of views set at 2,147,483,647, so the code had to be rewritten to allow it to exceed those possible views! ‘Furious 7,’ a tribute to the late Paul Walker, was also a significant contributor. In fact, the song has become one of the most requested funeral songs in the UK. Of note, Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry,’ Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk,’ and Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ are close behind both videos. (LINK)

 

Digital Mind Clones – Coming to An App Near You: Replika is a chatbot program that doesn’t just talk to people, it learns their texting styles to mimic their personality. Although it’s been out since March, Quartz wrote a fascinating long-form piece about neural networks, what happens when you train a bot to replace inane, time-consuming activities (like scheduling appointments), the limitations of today’s tech, the implications of what it means to be human and the pitfalls of outsourcing humanity to robots. It’s a fascinating long read, and had us signing up for Replika ourselves. Who knows, maybe it will send these emails on our behalf next week? (LINK)

 

A Dancing Hotdog Was Winning the Internet This Week but Beyoncé had a Friday Surprise: Snapchat’s AR filter of a cute breakdancing hotdog spread across the social web this week, and obvious brands such as Oscar Mayer, and not-so-predictable sources, such as Miami Heat player Hassan Whiteside, are having a frank-tastic time with the meme. Of course, this was only the trend of the web this week until Queen Bey dropped an Instagram of her twins this morning. (LINK)

How I temporarily cut my mom out of my social media life to reach a larger audience: The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem

New Instagram Stories Feature

This week, Instagram announced that users can now reply to stories with a photo or video. By tapping the camera button while viewing a story, a photo or video response can be created. Replies to stories will show up in user’s inboxes, and can include filters and stickers. Before this feature was introduced, the only way to respond to stories was with a message. This update can act as a tool for brands to connect and interact with individuals on a more personal level. Link

 

Snapchat Updates!

Snapchat introduced a few new features to their platform. Firstly, you can now attach links to your snaps! Users can now tap the paper clip button, add a website link, and send to their friends. Once a website link is received from a friend, swiping up will direct you to the intended link. Secondly, Snapchat has added new daily backdrops, voice filters, and on-demand geofilters for use at sporting events, music festivals, weddings, etc. By using the scissor icon, these new backdrops can be cut and customized, allowing for fun colors and designs to be inserted. Link

 

The Meme Economy

We found this to be an interesting take on Internet culture and who actually owns the rights to memes. This topic has been debated before, but has recently resurfaced with President Trump’s tweet of himself beating up a man with the CNN logo superimposed over the man’s face. It’s a reminder that while memes are highly shareable and accessible, there are legal considerations when using them. Link

 

Facebook’s Wi-Fi Locator

Earlier this week, Facebook revealed a new feature for finding nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. This is incredibly useful for users running low on data and don’t want it eaten up watching videos on a cellular connection. Companies need to opt-in to the feature to be listed, which will make this all the more useful in the coming months when the database has been built. Ultimately, this will drive people to businesses with Wi-Fi connectivity because Facebook knows how important staying connected at all times is to their users. Link

Here’s what’s new this week:
               

Instagram AI Revamped: This week Instagram announced that its AI for blocking harassment and spam in the comments has been completely overhauled. The new system uses machine learning to identify and prevent a range of hostile comments from appearing, which includes bullying, racism, and sexual harassment. A huge step in a positive direction for the community – and our community managers! (LINK)

iPhone Turns 10: It’s hard to believe that the iPhone came out 10 years ago. While it was and still is very much a phone, the way we use the device has drastically changed over the last decade. The original iPhone lacked a front-facing camera, the ability to send a photo via text, and an App Store with millions of apps that do amazing things and bring people together in ways we could have only imagined. The most important thing that it did do, however, was it got the world to think differently about what a mobile phone meant as a personal and constant companion. HBD, iPhone! (LINK) 

Facebook Targets Households: This week Facebook announced that brands will be able to direct ads to entire families or to specific people within a household. This will be accomplished using signals such as your relationship information that is shared by users, along with shared check-ins of people within the same household and their internet connections. This will be especially useful in terms of not wasting ad dollars by showing ads that aren’t relevant to certain family members. Arriving just in time for the holiday season, the new capability will be able to target those who influence purchases in a family along with the ones making the actual purchase. (LINK)

Apple Maps with an AR Surprise: As we learn more and more about Apple’s next version of iOS, some users have discovered a pretty cool trick. If you open Apple Maps on a device with iOS 11 installed and view a major city with Walkover 3D support, you can feel like you’re walking through the city with from the perspective of Godzilla (FINALLY!!). It’s pretty impressive and more importantly, it sheds light on the possibilities of where Apple and developers will take the new ARKit’s capabilities once available to the public this fall. Be sure to check out the video within the link. (LINK) 

#HUMBLEBRAG: Speaking of augmented reality and Apple, we’ve been experimenting with the new iOS 11 ARKit at Fallon, too. Check out our AR Virtual Pet experience on Facebook here.

Here’s what’s new this week:

 

Snap Maps: This week Snapchat debuted a new feature that shows users where their friends are, where the most Snaps are coming from at any given moment, and what’s happening around the globe — in real time. From the main camera screen, simply pinch your fingers together to trigger the map. There is a playful purpose to Snap Map, but the tool also has the power to break news and power brand activations in the same way that Twitter does with the Our Story curation feature.  (Snapchat’s New “Snap Map” Will Transform How You Connect With Friends)

 

Facebook GIFs: As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the GIF, this week Facebook joined the ranks of social networks natively supporting GIFs in user comments. Nearly 13 billion GIFs were sent on Facebook Messenger last year, 400 million of those gracing family and friends on New Year’s Day 2017. Facebook only brought in sharing GIFs on News Feeds in 2015, letting users use site hosting the image to make a direct share to your feed. But now that they’re native, brands and users are already employing these new features for interactive games. We expect user use of GIFs will spice up community management engagement, as well. (5 fun games you can play with Facebook’s new GIF feature)

  

Instagram Live Replay: As of a few days ago, Instagram live streams can now be saved to your story for your audience to replay over the following 24 hours. Unique to the platform, Instagram’s live videos have always been ephemeral, and would disappear as soon as the broadcast ended. The feature puts Instagram on par with Periscope from a replay-able perspective, though it now has the edge of becoming wrapped into the easily consumable stories feature (which currently has over 250 million daily users!) This is especially great since Instagram only alerts some of your audience that you’re live, which means that your events will receive even more impressions than before. (Instagram adds 24-hour live video replays to Stories)

 

Google Glass: This week, in its first update since September 2014, Google Glass got an app update, some bug fixes and now supports Bluetooth. The updates triggered a news cycle and disbelief from the tech community. While we don’t anticipate Glass coming back in vogue, we respect how it paved the way for augmented reality (now coming native to the iPhone) and face cameras (now for sale in Snap Spectacles). And according to patent filings, Apple is working on glasses, too. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on what Google has up its sleeve… er on its face. (Google Glass is apparently still around — and just got its first update in nearly three years)