Facebook Adds Streaks in Messenger Test: Facebook may or may not start requiring us to upload selfies to prove our identity, but they are for sure continuing to copy Snapchat with the addition of “streaks” in a a test with some users this week. This is in line with user behavior – especially teens – who maintain back and forth communications between friends purely for the social glory of maintaining back and forth communication day after day. Streak counters gamify the app experience and can lead to huge engagement. We’re guessing they’ll launch this mainstream in Q1. (LINK)
Snapchat Reinvents Itself: This week Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel revealed the Snapchat redesign – separating the news-heavy Discover page from a user’s friend list. On the redesigned app, users will swipe to the left of the main camera screen to see chats, stories and messages from their friends, and swipe to the right for news, Snap Map and publisher content. The new Discover page reorganizes news from a horizontal scroll to a vertical, in the vein of Facebook’s and Twitter’s seemingly endless feeds. Promoted stories are changing, too. Spiegel’s manifesto on social media is worth a read: “It’s vitally important that future content feeds are built on top of a human-curated supply of content… Curating content in this way will change the social media model and also give us both reliable content and the content we want.” (LINK)
Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself? As machine learning becomes more powerful, the field’s researchers increasingly find themselves unable to account for what their algorithms know — or how they know it. This is both because of the bias of the affluent white men who are programming them, but also because we’re dealing with technology that is more of a mystery than we expected. Key quote from this amazing NYT long read on the subject: “We human beings seem to be obsessed with black boxes: The highest compliment we give to technology is that it feels like magic. When the workings of a new technology is too obvious, too easy to explain, it can feel banal and uninteresting.” (LINK)
Mentally Pleasing Content: Remember the Sesame Street video about how crayons are made? Well, us fully grown adults still love mesmerizing video – but now it’s things like calligraphy, paint being mixed, and slime being poked. These are widely shared on Reddit (Oddly Satisfying), Tumblr (#StimmyStuffs), and YouTube (The Most Satisfying Video in the World). This week Amazon got into the game by posting this amazing video of their fulfillment center on Cyber Monday. We put it on a loop in the office and haven’t gotten a lot done the rest of the day, to be honest.