All I Want for Christmas is a Facetime with Santa: So sorry to all of the Santas at the mall, but the business of being Santa is going digital. New chat and video call services and apps – like Welcome Santa, Portable North Pole, Talk to Santa and Video Call Santa – enable kids to use their screens to engage with that jolly old elf. Talk to Santa charges $30 for a personalized video call or $25 for a personalized video.
Key quote: “The kids are so used to it. They FaceTime with their grandparents and they talk to everybody through video calls anyways, so this is a totally natural way for them to be able to interact with Santa.” Meanwhile, Quartz is asking for coal in their stocking by going deep on the privacy implications of these services.
Digital Baby Deepak: Celebrities are going to start cloning themselves via artificial intelligence, and this is not the Jeremy Renner app. The AI Foundation is creating technology to make virtual AI archives of anyone who wants to be immortalized or remembered, and they have a working demo of Deepak Chopra. Their plan is to release a tool for anyone to record and build their own AI, like a living memory archive straight out of Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back.”
SnapchaCameos: Snapchat is preparing new feature – launching December 18 — that uses your selfie photo to deepfake your face over the faces of others. Intended to be used similarly to Bitmoji (for quick, personal responses in Snap messages), it’s like Elf Yourself and Zao, except in one of the world’s most popular social networks. Will this accelerate the rise and mainstreaming of deepfakes and shallowfakes? Definitely.
Pinterest 100: This week Pinterest released a report of trends its observing as we head into the new year in a report called the Pinterest 100, across 10 categories like Responsible Travel, Space, Re-wilding, Pampered Pets, etc. Here’s the downloadable PDF.
Google Shopping 100: This week Google released an interactive list of trending products on Google search across categories like Tech, Gaming and Personal Care called the Google Shopping 100.
TikTok 100: This week TikTok released a top 100 collection of 2019’s top dances, memes, viral videos, celebrities, beauty and style, sports moments, and more that helped TikTok so quickly reach its place in the forefront of pop culture and social media engagement – called the TikTok 100.
Twitter 2020: This week Twitter launched its @TwitterBusiness 2020 Calendar, featuring key events and moments to plan for next year. Download it here.
Instagram Testing Stories Frames: Insta is testing options that enable you to choose a split-screen grid type for your images, new Boomerang modes, “Shoutouts,” which provides custom templates for birthdays and call-outs for friends. They will also start requiring birthdays for new users, giving advertisers a better sense of targeting other than “13 years of age or over.”
A Good Movie to Watch: Considering we’re living in one of the greatest eras of TV and movies, it can be incredibly hard to find those gems across the streaming services. agoodmovietowatch suggests “highly-rated, but little-known” movies and shows you might not know about. Their recommendations all hold a viewer score higher than 70% (7/10 on IMDb for example) and at the same time a critic score higher than 70% (on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, etc). They also hunt down movies and shows that have low voting counts on those same platforms.
Words of the Year: Depending on your dictionary of choice, the following words were added or named word of the year for 2019: “Cancel Culture”, “Existential”, “Climate Emergency”, and “They.”
Video of the Week: It’s the Pachelbel Train Horn, recorded from train horns at the Prague Main Railway Station and remixed into Pachelbel’s Canon in D. You’re welcome.