Social Pulse, Week of 8-17

Every week I keep tabs on what’s trending, new technology and consumer habits that impact the social web. These are summed up in a round-up called Social Pulse. Sign up to get this in your inbox every Friday here.

SocNet Updates: Snapchat added in-app voter registration. Instagram added QR code support and is replacing “You’re All Caught Up” at the end of your newsfeed with “Suggested Posts.” Facebook Portal will add capability for Zoom, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting and Webex in September. Twitter launched a Transparency Center and shared insights about the return of sports. Facebook is updating user control of advertising preferences again, launched an Educator Hub, which is designed to help students, parents and teachers, and now lets musicians charge $$ for live events. TikTok is still looking for a buyer, and now Oracle has joined Twitter and Microsoft in those discussions. Snapchat is again experimenting with letting users share content outside of the app.

Digital Blackface: Wired has a piece about censorship and appropriation faced by Black creators on social media networks like TikTok, and how white creators grow followers and engagement by co-opting Black culture, slang, and fashion. Key quote: “TikTok is a video-first platform, and on it, creators embody Blackness with an auteur-driven virtuosity—taking on Black rhythms, gestures, affect, slang. The most effective videos come down to one factor: how well a creator grabs hold of our attention. That is to say, how deftly they make what we watch theirs. Blackness is a proven attention getter. Its adoption is racism, custom-fit.”

I Skipped College and Got Google Certified: This week Google announced Google Career Certificates, a selection of professional courses that teach foundational skills that are highly in-demand (Data Analyst, UX Designer, Project Manager), only take 6 months to complete, and cost $300 or less.Google claims the programs “equip participants with the essential skills they need to get a job,” with “no degree or prior experience required to take the courses.”

Patent Watch: Although patents don’t guarantee an invention will become mainstream, they are certainly an indicator of where big companies and inventors are exploring in the future. This week’s patent watch includes: an Apple security camera and virtual keyboards (a laptop with a GIANT trackpad!), Facebook VR gloves with haptic (touch) feedback, and coordinated content across second screen experiences (your phone and TV sharing content at the same time!) from Microsoft. See the full list here.

Literally Living Life Online: The NYT has published this piece about how digital three-dimensional environments are where much of life is taking place during the pandemic. Key quote: “During the lockdowns, gaming platforms have been thriving as venues for all manner of events. Savvy teachers are holding online classes where their students are already spending their time: on game-focused sites like Twitch and Discord. People have held beach weddings inside Animal Crossing and concerts inside Fortnite. Students at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and other universities built 3-D replicas of their school settings inside Minecraft, and some held graduation celebrations there.”

Or…Let’s Just Move Off-Grid and Leave This All Behind: Mental Floss has this long-read about a Russian family who did what many of us have longed to do in 2020 — move into Siberian wilderness and leave behind modern culture for more than 40 years. But the outcome wasn’t great. And who knew SALT would be the most important thing they would miss? Read it here.

Viral Video of the Week: This YouTuber built a device that shoots masks right onto people’s faces!

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