Sign up for Greg’s weekly email here
It was Groundhog Day earlier this week, so I wrote a thread about back when I was the voice of Punxsutawney Phil on Twitter. Who knew in early February we could still expect 6 more weeks of winter? A prognosticating marmot, that’s who. Human traditions can be so beguiling.
Beyond forecasting animals, a handful of significant turning point moments happened in social media this week that are worth noting:
- AOC used IGTV to share her powerful story of the attack on the Capitol directly with followers (TW // sexual violence).
- Elon Musk used Clubhouse to interview the CEO of Robinhood.
- The CEO of Parler was fired by the board.
- And the Myanmar military blocked Facebook and other social media platforms in a bid to quell dissent after detaining the country’s elected leaders and seizing power in a coup.
Social media has always offered an opportunity to disrupt traditional information gatekeepers and to offer direct access from 1:1 and 1:Many. But we’re seeing these tools be used in new ways that are an exponential leap beyond where they’ve been for a decade – when the Arab Spring was the best example of social media’s power, risk, and potential for abuse.
The Year 2021 was always going to be a fascinating one to live through, but I continually find myself surprised at how unexpected and history-making these times can be.
Here’s what I’m tracking this week…
Black History Month Social: February is Black History Month, and this week all of the major social platforms announced new programs and initiatives to celebrate Black stories and highlight the contributions of people of color.
CES 2021 Cheat Sheet: Remember January? It seems like a year ago, but it was just last month. And there was a huge consumer technology event that happened you may have missed. So I put together a little cheat sheet for you: 10 Takeaways from CES 2021. Check it out, and if you want to go deeper, let me know.
Advertising’s Big Game: This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday (aka The Big Game, aka Superb Owl), and the USA Today Ad Meter is live and *the* place to watch and rate your favorite spots.
Revenge Bedtime Procrastination: If you thought your doomscrolling habit would end after the election but still can’t sleep, there’s a Chinese term translated as “sleepless night revenge” that is spreading to the U.S. via social media. The idea of bedtime revenge procrastination is a “phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.” How to solve it? Go outside, exercise, meditate, and just put that phone down. Sounds easy enough, right?
When Robots Write Candy Hearts: Technologist Janelle Shane is continuing her tradition of having neural networks write the messages on those little candy hearts for Valentine’s Day. This year’s most romantic A.I. picks: “Can I stay?” “I am the best.” “Our tentacles are more alike than you might think.”
The Best Line in Bezos’ Email to Employees: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stepped down this week, and there’s a line in this employee email worth reading: “Invention is the root of our success. We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.”
Patent Watch: Tracking where big companies are putting their efforts is a great way to see where things *may* be headed, even if some of these never come to fruition.This week Apple has a patent that brings your car’s seat customizations into a friend’s car. Facebook is creating directional audio blocking. And Microsoft is bringing their computer technology into shirt design, including “microcontrollers, integrated circuits, solar cells, [LEDs], batteries, conductors, actuators, switches, buttons.” Read more here.
Verified Influencer Home Décor: Finally, you can let your neighbors know you’re an influencer with a giant Blue Check mounted to your house. Only $2999, if you qualify. And if you lose enough followers, they remove it. And charge you. Yes, it’s a parody. But wow, can you imagine?
Business Reads of the Week:How to Stay Creative When Every Day Is Groundhog Day; Clubhouse isn’t perfect, but for PRs there’s a lot to get excited about; How to build the city of the future, according to Ikea’s innovation lab
- HiNOTE is the new “Cameo for musicians” and boasts early adopters (who will record custom songs for anyone you request) like Montell Jordan, Lisa Loeb, Barenaked Ladies, and more.
- Twitter published its 2021 planning calendar and quietly sunset its Ads Transparency Center.
- Instagram is adding a recently deleted function and is testing a TikTok-style vertical feed.
- Facebook’s Oculus platform grew 2x last year, and look for integration of Facebook Messenger to further utility and active users.
- Microsoft is launching Viva, an intranet-type suite of tools that integrate with MS Teams.
- Amazon plans to install always-on surveillance cameras in its delivery vehicles.
- Spotify may launch a feature that automatically removes vocals so you can sing along.
- Reddit’s CEO uses an internal term — ‘Daily Active S—heads’ — to describe users who need to be policed to maintain enjoyable and safe Reddit communities.
- Scientists have taught spinach to send emails.
- Podcast of the Week: 99% Invisible delves into the complicated culture of the Twin Cities skyway system, vast networks of climate-controlled pedestrian bridges that reach over the streets and connect adjacent buildings.
- Tweet of the Week: @everylot_usps featuring photos of every USPS, every half hour.
- TikTok of the Week: the #imbusyrightnow challenge.
- Viral Video of the Week:Titanic – My Heart Will Go On via rubber chickens.
- Good Feels of the Week:watch this dog re-learn to walk.
🎶 So here’s an obligatory music reco — my “Get to Work” playlist I use when zoning out and just need to write, make a deck, or do focused thinking. It’s only 17 hours long.
See you on the internet!
PS: I’m hiring full time social positions at Fallon and Brainjolt + Blue Kazoo. And also summer interns. Read these carefully, and hit me up if you’re a fit.