Social Pulse, Week of 10-19

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.

Hum to Search: On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app, tap the mic icon and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. It immediately identified Suzanne Vega’s track “Tom’s Diner” based solely on doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, duhdoodoo. Try it!

The FOBO is Real: It’s our new universal neurosis: Fear of Being On… “an anxiety characterized by a constant need to check that you are muted, silent, hung up, off-mic, logged off, shut down, incognito, invisible, or otherwise safe from someone hearing or seeing you via technology. Even and especially when you just checked 10 seconds ago.” Some NSFW news this week brought it up, and the only cure is a pandemic vaccine. So keep checking for that little green light, folks.

Patents of the Week: Although patent filings aren’t a guarantee that new technology will come to fruition, they give us a hint of where we may be headed. Amazon is looking at ways of serving video ads even on devices that are offline. Google has one for their virtual assistant to synthesize every incoming message you get across all the various services and apps you use into one screen where the assistant decides what’s most pertinent at any given moment. Facebook has a giant USB port for your brain to support their brain-computer interfaces. Read about these and more here.

I’m the Mayor of this Coffee Shop! This week Gowalla relaunched as an augmented reality social app – kind of a Pokemon Go meets Foursquare experience. Sign up for the beta here.

Osiris-Rex Tags Bennu: This week was a massive week for science, physics, software, and understanding the solar system. NASA landed a space probe on asteroid over 200 million miles away, then immediately took back off and sent a sample from the asteroid’s surface back to Earth. The spacecraft operates more or less autonomously due to the 18 minute communications delay, and it already changed a lot of what we thought we know about near-earth asteroids, including the discovery that the sandy beaches we anticipated were big rocky boulders. So much to learn! Watch the video here.

Audio’s Opportunity and Who Will Capture It: Technologist and former head of strategy at Amazon Studios Matthew Ball wrote a comprehensive and compelling essay about media consumption patterns and the interplay of technology, content and business models for audio right now. Key quote: “Just imagine a Sony Music executive trying to figure out why a 15 year old today should care for Billy Joel, how to reach them, and how to overcome the stigma of Joel being their dad’s favorite artist.”

I Want My AMTV: This week saw the launch of Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated livestream of popular music videos that will also include “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,” according to the announcement. Watch right now through the Apple TV app on your Apple device.

Augmented Reality Comes to Native Google Search: As I predicted, only 16 months after launching augmented reality search for animals Google is now bringing in-search AR results for brands, starting with auto. When searching for supported vehicles, users will see the ability to view a 3D model either on a generic background, a stylized background, or in real-life using AR through the camera directly in the Google search results. In your mobile browser, Google “2020 Volvo XC40 Recharge” and scroll down to the card that says “View in 3D.” Then project it via hologram in your driveway, garage, or living room!

For brands, it’s time to start thinking about creating 3D files of your products for native AR features like this. If you have a product, it’s time to start practicing creating really good 3D models of your product. If you have a service, it’s worth doing some workshopping what kinds of brand assets you would want to have in 3D form that could be utilized for Search, as well as other VR and AR experiences. It’s only a matter of time before native AR search results come to other categories. Time to plan ahead!

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Social Pulse, Week of 9-7


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.

When Your Group Text Thread Becomes Your Primary Social Channel: This week Founders Fund VP Mike Solana tweeted, “the secret chat group culture that’s happening right now is absolutely next level,” pointing to the rise of ‘dark social’ (aka private sharing via text, chat, and microbrowsers) that is exploding in our current state of callout/cancel/accountability culture. I’ve seen this trend coming for some time, predicting back in 2016 that dark social would eclipse public social. A recent study showed 20% of respondents ONLY share via dark channels, and that behavior is only accelerating with the looming election. Brands will need to continue to consider shifts in social listening, targeting, tracking, and tactics like micro-video previews for URLS shared in chat.  


1st Sound Change in 7 Years in John Cage’s 639-Year-Long Song: The world’s slowest musical composition, “As Slow as Possible,” went through its first chord change in seven years this week in Germany. Key quote: “Nineteen years later, there have been 15 note changes, the last coming on October 5th, 2013. For the past 2,527 days, the St. Burchardi organ had resonated the same note, the piece’s longest-held note so far and longest until at least 2071.” You can watch the 4 hour live stream of the key change here.


China’s QVC-Style Social Shopping Goes Mainstream: Although U.S. live stream shopping tends to live in multilevel marketing circles, in China it’s a $66 billion industry on pace to DOUBLE thanks to COVID. Key quote: “Live-stream shopping is a blend of entertainment and e-commerce. Viewers buy goods online from people who show off their latest finds — from lipsticks to laundry detergent — in real-time videos… Hosts can give their fans discount coupons and flash deals in real time, while viewers can click to send their favorite stars virtual ‘gifts.’” It’s a whole different definition of influencer when they are literally selling all day long.


Google’s Personalized Algorithmic Radio Remix: Google Assistant now includes “Your News Update,” which gathers news clips from different outlets and plays them in one continuous audio feed. Key quote: “The goal is to create a seamless 90-minute broadcast—a mix of radio, podcast snippets, and text-to-speech article translations—tailored to an audience of one… Based on Google’s wealth of user data, your particular playlist might feature stories about sports teams you follow or… news from local outlets… Google’s algorithms then hunt for keywords and topics in stories that are most likely to be connected to your interests.” It’s Android-only, with iOS surely on the way.


Would You Quit Facebook for $10/Week? Facebook is commissioning research into how its apps influence “key political attitudes and behaviors during the US 2020 elections,” and will pay Facebook and Instagram users $10-20/week to stop using their apps. You can’t opt in, but you may be invited. More here.


Stop Snitch Tagging! You know when someone is being talked about online and then a commenter @-tags the person so they see it? That’s called snitch tagging, and it’s one of the social web’s biggest pet peeves. Read why here.


Insta of the Week: @tot_for_tot_remakes features a father and daughter remaking classic movie scenes.


Tweets of the Week: Civil War generals as Muppets a definitive thread. The @LooneyTunes intern is at it again. And @CrazyIIIusions asks Is This Drawing a Rabbit or a Duck?

Podcast of the Week: Dissect is back, and this season the focus is “Because the Internet” by Childish Gambino. Dissect’s approach analyzes one album per season, one song per episode. The first two episodes are live now!


SocNet Updates:

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Social Pulse, Week of 8-24

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:


The Event Industry’s Napster Moment is Here: Before Napster (then iTunes and Spotify), the music industry didn’t see the digital paradigm shift that would disrupt its industry. In the same way, Rafat Ali writes you can see parallels with the event industry not being prepared for our move to digital events, networking and even dating. Will we ever meet in person again? Definitely, but it will look different. Key quote: “It is important to point out that neither the music nor radio nor the news industry nor the TV/film industry died, it’s that the incumbent players were simply shunted aside by new companies without the institutional bloat and interests that nearly always keep incumbents from advancing to the next thing.“ Of note, Spotify has launched a virtual events feature already!


Touchless Shopping Adoption: In the COVID-19 era, we’re seeing a massive rush of adoption of touchless interaction including mobile payments at retail checkouts, QR codes being rapidly adopted for everything from restaurant menus to hotel check-ins, and “pay by face” being tested in LA this week. Will Whole Foods start piloting their whole hand scan technology to checkout? We’ll see.


The New Celebrity: The life of a paparazzo is informed by trends and “who’s hot” versus “who’s not.” And in March, the A-listers hid while Gen Z’s rising social media stars stayed in plain sight. That may be why you (and certainly your kids) know more about Charli D’Amelio’s love life than Ana de Armas’. The NYT writes about what’s happening in Hollywood, as shelter-in-place redefines “influence.”



Machine Learning to Help You Make a Sandwich: This week saw the launch of the world’s first end-to-end computer vision program for building optimal peanut butter and banana sandwiches. It’s potentially the best worst use of machine and deep learning I’ve seen so far. Certainly the most delicious.


Facebook is Building a Robot to Walk Around Your House: This week Facebook Labs shared the progress its AI research team has made in the realm of household robotics, including one that roam your house. Key quote: “To accomplish a task like checking to see whether you locked the front door or retrieving a cell phone that’s ringing in an upstairs bedroom, AI assistants of the future must learn to plan their route, navigate effectively, look around their physical environment, listen to what’s happening around them, and build memories of the 3D space.” This reminds us of the Samsung Ballie demo I saw at CES, where a little robot ball can detect a spill, direct your Roomba to clean it up, and even tattle on who did it.


Brain-Control Interface Demo is Today! Will we soon be writing this email by just thinking it? Elon Musk’s Neuralink neural lace company will be demonstrating a working brain-machine interface at 6PM ET today! Tune in here. 


Tweet of the Week: You know those horrifying robot dogs that can climb stairs and haunt your nightmares? This week Unitree Robotics shared a video of one wearing a cute hat and dancing. Which is honestly just as haunting.


PSL Season Makes Trends: The pumpkin spice latte hit Starbucks for a release earlier than ever, and it took the social world by storm per usual. Here’s an updated #PumpkinSpice launch history timeline. And Last Week Tonight did its hilarious annual supercut of local news commenting the arrival of PSL season. Watch here: “Jill, you have to try it. Jill!” (note, some NSFW language here – who knew pumpkin spice was so… spicy?).


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