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Netflix Debuts Choose Your Own Adventure: Nearly 25 years ago AT&T put out a campaign called “You Will” that — in the dial-up age of 1993 — famously predicted a number of technological advances we take for granted today: video calling, telemedicine and movies on demand. And while streaming on-demand is the status quo in 2018, Netflix is introducing a new way to consume content with the introduction of choose-your-own-adventure content for its Emmy-winning science-fiction series “Black Mirror.”  With the success of Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale for kids last year, it will be fascinating to see how adults embrace this style of customizable video content, and how producers adapt their content to fit this new technology over the next 25 years. (Related: The 25 Creepiest ‘Twilight Zone’ Episodes)

 

Facebook Introduces 3D Photos: This week Facebook is rolling out 3D photos to add make-believe depth to iPhone portrait mode shots. Shoot one, tap the new 3D photos option in the status update composer, select a portrait mode photo, and the resulting photo post will be injected with 3D effects (CHECK OUT THIS EXAMPLE). To create the best 3D photos with your iPhone 7+, 8+, X or XS, Facebook recommends you keep your subject three to four feet away, and have things in the foreground and background. Distinct colors will make the layers separate better, and transparent or shiny objects like glass or plastic can throw off the AI. Bring on the Facebook 3D Fails!

 

Answering the Phone is so 2017: At the Pixel 3 press launch this week, Google unveiled a new “call screen” feature that will answer incoming phone calls on your behalf and transcribe what the caller is saying on your device’s screen. It will pick up the call and have a Google Assistant voice speak a prompt: “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you are calling.”  You then have the option to choose from a pre-selected series of replies which it will “speak” back to the people on the line. As Mashable put it, “Treat people like the burden they are with Google’s ‘call screen’ feature.” But seriously, given the rise in spam (nearly 30% of calls in 2018 so far), this technology layer could be a useful tool to weed out the calls you really do want to answer.

Screen Time.

 

Instagram’s Nametag, for IRL Connections: This week Instagram introduced Nametag, a QR-code-like feature works that shows your username on your phone in a format that allows it to be scanned by your soon-to-be follower. This tag can also be customized with additional designs, colors, and stickers, including your own FACE. Finally. To use the feature, you can go to your profile, hit the menu button on the top right, and select “Nametag” to display your own code. When you want to scan someone else’s code, you can do so by swiping right into the camera, focusing on the tag, and holding down on the screen.

 

 

Have You Been BOOed? “We’ve been BOOed” signs are popping up around more neighborhoods this year than ever before. It’s a chain-letter-type tradition called Halloween BOO-ing or BOO-Bagging or Ghosting. Similar to the tradition of May baskets, one neighbor leaves a gift basket, BOO poem, BOO instructions and a “We’ve Been BOO-ed” sign on a neighbor’s doorstep. Then you ding-dong-ditch. And the BOO-ee does the same to one or two neighbors. The tradition has been around for years but is being spread more widely this year thanks to social media and retailers like Target selling BOO-merch. Here are some free printables for you to start the tradition in your own neighborhood. BOO!

 

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#PresidentialAlert Memes: Did you get the Presidential Alert text? This week over 220 million people in the US supposedly received a notification on their phones called a ‘Presidential Alert,’ and it immediately became a meme across our social feeds – including altered screenshots about collusion, U2’s infamous Apple Music snafu, Imagine Dragons and Tiffany Trump getting her first-ever Dad text. Meanwhile, lots of people didn’t get the text, and that sparked its own social news cycle.

Where My Friends At? This week Facebook confirmed a test of a revamped Nearby Friends feature that lets you see where your friends are on a map of the world. Similar to Snap Map, this view augments your newsfeed with a map that groups friends together by city. Given continued privacy concerns, Facebook is trying to be proactive about getting people to go back and activate it, “People have complete control over whether to use Nearby Friends or not. They can turn it on in the Nearby Friends bookmark.” We’re excited about geolocation data being further used to increase social networking but still fairly concerned about Facebook’s privacy settings – particularly when it comes to sharing location with forgotten Facebook friends.

 

CD Sales Heading Towards Niche Status Like Vinyl: This week the RIAA’s shared the latest numbers on music sales, which showed a 46.9 percent drop on CDs sold (factoring in returned inventory). Although not a surprise – particularly because 25 R&B/hip-hop albums that debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 this year didn’t even have a physical CD released in stores – it seems the CD is on its way to being a niche business like vinyl. Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Target still have CDs, but increasingly we’re seeing the 1,800 independent retailers (where you can buy a vinyl record) emerging as the place to buy a CD. Vinyl bottomed out and is now growing. But CDs are still four times vinyl sales and are looking to cement their spot as a niche market.

 

Who Ya Gonna Call? Pre-registrations for Ghostbusters World have opened for the ghost-hunting AR app just in time for Halloween. Similar to Pokemon Go, people across the world may soon be hunting for holographic spooks around the neighborhood. Per VRFocus, “Built using Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit, Ghostbusters World lets you team up with Venkman, Spengler, Stantz, Zeddemore and more to hunt down and capture iconic spirits from the films, TV shows, comic books, and video games, as well as brand-new ghosts.” Sign up for the download here: Android and iOS.

Ghostbusters World

 

Influencer Halloween Costume #SPON: Speaking of Halloween, this week Urban Outfitters released an “influencer costume” for those of us who can’t even trick or treat without looking for the right Insta lighting. The athleisure ensemble includes spandex leggings and a sports bra, which lets you “channel Instagram style in this low key costume set worthy of a super influencer.” You’ll have to #HUSTLE find your own sponsors for the sunglasses, wig, ballcap and whiteout sneakers included in the look. Being an influencer ain’t an easy job, but somebody has to do it.

 

Slide View: 1: Influencer Halloween Costume Set

This week felt like an entire year in social media land, thanks to milestone news events with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, United Nations Summit, and growing buzz around the mid-term elections. I’ve been following along thanks to some excellent reporting on political-focused podcasts this week, including NYT’s The Daily, NPR’s Up First, and The Washington Post’s Can He Do That.

 

Whether it’s people falling in love with A.I. chatbots, the epic rise and fall of the baby name Heather, or this interactive map of Facebook connections across the U.S., this has also been a busy week of non-political content and conversation.

 

Here’s what else is up around the social web this week…

 

Cheating Fonts! Times Newer Roman: This week the internet was buzzing about Times Newer Roman, a new a font that looks like Times New Roman but is actually 5-10% wider, which will help students cheat by making their essays look longer than they are.  According to The Verge, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman. (That’s 847 words you don’t need to write). Yay cheating via font, right? (Note: we don’t actually condone cheating).

 

Distribution > Content in the Music Industry: Bob Lefsetz, notable music industry analyst and author of the Lefsetz Letter, shared a 17-minute keynote on his latest podcast about how music strategy in the post-Napster era can inform how we view the current state of music marketing, culture and technology adoption. Bob says you can have the best band in the world, but if you don’t have connections and a distribution strategy, nobody will hear it. Key quote: “Content isn’t king. Distribution is.” It’s worth a listen.

 

 

Do Instagram Museums Need to Have Depth? This week the NYT toured a handful of pop-up social destinations, including Color Factory, Candytopia, 29Rooms, and the Museum of Ice Cream’s spinoff space. What they found is a lot of opportunity for gorgeous social content and ego-driven like-baiting, but also long lines, morose workers, and a real quandary about the true value of an experience that is purely designed for sharing on social media. Key quote: “These places are often described as ‘Instagram Museums,’ and the real experience plays out only after we post photographic evidence on social media. The internet is an increasingly visual space, and these museums, with their enormous pools of candy and gargantuan emoji props, are designed to fit the shrunken-down Instagram grid.” Although the author views these experiences as lacking in depth, we believe the trend of creating experiences people want to seek out and share will continue. It’s up to the brands to ensure they speak to a higher creative purpose. With all the heaviness in the news these days, maybe it’s okay if the Museum of Pizza just celebrates pure pizza love.

 

Facebook Stories > Snapchat: The “Stories” format continues to dominate social media trends, and this week Facebook announced they have 300 million daily active users across Facebook Stories and Messenger Stories, which is only slightly lower than Instagram (400 million) and significantly higher than Snapchat’s (188 million). So with the shift from Newsfeed to more temporary Stories, it’s no surprise Facebook also announced Facebook Stories ads this week. According to Facebook’s research more than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories, 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it, and 34% said they went to a store to look for it. Long live Stories!

 

Baby Shark Dance More Popular Than Drake: If you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, or human being on the internet, you’re absolutely familiar with kids’ earworm of a song “Baby Shark Dance.” Although it’s been around for four years, just last month the song joined Ariana Grande, Drake and Calvin Harris in the UK Top 40 and the YouTube version crossed 1.7 billion views – no doubt thanks to kids streaming iPads at a table across from you at every restaurant you visit these days. Never one to let a viral hit peak too soon, James Corden teamed up with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner and Josh Groban for his own rendition this week. And here’s a two hour long playlist of the Baby Shark Dance Song you can stream for your coworkers today. Warning: you can’t unhear this.

 

HQ Words is the Next Viral Quiz Game: Since the launch of viral quiz game HQ Trivia we’ve seen a ton of copycats, including The Q, FleetWit, Facebook Confetti, Under Armour’s StephIQ, Fox’s FN Genius and more. Now HQ is diversifying by announcing a new Wheel of Fortune-type game, called HQ Words that works like, well, Wheel of Fortune. It’s coming out in October. Until then, we recommending following our favorite viral Wheel of Fortune account @WOFANSWERS that fake-solves sentences in hilarious ways like NONSTOP CLIMATE OF PANIC.

Twibel Law: In recent weeks Elon Musk has become a bit unhinged, whether unfollowing and refollowing his rock star girlfriend, smoking pot on a live stream or ranting about the media on Twitter. He also sent several incendiary tweets calling a Thai cave schoolchildren rescuer vulgar terms. The result of these tirades is a libel and slander suit based purely on tweets. According to PR Week, users can be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking their post cannot cause real harm, as such tweets are both ‘social’ and written from the safety of their bedrooms. The test in libel law is whether the comments constitute ‘serious harm’ to a victim’s reputation. The judge in this case ruled that the serious harm test could be extended to include ‘real and substantial distress’ and that such harm did not need to be ‘grave’. We’re just starting to see the effects of libel law and social media, but at least we got a new word out of the deal: “Twibel.”

How to Restore Twitter’s Chronological Feed: More than two years after phasing out chronological feeds in favor of algorithms, Twitter is giving users the ability to change their feed’s content back to timestamp-based. People who revert to a chronological feed on Twitter will undoubtedly miss seeing the most popular tweets on any given day, says Vox. A chronological timeline isn’t just a timeline ruled by a clearly defined order; it’s a feed in which information is neutral. Is it better? That’s up to the people you follow and what they post (and when!). To restore your timeline to chronological, go to “Settings and Privacy,” scroll down to “Show the Best Tweets First” and uncheck the box. BOOM.

 

An Alexa-Powered Microwave? This week Amazon announced a new suite of Alexa-enabled Echo products, including smart clocks, smart plugs, smart microphones, auto plug-ins, and even an Alexa-powered microwave for only $60. In fact, prices on all of these devices are quite low and will certainly incentivize users to continue to add to the Alexa-ecosystem in their homes. Just in time for those holiday gift guide lists, the Echo Show will get an upgrade with a 10-inch HD display, fabric body and improved sound. This screen-powered device is emerging as the hub for an Alexa home and this new model will integrate with Vevo and Hulu for live TV, Microsoft Skype for video calling, and features 8 microphones so the sound is crystal clear. And it’s just over $200. “Alexa, go ahead and just order us all of this stuff. Thanks.”

Amazon introduces an Alexa-connected microwave oven on Sept. 20, 2018.

 

Every Time My Phone Rings It’s A Scam: You know the feeling that spammers are taking over your cell phone number? You’re not alone, and it’s getting worse by the year. According to a new report from First Orion, scam calls made up just 3.7 percent of all U.S. mobile traffic in 2017, but made a huge jump to 29.2 percent in 2018. And they predict if nothing is done to quell the rising tide of spam and scam phone calls, it could rise to almost half of all calls in 2019 (44.6%)!! This is why we stopped answering our phones years ago. Meanwhile, President Trump is testing “Presidential Alert” text messages to all American cell phones on Oct. 3, so we can all look forward to our phones blowing up at the same time. #SaveTheDate

 

The Invisible Prank Challenge: In what may be the cruelest and/or funniest meme of the year, people are convincing children they can become invisible by putting a blanket over their heads, casting a “spell”, taking a photo where the kid clearly isn’t in the picture, and laughing as they melt down. We don’t condone it. But we may have laughed once or twice. It’s spreading quickly this week, but here’s the original that started it all (trigger warning – this is emotional!!).

 

Vertical Video Ads are Coming to YouTube: At Dmexco this week, YouTube announced they are introducing vertical video ads to let brands “provide a more seamless mobile experience” for viewers. Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, advertisers can now fill up that entire mobile screen when users are viewing content on YouTube’s mobile app. With more than 70% of YouTube watch time happening on mobile devices (and the popularity of vertical format for user-uploaded videos), we’re thrilled for this change and excited to make creative for this space.

 

Your Instagram is More Secure than State Department Emails: Like many apps and email programs, Instagram allows users to use two-factor authentication (e.g., SMS text code when you log-in) to reduce their risk of being hacked. According to a General Service Administration assessment of federal cybersecurity the US State Department is using even less security for sensitive government correspondence. The Department is required to answer by Oct. 12 and explain what actions it will take in response to its designation by the Department of State’s Inspector General as “high risk” for its lack of cyber preparedness. Do you have two-factor authentication enabled on your Instagram account? If not, update it!

Photo illustration of Instagram opened up on smartphone with lock over it.

 

A Bot Wrote This Insane Morrissey Song Using Amazon Reviews of P90X: In a masterpiece of music and peak physical fitness, a Seattle-based startup used a predictive text generator to combine Amazon reviews of the P90X Home Workout DVD System with Morrissey lyrics (“I’ve gotten bored with this desire to get ripped” and “I’m so sickened oh my god it really works”). The result is an A.I.-sub-pop-art-masterpiece that’s actually quite catchy called “Bored With This Desire to Get Ripped.”

 

 

Your Next Favorite Podcast: Over seven episodes of “Inside Jaws,” podcaster Mark Ramsey takes listeners through a narrative journey of the early days of Steven Spielberg’s childhood, career and his work on Jaws. But it’s not just a documentary – it’s an extremely well produced narrative that puts the story of Jaws into context with Spielberg’s rise to fame, the public fear of killer shark attacks, and more. Listen to Inside Jaws on WonderyApple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, and TuneIn. But stay out of the water!

#ScooterDeath: In a story about electric scooters disrupting the Portland market, the Willimette Week dissects the permit applications for Lime, Bird and Skip, which revealed some interesting stats. Like the fact that Lime’s average scooter lifespan is 120 days. That’s only four months! So at six trips per day and an average trip of 1.6 miles, that’s about 720 trips and 1152 miles traveled over the life of the scooter before it kicks the bucket. Skip’s permit application claims its competitors are “hypocritical” because they dump scooters in landfills rather than repairing them. The company also talks about paying people who are homeless and giving them a hot meal in exchange for riding low-battery scooters to charging centers. The scooter wars are just getting started – what a ride!

 

(Sam Gehrke)

 

The Latest Facebook Declination Study: Facebook Watch may be becoming more and more popular for active users, but this week the Pew Research Center published new research suggesting Americans have become more cautious and critical in their use of Facebook over the past year. Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months. Around 4 in 10 (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year. Read the whole study findings here.

 

42% of Facebook users have taken a break from the site in the past year

 

Digital Share of Shelf: Search rank is the new shelf space as grocery and CPG retailers expand online and consumers increase their digital shopping habits. Gartner just released their Digital Share of Shelf tool update for 2018, including data from Amazon, Walmart, PeaPod, and Kroger. The visualization depicts the share of organic search results owned by each brand on select e-tailers against category-specific terms. Data includes 139 brands ranked in the Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Food US 2018, as well as private label brands from each e-tailer. Pick your favorite CPG product and get nerdy on search!

 

 

IG Shopping and Superzoom: This week it was reported that Instagram is working on a new standalone app dedicated to shopping. The app, which may be called IG Shopping, will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app. No word when this app may launch, but we’re on the lookout for it. In more tangible news, this week Instagram launched six new Superzoom effects, including a heart-filled fog with romantic music, super aggressive paparazzi-style camera flashes, fiery flames with metal music, a sad emo filter, and a big red nope-style X. Features are being rolled out slowly to users, so update your app try them out!

 

#FyouCC: A long time ago in a land far far away there was a Prince named Charles whose infamous infidelity with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles started the end of his marriage to Princess Diana. But that move also kick-started Princess Di’s fashion evolution, now aptly dubbed Diana’s Revenge Looks on an underground Instagram account. User @ladydirevengelooks share’s Diana’s “sassiest post-divorce looks” complete with captions like “The talk to my lawyer revenge look” and “The Charles whom? revenge look.” It’s absolute 🔥and a must-follow for Princess Di fans.

 

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The settlement shopping trip revenge look #FyouCC

A post shared by Princess Di (@ladydirevengelooks) on

 

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The no extra baggage revenge look #FyouCC

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Is this the real life/Is this just fantasy: There has been a flurry of clever Twitter reveals recently, where a user has spent the last weeks or months covertly encoding messages or song lyrics into their tweets (and no, we’re not talking about QAnon). The latest is a woman who snuck ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ lyrics into four months of tweets and then revealed it this week. The University of Minnesota student crafted every one of her outgoing tweets so that the first word in each tweet spells out the lyrics of the Queen hit song in its entirety. The reveal tweet has more than half a million likes already. Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go!

 

These Major Global Beauty Trends are Taking Over Pinterest: With over 8 billion beauty ideas and 207 million beauty boards, Pinterest users offer a lot of insight into beauty trends based on their pins. This week Pinterest released their Global Beauty Report 2018, which shows trends like purple eyeshadow and braids are up in the U.S., pixie haircuts are up in Germany, and the U.K. is all about the side bun. See the whole report here.

pinterest global beauty report 

A short story about a ‘very good birb’ named Henry: Astronomer Alex Parker made friends with a wild blue jay he dubbed Henry after the bird arrived in his yard looking “scruffy” and thirsty. The pair developed a friendship as Henry gained back his strength. This is their story.

Snalien Abduction: Our new favorite Instagram account is @aleia, an artist who takes actual living snails and puts them in miniatures scenes, for shots like snails at work, snails at work, romantic mountain with wine. The culmination of this snail couture? A music video featuring live-action snail goodness.

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Late night at the office 🐌🥃📠🕘🕜🕙

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Hey, This is Another Note to Myself, to Stop Getting In My Head and Worrying About What Something Looks Like, And Give Into the Process of Making Something. It Has Always Been Something That Made You Feel Good, Sad, Confused, So This is Really No Different. Stop Trying To Control These Steps. You Have Made Things In The Past That You're Proud of, And You Will Continue to Surprise Yourself. Every Time You Stop Yourself From Making Something Because You Think It Is Not Good Enough, You Become More of a Stranger to Yourself. Get To That Place Where You Make Something Small, And Then the Next. Keep Following Your Little Creative Gut Out Of Things. Open It Up When You Want To And When You Don't, Savor This Secret Ugly Mess Because There is Something Beautiful Brewing In Here Just Waiting To Come Out 🐌🍇

A post shared by aleia (@aleia) on

 

Be Kind; Rewind: Now that the final Blockbusters in Alaska have closed, Bend, Oregon is home to the last bastion of an American entertainment icon and this week it got its own commemorative craft beer from 10 Barrel Brewing. Haven’t visited a video rental store lately? This video walkthrough of the store is a blast from the past and this unofficial Twitter account is a must follow because of tweets like, “Just a reminder that while Netflix was busy adding commercials to your experience we were busy adding ant traps to give you an ant free experience.” RIP Blockbuster.