Social Pulse, Week of 8-10

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: Pinterest added more inclusive features, including skin tone ranges. Twitter launched a new API and rolled out Tweet Reply controls to all users. Instagram Reels did not impress the NYT. TikTok added text to cover images. Citing that less than .1% of emails were opened, YouTube is reducing the notification emails it sends to users. Facebook added an informational link screen when users post COVID-19-related content. LinkedIn sold Slideshare. Apple kicked Fortnite off the app store (watch the 1984-inspired video!).


Where is Instagram Reels? If you had a hard time finding Instagram’s new TikTok clone last week, you weren’t alone. It’s not on the main Instagram page, but if you click the Explore tab you’ll find it. Probably. They’re now testing putting it in the primary navigation bar, similar to Facebook Watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on the primary navigation bar in the coming months.


It’s like her eyes follow you: The Mona Lisa Effect uses your computer’s webcam and machine learning to enable the famous portrait to “watch” you and follow you as you move. Desktop only. Try it here!


Interactive Video Backgrounds > Your Boring Home: Giphy introduced Backdrop, which allows you to make your own animated video call backgrounds. Try it here.


15 Insanely Efficient Google Sheets Formulas for SEOs: The folks at Pigzilla curated a super helpful link of SEO templates here.


1st Recipients of Grants From the TikTok Creator Fund Worth a Follow: @lgndfrvr, @doctor.jesss, @onlyjayus, @acooknamedmatt, @justmaiko. See the rest here.


Minecraft for Chromebooks: As we head into a school year that will include a lot of social distance education, Microsoft announced Minecraft: Education Edition is coming to Chromebooks. The Education Edition is different from the standard game (requires a special license your school can purchase) and is full of STEM, biology, and other educational activities. This is a big deal as we think about screen time, accessibility, and new digital ways of educating young people in the current era.


Video Chat Prediction Circa 1918 Holds Up: “Telephot” (from the Greek tele-far, photos-light) was conceptualized prior to the adoption of television and “is an apparatus attachable to our present telephone system, so that when we speak to our distant friend, we may see his likeness not only as an immovable picture, but we will see his image exactly as we see our own image when looking into a mirror.” Check out pics here. Isn’t living in the future awesome?

App of the Week: Facebook Gaming finally launched in the iOS app store, even if it was void of actual games upon release. But upon closer look, it’s a quality app to watch Twitch-style gaming streams outside of the Facebook app or browser ecosystem. Download here.


Insta of the Week: @cats.in.paintings is well, cats in paintings. Speaking of, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Cat Video Festival on Thursday, August 20th. Watch here.


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Social Pulse, Week of 6-22

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:


Apple’s WWDC 2020 Recap: Apple gave a first look at iOS 14, the new update coming to iPhones later this year. The most notable changes include: widgets that you can place on the home screen, picture-in-picture, App Clips, and more. Read the full recap here and here’s WWDC 2020 in 18 minutes.


RIP Segway: Segway’s namesake self-balancing scooter, the Segway PT, will officially cease production next month. Only about 140,000 units total were ever sold in the almost 19 years they were available, but the brand name will live on with scooters, go-karts, throne-like pods, autonomous robots, and even a set of self-balancing rollerblades.


Apple Glasses Rumor Update: According to a story from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Apple’s VR and AR initiatives have been hampered by internal differences, but 1,000 engineers have been working on both a VR headset and AR glasses. This report says the first headset may be announced next year and released in 2022, with AR-enabled Apple Glasses by 2023 at the earliest. For a look at what Apple Glasses may do for brands, check out some of Ikea’s experiments here.


App of the Week: Google launched a new Pinterest-style app called Keen, that features lots of copy-cat features of Pinterest, including recommendations using its deep web of algorithmic data on you. Try the web app here.


Podcast of the Week: The last episode of Rabbit Hole, Kevin Roose follows a woman who stumbled upon the “Q” community and found herself drawn in. It’s a look at what our exploding culture of influencers, TikTok stars and information disseminators holds for the future. Listen here.


Insta of the Week: @karensgoingwilds has moved from “Karen” memes to sharing videos of racial profiling and racist actions as filmed by the victims and sometimes the perpetrators themselves, and includes a “Busted” highlight of social media justice repercussions. Trigger warning: some of these are brutal.


#CampYouTube: With Google searches for “virtual summer camps” spiking over the past few weeks, YouTube has launched a virtual camp with themes, such as arts, adventure, sports, STEM, and more. Check out camp here.


TikTok Creators to Follow Who Use the Platform to Call Out Anti-Black Racism: singer-songwriter @kyla.imani is writing songs, @rynnstar is dropping civil rights history lessons, @mecca.morphosis advocates for self-care and kindness. Find more here.



Try to Stop Doomscrolling: The constant stream of news and social media never ends, and some of us are spending our nights refreshing our phones again and again, going down morbid rabbit holes and unable to fall asleep. It’s a phenomena dubbed “doomscrolling,” and it’s not healthy. Key quote: “Feeling informed can be a salve, but being overwhelmed by tragedy serves no purpose. The current year is nothing if not a marathon; trying to sprint to the end of one’s feed will only cause burnout and a decline in mental health among the people whose level-headedness is needed most. That means you, dear reader. Amidst all of the pain, isolation, and destruction of the past six months, it’s not worth it to add on to the strain with two hours of excess Twitter every night.”


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Social Pulse, Week of May 4

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 for these weekly emails here.


SocNet Updates: Instagram is testing and soon rolling out new fonts for Stories. Facebook is bringing back it’s “Live With” feature that lets you go live with another person. Twitter published its latest calendar planning guidance for the month of May and is testing messaging pop-ups to alert you that your tweet may be offensive plus new comment thread designs. Pinterest published a guide on current and future content considerations on the platform. YouTube is hosting a 10-day digital film festival at the end of May partnering with 20 major film festivals.


Fornite Party Royale Mode: As shared two weeks ago, Fortnite is continuing to position itself as the metaverse, or “third place,” where people hang out for more than killing each other. This week they introduced a new, violence-free mode for the game, dubbed “party royale,” which removes two of the biggest elements from the experience: weapons and buildings. If you haven’t registered a Fortnite account and poked around, now is the time!


Black Mirror-Goosebumps of the Week: Watch these unmanned farming drones follow a truck through a field. Each drone operates autonomously using their own on-board computers while working in the fields, and they will even drive themselves to the next field without a lead vehicle. In the post-COVID-era, we’ll continue to see more automation coming to the “farm gate to table plate” industries.


I’ve Never Heard of That Song: 9% of Gen Z recognizes “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed, while only a third of Millennials can identify “Return to Sender” by Elvis. Inspired by the YouTube trend of Gen Z’ers filming themselves listening to Queen, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin for the first time, The Pudding has created a generation-based music challenge to track the speed at which an entire generation forgets Top 40 hits from the previous decade. Try it here.


Space Debris: With all the buzz about SpaceX’s StarLink satellites that you can visibly see on a clear night (here’s where and when to look), it’s worth noting our near-atmosphere is cluttered with space garbage. Stuff in Space is a realtime 3D map of objects in Earth orbit, visualized using WebGL. It’s pretty shocking, actually.


Instagram of the Week: @Morphy_Me is an extremely professional celebrity face mashup, but @mystergiraffe is the insane deepfake journey we deserve.  


Listening Together: Every second on Spotify, more than 30,000 people around the world are pressing play on the same song. Check out this interactive globe experience showing two people listening to the same track, at the same time, and how many miles away from each other they are. And you can listen in, too!


Podcast of the Week: WSJ baseball writer Jared Diamond joins futurist Douglas Rushkoff to discuss how technological advancements have changed the fun and quirky ways that baseball organizations construct their teams and play the game. Why are baseball players changing their swings in order to hit more home runs? What is behind baseball’s desire to compete for the same college graduates who want to work for Amazon, Google, and major tech companies? Is there room for humans in modern baseball? Listen here.


Remember when MTV used to play music videos? Well now you can watch them again, including commercials. The Internet Archive has uploaded hours and hours of MTV recordings spanning 1981 to 1991. You just need to register a free Internet Archive account to watch.


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