Yearly Archives: 2016Blog

The Religion of Tech

This is an article that takes us briefly outside the matrix of modern technology. As cool, useful and exciting as today’s tech can be, the ideology behind it is, in this author’s view, founded on a body of beliefs that users readily accept, but that serve creators and purveyors far more than the consumers who pay for products they don’t truly own, and give away personal information over which they no longer have control.

The greatest of the United States’ homegrown religions – greater than Jehovah’s Witnesses, greater than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, greater even than Scientology – is the religion of technology … By spreading a utopian view of technology, a view that defines progress as essentially technological, they’ve encouraged people to switch off their critical faculties and give Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests.

For many, especially younger consumers, notions of privacy and surveillance are not of concern at all. For others, this is the dawn of the ‘Big Brother’ society, which gives unprecedented power to elites in government and commerce. If the latter is the case, how then can a society founded on principles of individual freedom and liberty be led down such a path so easily?

John Kenneth Galbraith coined the term ‘innocent fraud’. He used it to describe a lie or a half-truth that, because it suits the needs or views of those in power, is presented as fact. After much repetition, the fiction becomes common wisdom. ‘It is innocent because most who employ it are without conscious guilt,’ Galbraith wrote in 1999. ‘It is fraud because it is quietly in the service of special interest.’ The idea of the computer network as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud.

It might be a good time to take our eyes off of our screens for a moment to consider how far technology has come so quickly, and where it might be headed. As we become more dependent on our devices and connections, and as the entities that provide and manage them become more consolidated and enriched, is unquestioning faith still justified?

Read full article: http://bit.ly/2cdWNN4

A Look At Instagram’s Terms of Service

Does anyone read the Terms of Service when installing software or creating an internet account? Few read the legalese they’re required to agree to before they can use the software, service, or even the hardware they’ve purchased. That gives the companies that create these terms a tremendous advantage when creating them. And if the companies are monopolies, or near-monopolies with which the tech landscape has become populated, they have even more power since there’s often no or few competitors for consumers to turn to.

A user agreement is not a mere formality. It’s a binding legal contract, of the type lawyers call a “contract of adhesion.” Contracts of adhesion offer no room for negotiation — the user’s only options are to take it or leave it.

The following examination of Instagram’s ToS provides a glimpse at what’s going on under the hood of these agreements. Even so, I don’t expect to take off time from life to begin reading future ToS statements any time soon.

Read full article: http://bit.ly/2hjqD1e

What’s Up With LinkNYC and Privacy?

The LinkNYC project, powered by Google, is bringing internet access throughout the five boroughs — along with a host of privacy concerns as the city sells its citizens’ locations, movements and various other data to third parties.

Targeted advertising of the sort that underwrites LinkNYC isn’t about getting consumers information about goods and services they want, says Rushkoff, the media theorist. Rather, data collection is about producing profiles of consumers likely to engage in a particular form of consumer behavior, and then bombarding them with ads or search results or tailored Facebook feeds to tip them over into that behavior. “They are working hard to get you to behave true to your statistical profile,” Rushkoff says, “and in doing so they reduce your spontaneity, your anomalous behavior, your human agency, as they try to get you to conform to the most marketable probable outcome.

Find out what’s going on behind the scenes with these cool, street-side kiosks in this eye-opening article: http://bit.ly/29wt40n

Engagement, Curating Images, and the Visual Web

It’s the day of the visual web. Pictures are worth a thousand words and videos are worth a thousand pictures (or more!). Images engage viewers simply because our brains are wired to process visual information faster and retain it longer.

  • Write-ups with relevant images get 94% more views that the ones without.
  • Only 20% people remember what they read, while 80% recall what they see and do.
  • Posts that include images receive a 650% greater engagement rate than those that don’t.

Check out this guide to curating visuals to increase the effectiveness of your digital communications: http://bit.ly/2dYGfoi

LeEco Comes to US With New Level of Integrated Content, Services and Hardware

LeEco–a mega-Chinese content, services and hardware company–launches in the US, with ambitions that include everything from phones to movies to self-driving cars–all integrated in ways heretofore unseen. They’ve got the chops and the Chutzpah, but will US consumers respond?

If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China …

Read full article: http://cnet.co/2e3acp5

Password Overload and Security Fatigue

Security is probably the biggest problem with the race to move everything about our lives online that can be moved online. Medical records, police records, work records, purchasing records, our movements, preferences, reading, TV watching, and on and on. Much of this is supposed to be private information, which means it’s available only via secure login. The reality is, however, that hackers seem to be able to access our information with relative ease, whereas we, the users, have to manage/remember a boat load of passwords in order to use our own information. The need to track, manage, update and vigilantly watch over all our accounts has given rise to the latest tech disease, security fatigue.

Security fatigue is defined in the study as a weariness or reluctance to deal with computer security. … The multidisciplinary team learned that the majority of their average computer users felt overwhelmed and bombarded, and they got tired of being on constant alert, adopting safe behavior, and trying to understand the nuances of online security issues.

Is just the thought of creating yet another password stressing you out? Read the full article at http://bit.ly/2e2zw0Y

Snapchat Specs

Spectacles from Snapchat is new, wearable tech that looks cool, takes video and may stick. It may also inspire Google to do something with their over-ambitious Glass product that wasn’t well-received last year. But I hope not …

If the Spectacles unveiling was pure L.A. cool, it contrasted starkly with the Google Glass debut four years ago, which was pure Silicon Valley geek … Where Glass wanted to be important, Spectacle claims it just wants to have fun.

Details: https://spectacles.com

Article: http://nyti.ms/2ddhZxM

More: http://bit.ly/2dsf6NY

IBM Embraces Design, Puts Customers First

IBM has embraced design as a core value to the extent that they’re retraining the entire company to “think design.” This is an interesting transformation of corporate philosophy that puts customers first in an effort to create more value.

“Designers bring [an] intuitive sense … and understand the power of delivering a great experience and how to treat a user as if they were guests in their own home,” says Phil Gilbert, chief design evangelist. The design program allows the $143 billion company to be more strategic and shift away from the engineering-driven “features-first” ethos towards a more “user first” mentality. “It allows us to solve real problems for real people …”

This is a massive effort that involves retraining the entire company as well as hiring reams of design talent to lead the “design first” initiative. But if you believe the notion that companies that provide the best experience for customers will win, a commitment to a sound 21st century strategy like this should pay off well.

Read full article: http://bit.ly/2cinCfw

Facebook’s Newsfeed

Businesses have gone to great lengths to setup Facebook ‘pages’ and get ‘Likes’ in order to expose prospects and customers to their goods and services. This is what marketing is all about. But understanding how to use these mechanisms to get results reliably can be daunting. In this area of marketing we have little control, or so it seems. The following article from TechCrunch helps illuminate the workings of Facebook’s Newsfeed — the stream of posts users see when they’re on the service. If we have a better idea of how our content is being handled, we at least have a shot at producing posts that are deemed valuable and therefore shown to the people we want to reach.

The article has a lot of great information, and there’s even a section that will be updated whenever Facebook makes changes to its algorithm. It’s well worth reading, but I’ll cut to the last few paragraphs, which provide guidelines for the kind of content that does well, and should help all of us create better posts with more reach to help achieve our business goals online.

The best tactics for appearing prominently in the News Feed end up being quite straight-forward: share things that are interesting, authentic, and resonate with your audience. That typically means visually compelling media, funny or emotional content, and important news that’s fascinating to a wide audience … [People] just want to be stimulated. Do that, and Facebook will share what you have to say.

Read full article: http://tcrn.ch/2cfw5B3

All About Dark Patterns

Have you ever been victimized by deceptive marketing? Once someone has your credit card there are lots of ways to trick you into unwanted auto-shipments, subscriptions, additional purchaces, and many other things to get your money. They typically prey on users not reading terms of service, overlooking pre-checked boxes on order forms, or giving up on reaching customer service or completing a ridiculously lengthy refund process when trying to rectify a problem. You can even throw in making privacy settings on social media sites impossible to find and figure out. It’s called “Dark Patterns,” and unfortunately is becoming a standard practice in many businesses. This article provides insight to help consumers hopefully avoid these unseemly, but more and more common methods: http://bit.ly/2aMIwSE

More on Dark Patterns

dark patterns are short-sighted, says Hoa Loranger, vice president of the prestigious UX consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group. “Any short-term gains a company gets from a dark pattern is lost in the long term,” she says.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3060553/why-dark-patterns-wont-go-away

Dark Patterns Website

A currated collection of dark pattern techniques discovered on real websites.
http://darkpatterns.org