The fork in the road for social media and our society


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Christchurch social media
The horror from Christchurch, New Zealand, that exploded across newspaper pages and television, computer and smartphone screens this weekend captured imaginations in ways that no one could possibly have imagined beforehand. The fact that one individual armed with a semi-automatic rifle could visit such an outrage upon people worshipping in a place of religion isn’t the worst of it, awful and distressing though this event is with at least 50 people shot dead and scores wounded, some in critical condition. After all, we’re used to seeing and hearing about such mass shootings in America all the time. And it’s not because it happened in a country like New Zealand, a place many call a paradise on Earth. A place of rich beauty and a largely unspoiled natural environment. A place many of us in the UK see as made up of kinfolk, people with historic links to us, today
Facebook video
Mass murder for the Internet
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Near futures at scale


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On March 9, a technology trends report was published that is breathtaking in in scope and scale. Comprising a PDF of more than 380 pages, the 2019 Tech Trends Report from the Future Today Institute covers hundreds of trends in areas ranging from artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, to home automation and the Internet of Things, to workplace and learning technologies, smart cities and much more. As the publisher describes it:
This report is intentionally broad and robust. We have included a list of adjacent uncertainties, a detailed analysis of 315 tech trends, a collection of weak signals for 2020, and more than four dozen scenarios describing plausible near futures. Do not try to read it in one sitting. Begin with the Executive Summary and Keywords, then review the top tech trends listed for your industry.
Some good advice here. I started reading it yesterday, quickly realising that this is
Key Takeaways
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SDF Podcast 26: To regulate, or not to regulate, that is the question…


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“We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.“ So the famous US Supreme Court Justice and ‘crusader for social justice’ and breaker-upper of Gilded Age monopolies, Louis D. Brandeis is said to have said, perhaps sometime in the early 1930s. Today, perhaps the best-known neo-Brandeisian anti-trust advocate is Tim Wu, Columbia law professor, ‘father of net neutrality’ and author of a series of books likening today’s commercial excesses – in particular in the digital space – to the ‘Gilded Age’ of the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Of course, it is not really an either-or debate. It’s a complex and convoluted, tangled web of interests and angles, and any claimant of simple solutions has likely got a degree from snake oil university. Neville discusses an article in The
GDPR
Facebook
Shoshana Zuboff’s thesis of surveillance capitalism
Led by Donkeys
Thomas Stoeckle
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FIR 176: Our 1,000th episode is hefty but good


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FIR 1000
The February 2019 edition of the Hobson and Holtz Report podcast, aka FIR episode 176, is a show that marks a big milestone for Shel and I. It’s the 1,000th episode* of a podcast that we began in January 2005. In addition to recollections of times past and comments from listeners from throughout FIR’s 14-plus-year history, plus special news from Shel about continuity plans, we report on these stories in this episode: Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the
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A shout-out to Samsung for great customer service


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Galaxy S8 photo from Mozfest 2018
I’m a big fan of Samsung‘s products especially their Galaxy series of smartphones. My first Samsung smartphone was a Galaxy S3 in 2012. That was followed by an S4 and then an S6. I’m now on a Galaxy S8. The next one might be an S10 as it looks like I’m an even-number kind of Galaxy user, if I go for another Samsung model again. Which, by the way, is not a guarantee with the likes of Huawei and other emerging manufacturers offering leading-edge tech and compelling user experiences often at far less cost than premium brands like Samsung (and Apple). I bought my S8 new in April 2018 – a year after its launch – from a reseller on the UK Amazon Marketplace. It was a great deal: almost half the list price for a new phone that was factory-unlocked to work on any network in Europe. And
s8description
Galaxy S8 Italian translate
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For Immediate Release 172: The double-edged sword of a Facebook meme


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Suspicion about the consequences and outcomes of the #10YearChallenge meme on Facebook kicked off discussion in the January episode of “The Hobson & Holtz Report”, aka FIR podcast episode 172. Is it just a harmless meme? Or is it a surveillance nightmare? Shel and Neville weight in. Here’s the line-up of all the topics that caught our attention and prompted lively conversation in this episode:
  • Lost trust in Facebook led to wariness about a user-generated meme.
  • Adobe is bringing part of “Minority Report” to life.
  • The Internet of Things was everywhere at CES.
  • A picture of an egg is the most viewed Instagram post ever. What does that bode for influencer marketing?
  • Picture what Google will look like if the EU implements Article 11 of the Copyright Directive.
  • Brands are weighing in on the U.S. government shutdown.
  • Dan York reports on the web’s growing complexity, Jeff Jarvis’s Facebook screed,
    FIR 172
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For Immediate Release 168: The Facebook dilemma


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Neville Hobson joins Shel Holtz for the December installment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report.” The stories Neville and Shel covered include…
  • The passing of PR fixture Jack O’Dwyer
  • Marketers are turning their attention to messaging apps
  • Not everyone is free to leave Facebook, even if they want to
  • The death of keywords (or is it?) as audiences become key to targeting in search
  • Rising Instagram stars post fake sponsored posts to get brands’ attention
  • What we learned about GDPR in 2018
  • Research reveals how journalists can rebuild trust in media; could it work in business?
  • Dan York reports on the Quora data breach, rural connectivity, free (for now) LinkedIn Learning courses, more on Facebook’s woes, Slack banning users with links to Iran, and a new podcast all-in-one mixing desk.
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. Links from this month’s episode:

SDF Podcast 24: Reading the runes for 2019


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The SmallDataForum celebrated its third Christmas with a highly calorific and somewhat alcoholic Italian lunch, followed by post-prandial musings about high- and low-lights of 2018, and some crystal ball gazing for 2019. Our regular followers / listeners – or just about anybody with any interest in tech and communication – won’t be surprised by a list being topped by Facebook, and then some more Facebook. Followed by GDPR and other regulatory activities, mainly by the EU. And of course we also touched on the topic that’s been with us from episode one, when it was called Brexit. These days, Brexitexit is beginning to sound more fitting. In his analysis of FB’s / MZ’s predicament, Sam combined review and preview. He sees FB’s annus horribilis as the beginning of the end for the meaningful global connector. At the time of the 2019 SDF Christmas lunch, he expects FB’s chief apologist to
Thomas Stoeckle
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Welcome to the Gutenberg Editor


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Of Mountains & Printing Presses

A new version of WordPress is expected to land during the next few weeks  – perhaps even as soon as December 6 – if development plans proceed smoothly. I’ve been a WordPress user since version 1.5 over a decade ago, and I’m excited about 5 mostly because of Gutenberg, the brand new post and page editor that aims ultimately to replace the traditional classic editor that’s been part of WordPress since its beginnings. This new version 5.0 release of the popular content management system also brings a wide range of improved functionality and new features. I’ve been kicking the tyres a bit with Gutenberg and have found it extremely intuitive, easy to use and definitely the way forward for creating content-to-publish in the WordPress platform itself. What better way to illustrate what it can do that’s different than by writing this
Beautiful landscape
Accessibility is important — don’t forget image alt attribute
?
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SDF Podcast 23: Pretty crazy ideas about the Facebook


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Facebook “The ever-present function of propaganda in modern life is in large measure attributable to the social disorganization which has been precipitated by the rapid advent of technological changes.” This is not the latest comment on the perpetual missteps, mishaps and misuse of Facebook, but a quote from Harold D. Lasswell, eminent media scholar and creator of the eponymous and never-aging model and formula to determine media effects: who says what to whom in which channel with what effect? Who said what to whom, and subsequent effects – that was also the theme of a multi-thousand-word investigative piece on Facebook and its executive team in the New York Times on 15th November. By now, I’m sure anybody with even the remotest interest in the SmallDataForum canon of themes will be familiar with the story and the fall-out: basically, Facebook got burned by burning all sorts of lobbying,
Ruins
Thumbs down
Screwed up
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 164: BA flummoxed by cyberflashing


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British Airways In the November episode of “The Hobson & Holtz Report,” aka FIR 164, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz reviewed these stories:
  • British Airways management was as unprepared for the iPhone’s AirDrop creating an onboard kerfuffle as flight attendants were
  • With the influencer and micro influencer market saturated, marketers now look to nanoinfluencers
  • By 2022, most of the skills required for employability will be soft skills
  • The length of YouTube videos people will watch on their phones continues to increase
  • Gen Z uses text and chat more than any other generation, but how do they feel about new technologies?
  • Fake videos have entered the political space; can business be far behind? But new apps can help identify fakes
  • Dan York reports on Facebook’s new Lasso app, a Google outage, and “signed exchange”
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. Links from this month’s episode

Emerging tech: Your bookmark for 2019


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Data has a better idea “We know from human history that developments in technologies over the centuries, ranging from the Industrial Revolution through to the invention of the automobile, then airplanes and so forth, the landscape of progress is littered with human casualties. People die because of these things being tested.” A provocative statement, the first thing you hear in episode 1 in the third season of the Digital Download podcast that I did with host Paul Sutton last month in which we discussed emerging technologies and communications and what’s predicted to hit the mainstream within the next two to three years. That statement was intended to sharpen focus on the dilemmas confronting all of us when we want to try something new or radically different to advance our knowledge, our well-bring, our development, where there are risks in doing so. It’s an extreme example of risk and consequence on the journey to that
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For Immediate Release 155: Did neglect kill SlideShare?


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slideshare-tombstone For the September episode of the monthly Hobson & Holtz Report podcast, aka FIR 155, I was the solo host with Shel away. Doing the show like this reminded me of the old days of FIR when Shel and I recorded a weekly show for over ten years, where one of us would typically do it all solo if the other was away. This was one of those times! Anyway, you have a show to listen to so here’s what’s in this month’s H&H Report: In his Tech
FIR155graphic
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SDF Podcast 21: Attention, meaningful content and post-apocalyptic novels


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monitor Our latest podcast ended up being a tad longer than planned – clearly a sign of a lively, engaged discussion. In talking about various aspects of the attention economy, we managed to hold each other’s attention for a good 45 minutes. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Many ‘attention economists’ these days quote Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and his observation that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. It is certainly a quote that has aged well, and one can only wonder what Simon would make of the world now, 47 years on from his famous statement. Sam doesn’t quite see the crisis of attention that brands often lament. But quality and controllability matter more than ever, and producers of content – especially the advertising and media industries – need to up their game to stay relevant. Users control their online experience through ad blockers
WTF
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 152: LOL (TM)


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Febreze Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the August edition of The Hobson and Holtz Report on the FIR Podcast Network. Topics included…
  • P&G is attempting to trademark common Internet acronyms, including LOL.
  • Texting has become a common tool in political campaigns. Will it find its way into marketing?
  • Gen Zers will outnumber Millennials within a year. There are implications for communicators.
  • Should your company be on IGTV?
  • A look at vanished technologies from Gartner’s 2017 hypecycle of emerging technologies.
  • Engagement on Facebook is plummeting.
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

(Or download the MP3 file) Links from this episode:

SDF Podcast 20: GDPR, ePrivacy, copyright and antitrust: the EU’s long game


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Show notes for this episode written by Thomas Stoeckle. “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A modern version of this 18th century thought experiment by the philosopher and cleric George Berkeley might read: “If the EU fines a big tech firm billions of dollars, and no one has the power to enforce it, has it actually happened?” A recent opinion piece on AdExchanger discussed the connection between Google’s $5bn antitrust fine, and the enforcement of fines for GDPR non-compliance. Europe is committed to taking a stand against corporations when it comes to privacy rights of consumers, intellectual property rights of content producers (although the planned law is controversial), and anti-competitive market positions. But there is potential tension between the goal of harmonizing privacy law across EU member states, and implementation and
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 147: Tell Me a (Facebook) Story


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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the July edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:
  • Starbucks and plastic straws (listener comment from Kris Gallagher)
  • British Airways asks customers to post personal data on Twitter ‘to comply with GDPR’
  • Will Facebook Stories (and Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories, WhatsApp Stories, and Snapchat Stories) change how marketers use social media?
  • Whatever the EU does about copyright laws, expect it to change social media globally
  • Chatrooms come out of closed beta at Reddit
  • Facebook has suspended Crimson Hexagon from accessing data while it investigates how that data is being used
  • New buyers of smart speakers want to reduce the amount of time they spend looking at screens
Also, Gini Dietrich shares her thoughts on companies shrugging off the “E” in the PESO model she helped develop, Dan York has his Tech Report, and more. Special thanks to 
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Twitter removes fake followers to build trust in follower counts


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Twitter profile If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in the number of people following you on Twitter, the likeliest reason would be action taken by Twitter last week as part of its efforts to build trust and confidence in follower counts – the number of people who follow others on the social network. In an announcement posted on July 11, Twitter said it had begun a global action to remove suspicious accounts from users’ followers, describing it as a step to improve Twitter and ensure everyone can have confidence in their followers.
As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down. Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop. We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.
Before and After
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For Immediate Release 143: Fired by mistake by an AI


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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the June edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:
  • An employee was mistakenly fired by an AI system and managers stood by powerless to correct the mistake. Was AI really to blame?
  • IBM has introduced an AI designed for debate, which could mean there’s finally an unbiased devil’s advocate to point out the flaws in your business plan.
  • There is no minimizing the threat to the Internet posed by the draconian copyright restrictions the European Parliament could vote into law as early as the first week of July.
  • A couple of PRSA members are proposing an overhaul of ethics rules to make sure they apply to the group’s executive board (and making their case hasn’t been easy).
  • The World Cup is using a Video Assisted Referee, which would have applications far beyond sports.
  • Facebook is testing paid monthly
    FIR 143 The Hobson & Holtz Report
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SDF Podcast 19: Is GDPR much ado about nothing?


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GDPR Ten days after the EU General Data Protection Regulation came into action, the SmallDataForum convened to provide initial assessments and perspectives. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Are we witnessing comedy or drama? Much ado about nothing or the end of the world as we know it? Clearly it is much too early to tell, and yet (of course) we found a lot to discuss, from varying levels of preparedness (not just on businesses’ side, but also among governments, regulators etc), to impacts on the data-driven digital advertising business, to the next level of EU rule regarding electronic communication, the so-called ePrivacy Regulation. Among the early legal cases, the most prominent so far is Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems’s challenge of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (reported by the Irish Times). Sam points out that Schrems, the man behind the None of Your Business website (www.
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