Google is getting the word out about Google Photos… with food trucks. I now feel totally okay complaining about the limitations of Google Sheets. “When you do these kinds of ‘on the ground’ things, you get to demo your product to people who wouldn’t necessarily have known about it. Food trucks always get people’s attention, so it’s tried-and-true genius. In essence: try our product, get some free food.”
Tinder? Being used as a platform for an exclusive music release? (PRESS RELEASE). mmmkaaaayyy…. “Starting today through Monday, August 3, Tinder users nationwide will discover a video message from Luke inviting them to be the first to experience his new track. Simply tap the banners on either the top or bottom of the card to receive an exclusive link. Fans will also have the opportunity to pre-order Luke’s latest album, KILL THE LIGHTS, out August 7. Tinder users should have the latest version of the app installed to catch the video.”
MIT Techology Review took a look at Facebook’s Internet drone. “Aquila, as the V-shaped carbon fiber craft is known, is powered by two propellers and has a wingspan of about 42 meters, roughly equivalent to a Boeing 737 airliner. When covered in solar panels and loaded with communications gear needed to beam down wireless Internet connectivity, it should weigh only a little over 400 kilograms (about 900 pounds), roughly one-third of a Toyota Prius.”
Yahoo has acquired social shopping site Polyvore (PRESS RELEASE). “On Polyvore, users put together sets of clothing, accessories, and lifestyle goods that express their love for style and shopping in a compelling, digital, social setting. In addition to natural integrations with Yahoo Style and Yahoo Beauty, Polyvore’s strong media experience, where community-powered content is curated and actionable for shoppers, will enhance the full portfolio of Yahoo’s digital magazines and verticals. When it comes to advertising, Polyvore’s technology will bring a proven native ad model, new compelling native ad formats, and strong advertising relationships with more than 350 retailers to Yahoo’s fast-growing native advertising platform, Yahoo Gemini.”
Fascinating stuff: the New York Times built a robot for article tagging. “The key feature of the automatic tagging system relies on bringing machines into the mix, an idea that inspires conflicting ideas of progress and dread in some journalists. For Editor to work, the lab needed to build a way for machines and humans to supplement each other’s strengths. Humans are great at seeing context and connections and understanding language, while machines can do computations at enormous scale and have perfect memory. Mike Dewar, a data scientist at the Times R&D lab, said the artificial neural network makes connections between the text and an index of terms pulled from every article in the Times archive.”
GovTrack has launched a KickStarter to help it pay for an intern to write news summaries. “Today GovTrack is fully automated. There’s no staff here. All of the information on the site is collected automatically from the official record. But the official record can’t tell us everything we want to know about what’s going on in Congress. With your help I will hire a full time researcher to add more information about bills to GovTrack. The researcher will report on the political context behind legislation and will tell us what bills really mean.” I’m not sure I agree with how the KickStarter is set up (the minimum pledge is $10, and the reward levels are pretty steep) but GovTrack is a great resource, even as an automated tool. I suspect that as an automated tool with a human writing summaries, it’d be amazing.
Users are “detoxing” from social media. “Driving the detox phenomenon are a few key factors, say experts. For starters, many users of social media are starting to see it as a time suck — a distraction that keeps them from going about the business of their day. But others also see social media as something of a toxic environment – one in which they see people bragging about themselves or volunteering opinions contrary to their own, all of which can create feelings of envy or resentment.”
That didn’t take long: there’s already a guy who’s Periscoping full time. “Jon Jacques, a 20-year-old who worked at a video marketing company in New York City, has been spending his free time after work and on the weekends showcasing his street magic performances on the live-streaming app, Periscope. After a while, he realized he could turn his hobby into his dream job. In June, Jacques gained the courage to quit his high-paying job so he could Periscope full-time.”
Spain’s attempt to “tax” Google News ended up being a huge mess, as could only be expected. “Here’s the history: the Spanish Newspaper Publishers Association successfully convinced Spanish lawmakers in late 2014 to pass a strict “anti-piracy” law, which mandated compensation for the appearance of newspaper publishers’ content on news aggregation sites as of January 1, 2015. It was effectively directed at Google but applied broadly to all news/content aggregators. In response, Google shuttered Google News in Spain, though it has continued to present Spanish news sites on its main search engine results page (SERP) and in other ways. The Spanish publishers then tried unsuccessfully to get the government to force Google to keep Google News alive in Spain (to collect the tax).”
Google’s Project Loon is now covering Sri Lanka. “In the case of Google’s Project Loon, we are talking about a literal taking off, as Project Loon involves the release of balloons into the sky in order to deliver a semblance of Internet infrastructure to various locations that are difficult to have them wired. Having said that, Sri Lanka is the very first country in the world to obtain universal Internet access via Project Loon.”
Are major labels going to yank music videos from YouTube? “Unless the world’s number one content distributor loosens its grip, labels could remove their tunes from the site, according to a NY Post report. Unnamed execs from the big three — Universal, Sony, and Warner — told the NY Post that YouTube is one of the music industry’s worst distribution partners as it pays creators very little revenue, and lacks transparency, which could force a major lock down of the content.” And the labels’ videos would go… where? It’d be quite a coup for Facebook.
Google’s low-wage contract workers may unionize. “Labor organizers with the Teamsters union announced Monday that they’re holding an election to unionize workers for Google Express, the shopping service that delivers everything from toothpaste to televisions purchased by online consumers. The union is seeking to represent about 140 Google Express warehouse workers employed by Adecco, a temp agency that provides much of the delivery service’s Bay Area staff.”
Is Twitter looking at Facebook too much for inspiration? (They are if they go to algorithim-only timeline displays). “Twitter leadership told investors on Tuesday they were considering revamping the entire look of the service to more closely mirror its ‘While You Were Away’ mobile feature – as Facebook-like as Twitter gets – in an effort to increase general interest in the product. A base of Facebook’s size – about 1.4 billion users against Twitter’s 300 million – isn’t a realistic goal, said Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group, who still has the stock listed as a ‘buy’.”
From the New York Times: Facebook Expands in Politics, and Campaigns Find Much to Like. “Since 2012, Facebook has doubled its government and politics team, which includes a political ad sales group, a data communications team and employees devoted solely to Democrats or Republicans. Katie Harbath, who was previously the chief digital strategist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, oversees the political strategy side of Facebook’s Washington-based team. And Facebook has rolled out several tools since the last presidential election to help campaigns reach voters more efficiently and effectively. The two most important, campaigns and operatives said, are the site’s improved video capacities and the ability for campaigns to upload their voter files directly to Facebook.”
VentureBeat took a test drive of Google’s Your Timeline and seems to come away impressed but disturbed. “The last time Google did this — with Google Latitude — users could share such personal information with others. This time around, that’s not possible. It’s private — just as Google Photos, unlike the old Google+ Photos, wasn’t explicitly designed to be used for sharing. Indeed, Google Photos is fun to use for your own personal archival purposes, and people might well find themselves saying the same thing about the new Your Timeline service. The only trouble is, if Google can accurately reflect where you’ve been, things could get a little spooky.”