Want to Understand What Ails the Modern Internet? Look at eBay
“When the biggest platforms seem to be flailing or punting on problems, it’s often because they’re trying to address broad social issues with market solutions. They’re rediscovering, at scale and at great expense to their users, the ways in which a society is more than a bazaar, and the pitfalls of allowing human attention to be sold and resold as a commodity. If a platform is addressing a collective problem in a maddeningly strange way, consider that it might see itself, or only know to govern itself, like an eBay. If it can’t keep bad actors from using the service to exploit other users, that’s because it’s modeled after a system in which finding the highest bidder — or the biggest sucker — is gamely understood to be the point.”
There’s something interesting at the heart of this piece, but I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. It has to do with the “deals” we agree to make and the clarity of those deals. The deal on eBay is straightforward: I want to buy something, either directly or through auction, and someone sells it to me. But the deal on social networks is opaque. It seems like I’m getting something for free, or in exchange for something vague and advertising-based. Yet, the social network and its partners are actually getting access to my data and my interests and my intentions. That’s harder to grasp than a simple exchange of goods for money. This is also why it’s taken more than a decade for people to start waking up to the deals we make with social networks.
Boston approves self-driving car testing citywide
“The company [NuTonomy] described the Boston citywide testing as an opportunity to advance self-driving technology on some of North America’s ‘most complex roads’.”
“Complex” is a nice way to put it.
3 Helpful SEO Moves to Get on Topic
“Whereas keyword optimization aims to make pages rank for individual keywords, topic optimization primarily seeks to make pages rank for groups of keywords (i.e., the main keyword and its synonyms). Secondarily, topic optimization results in ranking for search terms related to your focus topic. When you’ve done a good job covering a topic in depth, you’re bound to have touched on many other connected ideas. A well-optimized page signals both breadth and depth to search engines, allowing you to rank for a range of keywords.”
I’ve been reading up on the pillar-cluster method of content development. The more I learn, the more I like it. Writing to arbitrary keywords always felt off. But writing to keywords that align with your organization’s core topics feels on target.
Amazon made a special version of Alexa for hotels with Echo speakers in their rooms
“But do you want an Echo in your hotel room? Would you trust it? Would you keep it on mute? Or would you unplug it entirely? When I heard about Alexa for Hospitality, my immediate question was what happens to guest recordings and their history of Alexa queries after each stay. Are they automatically cleared? Can the hotel or business access them afterward? The answers are at least somewhat reassuring.”
Those answers (paraphrased from the article): Alexa commands are deleted daily, hotels don’t get recordings, and hotels can use Alexa analytics to customize things like popular radio stations and Alexa skills.
3 Principles of Effective Thought Leadership
” … we should be looking to the Opinion sections of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as inspiration for effective thought leadership, which feature a range of research-based, well-framed, and cohesive persuasive essays that incorporate both personal experience and the macro-level trends that affect everyone. Branded thought leadership should be as provocative as the stories in these sections.”
Thought leadership isn’t thought leadership if it doesn’t have a point of view.
Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die
“Software in health care is largely coded by hand these days. In contrast, Google’s approach, where machines learn to parse data on their own, ‘can just leapfrog everything else,’ said Vik Bajaj, a former executive at Verily, an Alphabet health-care arm, and managing director of investment firm Foresite Capital. ‘They understand what problems are worth solving,’ he said. ‘They’ve now done enough small experiments to know exactly what the fruitful directions are’.
“Dean envisions the AI system steering doctors toward certain medications and diagnoses. Another Google researcher said existing models miss obvious medical events, including whether a patient had prior surgery. The person described existing hand-coded models as ‘an obvious, gigantic roadblock’ in health care. The person asked not to be identified discussing work in progress.”
You know you’ve got a problem when your medical screening system is missing prior surgeries.
Apple Music + Apple video + AppleCare?
“Other watchers are convinced Apple will bundle all of its content into a very big subscription service, which would include Apple Music, along with other benefits like AppleCare.”
Apple Music + Apple video + AppleCare is interesting. Amazon Prime’s initial selling point was free two-day shipping. That’s still important, but it’s become the utility amidst Prime’s other offerings. AppleCare could serve as the utility in an Apple package.
The Dangerous ‘Bigness’ of the AT&T-Time Warner Merger
“Reading Judge Leon’s opinion makes it clear how this has happened. The decision barely touches on Congress’s concerns about excessive concentration of economic power or other guiding principles or values. Instead, the opinion is mostly a tedious dissection of whether customers might end up paying an extra 45 cents per month for pay-TV service. How did a battle over 45 cents become how we decide the future of the media industries? Yes, higher prices for consumers are a bad thing, but they are not the only thing, and certainly not what Congress cared most about. In fact, the law itself doesn’t even mention prices: It instructs courts to bar mergers when the effect ‘may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly’.”