Search Results For: Snapchat

When The Phone Goes Dead

Jun 26 2014 @ 10:19am

Alice Robb takes note of a remote village in Papua New Guinea where locals call the deceased on their cellphones:

[The villagers] have long been confident in their ability to talk to the dead, believing they can communicate with the world of spirits in dreams, visions, and trances induced by special rituals. The introduction of mobile phones has opened up new possibilities: The Ambonwari believe they can use them to contact their dead relatives, whose numbers they obtain from healers. And once they reach them, they can ask for anything. “It is a general conviction,” write [anthropologists Borut] Telban and [Daniela] Vavrova, “that once people know the phone numbers of their deceased relatives they can ring and ask the spirits to put money in their bank accounts.”

I asked Telban if the villagers are discouraged that they never get through to the spirit world; he assured me that they’re not. They might assume the spirits aren’t available. And they ring random numbers so often that occasionally they do reach someone, whose voice they attribute to a spirit.

Meanwhile, in the US, hardly anyone seems to use their cellphones to call the living:

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Chart Of The Day

Jun 24 2014 @ 8:37pm

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Derek Thompson shares the results of a recent survey about teenagers’ Internet habits. One of his takeaways:

If you’re confused why digital publishers obsess over Facebook and social media, make this graph your smartphone wallpaper. Even the most popular site among teens – BuzzFeed – has fewer daily visitors than any network or app in the graph. (Even Beats, which is considered a tiny music service, has more daily users than any website in the survey.) Seventy three percent of teens don’t read BuzzFeed, 84 percent don’t read Reddit, and 96 percent don’t read Mashable or Gawker.

For young people, Facebook is the newspaper, and websites are the authors.

Christopher Mims thinks not:

The central problems with the Fire, the factors that will kill its sales as surely as they have held Windows Phone to single digit market share in North America, are these:

1. People are loath to switch from the phones they already have, and in the process abandon all the apps and media they’ve bought.

2. The North American market for smartphones–and especially the market for high-end smartphones like the Fire – is heavily saturated, which means there are hardly any new users out there who might adopt the Fire as their first phone.

3. Fire can’t access the existing pool of Android apps. It’s missing critical ones like Uber (Bezos says it’s coming) and Snapchat (no word on when it will appear).

Yglesias worries that the new Fire Phone is too high-end for its own good:

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Kevin Roose reports that “financial start-ups—known collectively as ‘fintech’—are spreading like kudzu, each with a different idea about how to usurp the giants of Wall Street by offering better services, lower fees, or both”:

Part of the reason the tech world is interested in finance is the sheer amount of money involved—financial services is a $1.2 trillion industry, and U.S.-based fintech start-ups raised an estimated $1.3 billion last quarter alone. But banking is also a prime candidate for disruption because, like much of the old-line corporate world, it tends to run on bloated, creaky technology. Even something as simple as applying for a loan can take weeks or months, thanks to the sheer number of human hands such transactions pass through. And, since each intermediary wants a cut, fees are everywhere. Undercutting big banks and speeding up processes might not be as sexy as, say, creating the next Snapchat, but it’s low-hanging fruit for techies who want a way in to a lucrative market. After all, today’s megabanks are really just bundles of particular, loosely related services cobbled together by years of acquisitions and market ­consolidation. If those bundles can be broken apart, the start-up world’s revolution looks a lot more plausible.

A Hard Read

Mar 25 2014 @ 7:46pm

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Alexis Madrigal praises Porn Studies, a new academic publication:

Porn is always two clicks away, and, hovers at the edge of so many conversations from analyses of Girls to sending messages on phones to the NSA. The problem, however, is that there are costs to even talking about pornography. This is true even in our supposed bastions of intellectual freedom, as several of the articles make clear. “I have been told ‘You don’t want to be ‘the porn guy’” and ‘you will have to deal with the content issue of your work,’” writes Nathaniel Burke in his essay Positionality and Pornography. I’d heard similar things from journalists, male and female alike. Very few people want to be “the porn guy.” And so researchers and critics choose to do work on less fraught, less important topics. Perhaps having a publication that serves as a gathering place will create some strength in academic numbers.

Lauren Davis was impressed by the first issue:

[T]he topics are quite intriguing: “Porn and sex education, porn as sex education, Revisiting Dirty Looks (an interview with Pamela Church Gibson about her collection of feminist essays about pornography), a study of emerging niches in US pornography consumption, and one on the nature and implications of sexual fantasies. On the other hand, many of the papers are about the challenges of actually researching pornography and the role of the pornography researcher, though even those can be entertaining; one involves a visit to the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

(Graphic from “Deep Tags: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Online Pornography,” by Antoine Mazièresad, Mathieu Trachmanb, Jean-Philippe Cointeta, Baptiste Coulmontc, and Christophe Prieur)

Facebook’s Spending Spree

Feb 22 2014 @ 7:29am

Felix Salmon links Zuckerberg’s decision to acquire WhatsApp back to its “stroke-of-genius” decision to go public in 2011 and conquer the mobile market through acquisitions:

Zuckerberg knew, circa Facebook’s IPO, that his company was not good at mobile: it didn’t have the problem solved. And he knew that asking his existing corps of engineers to turn their attention to mobile would probably not work. But the good news was that he was now running a public company, with lots of cash, and a highly-valued acquisition currency in the form of Facebook stock. …

Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 not because the product was particularly great, but because the product was insanely popular. The same when he offered $3 billion for Snapchat. Sometimes, lightning strikes. And while Facebook is happy writing its own mobile apps in the hope that lightning will strike them, it knows better than to count on such a thing happening. If you want to be certain that hundreds of millions of people are using your mobile products, the only way to do that is to buy mobile products which hundreds of millions of people are using.

Peter Yared sees another rationale for Facebook buying WhatsApp. Tapping into people’s mobile contacts:

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Is Facebook Dying? Ctd

Jan 29 2014 @ 2:18pm

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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry chides the media for buying that paper predicting the death of Facebook. Why “any journalist with, not a science degree, but with a lick of common sense, could have figured out that the study wasn’t reliable”:

The study uses an epidemiology model. Many stories pointed this out, so they read this part! This tells you two things: 1) this study is based on a model, i.e. an abstract and formal representation of the world, not experimentation, which is the evidentiary gold standard in science. When you have a model, you have an idea and a spreadsheet. You don’t have evidence. 2) An epidemic is when lots of people get a disease. Facebook is a website that people sign up for. Those two things are not the same thing! At all! (Insert your own joke here.) You can apply an epidemiology model to Facebook. You can apply a macroeconomic model (what’s Facebook’s demand curve?). You can apply a financial model. You can really apply any model–a “model” is just a fancy word for playing lego with numbers. You can use all sorts of lego to do all sorts of things, but it doesn’t mean your lego “plane” looks anything like a plane, much less will fly.

Dish readers got there first. Nonetheless, Facebook does have legitimate reasons to be concerned about its declining popularity:

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“R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013″

Dec 31 2013 @ 11:46am

Kottke argues that the once-relevant medium has evolved into something new and disparate:

Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.

Instead of launching blogs, companies are building mobile apps, Newsstand magazines on iOS, and things like The Verge. The Verge or Gawker or Talking Points Memo or BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post are no more blogs than The New York Times or Fox News, and they are increasingly not referring to themselves as such. … Sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy aren’t seeking traffic from blogs anymore. Even the publicists clogging my inbox with promotional material urge me to “share this on my social media channels” rather than post it to my blog.

He elaborates on his “deliberately provocative” argument:

[A]s someone who’s been doing it since 1998 and still does it every day, it’s difficult to ignore the blog’s diminished place in our informational diet.

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A.I. Intimacy, Ctd

Dec 20 2013 @ 5:44pm

Christopher Orr considers Her the best film of the year:

Her is a remarkably ingenious film but, more important, it is a film that transcends its own ingenuity to achieve something akin to wisdom. By turns sad, funny, optimistic, and flat-out weird, it is a work of sincere and forceful humanism. Taken in conjunction with [Spike] Jonze’s prior oeuvre—and in particular his misunderstood 2009 masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are—it establishes him firmly in the very top tier of filmmakers working today. Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—of which Her is a clear descendant—Jonze’s film uses the tools of lightly scienced fiction to pose questions of genuine emotional and philosophical weight. What makes love real: the lover, the loved one, or the means by which love is conveyed? Need it be all three?

Dana Stevens’s take:

Her isn’t, in the end, a political or socio-cultural satire, much less a nostalgic tract about the need to throw away our devices and truly live. It’s a wistful portrait of our current love affair with technology in all its promise and disappointment, a post-human Annie Hall.

Brett McCracken compares the protagonist to the operating system:

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Museums In The Age Of Selfies

Dec 17 2013 @ 2:02pm

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Eric Gibson thinks overzealous smartphone users are ruining the museum experience:

Rather than contemplating the works on view, visitors now pose next to them for their portrait. In pre-digital photography the subject was the work of art. Now it is the visitor; the artwork is secondary. Where previously the message of such images was “I have seen,” now it is “I was here.”

If visitors now regard a museum’s treasures as mere “sights,” they might come to regard the institution itself in a similar vein—not as a place offering a unique, one-of-a-kind experience but just another “stop” on a crowded itinerary, and as such interchangeable with any other. At the very least, it’s hard to see how this new culture of museum photography can fail to undermine the kind of long-term visitor loyalty to museums toward which so many of their public engagement efforts are directed. On the one hand, the visitor who makes an emotional connection with a work of art is likely to return. On the other hand, I can’t imagine there are many tourists who, having once had themselves snapped propping up the Leaning Tower, feel compelled to do so again.

Jillian Steinhauser begs to differ:

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