Discussing the reach of many stories, her opinion is that caring truly is sharing where digital media is concerned. Commercial success may follow, but human interest is key. In its push to make BuzzFeed the definitive news service for the digital age, there is a commitment to creating broad, diverse, story led content with the intention for users to create their own content on their personal social media platforms, sharing the stories that they (and their friends and followers) are interested in.
My legal ear twitched as I heard more about technology that allows users to listen to social media posts based on a specific geographic location. Blake suggested this could be targeted to large corporates bases to, for example, contact potentially aggrieved (or fame hungry) employees with a view to getting their personal accounts of a particular issue or perhaps working practice, rather than going through a locked-down press office. It doesn’t take a futurist to realise the potential for serious damage to businesses when individuals can be targeted in such a way through their social media accounts, whether they record their employment details or not. In that sense, it renders the familiar social media ‘disclaimer’ void if individuals can be so accurately linked to their employer.
Vlogging and visuals
As we saw yesterday, the collection, storage and analysis of data is getting impossible to manage, let alone act on. Even more difficult, you might assume, is the move towards the visualisation of data on the back of the rise in smartphones and camera specifications, making it difficult to search and tag.
In a presentation by the newly merged Gaze Metrix Sysomos, the potential for visual analytics was considered. To be able to identify the use of images, such as trademarks and even faces, whenever and wherever they are posted to the Internet opens a world of possibility. If this is to be a valuable function, for marketeers to determine how their brand is used or perceived, or from brand owners, it must in some way be distilled. Imagine for a second being a recognised global brand, concerned about how your identity may be abused by copycat products, competitors or brand hijackers. Your trademarked logo may appear in hundreds of thousands of posts each day. How do you reduce these down to potential threats? The difficulty with collecting even more data is still being able to effectively analyse and act on the outcomes. My verdict: more work required.
Which brings me on to Vloggers. You know them. They are the teenagers and twentysomethings who are making up to $4,000 per second in YouTube videos, Vines, Periscope and any number of emerging broadcast platforms. Are they universally annoying? Quite possibly, but they are also very successful. Or at least some of them are. By creating the right balance of scene setting, platform selection, passion, collaboration and even hugely valuable corporate partnerships, teenagers are moving out of their bedrooms and into the limelight with vlogs and millions of fans around the world. Do I get it? No. Should we be scared? Yes. It won’t take long until these youngsters are running TV stations, setting fashion trends and dictating taste. It might not be time to embrace this, but we must be prepared.
The final session of the day invited us to think more about the connected world. ‘Living Social’ considered the potential for digital connectivity and social media to make our lives easier. Connecting our alarms to a coffee maker, having an Uber car waiting when we leave work, having our groceries waiting for us when we arrive at the supermarket may all streamline our lives, but at what cost?
Apparently we make on average 35,000 decisions a day. But by taking some of those decisions away from us means that we must hand over yet more information about us, our habits and our tastes. Are we happy with that? Are we happy with de-humanising parts of our lives? What happens if we want to walk home, or shop elsewhere?
The Internet of Things will bring about a refreshed demand for human interaction. When things go wrong, we want a real person to resolve things. When the Internet fails, how do we continue our lives? Amazon’s Kindle Fire offers a ‘Mayday’ button, which when pressed, connects a real human to you within minutes. Do we need a similar button on all our digital devices?
Scarier still, the data we share will soon be able to tell us about the productivity and potential future productivity of people, based on their age, gender, nationality, etc. This may affect employability and even impact on promotion prospects. But my concern is always that relying on algorithms doesn’t take into account exceptions and human reality which makes each of us unique.
Imagine a world where our decisions are made for us by computer chips. It doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Even worse, imagine being locked out of it because you have forgotten the name of your first pet!