This makes for a dangerous mix: a company that reaches most of the country every day and has the most detailed set of personal data ever assembled, but has no incentive to prevent abuse. Facebook needs to be regulated more tightly, or broken up so that no single entity controls all of its data. The company won’t protect us by itself, and nothing less than our democracy is at stake.
During my career as a software developer, I have seen the release frequency increasing steadily. When I started, it would take 12 to 18 months for new features to reach the customer. Years later the frequency increased, so deployment to production happened every three weeks. For the past two years, we have been using continuous delivery at work. This means that as soon as a feature is ready (implemented, code-reviewed and tested), it is deployed to production. Continuous delivery is by far the best way in my opinion, and here is why:
Yesterday I appeared on a panel about digital publishers who are ‘pivoting to video’. I’ve written about this before. But in case you’re new to it, there have been numerous cases over the last six months to a year in which digital publishers have announced either major job cuts or in some cases literally fired their entire editorial teams in order to ‘pivot to video.’ The phrase has almost become a punchline since, as I’ve argued, there is basically no publisher in existence involved in any sort of news or political news coverage who says to themselves, my readers are demanding more of their news on video as opposed to text. Not a single one. The move to video is driven entirely by advertiser demand.
What crystallized for me from this and other discussions I had yesterday is that we’re actually in the midst of a digital news media crash, only no one is willing to say it. I’ve noted before that digital news media in the midst of a monetization crisis. But it’s more than that. It’s a full blown crash.
Between information you’ve provided and your usage habits, Facebook knows a lot about you
CNBC will walk you through how to find out what Facebook knows about you
You’ll see options to help limit what Facebook can discover about you along the way
When it comes to the cost of living in cities, a general rule of thumb is that housing prices are much higher in the country’s economic and population hubs, especially in the cities along the coasts.
Particularly in recent years, prices have been pushed sky-high in places like New York City or San Francisco through a combination of limited supply of new homes, increasing demand, shifting demographics, and government regulations.
Google became the world’s go-to source of information by ranking billions of links from millions of sources. Now, for many queries, the internet giant is presenting itself as the authority on truth by promoting a single search result as the answer.
ir Tim Berners-Lee’s optimism about the future of the web is starting to wane in the face of a “nasty storm” of issues including the rollback of net neutrality protections, the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and the web’s increasing polarisation.
The inventor of the world wide web always maintained his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. But Berners-Lee’s vision for an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged by increasingly powerful digital gatekeepers whose algorithms can be weaponised by master manipulators.
Some believe that the digital age has its tradeoffs in communication. But our study reveals that the diverse toolkit of channels available has improved and deepened the way people connect with others.
Messaging is a core part of everyday life: 80 percent of adults (age 19-64) and 91 percent of teens (age 13-18) across the globe message every day
There has been an increase in the amount of communication over the past two years: People have increased their usage of various channels, but the top five include messaging (67 percent), social media (48 percent), email (47 percent), video chat (47 percent) and face-to-face (38 percent) communication
More modes of communication = greater social satisfaction: As modes of communication increase, people report having greater and more authentic conversations
This is the first post in our “No Boundaries” series, in which we reveal how third-party scripts on websites have been extracting personal information in increasingly intrusive ways. 
by Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan
You may know that most websites have third-party analytics scripts that record which pages you visit and the searches you make. But lately, more and more sites use “session replay” scripts. These scripts record your keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior, along with the entire contents of the pages you visit, and send them to third-party servers. Unlike typical analytics services that provide aggregate statistics, these scripts are intended for the recording and playback of individual browsing sessions, as if someone is looking over your shoulder.
The stated purpose of this data collection includes gathering insights into how users interact with websites and discovering broken or confusing pages. However the extent of data collected by these services far exceeds user expectations ; text typed into forms is collected before the user submits the form, and precise mouse movements are saved, all without any visual indication to the user. This data can’t reasonably be expected to be kept anonymous. In fact, some companies allow publishers to explicitly link recordings to a user’s real identity.
Yale University chief investment officer David Swensen, in a rare public appearance, spoke Tuesday to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin at the Council on Foreign Relations.
During the hour-long session, Swensen, 63, disclosed that annualized returns over his 32-year tenure have been 13.5 percent, higher than the endowment’s assumption of 8.25 percent a year.
Swensen said he favors private equity and doesn’t like quants, and talked about his efforts to get university officials to lower expectations for future returns. The endowment has swelled to a record $27.2 billion, the second-largest in U.S. higher education.
Building on recent advancements in the assessment of psychological traits from digital footprints, this paper demonstrates the effectiveness of psychological mass persuasion—that is, the adaptation of persuasive appeals to the psychological characteristics of large groups of individuals with the goal of influencing their behavior. On the one hand, this form of psychological mass persuasion could be used to help people make better decisions and lead healthier and happier lives. On the other hand, it could be used to covertly exploit weaknesses in their character and persuade them to take action against their own best interest, highlighting the potential need for policy interventions.
The 2016 edition of Access Across America: Transit reports that 36 of the 49 largest metros showed increases in job accessibility by transit. Though rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit remain unchanged from the previous year, new data comparing changes within each of the 49 largest U.S. metros over one year helped researchers identify the places with the greatest increases in access to jobs by transit. Cincinnati and Charlotte improved more than 11 percent. Seattle, which ranks 8th for job accessibility by transit, improved nearly 11 percent.
“This new data makes it possible to see the change from year to year in how well a metro area is facilitating access to jobs by transit,” said Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory. “Transit is an essential transportation service for many Americans, and we directly compare the accessibility performance of America’s largest metropolitan areas.”
Alongside pushing Google to stop “fake news,” we should be looking for ways to limit trust in, and reliance on, search algorithms themselves. That might mean seeking handpicked video playlists instead of searching YouTube Kids, which recently drew criticism for surfacing inappropriate videos. It could mean focusing on reestablishing trust in human-led news curation, which has produced its own share of dangerous misinformation. It could mean pushing Google to kill, not improve, features that fail in predictable and damaging ways. At the very least, I’ve proposed that Google rename or abolish the Top Stories carousel, which offers legitimacy to certain pages without vetting their accuracy. Reducing the prominence of “Popular on Twitter” might make sense, too, unless Google clearly commits to strong human-led quality control.
To be more precise, it only takes three or more stories from small news outlets covering the same topic to make discussions of that topic go up by 62.7 percent on Twitter.
It took a group of Harvard researchers five years to reach this conclusion. They did it by tracking the effects of stories covered by 48 small media outlets, measuring how they affected conversations on Twitter. Harvard political scientist Gary King and his colleagues explain in the journal Science that they honed in on 11 broad topics in public policy, ranging from refugees and race to food policy and domestic energy production.
“If we’d been conducting this study 100 years ago, we would have gone into town squares and listened to what people said on soap boxes,” said King. “Today, it’s Twitter.”
In her powerful new book, “Nomadland,” award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder reveals the dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful life of a tribe of men and women in their 50s and 60s who are — as the subtitle says — “surviving America in the twenty-first century.” Not quite homeless, they are “houseless,” living in secondhand RVs, trailers and vans and driving from one location to another to pick up seasonal low-wage jobs, if they can get them, with little or no benefits.
The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s AMZN, -0.33% “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night. Living on less than $1,000 a month, in certain cases, some have no hot showers. As Bruder writes, these are “people who never imagined being nomads.” Many saw their savings wiped out during the Great Recession or were foreclosure victims and, writes Bruder, “felt they’d spent too long losing a rigged game.” Some were laid off from high-paying professional jobs. Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.
Last weekend, in the hours after a deadly Texas church shooting, Google search promoted false reports about the suspect, suggesting that he was a radical communist affiliated with the antifa movement. The claims popped up in Google’s “Popular on Twitter” module, which made them prominently visible — although not the top results — in a search for the alleged killer’s name. Of course, the was just the latest instance of a long-standing problem: it was the latest of multiple similar missteps. As usual, Google promised to improve its search results, while the offending tweets disappeared. But telling Google to retrain its algorithms, as appropriate as that demand is, doesn’t solve the bigger issue: the search engine’s monopoly on truth.
Surveys suggest that, at least in theory, very few people unconditionally believe news from social media. But faith in search engines — a field long dominated by Google — appears consistently high. A 2017 Edelman survey found that 64 percent of respondents trusted search engines for news and information, a slight increase from the 61 percent who did in 2012, and notably more than the 57 percent who trusted traditional media. (Another 2012 survey, from Pew Research Center, found that 66 percent of people believed search engines were “fair and unbiased,” almost the same proportion that did in 2005.) Researcher danah boyd has suggested that media literacy training conflated doing independent research with using search engines. Instead of learning to evaluate sources, “[students] heard that Google was trustworthy and Wikipedia was not.”
The so-called retail apocalypse has become so ingrained in the U.S. that it now has the distinction of its own Wikipedia entry.
The industry’s response to that kind of doomsday description has included blaming the media for hyping the troubles of a few well-known chains as proof of a systemic meltdown. There is some truth to that. In the U.S., more than 3,000 stores did open in the first three quarters of this year.
Store Openings and Closings
Excluding grocery stores and restaurants
Starting your own business is about creating value for your customers. Technological advances will create massive value for users in every industry. Most of the past 2000 years were the agricultural era, and the development of technology and society was so low that it was impossible for the average person with life expectancy of 50 to 70 years to witness any significant advancement in technology, so it is only reasonable that there have been no waves of start-up in the past.
Few events in history had as much an impact as the Industrial Revolution and the Internet Revolution. So, it is no wonder that both eras witnessed a spate of innovations and start-ups. Right now, there is nothing as influential as the Internet. Artificial intelligence is dominating the second round of the Internet Revolution, and in the future we might see more advancements in life sciences and space technology.
The Internet is meant to connect. Through connections, efficiency is improved, and value is created and distributed through the industries. Taobao stands for connecting people with products, Baidu for connecting people with information, and Tencent for connecting people with one another… And I hope when people talk about connecting people with cars, they will think of DiDi. Connections form platforms, which then collect big data, and as a result we look to artificial intelligence to be more efficient in utilizing these data. This is why AI is the second round of the Internet Revolution.
In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know. You meet someone and say, “I’m from Sarasota,” and they say, “Oh, I have a grandparent in Sarasota,” and they tell you where they live and their name, and you may or may not recognize them.
You might assume Facebook’s friend recommendations would work the same way: You tell the social network who you are, and it tells you who you might know in the online world. But Facebook’s machinery operates on a scale far beyond normal human interactions. And the results of its People You May Know algorithm are anything but obvious. In the months I’ve been writing about PYMK, as Facebook calls it, I’ve heard more than a hundred bewildering anecdotes:
That is correct, yet another hearing in Congress on what to do with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal government guarantee.
Here is the witness list:
Mr. Peter Wallison, Senior Fellow and Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial
Policy Studies, AEI
Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics
Dr. Michael Lea, Cardiff Consulting Services
Ms. Alanna McCargo, Co-director, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban
The Honorable Theodore “Ted” Tozer, Senior Fellow, Center for Financial
Markets, Milken Institute
Rent control policies in San Francisco may have fueled gentrification, Stanford economists say.
Stanford economists Rebecca Diamond and Tim McQuade, who published their findings last month, said occupants of rent-controlled apartments built before 1980 are 20 percent more likely to stay than other renters.
It might seem that rent-control policies, therefore, act as a bastion against gentrification, by allowing and encouraging long-term residents to stay, but the researchers say that’s not exactly the case.
“Rent control exacerbates the housing shortage by pushing landlords to remove supply of rental housing,” Diamond told SFGATE.
The emergence in the United States of large-scale “megaregions” centered on major metropolitan areas is a phenomenon often taken for granted in both scholarly studies and popular accounts of contemporary economic geography. This paper uses a data set of more than 4,000,000 commuter flows as the basis for an empirical approach to the identification of such megaregions. We compare a method which uses a visual heuristic for understanding areal aggregation to a method which uses a computational partitioning algorithm, and we reflect upon the strengths and limitations of both. We discuss how choices about input parameters and scale of analysis can lead to different results, and stress the importance of comparing computational results with “common sense” interpretations of geographic coherence. The results provide a new perspective on the functional economic geography of the United States from a megaregion perspective, and shed light on the old geographic problem of the division of space into areal units.
Tyler and Alissa Hodge, two of the hundreds of young professionals who have moved here in recent years, noticed that despite the influx there was not a single city-style coffee shop downtown.
So the couple opened one in May, with sofas, baked goods and local micro-roaster beans, adding a play area as a nod to the family-friendly culture of this southern Indiana city and their own three children.
“The 18- to 35-year-olds expect something like that, but they just didn’t have it,” said Tyler Hodge, 32, who used crowdfunding to help finance the shop. The same tactic was used for a rock climbing gym opened in September by a group of young engineers who, like Hodge, spend their weekdays working at Cummins Inc., the diesel engine company that is the city’s largest employer.
“There’s not that much to do here for the young people,” said Juan Valencia, a 25-year-old Colombian immigrant who is one of the founders of the climbing gym. “We think this will help.”
Midwestern cities like Detroit have long embodied the American can-do spirit. Over the course of a century, Motor City melded assembly-line prowess with freedom-of-the-road ideals to help define a nation. In the postwar years, Detroit became the epitome of the American dream, a place where factory workers without college degrees could make enough money to buy a house of their own.
Yet as home prices soar across the United States — particularly on the coasts — Detroit remains a poster child for the economic crisis and housing collapse of a decade ago. Boarded up homes and rubble-strewn fields litter the landscape.
Over the last year, many companies have ended their liberal work-from-home policies. Firms like IBM, Honeywell, and Aetna joined a long list of others that have deemed it more profitable to force employees to commute to the city and work in a central office than give them the flexibility to work where they want. It wasn’t supposed to be this way—at least according to Norman Macrae.
In 1975, when personal computers were little more than glorified calculators for geeks and the Internet was an obscure project being developed by the United States government, Macrae, an influential journalist for The Economist who earned a reputation for clairvoyant prophesies—including the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Japan—made a radical prediction about how information technology would soon transform our lives.
Macrae foretold the exact path and timeline that computers would take over the business world and then become a fixture of every American home. But he didn’t stop there. The spread of this machine, he argued, would fundamentally change the economics of how most of us work. Once workers could communicate with their colleagues through instant messages and video chat, he reasoned, there would be little coherent purpose to trudge long distances to work side by side in centrally located office spaces. As companies recognized how much cheaper remote employees would be, the computer would, in effect, kill the office—and with that our whole way of living would change.
We’re quietly replacing an open web that connects and empowers with one that restricts and commoditizes people. We need to stop it.
I quit Facebook seven months ago.
Despite its undeniable value, I think Facebook is at odds with the open web that I love and defend. This essay is my attempt to explain not only why I quit Facebook but why I believe we’re slowly replacing a web that empowers with one that restricts and commoditizes people. And why we should, at the very least, stop and think about the consequences of that shift.
The Web: Backstory
(If you want, you can skip the backstory and jump directly to the table of contents).
I love the web.
I don’t mean that in the way that someone might say that they love pizza. For many of us in the early 2000s, the web was magical. You connected a phone line to your computer, let it make a funny noise and suddenly you had access to a seemingly-unending repository of thoughts and ideas from people around the world.
It might not seem like much now, but what that noise represented was the stuff of science fiction at the time: near-instantaneous communication at a planetary scale. It was a big deal.
All very sensible. And a good example of why, in the past, I have recommended MailChimp to organisations and individuals wishing to send out legitimate email newsletters.
Only problem is… after years of protecting internet users from unwanted newsletter subscriptions, MailChimp has had a change of heart.
Last week it quietly (I only found out by logging into my account, I never – ironically – received an email advisory from them) revealed that it would be switching its customers’ mailing lists to “single opt-in” rather than “double opt-in”.
The internet will survive longer than the Web will. GOOG-FB-AMZN will still depend on submarine internet cables (the “Backbone”), because it is a technical success. That said, many aspects of the internet will lose their relevance, and the underlying infrastructure could be optimized only for GOOG traffic, FB traffic, and AMZN traffic. It wouldn’t conceptually be anymore a “network of networks”, but just a “network of three networks”, the Trinet, if you will. The concept of workplace network which gave birth to the internet infrastructure would migrate to a more abstract level: Facebook Groups, Google Hangouts, G Suite, and other competing services which can be acquired by a tech giant. Workplace networks are already today emulated in software as a service, not as traditional Local Area Networks. To improve user experience, the Trinet would be a technical evolution of the internet. These efforts are already happening today, at GOOG. In the long-term, supporting routing for the old internet and the old Web would be an overhead, so it could be beneficial to cut support for the diverse internet on the protocol and hardware level. Access to the old internet could be emulated on GOOG’s cloud accessed through the Trinet, much like how Windows 95 can be today emulated in your browser. ISPs would recognize the obsolence of the internet and support the Trinet only, driven by market demand for optimal user experience from GOOG-FB-AMZN.
Perhaps a future with great user experience in AR, VR, hands-free commerce and knowledge sharing could evoke an optimistic perspective for what these tech giants are building. But 25 years of the Web has gotten us used to foundational freedoms that we take for granted. We forget how useful it has been to remain anonymous and control what we share, or how easy it was to start an internet startup with its own independent servers operating with the same rights GOOG servers have. On the Trinet, if you are permanently banned from GOOG or FB, you would have no alternative. You could even be restricted from creating a new account. As private businesses, GOOG, FB, and AMZN don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks. You do not have a legal right to an account in their servers, and as societies we aren’t demanding for these rights as vehemently as we could, to counter the strategies that tech giants are putting forward.
This year marked a sea change in our attitude toward tech’s largest players — and not for the better. Facebook, with a user base twice the size of the Western Hemisphere, seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis: CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent much of 2017 on a national tour that The New York Times billed as a “real-world education.” Meanwhile, the platform has become embroiled in a national debate that started with fake news and has evolved into an investigation into how the Russian government weaponized the network to influence the 2016 presidential election. Next week, the company will be brought to testify in front of Congress on the matter.
Amazon made considerable headway in its quest to serve every part of our lives, from acquiring Whole Foods this summer to rolling out a plan to get keys to our front doors just this week. Apple continues to amass a vast reserve last valued at $260 billion, but its top-tier devices have lost their luster, and it’s been years since the company released a truly game-changing product. Twitter has come under increased scrutiny for harassment and bot armies of nefarious origin, which may explain its tepid user base growth despite becoming the new unofficial platform for American politics. And there’s a growing sense, underlined by this summer’s $2.7 billion EU antitrust ruling against Google, that the entire cabal of big tech companies have turned the corner from friendly giants to insidious monopolies.
So when people voice fears of artificial intelligence, very often, they invoke images of humanoid robots run amok. You know? Terminator? You know, that might be something to consider, but that’s a distant threat. Or, we fret about digital surveillance with metaphors from the past. “1984,” George Orwell’s “1984,” it’s hitting the bestseller lists again. It’s a great book, but it’s not the correct dystopia for the 21st century. What we need to fear most is not what artificial intelligence will do to us on its own, but how the people in power will use artificial intelligence to control us and to manipulate us in novel, sometimes hidden, subtle and unexpected ways. Much of the technology that threatens our freedom and our dignity in the near-term future is being developed by companies in the business of capturing and selling our data and our attention to advertisers and others: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent.
For people who expected Snap to be the next Facebook, its stumbles appear disastrous. But while Snap hasn’t figured out how to be a profitable advertising business, it’s proving to be a much more competent media company than either Facebook or Google—and not just because it knows from dancing meats.
Since September, Facebook and Google have acknowledged selling political ad space to Kremlin-affiliated groups that spread false stories about the 2016 U.S. presidential election. While company representatives prepare to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Nov. 1, Robert Mueller, special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, is reviewing the ad buys for evidence that Russian agents colluded with the Trump campaign. There are signs of Russian activity on almost every American social network of any consequence, including Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even the smartphone video game Pokémon Go. (Bloomberg LP is developing news programming for the Twitter service.) Snapchat, however, has found no evidence of political ad buys by anyone in Russia. In fact, Snapchat appears to have no fake news at all.
By getting a better understanding of a home or rental property’s layout and the transitions between spaces, prospective buyers and renters can narrow down the number of properties that they actually might need to see in person.
For sellers and agents, the new service reduces the cost and effort previously needed to create a 360-degree tour of a home.
“Right now, it’s really expensive and time consuming to add 3D to a listing,” Zillow Group chief marketing officer Jeremy Wacksman told GeekWire. “An agent has to buy an expensive camera and pay hosting fees, not to mention the hours it takes to capture the images. We think everyone should have access to this type of technology. If the technology is already available on a device an agent or property manager already uses, we’ve gotten over the hurdle of adoption.”
We created, implemented and updated scheduled home capture services and cloud media processing, sharing and publishing beginning in 1995. In 1997, we began to embed real estate agents in the homes.
We still have some of these early scenes.
This example included a “Grand Tour”, that is the ability to move throughout the home by simply tapping the room or navigating within the scene. The short video below illustrates some of the early “Quicktime VR” scenes.
Apple’s Quicktime VR was the first widely used panoramic creation software. A number of companies followed including “Interactive Pictures” or iPix and Bamboo (famous for promoting their service at a NAR convention with a cage of cash) among others.
It is possible that Zillow will attempt to patent some aspect of their Home Capture App. There have been a number of iOS and Android apps that capture and share panoramic scenes. Perhaps this brief history might be useful to the intellectual property community.
A few related links:
Augmented Reality (AR) app: Bayern Munich’s AR push starts from its app:
Fans who download the latest version of the team’s iOS app can use the AR feature to bring either team captain Manuel Neuer or forward Arjen Robben into their selfies. There’s an option to pick which of the club’s three jerseys this season (home, away and UEFA Champions League) Robben wears in the photos as well as a feature to personalize and then screenshot the number and name on the back of one of the jerseys. Fans can buy the personalized jersey directly from the club’s store.
One can imagine Zillow selling AR agent placements inside any listing.
Paid clicks were up 47 per cent year on year in total, while cost per click continued to fall, down 21 per cent, as mobile dilutes desktop search.
The cost of acquiring traffic for search also rose significantly, by 32 per cent year on year, raising concerns that at least one of Google’s partners may have put up prices. Traffic acquisition costs were 23 per cent of advertising revenue, up from 21 per cent for the same period the year before.
Ruth Porat, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, said it was a “terrific quarter” for both Google, which also includes YouTube, and the Other Bets. blockquote> Tom Foremski:
This ignores an ongoing trend that should cause concern for investors: Google continues to make less revenue per click but somehow finds ways of showing ever more numbers of advertisements.
Every quarter Google has to find more ways to get more ads in front of people because each ad makes less money. Its traffic acquisition costs rose substantially this quarter. How is this a sustainable business model?
As Google’s ads fall in value it needs to find new places to show more ads. Yet the huge shift in Google users to mobile screens severely limits how much more advertising can be shown.
App downloads and revenue hit record levels in the third quarter of 2017, according to a new report out this morning from App Annie. Downloads across the two major app stores, Apple’s App Store and Google Play, reached nearly 26 billion worldwide – up 8 percent over the same time last year. That figure doesn’t include reinstalls or app updates, only new downloads. In other words, it paints a picture of the app economy’s true growth, rather than including downloads from people who were just grabbing a new version of an existing app, or re-downloading an app they had previously installed.
In addition, app revenue reached a record of nearly $17 billion, App Annie said.
Given Estonia’s history, the invention of Skype in this country was ironic. While Americans were buying their first cell phones, about a quarter-century ago, Estonians were shut off from the world as an outpost of the Soviet Union. You could easily wait 10 years to be assigned a landline phone. By the time the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the country was in a time warp. “We did not have anything,” says Gen. Riho Terras, the commander of Estonia’s armed forces, who had been a student activist at the time. The country had to reboot from zero. Terras says each citizen was given the equivalent of 10 euros, or $10.60. “That was it,” he says, laughing. “We started from 10 euros each.”
One generation on, Estonia is a time warp of another kind: a fast-forward example of extreme digital living. For the rest of us, Estonia offers a glimpse into what happens when a country abandons old analog systems and opts to run completely online instead. That notion is not fanciful. In various forms, governments across the world, including those in Singapore, Japan, and India, are trying to determine how dramatically they can transform themselves into digital entities in order to cut budgets and streamline services (and for some, keep closer tabs on citizens). Estonia claims its online systems add 2% a year to its GDP.
These things don’t seem important to most people today. But I think they will ultimately allow decentralized organizations to impact billions of people by:
Offering new earning opportunities to people around the world who otherwise would not have them (without favoring people in any particular jurisdiction). The internet is global but the economy is still not truly global. Blockchain-based organizations that aren’t bound to a physical location offer new earning opportunities to billions, as the elimination of a legal entity reduces the need for legal contracts and friction and opens up new short-term, global labor opportunities. 1protocol and 21.co are two examples of platforms that have the potential to open up new labor opportunities for billions.
If we are to believe an estimate by JPMorgan Chase, online ad fraud is out of control. They claim that this year it has more than doubled to $16.4 billion. Last year it was estimated to be $7.2 billion.
Meanwhile, the cluefree inner circle of marketing are filling each other full of hot air about the wonderful job they’re doing fighting ad fraud. According to them and their happy talk cyber-security consultants, who have proven to be completely ineffectual, ad fraud will drop 10% this year. There’s not a sensible, knowledgeable person anywhere to be found who believes this horseshit. But it is perfectly indicative of the fantasyland our industry “leaders” are living in.
The major problem is this: There’s no one seriously fighting fraud. We have a wildfire burning and there’s no fire department. The ad tech industry is spending $1.5 million to fight ad fraud. What fraction of the cost of the problem are they spending on a solution? Do the math, it’s .00009. Is it any wonder fraud grew over 100% this year?
The barrier to entry to ad fraud is virtually non-existent, and there are no penalties for being caught. It is the perfect crime – anyone can do it, no one competent is fighting it, and no one goes to jail. The World Federation of Advertisers says within 8 years it may be the second largest source of criminal income in the world, after drug trafficking.
O n the Wayfair SEO team, we keep track of our non-branded click curves: the average click-through rate (CTR) for each ranking position. This helps us accurately evaluate the potential opportunity of keyword clusters.
Over the last two years, the total share of organic clicks on page one of our e-commerce SERPs has dropped 25% on desktop and 55% on mobile.
For the ad-heavy non-local SERPs that we work in, paid ads are likely now earning nearly the same percentage of clicks as organic results — a staggering change from most of the history of Google.
Organic CTR loses 25% of click share on desktop, 55% on mobile
Misinformation and “fake news” have been around for as long as people have communicated. But today’s instant, low-budget, far-reaching communications capabilities have the potential to make the problem orders of magnitude more dangerous than in the past.
Mankind has always lied, and always will; which is why the winners of wars get to write the history their way and others have no say, but with the internet, the losers have a say!
William L. Schrader
When you consider the nagging privacy risks of online advertising, you may find comfort in the thought of a vast, abstract company like Pepsi or Nike viewing you as just one data point among millions. What, after all, do you have to hide from Pepsi? And why should that corporate megalith care about your secrets out of countless potential Pepsi-drinkers? But an upcoming study has dissipated that delusion. It shows that ad-targeting can not only track you at the personal, individual level, but that it doesn’t take a corporation’s resources to seize upon that surveillance tool—just time, determination, and about a thousand dollars.
A team of security-focused researchers from the University of Washington has demonstrated just how deeply even someone with modest resources can exploit mobile advertising networks. An advertising-savvy spy, they’ve shown, can spend just a grand to track a target’s location with disturbing precision, learn details about them like their demographics and what apps they have installed on their phone, or correlate that information to make even more sensitive discoveries—say, that a certain 20-something man has a gay dating app installed on his phone and lives at a certain address, that someone sitting next to the spy at a Starbucks took a certain route after leaving the coffeeshop, or that a spy’s spouse has visited a particular friend’s home or business.
Some of the world’s biggest brands were ripped off by a digital fraud scheme that used a network of websites connected to US advertising industry insiders to steal what experts say could be millions of dollars, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.
Approximately 40 websites used special code that triggered an avalanche of fraudulent views of video ads from companies such as P&G, Unilever, Hershey’s, Johnson & Johnson, Ford, and MGM, according to data gathered by ad fraud investigation firm Social Puncher in collaboration with BuzzFeed News. Over 100 brands saw their ads fraudulently displayed on the sites, and roughly 50 brands appeared multiple times.
Apple is cracking down on ad tracking through Safari, and the first publishers to feel the pain are those who rely heavily on programmatic advertising.
Programmatic publishers’ ad rates have taken a hit since Apple updated its Safari browser last month to prevent third parties from tracking users for more than 24 hours after a user visited a website. Although Apple’s move hurts publishers reliant on third-party data that advertisers depend on to target niche audiences at scale, publishers that sell their inventory directly say they aren’t affected by the Safari update.
“We’re entering an era in which data can be used to solve all sorts of the most pressing problems, but only if there’s trust in how that data has been handled,” Ms Rometty told me in a phone interview last week. “We see ourselves as stewards of clients’ data. And we don’t need to be regulated to do the right thing. We’ve been doing the right thing for a hundred years.”
The comment was a clear swipe at Google and Facebook, both of which have been fined by national privacy watchdogs for their data collection methods, as well as a reference to new UK and EU regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, that will make it tougher for companies to process, sell, or allow third-party access to personal data without consumers’ explicit consent. But it was also a new kind of marketing pitch: in a world in which most economic value is going to intellectual property, we are not only going to protect that value, we are going to offer a greater share of profits from it to clients.
How would this work in practice? IBM, which serves mainly other businesses and governments, is now pitching the fact that they won’t keep any proprietary data in their servers for more than a specified contract period, and that the informational wealth garnered from using artificial intelligence to analyse that data would be owned by the clients themselves. For example, if a national health service gave IBM health records, the company could not then monetise information about the fact that certain populations in certain parts of the country have higher than average cancer rates.
Since its incorporation just over five years ago, Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation. When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.
To help illustrate Facebook’s shift away from privacy, we have highlighted some excerpts from Facebook’s privacy policies over the years. Watch closely as your privacy disappears, one small change at a time!
My first lesson in the dangers of trusting strangers came in 1983, not long after I turned five, when an unfamiliar woman entered our house. Doris, from Glasgow, was in her late 20s and starting as our nanny. My mum had found her through a posh magazine called The Lady.
Doris arrived wearing a Salvation Army uniform, complete with bonnet. “I remember her thick Scottish accent,” Mum recalls. “She told me she’d worked with kids of a similar age and was a member of the Salvation Army because she enjoyed helping people. But, honestly, she had me at hello.”
Doris lived with us for 10 months. For the most part she was a good nanny – cheerful, reliable and helpful. There was nothing unusual about her, aside from a few unexplained absences at weekends.
Back then, our neighbours, the Luxemburgs, had an au pair Doris spent a lot of time with. Late one evening, Mr Luxemburg knocked on our door after discovering the pair had been involved in running a drugs ring. “They had even been in an armed robbery,” my father later related, “and Doris was the getaway driver.” The getaway car, it transpired, was our family’s Volvo estate.
My parents decided to search Doris’s room. In a shoebox under her bed, she had stuffed piles of foreign currency, stolen from my parents’ home office. My dad stood on guard by our front door all night with a baseball bat, scared Doris would come home. Thankfully, she didn’t.
However, few reporters understand how Google makes money — ask them something basic such as to name Google’s two largest business groups and they cannot. It means they cannot even start to understand the deeper complexities of how money is made on the Internet.
Google’s X is not about the science of creativity — it’s about the use of science as a distraction of public attention — by a secretive business organization controlled by insiders that influences entire industries and the economies of nations.
IMHO, It’s a better, bigger story. I’d rather be working on the biggest stories I can find.
In fact the system probably worked in exactly the way it was designed to.
In other words, the ANA’s programmatic buy wanted to place ads in front of readers who fit a certain multi-factor profile, and at least one of those readers showed up at Breitbart, where the ad was placed there specifically for them.
See, if the ANA wants to hit, say, a typical Wall Street Journal reader with an ad, and the programmatic system finds that kind of reader on Breitbart, the system shoots an ad at that reader in Breitbart.
Apple defies industry logic.
Apple is the only major tech company with a default assumption that consumers don’t want to be tracked or targeted across the web. Its leaders convey a belief that your data is your data until you say otherwise. In a world where data has been called the “new oil,” how does Apple side with privacy and stay so rich?
Cynics argue that it’s because Apple depends less on advertising and commerce. I say it’s a benefit of Apple’s strategic decision to build trust with its customers.
If you work in digital media, you need to know that the industry is one year from taking a big step toward Apple’s view. No, this isn’t a case of digital disruption coming (once again) from Silicon Valley. In this case, the seismic shift originates in the European Union. Much of the digital media industry is likely to panic over the coming months. But mark my words: The EU will ultimately lead publishers and advertisers to a better place.
Apple’s share of smartphone ownership increased for the fifth consecutive Piper Jaffray Taking Stock With Teens survey. Of >6,000 respondents, 78% have an iPhone, the highest percentage we have seen in our survey (up from 76% in Spring-17). The iPhone may have room to move higher with 82% of teens anticipating their next phone to be an iPhone, also the highest ever recorded in our survey (up from 81% in Spring-17). Android was the runner up with 13%, flat from the spring.
The Great Recession has been reshaping America into a renter nation. And increasingly, highly paid, highly educated households are making room for themselves in it.
That’s according to a new report by the NYU Furman Center, which examines rental housing trends between 2006 and 2015 in metros with more than a million residents. Here’s the upshot: rich households—those earning more than 120 percent of the metro median income—saw their renter share rise by 1.2 percent between 2012 and 2015. Since 2006, that growth was a striking 6.2 percent. The renter share among households making less than 50 percent of the median income, on the other hand, remained roughly the same since 2012. Since 2006, it grew by a modest 2.9 percent. More educated subsets of metro residents also gained renters in this period.
What these numbers ultimately show is that contrary to convention, renting is gaining popularity among people who are seemingly well-positioned to buy a home. “We’re seeing a shift in the composition of renter households in the nation’s large metro areas,” Sewin Chan, an associate professor of public policy at NYU Wagner and co-author of the report, said in a statement.
This pivot away from homeownership, especially among educated, high-earning millennial households, has a number of explanations. Younger folks may value the flexibility renting offers; they can easily move cities, add or subtract roommates (or partners), and save on maintenance. Some households may also be wary of the risks of homeownership—especially if they came of age during the housing crisis. Plus, even if they’re getting hefty paychecks, paying off student debt may be a higher priority for some young people than scraping together enough for a mammoth down payment. As a result, the share of homeowners had declined, while the share of renters has risen across the U.S. in the last decade. In the 53 metros analyzed, renters made up 40 percent of the residents in 2015, but that share varies considerably by metro. In L.A., they made up more than half; in Salt Lake City, they only made up a third.