Five Things

Observations January 30, 2015 9:44 am


The great thing about my job is that I get to read…  A LOT. I spend several hours a day trying to read as much as possible (seriously, this is part of my job), which means I read the good with the bad. And to be honest, bad, filler content almost always outweighs great content. So since I’ve already done the heavy lifting in parsing the good from the bad, here are five great things I saw on the Internet this week, a series I hope to bring you every Friday:

1. Netflix’s Secret Special Algorithm Is A Human. Although the title of this piece is a bit misleading (hello, clickbait!), it’s a really great read about the power and limitations of big data. Netflix gets a lot of press for their use of data to inform creative decisions, like choosing Kevin Spacey to star in House of Cards, but ultimately, there’s still a human making the final decision. Really refreshing to be reminded that it’s still up to a human, not a machine– in this case Ted Sarandos– to make sense of data and guide it in the right direction. In other words, data has been extremely helpful to Netflix, but only because Ted and other smart staffers know what bits of data to ignore and what to pay attention to– score 1 for human curation!

2. NFL to Run Anti-Domestic Violence Spot in Super Bowl. In my opinion, this spot isn’t getting the attention it deserves, and it’s a shame that Budweiser and Go Daddy are stealing most of the Super Bowl advertising buzz. I’ve watched the No More spot several times, and every time I get chills. There’s something so compelling in the ad’s stripped-down simplicity (we never see the victim or the attacker), and it’s incredibly unnerving to realize it’s a real 911 call. It’s perhaps too effective– by the end I’m left speechless, rather than scrambling to take action.

3. Facebook Dominated Mobile App Downloads in 2014. Admit it, you’re addicted to Facebook. However “uncool” the platform has become, there’s no denying it’s tentacles– last year, Facebook apps were the top four most downloaded apps, globally. Let that sink in– even if you’ve abandoned Facebook proper, but you use Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp Messenger, you’re still in the Facebook ecosystem. Crazy, right? Tons of great info in the recent App Annie report. Fodder for the next time your hipster neighbor says she never uses Facebook anymore…

4. $ale BraggingOh how this piece resonated. It’s so true– whenever anyone comments on my outfit, I feel compelled to tell them how much I didn’t spend on it. I think it’s a continuation of the high/low trend, and wanting to be perceived as a savvy shopper rather than someone who is only fashionable because they have money. It’s also interesting to think about how pervasive “sale culture” is and the psychology of spending; I can’t remember the last time I bought something for full price, because I know if I wait a few days I’m almost guaranteed to find it on sale. Which is why Hukkster was so great, and I’m so sad it’s gone. Which also makes me so confused that more tools like Hukkster don’t exist to capitalize on this “shopping smart” trend. With Hukkster, you could “hukk” (similar to pinning) an item to receive an email when it went on sale. Genius. Shoptagr is the only replacement I’ve found, but it doesn’t work as well as Hukkster. Watch this space– someone will eventually capitalize on this trend.

5. The Local Super Bowl. Self-promotion ain’t pretty, but someone’s gotta do it. Read it, then tell me how much you love it.

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