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How does it work, is it any good, and how quickly will Facebook and Twitter copy its best features?

Clubhouse is a voice-based social network that feels part corporate conference, part conference call, part corporate podcast. You’ve probably heard of it.

I wanted to take a look at how this new approach to social media might affect:

  • How we network
  • How we communicate
  • How we learn
  • How we build status (Or social capital, if you will)

Here we go.

I don’t know if you’ve been on social media lately, but let me let you in on a secret. Often, it’s an unpleasant place to be.

Social media can be noisy, combative, and anxiety-inducing.

You might say that’s because social…


Nostalgia is a heady drug - for a little while.

Remember Bebo?

I steered well clear, but I have memories of huddling round a fridge-sized PC at pals’ houses, waiting for the dial-up internet to grind its gears so they could look at a profile like this:

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I have a theory that people only started stencilling ‘Live Love Laugh’ on their kitchen walls when the internet took their Bebo walls away.

With no digital outlet for such formulaic creativity, we all took matters into our own hands. Property prices are yet to recover.

But Bebo is coming back!

The original creator is coding it himself and he has plenty of…


But have the populists already moved on to new tactics?

The idea is to develop a community of people who can help annotate Tweets that contain questionable material. Twitter’s research finds that adding this context is more helpful to users than applying a ‘True’ or ‘False’ label.

Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable.

Twitter

Twitter will make all Birdwatch data available for public download. There is a pilot version live here, in the US only.

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Apple Search // Shutterstock

It won’t be better than Google. But does that even matter?

Bing! has some nifty and unique features; DuckDuckGo offers privacy; Ecosia plants trees when people use its search engine.

Still, we use Google. It had an 88% share of the global search market in October 2020, Statista tells me.

Crawling, indexing, and then ranking all of the Web, in response to billions of daily queries, is a pretty big job. DuckDuckGo, for example, licences its index from Bing!. Even with the heft of Microsoft behind it, Bing! has had limited success in attracting users.

Huawei, for all its resources and its huge user base, only resorted to building its own…


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WhatsApp // Shutterstock

Apparently, we’re all “confused” about what data it will send to Facebook

WhatsApp caused quite the ruckus a couple of weeks ago.

It emerged that WhatsApp was set to force users to accept data-sharing with Facebook, or have WhatsApp removed from their device.

You can read an excellent write-up on that situation here from my colleague Rob Thurner.

WhatsApp has pushed this privacy policy update back, from Feb. 8 to May 15. It says there was too much “confusion” about what it really means.

WhatsApp has shared some detail on the data they plan to share, in handy visuals like this:


Those glasses are coming, like it or not.

Facebook has been reflecting on 2020 — but not for long.

In a post entitled “No looking back”, the social network immediately reneged on the title’s promise by boasting about its 2020 successes.

Notably, people used Virtual Reality a lot more, and this has emboldened Facebook’s vision for its upcoming Horizon platform.

Smart Glasses

Next, they looked ahead to 2021. The headline item is a pair of “smart internet glasses” that Facebook is at pains to convey, do not offer Augmented Reality. As noted in hi, tech. last year, they will likely be made by Ray-Ban.

The glasses will launch “sooner rather…


Can you remember what life was like before Google bought DoubleClick?

One thing I do care about — even more than the ROI of SME ad budgets or a well-implemented digital transformation — is wildlife conservation.

The RSPB has released its 2020 report on the state of the UK’s birds (here, if you’re interested), and it finds that there are 19 million fewer pairs of breeding birds today compared with the late 1960s.

What would it be like if there were 40 million more birds in the country? Can you imagine?

I can’t really, myself. The best approximation my lazy mind can conjure is Hitchcock’s The Birds.

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I reckon it’d be…


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Populism is built on the belief that a shadowy minority élite is suppressing the majority. Only one man (it’s almost always a man) can save the majority by winning power, draining the swamp, and restoring the rightful order.

So the argument goes.

That argument loses credence as the votes roll in and the majority votes for the other side.

In a predictably petulant response to this reality, Donald Trump has tried to sow doubt on the veracity of the US election results.

In response, Twitter has sown doubt on the veracity of his tweets.


What you need to know about federated analytics, in a few short minutes.

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Source: Google

What is federated analytics?

Federated analytics is an approach to user data analysis that does not capture data from individual devices.

The idea has circled for a few years, but Google has introduced federated analytics to a wider audience.

They define it as “Collaborative data science without data collection”.

Where ‘traditional’ data science brings lots of information into one central data lake, federated analytics combines information from distributed datasets without gathering it in one central location.


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David Hume

Let’s re-think it all, while we can.

The philosopher David Hume wrote of the ‘Is-ought problem’.

He found that writers tie positive statements (what is) to normative statements (what ought to be).

In Hume’s opinion, these are potentially two separate worlds.

We can only change our reality if we create a gap between them.

Otherwise, we accept that what is, ought to be, and nothing ever changes.

If we choose, we are right now in a prime moment to address our own is-ought problems.

We are experiencing a number of crises in:

  • Health
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • Civil rights

With quite a bit of pain to share around yet…

Clark Boyd

Author of the world-famous https://hitech.substack.com/ I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was.

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