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 than later” and it’s hard to know if literally anyone has asked for such a device from Facebook. Oh great, we can livestream our Facebook-driven insurrections without having to hold a phone. Frees up a hand for looting and fighting. …

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 like that every time I went out to buy cheese or popped my head out the window for a daily gasp of fresh air. Which it probably wouldn’t. …

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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, no doubt. …

The civil rights audit does not make pretty reading

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After two years of work, the audit into Facebook’s impact on civil rights is ready to publish.

It has assessed Facebook’s stance on a number of topics, including politics and the right to free speech.

The audit finds that “the algorithms used by Facebook inadvertently fuel extreme and polarizing content”, citing the example of Donald Trump’s “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” threat.

Soon after the threat was posted, a number of companies started advertising merchandise on Facebook containing the phrase.

If we step away from the emotive nature of the language here for a moment, you can see the ‘Facebook flywheel’ in action. Get people posting and commenting, then monetize their engagement through advertising. …

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Google Keen

But is it any good?


Timing really is everything.

On the face of it, a Google social network makes sense. It already knows a lot about us and our connections, plus it has YouTube.

And yet, Google+ never really stood a chance. It gave Facebook a head start in what turned out to be a winner-takes-all market.

Google has made only tentative forays back into this field after the highly-publicised failure of Google+.

Social media has changed since then, however. TikTok is booming, Snapchat continues to innovate, and Pinterest is making steady strides with visual search.

In short, there is room for more than just Facebook in social media’s second act. …

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Pinduoduo is one of China’s e-commerce giants. In the space of just five years, it has joined Alibaba and at the top table.

Pinduoduo offers a different take on ‘social commerce’ and it brings some elements to online shopping that are missing on other e-commerce platforms.

As such, it’s an apt time to take a closer look at what sets them apart.

But, you don’t need to hear me guessing what it’s all about.

Instead, I had a great chat with Ada Yang about Pinduoduo (or, PDD), what makes them unique, and what the future holds.

Hello! First, can you tell us a bit about your role at Pinduoduo?

I am from Pinduoduo’s international corporate affairs department and lead PDD’s social communications with industry thought leaders, experts, academia and influencers in the international technology community, aiming to help the international community better understand Pinduoduo. …

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Google’s Senior Industry Head of Luxury, Maria McClay

A data platform will bring transparency to fashion supply chains.

Stores are opening again here in the UK this week (still too early, but capitalism gonna capitalism) and there is, one hopes, a renewed focus on sustainable production across the industry.

Thing is, it can be very difficult for companies to trace the provenance of raw materials, since supply chains are fragmented across the globe.

Environmental watchdogs estimate that 20% of wastewater is created by the fashion industry today, along with up to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Basically, it’s really worth working to improve this situation.

Brands like Swedish menswear retailer ASKET (also the creator of the hi, tech. staple wardrobe) put a ‘traceability’ score on the labels of each garment. In spite of their efforts, the score is typically quite a distance below 100%. …

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Unicorn startups

Covid-19 has been pretty harsh on the physical world.

Turns out, it has little sympathy for the mythical world either.

Even the unicorns are taking it on the hoof.

See, unicorn companies are privately-held start-ups worth at least $1 billion, and they typically prioritize rapid growth over profits.

The profits, they assure us, will come later. Just don’t ask when.

Many of these companies operate as platform businesses; that is to say, they faciliate value exchanges between supply and demand.

You see them everywhere: think WeWork, Airbnb, or Pinduoduo and you’re on the right track to spot a unicorn.

During this article, we will return to this definition to probe a few assumptions:

  • As start-ups, are these giant companies still experimenting to find a working business model? …


Clark Boyd

Covering e-sports, e-ecommerce, e-everything. I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was.

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