Some more writing on Medium, this time reaching all the way back to my roots as an email marketer!
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Algorithm?
UPDATE: Leonard Murphy of GreenBook was kind enough to re-post this piece on their blog, here! Thanks again, Lenny!
WARNING: The following post will contain copious references to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, some of which may reveal key plot points in the movie. Proceed on at your own personal superhero movie preferred level of risk.
Saw the aforementioned movie last night, and I must admit, it was awesome. And I’m not alone: the movie has already set a box office record for April (beating Fast and Furious 5), and has received critical acclaim from even the most staunch of fanboys. Sure, there were Easter Eggs and references galore, including one brilliant nod to Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic role in Pulp Fiction. But what makes this movie really pack a punch isn’t your standard fare of pecs and abs - I think it wins with audiences at a deeper level because it deals with many of the very real concerns we have in our very real lives today. Drones and electronically-controlled death from the sky? In the movie. Government being the entity you can’t trust anymore, because of their hidden agendas? Got it. Questions about the nature of privacy and the terrifying power of data mining? Check.
But beyond those, you see discussed what might be modern society’s new unmentionable “A”-word: Algorithm.
In the movie, a mad scientist (and I’ll leave the description there) creates an ultimate algorithm that can predict which individuals will be dangerous to the “bad guys” in the future, thus giving them targets to attack in their nefarious scheme. Within the movie, it’s stated that this algorithm uses the detritus of our digital lives to accomplish its evil machinations: credit card statements, phone calls, text messages, social networks, et cetera. Of course, this level of data collection sounds a lot like some recently-unveiled REAL government programs that are rocking the international community, so you immediately see the monsters in the shadows the film’s creators are implying. Moreover the concept implies that, given enough data about an individual, an algorithm has almost infinite powers of clairvoyance with deadly accuracy. Here is where fiction diverges from reality, because while the data may be limitless (tremendous privacy issues aside), algorithms have considerable limits they don’t discuss on the silver screen:
My favorite places to get my brew, plus favorites from known and trusted coffee snobs.
I’m a huge coffee nerd, so I’m actually a bit surprised I hadn’t done this already. Add this to your Foursquare, go forth, and enjoy quality brew.
Interviewed by IBM at SXSW!
Look, if you can leave South by Southwest with anything more than the swag you picked up off the tradeshow floor, then you’re doing well. If you can leave with a great interview from awesome partners like IBM, well, you’re doing much better than you expected!
P.S. - After you watch this one, go check out IBM’s interview with MutualMind CEO Babar Bhatti!
Each With Only 5 Features!
Thanks so much, #SXSW! #Sci2Story
Update: Audio version is now available too! Visit SXSW’s Soundcloud here.
Huge thanks again to everyone who came out to see my presentation at SXSW - it was a ton of fun and an honor for me. The Prezi I shared is publically available, and you can view it here:
Also remember that if you use the promo code GOLDFISH, you’ll get $20 ride credit with Sidecar. Thanks to them, and also to 7-Eleven for the free pizza delivery!
4 Things the New Publicis Omnicom Groupe Should Do Right Now
Unless you’re living under a rock (or are a normal person that doesn’t work in/with AdLand), you’ve heard about the largest merger in advertising history, joining mega-companies Omnicom Group and Publicis into the Omnicom Publicis Groupe (did you see the ‘e’ there??). Many excellent voices have given their opinion about what this means for the future - this interview with Intuit’s Cezanne Huq has been my favorite so far - but I wanted to add a new spin to this topic. Having served two “tours of duty” through Omnicom companies (RAPP and M/A/R/C Research), I got to know the Omnicom side of this partnership very well, and often squared off against Publicis agencies on the other side of pitches.
I think this is a perfect time for the new Omicom Publicis Groupe to plant some flags and draw some lines in the sand to correct formerly failed strategies (such as trying to convert “traditional” agencies into “digital” ones). So lemme play “King of OPG” for a minute - if politics could be moved and budgets rearranged, here are four things I would do immediately:
Algorithms, Meet the “It Should Know” Challenge
I’m browsing through Facebook and I see one of my friends who’s also a parent mention that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is now on Netflix. Now, in my house, Daniel Tiger might as well be Mick Jagger - he’s got some serious draw around here. And when I add it to my queue, I find tons of other new programming from PBS now available that I like. Shows such as Mind of a Chef - with episodes I can’t even get from PBS’s official streaming site. This is great for Netflix, right? I’m adding new content, and much more likely to engage with the platform - all good stuff, isn’t it?
Wrong. This is bad, because Netflix should already know.
Creating Sticky Stats
I’ve often told my teams and clients that Analysts aren’t paid for the reports they create. You’re paid for creating stories your clients will tell in their NEXT meeting; for the anecdotes the CEO will remember when he’s talking to the next investor or reporter. So here’s some stats to remember from some recent stories I’ve found.
- Neuroscientists have recently announced that the first-ever human head transplant is now possible. Estimated to cost about $13 million each, that means Apple has enough cash on hand to replace over 11,000 heads.
- This is Tony Adams, the world’s fastest tap dancer. In 2008 he set the record with 602 taps in one minute. If he’d done all 602 in one second, he would still be more 14x slower than the number of tweets from one second of the MTV Video Music Awards.
- The Vatican estimates 70 thousand young people were confirmed by Pope Francis during one of his first major public appearances, or roughly the size of one world record Harlem Shake.
- And a final word of warning: according to a recent study, homeowners that are bad at math are 5x more likely to default on their loans, or about the same likelihood that women dating online will show interest in younger men.
If you want more good ideas for how to make your stats stick, check out Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die [affiliate]. Awesome book - highly recommend it!