February 24, 2017
Bad news, Google. The article titled Smartphone Apps Now Account for Half the Time Americans Spend Online on TechCrunch reveals that mobile applications are still on the rise. Throw in tablet apps and the total almost hits 60%. Google is already working to maintain relevancy with its In Apps feature for Androids, which searches inside apps themselves. The article explains,
This shift towards apps is exactly why Google has been working to integrate the “web of apps” into its search engine, and to make surfacing the information hidden in apps something its Google Search app is capable of handling. Our app usage has grown not only because of the ubiquity of smartphones, but also other factors – like faster speeds provided by 4G LTE networks, and smartphones with larger screens that make sitting at a desktop less of a necessity.
What apps are taking up the most of our time? Just the ones you would expect, such as Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, and Google Maps. But Pokemon Go is the little app that could, edging out Snapchat and Pinterest in the ranking of the top 15 mobile apps. According to a report from Senor Tower, Pokemon Go has gone beyond 180 million daily downloads. The growth of consumer time spent on apps is expected to keep growing, but comScore reassuringly states that desktops will also remain a key part of consumer’s lives for many years to come.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 24, 2017
February 23, 2017
I noted “The Right Way to Search Posts on Reddit.” I find it interesting that the Reddit content is not comprehensively indexed by Google. One does stumble across this type of results list in the Google if one knows how to use Google’s less than obvious search syntax. Where’s bad stuff on Reddit? Google will reveal some links of interest to law enforcement professionals. For example:
Bing does a little better with certain Reddit content. To be fair, neither service is doing a bang up job indexing social media content but lists a fraction of the Google index pointers. For example:
So how does one search Reddit.com the “right way.” I noted this paragraph:
As of 2015, Reddit had accumulated over 190 million posts across 850,000 different subreddits (or communities), plus an additional 1.7 billion comments across all of those posts. That’s an incredible amount of content, and all of it can still be accessed on Reddit.
I would point out that the “all” is not accurate. There is a body of content deleted by moderators, including some of Reddit.com’s top dogs, which has been removed from the site.
Reddit offers some search syntax to help the researcher locate what is indexed by Reddit.com’s search system. The write up pointed to these strings:
- title:[text] searches only post titles.
- author:[username] searches only posts by the given username.
- selftext:[text] searches only the body of posts that were made as self-posts.
- subreddit:[name] searches only posts that were submitted to the given subreddit community.
- url:[text] searches only the URL of non-self-post posts.
- site:[text] searches only the domain name of non-self-post posts.
- nsfw:yes or nsfw:no to filter results based on whether they were marked as NSFW or not.
- self:yes or self:no to filter results based on whether they were self-posts or not.
The article contains a handful of other search commands; for example, Boolean and and or. How does one NOT out certain words. Use the minus sign. The word not is apparently minus sign appropriate for the discerning Reddit.com searcher.
Stephen E Arnold, February 23, 2017
February 20, 2017
Analytics are catching up to content. In a recent ZDNet article, Digimind partners with Ditto to add image recognition to social media monitoring, we are reminded images reign supreme on social media. Between Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram, messages are often conveyed through images as opposed to text. Capitalizing on this, and intelligence software company Digimind has announced a partnership with Ditto Labs to introduce image-recognition technology into their social media monitoring software called Digimind Social. We learned,
The Ditto integration lets brands identify the use of their logos across Twitter no matter the item or context. The detected images are then collected and processed on Digimind Social in the same way textual references, articles, or social media postings are analysed. Logos that are small, obscured, upside down, or in cluttered image montages are recognised. Object and scene recognition means that brands can position their products exactly where there customers are using them. Sentiment is measured by the amount of people in the image and counts how many of them are smiling. It even identifies objects such as bags, cars, car logos, or shoes.
It was only a matter of time before these types of features emerged in social media monitoring. For years now, images have been shown to increase engagement even on platforms that began focused more on text. Will we see more watermarked logos on images? More creative ways to visually identify brands? Both are likely and we will be watching to see what transpires.
Megan Feil, February 20, 2017
February 3, 2017
An article at the Telegraph, “Employees Are Faster and More Creative When Solving Other People’s Problems,” suggests innovative ways to coax creative solutions from workers. Writer Daniel H. Pink describes three experiments, performed by New York University’s Evan Polman and Cornell’s Kyle Emich. The researchers found that, when posed with hypothetical scenarios, participants devised more creative solutions when problems were framed as being someone else’s. But why? Pink writes:
Polman and Emich build upon existing psychological research showing that when we think of situations or individuals that are distant – in space, time, or social connection – we think of them in the abstract. But when those things are close – near us physically, about to happen, or standing beside us – we think about them concretely. Over the years, social scientists have found that abstract thinking leads to greater creativity. That means that if we care about innovation we need to be more abstract and therefore more distant. But in our businesses and our lives, we often do the opposite. We intensify our focus rather than widen our view. We draw closer rather than step back. That’s a mistake, Polman and Emich suggest. ‘That decisions for others are more creative than decisions for the self… should prove of considerable interest to negotiators, managers, product designers, marketers and advertisers, among many others,’ they write.
The article goes on to supply five practical suggestions this research has for business. For one, organizations can recruit independent directors to bring in more objective points of view. Pink also suggests keeping firms loosely structured, and bringing together peers from different fields to exchange ideas. On the individual level, he advises finding a “problem-swapping partner” with whom you can trade perspectives. Finally, workers can create psychological distance between themselves and their projects by imagining they’re helping out someone else.
Pink acknowledges a couple of caveats to this approach. For one, many tasks actually do require concrete thinking and laser focus; it is important to recognize them. Also, the business world is not currently structured to take advantage of this quirk of the human psyche. The article points to the growth of crowd-sourcing techniques as evidence that factor may change. Perhaps… but group think brings its own issues, like the potential for discounting experience and specialized skill sets, for example. To whom shall we turn for a fresh perspective on that problem?
Cynthia Murrell, February 3, 2017
February 2, 2017
The article on E&T titled Social Media and Taxi Data Improve Crime Pattern Picture delves into a fascinating study that uses big data involving taxi routes and social media location labels from sites like Foursquare to discover a correlation between taxis, locations of interest, and crime. The study was executed by Penn State researchers who are looking for a more useful way to estimate crime rates rather than the traditional approach targeting demographics and geographic data only. The article explains,
The researchers say that the analysis of crime statistics that encompass population, poverty, disadvantage index and ethnic diversity can provide more accurate estimates of crime rates … the team’s approach likens taxi routes to internet hyperlinks, connecting different communities with each other… One surprising discovery is that the data suggests areas with nightclubs tend to experience lower crime rates – at least in Chicago. The explanation may be that it reflects people’s choices to be there.
This research will be especially useful to city planners interested in how certain spaces are being used, and whether people want to go to those spaces. But the researcher Jessie Li, an assistant professor of information sciences, explained that while the correlation is clear, the underlying cause is not yet known.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 2, 2017
December 17, 2016
The article on The Washington Examiner titled Fishwrap: Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Hits Bottom relays a Gallup survey that shows Americans trust in media slipping to a new low. The focus of the survey was general loss of confidence in various institutions such as churches, banks, big business, and Congress. The article translates the findings,
Overall, said Gallup’s analysis, “Confidence in banks — which took a hit amid the bursting housing bubble in 2007 and 2008, and dropped further after the ensuing financial crisis — fell the most, plunging from 49% in 2006 to 27% now. Confidence in organized religion, which has felt the effects of the scandals enveloping the Catholic Church, dropped from 52% to 41%, one point below last year’s previous low of 42%.
TV news, print news, and Congress saw the greatest falls of about 10%, perhaps unsurprisingly given the lackluster diplomatic skills of our current Congress and the outright failure of the media to properly vet and address the presumptive Republican nominee. Interestingly, the scandals involving General Petraeus as well as those surrounding the military’s failure to manage sexual assault of its female members over the last few years have done nothing to diminish that institution in the eyes of the public. It stands solid and unshakeable at 73%.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 17, 2016
November 23, 2016
Google’s Android OS currently powers 88% of the smartphones in the world, leaving minuscule 12.1 percent to Apple’s iOS and the remaining 0.3 percent for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry OS and Tizen.
IBTimes in an article titled Android Rules! 9 out of Every 10 Phones Run Google’s OS says:
Google’s Android OS dominated the world by powering 88 percent of the world’s smartphone market in the third quarter of 2016. This means 9 out of every 10 mobile phones in the world are using Android, while the rest rely on iOS or other mobile OS such as BlackBerry OS, Tizen and Windows Phone.
The growth occurred despite the fact that smartphone shipments are falling. China and Africa which were big markets have been performing poorly since last three-quarters. Android’s gain thus can be attributed to the fact that Android is an OpenSource system that can be used by any device manufacturer.
Despite being the clear leader, the mobile OS is full of bugs and other inherent problems, as the article points out:
Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers, few Android device vendors make profits, and Google’s new Pixel range is attacking its own hardware partners that made Android popular in the first place.
At present, Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are the leading Android phone makers. However, Google recently unveiled Pixel, its flagship phone for the premium category. Does it mean that Google has its eyes set on the premium handset category market? Only time can tell.
November 18, 2016
I read “Big Data Shows People’s Collective Behavior Follows Strong Periodic Patterns.” May I suggest you sit down, take a deep breath, and contemplate a field of spring flowers before you read these findings. I am not kidding. Hot stuff, gentle reader.
According to the write up,
New research has revealed that by using big data to analyze massive data sets of modern and historical news, social media and Wikipedia page views, periodic patterns in the collective behavior of the population can be observed that could otherwise go unnoticed.
Here are the findings. I take no responsibility for the impact of these Big Data verified outputs. You are on your own. You now have your trigger warning about the findings from online news, newspapers, tweets, and Wikipedia usage. The findings are:
- “People’s leisure and work were regulated by the weather with words like picnic or excursion consistently peaking every summer in the UK and the US.”
- Diet, fruits, foods, and flowers were influenced by the seasons.
- Measles surface in the spring
- Gooseberries appear in June. (Well, maybe not in Harrod’s Creek.)
- Football and Oktoberfest become popular in the fall. (Yep, October for Oktoberfest, right?)
- People get depressed in the winter.
Now you have it. Big Data delivers.
Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2016
November 18, 2016
An article at Bloomberg Technology, titled “It Took Robots for This French Newspaper to Conquer Twitter,” introduces Echobox, a startup that uses a neural-network approach to managing clients’ social media presences. The newspaper mentioned in the title is the esteemed Liberation, but Echobox also counts among its clients the French Le Monde, Argentinia’s La Nacion, and The Straits Times out of Singapore, among many others. Apparently, the site charges by the page view, though more pricing details are not provided. Writer Jeremy Kahn reports that Echobox:
… Determines the most opportune time to post a particular story to drive readership, can recommend what headline or tweet to send out, and can select the best photograph to illustrate the post. Using the software to post an average of 27 articles per day, Grainger [Liberation’s CTO] said that Liberation had seen a 37 percent increase in the number of people it reached on Facebook and a 42 percent boost in its reach on Twitter. ‘We have way more articles being seen by 100,000 people or more than before,’ Grangier said. He also said it made life easier for his digital editors, allowing them to spend more time curating the stories they wanted to publish to social media and less on the logistics of actually posting that content.
So, it seems like the service is working. Echobox’s CTO Marc Fletcher described his company’s goal—to create a system that could look at content from an editor’s point of view. The company tailors their approach to each customer, of course. There are competitors in the social-media-management space, like SocialFlow and Buffer, but Kahn says Echobox goes further. He writes:
Echobox professes to offer a fuller range of automation than those services, with its software able to alter a posting schedule to adjust to breaking news, posting content related to that event, and delaying publication of less relevant stories. Echobox uses a neural network, a type of machine learning that is designed to mimic the way parts of the human brain works. This system first learns the audience composition and reading habits for each publication and then makes predictions about the best way to optimize a particular story for social media. Over time, the predictions should get more accurate as it ‘learns’ the nuances of the brand’s audience.
This gives us one more example of how AI capabilities are being put to practical use. Founded in 2013, Echobox is based in London and maintains an office in New York City. The company also happens to be hiring as I write this.
November 1, 2016
Technology conferences are the thing to do when you want to launch a product, advertise a new business, network, or get a general consensus about the tech industry. There are multiple conferences revolving around different aspects in the tech industry held each month. In October 2016, Pubcon took place in Las Vegas, Nevada and they had a very good turn out. The thing that makes a convention, though, is the guests. Pubcon did not disappoint as on the third day, Google’s search expert Gary Illyes delivered the morning keynote. (Apparently, Illyes also hold the title Chief of Sunshine and Happiness at Google). Outbrain summed up the highlights of Pubcon 2016’s third day in “Pubcon 2016 Las Vegas: Day 3.”
Illyes spoke about search infrastructure, suggesting that people switch to HTTPS. His biggest push for HTTPS was that it protected users from “annoying scenarios” and it is good for UX. Google is also pushing for more mobile friendly Web sites. It will remove “mobile friendly” from search results and AMP can be used to make a user-friendly site. There is even bigger news about page ranking in the Google algorithm:
Our systems weren’t designed to get two versions of the same content, so Google determines your ranking by the Desktop version only. Google is now switching to a mobile version first index. Gary explained that there are still a lot of issues with this change as they are losing a lot of signals (good ones) from desktop pages that are don’t exist on mobile. Google created a separate mobile index, which will be its primary index. Desktop will be a secondary index that is less up to date.
As for ranking and spam, Illyes explained that Google is using human evaluators to understand modified search better, Rankbrain was not mentioned much, he wants to release the Panda algorithm, and Penguin will demote bad links in search results. Google will also release “Google O for voice search.
It looks like Google is trying to clean up search results and adapt to the growing mobile market, old news and new at the same time.