Five things on Friday on Sunday #294

Things of note for the week ending Sunday, April 26th, 2019.

Newsletter #294: Introduction


In news that will surprise almost none of you, I saw AVENGERS: ENDGAME this week and absolutely loved it. WHAT A FILM. What. A. Film. A truly once in a generation moment. So much on-point fan-service. Such a perfect ending to the 22-movie set. I couple of niggles – all entirely forgivable.

It’s not over. But this volume certainly is. And what an incredible journey it has been.

That is all I will say. If you’re reading this and you HAVE seen it, then hit that REPLY button and tell me your favourite bit (and I’ll tell you mine – so many!!!)

What else can I tell you?

Oh yeah, I’m kinda off Twitter at the moment.

Well, trying to be.

I still have to go there for work/library reasons (if you ever want a preview of what’s going to be in this week’s edition, a dig into my Likes should serve you well) but creating tweets, spending any length of time on the platform etc… that’s stopping.

Not for distraction purposes. Nor my annual two-month break or anything like that. This is different. For some reason, this past week, the whole Jack-Dorsey-meets-President Trump thing that happened really left a sour taste in my mouth. Blegh.

To be clear:

Twitter the product is amazing. It has completely changed the way the world communicates and has brought news and people genuinely closer than ever.

Twitter the company, I’m sure is fantastic – and I know a fair few people who love working there.

Twitter the platform for inciting hatred and enabling abuse? That I am not so much a fan of.

When Twitter’s CEO participates in a conversation at TED (well worth a watch btw) and they have to turn off the livestreams because too many people kept asking him when he was going to get rid of the nazis (almost a true story) you’d think that might be a problem (the sigh that Jack gives when he is actually asked this question is telling).

When the platform is unable to stamp out white supremacy due to it sounding remarkably similar to some of the more well known / right-wing members of the GOP, you’d think you might have a problem.

And when the CEO decides to take a closed meeting with arguably the most dangerous racist in the world, you’d think you might have a problem.

This is in the same week that Twitter reported its revenue was up again (we’ll come back to the specifics shortly). Revenue that turns a profit is great. This has been consistent for a while now. Since about two years into Trump’s presidency. That golden goose, man. That TOS-breaking, hatred-inciting, Twitter-revenue-generating Golden Goose. What a doozy.

If you’ve heard me give a trend presentation over the past few years, you may recall me comparing Donald Trump to Ryan Giggs. In short, I’ve long believed that with Trump, global Twitter is having its own Ryan Giggs moment

Let me unpack that a bit. A few years ago I wrote about how the now infamous Giggs superinjunction drove UK users to the platform. And that in light of recent user growth slowdown, maybe it needed another.

Trump is to global Twitter today what Giggs was in the UK then. Every single media publication around the world reports on what Trump tweets. Driving more users to the platform, meaning more ads can be shown, and more money can be made.

It’s no wonder that Twitter is now ending its reporting of its monthly active users (MAUs) and instead is focusing on monetizable daily active users (mDAUs).

And when it’s your eyes that are being monetized. To help Twitter make money, to help Twitter make money when it simply refuses to enact its own policies on the golden-spray-tanned goose that laid the golden egg…

Well, as I said, it kinda leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

Will I end up tweeting again? Probably.

Do I still have to visit the platform occasionally? Of course.

But I’m cross. So I’m switching it off and stepping away for a bit.

Which is nearly always the best thing to do.

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Right, where was I?

Oh. That’s right, I have a newsletter to write. Sorry. Went off on one there a bit. Guess I needed to get it off my chest.

Shall we do get on with THE THINGS?

Let’s.

1. BITMOJI BUT FOR GAMING

Well, I didn’t see that one coming.

In its ongoing fight for relevance…

Actually, no. I’m going stop being mean to Snapchat now. The landmark AR work – aka ‘Landmarkers‘ – I put in this thing a couple of weeks ago was superb and it’s great to continue to see Snap innovating – let’s try again.

Snapchat is back in FToF this week, arriving here with yet another innovation. This time with Bitmoji. Specifically, launching a Bitmoji for games SDK meaning that, depending on which publishers embrace it, you’ll soon be able to roll your Bitmoji out when you’re playing your video games.

This reminds me fair old bit of the Nintendo Mii product but a) infinitely better, b) cross-platform, and c) transferable. I may not use Snapchat that much (if at all) but I use Bitmoji a ton. And by adding this into gaming, this negates the need for any character-building layer upfront. Admittedly this will not work for all games (World of Warcraft is prolly a big no no)

If I recall correctly, Snap bought Bitmoji I think around 2016ish? It then started integrating into other services a year or so later I think. eg: I use GBoard on my Pixel and I can repsond with Bitmoji right in the keyboard – which is ace.

Point is: this is smart. And it’s good to see Snap pushing Bitmoji that little bit further.

More please.

2. GENERATIONAL THEORY, AS EXEMPLIFIED BY THE AVENGERS (MCU)

Thanks to Matt Muir for throwing this one my way. It is so SLAP BANG in the middle of my interests. The title says it all and if that doesn’t grab you, then this link ain’t for you.

(it’s good long read, btw – make a cuppa).

3. ADS IN THE GAME

I think about in-game advertising a lot.

I work in the latter and the former is my hobby. Arguing with my personal confirmation bias re missed opportunities (eg: why don’t more brands advertise on Twitch? Answer: ‘We’re not trying to reach gamers‘ (which is the wrong answer btw)) and looking to see where else you can monetise/get brands in.

I mean, did you know Nintendo added a Mercedes to its choice of cars on Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U?

Definitely one of the weirder brand tie-ups I’ve ever seen but still. The options are there but the roads are paved with pain points.

Ad folk not understanding how games’ development works (and why should they?) means there can sometimes be a huge disconnect between desired outcome and actual possibility. Point being, I may or may not have had this exchange on several occasions over the years:

‘James, you’re a gamer, can we speak to publisher X to put this idea in game Y’
‘That game is out in three months, let me talk to you about crunch

So you go, OK, what else can we do?

Cosmetics? Check. See Mercedes (and more).

Branded appearance in live spaces? Sure, brands have been doing this for over a decade thanks to Second Life. Fortnite is the new Second Life (it really is) and Marshmello has done it, more will follow (although the less said about MM’s most recent collab the better).

Buy ad-space in actual games? There are solutions for that too.

There are a few examples (and more) in this decent overview from John McCarthy.

Features my mate Tim too. So give it a read.

4. GOT CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTOS ON FLICKR? IBM HAS PROBABLY USED YOUR PHOTOS.

This isn’t new news. In fact, I put the link to this story in the bonus section of . If you missed it then, here’s a handy primer.

So yeah, I mentioned it a month ago and wanted to do some further investigation before I mentioned it again.

If you’re on Flickr, or have ever been on Flickr, and your photos have been licenced under Creative Commons, you should get over to the NBC link and type your Flickr ID into the tool they’ve built. It looks like this:

Type your ID in and it’ll tell if your photos are being non-consensually used to train IBM’s facial recognition machine.

If you get a hit and you’d like your photos to be removed from the dataset, then the next thing you need to do is email DIF Reseach team on (difres @ us dot ibm dot com) and tell them so.

I emailed John R Smith originally (as named and linked in the NBC article) on Mar 13. I chased last week, he forwarded the email to DiF Research and they came back to me the same day.

We’re in touch and I’m assured they’re in the process of removing my photos from the dataset. So I can do it, you can too.

I’m all for future technologies changing the world for good. I’m also all for data being owned by its creator and permission being sought wherever and whenever possible. This is a broadly dick move from IBM but I’m pleased that it is fixable (for those that know how to fix it).

5. MICHAEL WOLF

Michael Wolf, who photographed skyscrapers minus, dies at 65.

HONG KONG — Michael Wolf, a photographer who was known for his vertiginous depictions of rainbow-hued skyscrapers in Hong Kong as well as the minutiae of everyday life there, died on Thursday at his home in Cheung Chau, an outlying island near the city. He was 65.

His death was confirmed by his longtime representative, Sarah Greene, and his studio manager, Pierfrancesco Celada. They did not specify a cause but said he had died in his sleep.


You should read his obituary over at the New York Times.

THE ESSENTIALS:

The Essentials are the weekly links to the #MeToo movement. Any article. Any press. Any story. Any white male firing. If it happens, it’s here.

WELCOME TO THE BONUS SECTION. IT IS A SECTION OF THE NEWSLETTER WITH BONUS LINKS. AND NOW IT SHALL COMMENCE.

LET’S DO IT.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x