Tag Archives: GigaOm

GigaOm Book Review – Cybersexism: Sex Power and Gender on the Internet

GigaOm published my book review of Laurie Penny’s new book on the misogyny that is rampant online.

Daring in style — fluttering from explanatory journalism to lyrical reflection to pistol-cocked cultural critique — Penny sustains a provoking discussion that is rigorous and kinetic. She smartly observes that patriarchy, not the surveillance state, is the original panopticon. And she condemns those prejudiced naysayers who think all of this is innocuous: the ones who accuse feminists of harboring sanctimonious “butthurt”; of not “just dealing with it;” of being dumb women who continue to talk.

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No More Anonymous Comments. Long Live Anonymous Comments!

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm takes issue with the Huffington Post which starting next month will no longer allow anonymous comments.

Do we encourage trolls and offensive behavior when we allow people to contribute anonymously? Perhaps. But free speech comes with a price, and I think we lose something significant when we start requiring people to verify their identities before we listen to what they have to say. If that’s what is required for a “grown-up internet” then I would like to stick with the one we have.

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Why Mosquitoes Love You

Barb Darrow of GigaOm summarizes a Smithsonian Magazine report on mosquitoes.

*Mosquitoes have favorite blood types. They’re more likely to dine out (on you) if you’re Type O than if you’re type A. Type B folks lay somewhere in the middle.

*85 percent of people secrete a chemical through their skin that telegraphs which blood type they have and mosquitoes prefer secretors to nonsecretors even if they have a non-preferred blood type.

*Mosquitoes love heavy breathers — they’re carbon dioxide-seeking creatures so if you’re big or if you’ve just exercised you’re one great poo-poo platter to them.So there you have it. Oh one more thing, if you don’t want to draw mosquitoes, skip that cocktail.

*Clothes color matters — People dressed in black, navy blue, dark red stand out to mosquitoes which use vision as well as smell to find meals.

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The Rise Of Walled Gardens And The Future Of The Web

“In many ways, Google’s shutdown of its RSS reader is just a small part of a larger move away from open web standards and towards closed, proprietary platforms that are easier to control and monetize,” observes Mathew Ingram of GigaOm.

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Slow Media

Hamish McKenzie has a thoughtful piece at PandoDaily on the latent demand for “slow media.” By this he means digital books, long form reporting, and careful analysis, as opposed to the unceasing onslaught of crappy blog posts and zillions of shoddy articles that sites churn out to keep their “content” “fresh.”

Rather than lament the decline of literary culture, McKenzie frames the issue in terms of media economics. It’s not that people dislike reading top caliber, longer writing, it’s that no business model yet exists to fund such publishing endeavors. McKenzie discusses start ups that are attempting to create such a business model and explains how an assortment of existing strategies–affiliate links, sponsored content, pay walls, special events and memberships–are grasping for long term success.

Slow Media, on the other hand, has opportunities beyond display ads. It favors deep engagement rather than brief contact with ad meat. It trades on relationships with the audience rather than fleeting touches. It builds affinity rather than habits. So far, we have seen media owners struggle to monetize those differences, and so many instead rely on the mechanics of the now to generate mass as quickly as possible, even as the ad units upon which such an approach is predicated produce diminishing returns. In these early decades of the Internet, the economic disincentives for longform reporting or analysis have been too great. What may emerge, however, are new ways to unlock the power behind that deep engagement and loyalty.

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LinkedIn Continues To Evolve

Mathew Ingram writes at paidContent

The site now offers “channels” or categories of news, much like a magazine would, and users can follow or subscribe to those channels, as well as to individual authors who are part of LinkedIn’s Influencer program, another relatively new addition.

When a user clicks on the News heading in their LinkedIn toolbar, they now get a splash screen that outlines the different categories or channels of news they can subscribe to. There are some fairly obvious examples such as Economy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, as well as broader categories such as Healthcare, Technology and Social Media — and a few somewhat more unusual channels too, like “Things I Carry” and “My Best Career Mistake.”

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The Disruptive Potential Of Native Ads

Felix Salmon of Reuters discusses a magazine article on the new industry of native advertising. On websites, traditional marketing takes place through banner ads: annoying blocks of text that flash or blink, peddling some terrible product. We view them as intrusive. And we have learned to ignore them.

On sites like BuzzFeed however, native or sponsored ads are used. This is where ads are created to resemble real news articles or fun lists. The sponsored ads mirror the content of the websites that they are placed on.

(Ethical dilemmas have been raised about this kind of marketing, though. For example, while BuzzFeed clearly marks their sponsored ads as such, letting the reader know that this is, in fact, an add, more strictly journalistic or “serious” content sites risk confusing their readers. This is exactly what happened to The Atlantic when they ran a native ad for the Church of Scientology that read like a news article.)

Salmon argues that native ads on the Web are just like good TV commercials (the kind we hunger for during the Super Bowl.) They tell a story, and we want to share them. They work for the networks who air them, the brands who sell them, and the audience who views them.

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Connected, But Not In Contact: The Future Of Online Etiquette

“Some people are so rude. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?” This begins a biting and personal piece on the etiquette of online communication by Nick Bilton of The New York Times.

As more bits of information are transferred via social network and text, telephone conversations and emails can seem cumbersome and time-destroying. Bilton recalls a story where, after his father left him 12 unanswered voicemails, papa Bilton “called my sister to complain that I never returned his calls. ‘Why are you leaving him voice mails?’ my sister asked. ‘No one listens to voice mail anymore. Just text him.’ My mother realized this long ago. Now we communicate mostly through Twitter.”

At GigaOM, Mathew Ingram responded to Bilton’s blog post smartly:

I think a larger problem Bilton touches on, but doesn’t address directly, is that we have more competing forms of communication available to us than ever before — and not only are different people at different stages in their evolution from one to the other, but people also use them for very different purposes. So for Bilton’s dad, voice mail is a great way of passing on important information, but Nick prefers the real-time nature of texting or Twitter messaging.

While commenters thought Bilton was too harsh, almost to the point of being rude and insensitive toward his parents, both Bilton and Ingram understand that one must know her audience. Perhaps for our older interlocutors, sending an email or chatting on the phone is worth the extra time, a gesture of respect.

What neither of these writers mention explicitly though, is the notion of not wanting to be reached. I understand how a text or a tweet can be less invasive than listening to a voicemail, but I’m curious about our expectations of availability.

Bilton’s argument is one of efficiency, using seamless communication technology and discarding outmoded mediums. Ingram takes a more sympathetic approach and reminds us that not all of us are Twitter power users. But what about silence? Quiet time? Just because I have a phone doesn’t mean I want to be reached.

When I read these articles I thought of the invisibility feature on Gchat and Facebook messaging, how, at times, I’m in reading/consumption mode, or in the mood to communicate only with a select few. So it’s not that I’m ignoring my parents, or hating on phone calls and older kinds of talk-tech, but realizing sometimes I want to be connected, but not in touch with anyone.

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Check Ins Are For High Schoolers, Pussy Whipped Boyfriends, And For The Old Foursquare… What’s The Future Foursquare?

Think for a moment on the concept of “checking-in.”  “Call me when you land!” mom says.  “Let me know when you’re on the road,” your girlfriend commands.  “Text me when you get there,” you’re annoying, psuedo-friend from college begs, because he knows that you’ll inevitably flake, but it doesn’t really matter because you’ll just say “sorry, I was totally smashed” the next time you run into him.

Most view these kinds of check ins as cumbersome chores, annoying reminders that your tab is being kept, that your leash, however long and unseen, is still snugly fastened.

I used to think foursquare was a horribly shitty, pointless app.  I used to think that their kinds of check ins involved vexing friction like calling dad after his 3rd “Are U OK? I miss you” guilt-text.  But it seems that the company wants to head in a different direction: One in which your phone, and its GPS technology, becomes a passive, ambient, knowing-guide to your social life.

While foursquare’s 25 million users continue to check in, the discovery company’s co-founder and CEO, Dennis Crowley, sees a trend in the way new users interact with the service. In an interview with Om Malik of GigaOm, Crowley talks about a future for foursquare.  Where the companies initial user base actively checked into restaurants, bars and coffee shops, many new users sign up with no intention of checking into establishments.  Instead, these people utilize foursquare as a guide to their local social scene. Where’s a good sandwich place around here? What bar is gonna be crazy tonight? Which bookstore did my roommate recommend?

With over 2.5 billion check ins already logged, Crowley believes that many people simply want to “consume” the reviews of their friends rather than checking in and creating their own.

Moving from active usage, explicitly stating to the digital public where you are and what you thought of a particular steakhouse, Crowley believes future foursquare will be a passive, ambient service, like your phone unobtrusively suggesting a sushi place that your girls love.  Or, you’d receive notice of a hilarious happy hour special because your foursquare knows, from previous experience, that you are a self-sabotaging, Jager-bombing binge drinker.

Alluding to Harry’s Potter’s, Marauder’s Map, the GPS geek complains about the sad state of map apps.  They are blank, Crowley says.  You are a pathetic, lonesome dot.  Why not populate a map with many other dots representing your friends?  You could see where the bros are draining Sunday pitchers, what club all the high heels are click-clacking towards.

Foursquare wants to become a hyper specific search and discovery tool, an app that uses your  friends’ taste (your trust) to become “contextually aware” of your preferences.  The company could be your silent cartographer, your local search engine who knows, without you saying, just where you want go.

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I’m upping my Internet game.  If you enjoyed my style come feast on my tweets.  @PlanetHozz

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