Thought Starters: venture capital, role of mobile and some favourite podcasts

The following is a collection of articles, thought pieces, presentations and podcasts highlighting interesting trends and changes in the world you and I live in.

Andreessen Horowitz recently released a presentation which looked at venture capital funding in the US which sparked off more conversations on whether there’s a tech bubble. Ben Thompson expands on this to provide his view on the value of the growing number of unicorns:

I think it’s this dichotomy that makes the current bubble discussion so difficult: most unicorns may be overvalued, but in aggregate they are probably undervalued. It turns out winner-take-all doesn’t apply just to the markets these startups are targeting, it applies to the startups themselves.

Ben Thompson profiles Google’s data centric strategy with Facebook’s strategy which focuses on personalisation with Twitter seemingly unable to deploy either approaches:

Facebook vs Google

Benedict Evans provides contrasting review of business strategy in the digital age, looking at the importance of curation in an age of abundance providing a review of different approaches:

  1. There is giving you what you already know you want (Amazon, Google)
  2. There is working out what you want (Amazon and Google’s aspiration)
  3. And then there is suggesting what you might want (Heywood Hill).

It’s also worth spending time with Evans’ updated Mobile is Eating the World presentation.

I have concerns about the way that pornography is reshaping sexual relations in the modern era, but Maria Konnikova’s account suggest that pornography might be more a symptom than a cause of modern ills.

A recent issue of the New Yorker has a fascinating look at a case of hate crime in North Carolina and the expanding scope of euthanasia.

For lovers of history and data visualisations,  Neil Halloran’s piece on deaths in World War 2 makes compelling viewing. Check it out The Fallen of World War II for an interactive version

I’ve been going through something of a  podcast binge recently, turning my cycle rides around town into more enriching affairs. Shows that have hit the spot recently include the following:

Children of the Magenta looking at the perils of automation in aircraft.

The Takeover looking at how a boring Facebook group developed a life of its own.

Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR looks at recent advances in gene therapy which are both exciting and bewildering.

The Birth and Death of the Price Tag looks at changes in pricing without even mentioning Uber’s surge pricing.

The President was Here leaves me even more enamoured with Barack Obama.

The featured photograph is of a Reka piece from Milan, Italy published in StreetArtNews.

Thought Starters

Content that has caught my eye recently or got me thinking. I particularly recommend Tim Urban’s article on artificial intelligence.

WeAreSocial provide their wrap up of key digital up of key digital, social and mobile statistics for 30 key global markets as well as regional overviews – a valuable reference source:

Flurry’s mobile statistics point to lifestyle & shopping as growing rapidly in consumers’ use of mobile, providing a stark contrast to the more well established mobile gaming:

Time Spent Mobile

Whilst global tablet penetration continues to grow, we’re seeing a drop in the phenomenal growth rates of earlier years according to eMarketer’s forecast:

Tablets

Joichi Ito compares and contrasts the development of the internet with bitcoin,  providing a valuable lens in which to understand the fundamentals of the cryptocurrency and how it may develop in the future.

Steven Levy looks at how Google adapted its business strategy to better accommodate an increasingly mobile driven world:

Knowledge Graph structures the world’s information in a vast database. Voice Search incorporates spoken language into Search. Google Now tells what people want to know before they ask. All three, not coincidentally, are tied to Google’s focus on mobile. Though certainly not an exhaustive list, those components — and the way they work together— have helped transform Google Search in the past three years, from a delivery system of “ten blue links” into something almost psychic: a system that doesn’t behave like a computer but an intelligent hive of knowledge that wisely interprets and satisfies your information needs. And it did it all when you weren’t looking.

Benedict Evans similarly looks at how Google adapted Android and Apple adapted iOS to changing market environment and capabilities. Whilst in some respects, their positions are closer now than they were in the past, the companies strategy are based on fundamentally different underpinnings.

Nick Bilton profiles Snapchat Stories and how it fits in to the increasingly diverse range of communication channels available to consumers and particularly teenagers and young adults. Snapchat is looking to sell the service to advertisers, big question is whether it’s asking too much for the service with commentators both for and against.

Microsoft publicly revealed their HoloLens offering, taking the concept of enhanced eyewear a stage beyond Google Glass. It’s a fascinating project although it will be interesting to see if Microsoft does a better job than Google in overcoming consumers misgivings about wearing a computer on their face. Read a first hand experience of using the eyewear over on Wired:

Tim Urban profiles the growth of artificial intelligence, profiling the transition from Artificial Narrow Intelligence to Artificial Superintelligence and the innovations that are likely to enable this:

Intelligence2

The Verge highlights the role of British based Gamma Group International in supporting Bahraini regime through spyware enabling the surveillance and hacking of activists digital communications. Given the more insidious uses that surveillance can be put to, I’m not a fan of David Cameron’s proposal for backdoor access to digital communications and also given the damage this could do to the UK’s digital sector as covered by Cory Doctorow.

Raffi Khatchadourian looks at Affectiva’s move to digitally read consumers’ emotions through the tracking of facial expressions. Obvious implications for measuring the impact of marketing communications but it’ll be interesting to see how it gets used for other purposes.

LSE Cities has pulled together a data visualisation illustrating how much population densities vary among the world’s major cities and published in Vox.

City Pop Density

Aaron Sankin looks at racial preferences among users of OkCupid and Tinder which points to biases among different ethnic groups, including among those who typically claim otherwise.

The featured image is mural by Nelio and Simek in Lyon.

Messages That Resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing and digital communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

BMW has joined the wide array of brands looking to use Vine as a branding medium with a series of short videos to promote its  new i3:

Monster Energy isn’t one known for using subtlety in its brand communications and their latest video is no exception:

The launch of the new iPhone has prompted a lot of talk on what is the appropriate size for a smartphone. KPN in the Netherlands has looked to take advantage of this buzz with an experiential campaign offering to enlarge the size of customers pockets:

Whilst we’re on the subject of Apple’s iPhone 6 launch, KitKat showed a smart piece of real-time marketing to suggestions that the new handset was prone to bending:

Etienne de Crécy has looked to promote his Hashtag My Ass album with a music video which integrates users Instagram and provides users with the ability to share their personalised video:

There’s been a lot of talk about multiscreening over the last couple of years and we’re beginning to see interesting possibilities emerge although I would argue, we’ve still got a long way to go. Kenzo have released a microsite which asks users to synchronise their computers and smartphones as a means of navigating around their fall collection:

Kenzo

Orange have attempted to give consumers a window into their future with a campaign which imagines what you will look like in 20 years time. Interesting to see how you might look although the microsite is let down by poor voice recognition:

User generated campaigns are seemingly everywhere, but it’s not often you see a site as well executed as McDonalds‘ which looks to celebrate 40 years in the UK. Great use of typography, user input by voice or text and a webGL based site that provides users with the ability to readily filter content by time period or theme.

Celebrating 40 years together The Topography of Terror Foundation and the Warsaw Rising Museum have commissioned a wonderful website commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising:

Warsaw Rising

Creative Review profiles the work of TrenchOne, Elph and Purshone as they use giant projection covers a house, a barn and group of log cabins in the lead up to the Scottish Referendum. Dazzling stuff…

Leyden Farm

Whilst vinyl has made something of a resurgence in sales lately, music is now increasingly a digital medium, so why isn’t cover art animated GIFs? The Inspiration pulls together a collection of covers from jbetcom’s Music:

Random Access Memories

Stef Lewandowski has pulled together an interesting illustration of the Internet of Things by visualising the digital signals around you. You can see a demonstration of the process below although go to his website to see this demonstrated in your own environment.

The featured image is a piece by Nelio in Besançon

 

Messages that resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

Bose’s Scene Unseen series of short documentaries shines a light on musical scenes in unexpected corners. A great use of branded content to tell engaging stories to relevant audiences.

Chrome Experiment’s has launched a couple of eye catching experiments. The first follows the ISEE-3 space exploration satellite. You don’t need to be a fan of space travel to appreciate the site’s visuals using WebGL.

The second Chome Experiment piece provides a visual companion to music from John Cale in collaboration with architect Liam Young and Field.io in an interactive music video. The YouTube link below should give you a taste of what to expect but you’re best to experience the site directly.

Google’s Cultural Institute has created a website bringing together street art from around the world. As you’d expect from Google, content is accessible by location and artist drawing on a mixture of photos and videos from collections from around the world.

Street Art Project

Heineken has created a new tool using Twitter that aims to provide consumers with recommendations for restaurants, cafés and bars based on their location drawing on social media activity including tweets, check-ins and photos across Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. Consumers simply tweet @wherenext and their location to Twitter and it will get back to you with a response. More information over at The Drum.

WhereNext

Orangina have launched a new responsive website providing users with a friendly and uncluttered user experience.  Simple but effective.Orangina

Anad Sharma provides his own take on the quantified self tracking his own activities through data visualisations and well designed website.

April Zero

More interesting data visualisations, this time looking at life in the day of a New York taxi cab. A case of statistics and data brought to life.

NYC Taxis

The Universal Typeface Experiment looks to compare people’s handwriting from around the world. Using user submitted handwriting, the site provides viewers with the ability to filter by gender, age, country handednesss and industry. A nice way of celebrating handwriting from Bic as we spend more and more time at a keyboard.

Bic

Water resistant paint makes good use of one of Seattle’s more well known traits to promote the Bumbershoot arts and music festival.

The featured image is a piece by Mikołaj Rejs in Lublin, Poland and found on ekosystem.