The Case for Breaking Up Facebook

Writing for MIT Technology Review, Constantine Kakaes dissects Mark Zuckerberg’s recent 3,000-word essay on how he intends to change the Facebookiverse, supposedly for our benefit, concluding that the changes will in fact only accrue more power and control to The Zuckster.

He is not alone in this assessment, as I learned this past weekend at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Day event. Speaker Roger McNamee, venture capitalist par excellence and early supporter of Facebook, has turned against Facebook and argues very convincingly for its breakup or at least some form of regulation to curb what he sees as its anti-democratic business model. His book, Zucked, paints quite the picture.

Here’s the link to the MIT article:

What do you think?

New Study from Britain on Effects of Screen Time on Children

As the article whose link I provide below notes,

“Social media is linked to depression—or not. First-person shooter video games are good for cognition—or they encourage violence. Young people are either more connected—or more isolated than ever.

“Such are the conflicting messages about the effects of technology on children’s well-being. Negative findings receive far more attention and have fueled panic among parents and educators. This state of affairs reflects a heated debate among scientists. Studies showing statistically significant negative effects are followed by others revealing positive effects or none at all—sometimes using the same data set.”

Well, let me get out of the way and link you to the article on this important new study from Oxford University.

What Would David Ogilvy Say?

According to a recent article in Ad Exchanger, the day of the 30- and 60-second TV commercial is descending into twilight, giving way to a new dawn of 6- and 8-second clips that TV watchers will be less inclined to dismiss. Here’s the link:

Those of us who are veterans of the ad wars may recall David Ogilvy’s view that copy is king and that long copy is better than short copy. His reasoning was simple enough: When a consumer is interested in what you are selling, she can’t find out enough about your offering. Short copy is actually a disservice and leaves her unfulfilled.

Can this not be just as true for TV commercials? The problem is not that people do not like “putting up with” distracting commercials, the problem is those commercials are trying to sell things in which viewers are simply not interested.

I’m a big fan of high-performance automobiles. I would much rather watch a 60-second spot about a hot new road demon than a 6-second nano-commercial.

I think advertising’s problem these days is laziness. Media planners have placed far too much reliance on programmatic and algorithm-based buying models and no longer seem to care about carefully matching offerings to audiences.

Who’s watching what should be the watchword. Audiences are no longer “mass,” if indeed they ever were. The sanctified 18-to-49 demographic needs to die. It is simply not relevant anymore, if it ever was. Behavioral targeting is a much more effective way to parse audiences. But it requires more work. Segmenting an audience by its values yields greater interest. It also requires more work.

I think the planners need to get off their asses and start working for a living.

Artificial Intelligence Creates an Ad for Lexus

You have to watch this excellent ad for the Lexus ES that used artificial intelligence to write the script. I’m not sure how much of this is really the algorithm and how much is due to the human creative direction. The accompanying narrative provides a valuable list of takeaways that all ad message creators should endeavor to employ. Thanks to Muse by Clio for this fine piece.

Limiting children’s screen time linked to better cognition

A study published in The Lancet Childhood and Adolescent Health Journal with 4,500 participants looked at the effects of screen use on cognition and has come up with some interesting results that suggest limiting screen time to under two hours a day is a good idea.

BBC News reports on the study here:

Mind Hacking with Long Copy

I recently subscribed to “Muse by Clio,” an email newsletter from the eponymous awards company. I invariably find interesting items and heartily recommend it to any of my readers who are interested in creativity. It’s free.

In one recent issue,​ there was a clip on a Swiss advertising company that has taken David Ogilvy’s advice that long copy sells to contemporary extremes. In this day of notoriously short attention spans and advertising clutter beyond belief or relief, Scholz and Friends has crafted a series of transit stop posters promoting a trial subscription to Neue Zürcher Zeitung (The New Zurich Times) that are well worth looking at…and reading.

Here’s the link:

Taste and the Lack Thereof

Now that the Emmy nominations for 2018 have been released ( I would like to comment on how the Academy sees the world of television entertainment for the top three program categories, drama series, comedy series, and limited series.

A perusal of the nominations for drama, comedy, and limited TV series leads me to the conclusion that my fellow ATAS members have excellent taste. In particular, it seems to me no matter which limited series wins, it’s a well-deserved achievement.

So why don’t our producers and distributors offer us more like these?

How to explain the presence on our various screens of the likes of Twin Peaks (an utter catastrophe​ I sincerely hope never sees another​ sequel), Claws (a season 2? OMG), or the upcoming​ Purge (violence porn)? Tasteless vehicles of unbridled exploitation all.

Add Shameless to that list. I think William H. Macy deserves his comedy lead actor nom for his portrayal on that show, but my broader point is that the show is an utterly unredeemable piece of trash that objectifies human fallibility​ at its worst. Watching it is surely a masochistic exercise akin to listening to someone drag fingernails across a chalkboard. I liberated myself about halfway​ through season 1.

What are we to make of the apparently unlimited popularity and programmed availability of zombies? Multiple programs drenched in blood. Why?

I confess the psychological appeal of these shows amazes me. But I did some online research and found a piece from Concordia University that I think does a good job of explaining that appeal:

Nonetheless, I still find it unsettling to see the degree to which people will seek out these exemplars of tension relief. Certainly, there are others more edifying, like​ the shows nominated in the three categories that led off this post.

What do you think?

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