Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

The future of PR – Robots

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Stay with me on this. See the recent BBC news piece about a Korean baseball team adding in robots to the crowd so it appears the team is followed more than they are? Sure, people have been buying followers for years in the virtual spaces but now it’s physical spaces.

And at the same time we have these scientific studies showing how humans will mimic the facial expressions of robots. Silly humans.

The spontaneous mimicry of others’ emotional facial expressions constitutes a rudimentary form of empathy and facilitates social understanding

This mimicry occurs even though these participants find the android unsettling and are fully aware that it lacks intentionality

Now the study does say when the android is videoed instead of being in person, less mimicry occurs. They can fix that I bet. See the issue here is we mistrust someone as we can read their face and even the best trained PR people do actually find it hard to physically hide their lies despite what comes out of their mouth. But with with robots you can perfectly program the facial expressions and we’ll smile back to the “genuine” smile. A physiological study shows that when people give their driverless cars names, they are more forgiving when the vehicle has an error.

So another oil spill and this time BP whips out the robo-spokesperson who like Johnny-Cab, tells you with a face full of contrition that they are sorry and it wasn’t their fault. Suckers.

And this from a few years ago when two bots argue with each other

2500 people have subscribed to my website instead of coming back each day. You can subscribe to the site using a feedreader or email. I'm also on Twitter. My online marketing blog might also be worth a visit. Thanks for visiting - Damien.

RTÉ tenders: Their ad system specs, Saorview goes all IP

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Digital Ad System tender from RTÉ

From the tender doc:

RTE.ie … over 130 million monthly page impressions and 4.5 million monthly unique browsers … In 2013, RTE served over 2.5 billion display ad impressions

Each ad serving technology must allows us to create and target ads, and define inventory ad units, without the need to select between web or mobile platforms. The ad serving technology should automatically determine which creative to serve depending on the device that makes the ad call, and the targeting selected at an order line level.

1.2.3 Targeting options
Must include the following:
* Ad Units & Placements
* Custom(usingkey-values)
* Geo & GPS
* Devices
* Connection
* Frequency capping, Labels

Saorview Connected tender.

From the tender:

RTÉ is seeking to evolve the SAORVIEW platform to incorporate open internet IP connectivity, developing a DTT / open internet IP hybrid platform called SAORVIEW Connected. SAORVIEW Connected is a next generation of SAORVIEW and the intention is to offer SAORVIEW consumers with SAORVIEW Connected equipment access to online media players and linear services delivered over the top to complement the existing DTT services.

It is envisaged that SAORVIEW Connected will offer:
(i) A single user interface with a consistent design, look and feel providing access to the DTT and over the top delivered services
(ii) A backwards EPG providing easy click through access to catch-up content from media players

And now the board of Trinity commissions their own app

Monday, May 19th, 2014

After the well received reaction to Trinity changing their logo. Oh right. It now seems that the Board of Trinity College, University of Dublin (get used to that) want an iPad app just for their board meetings. The Public Tenders site lists iPad App for Board meetings.

Informally asking and those who dabble in this area think it could cost anywhere from €15k to €25k based on how difficult the “cloud” backend will be.

From the Trinity College iPad app tender

Background & Project Overview

It is desirable for a number of reasons to move to an electronic system of organising and circulating documents for the College Board meetings and for meetings of the Executive Officer Group. Such benefits include environmental gains, financial gains and more efficient use of College resources and staff.

There are a number of ways that the organisation can securely circulate documents. Both commercial options and in-house options can result in savings versus the current processes. Best practice in other educational providers was explored and it was agreed by the Executive Officer Group (EOG) that the purchase of a hosted solution should be explored.

Reminds me of Dave Morin and the “bespoke app” he had made so he could communicate with his secretary.

I guess an app is needed because nobody has already made one. Oh. Hang. On.

But hey CLOUDCOMPUTINGAPPBUZZWORD!

Here’s one take on that new Trinity logo too from Conor Walsh.
New Trinity Logo

“Square acquired by Visa” – Will Secret, Whisper influence the news?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Woke up this morning to this:
John Wilshire Square bought by Visa

How can you trust a system that allows any rumour, lie or planned defamation to be published? Well, American laws for one. It’s a hot startup and has millionaire backers for two. Plenty of startups that do very dodgy things are left unchecked for a while in case there’s a chance they make money and others can profit from it. Ireland would knock and attack an idea like this, bludgeon it with negativity until we kill it. The American way is to encourage success so you can come in later and try and get a cut too.

Valleywag loves Secret. And some really good information has been leaked out through the app. And crazy fun stuff too. It was a Secret post that eventually unraveled the toxic truth behind how Github operated in such an anti-woman brogrammer way.

And the Evernote acquisition rumour was so far untrue. If you read this hilarious Tumblr, most of the rumours are untrue. Yet every now and then… Something like this too would be a perfect hoax, it’s well known that Square is trying to sell itself and is failing to do that. Visa is already and investor and of course the Square founder is already well known for running Twitter. Hoaxes have to have reality as a base.

For hunting stories though, tiny bits of information, rumours that are mostly untrue but with a tiny amount of truth are things you can use to chip away at a story. A lot of investigative type stories are almost negotiations or trades. Approach a source with a little bit of information, see will they give you a tiny bit more when you offer than tiny slice of truth. Take that, move on, uncover more with that and chip away even more until eventually you have a solid foundation for a story and then are confident to approach the main sources you can use/you want for your story.

An hour after the Twitter chatter, nothing has happened to that Square piece. An hour with a rumour or bit of information is a long time in media and a very long time in tech media. But the Paltrow/Martin marriage on the rocks rumour was weeks on Whisper before the conscious uncoupling became a reality. Nieman Labs even goes through the use of apps like these for journalism. Journalism with a small j, mind. Buzzfeed has even inked a content deal with Whisper. Well it certainly won’t be old-skool media would would find that distasteful and would take two years to come to that decision too.

Coming soon: Top up your Leap Card with your phone

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

From the Government Tenders website is a bit of revealing information. A tender has gone out asking for companies to build an NFC system for the Leap Card. The Leap Card is the “integrated” ticketing system, mainly for the Dublin area. The idea with this tender is that you can now top up your Leap Card with your smart phone.

Well, not with all smart phones. Not the one used by most in Ireland – the iPhone. iPhone has yet to support NFC, instead going after iBeacon. But NFC may be on the way. While Android phones are bought more, iPhone users use their phones to do the smart part of the smartphone more. Your website stats will show that. So we could hail this tender as visionary if Apple goes ahead with using NFC in the next while or short-sighted if it does nowhere. Mad how one company can distort perceptions like that.

So here’s the tender:

The National Transport Authority requires an enhancement to introduce the ability to read Leap Card from Smart Phones, and to purchase top-ups and tickets from Smart Phones and then apply the resultant ticket or top-up to the smart card via the NFC functionality on the Smart Phone.

More detail:

The transparent NFC solution aims to provide Leap Card holders, which also have access to a mobile device with suitable NFC capability, a means to:
• Read information from their Leap Card
• Perform a top-up to the electronic purse value on the Leap Card
• Collect a ticket which was purchased on leapcard.ie or taxsaver.ie.
• Collect a purse top-up which was purchased on leapcard.ie.

Great to see smart phones becoming the core of public transport transactions, more of this.

The eroding of our accents due to technology

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Now I’m the most positive future of tech person around so I decided to do an Andrew Keen type post about some odd things I’ve noticed. Accents are important. Identity, even if a construct, readily uses accents. It tells people where I’m from or it can be used to hide where I’m from. The old joke about going home to top-up the accent is like many jokes, based on reality. You can trust, let down your guard, get turned on, get scared, get aggressive with someone from an accent alone. So what if modern technology forces us to speak in a certain way?

Already we have kids with American and British twangs because of Disney shows and Ben Ten. But they’ll move back into the localised accents over time. Maybe. Hopefully maybe. Now in fairness they’ve been saying that about kids accents ever since One and Two channel land first imported TV shows and to a little degree the words we used and the sounds they make has changed because of this. Language and accents evolve too and naturally so. Stan Carey is the person for all of this and more.

However, with the increase in interactions in verbal ways with technology, what will become of our accents and the way we structure sentences? Today we have to change the way we interact and how we intonate what we say to keep the machine happy. Smooth down a Scottish accent to keep your iPhone happy. Talk like a mid-Atlantic DJ for Siri to figure out that we’re directing them to phone Mam.

Listen to how Siri is pretty condescending to James. It suggests you’re the fool here James, not it.

Everyone is going to have a smart mobile device in the next 5 years and the amount of non-touchscreen interactions is going to increase drastically. So human to machine verbal interactions are going to explode. We have all seen the video of the baby trying to swipe pages on a magazine. What with a world of human to computer chatting?

I got thinking about this piece you’re reading when watching (don’t laugh) Pound Shop Wars when a machine tells operators in a giant stock warehouse to go collect items. They interact with the big machine in the sky and they end up talking in their sleep in the language the machine accepts. The machine does not learn, it does not adapt, you turn for it. The machine sounds like a tape recorder being fast forwarded. It’s far from the computer in Her.


Irony that they then subtitled the workers.

Reminds me of the droids in Star Wars (the shit one):

We have a bit to go however when the same machines have no idea what they themselves are saying:

Interesting few years ahead of us with this. And again with everyone in the world having a mobile companion, it will impact the whole world.

Now if each phone was a mullti-million dollar device… Scary scary scary

Remember when a hard drive from IBM was the size of a room? The above is maybe 10 to 15 years away. Will our language hold to then? I wonder will France, cos it has to be France, put a ban on the Siris of the world?

Ready. Roger Roger.

A natural high from building/making/writing

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Without quoting the whole thing:

I wonder how many of you will read this piece in one sitting – it’s only 844 words long.

You’re fucking swimming in everyone else’s moments, likes, and tweets and during these moments of consumption you are coming to believe that their brief interestingness to others makes it somehow relevant to you and worth your time.

The high from making something, even if it’s a blog post is such a reward. Nice 2014 call to arms around creativity.

What Would Google Do … with robots

Monday, January 6th, 2014

So the world or a tiny subset of the world that has the time to be interested in things about robots, had multiple double takes when Google bought Boston Dynamics, the military robot maker. It turns out that Google has been very busy buying robotics companies, not just Boston Dynamics.

Google has always been about using algorithms to replace humans or at least automating tasks. via Forbes:

A little more specifically, the New York Times has noted, Page has “argued that technology should be deployed wherever possible to free humans from drudgery and repetitive tasks.”

What work do humans in Google do right now? What cerebral and physical tasks can be replaced?

Book Scanning
All these books published and printed and not a single digital copy. Libraries of books that could be scanned in and shared with humanity. Of what Google scans in, they need operators of scanning machines since books are not uniform in size and texture. You can spot hands in some of the scans like this blog talks about.

GoogleBookScanFingers

A standard machine could never do this but a robot could. And Google book scanners are not classed as real Google employees it seems. Just waiting for robot replacements.

Data Centre Work
While Google data centres are mostly about servers and don’t need humans, they still need humans and humans need to be catered for in data centres. Google data centres run hot, higher temperatures mean less money and energy spent on cooling. Google data centres are efficient enough and they have staff in shorts and t-shirts in there because they run warm. Humans are probably a bottle-neck in custom made data centres.

Aisles are made for humans to fit in so they can swap out failing equipment. Bottle neck. Google spent $1.9 billion buying the old New York Port Authority which just happens to be a location for the best fibre connections in America. Kevin Slavin in his TED talk about algorithms talked about Skyscrapers in New York being gutted to house data centres. Imagine how inefficient one of these would be because of the shape and because of catering for humans. If Google made skyscraper data centres like Japanese automated car parks though:

Fires need oxygen to keep going, as do humans. Eliminating oxygen in data centres is a good way to stop fires spreading but you can’t have humans then. Robots are cool though, right? One wonders can you have oxygen free data centres?

Mapping and live traffic reports
Obvious section this. Mapping seems obvious since Google already has cars and trikes going around the place (and even people with backpacks). Google already does driverless cars. So drones. And low and behold the FAA now are allowing trials of pilotless drones. No more traffic helicopters thanks to Google traffic drones. Helicopter pilots are very expensive and not that common, many are ex-military because you need so many thousands of flying hours to fly commercial.

Google Infrastructure
Google needs data centres all around the world. As developing countries boot up and become more web connected, more data centres will need to be deployed. Remember the idea of Google dropping shipping containers that were data centres to spots that needed them?

As the wildest and most far flung parts of the world become flattened and connected, they’ll need data centres. They’ll also need infrastructure for those data centres. Why not use drones, driverless vehicles and robots to build them out and to connect them? On that, reliability is important too so having drones guard your electricity supply and repair it is also important. Humans do this today:

Or this:

Don’t forget underwater cable repair too!

Hardware Manufacturing
Remember that Google is now a hardware company as well. They own Motorola and all the hardware parts of that. They seem to be making a loss year after year with it but making the hardware section more efficient with robots could be something good. If they were to take their expertise at making processes more efficient then their hardware factories and partner factories could in theory pump out high quality smartphones like the Moto X and newer versions of Google Glass that don’t cost over €1500 a pair.

RobotDroid – What if
Despite working on mobile possibly longer than Apple, Google were way behind with their mobile initiative and are still playing catch up with Apple on this. The idea of making an operating system open source (to a degree) and free to use has made Android the number one Internet operating system out there and more Android phones than Apple phones are being sold. Apple phones still seem to be used more and for higher value purposes.

So maybe this time when robots and drones will eventually become mainstream, Google wants to be out the gap first and have the momentum and be the main platform for building robots on? All those robots and drones with sensors that feed into Google services. All that information. Apple are always good at coming into a market late and taking the higher end of said market and then going lower into it but Apple may not be the dominant force in the robot world, they’re still a consumer company. Probably going to be a while before consumers use robots.

This is a Google robot:

Maybe too far
Airdrops of 3d printers for what, I don’t know. News robots in war zones. instructional robots. Google Robot Dog Tracks. Remember too that Google has often given away IP and knowledge if it makes the world more efficient which helps Google be more efficient. They bought Urchin, turned it into Google Analytics and gave it away for free. So there could be something in that too.

Lastly, Robots are just fucking cool, Google can afford to play with expensive but fun things.

Link without fear – Copyright in Ireland in a Digital Age

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The main report from the Copyright Review Committee has been released. Read the full PDF of it here.

The whole thing is worth a few reads. Well done to Patricia McGovern, Eoin O’Dell and Steve Hedley for writing something readable by practitioners and the general public too. Irish copyright Law hasn’t moved with the times but this report moves it into the 21st century and will ensure it is a little bit future proofed.

Lots of good recommendations but the main ones for me are:

  • Linking is ok.
  • Photos: Nicking and modifying them (including Metadata) is bad
  • DRM: DRM is fine but shitty DRM is not fine and a user has a right to not be hampered
  • Marshalling should be allowed to some degree.
  • Orphaned Works are being recognised.
  • Fair Use will come to pass.
  • Data mining is fine too.
  • Recognition of the multiple media devices every person/family has.

Linking
Says they:

Interconnectedness by linking is at the very heart of the internet. However, links simply convey that something exists; but they do not, by themselves, publish, reproduce or communicate its content.

The group recommends that it should not be an infringement of copyright to reproduce a very small snippet of the linked work reasonably adjacent to the link. Snippet = no more than either 160 characters or 2.5% of the work, subject to a cap of 40 words.

However if you link to something that infringes copyright and you do this knowingly then you can be seen as an infringer. Exceptions for education will already apply and here too for news/media types who are doing reporting and point out bad behaviour.

If a news site wishes to expose sites that stream pirated films or music, it would be unworkable if it could not say where those sites are, and the “public interest exception” would allow the news site to do so without fear of infringing
copyright.

(My reading of this is as a news org you can basically make yourself a directory of pirate movies/software?)

Photos
More protection for photographers. Encouragement of using metadata and someone that messed with the metadata is seen as an infringer.

we recommend not only that copyright protection be extended to metadata, but also that its removal should amount to an infringement of copyright

DRM
They have nothing against DRM however if it’s shitty DRM, they are forgiving of someone that breaks it to be able to do what they have a right to do with it (Listen on other devices, different device etc.)

we also recommend that users should have an effective remedy where the technological protection measures prevent a user from performing an exception permitted by the legislation

Orphaned Works
When you don’t know who owns a work and you want to repurpose it or remix it or use swathes of it. Up to now you had to find the person who owned the rights, if you didn’t then you had to hold off doing anything. Limbo. Instead now:

Any person seeking to make use of an orphan work, where the rightsowner genuinely cannot be identified or located, will have to seek a licence from the Agency subject to a fee to be paid to the Agency to be paid on to any rightsowner who is subsequently identified or located.

Marshalling
Marshalling is: indexing, syndication, aggregation, and curation of online content. For me this covers sites that aggregate news or basically rewrite copy from news sites like the Irish Times/Indo. You can in essence now reproduce 160 characters or 40 or words less. This may spell some trouble for some organisations.

Caricature, Parody, Pastiche, and Satire
All allowed. Game on.

Data Mining is go.

very significant social benefits stand to be gained from content-mining, and in particular to be gained from a copyright exemption in favour of content-mining for non-commercial research.

Fair Use
I like this :

On the advantages and disadvantages of fair use, there was a great deal of anecdote, but not much by way of determinative evidence.

Media in your timeline – The GIF Economy

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Media Producers, you need to up your multimedia game.

It’s amazing to see the GIF have a resurgence in the past few years, with the past 18 months especially interesting.

Some media producers are adapting and adopting it, most have no clue of the value of short multimedia content.

Twitter’s Vine video app, where you create six second videos uses the GI format. I notice that GMail is now supporting GIFs in emails. When I get emails now from General Assembly, their images can be animated:
General Assembly email

This multimedia piece on the Silk Road via train from the New York Times is beautiful, useful and it’s going to be very hard for the likes of the Huffington Post or BuzzFeed to rip that off. Note the use of large images, a subtle background and 15 second video/gifs to share information. Look at the way the photos have a line going to the map that moves as you scroll. Wow.

Timelines:
And why GIFs and short videos now? Tumblr is certainly a reason, this talk from SXSW suggests so. Them, IMGur and Reddit were the driving forces and I guess it became apparent that even a short GIF is dense with information. It’s all in the game yo or all about the uninterrupted timeline yo. Our lives are revolving around timelines. The Twitter timeline/feed, the Facebook timeline.

We spend more time in the timeline and less time elsewhere. This journey through constant hits of information seems to mean we don’t want to be pulled away from it for too long. Continuous partial attention. Not sure how well researched the six second video length from Vine is but it works very well. Short enough to not distract me from the work of scrolling down, long enough to add a lot of rich context that conditions me to know this format is worth looking at again.

Richer data please
When time is precious, we want richer data. As in the education/learning industry, text can work to pass on information but sights, sounds and text allows us to learn faster as we can process more data. Text is good, text with images is better, text, images and sound is better again. Video is better than images alone. Vine shows this and now Instagram video. We all know changing the angle in a photo can change the message entirely because we only have so much context. A very short video is immensely better than a photo of the same thing.

Vines are 6 seconds, Instagrams are 15 seconds. Vines auto-play and loop. Instagram videos are rumoured to auto-play in Facebook timelines soon and oh, how funny, Facebook will be unveiling a new 15 second video ad format that auto-plays in a timeline. Slide 12 and slide 18 from Mary Meeker’s state of the net slidedeck shows the surge in video consumption and production. Vine is doing well too.

Consider how much text is needed to explain this 5 second video?

Tying shoes

So videos are best? Well, maybe not. We don’t have the time for long videos if the game is shorty snappy bursts of information. It’s suggested that your marketing or otherwise video needs to be short to maintain attention. I think Twitter and Facebook has distorted this and pushed this way down. Quick, rich data please. Vine is being used a lot now.

We’ve moved from text and a few photos to videos, away from videos to infographics, to short videos and GIFs. People might be really put off a timeline in Facebook or Twitter that looks like Lings Cars but 1 billion dollar Tumblr shows that certain demographics don’t mind it too much.

Hopefully more media outlets will embrace these new formats from infographics (becoming a bit too abused) to Vines/Instavideos to GIFs. I’m not a sports fan but now and then read sports news, I’ve spent time marveling at great goals displayed as GIFs on Backpage Football as I want the money shot as quickly as possible so I can go back to things that might interest me more. Finally, the best thing about GIFs is I don’t need flash, I don’t (yet) see shitty overlay ads on them, I don’t have issues with plugins crashing or chugging along videos not fully loading.

Backpage Football

Via la GIF.

I found the following two pieces after writing this that are worth checking out. One from Kathleen Sweeney and one from The New Yorker.