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Track Changes

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Now displaying: May, 2018
May 29, 2018

How many cake decorating videos does it take to disrupt the platform economy? Would forcing constraint on platforms generate better content? How do we reconcile unlimited access to an infinite library when we’re being pummeled by bad content?

Endless scrolling is the opium of the people: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade discuss how platforms like Spotify, Netflix, and Youtube have turned into an inescapable hellscape of unfocused content. We talk about being disappointed with the infinite media libraries of our dreams, and the potential for platforms to redeem themselves by constraining content, while looking at how smaller creators are already doing that. Paul also reveals his utopian dream of a centralized platform of curated cake-making content.

 


4:45 — Rich: “I go to the track, and I go View Album, because I’m wondering if I’ve stumbled on an artist that I want to really dive into… then I go to the album, and I want to like it so I’ll give the album a full listen. There’s so much shit. I get through the first [few] tracks of the album and then the waves break the glass in my house and flood, taking the table and me and the chair, and I go to the next thing.”

5:45 — Paul: “You know what I’ve noticed is the truly talented young artists just produce EP after EP, for years, and then they’re like ‘oh, I’m gonna do this album now.’ They don’t jump to the album. It’s a high risk game. 80% of it is gonna be trash unless you know what you’re doing.”

8:30 — Paul: “With the pure algorithmically defined entertainment that Netflix specializes in, there’s this thing called Dinotrux. It’s dinosaurs that are trucks because they know that little boys like trucks and dinosaurs — little girls too! Have you seen Dinotrux? It’s so bad.”

10:00 — Paul: “It must have been very exciting though at first where it’s like, ‘I’m doing a new thing, a Netflix standup special,’ and then a month goes by and it’s just not as cool for the comedians. Now you’re like, ‘I’m doing a Netflix special!’ and your housekeeper says, ‘so am I!”

12:30 — Paul: “We have a developer/designer here named Darrell and he made a playlist expiration tool. It’s called Dubolt. It’s quite good, you seed it with a few tracks and parameters and you get a very good playlist back.”

13:30 — Paul: “So we’re hitting a point in the glut where we’re realizing that emotionally and intellectually it’s not that satisfying to keep waiting and searching. You saw this when cable TV suddenly had five thousand stations and nobody could figure out what to watch.”

14:00 — Paul: “There’s always the great simplifying agent, which in our industry is often Apple, [saying], ‘you don’t want all those choices.’ Now the problem that Apple has — which is the problem everybody who creates a successful minimalist approach has — is that everybody starts adding stuff to it.”

15:00 — Paul: “We’re in the glut. There’s very little quality in a glut. There’s no sense of quality. Literally, it’s just this tsunami of content coming in and we’re all just like, ‘wow, that’s a lot of content!’ You thought it was what you wanted.”

15:25 — Paul: “We measure creativity by how people respond to constraints.”

16:50 — Rich: “When I see a Netflix Original Series, I just assume — and I could be surprised — I assume it’s bad.”

16:55 — Paul: “Compare Netflix and Youtube for a minute. What do both of them solve? They solve distribution. Suddenly they were like, ‘oh my god, we can put moving pictures in a rectangle on a screen and we can get it out to millions and millions of people.”

17:20 — Rich: “There’s a phenomenal quote by the Chief Content Officer of Netflix. They said, ‘what’s your strategy?’ and he said, ‘we have to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.’”

19:10 — Paul: “Here’s a thing I think a lot about: Cakes. Cake making is a whole scene on Youtube. There’s probably 30 million people… who watch and subscribe to cake content where people smear things with fondant. Very charming people. They sell spatulas. That’s how they monetize. I sort of look at Netflix as being very well set up to capitalize on these nascent expanding scenes in a way that Youtube can’t. You’ve got thirty, forty, fifty cake-making personalities but Youtube doesn’t really bring them together.”

20:50 — Paul: “It’s a promise that everyone is roughly equal on the platform, which is weird because you walk down the street and there’s a giant picture of a Youtube celebrity painted on the side of a wall in Manhattan.”

22:00 — Paul: “Netflix is weird because it’s all about subjects and I almost think it should be more focused around verticals. Like channels, or something on Netflix where you can go over and participate as opposed to these ‘movies for people who like cats and have no hair!’ I think Netflix is totally primed to do that.”

24:10 — Paul: “The whole system is set up where the platforms make it challenging to create real utility. The ways that you focus by making products that allow them to access the media and give them new powers and understanding — the platforms are not set up for that. They’re set up for continual delivery of a single experience which is usually a rectangle of video. They’re focused around the media, not the actual usage of the media to do things.”

24:50 — Paul: “Youtube is just a big open hole that anybody can throw their trash into, and sometimes people are like, ‘that’s not trash! That’s good!’”

26:00 — Rich: “For the consumer, I’m worried about them. The motivation on the creator side is to just pour more and more on my head. For the consumer, that’s led to a terrible state. Everything’s garbage. Most things are lousy.”

26:25 — Paul: “Even when you have a lot of money and you do everything right, the odds are that it’s gonna be pretty bad.”

28:35 — Rich: “You know what the most popular piece of advice is now? [Companies are] telling the person: Leave your phone outside the bedroom. Take a book with you. Pause and think! Think deeper!”

29:10 — Paul: “It’s always been crappy bestsellers and big stupid movies with car chases. That’s been the baseline for a long time. It’s not surprising that in an era of digital glut we just end up with more. Not better, but more… Do you try to build the new platforms where there are more constraints and more creative work? That’s a way to address this but you are climbing a very high mountain.”

32:20 — Paul: “Constraints matter, but platform economics take over. You have to choose how to live in this world, because it’s being done to you.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

May 22, 2018
 

Paul and Gina meet up with Christian Madsbjerg to discuss the ideas behind his new book, “Sensemaking: The Power of Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm”

What happens when you take a philosopher out of their element and plunk them into management? How can the business and tech worlds benefit from the humanities? Are we putting too much trust into algorithms and the promise of artificial intelligence?

Courtesy of ReD Associates

Just because Google does it, doesn’t mean we should do it too: This week Paul Ford and Gina Trapani meet with Christian Madsbjerg, author of Sensemaking: The Power of Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm. Christian ruminates on the limits of the algorithm, bringing human insight into tech and business where artificial intelligence falls short, and the impact of Elon Musk (ed. note: unfortunaltey this interview was recorded before the Met Gala)


4:00 — Christian: “Philosophers are for critique and against suggesting anything. But if you want to make something, you’ve got to suggest something.”

4:55 — Christian: “[Philosophers] see there’s still a way to have integrity in what you’re doing, and still deal with the kinds of things and the way they want to deal with them but in a different world.”

7:15 — Christian: “I suppose philosophy is just making manifestos — what’s sort of underneath us all the time, and that we didn’t think about. What’s happening, at least in the technology space right now, it’s this big reckoning. There’s this big sort of realization that there’s more to this than we thought there was. That’s what a philosopher would do, they would ask, ‘based on what do you say that? What are the underlying assumptions?’”

8:15 — Paul: “A vast number of our conversations… are ultimately about ethics. It’s a constant refrain through the organization. It’s daily and it’s top-to-bottom. Everything we do — maybe also because we deal with so many abstractions and so many requirements from the client — it’s more about preventing unethical situations.”

10:40 — Christian: “It’s often a group of people that aren’t like you and trying to understand what their life is like. ‘What is it like to be them?’ is the basic idea. You can enter their world and you can enter it in a way that can inform that world with whatever you’re making.

13:45 — Christian: “There are things we humans can do that we don’t understand yet. The fact that the machine can beat us in chess doesn’t mean that it can beat us in every other aspect of life, including understanding each other.”

16:20 — Paul: “No one is going to buy a car that sacrifices your life to save another life… We’re about to hit a wall. This is where capitalism and ethics are about to have a very exciting moment around self driving cars.”

16:45 — Christian: “Another way to think about driverless cars is [asking] are they really so attractive? Some people enjoy driving cars […]and that’s worth something as well. Another way of seeing it is that you can look at the people that get slaughtered in traffic every day, but does that really mean that all cars have to be driverless? Isn’t it a magical thing if you think about all the people that step into a car every day and they somehow find their way through these streets and they don’t crash?”

20:50 — Christian: “I wish [Elon Musk] would represent a more interesting dream for eighteen-year-olds than going to Mars.”

21:05 — Christian: “The first process is that in any public institution or any company there is a language that is often native to that place… The first thing is to translate that business language, or the language of the institution, into a human language. So how would human beings think about this? What would be the human phenomenon at the heart of this?”

24:15 — Paul: “So sensemaking as a practice is observing and understanding an organization well enough that you now have a foundation for organizational change, for defining what needs to happen now.”

25:55 — Christian: “The humanities are the place where you can try to exercise the muscle of [understanding] others in the most advanced way… The world of literature and art is a place where you can see human worlds in a way that’s advanced and interesting and often beautiful. So, often, the people that are good at [sensemaking] have a level of sensitivity to it.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight. 

May 15, 2018
 

What conversations can we have in email? When do we need to transition them into meetings? How can we make meetings more productive, and less of a waste of time? 

Like Startups, Most Meetings Fail: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade chat about the inefficiency of frequent meetings. We discuss what makes a meeting fail within the first few minutes, and provide strategies that can be deployed to make them successful (like defining a leader). We also complain about the neverending email thread, and the disconnect between our daily lives and the design of Google Calendar. Rich shares his best excuses (Ed note: lies) to get out of a meeting! 


3:45 — Paul: “There’s the Two Pizza Rule for Amazon where no team should be bigger than what you can feed with two pizzas.”

4:00 — Paul: “I think there are three good meetings. There is, ‘hi, let’s all get in the room as higher primates and get a sense of each other.’ You need to see and understand the people who are going to be working with you on something. There’s the kickoff. Then there’s the ‘we went away and did some work and we wanted to show you that work and get your discussion within about a half hour.’ Then there’s the standing process focus meeting in which you know what you’re going to do, it’s about a half hour long, and it’s just more efficient to […] find out what the tasks are and walk away.”

6:10 — Rich: “This is free for all our listeners. It’s the opposite of saying ‘this is a waste of time.’ Ready? Here’s the sentence: ‘You don’t really need me for this.’”

6:30 — Paul: “The calendar is this territory that belongs to you.”

10:35 — Paul: “Let’s be honest. Calendering software is terrible. The way that we’ve arranged the weeks so that they’re verticle stacks from top to bottom, that’s now how humans think about things.”

11:00 — Paul: “Time really works like a slithering snake. It goes from left to right.”

11:50 — Paul: “95% of meetings fail within the first six minutes.”

13:37 — Rich: You know what the worst invite is? The preface is this: ‘We all gotta get into a room.’ You get in a room and you realize the email thread was way more productive than us getting in a room.”

15:00 — Paul: “I’ll tell you what I like. Email or meetings? Neither. They’re both terrible.”

18:30 — Paul: “My brain works that way. Business brains don’t work that way. They talk and talk… My brain works in 8.5 by 11 inch paper, top to bottom. I can’t get that in business, and I accept that. I always feel a little bit like a space alien.”

20:40 — Rich: “If there isn’t a clear path to failure, then that meeting is useless.”

20:50 — Paul: “What favour are you doing anyone by hiding the fact that you’re secretly a compulsive lunatic who needs them to do things?”

21:00 — Rich: “The three legs of a stool are ‘what is the thing?’, ‘who’s responsible for the thing?’, and ‘when are you gonna get the thing?’”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
May 8, 2018

How can true information be used to rile communities? What is the difference between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation? How is deception tracked and quantified? Is the next generation more media literate?

Häagen-Dazs is from the Bronx; Umami is from LA: This week, Paul Ford sits down with Encyclopedia of Misinformation author Rex Sorgatz. We discuss his new book, the ways marketers, newsrooms, and scientists use deception to their advantage, and the diffusion of misinformation. We talk about our role as consumers and how we’re changing the media literacy movement to revolve around systems of thought, rather than presenting everything as opposition. Rex also shares a list of supermyths (Spoiler: Colombus knew the Earth was round before he set sail).

1:40 — Rex: “Misinformation is data that is incorrect, effectively. Disinformation is intentionally spreading that information… Malinformation, which is relatively new, is not actually incorrect information, it’s information that is correct but spread with the intent of abuse.”

6:30 — Rex: “[Conspiracy theories] moved out of pop culture and onto the internet. I think back then, it was a playful thing, but now in the age of Infowars, I don’t know what to call it anymore. It’s a completely different thing.”

11:00 — Rex: “I grew up in a small town before the internet and I still remember having access to information that didn’t seem right.”

15:34 — Paul: “So this is a practical guide to the nightmare mediascape in which we find ourself.”

16:40 — Rex: “I tell people it’s barely a book. My publisher said to stop saying that…”

25:30 — Rex: “Instead we should try to think about how other people are coming to the conclusions that they’re coming to — it’s not a matter of what, it’s a matter of how. I think there’s a lesson in there about media literacy for kids, that we work toward letting them understand systems of thought, not presenting everything as opposition.”

26:20 — Paul: “We consume so much media, so much, all day… People are willing to lightly hold and connect to all kinds of ideas as they suck media down their media holes in their brains. Part of the literacy is giving people the credit as discerning consumers who accept and reject the things that they’re hearing.”

28:30 — Rex: “Learning is systems more than it is facts.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

May 1, 2018
 

How have sales funnels changed in the past 20 years? What actually is a CRM or CMS? Are they merging together into a larger client management platform? This week, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the new way of onboarding customers.

Systems Collide Into Each Other: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about bringing the right clients into your company. We explain the three pillars that are working behind sucessful customer relationships: sales, customer service, and marketing. We define the differences between CRMs and CMSs, and discuss the convergence of the two. We also announce that we’ll mail a box of chocolates to anyone who comes up with a good name for this convergence!

 

1:30— Paul: “At some level, your funnel is everyone in the whole world. …”

2:20 — Paul: “Funnel is kind of a marketing term about getting from less qualified to more qualified. … about somebody signing on some dotted line and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do that’.”

3:53— Rich: “There was a day you’d have to stand out in the street with a sign. …That’s the old school, analog way of somehow taking the millions of little atoms that make up New York City and somehow filtering just a few into your shop.”

6:02 —  Rich: “There is software today that gets you way, way further ahead than standing outside of your shop with french fries.”

9:06 — Paul: “CRM is a big bucket term… but it’s basically how do I track people and how I’m doing at persuading them over time.”

18:07 — Paul: “Everybody’s a publisher on the web. Everybody.”

25:12 — Paul: “This platform is emerging where the people are in the funnel, the kind of content they see, the kind of opportunities that they have to integrate and connect to your thing… are all in one.”

28:33 — Rich: “It’s something big and beautiful. I would even say it’s broader than System A and System B colliding into each other.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
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