10 July 2024

The Washington Post: “Meta’s Threads is struggling to win over content creators”

Threads, a text-centric service launched by Meta last year in a bid to usurp Twitter after its acquisition by Elon Musk, needs people like Dorsey and his clients if it is to succeed. Adam Mosseri, the executive overseeing Threads, recently told The Washington Post he wants it to be a place for real-time discussions of events happening in the world, from sports to TV. But content creators who spoke with The Post said they are struggling to understand the platform.

Threads still seems like a platform in search of a mission, says Lia Haberman, an independent digital strategist and author of the ICYMI newsletter on marketing and the creator economy. The focus isn’t news. It’s not about visual creativity or video, like Instagram or TikTok. So what is it?

If Threads was a start-up we wouldn’t be questioning whether it had made its mark. They’d burn through their VC money and then quietly fold or be acquired by another player, said Haberman, the digital strategist. I don’t see how Mark Zuckerberg continues to pump money into a platform where the biggest draw so far is that it’s a less toxic alternative to Twitter.

Taylor Lorenz

Harsh, but mostly fair I think. I doubt the people behind Threads have given much thought to what it is meant to be, beyond providing an easy alternative for those shunning Twitter and inching up Meta’s advertising revenues.

09 July 2024

CNBC: “Greece becomes first EU country to introduce a six-day working week”

Under the new legislation, which was passed as part of a broader set of labor laws last year, employees of private businesses that provide round-the-clock services will reportedly have the option of working an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift.

The change means a traditional 40-hour workweek could be extended to 48 hours per week for some businesses. Food service and tourism workers are not included in the six-day working week initiative.

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer in European and international politics at the U.K.’s Loughborough University, described the Greek government’s introduction of the labor law as “a major step back” for a workforce that is already working the longest hours in the European Union.

Workers in Greece work more than those in the U.S., Japan and others in the 27-member EU, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Greek employees were found to have worked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022, more than the U.S. average of 1,811 and the EU average of 1,571.

Sam Meredith

Feels like just the other day countries were considering lowering working days to four per week, now others are going back to six-day work weeks?!

06 July 2024

Platformer: “Adam Mosseri on the first year of Threads”

But my hope is that whether using Threads or Instagram or Twitter or Tik Tok or YouTube, or whatever it is, that reach is not an end, but it is a means to an end. Because ideally, you are clear with yourself about what you’re trying to get out of the platform. Are you trying to sell tickets to your gigs because you’re a musician? Are you trying to advance a cause because you’re an activist? Are you trying to just raise awareness around your art if you’re an artist?

That said, we do care about reach, we do try to grow reach. My advice is — and I think what a lot of people don’t realize, because a lot of people are coming over from Instagram — they don’t realize how important the reply game is. If you’re really trying to grow your presence, you should reply much more than you post. And the sum of all your replies is about as valuable as the sum of all the value of all your posts.

When people treat it, like, I’m just going to post and then move on with my day and then post again in a couple days and move on with my day — that’s not what it’s designed for. If it was for that, we wouldn’t have built it as a separate app — we would have built it in Instagram. But we built it so that the reply was as important as the original post — so that you could facilitate, when you’re lucky, these great conversations, which by the way helps with discovery.

Casey Newton

So… the secret recipe for reach on Threads is to become a ‘reply guy’?!

03 July 2024

Android Police: “Google Maps Timeline now stores your location data on-device”

Right off the bat, it isn’t a Google change unless something is lost or killed off, and unsurprisingly, it’s time for Timeline on the web to bite the dust. Explaining the change, Google says it won’t have any data to display on the web interface after the switch to on-device location data management through the Maps app.

To retain access to your old Timeline data and ensure subsequent collection is localized, you’ll need to update to a recent version of Maps and follow the instructions in a push notification, in-app alert, or email you receive. You just need to specify your data management preferences on a device of your choice. That’s because the new system curates Timeline for each of your devices independently. Alternatively, you can back your Timeline data to Google servers manually or automatically. This can come in handy if you’re planning to switch to a new phone or tablet without losing the Timeline data.

The email we received mentioned that users have until December 1, 2024, to keep their saved visits and routes on the device or back them up. It warns that inaction could result in partial or complete loss of old data. If you miss the deadline, Google will try to move the last 90 days of location history to the first device you sign in to after the cutoff date, and all the older trips will be auto-deleted. We suggest keeping an eye out for this email.

Chandraveer Mathur

I haven’t received this email notification yet, so I’m still holding on to a slim hope that Google might reconsider until December. Needless to say, this news made me suddenly angry at Google for what I can only regard as a self-serving, user-hostile, and plainly stupid decision. Despite privacy concerns by some, Timeline was one of the best features of Google Maps, and I regularly checked that the places I visited were accurately recorded. The whole point of Timeline is to store your travel logs forever, so that you can revisit those years later to remind yourself of past trips and maybe find inspiration for new ones. Erasing this data automatically after some number of days or when you switch devices defeats this purpose entirely and makes Timeline borderline irrelevant.

11 June 2024

PetaPixel: “Instagram’s ‘Made With AI’ Tag is Inaccurate, Misleading, and Needs to Go”

Take Eric Paré, whose fantastical light painting images taken on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia fell foul of Instagram’s AI detector yesterday despite Paré also sharing a photo of the back of his camera showing clearly that the photo is not AI-generated.

This type of otherworldly image is particularly sensitive to accusations of AI generation and it is of vital importance to creatives like Paré that the audience knows they are looking at the work of a photographer who has busted a gut to get a great shot.

Paré told me that the photos had gone through an AI denoise program (taking noise out of an image is a normal editing task and definitely does not mean it was “Made with AI”).

Tellingly, when Paré screenshotted the images, Instagram did not tag them as AI. This runs consistent with my findings earlier this week when I used Photoshop’s Generative Fill tool to remove a speck of dust which got my photo flagged as AI on Instagram. But when I copied and pasted that same image onto a new document, it got past the censors.

The fact this workaround is viable shows that Meta is not only very likely looking for the Content Credentials tags that are embedded in an image when it is processed with Adobe Photoshop but it is also missing the point entirely of the reason these Credentials exist in the first place. They were never designed to be distilled down to a blanket statement like “Made with AI” like this. It’s overly reductive and does a disservice to the creator of the image and the overall mission of the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI).

Matt Growcoot

This might be the first controversy I encountered via Threads – which fits, since I followed many of the people I follow on Instagram without much thought, so talk around photography pops up constantly in my feed. While many staunchly insist that any editing involving AI tools makes the labeling legitimate, I tend more towards the opposing camp.

23 May 2024

The Atlantic: “The Horseshoe Theory of Google Search”

Earlier today, Google presented a new vision for its flagship search engine, one that is uniquely tailored to the generative-AI moment. With advanced technology at its disposal, Google will do the Googling for you, Liz Reid, the company’s head of search, declared onstage at the company’s annual software conference.

Googling something rarely yields an immediate, definitive answer. You enter a query, confront a wall of blue links, open a zillion tabs, and wade through them to find the most relevant information. If that doesn’t work, you refine the search and start again. Now Google is rolling out “AI overviews” that might compile a map of “anniversary worthy” restaurants in Dallas sorted by ambience (live music, rooftop patios, and the like), comb recipe websites to create meal plans, structure an introduction to an unfamiliar topic, and so on.

Generative AI, then, is in some ways providing a return to what Google Search was before the company infused it with product marketing and snippets and sidebars and Wikipedia extracts—all of which have arguably contributed to the degradation of the product. The AI-powered searches that Google executives described didn’t seem like going to an oracle so much as a more pleasant version of Google: pulling together the relevant tabs, pointing you to the most useful links, and perhaps even encouraging you to click on them.

Matteo Wong

My gut reaction to AI Overviews was: welp, so rather than rooting out listicles and low-grade content farms, Google has embraced them, featuring its own aggregated AI-answers on its front page!

21 May 2024

Pirate Wires: “The End of Social Media: An Interview with Jack Dorsey”

And then, as you know, Elon backed off [on the acquisition], and that disaster happened [laughs], until he finally bought it, which was the worst timeline ever. But throughout all that, it became more and more evident that Bluesky had a lot of great ideas. And they’re ideas I believe in. I think the internet needs a decentralized protocol for social media. I think Elon needs it. I think X needs it. I think it removes liability for the company, to separate those layers.

But what happened is, people started seeing Bluesky as something to run to, away from Twitter. It’s the thing that’s not Twitter, and therefore it’s great. And Bluesky saw this exodus of people from Twitter show up, and it was a very, very common crowd.

I’m impressed with the iterations of the algorithm that they’re doing. I think it’s generally really good work. My only ask is to open it up even more and let people choose what algorithm they want to use, even write their own algorithms to filter all the conversations. To me, that would give users ultimate agency, and ultimate freedom. Because this whole ‘freedom of speech, not reach’, is yet another tool of censorship in the end, because the algorithm is determining reach. If you truly believe in the freedom of speech, you gotta go to the heart of where it’s now being decided. And that’s not the policy, it’s the actual algorithm itself.

Mike Solana

On some level, I admire Jack’s commitment to decentralization and his idealism around freedom of speech. Alas, we live in the real world, not in some abstract, platonic realm of ideas, and thus we need to compromise and accept constraints in most situations – any ideal can devolve into delusion if it becomes mired by absolutism and does not recognize its inherent limitations.