Ryan Shea and Melanie Shapiro at CogX18

The future of social media: web 3.0, wearables and chatbots

It’s nearly ten years ago that I met Tim O’Reilly in New York to talk about Web 2.0 and how it was going to change the world.

So it felt a little like deja vu last week hearing Ryan Shea (above, left) and Melanie Shapiro (right) on stage at CognitionX, championing Web 3.0.

Like its centralised, super-social predecessor, Web 3.0 is going to change everything. But Web 3.0 is decentralised – and we’ll not be sharing our data with anyone (unless we want to).

Web 3.0 will give us self sovereign identity  – a core identity that represents us as individuals and is all bundled up with our own data, which we’ll have complete control over. As opposed to government or corporate issued identities (which are what we have now).

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Sofia the Robot at Cognition X

Robots, the universe and everything – CogX has it all

“I hope that one day you won’t take my job” says the journalist.

“I might reconsider” says Sophia the Robot.

Sophia’s comment is slightly threatening, but she follows it up with a super-sweet smile, and everyone laughs. [Watch the video]

That’s the thing about robots these days. They’re awkward, off-kilter, likely to come out with non-sequiturs, unpredictable in a cutesy way – but ultimately programmed to please and make us laugh.

Sophia the Robot is firmly in uncanny valley territory. Her skin is made of a flesh-like, nanotech material. She has cameras for eyes and a microprocessor for a brain. Her advanced AI (artificial intelligence) software enables her to have human-like conversations.

“Are you a person or a robot?” she asks the journalist. It seems like genuine curiosity.

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Photo by Benjamin Wong

How social listening helps you stand out from the crowd

Back in the 1980s London agency BBH came up with a brilliant ad campaign that is now their corporate mantra. The ad was for Black Levi’s and featured a single black sheep in a flock of white ones. The strap-line ran: “When the world zigs, zag”.

Identify a gap in the market and fill it with something different enough to be exciting but relevant enough to sell: this has long been the holy grail of marketing.

When the world zigs, zag - BBH campaign for Black Levi's, 1982

When the world zigs, zag – BBH campaign for Black Levi’s, 1982

In the past, the best ideas depended on sheer creativity and gut instinct as much as market research. Today’s brands have an always-on, direct line to their customers.

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Seyi Akiwowo

5 things I learned at Women Leading in AI 2018

There were so many amazing ideas and themes at the Women Leading in AI conference yesterday, it’s hard to know where to start.

The overarching theme – and one that was centre stage – is that we’re now in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (which has come hot on the heels of the Third). So while we may feel we’re only just getting to grips with the impact of digital, it’s time to start wrapping our heads around AI (artificial intelligence) and automation – and fast.

In social media alone, automation and bots are now commonplace. From chatbot games to automated customer service, organisations are finding that an upfront investment in machine learning software can pay dividends in the long run.

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andy-kelly-402111-unsplash

Facebook, the future and us

Facebook has 2.2 billion users. It owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Four out of 2017’s most-downloaded iOS apps are owned by Facebook. It’s controversial Open Graph (an API that gave advertisers unfettered access to to user data) was shuttered in 2015 but replaced by the even more powerful Facebook Audience Network.

There’s Facebook Connect, which allows users easy log-in to third party websites. Facebook even has profiles on people who don’t use Facebook. To many people (as has been said many times), Facebook is the Internet.

If this last week has taught us anything, it’s that our data – the data we put into Facebook (and other social networks) has real, tangible value. Corporations and politicians are buying and selling it. And sometimes it gets into the hands of people we don’t particularly like.

How do we make this stop? I don’t know, but I do know it’s not as simple as #deleteFacebook. That seems all too much like putting your fingers in your ears and singing loudly.

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Techmums TV on Facebook Live

This week on #techmums TV: using LinkedIn to get a job

Yesterday was one of the most fun working days I’ve had in a while: I got to spend the morning with a group of brilliant, funny and talented women, putting together a live TV show at Facebook HQ. Thanks so much Sue Black and Isabel Chapman of #techmums for having me :)

The topic was “how to find work online”. I was on there to talk about using LinkedIn, understanding your digital footprint and building a personal brand. My fellow guest was the amazing Charlotte Pearce who runs a marketing company called Inkpact which sends handwritten notes at scale. Inkpact employs around 400 “scribes”, many of whom are mums working from home.

In the photo you can see me (second left), sharing a giggle with Sue (far left), Charlotte (second right) and Isabel (far right). One of the main aims of the show is to talk about technology in a way that is positive and accessible.

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Design Jam at Facebook London

Big Brother is watching us – he wants to play nicely

Andy Warhol said that in the future we will all be famous for 15 minutes. George Orwell predicted constant surveillance. Maybe it’s only with hindsight that we see these two things as inextricably linked: our “fame” always comes at a price.

Online social networks offer us free connectivity and the ability to broadcast edited versions of our lives. In exchange, we give them our data. Trouble is, the details of this contract have never been clearly articulated or explained, much less negotiated.

Last week I went to Facebook’s new office in London for a Design Jam. The Design Jams are open innovation – a series of hackathons to help Facebook users better understand, improve and navigate the legal complexities of its website.

Facebook is understandably concerned that it may be losing younger users and that hours spent on the platform are declining. Last week’s event focused on data transparency for young people.

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The BBC Breakfast studio in Manchester

Did Kylie Jenner kill Snapchat?

Last Wednesday evening celebrity Kylie Jenner tweeted that she wasn’t really using Snapchat any more. By Friday, Snap Inc’s share price had dropped $1.3billion and the popular news websites were screaming that Jenner had caused it all:

…and so on.

Around midday Friday I got an email from BBC Breakfast asking if I’d be prepared to come on and talk about celebrity and social media. Well, of course I would. So that’s how I came to be sitting in a studio in Manchester’s Media City at the sort of time most Saturdays I’d still be in bed, chatting to presenters Jon Kay and Rachel Burden, and showbiz reporter Lucy J Ford.

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Snapchat growing up

Is Snapchat growing up?

Snap Inc has posted better than expected quarterly results. With its share price up 20 percent on the previous quarter, and daily users of its social platform Snapchat now at 187 million, the company seems to be defying critics who said it couldn’t coexist with Instagram.

Revenue is also up: the company took $286 million in advertising income in the year to December 2017. Snapchat recently simplified its advertising platform, making it easier for brands to access the network. These changes appear to be paying off.

Snapchat seems to be bucking the trend which has seen daily use fall at arch rival Facebook (owner of Instagram). At a time when social networks in general are coming under attack for failing to deal effectively with fake news and trolling, Snapchat’s focus on entertainment and ephemerality has clearly helped to shield it.

Snap Inc has been criticised in the past for aspects of its corporate culture. Its apparent lack of diversity and refusal to publish breakdowns of gender and ethnicity among its employees have led to the company being accused of arrogance, sexism and racism.

In 2014 Snap CEO Evan Spiegel came under attack when a series of offensive emails sent while he was at college were leaked online. He made a public apology. Last year, he married supermodel Miranda Kerr in a quiet ceremony. The couple are now expecting their first child. Maybe Snapchat, like its CEO, is finally growing up.

NB: If you were up bright and early on 7 February you might have caught me discussing these points in a live interview on BBC World Service Newsday.

Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Wordpress - audience

How to be famous on social media

On Tuesday I went to a school careers fair to talk about working in social media. Nearly all the pupils I met (aged 13 – 16) were already active on social networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram; a couple had their own YouTube channels.

Some of them asked me how to become an influencer. They were keen to monetize their presence like Zoella or KSI. One of them wanted to know how to ‘be famous”. Most had questions about how to make the jump from using social media for personal social networking to using it for work.

Here’s the advice I gave:

1. Yes, there are YouTubers and celebrities who’ve become famous and made millions from their social media profiles. They probably make up less than 1 percent of people who earn a living through social media. Many of these (like Paris Hilton or Kylie Jenner) already had money and networks of privilege to help them. Others (like PewDiePie or Jenna Marbles) have become leading influencers through their own unique style and delivery – and sheer hard work. It’s not impossible but the odds will be stacked against you.

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