Wise Guys on WHO Radio - March 15, 2014
The WHO Radio Wise Guys airs on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 1 to 2 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. A podcast of show highlights is also available. Leave comments and questions on the Wise Guys Facebook page or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facebook as your newspaper substituteFacebook, it seems, is trying to take the place of the daily newspaper with its "trending" feature, which it surprises me to note "isn't available to everyone right now". One can only speak from very limited anecdotal experience, but for my own case, about half of the stories showing up have been within the realm of some kind of interest. As I type, it's showing me three top stories -- one about Jon Stewart in a dispute with Fox News [inside-baseball stuff for media types], a crime story about the founder of Pinkberry [couldn't care less], and a note about Peanut Tillman coming back for another year with the Bears [I am a Bears fan, so it got that right]. The impression I've gathered from feedback from friends is that they aren't really targeting news to the individual.
A few thoughts:
- What's the use of profile data if they aren't going to offer targeted news? I really don't care about the Buffalo Bills or Pinkberry, nor about a Twitter fight between DeAngelo Hall and Richard Sherman. If they're not adding value to my Facebook experience with these "trending" stories, then they're just cluttering the screen.
- It may be early in the experiment, but this is definitely not enough to make me spend more time with Facebook. You don't have to be a newsie deep down in your soul like I am (I admit; setting up a News Randomizer might be going a little far), but I figure that if a story is really hot, I'm going to see something about it on Twitter anyway.
- The counter side to the coin is that they probably have enough profile data collected on most people to create deliberate moments of serendipity and discovery. Lots has been said about the echo chamber that happens when people of like minds share stories on Facebook, leading to a big Amen chorus. In fact, just as we humans tend to want our biases confirmed, we also like to be surprised by things that are new and different and unexpected. Facebook has enough data collected on most users to know what we already know and like -- and if Netflix's prediction algorithm is any indication, it's well within the bounds of computing power to figure out the things that a person might find pleasantly surprising and serve them up. That would be a lot more engaging than just rehashing the "trending" stories that all of our friends might have already commented upon already.
In the news this week
Amazon delivers a big test in demand elasticity
By hiking the price of Amazon Prime from $79 a year to $99 a year -- and doing it with a week's notice -- they're really going to test whether consumers care a lot about that $20. Bold move. But Amazon isn't a very profitable company -- they lost money in 2012, and shares currently sell for more than 600 times last year's profits per share. Remember: A sky-high stock price can be totally disconnected from profits. Perhaps this is an effort to jolt some profit-making into the bottom line.
The world's power companies are considering 1200 new coal-fired electric plants
Measles outbreak in New York City: Blame the anti-vaccinators
It's happening in Manhattan and the Bronx, and some people have been hopitalized as a result. Two of the cases were in people whose parents chose not to vaccinate them. Contagious diseases like this can be transmitted most easily to the vulnerable -- like people who are already sick and in the doctor's office for other reasons. There is really no legitimate dispute about the costs versus the benefits of vaccination. It is unconscionable that people use excuses based upon completely rejected claims of side effects to justify the decision to put their own children and others at high risk of harm. People who don't understand the importance of herd immunity do not have the right to put others at risk based upon their ignorance.
HPV-related cancers have increased in Iowa in recent decades
All the more reason to treasure the HPV vaccine as a real advance
Sponges may be the key to explaining jump from no-animal Earth to animal-populated Earth
Their ability to live on very little oxygen may signal the bridge
Speed-reading for everyone
Some technology developers think they've cracked the code to speed-reading for everyone, without training, using a method of identifying the place where the eye should land on a word for maximum comprehension. Quite interesting. Possibly promising. The name ("Spritz") may leave a bit to be desired.
What might make Google worry about smartphones
In general, Google will have to make an incredible number of right decisions over the next ten to fifteen years if it wants to match any of the success of its first decade and a half. That's going to be a really, really tall order...and the chances of them making it without major pain aren't great.
"Sometimes being a fast-follower is better than being a leader"
Analyst commenting on how Lexus may have stolen some of Acura's thunder
Why we have (and need) safe-haven laws
A woman is looking for the mother who left her as a newborn in the bathroom of a Pennsylvania Burger King. It is absolutely essential that people know that every state has a safe-haven law allowing mothers to relinquish their infants unharmed, no questions asked. The window of time available and the acceptable locations vary by state, but the fact that protection is universal should be known...universally.
Experian may have let loose an incredible amount of consumer data to a crook
Visa and MasterCard want you to get a next-generation credit card
Instead of magnetic strips, they want your cards to use the EMV chip