Big data, Catacombs, and Bar Mitzvahs.
Hello from NYC, where all the good concerts take place inside catacombs.
Crypt concerts notwithstanding, we're still a bit peeved that we didn't get invited out to Kanye's album release party, but we're trying not to let it get in the way of our work, since we have a couple of super interesting client projects kicking off this week. (They BOTH involve Machine Learning and AI in case you were wondering how cutting edge we are.) And of course, we're always out there pitching new business:
Meantime, things round the HQ are a little quieter now that our wonderful intern Aya has graduated college and left us to pursue rabbinical studies in Israel for the summer. While we're sad to see her go, we're excited that we'll finally know someone (other than Kyle O'Quinn obvi) who can help us with our Bar Mitzvah.
With that, here's whats on our mind this week:
The Tyranny of Data
By now, you've likely heard about Google X's internal video around the concept of "The Selfish Ledger". If you haven't watched it, we don't blame you because it's 9 minutes long which is basically Godfather-length for a web video. But it's an interesting, and super well done look at how the comprehensiveness with which our digital activities are tracked has the potential to turn user data into a new kind of genetic record--and that companies could conceivably take advantage of this to make our lives "better" in all kinds of ways, (the metaphor they use is how understanding the human genome genetic sequencing has allowed us to fight disease more effectively). Anyway you should watch it; or even better read The Verge's excellent summary on it or one of the other 7 million thinkpieces out there.
Our hot take is pretty brief, but it gets at something we've been thinking about for a long time, which is that data on things that we've done before is not necessarily a good predictor of what we may want to do in the future. Or as they say on Wall Street -- past performance isn't an indicator of future results. There's all sorts of egregious ways this manifests itself (like being retargeted with ads for baby clothes after you've had a miscarriage, for instance), but the issue we have with it is philosophical: it presupposes that we want to be told what we like. And this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy if our algorithms, hell-bent on driving engagement, never expose us to anything that would cause us to rethink or evolve, or god forbid discover something new and different.
There's a great essay on this is by Kyle Chayka in Racked, and we very much recommend reading the whole thing. There are too many great quotes in it to choose from but here's maybe the best:
"We find ourselves in a cultural uncanny valley, unable to differentiate between things created by humans and those generated by a human-trained equation run amok. In other words, what is the product of genuine taste and what is not."
Which is why we only listen to vinyl records and write these emails with feather quill.
We've got a lot of client news this week, so we thought it'd be nice to give it a special section (plus who could pass up an opportunity to create an alliterative misspelled name for no real reason). In any case:
One of our earliest clients, Considerable, is still in stealth mode -- but they're launching to the public this summer, and are looking for a Director of Marketingto lead their nascent marketing team. It's a very cool job, working with some extremely excellent people -- and an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a company that's doing incredibly ambitious things with content. Give us a shout if you want an intro.
Robin, who makes technology that magically keeps your co-workers from stealing your meeting rooms, is live with their long-awaited 2018 State of the Office report. So far they've looked at Lobbies, Desks, and Conference Rooms, with a lot more to come. If you work in an office, these are must-reads.
And finally, NewsWhip is hosting their annual Whip Smart conference (which we refuse to believe is not named after the Liz Phair album) next week at the Bowery Hotel. Speakers include Axios' Sara Fischer and the NYT's Renan Borelli; hors d'oeuvres include delightful little bite sized sandwiches that you'll want to eat like 20 of. As of this writing, tickets are still available.
There's no quote for the week so please enjoy this Winona Ryder gif instead:
What We're Listening To
We grew up on rap in the 90s, and like most of our peers we’re big haters who can’t relate to current hip hop and complain incessantly that its not as good. Or at least we used to, before we found this best of 2017 playlist by Spotify user Tony Plunkett (it was recommended to us by a REAL PERSON not suggested by Spotify’s algorithm, we might add). It’s called Cocaine Blunts and you can listen to it here.