Creepiness vs. convenience.
Welcome back to your regularly scheduled programming!
Greetings from North Brooklyn, where some of us survived and some of us — namely Charlie, who got to fly first class in his very own seat this season like the true child emperor he is — thrived during the holidays. It’s a new year, and we’re back and doing our best to survive those brutal January winds. Living by the river is so awesome, until it’s not.
On to the #content:
Creepiness vs convenience
We spent a couple days at The National Retail Federation's annual conference last week, and came away gobsmacked not only with the sheer amount of innovation that's happening in retail, but how much of it is borderline stalker-y. Whether it's camera technology to help track your in-store employees better, smart grocery labels that tell you when a customer has been lingering over a particular product, or just big data platforms that promise to help you make sense of all the information you're collecting, the prevailing trend in retail tech seems to be about gathering and processing information. Which seems all very well and good in a B2B context but perhaps misses the larger cultural moment a little bit. One thing we did not hear at NRF: the idea that some of this tracking might make people uncomfortable.
Count us as optimistic, albeit skeptically so, that better data can drive better user experiences. When Instagram knows somehow that we're in the market for a Pendleton dog sweater and serves us an ad for it, we worry less about frightening amount of personal data they must have about us in favor of appreciating the 40% off deal. When we open Google Maps to find that our calendar invite for post-work frames at Gutter has already been noted, with directions attached, we shrug in appreciation. But it's a slippery slope, especially once this kind of tracking and modeling moves off our screens and into the real world. It's one thing to follow our browser history; quite another to track our physical movements.
One thing that NRF hammered home though, is that the tracking is only going to get more invasive, despite the fact that public calls for data protection and privacy are increasing as people realize just how much information these companies have about them. It'll be important for tech firms and marketers to realize just how this data mapping is experienced by users, and to make sure they're thinking through not just what's possible, but what's appropriate.
Things are happening
As part of Spotify’s continued attempt to be musicians’ preferred streaming service, they’re rolling out Publishing Analytics, “the first music streaming analytics tool built specifically for (music) publishers”. It’ll provide musicians and labels with daily streaming statistics, especially helpful for the artists that self-publish on the platform.
Chartbeat released its most popular stories of 2018 (spoiler alert, not that many surprises), and Google released its most popular search terms (spoiler, the most-Googled athlete will shock you).
Shouts to our friends at Gather Content who make nice software and also have put out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Style Guide (meta!)
A note to anyone looking to publicly display a Baphomet statue: Make sure you check with the Satanists’ code of conduct first. Unless you have a causal fifty mill to spend on your faux pas, that is. Lawsuits are metal.
What We're Listening To
It’s straight up negative 10 windchill here in the northwest corner of Brooklyn, and it’s got us listening to one of our favorite cold weather albums: Mobb Deep’s The Infamous. This record makes us want to tromp through Brooklyn wearing seven layers of puffy jackets and constructos.