With Home Address Identification, Reveelz Takes Targeting Too Far

Published in Online Spin, May 29 2015

My mom’s been on my mind a lot lately. Understandably so -- she passed away recently, and we held a celebration of her life this past Monday. Setting my own biases aside, she was a pretty outstanding woman: founder of the oldest health-supportive cooking school in America (of which I’m currently chair), writer of multiple books, and generally a pioneer in the relationship between food and health, before said relationship was at all mainstream.

So the celebration wasn’t just close family. Her friends, colleagues, staff, and current and former students came out to honor her legacy. We told stories. Had a musician play music from Argentina, where she grew up. And we showed a compilation music video of some of her core teachings.

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Is Facebook Actually Winning The World Right Now?

Published in Online Spin, May 22 2015

Well of course they’re “winning,” if you call Q1 revenue of over $3.5 billion and nearly a billion daily active users “winning.” But I’m talking about winning, about sitting at the poker table with a huge pile of chips in front of you, opposite some dude who’s got a huge pile of chips in front of him, and you’re holding some kind of good hand, a full house or straight flush maybe, and you decide to go all in.

The dude across Facebook’s table is Google, of course, and three things are making me wonder where the spoils will go.

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BBB Privacy Punishment Could Help, Not Harm, Etsy And Others

Published in Online Spin, May 15 2015

On the face of it, yesterday’s announcement by the Better Business Bureau that Etsy, Imgur, TWiT.tv, and 247 Sports will increase the level of data collection transparency is a win.

On every page where third parties collect data for use in behavioral targeting, these companies will also display a “clear, meaningful and prominent link” explaining more and allowing users to opt out. “That link,” says Wendy Davis, who reported the story for our sister publication The Daily Online Examiner, “is supposed to appear underneath text like ‘Interest-based ads,’ ‘About our ads,’ ‘AdChoices,’ or ‘Why did I get this ad?’”

Our Irrational Fear Of Driverless Cars

Published in Online Spin, May 08 2015

Remember Chris Hadfield? Of course you do. The Canadian astronaut’s rendition of "Major Tom” has been viewed over 25 million times. But today I’m more interested in his TED talk: “What I learned from going blind in space.” 

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Nepal Quakes Reinforce Connectivity As Basic Human Right

Published in Online Spin, May 01 2015

Whenever people dismiss Twitter as a platform for sharing what you ate for breakfast, I tell them about the “eqnz” hashtag.

On the 22nd of February, 2011, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was hit with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake at the insanely shallow depth of just 3 miles. And when the ground shook us into disaster, when buildings fell and people were trapped and died within the rubble, when our phone lines were jammed and our media was inefficient and people everywhere were desperate for information and connection, we learned the true power of social media.

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Digital Democracy? More Like Digital Dictatorship

Published in Online Spin, April 24 2015

Great news! Internet ad revenues surged yet again in 2014, reaching nearly $50 billion dollars in the United States. This, according to a new report from IAB, represents a 16% increase over the previous year; compared to 20 years ago it’s an increase of… well, infinity.


Isn’t it awesome? The way peer-to-peer communication has flourished? The way we’ve gotten rid of all those pesky gatekeepers, powerbrokers and censors? Finally, we can say whatever we want. Finally, we have all the power. After all, nobody owns the Internet.


Except, of course, for those who do -- and, in the United States, that happens to be Google and Facebook. Those two companies alone represent over 60% of the total online ad industry. Add the next 8 companies on the list, and the Top Ten account for 71% of the market. The Top 25? They covered 82%.

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Hey, Advertisers, You're Asking The Wrong Question

Published in Online Spin, April 17 2015

“I can’t tell you how many times a corporate client will say to me, ‘Tell our customers how great we are.’ I always reply that their customers aren’t interested. ‘Tell them anyway,’ they say. ‘TELL THEM.’”

Speaking at The Project conference in Auckland, New Zealand, James Hurman, innovation consultant and author of “The Case for Creativity,” was on a mission: to help us understand that client-agency interactions like that never work because they’re based on the wrong question.


What’s the wrong question? “What do we want to tell our customers?” Or, as Hurman put it, “What do we want to communicate at our customers?”


This question is fundamentally flawed because it’s company-centric, not customer-centric. So what’s the right question? Simple: “What is getting in the way of the customer behaving the way we want?”

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For Digital Marketing, Targeting Can Be Deadly

Published in Online Spin, April 10 2015

As it is no doubt for you, much of the content I consume online is surfaced by algorithms. These algorithms consider things like what I’ve read, what I’ve watched and clicked on, and who my friends are to find content they think I’ll like. And because they’re looking to match my existing preferences, they often provide material that reinforces what I already know or believe -- what Eli Pariser called “filter bubbles.”

Fight For Women's Rights Goes From Social Media To Frontiers Of Foreign Policy

Published in Online Spin, April 3 2015

I haven’t made much mention of feminism in this column. The last time I tried was three years ago, and it was actually a decidedly imperfect attempt at a conversation beyond feminism.


But it’s been a rough couple of weeks for women on the Internet -- so much so, that I feel compelled to wade back into the fray with a wild and dangerous opinion of my own.


First, the backstory, or rather, stories. It started, as these things do, with National Cleavage Day. Yes, it’s a thing, inasmuch as a Wikipedia entry and a corporate sponsorship make a thing a thing.


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Three Reasons You Should Read That Column I Wrote On Exponential Technologies

Published in Online Spin, March 27 2015

You know that thing that happens when you buy a new car, and then you see that car everywhere?

This is kind of like that.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a column about exponential technologies. I looked at the way that any industry built on information will follow a price-performance curve that roughly doubles every year, at the fact that we’re starting to reach inflection points on technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to bioengineering, and how all of these technologies are now starting to converge.

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