Researchers show a machine learning network for connected devices

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a method for building a machine learning algorithm from data gathered from a variety of connected devices. There are two cool things about their model worth noting. The first is that the model is distributed and second, it can keep data private.

The researchers call their model Crowd-ML and the idea is pretty basic. Each device runs a version of a necessary app, much like one might run a version of SETI@home or other distributed computing application, and grabs samples of data to send to a central server. The server can tell when enough of the right data has been gathered to “teach” the computer and only grabs the data it needs, ensuring a relative amount of privacy.

The model uses a variant of stochastic (sub)gradient descent instead of batch processing, to grab data for machine learning, which is what makes the Crowd-ML…

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Twitter doesn’t need to “beat” Instagram — and should feel no shame about telling people to stop using it

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Originally posted on PandoDaily:

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You probably wouldn’t hear Pepsi overtly tell customers to stop drinking Coca-Cola. They might make veiled attacks on a non-specific “competitor” in an advertisement. But without empirical evidence for why Pepsi is better than Coke, mentioning Coke by name would not only risk drawing undue attention to a product that is already more popular than Pepsi — it would also come off as a little desperate.

And yet, according to Mashable, that’s what Twitter has ostensibly done with a prompt sent to its highest-profile users, suggesting that they stop using Instagram links for photos because they do not appear directly in tweets. Instagram cut off its Twitter Card integration a few months after being acquired by Facebook.

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In an article posted shortly after the screenshots were revealed, Techcrunch characterized the move as “pleading” with power users, further writing that it “only shows the severity of that struggle [with Instagram] as consumers hungrily…

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Don’t Fear Artificial Intelligence

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Originally posted on TIME:

Stephen Hawking, the pre-eminent physicist, recently warned that artificial intelligence (AI), once it sur­passes human intelligence, could pose a threat to the existence of human civilization. Elon Musk, the pioneer of digital money, private spaceflight and electric cars, has voiced similar concerns.

If AI becomes an existential threat, it won’t be the first one. Humanity was introduced to existential risk when I was a child sitting under my desk during the civil-­defense drills of the 1950s. Since then we have encountered comparable specters, like the possibility of a bioterrorist creating a new virus for which humankind has no defense. Technology has always been a double-edged sword, since fire kept us warm but also burned down our villages.

The typical dystopian futurist movie has one or two individuals or groups fighting for control of “the AI.” Or we see the AI battling the humans for world domination. But this is not…

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Five Factors that forcing every brand to become Media Company

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Information Technology growth has gone beyond all imagining in the last twenty years. Whether you call it a Moors law or it all started from mainframe computers,  now we are talking about wearable technology like the Apple iWatch and Google Glasses. More precisely, if we look back on hardware side, for the masses it was all triggered from the Apple Mac and then Compaq and Dell. Windows made it easy to operate computers, and on the software/Internet side I think it all started with Netscape and Yahoo, who made World Wide Web access a household commodity. Thereafter, Amazon, eBay, Google and now Facebook and Twitter are taking it to the next stage.

Anyway I am not writing this post to look into the history of technology growth but have discussed below how these changes have made businesses review their marketing and business development campaigns, or in other words why every business, from big FTSE 100s to start-ups to individual professionals, is becoming a media company regardless of the nature of their business, and forced to produce digital content in order to thrive in their area.

Surge in Mobile and Social Media Use means continuous content production

The main factor causing companies to produce content continuously is a surge in mobile and social media platforms, which means if businesses really want to reach their audience they have to produce social media and mobile friendly content, which should be more frequent, engaging and easily available than before, due to mobile and social network’s real time and community-driven framework.  Businesses cannot sit on one piece of content like the old days of TV advertising, print media and to a certain extent websites, and then apply techniques to promote them; rather, they should continuously produce more and more content so that they have their digital presence in the right time and right place for consumers.

And to substantiate my thoughts on how content is consumed these days, I have linked to the latest BuzzFeed analytics report, which shows the increasing influence of social media and mobile devices on content distribution and consumption. If we summarise, the main findings are that most referral traffic now comes from social media networks, more than Google, and is largely consumed on mobile devices. People are watching videos on channels like YouTube, and more on mobile devices than TV.

More Mobile and Social Media means 24*7 Content monitoring/Creation

Another side to the surge of social networks is that people talk 24*7 on any topic from all around the world, which means brands have to be vigilant in out of office ours to make sure their reputation remains intact.

For example recently Sainsbury’s charismas ad launched primarily for TV but also got over 14m views on YouTube with over 17k mentions across various networks from social media to blogs etc. The Guardian post alone initiated over 900 comments. The ad got traction because of its controversial content and attracted some criticism from analysts for its insensitivity to WW1 veterans, but the point here is that Sainsbury created an ad which become the talk of the whole world wide web, and then to manage reputation Sainsbury has to keep track of all the networks via comments and reviewing.

So for the company, work don’t stop at creating an ad and broadcasting it on telly, and then issuing a press release to deny any wrongdoing and pull the ad from television networks, because the ad is already out there on YouTube, people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds and embedded into online blogs. The work, in the form of producing more content to manage reputation, continues until the dust settles.

Product development too has become a media exercise

Product development now has become a public event. These days companies release beta versions as soon as they come out of their labs and in fact crowdfunding sites have taken this one level above, where businesses pitch their ideas to get funding and feedback, and it’s not limited to start-ups now, as recently Sony’s rumoured Smartwatch was cited on a crowd funding site to not only raise funds but get instant feedback from various interest groups. And we all know that putting a project on crowdfunding sites needs a substantial content production.

The days are gone where companies (with exception of Apple) used to develop their products behind closed doors and launch to consumers with a big hoo-ha. These days companies including electronic giants like Sony (and especially start-ups) usually come up with ideas and prototypes, create how to videos and graphics, get some focus group recommendations or release beta versions and ask their audience if they’d like to buy or endorse their upcoming products i.e. Product Development via Crowd-Sourcing means more Content Creation;

To Lure Potential Investors, Employees and Pre-Emptive Damage Control

One can argue that the above two examples belong to the retail sector, which is always prone to customer engagement, and the recent surge in social media and mobile platforms has obviously caused a natural progression and shift towards becoming a media company.

But, we can also look at hard-core enterprise businesses that have no direct engagement with consumers in their day-to-day operation, like Petrofac and BG Group. Both are oil exploration companies and they are not household names, but I was looking at their websites and social profiling and these companies are also working rigorously to build their digital footprint with their own Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn pages. Their analysts write rigorously on industry forums and become influencers on LinkedIn. The reason for their content creation is to attract the best talents from industry, and also pre-emptive damage control for things like oil spills, share price hiccups etc.

Entrepreneurs and Start-ups need Digital Footprint to Progress

digital footprintA digital footprint has become a prerequisite for any start-up or entrepreneur to take their proposition further, because from VCs to consumers, their continuous communication via various social networks is expected. This means you see start-ups and entrepreneurs continuously blogging, publishing articles on LinkedIn and their Facebook and Twitter feeds, engaging and broadcasting nonstop to ensure their noise is being heard and that they are noticed by the right people.

Moore’s Law And The 30-Year Rule

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Editor’s note:Paul Johnson is a co-founder of Uncommon Union.

Citations of Moore’s Law are growing exponentially. In fact the number of articles with some mention of the law, which has come to mean computing capacity doubles every 10 months, are accelerating. TechCrunch alone returns 220 pages of results. If you consider the comments, trackbacks, and social mentions, it is only a matter of time before the Internet is just one large recitation.

I tease. I don’t begrudge the technosphere’s fantasy of Law Giver. Readers of Plato still entertain the Philosopher King. I have heard that artists and other creative types regularly project visions of grand influence. The truth of Moore’s Law, which is hotly contested, is not important. Rather, how it has been interpolated — by means of its own interpolation — into so many other areas is what attracts my skepticism. The temptation of forecasting rapid growth…

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Facebook, Google, And Twitter’s War For App Install Ads

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_dropcap] An unexpected consequence of our love apps is that now there’s just too damn many of them. The app stores are overcrowded, leaving developers desperate for a way to get their games and utilities discovered. That is why the app install ad has become the lifeblood of the mobile platform business.[/tc_dropcap]

Big brands aren’t the only ones to suck up to anymore. No one buys a car or Coca-Cola on their phone, at least not yet, so proving the return on investment of mobile ads to these businesses is tough. There is one thing people will instantly plop down a few bucks for on the small screen, though: Apps.

Too Many App[tc_rr_related_video] [tc_rr_crunchbase]

Lured by billions in app install ad spend per quarter and hoping to grow that pie, Facebook, Twitter, and Google have stepped up. But to win those dollars, they have to buddy up to developers.

Facebook and Twitter really have…

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Twitter Guys take it all too seriously and may have lost the plot

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Twitter’s slow user growth is doing the rounds in every circle and subsequently share prices have slide down 20% plus in the last month, which has forced a sharp movement from the management team, where Dick Costolo led an investor analyst day (#TWTRAnalystDay) and come out with a product roadmap, that includes emphasising Direct Message (DM)  and increasing engagement with non-registered users. Also there are some changes in team. Kevin Weil has been given the product management role and CFO Anthony Noto becomes the new face of the company. In fact Noto has recently being involved in a DM gaffe where he is accidently disclosed an intention of buying a start-up.

If we go in more detail on how recent product updates work, first, Twitter has made available their archive via search i.e. a person doing a search on twitter can see all tweets since 2006. This update is targeted at non-registered users who usually arrive on Twitter via referral traffic to see results on a profile or hashtag. Second, to improve the direct message experience, the user can now DM any tweet just by tapping on tweet. This is to let people use a highly untapped feature of Twitter and try to leverage recent success of DMing apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

On expanding their business, there are always rumours of Twitter acquiring start-ups like SoundCloud, and recently a selfie app (backed up by) Bieber. Twitter is also talking about an app video feature; however they have a separate video app, Vine App with a considerable number of registered users. And under Adam Bain/Nathan Hubbard (ex Ticketmaster CEO) Twitter is trying to venture into Twitter commerce, where they are enabling some selective businesses to offer in app purchases of their products and services.

On the personnel front, they have a strong team of executives with a background of Google, Facebook and giants of the media industry like BBC, Fox and LiveNation.

I think on paper all look ideal to lead the company in whatever it can do to take their business to a stage where both shareholders and end users can enjoy the success of the product. However, sliding share prices and declining user growth may be forcing outsiders to think otherwise. So where exactly does the problem lie for a platform which host top personalities and celebrities from the Pope to the Clintons to Cristiano Ronaldo to Justin Bieber, and has become the rage since the 2009 Obama election?

I think, the problem is that Twitter has taken themselves too seriously. That may sound funny for a company listed on NASDAQ ($TWTR) but let’s not forget Twitter was launched on the back of mobile text messaging  limitations and was intend to enable us to send messages on an open platform with ease. Thereafter, they have opened up their technology, which triggered the development of apps like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and many more, which not only enhanced product features by introducing entities like @, #, RT and @reply, but also took the popularity of this product to another level.

And when the guys at the helm realised that this was a very engaging product, what they did was clip the developers’ wings and brought people from Google and Facebook to recreate the magic, and that’s where the problem is, because Twitter is not another Facebook or Google; it is unique, and is perhaps the first crowd-sourcing social network product with a cult developers’ following.

Looking at the success of Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Bluefin Lab, DataSift, GNIP and many more tools, I think in order to seriously monetize their service, Twitter has to take unique approach and maybe hand back power to developers/hackers, and should take a role of technology facilitator. For example, if Twitter continues their focus on speeding up in app features like payment, multimedia DM, in app video & audio and lets developers create products, then it would be far more of a success story than it is now.

If I didn’t make myself clear above, what I am trying to say is that the amount of success or creative satisfaction third party apps have enjoyed at the back of Twitter technology could not possibly have been achieved on any of other platform, including Facebook and LinkedIn.  And what Twitter must continue to do is to encourage developers to take more risk and come up with more innovative products. That would means that their business model is more based on Apple (App Store) than Google and Facebook (Display Advertising), which is an unique model for a data or information hosting company, but don’t forget  Twitter is a unique product.

Overall, what is making me nervous is that this platform is a by-product of crowdsourcing and now a group is trying to control its monetisation, which may be too much and too serious an approach for a product which is uniquely poised to serve various sections, topics, demographics and geographies of societies, and covers topics from the Football/Soccer World Cup to the Arab Spring.

And, I would like to finish on a positive note, that we all agree this is great product and those who use this platform know the power of 140 characters. Personally, I have managed to engage many journalists, VCs, CEOs, and celebrities and have made valuable contacts, which I could not have dreamed of in the pre-Twitter era, and with my aspirational entrepreneurial hat on, I am also trying to build a purely Twitter-based commerce tool, Tweepforce, which I think can really capture people’s intent and convert that to sales. I hope that we all prevail in what I see as keeping alive one of the most liberating platforms ever introduced in the post dot com era.