Gillmor Gang: Days Go By

You may ask yourself, say the Talking Heads. What is this thing working from anywhere? Or as Google says, work from right here in the office. As the vaccines roll on out, some of us are just not ready for returning to normal. On this edition of the Gillmor Gang, the office is a state of mind, served up by Zoom and Clubhouse. It sounds like Clownhouse, with unlimited fungible bozos on the menu.

Surely we are binged out, election recalled, floating in a vat of VC alphabet soup. SPACs are everywhere and nowhere, water cooled conversations masquerading as big ticket conferences, right wing looneys seeking blanket pardons. And we’re applying for permission to stay home in our digital workshops? Yes, it will probably work for a hot second, but when will the research measure what has really changed. After a year of living a nightmare, some of us are ready for anything but the rest of our lives.

The other day on Clubhouse, they celebrated the life and times of Hal Willner, a record producer extraordinaire who died suddenly of COVID at 64. My Gang colleague Michael Markman sent me a Clubhouse notification suggesting I might want to listen in, and I did. I knew Hal a little bit, worked with him on several of his projects, and made the mistake we all make too often of assuming he or she would be around for the duration. So I clicked on the link and found myself in a room full of people who knew him a whole lot better. It was cathartic to hear them try and describe the guy, his life’s work, his day job at Saturday Night Live, and his magical series of projects pairing the strangest combinations of artists you could not even imagine. But he did.

So when we start to figure out this new world we’ve been propelled into, the normal we are fashioning out of the hints the virus has left us about what’s important, we all knew Willner and the mischievous glint in his eye just enough to wish for just a little more help in the now. His friends were on surer footing in this crazy clubhouse, chiming in from literally all over the world. Some saw him as a mentor, others as a collaborator, me with the twinge of regret for not being remotely brave enough to appreciate the brief window into this gentle giant for the luck of the encounter. I knew he was special, I knew it didn’t matter how or why we all got there at some time, and here was Clubhouse serving up a human experience only possible because people like Hal seized these moments of the days going by.

Yet it’s easy to say these new constructs are built like a house of cards, that the hype will fade, the economics atrophy, the big get bigger. It may all be true, but what part of the really big idea Clubhouse or Medium or Substack is truly vulnerable? There is where it becomes political posturing as much as anything. Just because the current or pivoted business model is suspect doesn’t mean success isn’t lurking just around the corner. If the world is suddenly toxic, does that preclude the idea that adjusting to the emergency can produce new realities that can improve on the nature of conventional reality?

Take Medium for a second. The writing platform announced a blogging flashback, blogrolls, as a new feature to amplify signals of affection for favorite authors. The Medium analytics are harnessed to project an organically-updating list of favorite follows informed by recent updates by the authors. For the readers, this is a convenient hybrid of social and feeds; for the writers an incentive to gain timely traction in the community of what on Twitter we call the social cloud. It is simple in execution but deep in purpose, as it encourages you to post to Medium. The platform has recently pivoted away from funding original content after pivoting away from eyeball-driven advertising, but this new feature could be a way of letting the existing architecture fund the growth of strategic analytics. The more you deliver signal to the follow notification stream, the more you prime the pump of handclaps and time to click metrics, which increases the strength of the blogroll signal and so it goes.

You may ask yourself, what does this have to do with working from anywhere? Well, the idea you can nurture a self-healing community of co-workers through digital technologies is right at the top of the list of things we want to do to bolster the new economy. While audio is seen as subtractive from video, it is additive in terms of broadening the user base beyond so-called creators to the so-called doers, the folks who move the products and services from place to place. It’s radio, a companion stream of news, music, soap box, ideas, alerts, reminders, and coffee breaks that fuels the day and lights the night. It’s digital mom and pop.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 26, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Sendbird raises $100M at a $1B+ valuation, says 150M+ users now interact using its chat and video APIs

Messaging is the medium these days, and today a startup that has built an API to help others build text and video interactivity into their services is announcing a big round to continue scaling its business. Sendbird, a popular provider of chat, video and other interactive services to the likes of Reddit, Hinge, Paytm, Delivery Hero and hundreds of others by way of a few lines of code, has closed a round of $100 million, money that it plans to use to continue expanding the functionalities of its platform to meet our changing interactive times. Sendbird has confirmed that the funding values the company at $1.05 billion.

Today, customers collectively channel some 150 million users through Sendbird’s APIs to chat with each other and large groups of users over text and video, a figure that has seen a lot of growth in particular in the last year, where people were spending so much more time in front of screens as their primary interface to communicate with the world.

Sendbird already provides some services around that core functionality such as moderation and text search. John Kim, Sendbird’s CEO and founder, said that additional developments like moderation has seen a huge take-up, and services it plans to add into the mix include payments and logistics features, and that it is looking at adding in group audio conversations for customers to build their own Clubhouse clones.

“We are getting enquiries,” said Kim. “We will be setting it up in a personalized way. Voice chat has certainly picked up due to Clubhouse.”

The funding — oversubscribed, the company says — is being led by Steadfast Financial, with Softbank’s Vision Fund 2 also participating, along with previous backers ICONIQ Capital, Tiger Global Management, and Meritech Capital. It comes about two years after Sendbird closed its Series B at $102 million, and the startup appears to have nearly doubled its valuation since then: PitchBook estimates it was around $550 million in 2019.

That growth, in a sense, is not a surprise, given not just the climate right now for virtual interaction, but the fact that Sendbird itself has tripled the number of customers using its tools since 2019. The company, co-headquartered in Seoul, Korea and San Mateo, has now raised around $221 million.

The market that Sendbird has been pecking away at since being founded in 2013 is a hefty one.

Messaging apps have become a major digital force, with a small handful of companies overtaking (and taking on) the primary features found on the most basic of phones and finding traction with people by making them easier to use and full of more interesting features to use alongside the basic functionality. That in turn has led a wave of other companies to build in their own communications features, a way both to provide more community for their users, and to keep people on their own platforms in the process.

“It’s an arms race going on between messaging and payment apps,” Sid Suri, Sendbird’s marketing head, said to me in describing the competitive landscape. “There is a high degree of urgency among all businesses to say we don’t have to lose users to any of them. White label services like ours are powering the ability to keep up.”

Sendbird is indeed one of a wave of companies that have identified both that trend and the opportunity of building that functionality out as a commodity of sorts that can be embedded anywhere a developer chooses to place it by way of an API. It’s not the only one: others in the same space include publicly-listed Twilio, the similarly-named competitor MessageBird (which is also highly capitalised and has positioned itself as a consolidator in the space), PubNub, Sinch, Stream, Firebase and many more.

That competition is one reason why Sendbird has raised money. It gives it more capital to bring on more users, and critically to invest in building out more functionality alongside its core features, to address the needs of its existing users, and to discover new opportunities to provide them with features they perhaps didn’t know they needed in their messaging channels to keep users’ attention.

“We are doing a lot around transactions and payments, as well as logistics,” Kim said in an interview. “We are really building out the end to end experience [since that] really ties into engagement. A couple of new features will be heavily around transactions, and others will be around more engagement.”

Karan Mehandru, a partner at Steadfast, is joining the board with this round, and he believes that there remains a huge opportunity especially when you consider the many verticals that have yet to adopt solid and useful communications channels within their services, such as healthcare.

“The channel that Sendbird is leveraging is the next channel we have come to expect from all brands,” he said in an interview. “Sendbird may look the same as others but if you peel the onion, providing a scalable chat experience that is highly customized is a real problem to solve. Large customers think this is critical but not a core competence and then zoom back to Sendbird because they can’t do it. Sendbird is a clear leader. Sendbird is permeating many verticals and types of companies now. This is one of those rare companies that has been at the right place at the right time.”

#apis, #chat, #clubhouse, #developer, #enterprise, #messaging, #sendbird, #social, #tc, #video, #voice


Gillmor Gang: ZoomHouse

I use Feedly to work my way through each day’s stream of politics, tech, and media stories. Today, I am greeted with a picture of something called Feedly Cloud and the following message:

Scheduled Maintenance Feedly will be back in less than 30 minutes.

60 minutes later, it still says that. Feedly is built on RSS aggregation of my favorite news sources, things like the New York Times, Washington Post, Techcrunch, Protocol, Deadline, Techmeme, and writers like Om Malik and Benedict Evans. Notice that very few newsletter authors make this list, mostly because they push via email. I wonder if that is because vendors like Substack and Revue want to promote their subscription model, but if so that is shortsighted. It’s not about the subscription, it’s about the relationship.

I pay a monthly fee to Feedly, and I get a piece of the Web I can call my own. If I see something I want to find later, I put it in the read later “folder.” If I think I might want to refer to it in the newsletter, I push it to a Feedly board that I can import into Revue along the right side of the screen. If I want to push a story live to the Telegram stream, I drop it on a board where a series of bots posts it to a chain of locations ending with the @gillmorgang Twitter identity. If I click the Feedly icon, it’s now less than 90 minutes ’til Feedly won’t be back.

Luckily, Revue has a section in the right screen list called My Items, where I’ve added a link to a Rolling Stone story with the following title:

Hear How Beck Turned Paul McCartney’s ‘Find My Way’ Into a Funky Dance Number

Rolling Stone has gone to a partial firewall model with a subscribe button, but kindly leaves access to the Vevo promo video embedded on the Gillmor Gang newsletter link below. Someone on the YouTube page has posted part of the Rolling Stonewalled text Wikipedia-style in the comments section, copied below (Beck speaking:)

I remember hanging out with Paul and his wife Nancy several years ago and Nancy mentioned that she wanted to go out dancing before calling it a night. We ended up at some club in West Hollywood and I remember noticing that Paul and Nancy were TEARING IT UP – really enjoying themselves more than anyone else on the dance floor. Last year when he asked me to remix this track, I remembered that night and wanted to try to recapture that amazing spirit I felt while watching him on the dance floor…sort of my little tribute to Paul “in his groove.” When I then heard the falsetto vocal in Paul’s original track I wanted to lean further into something really loose and funky – I pulled out my Hofner (because of course) and put down a few bass lines…and everything came to life from there. The best part of the entire experience, though, came a week after I’d turned in the remix, when Paul called to tell me he’d been dancing in his kitchen to the track all week.

The track runs 4:56, so a few clicks later I’m probably down to 80 minutes to go.

Maybe this is a more serious problem, I begin to suspect. Is there a business model problem here? McCartney is getting paid. Beck is getting paid. Steely Dan is not getting paid for that wonderful chord, the one where the keyboard stretches out to the horizon and meets the rhythm track. I’m getting paid, too. Click it again, go ahead.

I went back to the original version of this song, a record called McCartney III which the artist has written, played all the instruments, and recorded track by track during the pandemic. It’s fun, reminiscent of the original McCartney I he released to break up the Beatles in 1970. But this reimagining with Beck I like a whole lot better. Paul may have been the cute one, but he always glowed in resonance with John Lennon. “It’s getting better all the time… Can’t get much worse.” Beck doesn’t have the Lennon mordant wit, but he brings a sardonic edge that works in this vaccinated time.

As Joe Biden joked in his press conference the other day about his predecessor, “Oh God, I miss him.” Not really. We’re reimagining how to get back to work from everywhere, and I bet the answer is a lot more like life + than hybrid. On this episode of the Gillmor Gang, Denis Pombriant uses Zoom’s Stop Video button to great effect to opt out of more Fungible talk, non or otherwise. Now you see him, now you don’t. But he can hear you. It’s Zoom’s new Instant Clubhouse effect. Clap on, clap off. Somehow I doubt we’re eager to give that up as a collaboration tool going forward. Clap back on.

Just then, Feedly came back to life.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 26, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Instagram officially launches Remix on Reels, a TikTok Duets-like feature

Instagram today is officially launching a new feature called Remix, which offers a way to record your Reels video alongside a video from another user. The option is similar to TikTok’s existing Duets feature, which also lets users to react to or interact with another person’s video content while creating their own. Instagram’s new feature has been in public testing before today, so some Instagram users may have already gained access.

We recently reported on Instagram’s plans with Remix, when noting that Snapchat was developing a Remix feature of its own. In fact, Snapchat is also using the name “Remix” for its TikTok Duets rival that’s currently in development.

On TikTok, Duets are a key part to making the app feel more like a social network and less of just a passive video-watching experience. Users take advantage of Duets to sing, dance, joke or act alongside another user’s video. They will do things like cook someone else’s recipe, record a reaction video, or even just watch a video from a smaller creator to give them a boost.

Meanwhile, TikTok competitors — like Instagram Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight or YouTube’s Shorts, for example — have launched their short-form video experiences without a full set of engagement or editing features like TikTok has, making their apps feel like pale knock-offs of the original. Remix on Reels is a first step towards changing that perception, by giving users at least one important option to engage and collaborate with their fellow creatives.

To use the new Remix feature, you’ll first tap on the three-dot menu on a Reel and select the new “Remix this Reel” option. The screen will then split into the original Reel and your own new one, where you can begin to record side-by-side with the original. When you’ve finished, you can tweak other aspects of the recording like the volume of the original video or your audio and you can optionally add a voiceover. After applying these or any other edits, you can publish the Remix.

The feature will only be available on newly uploaded Reels — so unfortunately, if you want your older Reels to be duetted, you’ll need to reupload them, it seems.

Image Credits: Instagram

Your Remixes will appear alongside any other Reels you’ve recorded on the Reels tab on your Instagram profile, and you’ll be able to track who has remixed your content through Instagram’s Activity tab.

The feature is rolling out, starting today, says Instagram.

#apps, #duets, #facebook, #instagram, #mobile-applications, #reel, #reels, #social, #social-media, #social-network, #tiktok, #video


Snapchat is developing its own take on TikTok Duets with a new ‘Remix’ feature

One of the challenges that some would-be TikTok rivals have faced is that they often lack the same robust set of content creation tools, like filters, effects, and tools for repurposing others’ content — like TikTok’s Stitch and Duet, for example. It now appears that Snapchat is working to correct that latter problem, however, as it’s been spotted working on a TikTok Duets-like feature called “Remix,” designed for replying to Snaps. This feature will allow users to create new content using their friends’ Snaps — a “remix,” that is.

Initially, the feature will allow users to reply a friend’s story with a remixed Snap. To do so, you can record your own Snap alongside the original as it plays — much like a TikTok Duet.

The feature, which Snap confirms has launched into external testing, follows Instagram’s public test of a similarly named “Remix” feature focused on Reels content. (It had also tested a version for Stories as a first step.)

In Instagram’s case, the company explains that Remix lets anyone create an Instagram Reel where your video and theirs play side-by-side. This is, essentially, Instagram’s own version of TikTok Duets, a tool that’s often used to interact with other TikTok users’ content. In Duets, TikTok users can sing, dance, joke or act alongside another user’s video; cook someone else’s recipe; record reaction videos; boost videos from lesser-known creators; and more. It’s a core part of what makes TikTok feel like a social network, rather than just a platform for more passive video viewing.

Last fall, TikTok announced it was introducing several new layout options for Duets in addition to the left-right layout, including a new top-bottom layout, a special “react” layout, and a three-screen layout.

Some of those same Duet formats and others now appear to be under consideration by Snap, as well.

In its Remix feature, Snapchat users are presented with a screen where they can choose from a variety of options for combining Snaps — including the side-by-side and top-and-bottom formats, as well as others like where content is overlaid or where you could react to a Snap.

Image Credits: Photo of Snapchat’s Remix feature via @alex193a on Twitter

According to reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who first spotted the addition, Remix also offers a way for users to tag friends or other people they want to have permission to either remix or share their Snap via a new toggle switch.

It appears that users will be able to access the “Remix” feature from the same menu where you can today either report” a Snap or send it to others.

This menu, of course, is also available from within Snapchat’s new TikTok competitor, known as Spotlight, launched last year.

Though initially, Remix is being tested among friends, we understand that it’s expected to make its way to other parts of the Snapchat app in time. And likely, this would include Spotlight. Much like TikTok, Spotlight offers a video feed filled with short-form, entertaining videos that you can scroll through with up and down swipes, often set to popular music — thanks to Snap’s music industry deals. This would be a natural fit for Remixes, as it’s a common way for users to interact with each others’ content to create a dialog.

Image Credits: Photo of Snapchat’s Remix feature via @alex193a on Twitter (opens in a new window)

Snap confirmed with TechCrunch it’s beginning to test Remix on its app.

“I can confirm that externally we are testing the ability to reply to a friend’s story with a remixed Snap,” a spokesperson said. “It lets you build on your friend’s Snap while recording your own alongside the original as it plays for contextual conversations on Snapchat,” they noted.

The company didn’t offer an ETA for a broader rollout at this time.

#apps, #creators, #remix, #snap, #snap-inc, #snapchat, #social, #social-media, #social-network, #spotlight, #tiktok, #video


Gillmor Gang: Grifters Paradise

The other day, I attended a celebration of one of the pioneers of collaboration technology, Ray Ozzie. The father of Lotus Notes, Ozzie left Lotus and his startup firm Iris after a hostile takeover by IBM, and eventually joined Microsoft when that company acquired his next startup, Groove. By “attended” I mean a virtual event put on by the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. Ray’s peers and partners gathered in a Zoom chat, with a tour of Ray’s early days including amazing hardware like a touchscreen based enterprise chat system called Plato, and these strange things called floppy disks with the earliest source code for DOS and other prehistoric things called operating systems.

At Microsoft, Ray soon became one of several CTOs, and eventually took the role of Chief Software Architect as he helped midwife the company’s move toward the Web and away from its dominant Office suite. Politically, he faced the twin power centers in Redmond: Office and Windows, the latter of which has receded in strategic importance as mobile technologies like iOS and Android took over in the wake of Apple’s iPhone success. But there’s no doubt that Ray’s elevation allowed Bill Gates, who spoke movingly about Ray at the CHM, to pivot to focus with his wife on the philanthropy role at their Foundation. Talk about just in time, as Bill’s voice in the battle against the pandemic has often been a trusted beacon of hope and science in a sea of denial, misinformation, and well, you know the rest.

In his gracious speech, Ray mentioned Gates, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, and a name less well known to many, Dave Winer. I’m not positive why Dave was called out, but I’m sure it had something to do with Winer’s work championing the development of blogging, RSS, and its attachment extensions that birthed podcasting. In today’s climate of media streaming, newsletters, and live conversation-casting a la Clubhouse, surviving the pandemic means marshaling our tools to work and live more deeply and richly from anywhere. Talk about just in time.

Clubhouse is under attack in the Twitterverse, with some suggesting it’s just another outlet for the noise of social media, or a business idea destined for landfill in the wake of the next shiny object. Clubhouse counterattacked with another overflow megasession from Facebook’s Zuckerberg and the CEOs of Spotify and Shopify. The messaging app Telegram pushed a voice chat 2.0 release with tools for inviting speakers, listeners, raising your hand to speak, and recording built in. The stampede continues, but to what end? Like NFTs, a grifters’ paradise?

Perhaps we’re experiencing a massive multiplayer game where collaborative innovations are being combined and redefined on the fly. One Clubhouse session materialized with one of the big thinkers in mobile, Benedict Evans. After several years as an analyst at Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) , he’s moved back to London and gone paid newsletter with some of his 150,000 plus subscribers to his weekly free version. Struggling as I am with rising subscription costs, I’ve been making do with waiting for some of his firewalled essays to play off in the free version. But here was a session with Benedict and another former A16Z analyst focused on NFTs and crypto, Morgan Beller.

The talk was at a torrid clip, but meta across both the upside possibilities and the context of earlier innovations that seemed heavy on the gamble but paid off. This was vintage Evans in a casual setting where he gave me a ton of signal, bouncing off an analyst I immediately followed after ten minutes or so, adding her to a notification stream the next time she joined in. At one point, the moderator pinged me to invite me to join in, but thankfully I chose the “maybe later” option so I could go back to desperately trying to keep up with the flow. Maybe later when I actually know something by learning from people who live and breathe this stuff. I can’t even be sure what fungible means so far.

It was not your average big ticket press conference; it was access to people steeped in their interests and willing to be measured against the astuteness of their observations. The social following tools ostensibly produce more effective notifications based on providing interruptions the listener is willing to accept. The size of the crowd is manageable (50 -100) and drafts off the characteristics of not just who is on stage but who’s listening and in what combinations. It’s a mixture (I hope) of follows plus percentage of successful clicks on targeted notifications.

This all feels like a mashup of collaborative platforms, menu items in a new operating system where ideas and tactics are tested transparently in the open. Remember our former president, who famously laundered the unthinkable in public as a way of commanding the conversation. The alphabet soup of NFTs and SPACs is difficult to separate from MLMs and such of previous eras, but eventually we’ll figure out what’s real. A good place to start is in the trenches with practitioners of this new arts yakking it up on the new media channels.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 19, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Zoom introduces new SDK to help developers tap into video services

One clear sign of a maturing platform is when the company exposes the services it uses for its own tools to other developers. Zoom has been doing that for some time introducing Zoom Apps last year and the Marketplace to distribute and sell these apps. Today, the company introduced a new SDK (software development kit) to help developers embed Zoom video services inside another application.

“Our Video SDK enables developers to leverage Zoom’s industry-leading HD video, audio, and interactive features to build video-based applications and desktop experiences with native user interfaces,” Zoom’s Natalie Mullin wrote in a blog post announcing the new SDK.

If you want to include video in your app, you could try and code it yourself, or you could simply take advantage of Zoom’s expertise in this area and use the SDK to add video to the application and save a lot of time and effort.

The company envisions applications developers embedding video in social, gaming or retail applications where including video could enhance the user experience. For example, a shop owner could show different outfits to an online shopper in a live video feed, and discuss their tastes in real time.

Zoom CTO Brendan Ittelson said the SDK is actually part of a broader set of services designed to help developers take advantage of all the developer tooling that the company has been developing in recent years. As part of that push, the company is also announcing a central developer portal.

“We want to be able to have a single point where developers can go to to learn about all of the tools and resources that are available for them in the Zoom platform for their work in development, so we’re launching as that central hub for all developer resources,” Ittelson told me.

In addition, the company said that it wanted to give developers more data about how people are using the Zoom features in their applications, so they will be providing a new analytics dashboard with usage statistics.

“We are adding additional tools and actually providing developers with analytic dashboards. So folks that have developed apps for the Zoom ecosystem are able to see information about the usage of those apps across the platform,” Ittelson said.

He believes these tools combined with the new video SDK and existing set of tools will provide developers with a variety of options for building Zoom functionality into their applications, or embedding their application into Zoom as they see fit.

#cloud, #developer, #developer-tools, #saas, #sdks, #tc, #video, #zoom


Deep science: AI is in the air, water, soil and steel

Research papers come out far too rapidly for anyone to read them all, especially in the field of machine learning, which now affects (and produces papers in) practically every industry and company. This column aims to collect some of the most relevant recent discoveries and papers — particularly in but not limited to artificial intelligence — and explain why they matter.

This week brings a few unusual applications of or developments in machine learning, as well as a particularly unusual rejection of the method for pandemic-related analysis.

One hardly expects to find machine learning in the domain of government regulation, if only because one assumes federal regulators are hopelessly behind the times when it comes to this sort of thing. So it may surprise you that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has partnered with researchers at Stanford to algorithmically root out violators of environmental rules.

When you see the scope of the issue, it makes sense. EPA authorities need to process millions of permits and observations pertaining to Clean Water Act compliance, things such as self-reported amounts of pollutants from various industries and independent reports from labs and field teams. The Stanford-designed process sorted through these to isolate patterns like which types of plants, in which areas, were most likely to affect which demographics. For instance, wastewater treatment in urban peripheries may tend to underreport pollution and put communities of color at risk.

The very process of reducing the compliance question to something that can be computationally parsed and compared helped clarify the agency’s priorities, showing that while the technique could identify more permit holders with small violations, it may draw attention away from general permit types that act as a fig leaf for multiple large violators.

Another large source of waste and expense is processing scrap metal. Tons of it goes through sorting and recycling centers, where the work is still mostly done by humans, and as you might imagine, it’s a dangerous and dull job. Eversteel is a startup out of the University of Tokyo that aims to automate the process so that a large proportion of the work can be done before human workers even step in.

Image of scrap metal with AI-detected labels for various kinds of items overlaid.

Image Credits: Eversteel

Eversteel uses a computer vision system to classify incoming scrap into nearly two dozen categories, and to flag impure (i.e., an unrecyclable alloy) or anomalous items for removal. It’s still at an early stage, but the industry isn’t going anywhere, and the lack of any large data set for training their models (they had to make their own, informed by steelworkers and imagery) showed Eversteel that this was indeed virgin territory for AI. With luck, they’ll be able to commercialize their system and attract the funding they need to break into this large but tech-starved industry.

Another unusual but potentially helpful application of computer vision is in soil monitoring, a task every farmer has to do regularly to monitor water and nutrient levels. When they do manage to automate it, it’s done in a rather heavy-handed way. A team from the University of South Australia and Middle Technical University in Baghdad show that the sensors, hardware and thermal cameras used now may be overkill.

Buckets of soil shown under various lights.

Image Credits: UNISA/Middle Technical University

Surprisingly, their answer is a standard RGB digital camera, which analyzes the color of the soil to estimate moisture. “We tested it at different distances, times and illumination levels, and the system was very accurate,” said Ali Al-Naji, one of the creators. It could (and is planned to) be used to make a cheap but effective smart irrigation system that could improve crop yield for those who can’t afford industry-standard systems.

#artificial-intelligence, #cognitive-science, #deepfakes, #ec-food-climate-and-sustainability, #health, #machine-learning, #science, #smart-speaker, #tc, #ultrasound, #video


Gillmor Gang: Clubhouse Style

Let’s stipulate the storm of user media (social audio, newsletters, live streaming) is evidence of something real and lasting. When this citizen media migrates to small business and the enterprise, we see that as confirmation, validation. Most of these efforts are in the investment phase, where startups and platforms consolidate ecosystems around the various disruptions.

Clubhouse is moving to a more careful onboarding process that eschews mandatory gobbling of your contacts data and your phone number as a requirement for invitations. Twitter is surprisingly far along on integrating a suite of pilot projects — its Clubhouse clone Spaces, the Revue newsletter creation and distribution tool, and whatever happens to the Periscope live video streaming services the company has abandoned as a standalone.

As the smoke clears, what emerges is a hybrid of work from anywhere and post-pandemic digital collaboration solutions. At the top of the stack, social audio delivers some real leadership in the casual way it captures user attention. While commuting listening is proscribed for at least the next quarter, exercise and mental health breaks pick up a lot of that deficit. Some of the resulting content is appointment focused, keynote events with industry leaders and celebrities. Smaller sessions are organized around self- and group-help concerns, and the usual assortment of get-rich schemes. Much of this competes directly with cable news and podcasts, and will likely absorb the older networks into the new paradigm over time.

You can see this at play in the streaming realignment, where cable-cutting is driving us toward broadband-based consumption of so-called linear television programming. Last night, we ended up switching from Comcast’s video access to CBS’s Grammy coverage in favor of IP streaming via the CBS All Access app (now renamed Paramount +.) The Comcast CBS channel was full of glitches and pixillation; the streaming version rock solid with what seemed like better video and audio quality. On the appointment television side of the equation, old-style network shows like This Is Us and Grey’s Anatomy are finding it more difficult to compete with Netflix, Prime, and other streaming originals. And then there are the kids, who refuse to even recognize anything they can’t stream as relevant.

Moving down the stack from streaming audio (I like that better than social audio as a thing) to the newsletter services, we discover what happens when fragmentation of the media produces too much content and not enough loyalty to a manageable number of suppliers. That loyalty thing is perhaps the new eyeballs, where the stickiness of the relationship is much more desirable for its ongoing lifetime value. Newsletters at their inception were aggregators built to skim the cream of relevant media, in effect replacing the home page and adding a social layer of authority. Now the glut has moved from posts and podcasts to the newsletters themselves.

To differentiate and encourage paid subscriptions, creators are now being wined and dined with tools for managing these microapp sites and competing with magazines and publishers for marquee authors. Newsletter stars start appearing on streaming audio in much the same way that Washington Post and New York Times reporters populate the CNN and MSNBC roundtables. Newsletter’s role as a blend of must reads is shifting to original material and a marketing channel for influence with the streaming audio communities. Twitter’s Revue newsletter tool already lets you drag and drop tweets into the latest issue. It seems a small tweak to use the newsletter as a calendar for upcoming Spaces notifications of events. The company has announced plans for Super Followers who can produce and receive subscribed content via this path between the platform and satellite services.

Twitter hasn’t been Super Clear on how or what video services they will maintain after they sunset Periscope, but closing the loop between streaming audio and on demand video programming gives Twitter a powerful advantage over services like Clubhouse that have fewer pieces of the puzzle. On the other hand, Twitter has to demonstrate newfound ability to launch and integrate the pieces to stay competitive with competitors both visible and in stealth. They include Facebook, Amazon and its growing ad platform, and streaming “Plus” services at a time where subscribers are dropping subscriptions to add new offerings from Disney, Apple, HBO Max, Paramount, and the cheaper free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) networks like Peacock and Hulu.

Working from anywhere is accelerating the streaming media transition. News becomes a notification-driven stream to dip in and out of as the vaccines begin to take hold. Work promotes attention and care of our values, while home brings a time of relearning how to breathe, treasuring our family and friends, and putting time into exploring things we have been fighting to keep alive: the rhythms of history, genealogy, climate change, the possibility that government can work for a change. As our anxiety moderates, we can dip into music, movies, sports, and other expressive uses of the powerful network we turned on to survive. Turn on, tune in, stay home.

Streaming audio can work for marketing, learning, sharing, and monetizing. It can also work for extending our collaboration with music, painting, storytelling, a kind of virtual comedy club, book club, and debating society. I can imagine the return of liner notes to the music experience, a kind of Prairie Home Companion writ small. The Grammys last night were awkward, strained by the exigencies of the virus. But the performances were bunched together, with the wonderful touch of the group of artists sitting on stools campfire-style after their song to listen and rock to the music of their fellow nominees. Clubhouse style.

We’re on the cusp of a powerful change in the way we live and work. Not just out of necessity but of a desire to fulfill the promise of global communication. We’ve laid the tracks of this new age of collaboration. Now we have to figure out what to do with it.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 12, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


YouTube’s TikTok rival, YouTube Shorts, arrives in the US

YouTube Shorts, the company’s short-form video experience and TikTok rival, is launching today in the U.S. The feature allows creators to record, edit and share short-form video content that’s 60 seconds or less in length, optionally set to popular music. At launch, YouTube has deals with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Warner Chappell Music, Believe, Merlin, 300 Entertainment, Kobalt, Beggars, CD Baby, Empire, Peer, Reservoir, OneRPM and others.

Globally, YouTube has agreements with over 250 publishers and labels for use in the Shorts product, it says.

The YouTube Shorts product itself was first introduced in September and has been beta testing in India over the past several months, where it has since seen adoption triple.

Though you may have already encountered the YouTube Shorts “shelf” on the YouTube homepage, the ability to create YouTube Shorts videos was not live in the U.S. until today.

The experience of filming content for YouTube Shorts is very much like TikTok.

Creators have access to tools stop and start recording short video segments with a tap, much like the leading short-form app. They can also select the video’s backing music or sound and utilize a small handful of in-app editing features. At launch, these include speed controls to slow or speed the audio, a countdown timer, text timing capabilities to make text appear on the screen at certain times and, soon after launch, color adjustment filters.

Image Credits: YouTube

But while YouTube Shorts has a clever tool that lets you select the part of the song you want to use in your video, it’s lacking the more intelligent automatic sound-syncing feature that makes TikTok so accessible for beginners. YouTube’s product also at launch lacks a large catalog of special effects — like the AR features or green-screen options found on TikTok. Instead, like Instagram Reels, the initial goal with Shorts is to simply lower the barrier to entry for users who want to create and publish short-form video content on an existing social platform.

On the viewer’s side, the TikTok comparisons are even more obvious.

Currently, the experience can be launched via the YouTube Shorts shelf on the YouTube homepage, which has already been live in some markets, and, soon, from a dedicated Shorts tab in the YouTube mobile app.

Image Credits: YouTube

Once launched, you’ll be taken to a familiar full-screen vertical video experience where you can double-tap to like a video, tap into the comments or share the video with others. You can also subscribe to the creators’ YouTube channel from Shorts, if you find their content interesting.

You can also tap on hashtags in YouTube Shorts that will take you to a page with other videos using the same hashtag. (This, to be clear, is separate from the other YouTube hashtag pages announced recently, which will host both longer-form and short-form content.)

Image Credits: YouTube

Also like TikTok, you can tap on the music icon — in YouTube Shorts, a square icon, not a spinning record as on TikTok — to be taken to a page featuring that same sound. Here, you’ll find all the other Shorts using that sound and have the option to do the same.

Image Credits: YouTube

This “sound” could be a clip from a popular song, original audio or what YouTube calls “remixed” content. The latter refers to how Shorts creators can sample from other Shorts videos to make their own sounds. And, in the months to come, the company will expand this remixing capability across YouTube’s billions of longer-form videos. YouTube creators can choose to opt out of having their original audio remixed for Shorts’ clips, but by doing so they may limit themselves from finding a new audience.

YouTube suggests creators could remix videos to show themselves reacting to their favorite jokes, trying a YouTuber’s recipe or re-enacting a comedic skit, among other things.

Image Credits: YouTube

Since its launch in India, the YouTube Shorts player has passed 6.5 billion daily views globally. However, YouTube wouldn’t say how many creators had adopted the product, nor how many Shorts videos have been produced. But the Indian market is not representative of how Shorts may fare in the U.S. because the country banned TikTok last year, helping to boost other short-form video apps as a result.

YouTube, of course, isn’t the first social platform to copy TikTok. Instagram and Snapchat have done the same with Reels and Spotlight, respectively. But in YouTube’s case, it’s even more critical to offer support for short-form video to stay relevant in a market where TikTok has become one of the most downloaded mobile apps and a preferred tool for watching video content on mobile devices.

“I think Shorts and short-form video has come to feel like a natural progression for YouTube,” noted YouTube’s Todd Sherman, the product lead for YouTube Shorts. “We’re the original user generated video platform. And that was really based around video that’s created on the desktop — digital cameras, desktop computers and video editing software. Now, we’re really keen to take a step forward into this new world of video that’s really native to the phone,” he says. “And it’s really important that we build this in partnership with the creator community…and for that matter, even more broadly, the same goes for viewers and our partners in the music industry,” Sherman adds.

The YouTube Shorts product is still considered a beta, as YouTube expects to iterate on the Shorts experience over time, and respond to user feedback as it develops new features.

Longer-term, YouTube believes Shorts will differentiate itself from others on the market by way of its connection to the larger YouTube platform.

“There’s a two-way door here where we’re building a short-form video ecosystem,” explains Sherman. “You can take a step forward into YouTube or even YouTube Music in the foreseeable future. And then from YouTube, you could also initiate creation into Shorts. That bridging of ecosystems, I think is an important part of this,” he adds.

So far, however, TikTok rivals have often seen creators simply repurposing their TikTok videos for use on other platforms — not developing original content for each of the three: TikTok, Reels and Spotlight.

YouTube Shorts’ video creation tools will begin to roll out to U.S. users starting today, and will expand to all of the U.S. over the next several weeks, the company says.



#entertainment, #short-form-video, #tc, #tiktok, #united-states, #video, #video-hosting, #youtube, #youtube-music, #youtube-shorts


Walmart to host a new live stream shopping event on TikTok, following successful pilot

In December, Walmart partnered with TikTok on the first pilot test of a new livestreamed shopping experience in the U.S. on the video platform. That test seemingly performed well, as today Walmart announced it will return to TikTok to host another livestream shopping event, the “Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition,” which will feature TikTok creators and influencers in an hour-long livestream.

The retailer didn’t disclose to what extent its first TikTok live shopping event drove sales, but noted that it netted 7x more views that it had anticipated, and was able to grow its TikTok follower base by 25%. These metrics were encouraging enough to send Walmart back to the platform for another go — this time, to promote beauty products instead of apparel, which had been the focus of the holiday livestream.

The new Spring Shop-Along will run this Thursday, March 11 at 9 PM EST on the Walmart TikTok channel. Like the prior holiday event, the new livestream shopping event will see various TikTok creators joining to talk about and demonstrate their favorite items. One participating creator has already been announced: Gabby Morrison (@GabbyMorr) who has over 3.5 million TikTok followers.

Image Credits: Walmart

Gabby and others will demo their skincare, makeup and hair routines and reveal the Walmart beauty products they’re using during the 60-minute live event. Featured beauty brands will include NYX, Maybelline, The Lip Bar, Bliss, Kim Kimble, and Marc Jacobs fragrances.

Viewers watching the event will be able to get beauty tips as well as shop the products featured directly in the TikTok app by tapping on product “pins.” This will allow them to add items to their cart that they can then check out either during or after the event.

“Brands have found a unique home on TikTok to create content that speaks to the community and inspires engagement, whether it’s participating in trends or discovering new products,” said Blake Chandlee, President of TikTok Global Business Solutions, in a statement about Walmart’s plans.

“With the shoppable livestream experience, it’s exciting to see how the TikTok community loves engaging with their favorite creators and discovering new products. We look forward to continue building innovative ways to power the path from discovery to purchase, and seeing brands like Walmart bring their creativity to users,” Chandlee added.

Walmart had already signaled its interest in leveraging TikTok for e-commerce ahead of the holiday livestream. Notably, it had planned to invest in TikTok when the video app was threatened with a ban under the Trump administration, unless it sold its U.S. operations to an American company. That forced sale, which would have spun out TikTok’s U.S. business to new owners Oracle and Walmart, is shelved for the time being as the Biden administration reviews the agency action under Trump.

Image Credits: Screenshot of Walmart’s TikTok channel during the 2020 holidays

Livestreamed shopping is an area of increasing interest and investment in the U.S. The trend has seen a number of startups enter the market, including NTWRK and recently funded Bambuser and Popshop Live, among others. Larger tech companies are also taking part — including across mobile video and live video shopping.

Google’s R&D project for mobile video shopping Shoploop was integrated into search. Facebook acquired a video shopping startup Packagd to build out live shopping, and heavily invested in video shopping across Facebook and Instagram. Amazon runs live shopping through its QVC-like Amazon Live. Alibaba (AliExpress), Pinduoduo, WeChat and TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin, all support mobile video shopping, too.

Walmart had said its plan to partner with TikTok on livestream shopping wasn’t a result of its deal talks, however — it’s been an active brand on TikTok’s platform for well over a year. The retailer even tasked its employees to make TikTok videos, in addition to running its own TikTok channel.

Reached for comment, the retailer declined to provide further metrics about its first livestream on TikTok, but felt the pilot test delivered above expectations.

“We were happy with getting 7X more views than anticipated and the 25% increase in TikTok follower growth after the first event. We were also pleased with the smooth checkout experience,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We aren’t able to share sales numbers, but can share that we hit the projections we set ahead of the event.”

Following this week’s live shopping event, Walmart says it plans to bring more shopping experiences to TikTok in the months to come, by continuing to partner with creators to highlight different products via different formats.

#ecommerce, #live-e-commerce, #live-mobile-shopping, #live-shopping, #livestream, #livestreaming, #mobile-video, #shopping, #social, #tc, #tiktok, #video, #video-shopping, #walmart


Fueled by the pandemic, Daily raises $15M Series A for its real-time video platform

Daily, the makers of a developer platform for real-time audio and video, has been booming in recent months — in part, due to the pandemic’s impact on remote work, virtual events, telehealth and more. Over the past year, Daily saw around a 20x increase in the number of paying customers and a 30x increase in revenue, it says. Though the team was initially hesitant to raise funds in light of this growth, they have now closed on $15 million Series A funding.

The new round was led by early Stripe employee-turned-investor Lachy Groom, who became connected with the startup via his portfolio company, a Daily customer. Tiger Global, other angels and most of Daily’s seed investors also participated, bringing Daily’s total raise to date to $22 million.

Daily itself was founded in 2016 as a big bet on video, and WebRTC in particular, but has been boosted by the pandemic and the market shifts that resulted.

“We believed back then and have believed for a while that video would be everywhere. It would be a crucial part of how we live and work and engage with all sorts of products,” explains Daily co-founder Nina Kuruvilla. “We thought that this shift would require new platforms and tools to make working with video as easy as possible,” she says.

As it turns out, Daily’s bet was a good one — though it took a few years and a global pandemic to see the hockey stick growth that startups aspire to.

Today, Daily is used by a number of companies focused on the future of work, like virtual office startup Tandem, virtual HQ platform Teamflow, presentation startup Pitch, pair programming tool GitDuck, virtual recruiting startup Flo Recruit and others. It’s also been adopted by enterprises in spaces like healthcare and customer support.

With Daily’s platform, developers can either use a prebuilt UI to integrate video calls with just two lines of code, or they can opt to build out their own custom video UI and UX. With the former, developers can embed a video call widget that features video chat, screen sharing and recording capabilities. Meanwhile, the latter gives developers more control over the layout, workflow and video and audio tracks.

Image Credits: Daily website

“Video is a big challenging problem — real-time video and real-time audio. You need some set of tools to help you do it — especially if you’re going to roll it out quickly and you’re going to then scale it,” explains Daily co-founder Kwindla Kramer. “We give you the APIs that let you develop really quickly, [that are] flexible enough for you to keep improving the product over time. And then we also have this global infrastructure that makes it possible for our customers to scale without having to, you know, build a whole equivalent of AWS themselves,” he says.

With Daily, developers gain access to servers spread out in different regions all over the world, to protect against latency issues. Daily also does the heavy lifting in terms of making sure the product works well across all platforms and devices.

From a security and privacy standpoint, it’s HIPAA compliant and doesn’t capture customer data. It’s also transparent about when and how encryption is applied. For example, Daily’s peer-to-peer calls are end-to-end encrypted, while calls routed through media servers are encrypted to and from the servers, but are decrypted on the servers in order to do things like forwarding and recording.

The technology itself is flexible, too. Daily lets customers specify if they don’t want audio and video packets to move outside the EU, for regulatory reasons. Customers can choose to integrate with their preferred transcription engine or other major recording and live streaming APIs.

Through Daily’s developer dashboard, customers can view call quality insights and visualizations.

Image Credits: Daily

To attract customers, Daily kept its pricing model simple. It has introductory plans for smaller customers that grow to the larger “Scale” plan at $199 per month for 10,000 minutes. From there, customers just pay an additional rate per minute as they grow.

The company was already seeing steady demand for video ahead of COVID, particularly in areas like remote work and healthcare. But COVID accelerated those use cases and impacted others, as well. After March 2020, the world quickly woke up to the need to prioritize video.

“Productivity and the future of work is rapidly changing. Online events, healthcare, customer support, interactive live streaming. IoT and robotics use cases. Social and gaming,” Kuruvilla says, rattling off the various Daily use cases.

During the first six months of the pandemic, Daily’s adoption grew as customers looked to get up-and-running with video quickly. Later, they began to shift toward innovating around what it means to build a digitally native service with video.

That’s helped to advance new models for how video can be used — like virtual fitness classes where people not only see the instructor, but also their friends who signed up with them. Or hybrid video and audio experiences for live events; real-time video conversations during livestreams; live e-commerce events; and more.

The company believes that this leap forward means Daily has a future even when, post-pandemic, things “go back to normal.”

“I think some traditional video call usage is probably going to stagnate or go down, but all of these new use cases just feel like they’re ramping up — because it’s early innings and they’re really genuinely useful,” notes Kramer.

The team says they chose to work with Lachy Groom because — unlike the dozens of investors they pitched during their seed stage who thought video was a niche market — Lachy understood what Daily was doing.

“It’s only after we got to know Lachy that we really felt like there was another investor, like [seed investor] Jenny [Lefcourt from Freestyle], who really understood what we needed to do as a company to be the best possible company we could be. And that was worth raising a round with,” says Kramer.

With the additional funds, Daily will hire more engineers and focus on various product initiatives around call quality and reliability, expanding its global infrastructure and supporting larger calls and more hybrid use cases.

In addition to Lachy Groom and Tiger, Daily is backed by Freestyle Capital, Root Ventures, Y Combinator, Slack Fund, Moxxie Ventures, Haystack Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures, Ground Up Ventures, Offline Ventures, Work Life Ventures, Basement Fund, Compound, and numerous angel investors.

#api, #daily, #developer, #developers, #funding, #lachy-groom, #recent-funding, #startups, #video


Gillmor Gang: Win Win

Just finished a Twitter Spaces session. It is an engaging platform, somewhat clunky in feature set but easily a tie overall with Clubhouse. I don’t see this as a horse race, however, more as cooperating teams fleshing out a platform where both will be major players. Like notifications in iOS and Android, the feature set is a push and pull motion where Android delivers deep functionality and Apple alternately pulls ahead and consolidates gains. Though the details can vary, the combined energy of effectively 100 percent of the consumer base mandates best practices and opportunities for innovation.

Something similar is going on in Washington as the Democrats test out their majority of none on the pandemic stimulus bill. The headline in the Times says bipartisanship is dead, but the subheading is the real story. The battle for control of the Senate is closing in on the arcane gerrymandering of the filibuster, or what passes for it after Republican whittling of the original talk ’til you drop croaking of Jimmy Stewart as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The telltale giveaway is Senator Lindsay Graham, who complains bitterly that the Democrats are steamrolling the COVID Rescue Bill without Republican votes “because they can.” The actual bipartisanship is between the progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party, as the Senator from West Virginia moderates one aspect of the bill to gain the prize of something the President can sign. Not only does it establish Biden’s power to govern but it also provides a roadmap for justifying the necessity of altering the filibuster equation.

Notice how Biden changed the subject from bipartisan negotiations to the power play it turned into. He used the polls to squeeze the Republican moderates where they fear most, the primary battles for control of the House in the midterms. The wave of vaccines are making it almost impossible to put up a political firewall; the anti-mask mandates seem like clueless floundering as people begin to have hope of an exit from the gridlock of partisan obstructionism. It will be hard to run on a platform of denial and death as we reach the end of May.

Governing by success undercuts the argument that government doesn’t work. Breaking the back of the filibuster requires the framing of the issue as finding a way to let government keep working in a bipartisan way. That brings us back to changing the definition of bipartisan as evidenced in the technology arena. In the Apple/Android example, two viable entities bring different strengths to insuring the ability to survive long enough to govern. Google’s lock on the network effect in advertising and “free” services may be challenged by Apple’s focus on privacy and a hardware revenue base, but the net effect is to cancel each other’s vulnerabilities due to the market force of their positions. The bipartisan finesse is that each platform has the other as a dominant customer.

In the same vein, Twitter v. Clubhouse is really not the point. Certainly we can cherrypick the battle as startup v. incumbent: Clubhouse filled with unicorn celebrities and rockstar investors and a builtin tension with the media, Twitter protectively fast following with its natural social graph advantages and struggling with scalability and the fear they’ve sown of abandoning projects before they can thrive. The question begged: what is the nature of the bipartisan compromise that will ensure both end up winners?

The answer is how to make each player the best customer of the other. Twitter’s problem is focus, and harnessing the power of users to hack the system to both theirs and the company’s advantage. The @mention spawned the retweet, providing the analytics that drive Twitter’s indelible social graph. Instagram may be Facebook’s best attempt so far at challenging the fundamental strategic value that the former president used to dominate, but Clubhouse promises to go one big step better with its hybrid of mainstream media and a Warholesque factory engine that creates new stars and the media they generate. This in turn migrates through the entertainment disruption led by the streaming realignment. What exactly is this NFT thing really about?

So Clubhouse has to open up its ability to multitask with Twitter and other curated social graphs. Facebook as a source for Clubhouse notifications and suggested conversations is different than Twitter’s But patching into the sharing icon on iOS will offer substantial access to blunt Twitter’s native integration in Spaces. On the flip side, Twitter’s Revue newsletter tools present an opportunity to mine the burgeoning newsletter surge, using its drag and drop tools to bring not just default social network citations but the implicit social graph of curated editorial rockstars. Not only is the influencer audience rich in signal for advertisers, but these same brands will prove most attractive to Clubhouse listeners looking for value. Win win.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 5, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Asynchronous video startup Weet just launched to cement bonds, and know-how, within companies

For founder Najette Fellache, coming to the Bay Area a few years ago from Nantes, France was a way to grow a company she’d founded and which was already was beginning to count major U.S. corporations like GE, Tesla, Amazon, and Medtronics as customers.

What that six-year-old outfit, Speach, sells is essentially knowledge sharing between colleagues via videos produced by the employees themselves, often to augment written instructions. The idea is to maximize learning, fast, and investors liked the idea enough to provide Speach with $14 million in funding.

But while the technology has only become more relevant in a world shut down by COVID-19, an internal project within the company began to interest Fellache even more after her children abruptly began attending school remotely from home. As she tells it, her aha moment came in the form of a drawing from her youngest son, who struggled to understand why his mother’s meetings kept taking precedent over him.

Like many parents trying to figure out how to balance work and family over the last year, Fellache wasn’t immediately sure of how to parent around the clock while also leading a company. Unlike a lot of parents, she had access to engineers who could put create a technology that enabled her, along with other members of Speach’s team, to create short videos that could quickly communicate important information and be viewed at the recipient’s convenience — as well as saved for future reference.

In fact, as sometimes happens with internal projects, the technology worked so well for Speach that it has since taken on a life of its own. Indeed, using a bit of that earlier funding from Speach — its backers are Red River West, a Franco-American fund co-managed by Artémis, the investment company of the Pinault family, and the early-stage firm Alven — Fellache and a team of 10 employees this week launched Weet, a new asynchronous video startup.

It’s entering into a crowded field. Fellache is hardly alone in recognizing the power of asynchronous meetings as an attractive alternative to phone calls, real-time meetings, and even email, where tone is lost and content can be misconstrued. Loom, for example, a six-year-old enterprise collaboration video messaging service that enables users to send short clips of themselves, has already raised at least $73 million from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Coatue.

Another, newer entrant is SuperNormal, a year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based work communication platform that employs video and screen recording tools to help teams create and send asynchronous video updates throughout the day and which raised $2 million in seed funding led by EQT Ventures in December.

Still, if you believe that the future of work is remote, it’s clear that the opportunity here is a big one. Further, Weet —  which is accessible for free via a browser extension and whose integrations with both Slack and Microsoft Teams are scheduled to go live next month — is fast becoming a better product than some of what’s available in the market already, argues Fellache.

Weet already features instant recording, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, video filters, emoji reactions, commenting options, and auto transcription. For a premium paid version in the works, it is also developing features that will not make past exchanges easier to sift through but that can organize discussions for users.

Imagine, for example, a salesperson looking for communications about a potential client and wanting notes from those auto-transcriptions that are presented together in one email to him or her.

As for privacy, Fellache points to the data management expertise that Speach has developed over time working with clients like Airbus and Colgate-Palmolive that are acutely mindful of privacy. Weet — which Fellache says is already being used by units inside of Colgate-Palmolive — employs the same standards and practices.

Weet is seemingly taking a different approach on the marketing front, too. At least, Fellache says not to think of Weets as transactions in which critical information alone is exchanged but as a new way of communicating with far-flung teams (and customers) about all kinds of things, from national holidays, to who is watching which new show and why.

As Fellache stresses, with Weet, because there is nothing to download — there is no software or plugin to install — it’s click and go, for both work and play.

In a world where teams are increasingly scattered around the globe, she knows well, they’ve become two sides of the same coin.

#startups, #tc, #video


Gillmor Gang: Off The Record

Of all the gin joints etc. etc. Clubhouse continues to confound those who don’t believe in the restorative powers of the Next Big Thing. It doesn’t make sense, they say, that an audio service based on live podcasts will change the course of human history, And they are right. Social computing is in the doghouse in the wake of January 6 and the former president. But the folks behind Clubhouse have gotten a few key things right.

The main thing is that in the beginning of the return to some rational possibility for the suppression of Covid, we’re opening our hearts to the hope we’ve abandoned for more than a year. Our children are crying at the prospects of returning to school, to the classroom, to the hallway rendezvous with friends, to the safety of the arc of life translating across generations and family stories. We’re tentatively daring to believe in things we took for granted even as we rebelled against them in our youthful exploration of the world we were on the cusp of creating.

Social was never about challenging the existing world, the stagnant media, the secret passageways to our own version of new history. It was about creating a storyline for our generation that we could invest in. And the fuel we sought was trust. If we work backwards from the current reigning media, it’s easy to see when trust was discounted. Some call this partisanship, but it’s deeper than that.

As we choose our guiding voices, the fragmentation of media sources has made it much more difficult to commit to one individual, party, or candidate. The world my parents gave us was dominated by 3 television networks as the war wound down. In the placid feel of the Fifties, we took our daily cues from Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and influential but overmatched anchors from ABC, the most junior of the three networks. David Brinkley was my favorite, with a dry wit that fit nicely with the gruff grit of his co-anchor.

But Cronkite was the one we all trusted in the end. When he broke with Johnson on the Vietnam War, he basically set the course for the unwinding of our presence. He was the father figure who told us JFK was dead; now he was saying the government was lying to us. The images of defeat filled our screens. Who were we going to believe, our lying eyes?

Retreat changed our national story of invincibility. The media splintered into slivers of respectability, the Hollywood of the studio system replaced by Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Godfather, which taught us who was really in charge. Nixon resigned but no one won the job of leading the country. Decades passed.

But what didn’t change was radio. From FDR’s Fireside Chats to the Martian broadcast of Mercury Theater fame to the Firesign Theatre’s prophetic Beat the Reaper, radio survived as a direct channel to our innermost fears and imagination. And the catchphrase Wherever you go, there you are has never been so resonant as it is in the Pandemic Age wherever you don’t go, there you are.

Clubhouse may be enforced upon us, but it directly competes with the other media channels we’ve adhered to in this struggle with manmade and medical viri. The other night, I ping-ponged back and forth between an MSNBC political discussion and a Clubhouse newsletter room. Now I just leave the sound off and surf the lower-third captions on TV, opting for the good choice of silence and Clubhouse rooms. The arguments may rage about Clubhouse rules, agendas, and visions of unicorns, but as Thunderclap Newman sang, there’s Something in the Air.

We’re playing house with the app, anticipating an Android version and meaningful competition from Twitter’s Spaces, currently in a limited private beta and apparent element of a mashup with newsletter acquisition Revue and possible subscription plus schemes. We’re using Revue here on the Gang newsletter, which you can get by clicking at the end of this post or at the URL in the show above. For the moment, we’re testing Clubhouse private rooms with the members of the Gang. A button labelled Open It Up yearns to be clicked.

As viewers of the Gillmor Gang can attest, the show has always had the feeling of an organic conversation loosely managed by a moderator, namely me. Mostly I accept the designation, which defaults to me most frequently when things go wrong, too long, or with no seeming direction. But I actually treasure the moments when the moderator in each of us steps up to take a whack at the job. Clubhouse is onto this in its moderator design, which lets the originating speaker delegate moderator status to others on the stage.

In our experiments, I emulate the Gang dynamics by assigning this power to all the Gang. They then have, among other things, the ability to kick me back to listener status, and force me to beg for readmittance to the club. More productively, they can invite others to the stage, and even give them moderator status. Already, moderator follows are a prized indicator of status, but the simple organic power of letting both the thematic and social dynamics flow free in the air are seductive, slightly dangerous, and better than cable.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, February 26, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Facebook launches BARS, a TikTok-like app for creating and sharing raps

Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, is today launching its next experimental app, called BARS. The app makes it possible for rappers to create and share their raps using professionally created beats, and is the NPE Team’s second launch in the music space following its recent public debut of music video app Collab.

While Collab focuses on making music with others online, BARS is instead aimed at would-be rappers looking to create and share their own videos. In the app, users will select from any of the hundreds of professionally created beats, then write their own lyrics and record a video. BARS can also automatically suggest rhymes as you’re writing out lyrics, and offers different audio and visual filters to accompany videos as well as an autotune feature.

There’s also a “Challenge mode” available, where you can freestyle with auto-suggested word cues, which has more of a game-like element to it. The experience is designed to be accommodating to people who just want to have fun with rap, similar to something like Smule’s AutoRap, perhaps, which also offers beats for users’ own recordings.

Image Credits: Facebook

The videos themselves can be up to 60 seconds in length and can then be saved to your Camera Roll or shared out on other social media platforms.

Like NPE’s Collab, the pandemic played a role in BARS’ creation. The pandemic shut down access to live music and places where rappers could experiment, explains NPE Team member DJ Iyler, who also ghostwrites hip-hop songs under the alias “D-Lucks.”

“I know access to high-priced recording studios and production equipment can be limited for aspiring rappers. On top of that, the global pandemic shut down live performances where we often create and share our work,” he says.

BARS was built with a team of aspiring rappers, and today launched into a closed beta.

Image Credits: Facebook

Despite the focus on music, and rap in particular, the new app in a way can be seen as yet another attempt by Facebook to develop a TikTok competitor — at least in this content category.

TikTok has already become a launchpad for up-and-coming musicians, including rappers; it has helped rappers test their verses, is favored by many beatmakers and is even influencing what sort of music is being made. Diss tracks have also become a hugely popular format on TikTok, mainly as a way for influencers to stir up drama and chase views. In other words, there’s already a large social community around rap on TikTok, and Facebook wants to shift some of that attention back its way.

The app also resembles TikTok in terms of its user interface. It’s a two-tabbed vertical video interface — in its case, it has  “Featured” and “New” feeds instead of TikTok’s “Following” and “For You.” And BARS places the engagement buttons on the lower-right corner of the screen with the creator name on the lower-left, just like TikTok.

However, in place of hearts for favoriting videos, your taps on a video give it “Fire” — a fire emoji keeps track. You can tap “Fire” as many times as you want, too. But because there’s (annoyingly) no tap-to-pause feature, you may accidentally “fire” a video when you were looking for a way to stop its playback. To advance in BARS, you swipe vertically, but the interface is lacking an obvious “Follow” button to track your favorite creators. It’s hidden under the top-right three-dot menu.

The app is seeded with content from NPE Team members, which includes other aspiring rappers, former music producers and publishers.

Currently, the BARS beta is live on the iOS App Store in the U.S., and is opening its waitlist. Facebook says it will open access to BARS invites in batches, starting in the U.S. Updates and news about invites, meanwhile, will be announced on Instagram.

Facebook’s recent launches from its experimental apps division include Collab and collage maker, among others. Not all apps stick around. If they fail to gain traction, Facebook shuts them down — as it did last year with the Pinterest-like video app Hobbi.

#apps, #facebook, #mobile, #music, #rap, #social, #tc, #video


YouTube to launch parental control features for families with tweens and teens

YouTube announced this morning it will soon introduce a new experience designed for teens and tweens who are now too old for the schoolager-focused YouTube Kids app, but who may not be ready to explore all of YouTube. The company says it’s preparing to launch a beta test of new features that will give parents the ability to grant kids more limited access to YouTube through a “supervised” Google Account. This setup will restrict what tweens and teens can watch on the platform, as well as what they can do — like create videos or leave comments, for example.

Many parents may have already set up a supervised Google Account for their child through Google’s Family Link parental control app. This app allows parents to restrict access across a range of products and services, control screen time, filter websites and more. Other parents may have created a supervised Google Account for their child when they first set up the child’s account on a new Android device or Chromebook.

If not, parents can take a few minutes to create the child’s supervised account when they’re ready to begin testing the new features. (Unfortunately, Google Edu accounts — like those kids now use for online school — aren’t supported at launch.)

The new features will allow parents to select between three different levels of YouTube access for their tween or teen. Initially, YouTube will test the features with parents with children under the age of consent for online services — age 13 in the U.S., but different in other countries — before expanding to older groups.

Image Credits: YouTube

For tweens who have more recently graduated out of the YouTube Kids app, an “Explore” mode will allow them to view a broad range of videos generally suited for viewers age 9 and up — including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, and educational content. This would allow the kids to watch things like their favorite gaming streamer with kid-friendly content, but would prevent them (in theory) from finding their way over to more sensitive content.

The next step up is an “Explore More” mode, where videos are generally suitable for kids 13 and up — like a PG-13 version of YouTube. This expands the set of videos kids can access and allows them access to live streams in the same categories as “Explore.”

For older teens, there is the “Most of YouTube” mode, which includes almost all YouTube videos except those that include age-restricted content that isn’t appropriate for viewers under 18.

Image Credits: YouTube

YouTube says it will use a combination of user input, machine learning, and human review to curate which videos are included in each of the three different content settings.

Of course, much like YouTube Kids, that means this will not be a perfect system — it’s a heavily machine-automated attempt at curation where users will still have to flag videos that were improperly filtered. In other words, helicopter parents who closely supervise their child’s access to internet content will probably still want to use some other system — like a third-party parental control solution, perhaps — to lock down YouTube further.

The supervised access to YouTube comes with other restrictions, as well, the company says.

Parents will be able to manage the child’s watch and search history from within the child’s account settings. And certain features on YouTube will be disabled, depending on the level of access the child has.

For example, YouTube will disable in-app purchases, video creation, and commenting features at launch. The company says that, over time, it wants to work with parents to add some of these features back through some sort of parent-controlled approach.

Also key is that personalized ads won’t be served on supervised experiences, even if that content isn’t designated as “made for kids” — which would normally allow for personalized ads to run. Instead, all ads will be contextual, as they are on YouTube Kids. In addition, all ads will have to comply with kids advertising policies, YouTube’s general ad policies, and will be subject to the same category and ad content restrictions as on Made for Kids content.

That said, when parents establish the supervised account for their child, they’ll be providing consent for COPPA compliance — the U.S. children’s privacy law that requires parents to be notified and agree to the collection and use personal data from the kids’ account. So there’s a trade-off here.

However, the new experience may still make sense for families where kids have outgrown apps designed for younger children — or even in some cases, for younger kids who covet their big brother or sister’s version of “real YouTube.” Plus, at some point, forcing an older child to use the “Kids” app makes them feel like they’re behind their peers, too. And since not all parents use the YouTube Kids app or parental controls, there’s always the complaint that “everyone else has it, so why can’t I?” (It never ends.)

Image Credits: YouTube Kids app

This slightly more locked down experience lets parents give the child access to “real YouTube” with restrictions on what that actually means, in terms of content and features.

YouTube, in an announcement, shared several endorsements for the new product from a few individual youth experts, including Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA; Dr. Yalda Uhls, Center for Scholars & Storytellers, UCLA – Author of Media Moms & Digital Dads; Thiago Tavares, Founder and President of SaferNet Brazil; and Professor Sun Sun Lim, Singapore University of Technology & Design – Author of Transcendent Parenting.

YouTube’s news, notably, follows several product updates from fast-growing social video app and YouTube rival TikTok, which has rolled out a number of features aimed at better protecting its younger users.

The company in April 2020 launched a “family pairing” mode that lets a parent link their child’s account to their own in order to also lock down what the child can do and what content they can see. (TikTok offers a curated experience for the under-13 crowd called Restricted Mode, which can be switched on here, too.) And in January of this year, TikTok changed the privacy setting defaults for users under 18 to more proactively restrict what they do on the app.

YouTube says its new product will launch in beta in the “coming months” in over 80 countries worldwide. It also notes that it will continue to invest in YouTube Kids for parents with younger children.

#apps, #families, #family, #google, #kids, #machine-learning, #media, #parental-controls, #parents, #social, #video, #video-hosting, #youtube, #youtube-kids


Gillmor Gang: Leave Quietly

It turns out the most important decision made was not the vote to choose (and remove) in the election but Twitter’s permanent banning of the former President from the social network. Suddenly the temperature cooled, the new administration engaged with the details of vaccine rollout, and the second impeachment trial ended with an expected outcome. Twitter’s move was bipartisan if the trial was not.

Twitter’s other big move was the acquisition of Revue, a Substack competitor we’re moving to in production of the Gillmor Gang newsletter. It features tools to drag and drop articles from Twitter, Feedly, and other newsletters, but crucially the ability to reorganize these chunks as the writing develops. It’s my bet that the newsletter container will absorb blogs, podcasts, and streaming into a reorganized media platform available to creators small and large.

This kind of organic process development meshes well with the newsletter model. It encourages more timely releases, and an editorial feel that prizes quality over quantity. As newsletters proliferate, an evaluation of time over volume becomes most significant. It’s less an eyeballs pattern than a prioritization of what is not chosen and then what is, consumed or annotated with social recommendations. As with the Gang’s Frank Radice Nuzzel newsletter, the focus becomes less flow and more authority or resonance.

Daily Commentary

I have made the decision to cover the media exclusively in “The Radice Files” There are plenty of general news aggregators out there, and I for one, am just tired of those stories. I hope you’ll stay with me.

Instead of non-stop Trump, the only political story in the revamped Radice File is about how Fox News cut away from House manager video testimony to a commentary on the futility of covering the violence given the lack of votes for conviction. This shadow dance happens not just on Fox but the other centrist or left networks like CNN and MSNBC. The slant is not what’s interesting; the networks’ business model and the subtle effect on media programming is.

No wonder that streaming’s impact is being felt in the latest unicorn from Silicon Valley, Clubhouse. The audio streaming podcast disruptor is marketed as a FOMO inside hallway conversation, with a Twitter social cloud viral onboard mechanism that digs deep into your contact list and never lets go. Big ticket items such as a keynote-like conversation with Elon Musk are overbooked from the first minute. I tried unsuccessfully to join this week’s follow up with Marc Andreessen and his VC partner Ben Horowitz but it was sold out at 5000 after 30 minutes.

But there is definitely something tugging at me as I get notifications of people joining and creating rooms on various glitzy Valley topics. The live feeling of serendipity and catch it as you can promises the possibility of lightning in a bottle, the sensation of history being made, not just observed. Probably just an illusion, but it’s reminiscent of the feeling we used to get when putting a record on the turntable and daring the artist(s) to succeed. I still get that every time Miles’ Kind of Blue resumes, the awe with which time is reorganized at the atomic level.

People say a Clubhouse can go easily from 1 to 5 hours. I think RSS was killed by the red unread marks indicator. Size matters? Probably, if my college research suggests. But more important than length is ROI, and that’s where the Clubhouse effect dovetails with the newsletter moment. The ingredients of both are intuition, choice, the organic breadcrumb trail, and the payload.


Does this notification fit in with what pattern I’m trying to discern this moment. I love movies like Citizen Kane and North By Northwest for the mirage that they project of a universe fated by a biologically innate DNA. Sometimes we call it fate, other times dumb luck, but always that dumbest of phrases: It is what it is. Only this time the conceit is: It is what it’s about to be is. And if something happens, yes, I knew it. Not specifically, but given the mood the planet is in, it figures this could happen.

In a newsletter: the game is not to read everything, but only what and when and in what order. The prize is the analytics, which reward the reader with more stuff, and the publisher with validation of the impact of the combination of choice (citations) and context (writing.) In Clubhouse, it’s being in the room and what — knowing when to bail? For me it’s escaping the inevitability of the point being made in a podcast, or the filter of the business model of what I’m going to do next. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press. Maybe…


There’s a bunch of choice: Choice of room, people, time invested, moment of throwing good money after bad. Choice of what I’m playing hookey on — work, cable news, family fun, sleep. Clubhouse lets you publicly eavesdrop, a broadcast @mention that doesn’t give you the option of lurking. But you can do the closest thing to multitasking: doing the dishes, playing with the dog, monitoring. cable news with the sound off, DJ-ing for a private room, driving, etc. It is the new radio, pandemic be damned. Wherever you go, there you still are.

Newsletters? People, time reading, research replacement, subscription development, form of payment (money, authority, trust), influence or eyeballs. The game is trading current media for future rebundling, where the new publishers, studios, and artists are grown.

Breadcrumb trail

These choices create the breadcrumb trail, plowing under the old and furrowing the new. Newsletters are the leading edge of this refactoring, tilling the memes, models, and markets for the trends that become viral. The analytics of opens, email vs. web clicks, and notification triage are implicit for the most part in their signal. Harvesting these breadcrumbs requires the impact of new content created in response to the earlier data. Once you’ve identified a valuable consumer, your real work has just begun.

First, you look for the signature of exultation, the embedded essence of the experience that a certain combination of intuition and action rewards the detective. For that is what this new media is: an information thriller that taps into deep reading, listening, and sharing. Every catch phrase — round up the usual suspects, or we are not the droids you are looking for — represent uber themes we crave to navigate a terrifying treacherous world. We are the droids we’re looking for, and these new medias represent possible parallel worlds where we can not just survive but honor values of our choosing.

In the movies, it’s called the plotline. Clubhouse presumes there’s a story worth waiting for, the moments where we gain power by sharing and decorating reactions with clues as to what part of the same elephant we are investigating. We know intuitively that we’re not going to learn business secrets, but there is gold to be retrieved from the participants as they share their sense of humor or lack of it, their rhythm of when they join, raise their hand, are successful at being invited on stage, when they leave, whether they boomerang, and only a little what they actually say. The price for this is your breadcrumbs.

The Payload

As much as I’m intrigued by Clubhouse, I’ve only actually joined or started a room twice. Once was by accident, as I realized by clicking on a link to see who was there. Me, I found out. Another was a conversation about a Techmeme podcast by the podcaster and Chris Messina of hashtag fame. I never could get into the big A16Z attractions. Like Frank Radice’s newsletter pivot, I was primarily interested in the atmospherics surrounding Andreessen Horowitz’s media strategy. But that doesn’t obviate the steady feeling that something substantial is going on here.

Media generally is swallowing its pride in the wake of the political nightmare we’ve been living through. Notice I say media, not mainstream media or social media. Smarter people than me can debate the distinction, but I think the difference between the two is overstated, and more importantly, not that indicative of what the value of these new media surges will turn out to embody. More and more, the substantial writing that filters in on Twitter, RSS (through Feedly), and aggregators like Nuzzel and Medium is significant in its approach to the central issues we’re struggling with. That includes traditional players like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Information, and the tech journals, as they combine newsletter techniques with their substantial resources.

We’re seeing a merger of the medias, with the consensus around value and weight being measured by new metrics. In television, it’s the NewFronts combining digital and linear TV; in music it’s at the song level, not the album. Streaming has shaken the old networks to their core, with a horse race between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and ABC, NBC, and the old CBS. M&A has swallowed Fox, Time Warner, FX, and even an old studio, Paramount. And radio? You could say the usual suspects Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify, but Clubhouse? Like Zoom, I think so. Twitter and Facebook have bigger fish to fry, but Apple Car and Glasses are the key platforms Clubhouse will play in as we move into the autonomous work from anywhere reality. The payload is value, time management, and notifications at the core of the move to digital.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, February 19, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Gillmor Gang: Blockhouse

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, February 12, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Gillmor Gang: Preboarding

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Saturday, February 6, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


YouTube to expand Shorts to the U.S., add 4K and DVR to YouTube TV, launch in-video shopping and more in 2021

YouTube has a host of big product updates coming this year, and it just detailed a lot of them in a blog post from Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan. Google’s streaming video site plans to expand its TikTok-esque Shorts mobile video creation and consumption tool to the U.S. (it’s currently in beta in India), make YouTube TV a more full-featured in-home cable alternative, add customization and control options to YouTube Kids and more.

Many of the product updates detailed by Mohan are expansions of existing tests and beta features, but there are also entirely new developments that could significantly change how YouTube works for both creators and audiences. YouTube’s focus on monetization and new formats also indicates a desire to keep creators happy, which makes a lot of sense in the context of the platform’s popular new mobile-first competitor TikTok.

Here’s a TL;DR of everything YouTube announced today for its 2021 roadmap:

  • Expansion of its in-video e-commerce shopping experience beyond the current limited beta
  • Expansion of Applause tipping feature
  • YouTube Shorts launching in the U.S.
  • Adding the ability for parents to specify individual channels and videos for their kids to be able to watch on YouTube Kids
  • New features for user playlists on YouTube Music, and making those playlists more discoverable to others
  • A new paid add-on coming to YouTube TV that offers 4K streaming, DVR for off-line playback, and unlimited simultaneous in-home streams
  • Automatic video chaptering for some videos that don’t have creator-defined ones
  • A redesigned YouTube VR experience focused on accessibility, search and better navigation

YouTube has a big year planned, and some of these changes could significantly alter the dynamics of the platform. Making it possible for every creator to turn their channel in a mini shopping channel has a lot of potential to alter what it looks like to build a business on the platform, while YouTube TV’s transformation narrows the gap even further between that service and traditional cable and satellite provider offerings.

#ecommerce, #google, #india, #neal-mohan, #social-media, #software, #streaming-video, #tc, #tiktok, #united-states, #video, #video-hosting, #virtual-reality, #world-wide-web, #youtube, #youtube-music


Open source video player VLC will get a new UI this year with 4.0 launch

An orange traffic cone has long been the logo and symbol for VLC media player.

Enlarge / An orange traffic cone has long been the logo and symbol for VLC media player.

News website Protocol ran an extensive piece on the history and status of the popular open source video player VLC, and the story includes new details about the next major version of the software. Among other things, VLC 4.0 will bring a complete user interface overhaul.

“We modified the interface to be a bit more modern,” VideoLAN foundation President Jean-Baptiste Kempf told the publication. Kempf had previously shown some version of a new interface about two years ago, but it’s unclear at this point how much that one resembles the one the team plans to introduce with VLC 4.0.

While the article doesn’t list every change coming, it does outline a couple other possible directions and priorities for VLC.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#software, #tech, #video, #video-player, #videolan, #vlc, #vlc-4-0


TikTok partners with Whisk to pilot a recipe-saving feature on food videos

TikTok is expanding its integrations with third-party services, with the launch of a test that allows creators in the food space to link directly to recipes found on the Whisk app. This is being made possible by way of a new “recipe” button overlaid on related TikTok food videos. The feature makes a TikTok cooking video more actionable as it encourages viewers to not just watch the content, but also take the next step to save the content for later use.

The new button could also potentially drive significant traffic to Whisk — especially if a particular recipe went viral — like the “TikTok Pasta” videos have, in recent days.

The addition is being made available in partnership with Whisk and is currently in “alpha testing,” TikTok confirmed to TechCrunch. TikTok says its also worked with Whisk to help identify food content creators who could serve as the first adopters of the new functionality.

We found the feature in action on one of TikTok’s top food creators profiles, The Korean Vegan, aka Joanne L. Molinaro.

Image Credits: TikTok screenshot


The button was also first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra on the @feelgoodfoodie TikTok account.

The way the feature works, from the TikTok viewer’s side, is fairly simple.

A user who’s in the test group may come across a video on the app that includes the new button that reads: “See full recipe.” The button appears just above the creator name and video description on the bottom left of the screen  — the same spot where the “Green Screen” button would otherwise appear. When tapped, you’re directed to a Whisk page where you can view the recipe photos, ingredients, and choose to save the recipe to your own collection, if you’re a Whisk user.

This all takes place while still inside the TikTok app.

On the creator’s side, adding the recipe button to a video is done during the posting workflow via a new “add link” option.

The ability to add a “save recipe” feature to a TikTok video wouldn’t necessarily have to be limited to food content creators, however. Whisk allows anyone to create a recipe community on its platform, which means people can grow their followings simply by curating their favorite recipes around some sort of category or theme — like Instant Pot meals or favorite smoothie ideas or comfort baking, for example.

Image Credits: Whisk

Whisk has also been working more recently to expand its recipe communities to serve as a home for curators and creators alike by allowing them to point to their websites, if they have one, or link out to their social media profiles, including Instagram, YouTube, and of course, TikTok.

The idea is that fans would view the content on social media and be inspired, then visit Whisk as the next step in terms of saving the recipe, creating a shopping list, or actually trying the recipe at home. This sort of “actionable” content could present a challenge to Pinterest, which has been expanding into short-form video through Story Pins. The feature allows Pinterest creators to share video content in the tappable “story” format — including recipe and cooking videos.

Pinterest hoped to use Story Pins as a way to differentiate its short-form videos from rivals, noting during its earnings last week that Story Pins are “not as focused on entertainment,” but rather “what the Pinner could do to enrich their own lives.”

TikTok’s selection of Whisk as a new partner makes sense as the recipe app has gained a rapid following since its late 2019 launch. Today, Whisk sees over 1.5 million interactions per month on its platform. It also just won a “Best of 2020″ Google Play award.

Whisk’s TikTok button, however, is not the first integration of its kind.

Last month, learning platform Quizlet announced a similar TikTok feature aimed at creators in the education space. In its case, the buttons overlaid on top of videos would link directly to Quizlet’s study sets, like its digital flashcards. At the time, it wasn’t clear that the new Quizlet feature was a part of a larger effort to connect TikTok videos more directly with related apps and services — an addition that could lead to an expansion in TikTok content and, perhaps, influencer sponsorships, further down the road.

There’s potential for TikTok to form other partnerships like this as well, given the app’s ability to drive trends across a number of content categories, effectively becoming the video alternative to Pinterest’s image bookmarking site.

At year-end, for example, TikTok published lists of 2020’s “top trends” in cooking, music, beauty, and style. On the style front, TikTok already ran a livestreamed video shopping pilot with Walmart that used influencers to drive purchases, demonstrating the potential in connecting video inspiration to consumer action in an even more timely fashion.

#apps, #cooking, #creators, #media, #mobile, #partnership, #pilot, #recipes, #social-media, #tiktok, #video, #whisk


Gillmor Gang: In My Room

No sooner did we start developing a newsletter, the newsletter industry exploded. Twitter jumped in with a purchase of Revue, Facebook was rumored to be investigating the platform, and each new day brought further experiments. You could blame it on the post-Trump lifting of the fog of despair. The pandemic continued apace, with new variants spurring distribution of vaccines and a transparency in communications with the new President and his team.

After years of social mining of our behavior, interests, and transactions, inference has been replaced by direct evidence. The politics of data pressure mandate that we expect free software bundled with increasingly powerful hardware. The core utility of a phone culture shifted as people kept to their homes and mostly used the televisions for entertainment and news, and the phones as notifications consumers. The desktop remained the creation engine for business documents, analytics, and information triage.

One year after the pandemic took hold, the outlines of the recovery are becoming visible. Because so much of our transaction history is funneled through the phone, we have left less need or incentive for teasing out indirect data and making inferences on it. Netflix is a honeypot for direct recording of choices, tagged along each customer’s timeline with the minute-by-minute social characteristics of the groups they participate in.

The resulting data type is beyond the bifurcation of product in the Apple hardware sense and the user as product in the Google or Facebook sense, Netflix creates a kind of social signal out of the analytics that is recycled back into the service where it impacts on the user’s behavior organically. We tap into the recommendation flow not just at the Netflix level but also the notification and conversational flows.

Newsletters offer a similar organic resonance, as they combine the author’s analysis of the information flow (in the form of citations) with the actual orbiting references. As with Netflix, the user leaves a breadcrumb trail along with time data as they record their choices and unread items. The maturing newsletter model is one where the authorship more correctly anticipates what has been seen by the target audience, and saves time and insight for rapid return on the investment. Group metrics synthesize this benefit into value on Netflix, where the “ratings” are based on retention and time compression. This is the newsletter opportunity.

If you buy the idea of media consolidation under the newsletter umbrella, how will that manifest itself? Already we’re experiencing a battle similar to the age of blogs, where individual voices built a social engagement cloud that emulated the dynamics of a magazine. Just as Apple inserted itself into the music business with playlists and MTV with top forty radio, blogs leveraged Twitter and social to create bundles of news, features, and commentary. As with playlists, the users were in charge.

Mobile brought notifications to the party, blending blogs with media. Initially podcasts leveraged RSS’s attachment extension to download sound and video files to iPods. But when streaming arrived, the preferred way of consuming the content was by clicking on the notification. This in turn disrupted the cable networks just as the kids went mobile and abandoned TV. During the 2020 campaign, notifications were a great way of routing around insufferable analysis in favor of the actual events.
Meanwhile, Facebook Live, Periscope, and YouTube gave virtually everybody a seat at the table. Podcasts democratized media, and streaming democratized distribution. I know many think podcasting is experiencing a renaissance, but personally I think streaming is inventing a new paradigm of the economics of the industry.

Take Clubhouse, for example. It’s distinguished by what it doesn’t do rather than what it does: no recording, therefore no replays. No video, only audio. No lurking, at least surreptitious checking out the scene. If you click on a Clubhouse notification, your name pops up for all to see. And there’s no button to Leave Loudly, just Quietly. Significantly, however, you can operate in a private room, and then go public if you want to. It’s podcasting with an invisibility mode.

Private rooms are just the place to hash things out. Today I had several conversations skirting these issues. One was muted, tentative, doubt mixed with an arrogant optimism. The other was supple, teeming with validation and the presence of humor to leaven the serious nature of the fleeting time we may have. Not recorded, in one case just a regular cell call. But the mulch created informs this post, with its scaffolding of intersecting items lurking in calm support. Podcasting, no.
It reminds me of the Hayden Planetarium, where the planets orbit and the asteroids bisect the swirling cosmos. We’re suspended in the teeming reaches of the near universe, with its fractal efficiency in the representation of the whole. The enterprise moves glacially forward, a breast stroke pace with a small wake. Somehow big things are afoot. At a minimum, they could be.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 22, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


Gillmor Gang: Back Then Now

Still figuring out what this newsletter is, I’m torn between aggregation and writing. The inputs vary from blog posts, Twitter threads, and the occasional video. Podcasting seems oddly muzzled by the acceleration of streaming. Blog posts are a misnomer; professional blogs represent the bulk of news and media citations, not usually the single voices of RSS yore.

Linear media is bifurcated between quick takes like The Recount and user tweets of streaming cable news. Podcasting meets longer form streaming with live casting on Facebook Live, Twitter (formerly Periscope), YouTube, and nascent LinkedIn live. As I discovered during a Restreamed recording session of the Gang, the Facebook Live version includes realtime captioning.

On this version of the show, recorded four days before the Inauguration of the Biden presidency, a familiar mood radiates from the Zoomcast. Anxiety, tinged with doubt that we will escape the grip of the pandemic any time soon, or the blight of Trump-o-nomics at all. Now, as I post this, there’s a reasonable chance of a renewal of rationality and respect. Then, it was a jump ball at best.

When we record the show, I leave either CNN or MSNBC on the monitor behind me. Given that we configure Zoom in Gallery Mode for the most part, that ups the chance that one of us will notice if some breaking news (haha) appears. It’s mostly for the sense of being plugged in without being overwhelmed by the repetitive analysis that oh, yes we are in deep trouble. Controlled anxiety beats plain old anxiety most of the time. Nonetheless, I still get complaints from viewers to turn it off.

I like the delay of the realtime version to accommodate post production sweetening with music and lower third titles. The interval gives me a chance to come up with a theme for this post to accompany the mixed show, and it allows for some of the buzzy issues to recede in favor of more sticky foreshadowing of the next show. Around this time, we usually come up with a title for the show. You may not find this all that interesting, but it helps me endure my pathetic contributions to the show.

On this session, Frank Radice is heard quoting lines from Firesign Theatre records. In the early days, we used to sit around college dorms and what we thought passed for hippie crash pads, reciting these Firesign catch phrases. In slightly earlier times, we did this with Bill Cosby records, in later years Monty Python routines. Michael Markman had posted to the Gang Telegram feed a Wisconsin Public Radio conversation with the two surviving TFTers Phil Proctor and David Ossman.

Back then, the comedy group had released I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus, featuring a futuristic ride on a Firesign update of the Disneyland animatronic Presidents attraction. Now, Michael wondered whether Disney would add Trump to the ride when it reopens. It’s a good question. What, whether Disneyland will reopen?

So, newsletters. It seems possible the form is subsuming many of the pieces of blogging, podcasting, streaming, and social networking into a new construct. Where blogs once represented a ticket to parity with the mainstream of journalism, now journalists are acquiring parity with individual voices. Cable news not only feels like podcasting with its oversupply of talking head roundtables, but each anchor has a separate podcast to boot. Just as the record business ate the movies business with Saturday Night Fever, so too are the cable networks eating the broadcast networks as they are in turn eaten by the streamers.

And just as the former president was deplatformed by the social networks, live streamers are replatformed in this newslettered channel-in-your-pocket. Commentary, notification-based two-way feedback, realtime analytics, first party data relationships with creators and subscribers. More creation, less curation.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 16, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


GamersNexus’ Steve Burke overclocks his YouTube channel’s best comments

Produced by Adam Lance Garcia, edited by Richard Trammell. Click here for transcript. (video link)

GamersNexus has been a staple of our RSS feeds for more than a decade. The site has quickly become a must-read for anyone looking to build a PC, especially a gaming PC. And in addition to running that enterprise, Editor-in-Chief Steve Burke has more recently become a staple of our weekly viewing, too, as he helms GamersNexus’ equally popular YouTube channel.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to realize thatGamersNexus clearly shares a lot of DNA with the Orbital HQ. In every video, Burke and his team both inform and entertain, skimping neither on technical jargon nor opportunities to create useful Reddit memes. By now, GamersNexus videos have focused on everything from putting PCs from Walmart through genuine technical paces to emptying (literally, emptying) a tube of thermal paste on a poor CPU. You’ll learn useful info every time, even if it’s what new parts not to covet.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#ars-technica-videos, #features, #gamersnexus, #gaming-culture, #personal-history, #video


TikTok’s new Q&A feature lets creators respond to fan questions using text or video

TikTok is testing a new video Q&A feature that allows creators to more directly respond to their audience’s questions with either text or video answers, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The feature works across both video and livestreams (TikTok LIVE), but is currently only available to select creators who have opted into the test, we understand.

Q&A’s have become a top way creators engage fans on social media, and have proven to be particularly popular in places like Instagram Stories and in other social apps like Snapchat-integrated YOLO, or even in smaller startups.

On TikTok, however, Q&A’s are now a big part of the commenting experience, as many creators respond to individual comments by publishing a new video that explains their answer in more detail than a short, text comment could. Sometimes these answers are meant to clarify or add context, while other times creators will take on their bullies and trolls with their video responses. As a result, the TikTok comment section has grown to play a larger role in shaping TikTok trends and culture.

Q&A’s are also a key means for creators to engage with fans when live streaming. But it can be difficult for creators to keep up with a flood of questions and comments through the current live chat interface.

Seeing how creators were already using Q&A’s with their fans is how the idea for the new feature came about. Much like the existing “reply to comments with video” feature, the Q&A option lets creators directly respond to their audience questions. Where available, users will be able to designate their comments as questions by tapping the Q&A button in a video’s comment field, or they can submit questions directly through the Q&A link on the creator’s profile page.

For creators, the feature simplifies the process of responding to questions, as it lets them view all their fans’ questions in one place.

There’s no limit to the number of questions that a creator can receive, though they don’t have to reply to each one.

The feature was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who posted screenshots of what the feature looks like in action, including how it appears on users’ profiles.

During the test, the new Q&A feature is only being made available to creators with public Creator Accounts that have over 10,000 followers and who have opted into the feature within their Settings, TikTok confirmed to TechCrunch. Participants in the test today include some safelisted creators from TikTok’s Creative Learning Fund program, announced last year, among others.

TikTok says the Q&A feature is currently in testing globally, and it aims to roll out it to more users with Creator Accounts in the weeks ahead.

#apps, #qa, #social, #social-media, #tiktok, #video


Gillmor Gang: Twitter+

The best thing about 2020 is we survived it. No need to say what the worst thing is, it’s hands down our collective stupidity in the choices we’ve made. That reality has forced us to refactor what we do moving forward.

If we had correctly understood the massive changes ahead, we would not be wondering when we will return to the old, new or any normal. The normal is what got us here. Unlimited air travel, freedom to do whatever we wanted without regard to the impact it would have on anybody else. Nationalism. What the hell is that all about? Keeping us in, everybody else out.

Take Twitter for one. When it first emerged, it felt like a pipe dream realized. For me, it still feels that way. Good people like it, so do bad people. Bad as in they use the global network to inflict damage on their political enemies. Does that mean the phone is a bad thing, too? Or cars, or popcorn butter? What about dramas? They’re sad, reward winners and losers? Do I wish Hollywood was only allowed to make rom-coms? Well, yes I do.

But only if it doesn’t abridge my rights, my freedom to pursue happiness. So when I see Twitter turn into a cesspool, I look for someone to blame. Let’s start with the bad guys. But what if they have a point about something? Their motives may be suspect, or just plain evil. What am I doing reading them anyway. It’s not like I chose them to follow. Well, apparently I did, by listening to people who retweet what these folks spew.

Retweets are another one of these things I love about Twitter. Let’s say I follow someone whose perspective I admire, and they in turn retweet others who they admire. A social cloud forms with interesting characteristics. Implicitly, the pattern of retweets, @mentions and likes can be plugged into readers or aggregators to reflect trends, emerging news, business analytics, and social dynamics of power, ethics, humor and stature.

So it’s not like a follow of the bad actors, but it is like I follow their relative position in the stream of those I follow. I can and do rationalize this monitoring of other than the chosen social group as a necessary early warning system for trouble ahead. These signals can be used prophylactically to measure how our message is carrying, but a typical impact is to pigeonhole our views as fodder for those who wish us ill.

Net net, this countervailing energy reduces the sense of fun I have with the global network. If I had to choose no Twitter over this problem, I still choose Twitter. In the early days of social media, I had a front row seat in observing how these little signals could have a surprising impact on the concerns of the day, on the projection of ideas around the network to and with others who together built support, and sometimes, business through the collective group mind.

Has this been lost in the partisan nature of our daily political noise? Of course, just try saying anything about anything and watch the nasty trolls rev up their schtick. Not fun. Also not effective, because the pushback creates a new rhythm of Pee Wee Herman yeah-but-what-am-I dynamics. What to do? How about a @botmention that argues with tagged trolls but silently removes the noise from the feeds of those who @like the @bot tag.

Implementing this semi-public stream is already doable inside a private network, with the “cost” of joining the agreement to provide access to an internal view that makes the stream less noisy and more responsive. We’ve been experimenting with just such a private/public backchannel to support production of the Gillmor Gang, but I’m not here to promote that. More usefully, the network functions efficiently in concert with Twitter.

The events of 2020, and the years leading up to the election and pandemic breakout, make clear that the kind of social media spread we have seen has consequences we should have countered but in fact exacerbated. Yet even in the volatile wind down of the election are some signs of a rebound from playing the chaos card. Whatever you think of Twitter’s history of or lack of backbone development, Jack Dorsey’s red line in the sand was a much needed call to arms against Trump’s bullying.

Even if the actual technology was limited in effect, the application of any pushback at all was a signal of what the world might look like if the election went the other way. The first amplification of that subtle shift came from social media’s biggest customer, mainstream media: pointed pushback in White House press conferences, silent movie montages of Republican senators refusing to answer shouted hallway questions, networks cutting away from events when the falsehood level reached fake mass.

Mitch McConnell’s move to tie additional stimulus help to Trump’s attempt to punish Twitter by repealing Section 230 protection proved effective in running out the clock. It also moved the ball from Trump’s control to the hard numbers of January 20. The Georgia runoff on January 5, followed the next day by the attempt to challenge the electoral college Biden win and the storming of the Capitol, changed everything. Twitter became Trump’s last super power. Note: This edition of the Gang was recorded minutes before Twitter permanently suspended the @realDonaldTrump account.

Well, there is Zoom too. Its swappable background feature lets the ex-resident broadcast to the faithful as though nothing has changed. That’s why he came back from vacation early, to pre-pardon his production staff and hire a shadow cabinet. Secretary of Streaming, Chief Acting Legal Officer, Secretary of Horror Stephen Miller, Secretary of Bacteria Giuliani.

Zoom lets you do this behind a subscription paywall, but now Trump+ is competing against Disney+, Netflix, Apple+ and the bundles designed to lock-in the market until the vaccines take root. Or how about an ACA+ bundle that gives you preexisting coverage, the latest iPhone and any three + networks on a rotating basis to encourage competition for stream retention.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 8, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

#brent-leary, #denis-pombriant, #frank-radice, #keith-teare, #michael-markman, #steve-gillmor, #tc, #video


TikTok bans videos of Trump inciting mob, blocks #stormthecapital and other hashtags

For obvious reasons, Trump doesn’t have a TikTok account. But the President’s speeches that helped incite the mob who yesterday stormed the U.S. Capitol will have no home on TikTok’s platform. The company confirmed to TechCrunch its content policy around the Capitol riots will see it removing videos of Trump’s speeches to supporters. It will also redirect specific hashtags used by rioters, like #stormthecapitol and #patriotparty, to reduce their content’s visibility in the app.

TikTok says that Trump’s speeches, where the President again reiterated claims of a fraudulent election, are being removed on the grounds that they violate the company’s misinformation policy. That policy defines misinformation as content that is inaccurate or false. And it explains that while TikTok encourages people to have respectful conversations on subjects that matter to them, it doesn’t permit misinformation that can cause harm to individuals, their community or the larger public.

A rioting mob intent on stopping democratic processes in the United States seems to fit squarely under that policy.

However, TikTok says it will allow what it calls “counter speech” against the Trump videos. This is a form of speech that’s often used to fight misinformation, where the creator presents the factual information or disputes the claims being made in another video. TikTok in November had allowed counter speech in response to claims from Trump supporters that the election was “rigged,” even while it blocked top hashtags that were used to promote these ideas.

In the case of Trump’s speeches, TikTok will allow a user to, for example, use the green screen effect to comment on the speech — unless those comments support the riots.

In addition, TikTok is allowing some videos of the violence that took place at the Capitol to remain. For example, if the video condemns the violence or originates from a news organization, it may be allowed. TikTok is also applying its recently launched opt-in viewing screens on “newsworthy” content that may depict graphic violence.

These screens, announced in December, appear on top of videos some viewers may find graphic or distressing. Videos with the screens applied are already eligible for TikTok’s main “For You” feed, but may not be prohibited. When viewer encounters a screen, they can just tap a button to skip the video or they can choose to “watch anyway.” (It could not provide any example of the screens in use, however.)

Anecdotally, we saw videos that showed the woman who was shot and killed yesterday appear on TikTok and then quickly disappear. But those we came across were from individual users, not news organizations. They were also not really condemning the riot — they were just direct video footage. It’s unclear if the specific videos we saw were those that TikTok itself censored or if the user chose to remove them instead.

Separately from graphic content, TikTok says it will remove videos that seek to incite, glorify, or promote violence, as those also violate its Community Guidelines. In these cases, the videos will be removed as TikTok identifies them — either via automation or user reporting.

And, as it did in November, TikTok is proactively blocking hashtags to reduce content’s visibility. It’s now blocking tags like #stormthecapitol and #patriotparty among others, and redirects those queries to its Community Guidelines. There are currently redirections across dozens of variations of those hashtags and others. The company doesn’t share its full list in order to protect its safeguards, it says.

TikTok had previously blocked tags like #stopthesteal and #QAnon, in a similar proactive manner.

We should point out that for all Twitter’s posturing about safety and moderation, it allowed Trump to return to its app, after a few key tweets were deleted. And it has yet to block hashtags associated with false claims, like #stopthesteal, which continues to work today. Facebook, on the other hand, banned Trump from Facebook and Instagram for at least two weeks. Like TikTok, it had previously blocked the #stopthesteal and #sharpiegate hashtags with a messages about its Community Standards. (Today those searches are erroring out with messages that say “This Page Isn’t Available Right Now,” we noticed.)

TikTok’s content moderation efforts have been fairly stringent in comparison with other social networks, as it regularly hides, downranks, and removes users’ posts. But it’s also been accused of engaging in “censorship” by those who believe it’s being too aggressive about newsworthy content.

That’s led to users finding more creative ways to keep their videos from being banned — like using misspellings, coded language or clever editing to route around TikTok policies. Other times, creators will simply give up and direct viewers to their Instagram where their content is backed up and less policed.

“Hateful behavior and violence have no place on TikTok,” a TikTok spokesperson told TechCrunch, when we asked for a statement on the Capitol events. “Content or accounts that seek to incite, glorify, or promote violence violate our Community Guidelines and will be removed,” they added.



#apps, #capitol-riot, #mobile, #riots, #social, #tiktok, #trump, #video