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Mobile Technology News, June 11, 2015

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • If You Look Hard Enough, Vaginas Are Everywhere
    “I think that all pussies are perfect, in being un-perfect… My pussy, your pussy, everybody’s pussy is f**king perfect.”

    That’s how Chelsea Jones responded when Bullett Media asked her to describe the perfect pussy. Amen, sister.

    Jones and her friend Eva Sealove aren’t usually asked by media outlets to describe their idea of the “perfect pussy” — well, until recently. About nine months ago, the two L.A. natives created an Instagram account called “Look At This Pusssy,” which curates images of objects and sceneries that look like vaginas.

    In less than a year, the account has accumulated over 5,500 followers. Censoring anatomy can have a stigmatizing effect, as if something must be hidden because of the way it looks. From t-shirts to different kinds of food and even tree trunks, the images on Jones’ and Sealove’s Instagram account prove that vaginas can be found anywhere and everywhere.

    Jaunty af literally all day @cjkut

    A photo posted by look at this pussy (@look_at_this_pusssy) on Apr 14, 2015 at 10:21am PDT

    Although the images may be a bit NSFW, the two say they created the account to remind everyone that vaginas come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And each vagina is perfect.

    By posting different images of objects that look like vaginas, Sealove and Jones hope to normalize attitudes towards vaginas and all the shapes and sizes they come in. The two post images they’ve taken and also accept submissions.

    “I wanted to create a space where people can feel like ‘it’s normal to feel like this’ or ‘it’s normal that I look like this,'” Jones told Bullett. “Everything is a pussy and everything about a pussy is beautiful. I don’t want anyone to ever feel shame about that and this is sort of a way for us to drive home that message, and be funny with it too.”

    Jones said that she and Sealove want to empower women with “Look At This Pusssy,” and they love that some of their followers are teenage girls. “To me, I don’t think there’s anything vulgar about our account because our message is anti-shame and acceptance of your own body,” Sealove said. “It makes me really emotional to see girls at that age respond to our content. It’s really hopeful to me, because of how hard it is to grow up as a female and come into your own.”

    Take a look at a few (semi-NSFW) images from Sealove’s and Jones’ “Look At This Pusssy” account that look very similar to vaginas.

    This pussy is a progressive male pussy wanting to do right by female counterpart. Bend ur brain 4 a couple secs and consider males (sis-penip males & otherwise): Pussy making some progress these days (s/0) but with advancement of pussy female/ female gender comes inevitable crisis of masculinity leading to many Q’s for males including but not limited to: Am I creepy? Am I the patriarchy (I don’t think so bc i try to be Nice guy but perhaps I doth protest too much or some shit?)? Am I useful? Here’s the deal, males, if I may be so bold (I may be bc I can do wtvr tf I want duh): The pussy empathize w the struggle to be Correct and Nice male. We do not hate u bc we love ourselves. If u are Nice guy and treat pussy female with Consideration, this is much appreciated and the best way. TY 4 have awareness. Corrective action probably most potent on a 1- 1 level; systemic change happens gradually between individual Humans in relationships so act like a fuckng Human and listen to the ideas of other Humans. V simple. A kiss! to u and ur kin. @mgilmore1112

    A photo posted by look at this pussy (@look_at_this_pusssy) on Jun 1, 2015 at 3:34pm PDT

    is everything a lie or is this the sweetest little grandma pussssy @ex_florist

    A photo posted by look at this pussy (@look_at_this_pusssy) on Mar 26, 2015 at 3:19pm PDT

    a spoonful frm heave @elle598

    A photo posted by look at this pussy (@look_at_this_pusssy) on May 7, 2015 at 4:19pm PDT

    this is meta pussy. Do not be disrespect toward this placid creature who is in repose and purring. S/0 @unfucked_420

    A photo posted by look at this pussy (@look_at_this_pusssy) on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:13am PST

    Head over to “Look At This Pusssy” to see more from Sealove and Jones.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Kendrick Lamar Visits High School That Praised His Work
    Kendrick Lamar’s latest album “To Pimp A Butterfly” has received rave reviews from critics and has even served as inspiration for one high school English teacher.

    During the recent school year, English teacher Brian Mooney’s applied the messages behind the lyrics into his daily curriculum, drawing parallels from Lamar’s album to Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye.”

    Mooney chronicled his classroom experience in a blog post, which just happened to catch the attention of Kendrick. It eventually led the Grammy Award-winner to make a surprise visit to Mooney’s high school in North Bergen, N.J on June 8 where he performed one of his songs from the album, “Alright.”

    During an interview with NBC News, the Compton native shared his thoughts on how his album impacted Mooney’s freshman class.

    “I didn’t think I made it for a 16-year-old. So when a 16-year-old is intrigued by it, it lets me know how so far in advance as a society we actually are. And that inspired me on a whole ‘nother level,” he said. “A lot of times we’re put in these positions where we don’t know we’re role models. And just off the simple fact — whether we want to be a role model or not –- just the simple fact that we come from these Urban communities, these harsh worlds and we’re on TV and kids are looking at us, we’re already influence.”

    “We influence their minds, we influence the way they talk, the way they dress,” he continued. “Every time I meet kids and they explain it to me what they got going on in life. I got to get out of my selfish ways of knowing that the music is not just about me anymore.”

    Mooney seconded Kendrick, adding how he feels hip hop culture is a viable resource for teaching and learning in the classroom.

    “One of the most important elements of hip hop is something called ‘knowledge of self,’ which a lot of hip hop historians will talk about. And that’s so educational,” Mooney told NBC News.

    “That’s talking about identity. And so, it’s less of matter of using hip hop to trick kids into learning, but it’s more of an actual frame work for teaching and learning.”

    Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to High Tech High School in the clip above.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • How Smart Can a Smart Machine Become?
    To measure the intelligence of intelligent machines has been an obsession of computer scientists since the dawn of the computer era. The pioneering genius of Alan Turing has bequeathed us a test based on perception. His famous “imitation game” sets up a human judge in conversation against some “thing” (or some “one”) hidden behind a wall. If following a question and answer session the judge is unable to tell whether whoever is on the other side is human or not, then that machine should be deemed as “intelligent” as a human.

    The Turing Test is lousy for many reasons. For a start, it is subjective and therefore unscientific. A person’s opinion – the human judge’s – cannot substitute for an objective and impartial measurement of a system’s property. Philosophers have attacked the Turing Test from every angle. The mind philosopher John Searle demonstrated that a computer can “appear” to be intelligent by simply manipulating symbols on the basis of a logical algorithm, but without having any understanding of what those symbols may actually “mean”. Therefore, according to Searle, a computer’s output is not an indication of the internal property that we consider as “intelligence” -and uphold so dearly in our human societies and cultures. And yet we need to find a way to compare the intelligence of computers to our own, as well as to compare the intelligence of machines among their mechanical peers. This need is nowadays becoming ever more urgent as Artificial Intelligent and Machine Learning systems come of age.

    Perhaps one way of addressing the measurement of machine intelligence would be to mimic the way we measure human intelligence. Although the debate around what “intelligence” actually means has by no means been resolved, most psychologists would agree that the standard IQ tests measure “something” that has predictive power when comparing cognitive results across a human population, or predicting an individual’s future performance in a range of cognitive tasks. Perhaps then one could devise a test that explores a number of agreed areas of cognition – for example knowledge, memory, comprehension, vocabulary, etc. – then draw a set of questions that measure “machine IQ”. But there are several problems with this approach. Firstly, it is too anthropocentric. Secondly, an IQ test is a snapshot of a subject’s cognitive ability. In the case of humans that can be considered as adequate because our brains do not in any way augment, or get an “upgrade”, during our lifespan. But this is not true of computers. Machine Intelligence can increase its power many orders of magnitude in a relatively short time – compared to a human life – thanks to technological developments in hardware and software engineering. Also, human IQ measurement is always an indication of cognitive ability compared to some larger group. When it comes to computers this is problematic since there is a wide spectrum of performance depending on a computer’s power. Unlike people computers are not created “equal”.

    So to measure the “machine IQ” we need a new definition of intelligence that goes beyond the human – let’s call it “universal intelligence”. Universal intelligence could be defined in very general terms. AI researchers Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter have defined it as “the measurement of an agent’s ability to achieve meaningful goals in a wide range of environments”. A meaningful goal would be a goal that bears some significance to the agent’s survival, purpose or well-being. The environmental dimension is important to include in the definition because an intelligent agent should be able to interact with a given environment and create the appropriate strategies to achieve its goal. If we accept such a general definition it follows that human intelligence is a subset of universal intelligence, and therefore machine intelligence can one day become greater that human – a very profound, and disquieting, conclusion indeed. Nevertheless, on the basis of such definition we can begin to think of dynamic IQ measurement, instead of that static, human-purposed one. This dynamic testing should reflect the potential of an intelligent machine to scale its cognitive ability as it becomes more powerful; and can also inform us how a given machine compares to others. Finally, we need to factor in our measurement the degree of complexity of environments in which the intelligent machine agent will build strategies, solve problems and achieve meaningful goals. This measure of complexity is crucial because it represents the degree of autonomy of a system. After all, we humans pride ourselves that we can be innovative, i.e. find solutions to new problems; we call this ability “creativity” and claim that computers are useless when it comes to that. Thankfully, there is a beautiful mathematical expression that measures the complexity of environments. It is called the “Kolmogorov” complexity. Problem solved?

    Not quite. The Kolmogorov complexity may be beautiful but it is also “non-computable”. This loosely means that there does not exist a computer (or an algorithm) that can solve the Kolmogorov complexity for every given circumstance. In other words, we cannot build a computer that can measure the intelligence of other computers, conclusively for every possible environment. We can only get an approximation, which may be good enough to begin with. After all, should machine intelligence surpass human in the near future, estimating the Kolmogorov complexity would become meaningless to us. Only superintelligent machines will be able to appreciate the problem of non-computability – if “appreciation” is something that a universally intelligent agent actually needs to “feel” in order to achieve its goal. Perhaps then, our treasured self-awareness, the highest level of human consciousness, will have become a relic of biological evolution surpassed by electro-mechanical agents capable of some new level of consciousness which will be simply impossible for us to fathom, comprehend, or measure.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Elon Musk's SpaceX Wants Approval To Beam Internet From Space
    Elon Musk is one step closer to bringing the Internet to space.

    The billionaire entrepreneur’s private space-travel company, SpaceX, has requested permission from the Federal Communications Commission to start testing satellites that would beam down Internet from space.

    The company filed a license application to “deploy a large constellation of satellites for low-latency, worldwide, high capacity Internet service,” according to an FCC filing. An FCC spokesman declined further comment.

    Phil Larson, a SpaceX spokesman, confirmed the firm filed a request with the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency that regulates satellite orbital slots and broadcast frequencies.

    The satellite venture — which, if successful, could pit SpaceX against Comcast, AT&T and other rival Internet service providers — began last January when the company opened a new facility in Seattle. SpaceX aims to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit around the Earth — circling the planet at about 750 miles above the surface, far closer than the typical communications satellites that soar at altitudes of 22,000 miles. That would allow the company to speed up data flows and deliver high-speed Internet to the more than 3 billion people who still have shoddy access to the Web.

    In January, Musk said it could take five years to complete the first generation of satellites, and up to 15 years to reach full capacity. It’s unclear how far along the project has come since then.

    The satellite program is a key part of what may be Musk’s loftiest career goal yet. Sure, the Tesla Motors CEO aims to rid the roads of gasoline-power vehicles. As chairman of the solar panel maker SolarCity, he hopes to make powering individual homes and businesses clean and efficient. And SpaceX was formed primarily to privatize space travel.

    But during a Reddit Ask Me Anything Q&A session earlier in January, Musk said he may reveal plans to build a human colony on Mars sometime this year.

    Such a vast and historic undertaking would require a connection to the Internet, he said.

    “It will be important for Mars to have a global communications network as well,” Musk said. “I think this needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone else doing it.”

    Yet, he isn’t alone. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who owns the competing space-travel firm Virgin Galactic, has backed a company called OneWeb, which also aims to ring Earth with Internet-providing satellites.

    In March, Facebook revealed it has begun testing solar-powered unmanned drones that would soar through the sky, beaming down Internet from above.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Parents' Top 5 Questions to Keep Kids Safe Online
    Common Sense Media parenting expert Caroline Knorr answers questions about keeping kids safe online for Internet Safety Month.

    1. At What Age Should My Kids Go Online?

    The age they begin is entirely up to you. Lots of kids start playing around online during the preschool years, but many parents wait until kids are in elementary school to get them started. Whatever you choose, these guidelines will give you and your kid a good beginning:

    • Sit with little kids — at least at first — so you can explain what they see.
    • Find age-appropriate sites with high learning potential.
    • Put a time limit on your sessions (instill the idea of balance early).
    • Avoid just-before-bed computer time. It can be stimulating and interrupt sleep.

    2. How Do I Keep My Kid Safe On the Internet?

    Internet safety goes way beyond protecting kids from strangers or blocking inappropriate content. It’s about helping your kids use the Internet productively and practice safe, responsible online behavior — especially when you’re not there to answer their questions or check in on where they’ve ventured. Keep in mind that what may seem like basic knowledge to parents is new to kids just getting started in the digital world. Having a conversation before your kid embarks online helps set expectations and establish ground rules. Here are the basic guidelines to share with your kid:

    • Follow your family’s rules about when and where to use the Internet.
    • Be polite, kind, and respectful.
    • Understand a website’s rules, and know how to flag other users for misbehavior.
    • Recognize “red flags,” including someone asking you personal questions such as your name and address.
    • Never share your name, your school’s name, your age, your phone number or your email or home address with strangers.
    • Never send pictures to strangers.
    • Keep passwords private (except from parents).
    • Never open a message from a stranger; it may contain a virus that can harm a computer.
    • Immediately tell an adult if something mean or creepy happens.

    3. Is It Safe to Post Pictures of My Kid Online?

    Sharing pictures of our kids with friends and family is one of the most popular uses of social media and has become an everyday way to stay in touch. But it’s worth knowing the facts before posting pictures or letting other people post pictures of your kids.

    First, posting photos of your kids creates a digital footprint — a kind of electronic paper trail — that forms their identities in a world they haven’t chosen to enter. Someday your preschoolers will grow up, and they might not want documentation of their diaper days hanging out online for their friends to find! Second, once you post a photo online, you lose control over it. Someone could easily copy the photo, tag it, save it or otherwise use it — and you might never know. Finally, everything you post has information that is valuable to advertisers and data collectors; posting a photo of a kid identifies you as someone who might be interested in baby products, for example.

    At the very least, you can minimize the consequences with these precautions: Use privacy settings; limit the audience of a post (only to family, for example); turn off your phone’s GPS; consider using a nickname for your kids; and think about using photo-sharing sites such as Picasaand Flickr that require users to log in to see pictures (unlike on social media, where all your followers can see them).

    4. What Are Some Good Rules for Screen Names and Passwords?

    It can be fun for kids to think up screen names and passwords. Make sure they come up with strong passwords and know never to share them. If kids need to write down passwords to remember them, consider writing down password hints, and store any written-down passwords or hints in a super secret place away from the computer.

    Password tips to share with kids:

    • Make passwords eight or more characters long (longer passwords are harder to crack than shorter ones).
    • Try not to use dictionary words as your passwords (nonsense words are better).
    • Include letters, numbers, and symbols (these make it harder to guess passwords).
    • Change your password at least every six months (this way, even if someone does guess a password, he or she won’t be able to get into your account for long).
    • Don’t use your nickname, phone number, or address as your password.
    • Give your password to your parent or guardian (they will help you remember it if you forget it).
    • Sharing your password with your friends is not a good idea (even if you trust them, they might unintentionally do something that puts you or your information at risk).
    • Create a password that’s unique but memorable.

    Screen name tips to share with kids:

    • Avoid using your real name.
    • Skip personal details (no ages, addresses or jersey numbers, for example).
    • Consider a screen name’s effect on others (make sure it’s readable and inoffensive).
    • Keep it clean (avoid bad words or anything sexy, which can attract the wrong kind of attention).

    5. What Are the Best Privacy Settings for My Computer and Smartphone?

    The place to go to protect your computer against privacy invasion is your web browser. When you go online, websites install cookies on your computer that track your movements. Some cookies can be beneficial, such as those that remember your login names or items in your online shopping cart. But some cookies are designed to remember everything you do online, build a profile of your personal information and habits, and sell that information to advertisers and other companies. (Check out these kid Web browsers.)

    Take a look at the privacy settings offered in your browser (usually found in the Tools menu) to see whether you can fine-tune them to keep the good and block the bad.

    Privacy settings on smartphones vary, but you can tighten up privacy with these precautions:

    • Turn off location services. That prevents apps from tracking your location.
    • Don’t let apps share data. Some apps want to use information stored on your phone (your contact list, for example). Say no.
    • Enable privacy settings on apps you download. Make sure your teens are using strict privacy settings on services such as Instagram and Facebook.
    • Be careful with social logins. When you log onto a site with your Facebook or Google username and password, you may be allowing that app to access certain information from your profile. Read the fine print to know what you’re sharing.


    Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • 5 Essential Habits of Highly Productive Product Managers
    2015-06-10-1433930342-759794-5habitsproductiveproductmanagersblog.jpeg

    Great product managers are like many other high achievers. They seem to get more done in a month than most do in a year. When you find one you do everything you can to keep them, and you would gladly trade 10 good PMs for one that was great.

    But their role as the CEO of their products means that they need to do more than just outwork everyone around them. They need to bring greater productivity to the entire team around them too.

    The most productive product managers have the incredible ability to simultaneously captain their product and motivate lots of folks who they need to build, market, sell, and support their products.

    They find a way to prioritize all the user stories, customer feedback, and feature requests to build what matters. All while dealing with different personalities and keeping one eye on the future.

    If product management sounds like a challenging job, it’s because it is. But the most productive product managers make it look easy — that is part of what makes them great. That’s why I call them hyper-productive.

    So how do they do it? Over the past year I have been fortunate to speak with hundreds of product managers at Aha! (which is product roadmap software). I have found that there are definitely common habits shared by the most productive product leaders.

    Here are some habits of hyper-productive product managers. I suggest you should do what they do if you want to be great.

    Goal first
    A product manager is not there to tell engineers how to do their jobs; rather, the product manager is there to tell them why the features on the roadmap are right for their customers and business. Hyper-productive product managers always keep the goal foremost in their mind, and they paint a vision for why what they are asking for matters.

    Know the customer
    Hyper-productive PMs are the customer and market advocate. Product and engineering teams want to be inspired and know that what they are working on matters to the customer and ultimately to the business. Great product managers know the customer, product, and business better than anyone on their team (and likely better than anyone in the company).

    Be open
    The most productive product managers know that they do not have all of the answers. They remain open to new ideas from their teams, as well as from other, unexpected places like customers. They listen carefully so that they do not miss meaningful insights and suggestions.

    Take blame
    Figuring out who to blame is a waste of time and energy. A great product manager leads through both success and failures — they accept responsibility. This does not mean that they do not follow up to figure out what went wrong when necessary; they do. They just do not throw anyone under the bus during that process.

    Throw credit
    Teams work harder for a product manager that seems outright selfless. That’s because that PM understands that there is a direct correlation between team recognition and productivity. Product teams rise and fall together, and saying “you did a good job” goes a long way. It is never wrong to throw credit to a team that executes.

    Over the years at Aha! we have learned from getting many things right and some things wrong. We have found that these habits are shared by the most productive product managers in the world. Some of these concepts are easy to adopt — others might require extra effort.

    I can tell you that change will not happen overnight. But over time, your team may surprise you with how productive they can actually be. And you just might help them build something that customers love and that you will be proud of for a very long time.

    What else do hyper-productive product managers do?

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Monitor real time glucose readings on Apple Watch

    Real time blood sugar levels can be read on Apple Watch.

    The post Monitor real time glucose readings on Apple Watch appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • How To Fix Gaming For Women And Minorities, According To One Major Critic
    It’s no big secret that the tech and video game industries have a problem with diversity. And when it comes to women, those issues are particularly well-documented.

    Apple earned plaudits just this week for having two women appear onstage during a keynote event and finally announcing a menstruation-tracking feature in a health app that had already been around for a year. And in 2014, some individuals organized under the #GamerGate banner launched an infamous, sometimes violent campaign against feminist critics of video games.

    laura hudson

    Laura Hudson, an editor of Offworld.com

    But there are people working on the problem. Earlier this year, culture critics Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson launched Offworld.com, a gaming (and sometimes tech-focused) website initially described as “an unequivocal home for women and minorities.”

    The website is an offshoot of Boing Boing, an award-winning media outlet founded in 1988 that now exists mostly as a blog focusing on art, pop culture, tech and science. Alexander and Hudson are no strangers to the game: Alexander was the editor of industry news site Gamasutra, while Hudson was the founder of popular site Comics Alliance before jumping over to Wired a couple of years ago.

    Their Offworld site isn’t perfect, though. It’s is still building a stable of contributors and is mostly populated with pieces by its two main editors, somewhat obscuring its mission of diversity.

    The Huffington Post recently interviewed Laura Hudson, one of those editors, to talk about the challenge of bringing diversity to gaming and tech culture — a task shared by Offworld.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    When Offworld was first announced, its mission was to include diverse voices and bring in all sorts of different people. I wonder if some might go to Offworld.com and see that the bylines tend to be Laura Hudson and Leigh Alexander and wonder if that mission is being fulfilled. How will you continue to include diverse voices moving forward?

    Laura Hudson: Right now, we’re trying to establish ourselves as a site. I feel really proud of all of the freelance feature writers that we’ve brought in. It’s a balance that I think we are never going to stop pushing for, because I don’t think that anyone should ever get to a point where they say, “Diversity goal achieved, mission accomplished!”

    Obviously, both of [our editors] are women. I’m white. Leigh identifies as mixed race. But it would be very difficult for any two people to comprise the diversity necessary to represent everyone.

    laura hudson

    Let’s talk about diverse voices being heard in the gaming realm. Where do you think we are right now and where do we need to go from here?

    LH: What I would say about games is something similar to what I would say about a lot of tech and a lot of industries, particularly ones that are male-dominated. There’s an attitude within a lot of corporate cultures, that it’s not that they want to exclude women, it’s that they don’t particularly do a lot to include them.

    It’s easy for a lot of these workplace cultures to be hostile to women — or people of color or differently abled people — in ways that they don’t necessarily understand are hostile. And there’s more of an expectation that women or different types of people have to adapt to it. They don’t really change anything about the culture and then wonder why there aren’t more diverse people there, then they shrug and say, “Well, they’re not interested.”

    If companies and game developers really care about these issues, then they need to deal with it on a deeper level than just saying that they want more diverse employees. It requires a slightly more transformative approach. I don’t think we’re there. After last year, I think there are a lot of women who have come to perceive games as an even more hostile place than they had before. I’d like to see more work around trying to counteract that.

    What sort of work to you have in mind when you say that?

    LH: Partly it’s hiring practices. If you just throw the doors open and say, well, we’re not going to change anything about ourselves and anyone can come through the door, you’re going to perpetuate the cycle of the people who always have historically been there.

    You know, there’s this notion that in a meritocracy you just throw open the doors and anyone who comes in is the most deserving. I think that’s not always the case. When you’re dealing with environments and industries that have been hostile to women in the past, you have to do a little extra work. You actually have to seek out that diversity and not just wait for it to come to you.

    Even if you look at recruiting materials, you look at them a lot of the time and it’s just guys, or it’s just female video game characters in bikinis, and that’s not necessarily going to achieve that goal. There are a lot of ways that more work could be done, and I think it varies from company to company. It requires active work.

    laura hudson

    On that note, “Grand Theft Auto V” is one of the biggest games in the world, but a lot of it strikes me as sexist or offensive. Do you think that the mainstream game culture is actually hostile to people who don’t fit the most basic mold?

    LH: Obviously it varies from game to game and company to company, but I think it varies from hostile to unwelcoming. I would say “Grand Theft Auto” is definitely misogynistic, but it’s also misanthropic. That game hates human beings. It hates female human beings in a very specific, sexualized way; but it also hates all humans.

    The fact that so many of these games are so popular, yet so many people don’t perceive them as an issue, indicates something larger in the culture. A lot of people genuinely look at these games and don’t see a problem, and they don’t feel like they hate women, but they’re so inured to it that they don’t necessarily understand why this would be alienating to a lot of people.

    There’s a second step that goes beyond “stop actively offending women.” Start actively welcoming them. That’s the next step, and it’s equally important.

    What would that look like to you?

    LH: You know what is really great, and I’m writing something about it, is “Splatoon.” It’s an amazing game. And it’s interesting because there are actually young men who are playing as the female character.

    When I played the game, the player selection screen came up and the girl was on the left and the boy was on the right. So, in a sense, the first character you see is female, sort of inverting these notions that male is default. And you can easily play the guy, but the female character is way cooler. And there’s something wonderful about that.

    The game is very playful and fun, and there’s a fashion element to it, but not in an inherently feminized way. It’s not “going to the boutique at the mall,” but there’s something very welcoming about it for everyone.

    I think putting that type of care into character design to make the female characters as interesting and appealing as the male characters — you don’t necessarily need to make a super-feminized game in order to appeal to women. If every game did that, I think we’d live in a profoundly different world for games.

    Nintendo’s “Splatoon” (Source)

    Can you tell me about coverage on Offworld that you’re particularly proud of, or that is emblematic of what Offworld is capable of?

    LH: In terms of my own work, I think maybe the thing that I’m proudest of so far is my piece about “Bloodborne.” It’s a “Souls“-series game, which are known for being a very specific type of hardcore, that involve a lot of persistence, that offer these particularly incredible emotional payoffs when you finally achieve your goal.

    A lot of the time, these games offer payoffs that we don’t necessarily get in life, and I think that’s part of why we like them. If you put in a certain amount of effort, you will get the rewards that you will expect. And that’s not something that always happens in life.

    If a game requires you to put in that time and energy and doesn’t give anything back, then that’s the kind of game you walk away from. And that’s the thesis of my article — that it helped me recognize that there were things in my life that I needed to walk away from, because they were punishing without any reward.


    Gameplay in “Bloodborne.” (Source)

    The “Souls” series and “Bloodborne” are very low on the list of accessible games. They’re very difficult. I have friends who aren’t gamers at all and wouldn’t be able make it through the first three minutes. How do you approach writing with that issue in mind?

    LH: Some of my favorite pieces about games that I’ve read have come from people who have completely different perspectives from me. I don’t know if you’ve read “When Fashion is Frightening,” a feature by Anna Anthropy that she wrote for us? She wrote about a Nintendo game called “Style Savvy: Trendsetters.” It’s about fashion, but she also wrote about her experience as a trans woman:

    As a trans woman who grew up without ever being taught the thousand secret rules of performing femininity, I walk through life terrified that I’m wearing something the wrong way, this couldn’t possibly go with that, I must look ridiculous wearing this outfit in this weather — no one else is wearing a long black dress and tights. Any detail could give away the game, could expose the facade of my femininity to reveal that I’m a Fake Woman.

    I would have never played that game and had that response to it because her perspective and her experience is different than mine. So, you mentioned that one person might not be able to go in and do this or that, but that’s part of what I find so fantastic about games writing.


    Nintendo’s “Style Savvy: Trendsetters” (Source)

    Is there anything else you would like to communicate before we wrap up here today?

    LH: I hope more people will check out Offworld — and games in general. Nothing makes me happier than when someone who doesn’t traditionally play games connects with them for the first time or gets really excited about them. I love that, because I love games, and I love seeing people get out of it what I get out of it. And finding more ways for people to do that is obviously something that I’m passionate about.

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  • 'Dreadnoughtus' Was One Huge Dinosaur, But Maybe Not As Huge As We Thought
    The gigantic dinosaur known as Dreadnoughtus schranibelieved to have been one of the heaviest land animals ever — may not have been quite as big as we thought.

    When Dreadnoughtus was discovered last year, paleontologists looked at the dimensions of its leg bones and estimated the dinosaur’s weight to have been about 60 tons. But a new study casts serious doubt on that estimate.

    Estimating the body mass of an extinct animal from approximately 77 million years ago of this size from only its fossilized bones is extremely challenging and relies on the availability of certain data from living animals and modeling techniques,” study co-author Dr. Karl Bates, a biology lecturer at the University of Liverpool in England, said in a written statement. “Using digital modeling and a dataset that took in species, alive and dead, we were able to see that the creature couldn’t be as large as originally estimated.”

    (Story continues below image.)
    dreadnoughtus
    Artist’s rendering of Dreadnoughtus.

    The researchers used a 3D digital model of the dinosaur’s skeleton to estimate the volume and density of its bones, skin, muscles, fat, and other tissues, National Geographic reported. With the volume and density, plus corresponding data from similar animals alive today, the researchers then put the dinosaur’s weight at 30 to 40 tons. That’s about half as heavy as the original estimate.

    “Our analysis suggests that only the lower estimates produced by previous methods are plausible,” Bates said in the statement. “Estimates of 60 tons and above do not fit with our current understanding of the mass characteristics of living land animals.”

    But Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, the Drexel University paleontologist who discovered Dreadnoughtus, told Live Science that he wasn’t convinced. Why? Because the new study used the volume of the dinosaur’s body as a proxy for its mass — and Dreadnoughtus’ total volume is still unknown since only about 45 percent of its skeleton was recovered, Lacovara told Live Science.

    “They’re using a proxy that doesn’t exist to estimate a number that can never be validated,” he said.

    One thing scientists seem to agree on is that Dreadnoughtus was breathtakingly big.

    The study was published online in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters on June 10, 2015.

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  • A New iPhone Feature Can Save Children's Lives
    2015-06-09-1433880217-5725219-babyincar.jpg

    Approximately 40 children die each year from heat stroke after being left in cars by distracted, absentminded or careless parents. And that is in the U.S. alone. A minor update to Apple’s smartphone operating system could help to prevent these accidents from happening in the future.

    iPhone users have long been able to set reminders based on particular locations. For example, you can tell your iPhone: ‘Open a bottle of wine when I get home,’ and if you’ve previously told your iPhone where you live it will use the ‘geofence’ around your house to know when you get in and prompt you with the reminder. Apple spent just a few seconds at its latest event showing off geofences for your car.

    If you have CarPlay (Apple’s solution for safely using an iPhone in the vehicle) your car will now be recognized as a location and you’ll be able to set reminders based on entering or exiting your vehicle.

    From here the solution is simple: Set a reminder such as “Siri, remind me every day when I get out of the car: check for kids!” And a reminder will appear as you walk away from the car, replacing possible catastrophe with slight embarrassment. Do I want to admit to myself that it’s possible to forget my kids in the car? Probably, not. But is it possible? The facts are indisputable: yes, it is. And I would rather admit it and take practical steps to prevent it, than deny it and avoid those steps.

    2015-06-09-1433880195-2918434-siri.jpg

    Several companies including Intel, BabyAlert and others are developing innovative preventive measures such as microchips and sensors installed inside car seats to reduce these accidental deaths.

    Smartphone reminders may not replace these entirely, and nothing can negate the need for attentive and careful parenting, but a simple reminder to make sure you’ve left no one behind could be one piece in saving a child’s life.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Pornhub Crowdfunds First Porn Shot In Space
    Porn has a lot in common with spaceflight. In both cases, a large blast is crucial to the mission’s success.

    Plus, the zero-gravity aspect of spaceflight can swell the imagination and conjure up all sorts of erotic flights of fancy.

    Now Pornhub.com is hoping to thrust itself into the stratosphere by crowdfunding a porno that will be shot 68 miles above the Earth’s surface on a shuttle service like Virgin Galactic.

    The “Sexploration” campaign hopes to raise $3.4 million in the next 30 days via Indiegogo.com. If the funding level is reached, Pornhub vice president Corey Price is shooting for a late 2016 release.

    “If all goes well, the schedule will include an entire six months of training for space travel for our crew and performers before we’re comfortable with launching them into space,” Price told The Huffington Post by email. “We need to know all participants are sufficiently prepared for the rigors of space-age coital activity (as well as filming in or past the stratosphere).”

    Eva Lovia and Johnny Sins are the stars enlisted to make one small boink for porn and one giant money shot for mankind.

    Lovia, 26, is particularly excited about the opportunity.

    “The bragging rights alone are worth it,” she told The Huffington Post. “We don’t know if any astronauts have had sex in space, so we’d be the first to publicly admit it.”

    Surprisingly, this astronaughty has yet to get into the Mile High Club, much less do it 68 miles above Earth.

    “I’ve never done it, mainly because the only place you can do it is in the bathroom — and they’re disgusting!” she said. “This will be a lot more sanitized, plus, we will have use of the whole plane, not just the bathroom.”

    astronaughts

    Price said the plan is to have Sins and Lovia go aboard a shuttle with a six-person film crew.

    “The production of the video will begin when the spaceship takes flight. Filming will commence upon takeoff and as the ship climbs, so too will the lovemaking,” he said. “As soon as the ship reaches its maximum altitude there will be weightlessness for at least a few minutes. Our actors will be having sex and climaxing within that time frame –- ideally, of course.”

    Besides raising funds, there are other kinks to be worked out before the space porn can be made, including dealing with any health risks in advance and retrofitting the camera equipment for the potential atmospheric changes.

    “Thankfully, we have a very experienced production crew and directorial team to help make the money shot happen in a way that looks dynamic and revolutionary for viewers,” Price said.

    Raising $3.4 million is a challenge for any crowdfunding campaign, much less one that involves explicit sexual activity.

    Then there is the nagging problem of whether private space travel companies like Virgin Galactic or SpaceX would agree to allow their shuttles to be used in the first place, much less be willing to clean up the mess afterwards.

    Neither Virgin Galactic nor Space X have responded to press inquiries, but Pornhub press rep Mike Williams insists the company is currently in talks with a number of private space travel companies.

    “Because of the nature of our endeavor, we aren’t really able to disclose the details of those talks just yet for fear that that would risk unnecessary fallout from the aforementioned parties.”

    If the campaign succeeds and the first porn gets shot in space, the challenges are just beginning for Lovia and Sins, according to experts who’ve studied the particulars of getting it on in outer space.

    “Sex is very difficult in zero gravity, apparently, because you have no traction and you keep bumping against the walls,” biologist Athena Andreadis of the University of Massachusetts Medical School told SPACE.com in 2011. “Think about it: you have no friction, you have no resistance.”

    Lovia is thinking about other aspects of the endeavor including an unprintable quote about how she’s looking forward to dealing with a floating money shot.

    She also is thinking about what to do for an encore should this (e)mission succeed.

    “I’m thinking about deep sea exploration,” she said.

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  • Volunteer Firefighter Garret Bryl Looks Back On Using A Drone To Rescue Texas Flood Victims
    Record rainfall hit Texas over Memorial Day weekend, destroying homes and taking at least 23 lives — but thanks to one man and his drone, Bill and Tracey Kaskel, a couple from Venus, Texas, were able to escape floodwaters unscathed.

    After making the miraculous rescue back on May 25, volunteer firefighter Garret Bryl joined HuffPost Live and looked back on the tumultuous ordeal. Bryl had been using drones recreationally for three years before he put his hobby to practical use with the Joshua Fire Department six months ago. With the help of his quadcopter Valkyrie, Bryl delivered life vests and a safety lines to Bill and Tracey Kaskel — saving the couple, their cat and five dogs from the river flowing below their home.

    Watch Garret Bryl discuss his rescue mission on HuffPost Live in the video above.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Emergency network plans questioned
    Plans to move the emergency services on to a commercial mobile network are questioned, as O2 withdraws from the process.
  • (VIDEO) Interactive TV Future Is Finally Here: AT&T AdWorks' Dunsche
    If you remember the mid-90s futuristic hype about “interactive TV,” you will know the concept goes back a long way.

    Maria Mandel Dunsche remembers. The VP of AT&T’s AdWorks division has been working with such platforms since 1999, helping brands try to exploit the emerging channel. But it’s only lately the reality has come to pass.

    “I’ve been in this space for 15+ years,” Dunsche tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “I’ve been shocked by the lack of activity that has happened over the years. It’s only been the last couple of years where there’s been this substantive uptick of interest.

    “Digital is really putting pressure on TV to be better targeted, more accountable, more interactive. We’re going to start seeing really scalable solutions which will allow for much better targeting. The next few years are going to see substantial change in the TV space.”

    AdWorks is AT&T’s division helping advertisers take advantage of new-wave TV opportunities, including linear, data-optimized, multi-screen and interactive creatives. TV Blueprint is the name of the product AdWorks uses to crunch viewing data from 15 million set-top boxes in to a media plan that can reach up to 55 million households.

    At the Cannes Lions festival on June 24, AT&T AdWorks and Beet.TV are partnering on a leadership summit about advanced TV aboard the AT&T yacht. Participants include GroupM Chairman Irwin Gotlieb; SMG’s Tracey Scheppach; Mike Bologna of Modi Media; Mike Welch and Dunsche of AT&T AdWorks.

    We interviewed her as part of the series The Road to Cannes, our lead-up to the Cannes Lions Festival presented by Coull.  Please visit this page for additional segments.

    You can this post on Beet.TV.

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  • (VIDEO) Media Owners Stuck In Past Over Ad Data: Forrester's Nail
    If data is really the new oil, are media operators letting enough of the stuff run to advertisers who are craving it?

    A new Forrester report, “Solving Digital Video Advertising’s Premium Dilemma,” commissioned by outstream video ad vendor Teads from Forrester, spotlights a disconnect between the two camps.

    “Media companies talk about the user experience,” Forrester principal analyst Jim Nail, who authored the report, tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “But then the advertising agencies talk about the quality of the data used for targeting.

    “So it seems like the media companies are still stuck a little bit in the old world. (They say), ‘We’ve got great content…’ Advertiser agencies are saying, ‘That’s important, but, in this new world, the targeting is at least as important.’

    “The media companies need to have a deeper conversation with the advertisers to make sure they’re building the data strategy.”

    Forrester’s report says publishers are struggling with insufficient video ad inventory to satisfy advertiser demand, but that advertisers report so-called “outstream” ads, which play in between chunks of text, helps alleviate concerns around viewability and enable programmatic buying.”

    We interviewed Nail last week at a Teads industry summit in New York. 

    You can this post on Beet.TV.

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  • Israel May Have Spied On Iran Nuclear Talks Hotel: Report

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A cybersecurity firm with close ties to Russian intelligence said Wednesday it uncovered a cyber-espionage campaign targeting hotels that hosted Iran nuclear negotiations, the details of which are among the most closely held secrets in world diplomacy.

    The firm, Kaspersky, said the malware was so sophisticated that it must have been created by a government. Citing former U.S. intelligence officials, The Wall Street Journal attributed the spying to Israel, which opposes the emerging nuclear deal being hammered out by the U.S., Russia, several other European countries and Iran. Negotiators hope to clinch an agreement by the end of the month to curb Iran’s nuclear activity for a decade in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

    A former senior U.S. intelligence official who dealt with such matters told The Associated Press that the nuclear talks are a likely espionage target of several countries, including Israel and Russia. The former official said he couldn’t be quoted on the record and demanded anonymity.

    The Israeli government declined comment Wednesday.

    The allegation coincides with deepening tensions in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, much of it linked to Iran. The Obama administration has rejected much of the hawkish advice of its close Mideast ally in favor of what U.S. officials say would be an accord that removes the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The Jewish state has aggressively lobbied against the package both internationally and within the United States.

    Kaspersky’s cyberspying discoveries are taken seriously by security experts, and the U.S. antivirus company Symantec confirmed Kaspersky’s technical findings Wednesday, though not the source of the campaign.

    Eugene Kaspersky, the chairman and chief executive, served in the Soviet military during the 1980s and maintains close ties with Russian intelligence officials.

    In a statement, the company said it began investigating an intrusion into its own systems earlier this year, a probe that led it to discover “one of the most skilled, mysterious and powerful threat actors” in the world of cyberspying. The malware is a more advanced version of an attack it previously discovered, dubbed “Duqu,” the company said.

    The malware used three “zero day” vulnerabilities, which are flaws in Microsoft’s operating system that are previously unknown and therefore undefended. Each one can cost as much as $300,000 on the black market.

    Victims of the spying were identified in Western countries, as well as the Middle East and Asia, Kaspersky said.

    The State Department, which has led the U.S. delegation in the Iran talks, didn’t immediately comment. It likely wouldn’t have used hotel computer systems or unsecure phones to discuss details of the negotiations. Kaspersky didn’t identify the hotels, though most talks have taken place in Austria and Switzerland.

    Spyware also was found to have targeted people attending the 70th anniversary event of the liberation of Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, Kaspersky said.

    Iran says its program is solely for peaceful energy, medical and research purposes, though many governments fear it harbors nuclear weapons ambitions.

    President Barack Obama and others have said a failure to address the standoff through diplomacy could lead to military confrontation.

    Highlighting ongoing American intelligence concerns, the former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency told a House subcommittee Wednesday that the proposed deal “suffers from serious deficiencies,” including the intelligence community’s inability to verify full Iranian compliance.

    “The intelligence community does not have complete ‘eyes on’ the totality of the Iranian nuclear program, nor can it guarantee that we have identified all of Iran’s nuclear facilities and processes,” Michael Flynn testified. He said it was prudent to conclude “that there are elements of Iran’s nuclear program that still remain hidden from view.”

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  • FAN FICTION: Facebook Tower
    2015-06-09-1433882735-5403655-photo142963711927220043840c013.jpeg

    From: [REDACTED]@facebooktower.com
    To: [REDACTED]@facebooktower.com
    Subject: New employee talking points for Facebook Tower – FOR INTERNAL REVIEW

    Hi team – employees have been asking for short talking points that they can use when talking to various parties about Facebook Tower. Here’s a first draft, let me know what you think! – [REDACTED]

    For Individuals
    Welcome to Facebook Tower, open since 2004 and currently home to 1.44 billion people from around the world. It’s completely free to come live in Facebook Tower, and when you move in you get complimentary access to all of our amenities, including photo sharing, groups, the newsfeed, messenger, and our application platform – all of which you can freely use*. In addition, your Facebook Tower apartment key also gives you instant access to many other buildings throughout town. So what are you waiting for, move in to Facebook Tower today!

    * With any other resident of Facebook Tower

    For Businesses
    Business owners – get access to 1.44 billion people from around the world by setting up shop in Facebook Tower. We think it’s fair to say that someday, every person on earth will live in Facebook Tower. But you don’t want to waste your advertising and marketing budget on every person on earth, just the ones that you know will buy your products and services. Through the data that our residents voluntarily give us (like gender, location, favorite music, movies, TV, etc.) as well as what we collect from them as they live their lives in the Tower and use our various amenities, we are able to target your advertising and promotions to reach exactly the people that you want to reach. Whether you’re a large, medium, or small business, we can help you drive sales and grow your business, so sign up today!

    For Investors

    Want a piece of the hottest real estate in town? Facebook Tower generated $3.54 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 42% over the same quarter the previous year. The bulk of our revenue (94%) is from businesses setting up shop in Facebook Tower and marketing to our 1.44 billion residents, with the remainder coming from payments and other fees. We continue to grow along a number of dimensions, including:

    • Our resident base: via teams dedicated to growth, initiatives like internet.org, and others
    • Our business base: via growing our resident base! Businesses go where their buyers are…
    • The amenities we offer to our residents to keep them engaged (the more time they spend in the tower, the more businesses can market to them) and generating information that can be used to target marketing
    • The products and services that we offer to businesses
    • Acquisition of up and coming real-estate developments (Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus)
    • Small & fast development experiments that test out & validate (or invalidate) new real-estate concepts (Rooms, Riff, Home, Poke, Slingshot, Camera, Paper, Hello)

    For Competitors
    (This is so that our employees know how to think about competition. Not for distribution outside the company!)

    The foundation of Facebook Tower is the Social Graph – people’s connections to each other. On top of that foundation there are 4 pillars holding up the building:

    • Photos – We are the world’s largest photo sharing site
    • Groups – Because “everybody you know” is in Facebook Tower, we’re the perfect place for residents to create private groups with other residents that they know or public groups around a shared interest or event.
    • Newsfeed – We are the way that our residents get the news, whether about the world or about their friends and family.
    • Messenger – Residents can instantly start free private conversations with any other residents. We continue to add functionality to Messenger (third party apps, payments, etc.), in our quest to make it an indispensable peer-to-peer communication and transaction channel.

    Note that the pillars can grow and shrink in importance over time, as either the market or we as a company change our focus. For example our Platform that enabled third party developers to build on our infrastructure and leverage our Social Graph was a key pillar for us for several years starting from its launch in 2007. The open access that we provided to our Social Graph and to the Newsfeed served as a springboard for several other developers (most notably Zynga), but had an overall negative impact on resident experience. Over the years we have evolved the platform to make it more resident friendly, which has had the unfortunate but understandable effect of making it less attractive to other developers to use. As such, it is no longer a key pillar for us.

    Our competitors are adopting several different strategies to compete with us, with the following being the three primary ones:

    1. Attack the Pillars

    We need to defend our existing pillars for as long as we can. When we see other companies successfully coming after a pillar (and drawing away residents), we need to either replicate their efforts or acquire them (for their talent, their residents, or both) outright. Some examples:

    • Instagram: Was attacking the Photos pillar. ACQUIRED
    • WhatsApp: Was attacking the Messenger pillar. ACQUIRED
    • Snapchat: Is attacking the Messenger pillar. REPLICATED (failed) and attempted to ACQUIRE
    • FriendFeed: Was attacking the Newsfeed pillar. ACQUIRED
    • Twitter: Was attacking the Newsfeed pillar. REPLICATED parts and attempted to ACQUIRE

    While there have been small competitors (and acquisitions) around the Groups pillar, there have not been any serious competitors to date, most likely due to the strength of our Social Graph. This primarily pertains to private groups where residents know each other and the Social Graph makes it frictionless to connect. We’ll discuss below how competitors are currently focusing on public groups around shared interests, where our Social Graph provides less benefit.

    Our acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp can only be seen as missed opportunities by our biggest competitors to weaken our position. That said, we cannot count on these pillars to sustain our business indefinitely, so we must constantly be experimenting and developing new ones. Our biggest recent bet on a new pillar (in terms of dollars) was our foray into virtual reality with our acquisition of Oculus. As we continue to increase the “fidelity” of the communication and interactions that our residents have access to, VR would appear to be the next logical step.

    2. Create a New Building

    Our competitors have opened their own towers, but they have had difficulty in convincing residents to relocate. Given that everybody lives in Facebook Tower and has their social graph and social history (which they don’t want to lose) stored there, residents are understandably reluctant to move unless there is a compelling new offering at the new tower. Some of the things our competitors have tried (unsuccessfully to date) include:

    • Google Plus: As amenities they offered integration into the entire suite of Google services that hundreds of millions of people already use (YouTube, Gmail, etc.), as well as a new way of managing connections with their concept of Circles. While the concept of Circles makes sense, in practice it appears to be more work than most people are willing to do.
    • Yahoo 360: Similar to Google Plus, they offered built-in integration into their existing suite of services (Flickr, LAUNCH, Groups, etc.).
    • Ello: More of a yurt than a tower, their “compelling new offering” is that they won’t work with businesses – so there is no marketing or advertising there.

    3. Turn Strength into Weakness

    3.1 Our Strength: Real Identity

    At a time when MySpace was the “cool place to live”, Facebook Tower struck a chord by initially limiting residents to specific college campuses as well as requiring them to use their real identities. And while we have since opened Facebook Tower to the rest of the world, real identity remains a core tenet of our Social Graph. At the other end of the spectrum, some our competitors have launched offerings where being anonymous is the default. These include:

    • Whisper: Purports to be completely anonymous, and content can be shared by anyone on any topic.
    • Secret: Now defunct, was “anonymish” in that you could tell that content was from a friend or a friend of a friend, but not specifically who.
    • Yik Yak: Purports to be completely anonymous. Uses the user’s location to add them to the community for a college campus, so context is set by location.
    • After School: Like Yik Yak, but for high schoolers.

    One thing that all the anonymous offerings have in common is bad resident behavior. Divorced from any repercussions, people are free to act badly, and often do so in the forms of abuse, hateful speech, bullying, shaming, etc. This is an issue that all offerings that don’t require real identity have to deal with, and they currently do so using various combinations of community voting, moderation, and algorithms. This behavioral issue is a serious threat to the ongoing viability of all these businesses, as has been seen by the closures of PostSecret, JuicyCampus, Formspring, and most recently Secret.

    There is clearly a human need/desire to share things anonymously. It’s also clear that no one has yet cracked the code on the right way to do anonymity online. While Facebook and Whisper can be seen as opposite ends of the spectrum, it will be interesting to see if there are opportunities “in the middle” to create a system where there is anonymity or pseudonymity but also an incentive to behave well.

    3.2 Our Strength: We Remember
    Things used to happen, and then they were gone. Capturing memories was expensive in terms of effort, time and money, so only the “special” moments were captured. And even those moments that were captured had limited exposure – the photos in your photo album could only be seen by the people you explicitly, physically showed them to. Facebook Tower helped change all that, making it trivially easy for residents to capture, store and share their thoughts, links, pictures, conversations, likes and more, forever. That social history is a strong retention hook for us and a reason for residents not to move into another developer’s tower.

    The downside of this is that when residents know that everything is being remembered and shared with all their connections, instead of sharing honest moments that depict the real ups and downs of their lives, they share the “Christmas Card” versions of their lives. Residents use what they share to construct an ideal identity that all their connections see. This can lead residents to “compare and despair“, when they see the great lives that everyone is else is living and compare them to their own, without realizing that they’re actually viewing their connections’ highlight reels.

    Given this, there would seem to be an opportunity for places where unlike Facebook Tower, the default behavior is to forget. This would enable residents to be more free, honest and spontaneous in what they share, vs. the carefully considered construction that they engage in today at Facebook Tower.

    The competitor that has best capitalized on this to date is clearly Snapchat – which enables their 100 million mostly young residents to send self-destructing messages to each other. Snapchat’s initial focus was person-to-person photo and video messaging, in direct competition with our Photos and Messenger pillars. Since then they have added the concept of Stories, which is more akin to our Newsfeed pillar in that what users share can be shared with either everyone on Snapchat, just the person’s friends, or a customized group. They continue to add new features and functionality to grow their footprint, including offerings like Snapcash for peer-to-peer payments and Discover as a way for businesses to promote content to their residents.

    Snapchat appears to have, at least for the time being, “won” as the general purpose ephemeral residence of choice. But we expect to see the idea of ephemeral content appearing in more specialized offerings, and may even include them in some of our own.

    3.3 Our Strength: Everybody Lives Here
    Residents can move into Facebook Tower as soon as they turn 13 years old. From that point on, as they transition through grade school, college, and then into the working world and starting families, they create connections with other residents of the Tower that they meet in these various contexts. Given the size of our resident base, it’s almost guaranteed that anyone they meet is also a resident of Facebook Tower, making it easy for residents to build up their Social Graph.

    But while we call these connections “Friends”, they don’t necessarily accurately reflect the people that a given resident considers their actual friends at any point in time, or even the people that the resident might want to share things with. Are the 30 people that you added from your high school science class still your friends when you’re 40? Do you want to share your love of Madonna with everyone you’ve ever known – relatives, friends of friends, business acquaintances, former college classmates, etc?

    Realistically, a single group of “Friends” can’t hope to reflect the nuances of our various contexts, social circles, and relationships. The logical solution would seem to be to enable residents to create lists (groups, circles) that more accurately reflect their friends. For instance: “Close Friends”, “Dorm Buddies”, “School Moms”, etc. In practice, we’ve discovered that making and maintaining these lists is work that residents don’t want to do. Google discovered (rediscovered?) the exact same thing with their notion of Circles, which looked different but had the same end goal.

    Rather than starting with the big block of “everyone I’ve ever known” and then whittling lists out of it, an alternative approach is to create a property around a shared interest or context, and then try to attract residents to it. There are a number of ways to approach this, including:

    • A shared location: Yik Yak, After School and others use your current location to create context – automatically assigning you to a school or an event.
    • A shared interest: 6Tribes, Place, Interests, Clubhouse, Amino and our own Rooms are all interest-based properties where residents can gather around topics that either they themselves create or that are selected and curated by the developer. We currently support this with our public Groups, and Google is even starting to do this with their Collections offering – but those are both a small part of a larger offering, vs. the sole focus on interests that the competitors listed are exhibiting.
    • A shared context, life stage or identity: School, college, work, parenthood, sexual identity, suffering from a chronic disease – some of these, like parents, have been heavily targeted already (and in fact we ourselves started with a focus on college students). Others have not, and these represent opportunity areas for our competitors. One interesting new development in this area is Off the Clock, a place where workers can talk privately about their jobs with their coworkers, share their work stories anonymously with the world, and meet other people with the same job. They actually appear to be going after all three weaknesses described here – by targeting a shared context, incorporating elements of anonymity & pseudonymity, and supporting ephemeral messaging in their offering. Off the Clock is currently invitation only, but we did find an invitation code that seemed to work: “unomas“.

    As you can see, there are a number of ways for our competitors to lure our residents, attack our pillars and undermine our business. In order to ensure our future and our ongoing relevance, we must continue to aggressively try new ideas, replicate successful concepts, and acquire potential threats and future growth opportunities.

    ——————–
    [REDACTED]
    Director of Marketing and Misinformation, Facebook Tower

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