Archive for August, 2013

Listen Up, Computers: You Still Can’t Beat the Human Touch

August 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Background image copyright iunewind Almost 30 years ago, Electronic Arts famously ran an advertisement that asked, “Can a Computer Make You Cry?” It was a thought-provoking ad, but as far as I’m concerned, the answer is no. Computers can’t elicit the same type of emotional responses that another living, breathing person can, but they might get you partway there. In the center of the latest “computers versus humans” debate is the use of algorithms for recommendation engines — especially among Web-based businesses, products and services that we use everyday. Algorithms help us do everything from choosing our next read to finding a new job, but they often fall short; they just can’t replace pure peer-to-peer recommendations, emotional connections or personal experience. As more and more businesses are discovering, the beauty is in the balance of using an algorithm to collect, collate, even filter (somewhat), and then add in that secret ingredient — the human touch — to create a recipe for success. The Internet, Your Personal Shopper First, let’s address how algorithms can work effectively on their own. Take e-commerce giant Amazon, for example. It doesn’t need human curation; its collaborative, filtering-based algorithm recommends toothpaste when you add toothbrushes to your cart and suggests “Lord of the Rings” if you’re looking at the “Game of Thrones” DVD. That’s enough for Amazon because its business is built on the fact that you can get ANYTHING and EVERYTHING there. Amazon is the Web’s superstore, and as e-commerce matures as an industry, other online retailers are realizing that “there can be only one.” If they want to stand out and differentiate, they’ll need the human touch. As a recent example, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe just inked a deal with fashion site Piperlime (owned by Gap, Inc.) to hand-pick her favorite shoes, bags and clothing — recommendations that will surely be laid over the top of Piperlime’s engine to further tailor results to shoppers’ exact needs. Other cases abound where stylists’ selections based on body type, favorite colors or brands augment algorithm-recommended products. You + Me = Us More than 10 years ago, online matchmaking sites started using basic algorithms with feature-based recommendations to pair people up. For example, if a woman listed her hometown as San Francisco and her profile mentioned dogs and wine, this basic algorithm would spit out hundreds of men with matching characteristics.

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A&E Cancels The Glades

August 30, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Although the Season 4 finale of The Glades put up big numbers for A&E, the network on Friday pulled the plug on its procedural. Monday’s episode ended with a cliffhanger, as FDLE cop Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) was gut-shot an hour before he was to be wed to Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez). Unfortunately for Glades enthusiasts, there will be no resolution, as A&E will not bring the series back for a fifth season. While a Glades renewal was probably a long shot, the Aug. 26 installment notched a series-high 0.9 in the adults 18-49 demo and a 1.1 rating among the 25-54 set. Per Nielsen, the 3.41 million viewers who tuned in marked the show’s second-largest audience, trailing only the July 2010 premiere (3.55 million) . An older-skewing show (63 percent of Season 4 viewers were 55 years old and up), The Glades was also the first A&E scripted original to really move the needle. Earlier efforts, including The Cleaner and The Beast, proved to be ratings disappointments; the latter was canceled after it became clear that star Patrick Swayze would not prevail in his battle with pancreatic cancer. ( The actor died in September 2009 .) The cancellation arrives a day after word began circulating that A&E would bring back its original drama Longmire for a third season. On Thursday afternoon, producer/co-creator John Coveny tweeted that the network had just called to confirm the renewal. With an average draw of 3.7 million viewers, of which 942,000 are adults 18-49 and another 1.2 million are members of the target demo, Longmire is A&E’s most-watched drama. Leading out of The Glades in the Monday 10 p.m. slot, Longmire closed out with a season-high draw of 4.42 million viewers and a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo

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U.K.’s RTS Powwow Draws TV, Digital Toppers

August 30, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

LONDON — Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, will deliver one of the keynotes at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention, a confab for top TV execs. Liberty Global, which has 25 million cable customers and 47 million phone and data subscribers, has just entered the U.K. market with the purchase of cabler Virgin Media.... Read more

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James Hilton, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, AKQA

James Hilton, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, AKQA

JamesHilton_headshot
August 30, 2013  |  EngageLondon  |  No Comments

James Hilton is one of the world's most recognised and widely respected creative directors. Since co-founding AKQA in 1995, James has been at the forefront of an industry which has seen the company grow to become the world’s most respected agency. AKQA has offices in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo, Portland and Atlanta. As a world leader in design and creativity, James has collected a multitude of global awards including Grand Prix and Gold Cannes Lions, and has also served as a judge for Cannes Lions, Webby Awards, D&AD, and as Jury Chairman for the

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Theater Chain AMC Entertainment Files For IPO

August 30, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

AMC Entertainment, the large movie exhibitor, said in a regulatory filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it would once again attempt to have an initial public offering. The concern, which operates 343 theaters and 4,937 screensprimarily in North America, did not specify how many shares it would offer or at what... Read more

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Every Tech Ad You’ve Seen, in One Funny Video

August 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Given that we’re going into product launch season, this CollegeHumor clip is nicely timed. Also, it’s the Friday before Labor Day: CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos While we’re here, may as well point out that the biggest tech sellers have gotten pretty good at moving beyond the cliches deftly parodied above. Here, for instance, is the latest in Apple’s series of feature-centric ads, which range from good to really great : And here’s the new one from Microsoft, which probably won’t sell many Windows Phones, but is fun to watch anyway:

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WSJ’s Tuesday Paywall Play

WSJ’s Tuesday Paywall Play

August 30, 2013  |  Blog  |  No Comments

On Tuesday, hackers — reportedly the Syrian Electronic Army, a group sympathetic to the regime of Bashar al-Assad – hacked the New York Times website. Within a short time, the Times’ nominal competitors over at The Wall Street Journal decided to take down their paywall, making their site free while the Times was down. And they didn’t do it in secrecy; they bought advertising on Twitter and promoted it as well. This “sampling opportunity” was seemingly a golden opportunity for the Journal to poach eyeballs normally loyal to the Times. But if a Burger King lost power for a few hours, would

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The downside of following “everybody”

The downside of following “everybody”

August 30, 2013  |  Blog  |  No Comments

On Tuesday, I mentioned the “tyranny of extroverts,” a set of expected behaviors assumed to be superior, simply because they are louder or more visible. And since all of the tech industry extroverts are at Burning Man this week being as loud and as visible as possible, I figured I would continue writing for the introverts who stayed home. Part of the tyranny of extroverts is the allure of “everybody.” Extroverts, and those who aspire to be extroverts, are driven by everybody, as in “everybody will be there,” “everybody wants to go,” and “you’re going to miss everybody.” Everybody is their

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AT&T Takes Its Aio Wireless Prepaid Service Nationwide

August 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

AT&T plans to take its Aio Wireless brand nationwide next month, aiming to capture a bigger share of the no-contract cell service market. The company already had its AT&T GoPhone sub-brand, but with Aio it is aiming to establish a more fully separate brand identity. The company’s logo color, however, has drawn the ire of T-Mobile, which last week sued Aio, alleging trademark infringement and unfair business practices . AT&T has been testing the Aio brand in 11 southern U.S. cities, mostly in Florida. It launched in May in three cities — Tampa, Orlando and Houston. It sells a range of phones and has three service plans, ranging from $40 to $70 per month

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Venice Film Review: ‘The Police Officer’s Wife’

August 30, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Philip Groening's much-anticipated feature follow-up to 'Into Great Silence' is an overwhelmingly pretentious endurance test.

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