April 29th, 2018

The Tribune’s “Wave of Activism” event branding is a misstep -- Usually, news publications do everything in their power to avoid the perception that anything they’re doing can be classified as activism -- lest the hard work of real reporting gets painted as “activism” whenever the news disagrees with someone’s (or some group’s) opinion. It’s a fine line to walk. That’s why I can’t for the life of me understand why the Texas Tribune would choose to brand an upcoming event as “Summer Salon Series: A Wave of Activism” -- featuring local heads of many activist organizations. The event itself is great, actually. But the way it’s framed is dangerous. (What’s worse is they dial up the elitist lexicon with phrases like “a salon of sips and snacks!”) In this climate of “fake news” accusations being spewed from the most important house in our Republic, we need to be extra vigilant toward these sorts of perceived biases. The Tribune, as well as many other seasoned news brands, have spent decades earning credibility of telling the truth. Let’s make sure we protect that now more than ever. Tl;dr: The event is great, the person who did the branding should rethink the strategy.

New Media ATX Map category -- Josh and I decided we’re going to add a new category to the map that will include venues or locations that are of interest in our newly bustling community. We got inspired to do so after overhearing a great many people saying they had no idea that the AFS Cinema existed before attending the Rooster Teeth party weeks back. Work in progress for now.

New book release: The Fourth Age -- Byron Reese, publisher of Austin-based GigaOm and author, has just released his latest book: “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity.” I’m barely into the first chapter and already hooked. Here’s an excerpt from the preface: “Robots. Jobs. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Conscious computers. Superintelligence. Abundance. A jobless future. ‘Useless’ humans. The end of scarcity. Creative computers. Robot overlords. Unlimited wealth. The end of work. A permanent underclass. Some of these phrases and concepts probably show up in your news feed every day. Sometimes the narratives are positive, full of hope for the future. Other times they are fearful and dystopian. And this dichotomy is puzzling. The experts on these various topics, all intelligent and informed people, make predictions about the future that are not just a little different, but that are dramatically different and diametrically opposed to each other. So, why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival in the near future? And yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so farfetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? Zuckerberg goes so far as to call people who peddle doomsday scenarios ‘pretty irresponsible,’ while Andrew Ng, one of the greatest minds in AI alive today, says that such concerns are like worrying about ‘overpopulation on Mars.’” [Generous preview via Amazon]

How Europe’s GDPR regulations could impact all publishers -- If you’ve not been paying attention, the European Union recently enacted a new set of regulations aimed at forcing online publishers, advertisers, and other online services, to gain consent whenever an individual’s data is being collected or transmitted. Google and Facebook are already shifting gears to comply with the changes, and both seem likely to follow suit in the U.S. as well. In this article by Thomas Baekdal, it probes into just how unprepared news publishers are for such a shift. Many publications use trackers on their mobile and desktop sites, which are part of ad networks, social media plugins, and other such services. Even if you aren’t in the news business, this is worth reading to understand the multitude of changes coming to the overall ecosystem of media and advertising online. [via baekdal.com]


Joshua Rubin