The secret life of a clickbait creator: lousy content, dodgy ads, demoralised staff

 

Viral content and clickbait sites are different to your classic startups. They often don’t raise any money, instead generating massive amounts of capital per day by posting other people’s kitschy videos and images while plastering them with countless ads. Instead of planning for the future and diversifying their business model, most rely heavily on Facebook and adapt only when the social media company forces their hand by changing the algorithms. The worst part about these companies, however, is the emphasis on volume of product – the content – and the lack of emphasis on the wellbeing of the producers – the writers.

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Why rewards can backfire

 

Here’s a story about a man with a machiavellian genius for psychological manipulation. (It comes from the US educator Alfie Kohn, so I’ll Britishise it here.) This man is elderly and lives near a school. Every afternoon a group of pupils subject him to merciless taunts as they walk home. So he approaches them and offers a deal: he’ll give each child £1 if they come back next day to taunt him further. Incredulous but excited, they agree. They return to mock him; he pays as promised, but tells them that the following day, he’ll only be able to afford to pay 25p per person. Still thrilled to be paid at all, the children are there again the next afternoon, whereupon the old man sadly explains that, henceforth, the daily reward for hurling abuse at him will be a mere 1p. “A penny?” The kids are scornful. For such pathetic money, it’s not worth the effort. They stalk off, grumbling, and never bother him again

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Folding bike helmet wins James Dyson design award

 

Resembling an accordion ball Christmas decoration, the helmet can be flattened, while a honeycomb structure, visible when unfurled, gives it strength. “It is one size fits most,” said Shiffer. “These [helmets] are quite sturdy and the honeycomb stalls are arranged in such a way that they can protect the head from a blow from any direction.”

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Are catalogues the future of shopping?

 

If buying clothes today is about creating a unique online experience, is The Secret Catalog the future of clothes shopping? The Secret Catalog – a bespoke, password-protected physical and online experience – is the perfect marketing equation of mystery, membership and Instagram aesthetic, to create an experience that feels exciting and special. It’s also competitive; when the online shop launched yesterday, people can buy items on a first-come-first-served basis after ordering the winter catalogue and receiving the password.

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You can’t judge a book by its cover – if you’re a robot

 

Back in September, a report suggested that robots will have eliminated 6% of jobs in the US by 2021. Fortunately for book designers, it doesn’t look as if androids are about to take over cover design any time soon. MIT Technology Review points us towards a new machine-vision algorithm dreamed up by academics at Kyushu University in Japan. In a new paper, Brian Kenji Iwana and Seiichi Uchida explain how they trained a deep neural network “to predict the genre of a book based on the visual clues provided by its cover”.

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70s dinner party food: If only we’d had Instagram back then

 

This was the era of the showboat dinner party, where the upwardly mobile British family would invite peers and colleagues into their homes in a bid to wow them via high-voltage, brightly coloured three-course extravaganzas. It was a time of meals that didn’t just taste out of this world, they looked out of this world, too. In the current climate of clean-eating, social media fascism, the 70s seem to signify a happier, more honest time. We want something that has the balls to be shamelessly, completely and proudly crap. We want a good, old-fashioned 70s dinner party.

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Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

 

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face. This is not the first time Harvey has tried to confuse facial recognition software. During a previous project, CV Dazzle, he attempted to create an aesthetic of makeup and hairstyling that would cause machines to be unable to detect a face.

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From customisation to DIY handbags – how customers became designers

 

Maks Fus Mickiewicz, senior journalist at trend analyst the Future Laboratory, believes this shift to consumer power is only going to get more pronounced. “Fashion brands are realising that to stay ahead of the game they need to move away from imposing their aesthetic on others,” he says. “That’s not how the world works anymore. There’s a new dialogue with consumers.” Mickiewicz says it’s the tech industry that should be studied for next steps. “Technology companies develop software but there’s an openness to it being updated and changed,” he says. “It’s about fashion companies letting go of the idea of the creative genius at the top.” The most fun you’ll ever make? That’s a slogan that could go beyond teddy bears.

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