Instagram Rapture

Instagram, today cleaned up its proverbial act and shut down spam and bots, which resulted in a lot of people losing a substantial portion of their followers. Justin Bieber, for instance lost nearly 15 percent of his followers. There is a long list of celebrities who saw their followers count go down — Zach Allia crunched some numbers and came up with a list! He found out that they lost roughly 671,000 followers or about 7.6 percent of the total.

Quite a few people are upset about the loss of their followers — I am not one of them. I welcome the early spring cleaning. It is refreshing to see a company maintain the basic values of a social platform: real human social connections and not promote fake follower counts. I want to know that people who have opted to follow me are real people and when they like something, they mean it! I would personally like to see other social platforms — Facebook and Twitter — too take a step in the right direction and clean up their act.

Fractionalized Attention and the Real Definition of “Media”

In a recent story, Wired devotes considerable attention to media and media startups, thanks in large part to the hefty investments in many of these entities, like Vox, Vice and Buzzfeed. They all have similar narratives. Other less-well-funded startups such as Circa make an appearance as well.

When I read the piece, I tweeted that perhaps media people who write about media don’t have a good understanding of their own business. In a follow-up tweet, I pointed out that perhaps people should pay more attention to what web-savant Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had to say about books in a recent conversation:

“The most important thing to observe is that books don’t just compete against books. Books compete against people reading blogs and news articles and playing video games and watching TV and going to see movies. . . . If you realize that you’re really competing against Candy Crush and everything else, then you start to say, ‘Gosh, maybe we should really work on reducing friction on long-form reading.’ That’s what Kindle has been about from the very beginning.”

Books compete against everything else for attention, and in saying so, Bezos has essentially summed up the reality of the post-internet media landscape. It is a hypercharged race for increasingly fractionalized attention. In the recent past, I wrote:  

“Media companies are those companies that have our attention — they can be social networks (Twitter), games (Farmville/Zynga or Candy Crush/ or photo-sharing services (Instagram) or a listicle-powered flywheel of social attention (BuzzFeed). Like I have said before, they all are basically trying to get us to spend many fractions of our attention on their offerings.”

That’s my long-standing view, and every new app or service only reinforces that point of view. It is the reason why I think a company like Foursquare is competing not only with Yelp but also with traditional magazines and old-school recommendation services like Zagat. Foursquare is less of a technology company and more of a post-internet magazine/guidebook/destination media product. Similarly, the fashion magazines of the past struggle to get traction with younger readers because those younger readers are getting the same advice from videos.

Product Hunt is just a more efficient next-generation media entity that is optimized for discovery and short attention spans. Similarly, GrowthHackers or Hacker News are not really anything like the classic idea of “media”: magazines, newspapers, news outlets. Media isn’t simple anymore; it is messy and marvelous. I am betting that there will be a lot more of these types of companies around. The challenge for media when writing about media is that people almost always like to think about it as they know it. Vox is familiar. Vice is familiar. Blah! Blah!


Mobile, Search & The Continental Drift

Continental drift is the movement of the Earth’s continents relative to each other, thus appearing to drift across the ocean bed.(*)

eMarketer estimates:

  • The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016. In 2015 there will be more than 1.91 billion smartphone users across the globe. By 2018, more than one-third of the world’s population, or more than 2.56 billion people.
  • Mobile advertising is the key driver of growth around the world, and advertisers will spend $64.25 billion on mobile in 2015, a 60% increase over 2014. By 2018, that figure will reach $158.5 billion, when mobile ads will account for 22% of all advertising spending worldwide.

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Here is how 5 jetliners worth $1.5 billion try to be Blue Angels

2014-12-07 05.03.12

Airbus recently showed off its new A350 twin engined, wide-bodies jetliner via a unique in the air performance — five of these $300 million planes flying together and doing some nifty tricks. They won’t put Blue Angels out of business, but still this is a pretty stunning show. These planes are designed to compete with Boeing’s new Dreamliner line-up of planes. Watch this on YouTubevia & via



Apparently today is the last sequential date till next century! I Today is the last sequential date of my life as well.  I am pretty certain that I would be long gone by the time the next sequential date rolls around. Today is also the official 13th birthday of Gigaom, the blog. I had moved back to New York in October 2001. Being a daily news reporter by sheer nature, blogging was something of an outlet and break from the pace of a monthly magazine. A lot of encouragement from Doc Searls, Dave Winer and later others such as Anil Dash helped me along the way. It has been quite a journey.

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