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Twitter Launches New Promotional Campaign for Spaces and Live Audio Chats

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While the audio social hype cycle has died down significantly, Twitter is determined to continue pushing Spaces as a key connection tool, in an effort to make it a bigger part of the Twitter experience.

The latest on this front is a new ad campaign for Spaces – which I’m not sure really sells the option as it would hope.

As you can see, Twitter’s trying to showcase the value of Spaces and audio discussion in the app. And certainly, the Spaces topics that it highlights here are fairly dominant – tap over to the Spaces tab right now and you’ll find any number of Spaces on NFTs, ‘shower thoughts’ and the like.

The problem is, that’s also part of the reason why Spaces isn’t catching on, because most of these discussions are fairly niche, and Twitter’s algorithm is still not great at highlighting the most valuable and interesting discussions to each individual user.

Which, of course, is hard to do. With the discussions happening live, they essentially can’t be moderated and categorized ahead of time – though Twitter has added topic tags to help in this respect.

But a bigger challenge could be that Twitter doesn’t want to recommend Spaces that could be problematic. If you were to go to the Spaces tab and find a top Space that Twitter had highlighted, and that Spaced ended up being, say, a disguised chat about QAnon, the backlash could be significant.

This is just one of the many challenges of live-stream content, which was once again underlined earlier this week when a Twitch user streamed himself on a shooting spree in Buffalo.

Facebook found the same with its live map feature, which it eventually shut down – when you’re promoting live-stream content, you’re also running the risk that you’ll be promoting harmful material as well, which, again, is an unavoidable element of the live experience.

Though in Twitter’s case, I suspect its algorithms are just not great at showing you the most relevant stuff, at any given time.

Despite its broad social graph, and insights into user interests, Twitter’s never been great at personalization, something that TikTok has got down to a tee, with its ever-evolving ‘For You’ algorithm that sucks you into a vortex of topical, relevant content, faster than you even realize. Hours fly by as you flick through TikTok clips, and that compulsive viewing experience is why it’s become so popular, and is now leading the next wave of social connection, with all other apps playing catch-up.

Twitter, again, has never been great at this. It was never able to integrate top Vine clips into Twitter, for example, while its focus on live-streaming, via Periscope, eventually faded because it couldn’t boost engagement.

Spaces, unfortunately, seems to suffer from the same affliction, and unless Twitter can make that Spaces tab more compelling, by highlighting the best, most personally relevant, most valuable in-progress streams at any given time, I don’t see it becoming a key companion piece for the common Twitter experience.

Still, as a reader recently pointed out to me, many users are seeing benefit from Spaces, and there is indeed value in the option. But unless it sees wider adoption, I don’t see how Twitter itself will glean significantly value from supporting live audio into the future.

Maybe another one for Elon to sort out when he takes the reigns of the app.

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The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands

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The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands

While the current spate of generative AI tools are interesting, and are already changing discovery behaviors and interactive processes, they’re really only scratching the surface of what’s possible, and are far from actual “intelligence” as the AI name suggests.

Indeed, most of these initial models are data matching tools, able to predict elements of text and images based on the most likely sequencing, by applying probability to huge datasets. And they’re becoming increasingly at doing just that, but they’re not “thinking” as such, these systems are not developing new concepts all on their own, and there’s no intent or reasoning behind those matches, other than mathematical likelihoods.

That’s the next level of AI, which many experts have expressed concern about, in that such systems will one day have the capacity to think independently, and potentially exceed our own mental capacity as a result. Though creating a digital “brain” as it were is still a long way from being a reality.

But even so, through probability alone, we’re also just touching on the expanded possibilities of generative systems, with the latest advances now pointing to a whole new phase of digital creation, which could cut many humans out of the process.

Last week, a Spanish ad agency made headlines after it revealed that it had created an AI character, which is now earning $US10,000 per month from brand contracts.

Aitana requires no payment, has no qualms about what she promotes, and is available 24/7. And she looks real, and no doubt many of her 200,000 Instagram followers were not aware that she doesn’t, in fact, exist.

You can see the appeal of virtual influencers in this respect, and Aitana is not the first to build a huge following, and certainly won’t be the last.

Even before the arrival of Dall-E and Midjourney, virtual models were already gaining traction, including characters like lilmiquela (2.7m IG followers), noonoouri (424k followers), and Shudu (241k).

More advanced creation tools are now making these virtual identities even more life-like, while the next phase of digital animation could take them to another level of realism, in replicating human trends.

This video, shared as part of Alibaba’s “Animate Anyone” project highlights how advanced image recognition and video sequencing can now replicate actual human movement, to an increasingly realistic degree.

It’s still not perfect, but again, we’re really only at the start of this process, and you can see how, as these systems continue to evolve, virtual influencers, in both still and video form, are set to become much bigger elements of online interaction.

Deepfake characters, where celebrity faces are superimposed over real actors, are another aspect, and another vector for security concerns, but fully virtual creations, animated from still images, would be cheaper to use, faster to customize, and easier for any brand to create, based on templated actions, animations, and movements.

And they are coming. Every platform is already rolling out AI labelling requirements to get ahead of this, but realistically, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to know whether you’re looking at a real person, or an AI creation, with the blurred details and distortions rapidly being ironed out by newer processes and systems.

Sure, right now, it’s easy to spot those AI-generated promotional photos showing up within your Facebook feed ads. But refinements are steadily bringing these tools closer to reality, and ironically, taking consumers further from it at the same time.

So what does that mean for your marketing efforts?

Well, if you’re camera shy, and have reservations about making video content, soon, you might not have to, with viable alternative options to create digitally animated content. You’ll have to disclose such, but realistically, it’s the concept that will resonate with viewers, not the composition, and if you can avoid the tell-tale markers of current generative AI imaginings, it could be an avenue for your future development.

Though it could also be bad news for human influencers, who are just now having their moment in the sun, as more brands come to realize their worth in reaching certain audiences.

The “Creator Economy” in this context could be set for a rapid recession, as even short-form videos become increasingly AI-simulated, sparking all new trends in promotions, with brands happily welcoming the cost savings.

I do think that human creativity will remain an essential, and that no matter how realistic your AI creations are, you’ll still need human-centered emotion at the core of any promotion.

And until machines can actually think like us, that will remain the key differentiator, though the actual process of expressing your message looks set to change significantly.

This will be a key trend to keep tabs on in the new year.



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US YouTuber who staged plane crash jailed for six months

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Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers

Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers – Copyright AFP/File Lionel BONAVENTURE

Huw GRIFFITH

A daredevil YouTuber who deliberately crashed his plane to boost the number of viewers on his channel and then lied about it to investigators has been jailed for six months after reaching a plea deal, US authorities said Monday.

In a video of the event entitled “I crashed my airplane,” Trevor Jacob appears to experience engine trouble while flying over southern California in November 2021.

The dramatic footage, viewed millions of times on YouTube, shows Jacob, now 30, ejecting from the single-engine plane — selfie stick in hand — and parachuting into the dense vegetation of Los Padres National Forest.

Cameras placed all over the aircraft show its out-of-control descent into the forest, and its eventual crash landing.

Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, films himself hiking to the wreckage where he appears dismayed to discover the water he packed has disappeared.

He does, however, have the presence of mind to recover the footage from cameras.

He then documents an apparently arduous trek through undergrowth to reach safety.

In the weeks after the incident, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched a probe into the crash, and Jacob was ordered to preserve the wreckage.

The YouTuber told officials he did not know where the plane had gone down.

“In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site,” the US District Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said Monday.

“There, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck.”

The remains of the single engine plane were cut into small pieces and dumped in trash bins in and around Lompoc City Airport, in a bid to hide evidence of the crash.

The FAA, the body that regulates flying in the United States, yanked Jacob’s pilot’s license in April 2022.

When investigators closed in, Jacob cut a deal and agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

“Jacob lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power,” the US District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain,” federal prosecutors said.

“Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Jacob’s original video, along with several others he posted after the escapade, have now been removed from YouTube, but a copy can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41iOvFuKsyY

Pilots and aviation experts have been immensely critical of Jacob in the almost two years since the video was initially published.

Many noted that Jacob had failed to take even elementary steps to restart his plane’s apparently troubled engine.

Others pointed out that he could easily have safely glided the plane to a landing spot, and that wearing a parachute while flying a small aircraft was highly unusual.

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Snap On How It Empowered Women’s With AR Storytellling

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Snap On How It Empowered Women’s With AR Storytellling

Snapchat has won the AR/VR category at The Drum Awards for Creativity. Here is the award-winning case study.

In France, like many western countries, public space lacks monuments honouring women. What about empowering Women’s Legacy through Augmented Reality? As a storytelling company, Snap knows that stories have the power to change hearts, minds, and behaviors. Stories create empathy, which can inspire behavior change across Snap and the broader industry. And although our industry is data-driven, we understand numbers are not a substitute for lived experience. The differing lived experience of underrepresented groups can reduce feelings of belonging, which in turn reduces opportunity to realize potential. Snap’s goal in inspiring empathy is to create a shared culture of belonging for all.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023, Snap’s AR Studio has been honouring 8 emblematic women in 8 major French cities (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Metz and Nantes) through a unique augmented reality experience: “March 8, 8 women”. “March 8, 8 women” has been a unique opportunity to demonstrate Augmented Reality’s impact in supporting Great National Cause (French president Emmanuel Macron has declared Equity a priority for 2023), while showcasing Snap’s creative and technologic leadership in AR.

While as many women as men have marked the course of history, the vast majority of sculptures in the urban space in France (squares, gardens and streets) honour male characters. Snap’s AR Studio has thus imagined augmented reality statues of women who have left their mark on history in the fields of politics, arts and letters or resistance. These augmented reality statues are installed next to the physical statues of their male counterparts – hence creating a silent dialogue between two historical figures, a male & a female, a physical & a virtual, both having lived in the same era, walked similar fields, achieved close successes.

Each of these 8 virtual statues honours the achievements of the following 8 great women in history and helps to commemorate their contributions to French society:

Simone Veil: Champion of women’s rights, emblem of the 1975 law that legalized abortion, and the first female president of the European Parliament. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of General Charles de Gaulle on the Champs-Elysées roundabout in Paris.

Simone de Beauvoir: An acclaimed writer and philosopher of the existentialist movement. As an anti-conformist, she advocated for the emancipation of women in her writings, such as her 1949 book The Second Sex, and became one of the pioneers of French feminism in the 20th century. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of 20th century poet and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, at Place Bellecour in Lyon.

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun: Admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1783 and the official painter to Marie Antoinette, she achieved critical and popular success in the artistic world despite the many obstacles facing female artists of her time. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of 18th century artist Pierre Puget, in the Parc Borély in Marseille.

Françoise de Graffigny: One of the most emblematic female figures of 18th century French literature, best known for her philosophical essay Letters from a Peruvian Woman published in 1747. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of renown philosopher Montesquieu, at Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux.

Manon Tardon: Figure of the French Resistance and Free France, she was present on May 8, 1945, in Berlin when the surrender of Nazi Germany was signed. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of World War 2 hero Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, at Square Amiral Halgan in Nantes.

Josephine Baker: An American-born singer, actress, feminist, showgirl, and French resistance fighter, Josephine Baker was a spy for the Free French Forces, an emblem of the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, and an influential figure in the fight against racial segregation. Her augmented reality statue will be placed next to the physical one of resistant fighter Jean Moulin, at Gare Centrale in Metz.

Olympe de Gouges: Principal author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Citizen published in 1791, she is considered one of the French pioneers of feminism. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of French Revolution leader Jean-Baptiste Kléber, at Place Kléber in Strasbourg.

Hubertine Auclert: Journalist, feminist activist, and founder of the society Le droit des femmes in 1876, she advocated for women’s economic independence, the right to education, and equality in marriage and divorce. Her augmented reality statue will be positioned next to the physical one of early 20th-century activist Léon Trulin, at Place du Théâtre (not far from the Lille Opera).

“Through this innovative experience installed in 8 cities in France, we want to pay tribute to 8 women who have changed French history and society through their actions, their writings, or their positions. Thanks to Snap’s augmented reality technologies, we were able to celebrate those 8 women by building their statues in the public space by placing them alongside statues of men. By establishing a silent dialogue between these historical figures, our wish is to raise public awareness of the fight for women’s rights.” — Donatien Bozon, AR Studio Director.

To design this outstanding augmented reality experience, AR Studio Paris teamed up with French Women’s Rights advocate and influencer Aude Gogny-Goubert, drew inspiration from academic essays (Women & cities, Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2004), and requested the patronage of SnapWomen EMEA, a Snap’s Employee Representative Group supporting Equity. An all-female panel vetted the 8 female historical figures (and their male counterpart), from more than twenty curated candidates.

It took AR Studio Paris and its partners a total of 3 months, from ideation to launch, to create true virtual monument as close to physical ones as possible. 3D artists and producers scrutinized the physical statues in order to develop a virtual counterpart replicating sculpting techniques and materials. AR engineers exploited Snap Inc. proprietary technologies (Location AR, Environment mapping, Surface Tracking…) to bring this augmented reality experience to life.

The AR experience “March 8, 8 Women” has been available since March 8, 2023, sharing, with Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Metz and Nantes citizen and visitors, 8 permanent virtual monument exclusively available on Snapchat… thus building momentum to advocate Equity across France.

Snap believes that augmented reality—digital content overlaid over the real world—represents the next major shift in computing. Like ephemeral messaging and vertical video, Snap also pioneered augmented reality. Today Snap is leading in AR, from a technology, scale, and creator perspective. Snap’s vision for AR is rooted in innovation and stems from our desire to solve problems for our community in a creative way through human-centric design, and the desire to create a more positive reality rather than escape the problems our society faces. As it turns out, Snapchatters love the world around them and the friends and family they share it with, so why not use technology to enhance it for the better?

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