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Happy Friday! 

I’m learning many people are just now tuning into the election for the first time. It’s the standard two-week run up to voting day where normal people start paying attention to advertising, issues, and politicians. But since I voted weeks ago, I spent time away from the political churn each night reading books with my AirPods in. 

This week I revisted Simon Stålenhag’s hardcover art books “Tales From the Loop” and “Things From the Flood.” Stålenhag’s paintings and stories take place in an alternate version of Sweden in the ’80s and ’90s and include all kinds of fantastical technology, science, and the human consequences of our relationship with technology. It’s calming to transport oneself into this parallel universe where down is sometimes up, and there’s no logical conclusion... since that’s a normal feeling these days.

And the absolutely perfect soundtrack for hours spent paging though sci-fi art books during a pandemic is Deftone’s new album, Ohms

For fans of Deftone’s White Pony, this is going to be the the sequel for which you’ve been waiting 20 years. The album is so heavy, so deep, and it’s more than evident Chino Moreno recorded his vocals and the band mixed and mastered the album while separated in lockdown. Especially in songs like ‘Pompeji,’ where Moreno sings about our stay-at-home lifestyle with lyrics like “Locked in the core of the tower, I'm patient, In no hurry to leave, Life has been lonely, it might be forever.” 

Ohms is ferocious, and upon repeated listens, punches you in the stomach and asks you to come back for more. We’re accustomed to that feeling at the seven month mark of the pandemic, and I have to admit I've listened to this album at least 4x/day for two weeks. It's bruising, and my Spotify algorithm may never recover. Stream it here

I’m also now about 60 pages into The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff, so if any of you want to read it in the next week or so and do a book club Zoom, let me know. 

Meanwhile, you can back Stålenhag's latest Kickstarter here, and Tales from the Loop Season 1 is streaming Amazon Prime – complete with a beautiful and haunting Philip Glass soundtrack. And I highly recommend it. Watch here

See you on the internet!


Every week I keep tabs on what's trending, new technology and consumer habits that impact the social web. Here's what I'm tracking this week... and have something you think should be shared? Drop it here

Hum to Search: On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app, tap the mic icon and say “what's this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. It immediately identified Suzanne Vega’s track “Tom’s Diner” based solely on doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, duhdoodoo. Try it!

The FOBO is Real: It’s our new universal neurosis: Fear of Being On… “an anxiety characterized by a constant need to check that you are muted, silent, hung up, off-mic, logged off, shut down, incognito, invisible, or otherwise safe from someone hearing or seeing you via technology. Even and especially when you just checked 10 seconds ago.” Some NSFW news this week brought it up, and the only cure is a pandemic vaccine. So keep checking for that little green light, folks.

Patents of the Week: Although patent filings aren’t a guarantee that new technology will come to fruition, they give us a hint of where we may be headed. Amazon is looking at ways of serving video ads even on devices that are offline. Google has one for their virtual assistant to synthesize every incoming message you get across all the various services and apps you use into one screen where the assistant decides what's most pertinent at any given moment. Facebook has a giant USB port for your brain to support their brain-computer interfaces. Read about these and more here.

I’m the Mayor of this Coffee Shop! This week Gowalla relaunched as an augmented reality social app – kind of a Pokemon Go meets Foursquare experience. Sign up for the beta here.

Osiris-Rex Tags Bennu: This week was a massive week for science, physics, software, and understanding the solar system. NASA landed a space probe on asteroid over 200 million miles away, then immediately took back off and sent a sample from the asteroid’s surface back to Earth. The spacecraft operates more or less autonomously due to the 18 minute communications delay, and it already changed a lot of what we thought we know about near-earth asteroids, including the discovery that the sandy beaches we anticipated were big rocky boulders. So much to learn! Watch the video here.

Audio’s Opportunity and Who Will Capture It: Technologist and former head of strategy at Amazon Studios Matthew Ball wrote a comprehensive and compelling essay about media consumption patterns and the interplay of technology, content and business models for audio right now. Key quote: “Just imagine a Sony Music executive trying to figure out why a 15 year old today should care for Billy Joel, how to reach them, and how to overcome the stigma of Joel being their dad’s favorite artist.”

I Want My AMTV: This week saw the launch of Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated livestream of popular music videos that will also include “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,” according to the announcement. Watch right now through the Apple TV app on your Apple device.

Augmented Reality Comes to Native Google Search: As I predicted, only 16 months after launching augmented reality search for animals Google is now bringing in-search AR results for brands, starting with auto. When searching for supported vehicles, users will see the ability to view a 3D model either on a generic background, a stylized background, or in real-life using AR through the camera directly in the Google search results. In your mobile browser, Google “2020 Volvo XC40 Recharge” and scroll down to the card that says “View in 3D.” Then project it via hologram in your driveway, garage, or living room!
For brands, it’s time to start thinking about creating 3D files of your products for native AR features like this. If you have a product, it’s time to start practicing creating really good 3D models of your product. If you have a service, it’s worth doing some workshopping what kinds of brand assets you would want to have in 3D form that could be utilized for Search, as well as other VR and AR experiences. It’s only a matter of time before native AR search results come to other categories. Time to plan ahead!
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