New Year, New Plans
Photo: McKinsey & Company

Budgeting, scheduling, staffing and goals for the upcoming year — planning season is upon us. That means time for new action plans. The cartoon above suggests conditions for a flawed strategy are set when personal views remain unchallenged. As this week's links demonstrate, progress comes down to the commitment of individuals to solve new kinds of problems. 

Change and continuous learning go hand-in-hand. Finding the time, money or appropriate resources can be barriers to taking action. But costly, time-consuming graduate programs or company-sponsored learning and development courses are no longer the only options. You can become fluent in virtually all aspects of media, technology and change management through hundreds of online classes and lesson plans from market leaders.

To name a few—Quartz recently listed over 600 free university-hosted online courses. There's also a growing genre of online education services like LinkedIn's Lynda, or the celebrity-stacked MasterClass program. And if you look closely enough you can find great courses on Medium like the late David Carr's class on content creation and one I'm following on AI design from Jennifer Sukis, design principal for machine learning at IBM. I've found these lesson plans to be a great way to deepen understanding of new practices becoming foundational to our work. They’re also a big help when designing plans and goals for the future.

I value your feedback in all forms — suggestions, links, stories or courses to check out. You can reach me by replying to And if you find this newsletter valuable, I would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up. You can do so by directing them here

Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick
What We're Reading
Content Experience
It’s Time to Embrace Digital Nutrition
By Michael Phillips Moskowitz, Medium

Leaders in health consistently emphasize the importance of five fundamental pillars: diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, vocation and interpersonal relationships. But a possible sixth pillar of health has emerged in the era of smartphone addiction and ubiquitous computing. This element known as “digital nutrition,” is the belief that healthy digital habits urgently warrant adoption. No doubt many of us could benefit from a digital nutrition check-up.

Artificial Intelligence
The Human Brain is a Time Traveler
By Steven Johnson, The New York Times Magazine

In the coming decade, many of us will draw on the forecasts of machine learning to help us muddle through all kinds of life decisions: career changes, financial planning, hiring choices. These enhancements could allow us to see into the future with more acuity — and with a more nuanced sense of probability — than we can do on our own.

Media Forensics
The Next Great (Digital) Extinction
By Joi Ito, Wired

Joi Ito details the historic rise and fall of ancient species that didn't evolve to survive new environments. He compares this cycle to the period we are in now — a pivotal moment in history killing off systems and industrial age practices while allowing new types of organizations to emerge. 

Artificial Intelligence
The Problem With Invisible Branding
By Jason Brush, Fast Company

Artificial intelligence is the most ubiquitous innovation you never see. Consumers, however, have few ways to understand when and how AI is being used, and to judge for themselves if they see it as a benefit or not. It’s simply not a recognizable element of a brand.

Synthetic Content
Is This the Real Life?
By Danika Laszuk, Medium

The fluidity and integration of the machine and human worlds has given rise to a third place — a synthetic world — in which lines blur, or no longer matter, and our human experience is enhanced, augmented, and challenged by our interactions with intelligent machines.

Content Experience
The First “Social Network” of Brains Lets Three People Transmit Thoughts to Each Other’s Heads
By Emerging Technology from the arXiv, MIT Technology Review

In recent years, physicists and neuroscientists have developed an armory of tools that can sense certain kinds of thoughts and transmit information about them into other brains. That has made brain-to-brain communication a reality. But nobody has created a network that allows group communication. Until now. 

Platform Dominance
I Tried to Make My Dog an Instagram Celebrity. I Failed.
By Brian X. Chen, The New York Times

Foodies and corgi lovers are two of the biggest audiences on Instagram. But good content, frequent posting, high-quality photos and even purchasing fake followers still wasn't enough for this author to bring his cooking corgi to Influencer stardom on the brutally competitive platform. 

Artificial Intelligence
I 3D-Printed Every Bit of my Wedding — Including my Bouquet
By Erin Winick, MIT Technology Review
For her wedding, writer Erin Winick printed her headband, bridal party bouquets, table numbers, cake topper and decorations, and the flower girl’s necklace. All on her two desktop printers. What's next?
Emerging Technology
Why Your Netflix Thumbnails Don't Look Like Mine
By Vox

Netflix uses a set of algorithms to determine what images from a series you're most likely to click on. The goal is to get you engaged with their content for as long as possible. And ever-changing customizable thumbnails is just one of their methods.

Deep Take
The End of the Beginning
By Benedict Evans
Close to three quarters of all the adults on earth now have a smartphone, and most of the rest will get one in the next few years. The access story is nearing its end, however, many areas that will be transformed by software and the internet in the next decade or two have barely been touched.
Copyright © 2018 Weber Shandwick

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