From Fringe to Front Page
Can we change as fast as technology and consumer tastes dictate? That's the question on my mind this week. 

It's also been a central theme and driver behind forming an “X Practice,” especially as our clients are grappling with the same question. Tech is changing, and changing us, fast. Concepts once considered fringe have moved to the front page — seemingly overnight. 

Take "deep fakes" for example. As recently as last week, few people outside of the tech world were familiar with the term, or even the broader concept of doctoring video, voice or images to create a false impression. Then the post-midterm news conference happened. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta as grounds for banning him from the White House. Shortly after, social intelligence agency Storyful, a Weber Shandwick partner, proved the video was altered. (More on this in today's deep take.)

Within a day of these highly-publicized events, Harvard Business Review published an in-depth piece about the larger phenomenon of synthetic content: "Is Your Company Ready to Protect Its Reputation from Deep Fakes?" And just like that, fringe tech went mainstream.

We’re more intentional than ever about seeking partnerships with companies like Storyful that help us adapt to the speed and depth of tech that's reshaping media. In fact, this exclusive, two-year collaboration helps put us – and our clients – on the cutting-edge of media forensics, social insights and monitoring depth that helps predict trending topics. These and similar partnerships are one of the many ways we're working to Solve for X, asking ourselves new questions and facing the often-uncomfortable answers head-on.

Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick

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What We're Reading
Synthetic Content
Election Night with the Meme Debunkers
By Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker

What we know about the world seems to come increasingly from social media. But it can be hard to separate the news from the geyser of other stuff. Analysts at Storyful, which calls itself “the first social-media newswire,” monitor the wilds of the Internet, so you don’t have to.

Synthetic Content
Don't Want to Fall For Fake News? Don't Be Lazy
By Robbie Gonzalez, Wired

The fact that fake news continues to not only crop up but spread — often faster than legitimate, factual news — is enough to make anyone wonder: How on Earth do people keep falling for this stuff? To put it bluntly, they might not be thinking hard enough. 

Artificial Intelligence
CNN Headlines, According to a Neural Net
By Janelle Shane, AI Weirdness

Advanced artificial intelligence will help us make sense of the world, except that some use cases aren’t exactly what you’d call sophisticated. Can they digest a list of CNN headlines and predict plausible new headlines based on what they’ve seen? Not yet, but it’s fun to watch them try.

Content Experience
Why Doctors Hate Their Computers
By Atul Gawande, The New Yorker

Advanced technology has long supported doctors in their quest to treat patients. But while digitization promises to make medical care increasingly more informed and efficient, many doctors feel trapped behind their screens.

Media Forensics
Is Prince Harry an Influencer Now?
By Cam Wolf, GQ

The women of the royal family have been style-influencers around the world long before "influencer" was even used as word. But do men care what Prince Harry wears? They may be starting to. 

Content Experience
Why Do All Websites Look the Same?
By Boris Müller, Medium

Web design today seems to be driven by technical and ideological constraints rather than creativity and ideas. Ironically, today’s web technologies have more design capabilities than ever before. Why is there such a disconnect?

Content Experience
James Patterson's Next Novel Will Be Released on Facebook Messenger
By Andrew Liptak, The Verge

Facebook has partnered with author James Patterson to adapt his new novel for its Messenger platform. Users can search for “The Chef” in the app, which will bring up the story. From there, they can begin reading, while also interacting with the characters and locations with videos and sound clips that tie into the story.

Emerging Technology
World's First AI News Anchor Debuts in China
By CNBC Television

China’s state-run news agency just unveiled an AI-powered anchor at China’s World Internet Conference. The news anchor, modeled on a real presenter named Zhang Zhow, learns from live broadcast videos and mans the news desk 24-hours a day.

This Adjustable Rain Simulator Is The Most Satisfying Thing On The Internet Today
By BJ Pang Chieh Ho, Digg

If all the change and fakery happening in the world is freaking you out, our pick for this week’s most satisfying content may be just the thing you need. The RainbowHunt rain simulator provides all the comforting sounds of rain without everything bad about actual rain. 

Deep Take
Acosta Video Posted by White House Was Altered, Analysis Says
By The Wall Street Journal
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders posted a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta at last week's press conference that was used to justify his barring. Now CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Trump and several of his aides. Close analysis of this video reveals that frames in that clip were paused.
Copyright © 2018 Weber Shandwick

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