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The Sundar-ing

12 December Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 96
The imploding attention economy
You know what would be annoying? If the source of our societal downfall was a bunch of lies and cheap tricks.

In 2016, a law suit was brought against Facebook to combat their over-inflation of video ad view statistics. This week, it was made public, and we got to learn that for as long as a year or more, the engineers running their video ads products had seen viewer statistics over-inflated. Facebook claimed their metrics were some 60-80% higher than they really were, due to a genuine computing error and no sincere attempt to deceive. I'm sure that makes the ad-buying teams of Facebook's biggest customer brands feel better.

As it turns out, the statistics were in fact 150-900% over-inflated, and it's making me ask questions. Is the cannibalistic nature of a technology-to-user-power-ratio that monetizes ads even remotely sustainable if an oversight of this sort doesn't or can't change advertiser spending patterns?
 
During this scandal, in some board room somewhere, an advertising team looked at a bunch of figures from Facebook about their video ad views, and said "ok, sure, sounds right, how would I even try and double-check these" and paid them money to run ads.

Did they get an ROI on that investment? Was it measurable and worthwhile at the viewership rates Facebook first released? How about at minus the 150-900% it was actually inflated by? How can there be a measurable ROI on advertising at all if the difference doesn't matter? And if the difference does matter, how can we trust platforms that publish their own figures after this kind of deception?

As this story became public, WhatsApp has been causing the Indian government to shut down regional Internet hubs to combat riot-inducing fake news, and we're finding out all about what the trolls are doing to Twitter.

Maybe the attention economy is imploding a little bit?

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The future


Lyft is doing ride-sharing monthly subscriptions across the US starting this week, shifting the tone in transportation slightly from a "job to be done" mode of thinking to that of a monthly expense. Do you think about your transportation like you think about your heating?

Another showcase of the remote Tesla upgrade machine may be coming. Elon Musk plans to issue some owners a (physical) chip that contains Autopilot improvements about six months before the upgrade is rolled out in production.

Autonomous shipping is coming soon. Rolls-Royce and Intel announced a deal this week that hopes to see the first uncrewed ocean-going vessels by 2025.

The past

Paul Allen has died. The 65 year-old philanthropist, co-founder of Microsoft, and technologist passed away from complications due to Lymphoma.

Palm is back, baby! The decades-young smartphone maker has proudly released a new "ultra-mobile smartphone." So lame, and yet so awesome.
 
A jaw-dropping tirade against the evils of big G hit Twitter last week, as an ex-Senior Designer on the Google+ project aired their dirty laundry about the project after it shuttered. It's a serious read.

Tech for good?

There's a new London £50m Seed fund. It's led by rich(?) white guys! Huzzah...
 
A new camera has taken a video of a beam of light. The new fastest camera in the world, capturing 10 trillion frames per second, was built by scientists at Caltech and is v awesome. Somehow, incredibly, their plan is to now make it a hundred times faster.

HAT News

Malaysia dolla bills. A new multi-million GBP partnership is emerging between Triune Centre for Digital and Social Advocacy, the HAT, and StartupMalaysia that will see a coworking and advocacy space emerge in the middle of downtown KL. More to come.

Friends (romans). People.io is raising money, get in touch if you're curious.

Padoq. HAT is creating its first new community with Startup partners padoq.com. Request an invitation if you want to feel close to us (you saucy thing, you).

Holla,

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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