Friday Reading #96

Anyone who’s been anywhere near Goodstuff’s social channels for the last few weeks will be sick and tired of hearing us constantly wanging on about the Media Showcase by now, but rest assured this is the last of it for another year. Wednesday evening’s event was by all accounts a barnstorming success. There was a magician, live comedy, an Indian grandmother on Skype, £2m in Channel 4 media value offered for great ideas to show disability in a positive light – and Simeon even managed to get a few laughs in. 


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Struggling to come up with that mind-bending insight for
your brief? Send out a survey! Need to understand what consumers love about a
product? Send out a survey! Not sure what to get for lunch? Send out a survey!
A dozen or so services allow surveys to be created and sent out to the world
and their mum in a few minutes, making the survey one of the easiest and
simplest ways of analysing a problem – getting lots of other people to do it.
But are we falling into traps with creating surveys, and does their ubiquity
breed bad and lazy habits?

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We all know what it’s like when one person in the office
gets ill – half the office go down one by one. Swabs collected by the London
Met university have revealed 121 different types of bacteria across all of
London’s tube & transport systems.  Ever wondered why some people don’t
ever get struck down by the mystery illness at work? Well maybe it’s because
they take the Metropolitan line (or they probably cycle) which was revealed as
the cleanest line. In comparison the Victoria line was found to be the
dirtiest
, even harbouring a deadly superbug. If that’s not enough to make you
take up cycling we don’t know what is.

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AI might not be taking over the globe quite yet, but a domination of the world of Go (a traditional Chinese board game) could well be underway. On Monday, Ke Jie (the reigning #1 Go player in the world) sat down with a slightly unusual opponent – AlphaGo, an algorithm developed by British company DeepMind which also defeated Korean legend Lee Sedol just over a year ago. Despite a $1.5m prize on the table, Ke failed to topple his digital opponent, who took a convincing victory.

It’s an interesting experiment, but one that could have more significant implications outside of Go – for instance, as the machine continues to learn and develop, DeepMind are confident it could contribute massively to the world of medicinal and scientific research.

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Launching a newspaper ain’t easy these days, circulations are down and the most recent attempt, Trinity Mirror’s The New Day, went into a death spiral after just nine weeks. So it comes as something of a heartening surprise that after almost a year, The New European – a title which was only ever intended to last four weeks, is still going strong. Mediatel have sat down with editor Matt Kelly, who suggests it’s the built in obsolescence of their model taking the commercial pressure off which has helped them. Having a clear positioning also no doubt contribute – in a post Brexit political world where the left/right divisions are less clear, a paper resolutely for the 48% has a clarity which The Guardian’s requirement for neutrality leaves open on the Remain side of the debate.

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Google Street View is such an integral part of how we find out way around the world, it’s perhaps surprising that it celebrated it’s tenth birthday yesterday. But beyond aiding house buyers everywhere, Street View’s vast omnipresent image archives have proven to be a powerful source of inspiration for artists. Fast Company have collated some of the more interesting and varied works based on the all seeing eye of the big G – from serendipitous moments, to intentional performances, and enormous curation projects.

It’s not often you hear stories about new media brands coming onto a monolithic platform like YouTube and not crashing and burning. But the story behind how Vox Media built a channel that now has 2.2m subscribers and nearly half a billion total views is an interesting read over at DigiDay. Their short, well-produced and insightfully explained videos have captivated viewers’ attention all with a simple ethos.

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