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Clicks are the new currency

In the today’s world clicks are like money. Clicks have value. Clicks = dollars. Clicks = euros. Clicks = whatever currency you can think of. 

How did that happen?

You might have noticed that most of the Internet today is free. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, online newspapers, blogs, you name it. These are free in the sense that you don’t have to give them money in return for their services, but you do end up paying them with your clicks.

When you click on a link these websites have your attention and while their have your attention they can sell you other things via online ads. This means that every time you go on a website you generate value for them. They can sell your attention o people that want to promote their products.

So every time you spend time using an online service/blog/site that uses ads as revenue source you indirectly pay them their salary. Your time and attention is what keeps them alive. With every click, with second you spend on a website you basically give them money to continue what they do.

And because we live in the time of social media, most of the times we don’t stop with a click, we also share what we see. So … not only we give them value by clicking but we bring other people to their website. We basically trick our friends to pay as well.

Our clicks give websites the money to exist.

We have the power to shape the media and the world. Next time you click on link ask yourself if you want to support them. If you want a better world click on better links.

I had the idea for this post for a while now, but it was not fully crystalized. However, after seeing the movie below I finally got it.

I recommend watching Sally Kohn’s TED talk.  You will understand better your own power in today’s online world.

Photo by Philip Taylor

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FBI has a fully functional facial recognition system

I just read on The Verge that FBI finally got its new toy: a brand new facial recognition system.  The official name for this is Next Generation Identification (NGI) and it has been in the works for over 3 years according… or so they say. To be honest I think it was in the works for more but some didn’t know.  Or at least I hope. I can’t imagine that it only took 3 years to have this fully functional.

Anyway, I was thinking what would happen when the system will indicate a false positive, a doppelganger, or someone just looks like another person?

I mean, look at this poor fella. He is a Russian plumber that looks like House. I can totally see the system mistake one for the other.

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Imagine you being the doppelganger of a fugitive. How will they treat you when the system will flag some unsuspecting cop he has a super dangerous fugitive on his hands?? I can only hope that they won’t use excessive force. It’s not like these things don’t happen you know.

On the other hand it we could see more cases like this one.

I’ll leave you with …

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Featured photo by James Cridland

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Awesome Documentary: Terms and conditions may apply

I saw the “Terms and conditions may apply” movie yesterday and I think you should see it too. I really like how they built up the case for online privacy. They use facts to make us think about the implications losing our privacy and at the end of the movie they give some frightening real life examples of innocent people that have bullied by governments and big corporations.

I think this is a must see movie. Most of the people I asked if they are concerned with their online privacy consider that will not be affected by the fact that other people have access to their private information. They say that they have nothing to hide, that they are not that important and they are not afraid if people know what they do online. Until recently I thought pretty much the same…

The scary part is not that other people know what you do online, the scary part is that other people have access to your data but do not know the context.

Online privacy issues

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There is a big difference between people knowing what you do online and having access to your data (Google searches, emails, Facebook posts, text messages, Facebook messages). The thing is that data without context can be interpreted in many ways. And keep in mind that this data can be and probably is stored forever. So if at one point somebody who does not agree with your views comes to power they
can profile you based on your past online activity. From there to being persecuted will be a small step. That I find very disturbing.

In this documentary there are a few frightening examples of how this massive surveillance is already being used. Do you know minority report and how “in the future“ police makes preemptive arrests based on the intention of someone… well that thing already happened.

Here is the “Terms and conditions may apply” documentary trailer.

How to protect your privacy?

Here is what I think you should do to protect your privacy.

  1. Be aware of it and understand the implications of other people having access to it
  2. Vote/support people that want to protect your online privacy
  3. As a last resort equip yourself to become more private
  • Use a VPN
  • Use browser privacy extensions like: Privacy Badger
  • Stay offline

I’ll end up this post with my favorite quote from this movie:

You have nothing to hide until you don’t

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Chrun vs retention

Bluntly put, churn means how many users stop using your product/service and retention means how many people keep using your products. Every company should focus on either minimizing churn or increase retention. At first glance these actions seem to have the same end result, it’s like rephrasing something without changing the meaning. I think it’s not like that. I think that saying one instead of the other can have deeper implication for the business. Here is why…

Focusing on retention is better than focusing on churn

Implications of using minimizing churn.

When the goal is to minimize churn, the entire company will focus on the things they can do to stop people from leaving. This has an inherent bad feeling tied to it. When your users stop using the app or service, it means that you are doing something wrong. This will add to the pressure and limit your creativity. Also, by focusing your attention exclusively on how to stop whatever is driving users away, you are limiting your pool of ideas, because you only consider what you are already doing instead of what you could do.

When you want to minimize churn you basically say how can we stop people from leaving, what can we do to make them hate us less?

Implications of using increasing retention

On the other hand, when you want to increase retention the main question is: how do we make people love our service even more? How do we make them stay longer? Do you see the difference?

Now you focus on a positive thing. This can spark creativity and my bet is that will bring better results.

I know that all this is a matter of phrasing, but if you believe all the NLP enthusiasts, a small difference in how you say things could make a huge difference.

So, what do you think about this theory?

Image by Imran Chaudhry

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The weird thing about productivity

This morning I was browsing reddit on my iPad, and because I wanted to feel a bit more productive I was also listening to a podcast about innovation, … or better said I was trying to listen to a podcast. Apparently paying attention to someone else talking while you browse pictures of funny cats is harder than I imagined.

After doing that for a few minutes, I realized that the podcast listening activity is going nowhere. So I was facing a choice, either stop browsing reddit and listen to the podcast, or stop listening and continue browsing. And here comes the weird part, at that moment, intuitively it felt more productive to browse reddit. That made me stop and think: why is that?

Why doing something not productive feels more productive than it is?

Here is my theory. I think that I am wired to think that passive activities are less productive than active activities, and I bet I am not the only one.

Example: so for me listening an informative podcast and doing nothing felt less productive than tapping on my screen and watching cats. I believe it has something to do with the nature of the action. I believe that active activities feel more productive than passive activities simply because it’s simpler to quantify or see the results.

Can this be true? Do you have a better explanation? Also, I wonder how this connection influences our daily life and choices we make. I will take different decisions now that I’m aware of this.

Does this make sense to you? Have you ever noticed this?

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Plane photography in Amsterdam

A few weeks ago I realized that I haven’t used my 70-300 lens in a while, and inspired by the awesome shots I took during my Scotland trip, I decided to dust off my baby and find a new project.

As I was contemplating what could be my next subject I looked up and saw the sky full of airplane trails. Living in Amsterdam, that is quite familiar scene, boring even, but that day it was an inspiration: PLANES!!! Yes, why didn’t I think about that before? I live close enough to Schiphol to get some really cool shots.

So I took my old Canon 450d, my zoom lens and my bike and went to spot where I remembered seeing a plane flying above me one day.

You can see the result below. For a funny story keep on reading.

My first stop was on a bench close by the Amstel Park, on the river Amstel. As I extended my lens to a full 300 zoom, people passing by looked with an immense envy at my black, long, fully extended thing :)). Feeling the stares in my back and seeing that I could not get the angle I wanted, I decide to go a bit farther, at the very end of the Amstel Park, right next to the roundabout. Here I was much closer to the planes but still not the angle I wanted so I decide to go about 500 m farther down the road.

This place was amazing. I was able to see the planes preparing for landing from far away and I had a great view as the planes were coming full speed towards me, flying right above me and then continuing towards Schiphol. So I stated taking pictures like a crazy person. I was following every plane from far away until it disappeared over the trees next to the airport.

And here comes the funny part. Not even 5 minutes into my photoshoot a police car stops 2 meters away from me, one the other side of the road. The policemen get down of the car, they measure me from head to toes, and then they casually light a cigarette, while watching me taking photos.

After they silently agreed I am just a hipster with green skinny jeans, thick black frames and a weird passion for planes, they jumped back in the car and drove into the sunset. They didn’t say a word, just stared at me while I was taking photos. So yeah… for a moment there I was a suspect and a bit worried they would start questioning me.

To be honest I am glad they did that. I am happy to know people tip the police of when they see something suspect, the police comes really fast and they don’t act like assholes.

All in all good story to tell my friends. And pretty cool photos for the first time.

And a map with where I took the photos.

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