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Did you say “robots?” Very well. In robot-related news this week, a New York City Health Department worker was suspended from work for 20 days for answering his phone in a robot voice. He may have been trying to simplify his interactions with callers; reportedly Dillon told a judge in his case that he wasn’t “a people person.” Min Kyung Lee, of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, explains that people treat machines as machines no matter how human they act. Plus, robots can’t provide the personal touch epitomized (and hilariously exaggerated) in this Home Depot mock ad from Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver.
Scientific studies, like the one conducted by Carnegie Mellon’s Lee, are based on established research methods and interpretive theory. YouTube videos, on the other hand, are made mainly by people who shoot footage and edit it together in ways that may be aesthetically appealing, but are most likely not systematic. Thus points out Zynep Tufeki for Medium, in an article that dissects the recent video from anti-street-harassment group Hollaback to explore why nearly all the harassers in their recent viral video were black men. Turns out footage from Harlem’s 125th Street outnumbered footage from other areas of New York City by a factor of 3 to 1. Tufeki’s message? Method matters, and viral videos are no substitute for rigorous research.
Viral videos may be the “face” of YouTube, but there’s another side, not just seldom seen, but entirely unviewed. Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo spent hours perusing the content provided by website Petit Tube, which finds and presents YouTube videos with the distinction of having absolutely no views whatsoever. It’s a window on the weird, the random, and the mundane, but most of all, as Feinberg writes, it takes you “candidly, directly into the life of another human.” For better or for worse.
Also in Internet video, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler floated a proposal last week that would allow Internet TV the same rights as cable and satellite systems to carry broadcast TV stations. The hope is that this would make them better able to compete as a true alternative to cable and satellite. In other FCC news, Wheeler is also considering a “hybrid approach” to the issue of broadband Internet regulation that would reclassify broadband as a common carrier, similar to telephone service. Broadband providers—such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T—while having pledged not to create Internet fast lanes that would provide preferential service to their own content or that of their partners, are not keen to surrender their right to do so if they change their minds.
In TV ad news this week, Subaru is being lauded for its deftly positioned new “Memory Lane” ad, which features a tree-hugging family who seem to straddle both the romantic and cynical sides of the environmental movement (without really mentioning the environment at all). What Ad Week finds really notable is the confidence that Subaru mustered in order to play their reputation off lightly. In television, where your potential audience includes pretty much anyone who can work a remote control, that takes some hutzpah. We’re proud to have worked with more than a few clients who’ve been willing to take that risk. The following is just the most recent example.
Robot photo by D J Shin, (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMetal_House_%E2%80%93_Engine_Robot_(%E3%82%A8%E3%83%B3%E3%82%B8%E3%83%B3%E3%83%AD%E3%83%9C%E3%83%83%E3%83%88)_%E2%80%93_Close_Up.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons.