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Context Collapse: 🧠The Weekstarter 8/28/23
It's a new week, give me all the industrial-strength coffee: CC #232
In this issue: AI, programmatic ads & more bad social media life choices.
Welcome to Context Collapse, the world’s best comms newsletter. I’m Neal Ungerleider. I run Ungerleider Works and used to work as a reporter for Fast Company, write op-eds for the LA Times, and work as a senior copywriter for R/GA. This newsletter helps readers navigate the weird new world of media and gleefully ignores all the conventional wisdom about journalism, public relations, marketing, and advertising.
Housekeeping note! I’m taking this week off from work except for a couple of time-sensitive client things. It’s the end of summer. It’s time to do things out of doors and take things easy before the US Labor Day crush. And then… lots and lots of work in September. See you post-Labor Day.
Hire me for writing and strategy work! I have a few slots available for the remainder of the year… Let’s talk.
“On Monday, in-cinema advertising company National CineMedia (NCM) announced plans to sell movie screen inventory programmatically beginning in Q4. The promise of programmatic is to reach people on a one-to-one basis, which makes using it for cinema inventory a bit of an eyebrow raise.”
“Though she didn’t know it at the time, Ms. Kolsky had fallen victim to a new form of travel scam: shoddy guidebooks that appear to be compiled with the help of generative artificial intelligence, self-published and bolstered by sham reviews, that have proliferated in recent months on Amazon.”
“In a move that some in the industry will welcome as putting at least a temporary stop to industry consolidation, the private investment firm KKR has reached an agreement with Paramount Global to acquire Simon & Schuster for $1.62 billion in an all cash transaction. Though below the $2.175 billion that Penguin Random House had previously agreed to pay for the country’s third largest trade publisher, $1.62 billion is a healthy price since most trade publishers sell for not much better than 1.5 times sales, and S&S’s 2022 revenue was $1.18 billion.”
“I know my work gets pirated and frankly I don’t care. (I’m not saying other authors shouldn’t care, but that’s not a battle worth my time today.) But here’s what does rankle me: garbage books getting uploaded to Amazon where my name is credited as the author.”
“Amazon.com is jettisoning dozens of its in-house brands as part of a significant reduction of its private-label operation as it works to fend off antitrust scrutiny and shore up profit. The Seattle-based company in the past year has decided to eliminate 27 of its 30 clothing brands, such as Lark & Ro, Daily Ritual and Goodthreads.”
“My relationship with Twitter has shifted dramatically in the last week. It recently reached what I’ll call the “scanning a 4chan screenshot to see if it contains slurs or porn or extremist material before sharing it” stage of social network degradation. What I mean is that when I see a funny 4chan screenshot somewhere, I typically really scour the thing for any bad stuff before sharing it. Because 4chan is now, by default, a no-go zone. I have found myself in the last week having to do that with Twitter, as well. Before I retweet a user I don’t know, I have to click over to their page to make sure they aren’t a white nationalist farming clicks for ad revenue.”
“The moderators of r/malefashionadvice (MFA) opted to keep the subreddit private after the blackout, despite warnings from Reddit to reopen it. When the moderators refused to comply, Reddit admins replaced the entire mod team with users who had little to no experience moderating fashion spaces. The subreddit has effectively fallen apart since the takeover.”
“Harvey scours legal sites, contracts, and other large documents, and then answers queries and writes summaries. It’s exactly the type of application people said would send paralegals and junior associates to the bread lines. Yet it’s helping them perform better, adding value to the firm, and not threatening their livelihood. Why get rid of more-effective employees? Besides, although the bot is helpful, it’s not nearly good enough to handle all their tasks, and it still gets things wrong often enough to require human supervision.”
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