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Eli Fennell
The Key to Social Media is Being Social
The Key to Social Media is Being Social

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Updated: The Three Branding Opportunities in the Local Knowledge Panel

Google is always testing new ways of organizing and presenting Search results, including Local Knowledge Panel results. Business owners must be aware of these changes, and of the benefits of claiming and optimizing their Google My Business listings.

In the following article, I discuss the three opportunities for business branding in the Local Knowledge Panel, including:

Your Business Logo
Your Map & Search Photos
Your Business Description

I've also updated the article to reflect the removal of Recent Posts on Google+ from Local Knowledge Panel results.  Actively Posting to your Google+ Page might still be valuable in other ways, but is no longer of benefit for Local Knowledge Panel results.

#LocalSEO   #LocalSearch   #Branding  

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Google Allo For Desktop Coming Soon

Source - Nick Fox, Google VP of Communications Products

via Twitter:

#Google #Allo

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Google Unveils 'Perspective': AI For Comment Moderation

Online comments are a big problem. Period. Finding a troll-free online forum, or even conversation (unless narrowly shared), is like finding an oasis in a desert of fire and blood. Many online publishers have killed site comments, due to the overburdening demands of moderation. Many online users self-censor for fear of trolling.

Now Google is doing something about it with Perspective, a machine learning technology that will learn to recognize, and help sites moderate, 'toxic' comments.

Sites will also be given options about what to do when Perspective flags comments, giving them final say, rather than necessarily leaving it all in the hands of the AI.

It will only be available in English for now, but other languages are planned, and eventually they hope to expand the project to other types of commenting issues, such as off-topic comments and 'unsubstantial' (i.e. low-quality) comments.

#Perspective #AI #MachineLearning

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Zimbabwean President Mugabe Could Run For Election 'As A Corpse'

92-year old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has said he would like to live to 100 and be President for life, is not in the best of health, and may not make it to his next election.

According to his 51-year old wife Grace, however, this may not be a problem, as she recently told his supporters, "If God decides to take him, then we would rather field him as a corpse," encouraging them to vote for him even if that were to happen. So he may well end up, not just President for life, but President for afterlife, too.

Of course, Mrs. Mugabe may have ulterior motives of her own, as she has suggested that if President Mugabe is too told to serve, then so are his rivals, and that she might, then, take over herself.

If that were to happen, then Zimbabwe would join the surprisingly long, and rather depressing, list of countries to have had a female President before the United States.

#ThatHeadlineThough #Mugabe #DeathIsNoObstacle

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Chrome Search Update May Give Boost To 'Proximity Marketing'

Proximity Marketing, the ability for businesses to directly market to mobile device users when in range of their stores, offices, etc..., is a Holy Grail. By which, I mean, finding the right way to do it is like finding the right cup from among many counterfeits that do nothing but kill people who try drink from them.

Generally powered by Bluetooth beacons, the first problem it has faced is the 'app issue'. Traditionally, every business had to build their own app and get the user to install it, which is a lot of apps, and as we know, the average person doesn't install a single new app in a given month. Only very loyal customers, generally speaking, will install a business's app, and even most of them won't.

The other approach has been to try to marry it to some existing app that users already have on their device. Google experimented with the idea of using Google Maps for this purpose, but killed the idea for fear it would damage the reputation and/or popularity of one of the most popular and useful mobile apps in existence.

The second problem, as hinted at by Google's reasoning for not using Google Maps for this purpose, is the sense that Proximity Marketing is intrusive, or even creepy. It's hard to imagine most people readily accepting any scenario whereby, with no deliberate action on their parts to invite this, an app (even an 'Instant App') or web page or banner ad or anything else from a business suddenly forces itself onto their device's screen.

A new feature in Chrome for iOS, hidden behind Chrome Flags at the moment (i.e. disabled by default), may suggest a better way. When activated, this feature suggests Physical Web content when the user taps on the Chrome Search Bar (i.e. the Omnibox). In effect, when (and only when) the user begins to initiate a Search, and when Physical Web content is available nearby, Chrome will suggest this content to the user, not unlike how Google already suggests various Search terms (e.g. autocomplete) to the user.

This would remove the obtrusiveness of Proximity Marketing, in theory, by making the Physical Web just another part of user initiated Web Search, through an app which already has more than a billion users across iOS and Android, using context awareness to suggest (but not force) Physical Web content to the Searcher when it is most likely to be appropriate to do so. If Chrome users become accustomed to this, Searching the Physical Web may become as natural and habitual as Googling the web already is for most users.

#Google #Beacon

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Oh, if only many of us had warned about this... repeatedly... over and over again while being told we supported 'The Status Quo'...

#Trump #DrainTheSwamp

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Learning Likely 'Controlled' By Entropy

Entropy is the decline of an ordered system to disorder, as more efficient forms of energy are increasingly converted into less efficient forms (e.g. heat waste) and thereby 'lost' to the system.

Entropy is most acute in a closed system. Living things are not closed systems: they partially compensate for entropy by incorporating additional matter and energy. However, the very process of doing so also inevitably generates some entropy, so that this cannot be maintained perfectly and indefinitely. (This is the flaw in the argument, usually advanced by Creationists, that living things 'violate' entropy: they treat the organism as if it were an entirely closed system, which it isn't.)

In a new research paper, a team of scientists has recently advanced the argument that learning itself is 'controlled' (albeit, likely not entirely controlled) by this process.

In this perspective, memories are more durable when they are formed in a more energy efficient manner, i.e. more slowly. The higher the entropy involved in forming the memory traces necessary for learning (all learning depending, as it does, on prior memories), the more quickly the memory 'breaks down'.

By way of analogy, learning to ride a bike (which, as everyone generally agrees, is never 'forgotten' once learned) is a slow process, involving many repetitions of the behavior before it is mastered. On the other hand, learning the name of a stranger, when necessary to do so in a given social situation, is generally faster, and it's not uncommon for people to 'forget' names they've previously learned until sufficiently reinforced. A child doesn't need to learn to ride a bike instantly, but social demands may require one to learn a name after only hearing it once, at least temporarily. This may also help explain why accessing previous memories always changes them, a process usually explained (probably not entirely incorrectly) by the effects of our 'narrative memory' modifying them to conform to our current personal narrative (e.g. I wanted to become a lawyer, I didn't just become one because my parents pressured me into it). Each time the memory is accessed, some entropy will occur.

The ramifications of this, though, go even deeper: it appears that 'entropy efficiency' may be a more-or-less universal process, not just in living things but even in the most basic material building blocks. The growth of certain crystalline structures, for example, has long been compared with the growth of an organism (so much so that some crystalline structures can regrow from a 'seed' crystal, not unlike an organism growing from the recombination of gametes). This comparison is likely due to both systems being entropy efficient: they both optimize their efficiency in order to resist the disorder of increasing entropy for as long as possible. Learning, then, would simply be a particularly sophisticated form of this.

This also has ramifications for the idea of 'Digital Immortality' of the type envisioned by Ray Kurzweil: simply copying the memories and consciousness of the person into a digital medium would not stop entropy entirely. There is not as yet, and likely never will be, a perfectly efficient way to slow or reverse entropy. Indeed, digital information is not immune to entropy: both the data itself, and the medium of storage, both succumb to entropy, and all the redundant backups in the world can only slow this process. Information is still, inevitably, lost.

This is one of the appeals, in fact, of various forms of data 'cold storage' like Amazon Glacier, which might lose only one piece of data out of ten thousand every 10-million years, but from which data can only be retrieved very, very slowly, and which are very energy efficient (i.e. entropy efficient). While such an idea might be applied to Kurzweil's idea to make the copied minds more durable, the result of this would be a 'glacially' slow digital consciousness, which if sped up again would again start to experience an entropy 'breakdown'.

Entropy efficiency also limits the lifespan of living things, and while medical sciences can increasingly compensate for this, they can likely never be perfectly entropy efficient, even if the SciFi idea of 'cryogenic preservation' becomes real (and anyways, being kept in cryo storage is only 'preservation', not 'living').

#BlindMeWithScience #Neuroscience #Entropy

FYI - The memes expressing confusion about how we got Valentine's Day from St. Valentine are funny, but in point of historical fact, Valentine's Day DOESN'T come from St. Valentine in any way, shape, or form.

In the Middle Ages, French peasants commonly pronounced the letter 'g' as 'v'. So the actual name of the holiday was Gallantine's Day, i.e. a day to be gallant, meaning chivalrous. It had nothing whatsoever to do with a martyred Saint.

I'm finding myself a lot less interested these days in the endless chatter of social Streams and News Feeds, and more with the deeper, arguably existential crisis of modern humanity: why is it, that in a world with ample resources (in principle) to provide for the biological needs of each person, and to resolve conflicts through refeered channels (law enforcement, the judiciary, international alliances, etc...), that we are so horrible to each other. And why is this getting worse in recent years, rather than better?

I admit, I don't have all the answers. The most sensible insight I've ever seen into human nature is that of the Buddhists: that each of us seeks in our own ways to live a good life (how we define that), and to avoid suffering (again, how we define that). It's as simple an answer as one can find, but as yet has not solved the corollary issue: how do we get everyone's ideas of seeking the good life, and avoiding suffering, to align so that one person's good life doesn't depend on causing suffering for others?

Perhaps the idea we'll ever solve this is a Utopian Fantasy, but I have to hope that's not the case, or we're going to be facing some very dark times indeed. Humans were bad enough to each other when all we could kill each other with were sticks and stones. With the world killing weapons we have at our disposal now, the only two choices seem to be World Peace, or inevitable World War 3... and then, if we survive, we'll be back to sticks and stones again.

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Google AI Can Literally 'Zoom and Enhance'

Zoom and enhance clich... oh, wait, you mean they can actually zoom and enhance? Thanks, Google, you just justified the laziest movie trope in history and rendered 2% of all +CinemaSins​ outdated. Good job, guys!

(In all seriousness, this is both really cool and extremely creepy at the same time.)

#Google #ZoomandEnhance
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