Crossing The Swaziland Border, With My Ex In The Trunk?

After my previous adventure in South Africa with the kids (Three Little Ladies and a Lion), next up was a mission to add another country to their list of places visited. South Africa actually borders four countries, but Namibia was too far away, they had already been to Botswana (I Once Met a Witch in Botswana), and Zimbabwe and Mozambique were just too dangerous.....

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Three Little Ladies And A Lion

I had taken the girls to a little game reserve in South Africa that sat along the edge of Crocodile River, which runs for part of its route through the Kruger National Park. If you have seen wildlife documentaries or Disney movies, think back to the scene where all the animals come together at the same time to drink from the same water source - that was what greeted us there. Elephants, giraffe, cranes, crocodiles, springbok.... and as it turned out, a lion.

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Apple Made Their Shuffle Feature Less Random, to Make It More Random

Expectation is a funny thing; we have expectations about how things will change, even if there is no data to suggest it will. We expect the next hand to be a winner after a strong of losses, we expect the roulette table to deliver a black number after a long run of reds and we expect the dice to finally give us a six after a long run of ones and twos. Yet in reality, dice will give a six one in 6 times and a roulette table, a black number one in two (ignoring 0 and 00 for simplicity).

It seems users of iTunes have been having a similar problem with expectation. 

If you imagine the list of tracks you have in iTunes, when you play them randomly, they should play in a different order every time. And like the runs of ones and twos in dice, some tracks should come up more frequently than others, perhaps even 3 or 4 times in a row.

When that used to happen, users complained that iTunes was broken - randomness shouldn't behave so oddly. So randomly.

And so at some point a change was made so that when you now press shuffle, the list of tracks is reorganized into a new list to played one by one. That prevents the same track coming up repeatedly. It is less random, but it feels more random to users.

Unfortunately there is a problem with this. iTunes will recreate this list every time it has been played in its entirety. If you have a lot of music, it's unlikely you will get to the end, and so every time you revisit your list, it will still be in the same shuffled order. If you want to recreate 'randomness' each time, turn shuffle off and on again each time you start listening.

Social Media Lied To You During the Election (and it's your fault)

Were you shocked by the election of Donald Trump? Did you think everyone was going to vote your way? Do you feel blindsided because you personally don't 'know anyone that voted for him'?

My Facebook feed today, (and the days following the Brexit vote), is filled with such expressions of surprise.

"But everyone was going to vote against him", "no one I know would vote for trump", "how can this happen"...

Your feed told you were right all the way up to when the votes were counted, and your feed is now telling you that you are right to be shocked that you were wrong. "Shocked".

However - many other people's feeds today are filled with "how did SHE get so many votes", " I knew he would win", "people who voted against him must have been idiots". They "knew" he was going to win....

They "knew" they were right all along. THEY are shocked that it wasn't a landslide for him.

How can two different groups of people using the same social sites have two such differing experiences?

The reason is as old as days.

We tend to surround ourselves with people who think similar to us. 'Birds of a feather', and all that. If I remember back to my genetics degree, we have a pack instinct that operates for our survival. People who are most similar to us are most likely to help us in times of need and danger. This instinct carried through to our thoughts and feelings, and (unfortunately?), out into the world through social media.

You may share a social site with Trump supporters, but you probably don't share a social network. The people in your network think like you. They shared articles and wrote status messages that reaffirmed what you felt. You in turn passed those on, probably editing your choices based on just how aligned you were, until eventually, you have a swirling mass of sameness. As it bounced back and forth amongst your network, it grew stronger through repetition. You felt more and more right, you felt others were more and more wrong.

Perhaps you unfriended some people who were "wrong".

Perhaps you wrote something angry in response to messaging that wasn't convenient to you, and thought "yeah, that told them".

Perhaps afterwards you then went back to the comfy people in your network to feel affirmed about your personal views again. Those views that "just everyone" shares.

Yes, we have an extraordinary situation now with Trump, I am not criticizing nor supporting his views here, that's not my point. My point is that the trap you fell into was to isolate yourself from others who dare to have a different opinion to you. You read the same publications every day, you listened to the same news outlets, you liked the same memes, you 'debated' with the same groups of people....

You probably did not do anything that felt really uncomfortable. As Michael Moore asks in Trumpland, as a Clinton supporter can you name 10 good things about Trump, and as a Trump supporter, can you name 10 good things about Clinton?

No? Perhaps you don't understand the other side as you think you do then.

I am not claiming to have taken much of my own advice during this process; I am just the guy who spent a career in digital and happen to know enough to explain to you why it feels like your social media lied to you.

I did however go do something uncomfortable on the issue of gun laws so that I could be more informed about those. I live in CO, and whilst I don't own a gun here, I spent the evening at a gun club getting a concealed weapons permit, and I talked to the other people about why they were doing the same. I can tell you that their views were largely very different to mine, but I now know what they are and how they got to their reasoning.

It can feel hard to be wrong. It can feel uncomfortable to have your views challenged (especially if they are deep-rooted, multi-generational views), but you can't win a debate or really, truly change someone's opinion without empathy.

If you are angry and don't know where to challenge your energy, go start by getting under the skin of why people voted for Trump - especially why women, Muslims and black people voted for Trump. What is it about their lives that is so terribly bad that allowed them to look past the hatred and the personal attacks on their own kind, and vote for this man?

I don't know if he will make it the 4 years, or whether he will continue to be supported and get the full 8, but I do know that if you want a different outcome next time, you must understand why he has the support he does, and think about what you could do to help them so they don't feel he is their solution.

Oh, and be conscious of your social networks. If you don't ever see anything that makes you uncomfortable, your bubble is too small. Let alternatives in. And when you do get uncomfortable, embrace it, because it's going to be a learning experience for you. And the more you learn, the better equipped you are to get the outcome you want.

Explaining The Election Result To My Daughters

A lot was made during this election of how to explain the result to our children. Well, I am a father of 4 girls, and I faced that exact problem today.  Three of my daughters are in England, where they watch something called Newsround twice a week, in what American's call home room. Newsround is a BBC news show for kids. It is not patronizing, it does not shelter them from the world, but it does present tough news stories in a way that kids can digest.

Newsround took the stance of being surprised by the result, but it did not shy away from from the outcome. So when they woke up this morning to Donald Trump as the new President of the United States, they had questions.

So I told them:
  • Trump is the new President
  • Trump has said terrible, terrible things about women, and many of us disagree with those statements
  • Trump is a undoubtedly a misogynist
  • But despite that, Trump represented change to people who could look past his flaws in exchange for those changes 
  • Imagine that - people who are women, who are black, who are Muslim, who were all offended by what he said, all could look past that because he promises to fix something they feel even stronger about than their own identity
  • That if they wanted to understand it, they shouldn't hate the people who cast their vote for Trump, but instead should ask questions as to WHY those people voted that way; what was it that was so bad for them that they could excuse their own beliefs
  • That they should understand the way they live, and acknowledge that those that voted for Trump must face situations that they don't yet understand
  • They can still be anything they want to be
  • They should still drive to be everything
  • Politics might not have been ready for this particular woman, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for a female President
And it reminded me of a situation I had seen before.

Three of my children are 50% South African. I met their mum in 1997, barely 3 years after Mandela came to power. It was a new world, it was the final nail in the coffin of Apartheid. I was excited that this country had emerged from the dark ages. And whilst some things got better, many things didn't, and still struggle to do so. I didn't understand.

People at the time started talking about "reverse racism", which in my opinion isn't a thing. What they meant was that the hatred had turned against blacks, and instead focused on whites. That's hard for most Americans to comprehend - a country where the pecking order of priority for jobs became black male >  black female > white female > white male...

And during that time I met a man, whose name I wish I could remember, and he told me about the concept of a pendulum swing...

In South Africa the pendulum was so far up to one side (in favor of the white population), that it could not swing down after the election and just settle in the middle. That defies the laws of physics (and humanity). Instead, it would swing the other way for a while, driven by anger and passion; but hopefully not as high up the other way. And over time it would swing back and forth, and eventually - and hopefully - settle somewhere in an acceptable middle (which is slowly happening in South African today).

For Trump supporters, the pendulum was lifted well up to one side, the side that was against them. Trump is the opposite reaction of the pendulum swing. Trump is short term, but he is today's embodiment of the opposite side of the swing. Others will follow him. The next probably will be back the other way, only to be defeated by someone like him, or opposite. Until eventually - and hopefully - we settle somewhere in an acceptable middle. Trump is part of the system that has been created, an essential part of the process. He is a small step in a situation that is larger than our generation.

I didn't vote, because I am not entitled to in the USA. I would personally not have voted for Trump. But if we look past hatred and hate speech, and look at the macro view, we can hopefully see that Trump will make changes that satisfy some of the concerns of the other side, and then be replaced with someone who can balance him out.

President (Elect) Trump is not the end. He is part of a journey that this still relatively young country must endure in order to satisfy the many.

- - -

Additionally, a lot was made of Hilary Clinton "smashing the glass ceiling", and how her failure to win sends a negative message to our daughters that the 'highest position' can still not be occupied by a woman'.

Bullshit.

If your daughters want to be a politician, then perhaps that is true; (but I sure as hell hope mine don't, for their own sake).

Success is individual. My own wife is super successful at what she does, my mum was incredibly successful and built her own business, my sister is doing the exact same thing, my ex-wife is very successful as a teacher, my ex mother-in-law is a highly talented draughtsman, my wife's mother helped thousands of people as a nurse... there are many successful women, and one woman not becoming President should not be the example that our daughters cling on to.

Hilary (in my humble opinion) didn't lose because she was a woman, she lost because she didn't provide the solution for the pain points that the majority of the voters felt. Her loss should not be considered a loss for women; her loss should be considered as a loss for what she stood for and what her kind represented.

Introducing The Online Safety Group

As the co-founder of 3 awesome daughters, I am very passionate about their safety. But as the current generation of parents, we are going through a brand new set of challenges, driven by access to the internet, and to tech devices. For that reason, and having got the summer off from the  Chango / Rubicon acquisition, I created the

Online Safety Group

The Online Safety Group has a simple mission - to help parents to help their kids stay safe online. The idea started simply enough with a few articles and community discussions, but quickly grew into a passionate community, and even a book "How To Protect Your Kids Online".

If you read this blog, the chances are you are involved in the tech or web industries, and probably feel like you have a solid grasp on what's going on. For you

I recommend a couple of our recent articles

that might just one day make a critical difference to you or someone in your family.

(FYI - As a do-er and marketer, building this project was a lot of fun. It was somewhat organic but makes good use of tools such as IFTTT, Squarespace, MailChimp, Unbounce, Fiverr, UpWork etc, so watch out for a future post on how to bring something like this together.)

Exciting news - Rubicon Project to acquire Chango

Hi all - I have some very exciting news. On March 31st 2015, the Rubicon Project announced their intention to acquire Chango. Read more here:

http://www.rubiconproject.com/press-releases/rubicon-project-acquire-chango-will-bring-access-aa-additional-35-billion-intent-marketing-spend-premium-advertising-marketplace-accelerate-buyer-cloud-initiatives/

Thank you to all of our customers and partners for your past and future support.

Dax

Manipulating Your Emotions With Photography

I have always been fascinated with how the media uses photography to set the tone of a story and communicate their beliefs. It is amazing how a change in angle can cause a different emotional reaction. In the example below, we see two photos from a recent meeting between the British Prime Minister, and Putin, the Russian President.

In the example above, the photo on the left is taken from a British news outlet. They have maximised Cameron's height advantage (6' 1" versus 5' 7") and made it appear that he is towering over Putin, backed with the British flag behind him, leading us forward against Russia. In contrast, the photo on the right is from Libyan news. The exact opposite positioning has been used, and Putin now appears to have grown more than the 4 inch difference.

This problem isn't a new phenomena. When explorers first travelled down through Africa, they carried with them the belief that white people were superior, and had always reigned supreme; the original race. What they discovered was a fossil record that questioned that belief. Without cameras they had to draw what they found, and that flexibility was too tempting. The images that were sent back to England were of skulls tilted forward and lit from above, giving the impression or a large, prominent brow and exaggerating ape-like features. Their argument was that 'these people' were not like the white people, this was a less-evolved species.

Anthropologists now use a standard scientific method when photographing or drawing skulls based on a concept developed by Dr. Lucae, which involves placing a a plate of glass over the object to ensure the profile is always perpendicular to the subject. This practise removed the ability to manipulate an image, all skulls became directly comparable.

Unfortunately, the news does not follow a scientific method, and so as a reader you must understand that manipulation takes place. To read a story from a single point of view is a mistake.

For another example, check out this article by Eric Stern about the 'Fox News Lie Machine'.

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/18/inside_the_fox_news_lie_machine_i_fact_checked_sean_hannity_on_obamacare/

DaxThink Photography - now with TimeLapse :)

Hi! So it can't always be work! Technical photography for me is a great stress reliever, lately it has been TimeLapse. Check out these two below and let me know what you think, and come follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/daxthinkphotography and http://500px.com/DaxThink.

The Character Plague of Times Square!


Bird's Eye View of Times Square, New York



Thanks!

The Big Bang Behind "Project AreTheyOldEnough.com"

A few months ago one of my daughters told me that she really liked watching The Big Bang Theory. Normally it would be nice for a father and daughter to share an interest, but the problem was that she is only ten years old, and I didn’t feel that the show was appropriate for her. I talked to other parents about this and realized that there is no resource where parents can get guidance from others about what age really is old enough.

AreTheyOldEnough is that place where parents can rate shows and movies, with music and video game to come in the future. And I got the answer I was looking for, the average rating for the Big Bang Theory from UK parents was a conservative 12.8, and a more accepting 11.5 from their US counterparts.

Come to

AreTheyOldEnough

and pick a show, confirm who you are (to cut down on spam) with Facebook, Twitter or Google and then tell us what age you think is right. Click through the other shows and give us as many ratings as you would like, we want to hear what you think.

WTF Programmatic Marketing Series

Morning -

My absence here has been because I have been writing extensively for other publications. As a quick catch up for you, here are 3 articles you should check out in a mini series entitled WTF on Marketing Land.

WTF Is A Cookie, Anyway? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

WTF Is Tag Management? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

Enjoy, comment and come back with questions and feedback as always.


The secret formula for vendors and partners to predict agency revenue

Working with agencies is a beast all to itself. We love agencies at Chango, particularly the ones who get innovation. However, agency life can be tough, and media planners see certain perks as part of their compensation. As such, the reality of this industry is that the amount of dollars you will receive is often dependent on these perks.

Feeling the frustration from this, and the difficulty to forecast revenue, I created the secret formula to calculate the % budget from any campaign that we will receive.

Enjoy :)

It's Too Late To Complain About Google Glasses

I dont get it, I really do not. There are so many people knocking the arrival of consumer-ready augmented reality devices like Google Glass, trying to create a movement against them like it's Google's latest way to destroy the fabric of society.

What is it with this bullshit? Glass is simply one interpretation of the next wave of technology innovation that will change society forever. Like it or not it's here already and the quantity of people using it will only grow whether the naysayers like it or not. In the past I have predicted the segregation of society globally between the 'augmented' and the 'reality'ists' and I firmly believe that's what is coming.

If you don't get it yet, let me back up for a moment.

Augmented reality is the idea that reality is supplemented somehow with additional or alternative data. Google Glass aims to layer over your view of the world with your email, with useful data about where you are, with maps etc, but the data really can be anything. Augmented reality can replace reality in its entirety if you wish and replace it with your own.

That is amazing.

Imagine checking into a hotel and it looks how you want it to look, imagine being in a business meeting and you have access to every piece of data you want, imagine being anywhere and having secret access to the Internet whenever you needed it.... the possibilities are only limited by YOUR imagination.

And technology moves fast. It's Glass now, and Samsung will probably follow next with their own version, but beyond them it's contact lenses, and beyond those it's retinal implants. Given I am sat with a beer right now on my patio in the warm evening sun, I don't have the inclination or energy to justify that statement - just do me the honor of remembering my ramblings when you see it become real.

So roll the clock forward and now everyone has access to every piece of data they might want, whenever they want it. And they can tune you out and watch cat videos. And they can record you.

It's creepy as hell but there is zilch you can do to stop it. It exists in the military today, and it will exist in society before my young daughters finish their teenage years.

The biggest question you have to ask yourself is which side do you want to be on - the augmented, or the reality'ists?