Could Facebook read encrypted messages? Would it?

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A week ago, Facebook announced a shift to focus more on messaging (or as Mark Zuckerberg designated it, Facebook’s “privacy-focused” vision). I suggested that this would allow the company to personalized its ads even more. Would this even be possible if, as the company promised, the messages would be encrypted? A guy I respect on … Continued

The 45-minute research interview

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Interviews make your reports and book chapters come alive; the more you can get, the better. To get them, you’re typically asking busy people to give you a little of their time on the phone or by video. How much time? 45 minutes. That’s my magic number, and I’ll explain why. The setup and the … Continued

What is machine learning? A psychedelic graphical journey

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You must always treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. That’s the Iron Imperative, and it’s just as valid for graphics as it is for text. If you find yourself endlessly fiddling with with an elaborate diagram, ask yourself, “Is this really helping?” Then get help from a decent graphic artist. When … Continued

How Facebook’s “privacy-focused vision” will further violate your privacy

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Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced a major strategy shift towards messaging and “privacy.” Don’t be fooled. It’s not about making you feel safer — at all. At the center of this two-step are two different definitions of privacy. When you think about privacy, you are thinking “I don’t want my private information shared.” That’s not what … Continued

Some better questions for Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow

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The New York Times interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO of the $250 million wellness site Goop. She’s a charlatan selling snake oil, but the Times can’t decide whether to call her on it or be nice. I can. So I wrote my own interview questions. David Gelles’s interview for the “Corner Office” column highlights CEOs. Because … Continued

Fake news detection for kids? How about adults?

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Quartz published an awesome analysis of how teachers are attempting to teach kids to spot fake news — and how bad we all are at it. Here are some highlights from the article: “In the age of fake news, here’s how schools are teaching kids to think like fact-checkers,” by Annabelle Timsit: About Stanford University … Continued

Alabama.com posts article completely in passive voice. Learn from it.

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Passive voice is so pervasive in news articles that an Alabama.com reporter, writing about a domestic violence shooting, managed to write nearly a whole article in it. In Hoover, Alabama, people get shot, investigated, transported, and placed on leave but it’s a mystery who did any of this stuff. I recommend articles like this as … Continued

Correlation, causation, and confusion: The Backlinko study of 912 million blog posts

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Brian Dean of Backlinko, an SEO maven whose site includes a technique that “almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content that you publish,” published a study of 912 million blog posts. He says his results include worthwhile insights. I say they support an alternate explanation: nearly all content marketing … Continued