Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Ali.
1. Facebook’s new cryptocurrency
From as early as quarter one, 2020, Facebook is likely to have it’s own cryptocurrency which will allow its 2.4 billion monthly users to move money around the world to pay for online and offline goods. The currency, which the company is currently referring to as ‘GlobalCoin’, will initially be available in around twelve countries, including the UK.
To many this move is no surprise as the company hired David Marcus, the former PayPal president, to run its WhatsApp channel back in 2014.
Facebook has apparently been in talks with Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, as well as a less likely partner in the Winklevoss twins – the brothers with whom Zuckerburg went to Harvard and who accused him of stealing their idea. They now run a company that provides the tech and regulatory support for cryptocurrency businesses.
Facebook says it is looking to disrupt existing banking networks and provide money transfer solutions for those who struggle to get a bank account. The launch is likely to come under high level scrutiny not least because the anonymity of such cryptocurrencies leaves them at risk of being abused by money launderers, but also due to the hangover from the damaging Cambridge Analytica scandal that rocked the platform. Only time will tell if Facebook has sufficiently rebuilt the trust of its customer base for this to be a success.
2. RNLI gives it some welly
A stunning installation of 181 pairs of yellow wellies appeared alongside the River Thames in early May to represent the average number of people rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) charity every single week across the UK & Ireland.
The activity marks the start of the RNLI’s 2019 Mayday fundraising campaign and all monies raised will fund kit for the lifeboat crews.
Claire Cardwell, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager for London, said: “The Mayday national fundraising event is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to fund the entire lifesaving service, including the vital kit that helps keep the crews safe when they risk their lives for others.”
The installation is a sobering visual reminder of what our RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews do week in, week out.
3. Design matters in politics
You can read the full version of Chris Moody’s article for The Drum yourself but suffice to say it’s a really good read about how intelligent design shouldn’t be overlooked in any aspect of life – but so often is in politics.
He states that most of the UK’s political parties as behind the times in terms of employing logo, type cases, and helpful branding with most still focusing on their printed use rather than digital.
Eyes roll, yeah yeah – we all know good design is important but take a look at this:
As Chris puts it, this is a moment of ‘genius/evil genius’ depending on your own Brexit beliefs but it will surely have had the desired impact of subconsciously influencing some people to put their cross in Farage’s party’s box.
4. Smart speakers reinforce gender bias says UN
Hot on the heels of a report by YouGov which highlighted that women’s voices are failing to be understood by smart speakers, is research from the UN that stated that these devices are also perpetuating gender bias.
The report was entitled ‘I’d blush if I could’ which is taken from a Siri response to being insulted. This sort of ‘deflecting, lacklustre, or apologetic response’ to insults was one of the UN’s main concerns alongside being generally ‘obliging and eager to please’, reinforcing the idea that women are ‘subservient’.
It’s interesting that in a world of mainly male AI-developers, and after extensive research, women’s voices and women’s names (Siri and Alexa) have been chosen as the most suitable solutions. It apparently stems back to what we expect of a personal assistant – someone proficient, dependable, and organised.
The very nature of AI is to replicate human behaviour and thinking but perhaps it’s all getting a bit too ‘Black Mirror’ and we need to retreat? Gender neutral voices, to reinforce the fact that we’re talking to tech and not a real person, are apparently being trialled.
5. A new internet star is born: Greedy Cat
The week started with sad news that Grumpy Cat, a regular source of meme hilarity, had passed away aged just seven.
Perhaps looking for another feline sensation, the internet showed its love for Greedy Cat this week, an eighteen month old Chinchilla Persian who steals its owner’s food. Due to its long fur, whiskers, and eyebrows, the cat reveals its latest binge with a face covered in foods such as baked beans and Coco Pops.
The Colchester owner shared her photos on a social media group and quickly received more than 9,700 likes and comments.