My Five #374

Has social media become anti social? A raft of negativity towards social media but birthday celebrations for Google Maps and a celebration of the wonders of technology.

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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 Joe.

1. What do you think of LinkedIn?

It is fairly mind blowing to think that LinkedIn, which didn’t exist until 2003, has 675 million users in over 200 countries. It is a business networking behemoth.

Or is it?

Some interesting research from Guild, a new business focused messaging app, highlights an interesting evolution in how people perceive LinkedIn. Most telling is the view that it is now much more about marketing / sales / recruitment than it is about good old fashioned networking. A whopping 59% of those surveyed feel that LinkedIn is now primarily a recruitment channel and only 12% feel that LinkedIn is for networking with your most valued professional connections.

I am not especially surprised to see the findings of the research and I am sure we have all experienced the frustrations that can occur on the platform, despite its noble intentions, but it is an interesting study and worth a read.

2. Happy birthday google maps

Google Maps turned 15 this week. Like LinkedIn, Google Maps is another phenomenon that it would be hard to imagine life without, despite not even existing before the turn of the century / millennium.

To celebrate its anniversary, Google is releasing updates on both IOS and Android that show how much the app has evolved beyond just being a means of navigation. The redesign focuses on five specific categories (“Explore”, “Commute”, “Saved”, “Contribute” and “Updates”) which highlight the tasks that people use Google Maps for above and beyond finding out how to get somewhere.

Google Maps

As well as a new map icon, which is the first refresh since 2015, Google is promising new features in the coming months including an interesting looking ‘Live View’ and improvements to the information that it will show about public transport.

On that note, it was amusing to read how an artist used a shopping trolley full of mobile phones to trick Google Maps into thinking there was a traffic jam this week. I am not sure that is the nicest birthday present?

3. A bad week for Alphabet

Shares in Alphabet (Google’s parent) slid this week following Google’s Q4 earnings report. This is despite a reported 23% growth in revenues to $46.1 billion for the quarter.

Investors were unhappy with the fact that Googles revenue had grown by only 17% (to $45.8 billion), which was below forecast.

For the first time, detail was provided on YouTube and the cloud business. Although still a relatively tiny part of Alphabet’s portfolio, YouTube showed the fastest growth, generating $4.7 billion in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, up 31%. You can read a good summary of the announcement over at Search Engine Land.

I think that any other business would be celebrating such a cash cow performance, so I am not sure that it was really such a bad week?

4. An even worse week for Facebook?

It is it just me, or have you felt that there is a ground swell of ‘antisocial social media’ sentiment at the moment?

This week saw the publication of a fascinating post by Sara Wilson, which you should read, but also the news that Stephen King is quitting Facebook:

The comments in response to his tweet make for interesting reading and I think it is fair to say that Facebook has some haters out there. Stephen King is not the first celebrity to desert the Facebook ship and take a parting shot at the platform in the process, but calling out the “flood of false information” is strong. You can read more on the BBC website.

If Mark Zuckerberg’s week was spoilt by this public declaration, he will not have enjoyed reading a very good article by David Kirkpatrick on LinkedIn this week. As David suggests, it feels as though Zuckerberg is putting his fingers up to the world and basically saying that he is too powerful to really care about what people think, or what is right.

Errrr – that feels very similar to a recently acquitted president?

5. And finally…

If you know me, you will know that I love kitesurfing. Although I struggle to find as much time on the water as I would like, it is my life therapy. To be surrounded, and powered, by nature is an incredible feeling.

I also love the isolation. It is pretty much the only time when I am not interrupted by emails / phone calls / notifications / family / etc. We all need a bit of escapism and kitesurfing is my escape.

I have been lucky enough to kitesurf in some pretty beautiful corners of the earth. It is impossible to say which is my favourite, but Cape Town is a serious contender – it is an amazing place and the kitesurfing is incredible. Here is a picture of your’s truly about to launch in front of one of the most iconic lumps of rock in the world back in 2002:

Kitesurfing Cape Town

I was left reflecting on the the wonders of modern technology yesterday as I sat on the train (sorry for being so antisocial @VikingWagon) watching a live stream of Red Bull’s mighty King Of The Air kitesurfing competition from Cape Town. The wind gods delivered in what is the show event of the kitesurfing calendar and Red Bull did a typically great job of sharing the visual spectacle.

Whilst I can’t deny that I would rather have been there in person, to be able to sit on a moving train watching live footage of some epic kitesurfing from Cape Town on an ipad is really quite amazing. We humans are actually pretty clever aren’t we?


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