I Can’t

I deleted my social media accounts this week. One of the main regrets was the loss of a couple of groups that I get real value from.

I posted a short explanation in various places and heard something very interesting. More than a few people said they would get off social media instantly but, “I can’t”. “This is how I stay in touch with family,” “I wish I could leave too,” “I feel so much better when I’m not on social media,” “I would too but I think the boss would have something to say about it.”

There is something very, very…..very wrong here.

Okay…back to the weather.

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In an episode of the TV series M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and BJ came across a character who was gaming the system. They executed a plan to thwart the villain who, by the end of the episode, got what he deserved. The bad guy, who today might be called a bad actor, scoffed at our heroes as he realized he had been taught a lesson, “What are you trying to do? Change the world?” BJ answered, “No. Just our little corner of it.”

Here in the next few days I’ll be deleting my social media accounts. A very tough decision because there is some value for me, and it probably negatively effects my career. Most of the reasons are chillingly explained in the latest episode of the the PBS program Frontline, The Facebook Dilemma.¬†I’ve made this mistake of paying attention to the growing body of reporting about social media. The bad actors are not only the ones gaming the system. The ones running it are misbehaving as well.

Much of the hand-wringing about what to do about social media is focused on data protection. Cambridge Analytica was a good wake-up call but only a symptom of the actual disease, data collection. One of the dangerous lines that Facebook crossed was to partner with data brokers to the create the shadow profile it keeps on you. The shadow profile is what allowed the Internet Research Agency to meddle in our elections. Watch Frontline.

This is a complicated problem but a big part of the solution is simple. Opt-in. Any organization that collects data on you should be required to get your explicit permission each and every time it wants to share your information.

So, I’ll still be working on ways to share weather information with users. There is a better way to do that than social media, by the way, let me know if you’d like to know what that looks like. I just won’t be doing it on Facebook or Twitter. Using the platforms makes me complicit, so I’ll opt-out. Probably won’t change the world…just my little corner of it.

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What Do They Want From You?

Recently a friend said they could tell that the parent company had finally started to cool on social media. The impression was that they had begun to realize the effort and time-in-motion might not have been worth it. When Campbell Brown told publishers in Australia that Mark Zuckerberg didn’t care about their traffic, that should have been a good signal too.

This is a good read with an important lesson. The short version is that when Facebook went down people went looking for news on their own. The two lessons: make is easy for them, and, they had better find something worthwhile when they get there.

Years ago a consultant asked, “What do they want from you?” We gave big important answers: accuracy, credibility, yadda, yadda, yadda. The answer was, “They want you to protect them.” Wow. Think about that…..every day. Expand the definition beyond severe weather and you get, “They want you to look out for them.” That plays on all days. “How does it feel outside.” “What happens over the next couple of hours.” “Help me grease the skids and get through my day.” And don’t waste my time with bad looking current temperature maps not designed for the phone and automated notifications that the sun has set.

We have something that no other weather provider has (with the exception of the National Weather Service). Local boots on the ground that can take care of them, but we’re not providing the user experience that makes them choose us first. I guess that is okay. Maybe Facebook will go down for 45 minutes again sometime next year.


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Curious TWC? Apple?

I get a fair amount of use out of the native Apple News app on my iPhone.

Just notice this. If you tap on the date or the blank space at the top of the app The Weather Channel logo appears. Not a link, just the logo. Doesn’t go anywhere, and disappears after a few seconds.

I’ve never seen any weather information in the Apple News app. Don’t see any now.


Any ideas?

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The Sky

A very nice couple came up to me the other day and said, “We appreciate the sky so much more since you arrived. Thanks for teaching us.”

Thanks to you for teaching your users.

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In the wake of the repeated snow storms across the northeast the question came up the other day about forecasting snow totals. One camp suggested a range. Another suggested that snow total forecasts too far out are a problem.

How do we answer the users who say, “Just…..tell…..me what it is going to do, give me a number!” But, we’re also being increasingly told that users understand and accept an explanation of the uncertainty in a forecast.

It reminds me of a day years ago when Mom and Dad were visiting. Dad was having a terrible allergy attack and Mom became obsessed with knowing what was in the air. Wouldn’t rest until she knew. Eventually she found out…but nothing changed. Still watery eyes, still a sinus headache. But, she had an answer and that made her feel better.

So, how much snow? Maybe in the moment you are in the answer is, “Right here, right now, four inches right there. Maybe a bit more or a bit less. We’ll keep an eye out for changes and let you know.”

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Worn Out Highlighter

The radio personality Glenn Beck used to have a sound effect of a roll of duct tape. He would use it to wrap up his head to keep it from exploding when he was describing something that was blowing his mind. It made me laugh every time.

(SFX: duct tape) I’m reading Hooked and I’ve never highlighted a book more. And I’m only 20% in.

Go read it. Oh, and here is this…


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