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… 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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It Felt Like A Spa Vacation

Strip everything away and it comes down to this. Advertisers need eyeballs. Yes, we protect people. Yes, we add value to their day. But, it is all spelled out in The Attention Merchants, we aggregate a large audience and sell access to it.

We wandered off into Facebook because they aggregated a larger audience and now they control the access.

This is a really interesting article. And here is one of the money quotes. Glance at the quote then read the article. It is not very long, I have a minute. (Tapping foot…)

Users want access to us. They want to ask questions and they enjoy it when we share part of our lives. It looks like a Danish TV station is going to take a step forward in taking back control.

We get control. We get the eyeballs. We monetize the audience. The longer we wait the harder it becomes.

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I For One Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

Got a direct message on Facebook from The Weather Channel…ice storm in my market.

Still not a note from a human…but they’re getting more lifelike.

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“This is what is coming.”

Many moons ago, when I started my broadcast career as a disc jockey, I heard a programmer talk about ratings. It was his practice once a year to travel to Arbitron (the dominant radio ratings company at the time) to look at diaries. He said it was always instructive, and very humbling, to see how people filled out the diaries. The hope was that listeners were dutifully carrying their books with them and accurately reporting every moment they listened, and logging every turn of the dial between stations. What he found was pages filled in with crayon, or even lipstick, and the hope that he would know every moment of their rapt attention to his programming was, of course, unrealistic. It was clear that many ratings participants quickly filled out their diaries at the last minute before the return deadline, then stuffed them in the return envelop to justify taking the two dollars that was included for participating in the survey.

The point is it is always a treat to get to see users in the wild with our products.

This came across my field of view this morning. It is part of a multi-person text thread between a handful of people (not meteorologists) planning their day with freezing rain approaching.

I’ll leave the non-looping radar comments aside since we’ve discussed it before (which way is it heading?). The interesting insight into users in the wild is this was a group making weather decisions amongst themselves. Nowhere in the thread did it say,”(insert meteorologist here) said it was going to…..”

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Life Finds A Way

I couldn’t begin to guess how many times I’ve thought of the the line, “Life finds a way,” from Jeff Goldblum in the original Jurassic Park movie. It is true.

Go read this short article from Motherboard. A bunch of good lines. I’ll wait…

My hope is that Facebook is not as important as everyone thinks, it’s just where people happen to be on the internet right now.

On WeatherBrains last week James Spann asked, “How do we get them to put down their phones and come to the newscast?” He knew the answer before I gave it. We don’t “get them” to do anything.

In Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton reports that Facebook tried to buy Twitter in the early days. Zuckerberg is quoted as saying, “we need them to…,” because some part of Twitter was deemed helpful at that moment to his goal. It doesn’t matter what he needed us to do. It was artificial. It was in service of his need, not ours.

The Motherboard article is great. It talks about serving its readers. Zuckerberg is certain he can use algorithms and machine learning to guide and control humans. He can’t…..because life finds a way.

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