CNN Brings In the Social App Beme to Cultivate a Millennial Audience

by: Mike Issac

on: NYT

Beme was intended to be a social sharing application that Mr. Neistat described as “more authentic,” a way of putting four-second bursts of video out into the social sphere without giving users the ability to edit or tweak the content. Taking video was as simple as holding a smartphone’s front-facing sensor to one’s body, as if the camera were an extension of one’s chest. …

“A huge part of my particular audience sees news and media as largely broken,” Mr. Neistat said in an interview. “My dad sees it as the word of God, but I think the young people definitely do not.”

This is entirely unsurprising. It’s even more unurprising after CNN acquired Andrew Kaczynski and his team from Buzzfeed News (another NYT link, sorry) to run their KFILE blog. CNN, gasping for air as cable declines in relevance, is buying up every bit of new media talent they can.

Related reading: Matt Hackett wrote on Medium about the acquisition.

So far as Beme itself:

Look at what Snapchat is doing right now and compare it to Beme.

Spectacles are the Beme concept realized. They provide a way to shoot video from a natural perspective without the distraction of a screen, and then share it in a mobile app.

In the same breath, think about how Leica can sell the M Typ262 camera (the one that doesn’t have an LCD screen). People have no self control. They expect, to some degree, objects to embody themselves. No one can not use a device with a screen without actually using (being completely consumed by) the screen.

Beme was the app equivalent of this. It was like putting gaffers tape over the LCD of your camera to force yourself not to chimp. Beme was contrarian, and honestly should be celebrated for being what it was, and trying to deny us the single thing that defines most phones: the screen.

But to that end, it makes Beme seem like more of an art project or specialty application than the mass market social network it seemed to aspire to be. It must have been incredibly hard to get people to engage with Beme (it sure was hard for me to really care about and use the app). But you have to commend them for doing what they did and getting as far as they did with it. While other apps have us staring into the screen to find our true selves (ahem, Snap’s face filters), Beme wanted us to look for truth around us with our own eyes. RIP Beme.

Buck to the Future – What can we learn from Bucky Fuller’s faith in technology?

Buck to the Future – What can we learn from Bucky Fuller’s faith in technology? By Samanth Subramanian on Aeon.

Fuller’s advocacy of technology as a salve for the wounds of modernity found a fierce critic in the sociologist Lewis Mumford, who longed for a more organic humanism. The two men proposed such contrasting versions of the future that Horizon magazine wondered, in 1968: ‘Which guide to the Promised Land? Fuller or Mumford?’ Mumford deplored the sterility of the sort of future that techno-faddists wanted for the human race. In an acid passage from 1956 that might have been aimed squarely at Fuller and his bubble-domed cities, Mumford wrote:

If the goal of human history is a uniform type of man, reproducing at a uniform rate, in a uniform environment, kept at a constant temperature, pressure and humidity, like a uniformly lifeless existence, with his uniform physical needs satisfied by uniform goods… most of the problems of human development would disappear. Only one problem would remain: why should anyone, even a computer, bother to keep this kind of creature alive?

Reading this immediately made me think of Kyle Chayka’s “WELCOME TO AIRSPACE – How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world” feature on The Verge a couple months ago. The correlation seems obvious.


Facebook fires trending team, and algorithm without humans goes crazy’ – The Guardian

Just months after the discovery that Facebook’s “trending” news module was curated and tweaked by human beings, the company has eliminated its editors and left the algorithm to do its job. The results, so far, are a disaster.

Over the weekend, the fully automated Facebook trending module pushed out a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a controversial piece about a comedian’s four-letter word attack on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter, and links to an article about a video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.

The dismissal of the trending module team appears to have been a long-term plan at Facebook. A source told the Guardian the trending module was meant to have “learned” from the human editors’ curation decisions and was always meant to eventually reach full automation.

The algorithm knows our true desires.

Lenovo and Motorola are repeating the mistakes of HP and Palm

As VCs enroll the startup class of 2016, it’s RIP for ‘me too’ companies

VR is a dud

Huawei unveils P9 and P9 Plus phones with Leica-engineered dual cameras

Huawei P9 announced: a dual-camera flagship with Leica certification

EOS-1D X Mark II Claims of 15 Stops of DR [CR3]



Apple is planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, according to often-reliable Japanese website Mac Otakara.

While there are obvious disadvantages to having a phone with only one port (primarily not being able to charge and use headphones at the same time), there could also be upsides, notably: thinner devices, more room internally for other components or battery, and better weather/water sealing, among others.

The real controversy here would seem to be that the iPhone would only have a Lightning port. At best this could mean that we see a new Lightning connector that supports USB 3.1. At worst, we may just be stuck (in 2016!) with the same Lightning connector we’ve had since 2012 operating with circa Y2K USB 2.0 speeds.

Reading about this rumor elsewhere online, it is interesting to see that USB 3.1 Type C is barley mentioned in the conversation, since, as a single solution, it would seem to make the most sense.

It is exceptionally fast at 10 gigabits per second; as iPhone storage capacities rise and users shoot more high resolution photos and 4K video, the ability to transfer data at high speeds off the device will become invaluable. It is also capable of delivering up to 100W of power; could this be utilized for faster charging? And concerning the problem of no headphone port: USB 3.1 Type C is capable of supporting analog audio, which could make adapters for conventional 3.5mm headphones very easy (and cheap?) to implement.

Inside the Apple design language, adopting 3.1 Type C on iPhone would be a bold step in reinforcing the design ideologies introduced with the Early 2015 Macbook, which is probably the most notorious device thus far to implement the standard. It takes full advantage of the port’s capabilities to essentially synthesize contemporary smartphone design ideology (fanless, sealed chassis, only two ports – one for charging/data, the other for headphones) with a laptop form factor. Reducing the iPhone to one port would take the next giant leap, at least in terms of aesthetics. 

It would also be an excellent gateway for more universal USB 3.1 support. Although accessories would more than likely still need to be “Made for iPhone,” the fact is USB 3.1 is an open standard, and the ensuing flood of USB 3.1 Type C would benefit both the iPhone and Android ecosystems, as well as give a solid boost to the implementation of 3.1 Type C in both PC and Mac hardware. 

Admittedly this is all somewhat twisted logic; we don’t necessarily want the iPhone to only have one port, but its understandable why it would be advantageous on both design and engineering grounds. If one port is to be selected, however, it is probably best that it not be the Lightning connector, but instead the standard that Apple has already used as a statement piece: USB 3.1 Type C.

Edit: after posting I found out that apparently the iPad Pro does have a USB 3.0 Lightning port, it just so happens that there are no USB 3.0 Lightning cables. I still stand by the idea of a universal USB 3.1 Type C port on iOS devices, however, for all the aforementioned reasons.