Smarter, faster: Bloomberg Media Global Head of Digital Innovation Michael Shane’s summer reading list below explores what you need to know about what’s next for digital media, from the evolving post-mobile interface to why most decisions should probably be made with 70% of the information you wish you had – and much, much more.

We are not at an inflection point.

Billions of new ad dollars will shift to digital platforms in the years ahead, but Google and Facebook are already taking $0.84 of every new dollar as it arrives because for many people, the internet essentially is Facebook and Google (with a little Amazon on the side).

We are years away from hardware that will generate the kind of paradigm shifts and monumental new businesses brought about by multitouch and broadband cellular data ten years ago.

We are operating in between watershed moments on saturated platforms.

That’s what makes the digital media business right now so interesting… and beguiling. Most of the technologies that excite us right now are so nascent. The possibilities and opportunities are obvious but the specific market fit is not.


The links below are my best (flawed, incomplete) effort to illustrate where we are now, with a focus on the things that seem likely to affect our industry and trenchant insights from Really Smart People. The number of links in any given section represents my diet lately and not any kind of relative importance. You won’t find answers below, but I hope this material will help us all to ask the right questions.


In a world where Google and Facebook take $0.90 of every new ad dollar, what’s a publisher to do? Hug your audience.

Why the SaaS era of journalism may be our most exciting yet | David Skok
Digital journalism has gone from a modular phase of disruption to a new phase of integration that relies 
on owning the relationship with your reader through data.

The state of mobile advertising | Digiday
Mobile will represent more than 70% of digital ad budgets in less than five years… but “[a]gencies are spending a lump sum on Facebook, for instance, but they never plan intentionally to carve out a budget for mobile… Their ad budget goes where the audience is, and most of Facebook’s audience is on mobile.”

How food brand Tasty is a template for BuzzFeed’s vertical expansion | Digiday
But Tasty has become about more than just food. BuzzFeed is viewing its success as a template for vertical content sub-brands… All told, these verticals are the fastest-growing part of BuzzFeed’s business.

The future of online news video | Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
The last few years have seen an explosion of online video, driven by technical improvements, initiatives from platforms like Facebook, and investment by media companies in new visual storytelling formats. But to what extent are consumers embracing news video? Is this an incremental addition to the digital landscape or another fundamental disruption requiring urgent and immediate action?

How Tyler Brûlé has extended Monocle beyond simply a magazine for the jet set | NiemanLab
“What I think is important to us is that we can say: People spend $150 a year to subscribe to the magazine. There’s absolutely no way for them to get it discounted. They have to spend $150. And they’re probably more likely to fly on your airline, or buy your shoes, or book into your hotel, or purchase one of your cars than someone who is in a free channel.”


AI is going to save the world! AI is going to upend capitalism and society as we know it! AI is going to destroy/create millions of jobs!

AI is going to change things, including the media business.

The great AI awakening | New York Times
How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — 
and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.

Google’s AI invents sounds humans have never heard before | Wired
Jesse Engel and Cinjon Resnick are part of Google Magenta—a small team of AI researchers inside the internet giant building computer systems that can make their own art—and this is their latest project.


The promise of artificial intelligence | a16z
From Andreeson Horowitz, a ~45-minute narrated walkthrough of what companies are doing with AI today and what’s bubbling up from the research community that’s just a few years out.

Andreeson Horowitz AI playbook | a16z
The companion microsite to the narrated presentation above.

Breaking the black box: what Facebook knows about you | ProPublica
We live in an era of increasing automation. Machines help us not only with manual labor but also with intellectual tasks, such as curating the news we read and calculating the best driving directions. But as machines make more decisions for us, it is increasingly important to understand the algorithms that produce their judgments.

Machine learning hasn’t been commoditized yet, but that doesn’t mean you need a PhD | fast.ai
“This haze of hubris blinds people to the fact that they are stuck in an echo chamber where everyone is talking about the tech trend rather than the customer needs and the economics of the businesses.”

Voice and the uncanny valley of AI | Benedict Evans
WHAT DO WE WANT? Natural language processing!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? Sorry, when do we want what?

Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets | Google
If you don’t see the chart you need, just ask.


“Mobile first” is so passé. It’s all about “reality first” now. Well, not now. But soon. As computing careens toward its rectangular prison break, the evolution of the UI has already begun.

Cameras, ecommerce and machine learning | Benedict Evans
The image sensor in a phone is more than just a camera that takes pictures – it’s also part of new ways of thinking about mobile UIs and services, and part of a general shift in what a computer can do.

The first decade of augmented reality | Benedict Evans
These are of course all the same kinds of questions that had to be resolved for smartphones and indeed PCs before them, just like form-factors – as in 2000 or 1990, the answers aren’t clear, and neither, actually, are the questions.

From mobile first to mobile native | Benedict Evans
What happens if you just forget about the PC altogether? But also, what happens if you forget about feature phones? What happens if you presume all of the sophistication that a modern smartphone has and a PC does not, and if you also presume that, with 650m iPhones in use and 2.5bn smartphones in total, you can build a big company without thinking about the low end anymore?

Presence Capital investor predicts the 2017 market for AR/VR | VentureBeat
Machine perception is a core technology that will power the next wave of computing. If you’re not investing right now, three or four years down the line when consumer AR becomes mainstream you’ll be too far behind on the software side.

The scientists who make apps addictive | The Economist
“Put hot triggers in the path of motivated people.”


Because you can’t harvest seeds.

Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation | Asymco
“But there is another form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation…The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth.”

The messy business of reinventing happiness | Fast Company
“The theater was quiet, the elation gone. Iger repeated, ‘This better work.’ This is the story of what it took to deliver on those three simple words.”

The ownership problem  | Cap Watkins
It turns out that the way great products get built isn’t by owners or groups of owners.

Exalting data, missing meaning | Andy Matuschak
“But in consumer products, education, and so many other domains involving the messiness of humanity, the data obsession falls prey to hidden errors and distorts our true goals. Worse, it deprives us of truly meaningful insights that are available via philosophy, intuition, and stories, but not yet fully explicable through quantitative systems.”

The distribution of users’ computer skills: worse than you think | Nielsen Norman Group
What research papers should a digital product designer consider reading? | Quora
One of usability’s most hard-earned lessons is that you are not the user. This is why it’s a disaster to guess at the users’ needs. Since designers are so different from the majority of the target audience, it’s not just irrelevant what you like or what you think is easy to use — it’s often misleading to rely on such personal preferences.

Rules of interface design: automation | Eric S. Raymond
Every time you require a human user to tell a computer things that it already knows or can deduce, you are making a human serve the machine.

Jeff Bezos’ “Day 1” philosophy: high-velocity decision making | SEC archive
Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Market research, wireframing, and design | Stanford University
An idea is not a mockup. A mockup is not a prototype. A prototype is not a program. A program is not a product. A product is not a business. And a business is not profits.


With thanks to Bloomberg Beta.

Shift: The commission on work, workers, and technology report of findings | Bloomberg, New America
The future of work is the future of everything.


I’m always on the lookout for the weird and wonderful corners of the web – the experiments, proofs of concept, and leaps of faith that make the internet great. Here are a few I’ve found and that my colleagues have shared with me lately. 

Mashable reels | Mashable

Visual essay: craft beer | The Pudding

Audio-visual essay: the art of sampling | The Pudding

Timeline | Timeline gallery

Cadillac driving game | The Outline

Speech synthesis technology | Lyrebird.ai

Spatial audio on the web | Omnitone

DeepWarp: photorealistic image resynthesis for gaze manipulation | Skoltech

Gaze manipulation 1 | AlteredQualia

Gaze manipulation 2 | AlteredQualia

Build your own trading bot | Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


– Michael Shane | June 23, 2017