AI in magazines, YouTube copyright news, streaming games, & more

Turns out magazines of the future may be edited by robots. But rest assured Cybercultural subscribers, you’ll always get the human experience with this editor…

What You Need To Know 👀

  1. Condé Nast VP of product on AI use in magazines 🤖

Lindsay Silver, VP of product at Condé Nast, tells FIPP that “AI 2.0” is a promising development in the magazine business:

“…the really interesting thing there is whether AI can capture editorial intent? Can we have an AI that actually has an opinion? That’s something that I think will be extremely important to companies like Condé Nast, if we’re going to actually use it in an advanced way. So that’s what we’re working on – how do we create machine learning models that react editorially or take an opinion about what’s shown? And what happens next?”

My take: Silver defined AI 1.0 as “recommendations and personalisation,” which he rightly notes is now mainstream in publishing. What he’s referring to as “AI 2.0” sounds like a dubious strategy though. We’re seeing the same thing in the music industry, with machine-created music designed to match a certain activity (e.g. jogging) or feeling (e.g. joy) being added to playlists and apparently being well consumed. But I for one will stick to human created music, with all its unpredictable energy and (at its best) original vision. Likewise, I have no interest in reading a magazine based on a computer’s “opinion.” We learned from blogging that a successful magazine brand in the digital era is one built on a founder’s singular vision and ‘voice’. AI in the creative industries should stick to what it’s best at: helping humans (in this case editors) do their jobs by providing useful data. AI ≠ creator.

  1. YouTube cracks down on copyright claims on short music clips 📹

Variety reports:

“YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars).”

My take: This seems like a common sense move by YouTube, to stop frivolous copyright claims. Although when defending the move on Twitter, in classic tech bigco fashion YouTube was quick to absolve itself of ultimate responsibility. After a Twitter user commented “Still don’t get why copyright owners can claim something for having 5 seconds of a song but oh well,” YouTube’s team account replied:

  1. Xbox head: Game streaming years away from mainstream 🎮

Xbox head Phil Spencer told Gamespot that the development of cloud gaming would follow a similar path to Netflix and streaming video:

“Let’s take Netflix, which is 20 years old. I think we forget that sometimes because tech moves so fast. It’s 20 years old at this point, so it took two decades for us to get to the point where shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards are some of the biggest shows in the planet and mainly watched via streaming. I think game streaming will get there faster than 20 years, but it’s not going to be two years. This is a technological change. While it seems like it happens overnight, it doesn’t.”

My take: There’s currently a big difference in quality between playing a game on a console and streaming it onto your phone. Latency is the biggest issue for gamers, because quick reflexes are usually important. That means (for now at least) consoles are the superior option. With that said, in the internet era Microsoft has always been about layering its core software across multiple devices – PCs, phones, Xbox, tablets, even failed hardware experiments like the Zune. Its gaming strategy is the same. Even though the Xbox console is king right now, Microsoft wants to ultimately reach all those other devices too. Hence the slow shift to cloud gaming, just as Netflix eventually moved from DVDs to streaming video.

  1. Incoming CEO of NY Public Radio talks podcasting strategy 🎙️

Interesting look at how public radio is responding to the current era of podcasting and on-demand audio streaming. New York Public Radio’s new CEO Goli Sheikholeslami told Current:

“Public radio created this art form of audio storytelling, and no one does it better than our producers. When I think about how to respond to competition, for us it’s really about staying focused on creating quality programming that is engaging and connects with our listeners.”

My take: Many of the best narrative podcasts I’ve listened to have come from public radio. Serial and S-Town come to mind. While some podcast startups have arisen that have the same high quality production and storytelling techniques – Gimlet, recently acquired by Spotify, is perhaps the best example – I still think public radio is best placed to provide compelling narrative podcast content going forward. Just as the best legacy newspaper companies have used their cultural heft and resources to establish themselves online (NY Times, Guardian, et al), there are big opportunities for the likes of New York Public Radio and NPR to define and maybe even dominate narrative podcasting.

Data Points 📊

  • Press Gazette: Cosmopolitan has seen the biggest circulation drop (-32%) among women’s magazines in the UK so far this year, new ABC figures reveal. 📉

  • The Wrap: Cord-Cutting Runs Amok: Cable, Satellite Providers Hit by Record Subscriber Losses in 2nd Quarter 📺

  • Sensor Tower: TikTok’s gross revenue from in-app purchases reached $11.7m, an increase of 290% from an estimated $3m spent by users in July 2018. 📱

  • Bloomberg: Of the English-language scripted programs that debuted on Netflix from 2013 to 2017, about 19% lasted more than three seasons. Almost 50% of Netflix shows made it to season three. 📺

Tweet of the day 🐦

I gave AI a hard time in this edition of Cybercultural, but John Boyne reminds us we’re all guilty of machine-like creativity sometimes:

That’s the Monday update, hope you found it useful. See you Wednesday for the weekly analysis post! Thanks for your support of Cybercultural. 🙏