Weekly Digital News Roundup: Mar 10 – Mar 15
A big change could be coming to your Instagram feed
- According to Mashable, Instagram users, you might want to sit down. Instagram may soon be messing with your timeline, showing photos not based on chronological order, but based on popularity and other social signals. In other words, your Instagram could soon be curated in a way similar to Facebook’s News Feed. The move, which comes about a month after Twitter started new timeline experiments, was first reported by The New York Times.
- With a userbase of almost 400 million users, Instagram has remained one of the few social networks that shows content in a strictly chronological manner. With the exception of sponsored posts — which are interspersed in your feed based on various cues — what you see in Instagram is reflective of the now.
- In the Timesreport, Instagram co-founder CEO Kevin Systrom said that users miss about 70% of the posts in their feeds and that “this is about is making sure that the 30% you see is the best 30% possible.” Still, we can imagine that users won’t necessarily love the fact that they no longer control the order in which they are shown photos. Facebook faced backlash for its algorithmic take on the News Feed back in 2009 and Twitter has faced backlash for its attempts to switch-up its Timeline in recent months. In the case of Facebook, users ended up relenting and accepting the new reality (as users almost always do when Facebook makes a sudden change).
A New Weapon for Battling Cellphones in Theaters: Laser Beams
- According to the New York Times, audience members using cellphones bedevil performers and presenters around the world. But in China, theaters and other venues have adopted what they say is an effective — others might say disturbing — solution. Zap them with a laser beam.
- The approach varies, but the idea is the same. During a performance, ushers equipped with laser pointers are stationed above, or on the perimeter of, the audience. When they spot a lighted mobile phone, instead of dashing over to the offender, they pounce with a pointer (usually red or green), aiming it at the glowing screen until the user desists. Call it laser shaming.
- Indeed, the narrow shaft of bright light can connote danger. Laser sights are a popular feature on firearms, and there have been numerous incidents in which lasers aimed at cockpits have impaired pilots’ ability to fly safely. (There are more benign uses for a laser pointer, of course, like making presentations and playing with cats.) But laser pointers have been used for years as disciplinary devices at many of China’s leading performance halls, including the National Center, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and the Shanghai Grand Theater.
This team has built adorable tiny backpacks for pigeons to track air pollution
- According to TechCrunch, it’s time to take wearable devices to the next level. Plume Labs and DigitasLBi have teamed up for an interesting experiment. What if pigeons could fly around London with tiny backpacks to measure air pollution during peak hours? I’m not sure what they were thinking when they thought about this idea, but 10 pigeons are currently flying above London for the next 3 days to do just that.
- The Pigeon Air Patrol is wearing custom-made backpacks that are as light as a feather. These backpacks monitor ozone, volatile compounds and nitrogen dioxide as well as the location of the pigeons. And they are adorable.
- Plume Labs has been working on pollution prediction for a while. With the Plume Air Report app on iOS and Android, you can see the current pollution in your area and get a forecast for the next 24 hours. It works for hundreds of cities around the world. It’s like a weather app, but for air pollution.