Why Instagram Reinvented Its Newsfeed, Racist Zip Codes and New Release Movies For $50

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For the past week, you’ve likely heard all about SXSW but the week’s news held lots more for us than that. This week we caught a sobering glimpse of the down side of virtual reality, an announcement that could reinvent how you see new films and surprising new research finding an unexpected connection between zip codes and racism. All that and a new book from Nancy Duarte are featured in this week’s Non-Obvious Insights newsletter!

Hollywood Offers New Releases In Your Home

What if you could view new release films in your own home? Theater owners and studios have long feared this could decrease box office revenue and increase pirating. This week innovator Sean Parker (of Napster fame) launched a new service called Screening Room to let film lovers home screen a new release for a mere $50 fee. Targeted at wealthy consumers unable to make it to movies (like parents without babysitting), the idea faces industry skepticism but has some big names like Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams already behind it.
Read the full story on Variety.com >>

Ford Creates Innovation Spin Off

With its recent history of investing in tech, Ford’s announcement this week to spin off its most promising innovations into a new Smart Mobility Unit is significant. Beyond demonstrating a commitment to innovation, the automaker is making an interesting statement that perhaps the most effective way to innovate is to release innovators from having to carry a “mother ship” on their backs. With Google’ssimilar announcement several months ago seems to feed this concept as well.
Read the full story on ZDNet >>

Why Some Zip Codes Are Racist …

While this story seems like one of intolerance – the findings are actually surprisingly hopeful. As one researcher summarized: “our findings show that white individuals with lower interracial exposure tend to exhibit greater prejudice against mixed-race individuals.” The good news is, as our world becomes more blended and multicultural, the number of people who will grow up with “lower interracial exposure” are much fewer than they once were … which might help make racism a thing of the past.
Read the full story on Futurity >>

Is Time Irrelevant In Social Media?

For decades we have expected media to come with a time stamp – but do we need it? Just because something is recent doesn’t mean its relevant. Many search engines let you search by relevance OR recency. And relevance usually matters most. This week Instagram followed Facebook and Twitter to become the third large social platform to try and personalize user’s feeds to show images by relevance instead of recency. The implications for content are clear: relevance trumps recency. If only that were true of Google search as well.
Read the full story on New York Times >>

The Good, Bad & Ugly Of VR At SXSW

This week I had my second taste of McDonald’s experiments with VR – at an experience the brand created for SXSW. Reviews of the experience were mixed – but they did illustrate an inevitable result of the boom in virtual reality: marketers want a piece of the action. Some, like McDonald’s, are stretching their brand promise of “fun and convenience” in order to make it work, while Samsung is absolutely winning on multiple levels with VR at SXSW and beyond.
Read the full story on Verge >>

Book Release of the Week – Illuminate by Nancy Duarte & Patti Sanchez


Most business books are filled with models and charts. If you are familiar with Nancy’s beautiful books, you already know that perhaps these illustrations will look better than average – but it is easy to type cast a book like this as being yet another collection of frameworks that look good but are hard to follow in real life. In this case, that would be a mistake. The most powerful part of this book is the case study driven approach the author takes to bring you inside how real brands are using the models to win. The best part comes at the end, when Nancy turns the lens inwards and gives you a fascinating look behind the scenes as the decades long growth of Duarte Design and how the firm managed to handle it. As a longtime admirer of what she has done (and her books) – Illuminate gave me a long awaited peek behind the curtain … and it was worth the wait.
Learn more about “Illuminate” >>

How are these articles chosen?

Every week I review hundreds of articles to curate the best stories of the week – and share some quick insights about why they matter for business and marketing. I call these “Non-Obvious Insights” and this is the sixth week I am sharing them. If you would like to see these insights a FULL 24 HOURS before anyone else, please join my email subscriber list here to get the insights every Thursday directly in your email inbox!

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