Blog https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/ en Why ebook sales are falling? https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/why-ebook-sales-are-falling <span>Why ebook sales are falling?</span> <span><span>Anett Imai</span></span> <span>Fri, 12/06/2019 - 15:42</span> <div><p>Technology has made its way into almost every industry, so it's not a surprise that it has been shaping the publishing market as well, including newspapers, magazines, ebooks&nbsp;and audiobooks.</p> <p>Last year audiobook sales <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/26/new-chapter-uk-print-book-sales-fall-while-audiobooks-surge-43">rapidly increased</a> and <a href="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/the-podcast-is-dead-long-live-the-podcast">podcasts</a> might be one of the primary motivations for this surge of popularity. However, the same growth has not been seen in ebook sales, as physical books are still <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/19/physical-books-still-outsell-e-books-and-heres-why.html">outselling</a> their digital counterparts today, and there are many possible reasons for this.</p> <p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="11b07611-6892-462e-b162-fb71f947708c" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="Ebook and e-reader" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/pexels-photo-1329571.jpeg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <h2>Ebook prices</h2> <p>The digital version of books are often sold at the same price or sometimes even higher than the paperbacks or hardbacks, which can be a highly demotivating factor when deciding on which edition should we purchase.</p> <blockquote> <p>“It was recognised from the very beginning that books and knowledge were essential to people's lives and therefore applying a tax on reading would be unfair and inappropriate. That is why, ever since the UK's VAT regime was established in the 1970s, printed books, magazines and newspapers have been VAT exempt.”<br /> ― <a href="https://www.axethereadingtax.org/about">The Publishers Association</a></p> </blockquote> <p>One of the main reasons for the higher prices is that every digital publication is taxed at 20% in the UK currently, and ebooks are not not exempt from this rule. From the quote above, you would assume books in every format should benefit from the same advantages, which is why the Publishers Association started the "Axe the Reading Tax" campaign in 2018, urging the government to remove this illogical tax from ebooks as well.</p> <p>High ebook prices are also the result of publishers' fear of physical books getting redundant. In 2014 a well-known publishing company <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/13/amazon-hachette-end-dispute-ebooks">won their debate against Amazon</a>, allowing publishers to return to the agency pricing model and set the ebook prices themselves.</p> <p>After the first spike in ebook sales, the publishing industry came up with another way of protecting their non-digital products: a new marketing strategy that's focusing on creating gorgeous and appealing book covers. This approach has been a great success, according to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/may/14/how-real-books-trumped-ebooks-publishing-revival">publishers and bookshops</a>, and it works both in-store and online.&nbsp;<br /> First impressions are always critical. Revealing new, beautifully designed covers on popular social media platforms can gain readers' interest even without them knowing much about the story.</p> <h2>Availability</h2> <p>Ebooks and audiobooks have been widely available in many public libraries, often for free by using a library card. However, the waiting list for checking out a digital copy can go over ten weeks as the licensing and distribution rules provided by publishers are very complicated and strict. As a result, libraries have to <a href="https://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/here-is-a-breakdown-of-how-much-libraries-pay-for-ebooks-from-publishers">pay more</a> than the retail price for ebooks in many cases, and sometimes, they need to re-purchase the books after a certain number of circulations or after reaching their expiry date.</p> <h2>Piracy</h2> <p>Authors and publishers are losing billions of dollars worldwide due to piracy, and there seems to be no known solution to fix the issue. According to the <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729184/oci-tracker.pdf">Intellectual Property Office</a>, about 17% of all online ebook consumption is illegal, based on their 2018's research. Reasons for pirating books are not only their high price but also convenience:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>People often get disappointed in a book they purchased and "pre-reading" helps them decide if they want to spend money on the product.&nbsp;</li> <li>Ebooks reader devices are easy to carry as they are small and lightweight, unlike physical books, hence why some consumers would download a title when they already purchased it in another format.</li> </ul> <p>The future of digital publishing is still unknown, as there are many factors still shaping the industry every day.</p> <p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8c054ba6-d29b-492d-a97c-f464872e16a2" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="Books and e-reader" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/pexels-photo-76942_0.jpeg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p>Although ebook sales are dropping, it doesn't mean they will disappear, and there is no reason to think either ebooks or physical books are better than one or the other.<br /> It is evident that ebooks have many advantages, despite the above-mentioned negative aspects.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Ebook readers can help visually impaired people in many ways. All of these devices allow the users to change the font size of the texts, and often they provide text-to-speech functionality as well.</li> <li>Depending on how many books a person reads, e-readers might be more environment-friendly. Manufacturing a single device produces as much CO2 as the creation of 30 printed books, and they use much less natural resources.</li> </ul> <blockquote> <p>“Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who like to read on the subway, or who do not want other people to see how they are amusing themselves, or who have storage and clutter issues, but they are useless for people who are engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books.”<br /> ― Joe Queenan, One for the Books</p> </blockquote> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="800" height="533" alt="Books and e-reader" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-12/pexels-photo-1329571_0.jpeg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="933" height="319" alt="Books and e-reader header" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-12/pexels-photo-76942%20%281%29_1.jpeg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/why-ebook-sales-are-falling" data-a2a-title="Why ebook sales are falling?"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fwhy-ebook-sales-are-falling&amp;title=Why%20ebook%20sales%20are%20falling%3F"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=166&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="VH0AT7WcVOmgRrnA1-Natqhhq_39TOivMIIIuyB3J-E"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Fri, 06 Dec 2019 15:42:37 +0000 anett.imai 166 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk The Weaponization of Social Media for Political Gain https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/the-weaponisation-of-social-media-for-political-gain <span>The Weaponization of Social Media for Political Gain</span> <span><span>Sufi Gaffar</span></span> <span>Fri, 11/29/2019 - 10:13</span> <div><p><img alt="Person holding black iPhone" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="48d6ccc1-3539-407c-b669-2ac37ff7e45d" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/photo-1532356884227-66d7c0e9e4c2.jpg" /></p> <p>The impact of social media usage on society in the 21st century is something that cannot be understated: it has totally transformed the way in which we view and interact with those around us.&nbsp; Facebook and Twitter are two of the corporate giants at the forefront of this phenomenon, with the former having snapped up rivals Instagram and WhatsApp in recent years. With <a href="https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-reaches-238-billion-users-beats-revenue-estimates-in-latest-upda/553403/" target="_blank">over 2.3 billion monthly users</a> across its family of networks and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/02/07/twitter-reveals-its-daily-active-user-numbers-first-time/?" target="_blank">a further 320 million on Twitter</a>, the influence of these two for-profit, undemocratic organisations alone is at best alarming for a number of reasons.</p> <p>Given that internet users are now spending <a href="https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2019/01/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic.html" target="_blank">on average 2 hours and 22 minutes a day</a> on such services, it should come as no surprise that political figures are seeking to harness the power of social media to shape the direction of their countries. In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election, Donald Trump was calculated to have utilized Twitter for an estimated <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html">$2.2 billion of free media coverage</a>, and more recently we’ve seen the emergence of candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the opposite end of the political spectrum, whose election success can be partially attributed to her substantial online presence. It was noted by <a href="https://www.axios.com/" target="_blank">Axios</a> that the young democrat had "as much social media clout as her fellow freshman Democrats combined".</p> <p>Unfortunately, due to the infancy of social media as a political platform, lawmakers have not yet been able to adapt, leaving these sites largely unregulated and thus pretty much entirely self-governed. Seeing as the companies behind them are for-profit in nature, they tend to look out for their own interests rather than for the greater good. It’s this self-governance that has led to them taking very different stances on the matter, with Twitter implementing a blanket ban on all political advertising from November this year, and Facebook deciding to refrain from fact checking or removing any ads at all. Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs and Communications, commented that “we don’t believe … that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny”.</p> <p>One of the issues with Facebook’s hands-off approach is that when there’s a lot on the line, such as in major, democratic elections, people will do whatever it takes to win. With no interference or consequence, will there be anyone to prevent politicians from lying about their <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/9/20856738/trump-94-percent-republican-approval-lie" target="_blank">polling figures</a> and <a href="https://www.vox.com/2019/11/12/20961764/trump-ivanka-created-14-million-jobs-whopper" target="_blank">economic achievements</a>? While we must absolutely recognise the importance of freedom of speech, we must also be aware of the dangers in allowing the spread of both blatant and subtle misinformation without consequence.</p> <p>To make matters worse, it’s not just the candidates themselves who are likely to exploit this; there has been a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/26/us/2016-presidential-campaign-hacking-fast-facts/index.html" target="_blank">consistent stream of reports</a> since the 2016 US election indicating that there was significant Russian meddling in an attempt to impact the final election result, which included the use of Russian ‘troll farms’ to create thousands of fake online social media accounts. These accounts were used to post pro-Trump and anti-Clinton propoganda with the intention of rigging the election and destabilising the nation. Looking at the current state of politics in America, it’s not far fetched to say they were successful - are Facebook really willing to continue turning a blind eye to the illegitimate, political exploitation of social media?</p> <p><img alt="People raising their hands" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="501313b4-3da6-4d90-bbae-307c337657e1" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/photo-1477281765962-ef34e8bb0967_0.jpg" /></p> <p>On the other hand, Twitter’s strategy of implementing a complete political advertising ban also has its flaws. While comfort can be had in the knowledge that it will protect us from some of the dangers related to the spread of misinformation highlighted above, it has the unintended consequence of entrenching the establishment and preventing newer candidates from reaching mass audiences. Social media campaigning is typically far cheaper than running ads on more traditional platforms such as&nbsp; television, as the strategies used on these sites, from growing a following to making regular posts, are far more accessible than the purchase of costly premium advertising slots on popular shows and newspapers. Without the backing of an existing supporter base or a wealthy corporation, challenger candidates will struggle to raise the funds required to run an effective campaign.</p> <p>Another valid concern with this approach is that it’s not always black and white as to whether a topic is political or not - take, for instance, healthcare policies and topical women’s issues such as abortion. Whether they are political or not, it’ll be a decision made ultimately by Twitter alone, a private company, acting in its own interests and doing so on a case-by-case basis. One could make the argument that this isn’t any more democratic or fair than Facebook’s more idle stance.</p> <p>There’s almost certainly a more appropriate middle ground to be had somewhere in between, whether that’s a solution which involves the use of modern technology such as machine learning to help identify, categorise and verify political adverts fairly (although that could lead to a host of <a href="/blog/ai-is-predisposed-to-creating-tech-monopolies" target="_blank">other issues</a>), or a more proactive method utilizing a neutral, fact-checking team. In any case, it’s hard to blame either platform for their current resolutions - Facebook generates far too much money from paid political adverts to turn down and, considering its revenue from political adverts pales in comparison, it was a smart PR move for Twitter to capitalise on the negative publicity Facebook were receiving for theirs and announce the opposite.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1000" height="750" alt="Social media graffiti buttons" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/george-pagan-iii-f-PH16nZHKI-unsplash_0.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1000" height="750" alt="Social media graffiti buttons" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/george-pagan-iii-f-PH16nZHKI-unsplash.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <div><a href="/blog/tags/social-media" hreflang="en">Social Media</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/the-weaponisation-of-social-media-for-political-gain" data-a2a-title="The Weaponization of Social Media for Political Gain"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fthe-weaponisation-of-social-media-for-political-gain&amp;title=The%20Weaponization%20of%20Social%20Media%20for%20Political%20Gain"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--2" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=165&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="EsPmD4x851RD5H_XrAkG5g7LtfGSaMbXOYiU0GSXwrY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Fri, 29 Nov 2019 10:13:49 +0000 sufi.gaffar 165 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk AI is not a threat, Artificial Stupidity is https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/ai-isnt-a-threat-artificial-stupidity-is <span>AI is not a threat, Artificial Stupidity is</span> <span><span>Dr Simon Davies</span></span> <span>Mon, 11/25/2019 - 15:08</span> <div><p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e1523445-51f1-4deb-a17c-a364873c2e2e" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="artificial intelligence" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5a49993c-b5f2-44de-a5b0-119062d3fbc7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/ai-icon_1.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p>Artificial Intelligence features a lot in news and popular culture. With its advances in practical applications, coverage has progressed from Skynet fantasies to more grounded tech-horror pieces about job replacements and building eerily accurate and intrusive profiles from big data. But how much of it is true and how much of it is clickbait?</p> <p>First, let’s dispel some notions about AI. There will never be a point where if you add enough processing power an AI will somehow surpass some arbitrary threshold and turn “conscious”. There will never be an AI trapped on a system that somehow rewrites an OS it has no awareness of to take control of it, uploads itself to a network it doesn’t know exists, and then takes control of national infrastructure that still runs on floppy discs. An AI designed to classify banking transactions could be the most sophisticated in the world and hosted on a supercomputer, but it will never do more than give you really accurate fraud flagging.</p> <p>The real threat of any system is its human component. “GIGO” (garbage in, garbage out) still holds true. The speed the system operates, failures to account for the effects of complex behaviours, a lack of understanding of the algorithms used, flaws in the original data it learned from, and good old-fashioned bugs could send any AI out of control.</p> <p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="a314f1f6-2796-41ae-92ea-5f327d6968f6" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="stock market crash" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Flashcrash-2010.png" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span><br /> Dow Jones at time of crash</p> <p>Fundamentally, AIs are setup to continue running by themselves until they’re actively told to stop. This means if something goes wrong and it doesn’t result in it throwing an error, it will happily carry on until a human intervenes. The problem with this is, like any program, an AI can execute thousands of instructions per second. In 2010, malfunctioning automated traders conducted 27,000 trades between themselves in a few minutes – 50% of the day’s trades. This triggered the infamous <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Flash_Crash">Flash Crash</a>, where more than a trillion dollars was wiped off the stock market in 15 minutes, before it almost completely rebounded in another 15.</p> <p>Software is insanely complex, and it is impossible to account for all possible outcomes. It becomes even harder when AI software injects new variables into a situation through its own actions. This leads to simple, unconnected behaviours unexpectedly interacting to produce a new emergent behaviour. In the 2010 Flash Crash, the high number of automated trades made other automated traders think the market had become too volatile, so they shut down leaving remaining automated traders with nobody to sell to and further deepening the crash.</p> <p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2651dded-99e1-4be1-8934-aca9d44548ed" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="black box ai" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/ai-black-box_1.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p>Secondly, there is an increasing trend of relying on what’s called Black Box AIs. Black Box AIs use big data in conjunction with machine learning to come up with a classifying algorithm to sort the data into desired groups, e.g. facial recognition. This solution algorithm however is completely unknowable and locked inside a “black box”. It typically involves projecting the data across high-dimensional mathematical spaces to extract unique features, but it is very abstract and if you’re lucky the development technicians of the AI will understand the operating principles behind it, but that is unlikely to extend to the rest of the team. Black Box AIs also deceptively simple to use as you only need to setup the inputs, then the AI does its magic trick and outputs an impressively performing solution.</p> <p>It is hard to pick out the flaws in something when you don’t understand how it works. The data is so broad, and the number of variables so vast, that it can be nigh-impossible to point to a cause even if you know something is going wrong. When a computer program can sort through a million points of data and output results with an 80% success rate instead of total gibberish, people are more likely to defer to the idea that the AI knows what it is doing.</p> <p>Undiscovered flaws in the original data can see biases be propagated to AI decision making. For example, Amazon had to <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-that-showed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G">scrap its AI recruiting tool</a> after it started penalising CVs for containing the word “women’s”, e.g. “women’s chess club captain”. The data did not contain the applicant’s gender. Instead the successful hires and rejected applicants data it was learning from was biased. In the male-dominated IT industry men had been recruited at a higher rate than women. Words unique to women’s CVs appeared much less in successful hires compared to words like “leadership”, ergo the AI concluded that these words must be of low value and started penalising them.</p> <p>Similarly, an AI algorithm for predicting a patient’s healthcare needs <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/10/24/racial-bias-medical-algorithm-favors-white-patients-over-sicker-black-patients/">under-estimated those of African-Americans</a> by more than 50%. Like Amazon’s recruitment AI, the data it was learning from did not include race. Instead, systemic biases in the US healthcare system meant that African-Americans have always faced a far higher barrier to gaining medications, treatment, and appointments. The AI simply matched its predictions to the data that was informing them.</p> <p data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ae9b8468-7e4d-4ad7-9125-509dc17284c2" style="text-align: center;"><span><img alt="self driving car" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Uber_self_driving_car.jpg" /><span title="Click and drag to resize">​</span></span></p> <p>And finally, when AIs are made in our own image there’s just human stupidity being passed on and transitioning into artificial stupidity. Last year, an Uber self-driving car hit and killed a pedestrian. The <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/ubers-self-driving-car-didnt-know-pedestrians-could-jaywalk/">initial cause was found</a> to be that Uber programmed the driver AI to think that pedestrians could only ever exist on crosswalks. Despite the car detecting the pedestrian 5.6 seconds before impact, its collision avoidance never kicked in because it was programmed to restart its object trajectory prediction every time it classified an object. Not being allowed to identify the pedestrian as a human, the car’s AI oscillated between identifying them as “bicycle” and “other”, with it restarting its prediction of where the pedestrian would be every time it changed classification. To cap it off, a one second delay had been manually inserted into the decision-making process because the AI was generating too many false positives and was being too sensitive to obstacles.</p> <p>At the end of the day it is important to recognise what present-day AI is: <b>automation</b>, with the ability to self-correct/self-optimise in order to achieve its goal better. The spectre of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity">Singularity</a> giving rise to human-like AIs are still far off. What this means is that mistakes made in the planning and development stages by people can now end up being applied on a much larger scale and at a much quicker rate.</p> <p class="text-align-center"><iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eG5K1uNJGrg" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>You can see some these points distilled in this scene from the TV show Silicon Valley, where a programmer writes time-saving AI chatbots for himself and his slightly slower colleague to field the countless emails and help requests they get at work.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="657" height="526" alt="artificial intelligence" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/ai-icon.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1080" height="394" alt="artificial intelligence" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/ai-banner.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/ai-isnt-a-threat-artificial-stupidity-is" data-a2a-title="AI is not a threat, Artificial Stupidity is"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fai-isnt-a-threat-artificial-stupidity-is&amp;title=AI%20is%20not%20a%20threat%2C%20Artificial%20Stupidity%20is"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=164&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="dsG4JADsE3k9QYquseZLeIKzisBtH8N08yuZx53CUpY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Mon, 25 Nov 2019 15:08:28 +0000 dr.simon.davies 164 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/ai-isnt-a-threat-artificial-stupidity-is#comments The Podcast is dead, long live the Podcast... https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/the-podcast-is-dead-long-live-the-podcast <span>The Podcast is dead, long live the Podcast...</span> <span><span>Mark Macalesher</span></span> <span>Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:32</span> <div><p><img alt="Listening sign" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="95b930fe-2f8a-465b-93be-ff0e21ff90df" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/you%20are%20what%20you%20listen%20to.jpg" /></p> <p>In 2005 the (American) Oxford Dictionary named “podcast” its word of the year, at the same time Apple launched podcasts on iTunes which was only 12 months after Podcasting (universally credited <a href="https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/podcasting1.htm">Adam Curry and Dave Winer</a> ) was born. Podcasts were new, innovative and a product of the digital revolution.</p> <p>Since then we have witnessed unprecedented media innovation and Podcasts were somewhat left behind. That is until the last couple of years where they have been experiencing a renaissance which has put them firmly back on the media horizon, from both a consumer and an advertiser’s perspective. And not only are they back but they are currently in the midst of a boom which shows no signs of slowing down. But why is this and how long will it last?</p> <p>Podcasts predate Facebook, YouTube &amp; Twitter but as technological advancements gathered pace during the middle of the last decade, the media landscape became unrecognisable as it desperately tried to keep up. Podcast’s started to lag behind other media platforms and became more niche especially when compared to mass media outlets and the explosion of digital media.</p> <p>This has now changed, and it is estimated 7 million people currently listen to Podcasts each week in the UK alone. This has more than doubled over the last 5 years and a further increase of nearly 60% compared to 2 years ago. Half of those now listening to podcasts had never listened to one before – this is quite a growth spike and one which shows no signs of slowing.</p> <p>The most popular genres include entertainment, comedy, news and sport – all of which have over 40% of the traffic that tune in each week and the demographic of a UK podcast listener has an average age of 39, is most likely to be <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NRS_social_grade">ABC1</a> with an even gender split. There is also a steep rise in the number of 15-24 year olds who are embracing podcasts.</p> <p>High quality recordings, an increase of publishers into the market and easily accessible platforms have all contributed to the boom. The changing media landscape has also played its part. Look how we now consume TV compared to 15 years ago. How often do you watch a tv programme when it is actually aired on tv? On demand media consumption sums up the new generation’s attitude to media and this has spread to all generations as we embrace the new media culture. We all want to consume media when it fits into our schedules, not when broadcasters decide. Society is changing and so many of us profess to having less time but more interests and this is how we keep up with our media consumption.</p> <p>It’s not just our changing media habits that have driven the demand for podcasts. Content is of higher quality, easier to download and there are less barriers to entry for would be publishers. This has provided variety in what we are able to listen to. Content has also become more mainstream and there has been a big resurgence of audio over the past decade as well with <a href="https://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/02/08/90-brits-still-tune-radio-each-week">90% of Brits tuning into radio each week</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>“Podcasts are transforming the ways people listen to audio content…It’s fantastic to see how UK radio broadcasters as well as newspapers and other media companies are embracing podcasting and offering more choice…”</strong></p> <p><strong>Ian Macrae – Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Other trends have helped the podcast revival, and these shouldn’t be understated. We have all witnessed the growth of short-form content. Tweets, gif’s, blogs, snap chat, the list is endless, but long-form content is back on point. Consumers want more engaged and authoritative content, and this is what is currently being lapped up. The podcast with the most downloads worldwide, <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-joe-rogan-experience">The Joe Rogan Experience</a> is regularly 2 hours long and receives up to 16m downloads per month. That is a huge amount of time to keep your listener engaged and one that advertisers are picking up on.</p> <p>Brands are savvy to the rise of the podcast and are increasingly adding them to their marketing mix, and why wouldn’t they? Here we have a totally engaged audience that can tune into a podcast almost anywhere and advertisers who apply the right context and understand their audience are now reaping the rewards of increased sales and brand awareness.</p> <p>The huge increases in advertising revenues being spent, £26b in the UK alone mean that the consumer is king, and advertisers are starting to take notice. Advertising revenues for podcasts in 2018 were estimated at £45m which is a drop in the ocean compared to the total UK ad spend. However, it’s year on year share has grown by +30% which is more than any other advertising media, including search and online. What’s more it is predicted to rise by a further 22% this year and a further 20% in 2020 topping the growth charts once again.</p> <p>And although Podcasts are never likely to be an advertiser’s number one choice of media and the numbers are unlikely to match those of the finales of shows like <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_One_(Friends)">Friends</a> or blockbuster series such as Game of Thrones, they are proving to be very credible and deserve to be added to the advertising schedule.</p> <p>The most popular platforms for listening to podcasts are YouTube, Apple &amp; Spotify. All platforms that have seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. Therefore, should we really be that surprised that the podcast is making a comeback? Apple launched podcasts for the iPhone in 2013 and it’s no coincidence that the current boom started so soon after.</p> <p>In fact, it is reasonable to assume that as the platforms which house podcasts continue to grow so will the podcast. Is it this that has really caused the rise in popularity or is it the trend for consumers to move towards easily accessible long-form content or the variety and ease of entry into this market that is fuelling the resurgence? Most likely it’s a combination of all of the above. In the meantime, if you are looking for somewhere to spend your next advertising pound, or you have an hour or so to while away on your commute home, you may just want to join the Podcast revolution. Could it be that 15 years after the first download, the podcast is finally coming of age?</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="443" height="249" alt="Podcast microphone" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/Podcast%20listing%20image_0.png" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="443" height="249" alt="Podcast microphone" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/Podcast%20listing%20image_0_0.png" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/the-podcast-is-dead-long-live-the-podcast" data-a2a-title="The Podcast is dead, long live the Podcast..."><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fthe-podcast-is-dead-long-live-the-podcast&amp;title=The%20Podcast%20is%20dead%2C%20long%20live%20the%20Podcast..."></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--4" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=163&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="RL2R6ePcrO0WS-4J9bdTIEzdE-Td1mXo9ZUar-qHhko"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Mon, 18 Nov 2019 10:32:37 +0000 mark.macalesher 163 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk Pause for thought: Artificial Intelligence is predisposed to creating tech monopolies https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/ai-is-predisposed-to-creating-tech-monopolies <span>Pause for thought: Artificial Intelligence is predisposed to creating tech monopolies</span> <span><span>Billy Davies</span></span> <span>Tue, 11/12/2019 - 13:08</span> <div><p><img alt="Amazon Box robot standing in a tree" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="eeed4035-db4a-4fae-a771-bf6304d1e793" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/amazon-robot-in-tree-657-458.jpg" /></p> <p>The 2020 US presidential race is already underway and in particular the Democratic nomination contest has been making the press over in the UK. One of the more eye catching policies from frontrunner Elizabeth Warren is her <a href="https://medium.com/@teamwarren/heres-how-we-can-break-up-big-tech-9ad9e0da324c">plan to break up Amazon, Google and Facebook</a>. That article is well worth a read and it's hard not to see the sense in her ideas.</p> <p><img alt="Elizabeth Warren - Break up big tech poster" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="30c28295-b78a-4b1d-955d-3e5e698a1cbc" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/break-up-amazon-facebook-google-657-329.jpg" /></p> <p>In her essay she namechecks the specific companies and mergers that she would look to unwind:</p> <ul> <li><strong><em>Amazon:</em></strong><em> Whole Foods; Zappos</em></li> <li><strong><em>Facebook:</em></strong><em> WhatsApp; Instagram</em></li> <li><strong><em>Google:</em></strong><em> Waze; Nest; DoubleClick</em></li> </ul> <p>Since she penned that post in March 2019 you can almost certainly add <a href="https://www.slashgear.com/google-bought-fitbit-what-this-means-for-smartwatches-market-10599118/">Google's latest acquisition of Fitbit</a>.</p> <p>If you consider the above list, particularly Facebook and Google, you can see that the main value of the acquisitions is the user base and associated data. The primary commercial usage of this expanded data set is to make the two platform's online advertising even more effective. But the deepening of the massive pools of data the companies hold has another usage in the form of training sets for the machine learning algorithms that are more glamorously referred to as Artificial Intelligence (AI). The sheer scale and detail level of the data that the current tech giants hold gives them a huge advantage when it comes to developing effective AI.</p> <p>A lot has been made of the ethics of AI and how it will make swathes of people redundant as the tide rises and software steadily becomes more competent at performing repetitive tasks. But a lesser considered outcome of AI is that it will be predisposed to creating more tech monopolies. As mentioned, to create effective AI you need large amounts of detailed, relevant training data. The more data you have the better. As data is typically proprietary then some companies have an almost unassailable lead here already. In many use cases AI is winner takes all. Consider the AI use case of identifying tumours in medical scans. Would anybody want to use anything other than the best AI functionality for this, particularly if there was a standout leader in the field? The same goes for other common AI tasks. Would you be comfortable in getting into a self-driving car that crashes markedly more often than that driven by the leading AI solution? If there's a standout leader in an AI application, then they will capture the market and make it very difficult for new entrants to establish themselves. To guard against this political thought leaders like Warren need to broaden their horizons and make compulsory sharing of anonymised data by tech companies another key policy in their manifestos.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="768" height="464" alt="Photo of an android" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/android-768-464.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="768" height="464" alt="Photo of an android" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/android-768-464_0.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/ai-is-predisposed-to-creating-tech-monopolies" data-a2a-title="Pause for thought: Artificial Intelligence is predisposed to creating tech monopolies"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fai-is-predisposed-to-creating-tech-monopolies&amp;title=Pause%20for%20thought%3A%20Artificial%20Intelligence%20is%20predisposed%20to%20creating%20tech%20monopolies"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--5" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=162&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="3zE7YpRTLyZI7K1zvKWuw03Iwa2x0B8Ms5MOcJJKxg4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:08:36 +0000 billy.davies 162 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk A follow up on fake Twitter followers https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/a-follow-up-on-fake-twitter-followers <span>A follow up on fake Twitter followers</span> <span><span>Billy Davies</span></span> <span>Tue, 11/05/2019 - 10:30</span> <div><p><img alt="A photo of a sign saying &quot;Beware of Zombies&quot;" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="a5bb4f2a-0910-4492-88b1-a50d67654203" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/beware-of-zombies-687px-wide.jpg" /></p> <p>A long time ago I wrote <a href="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/twitters-ipo-and-the-curious-phenomenon-of-paid-followers-on-twitter">a post on the shadowy industry of selling fake followers on Twitter</a>. In&nbsp;that post I found that&nbsp;it was possible to buy thousands or even millions of Twitter followers, guaranteed within a few days following payment.&nbsp;I used a company called <a href="https://devumi.top/">Devumi</a> to test this process using a dummy Twitter account <a href="https://twitter.com/not_zodiacmedia">@not_zodiacmedia</a>. There were many companies offering the same sort of service, but Devumi had the slickest looking site and were marginally cheaper than the competition so they won my business. At the time of the post Twitter’s IPO was in progress, and their IPO share price, and therefore valuation as a company, was driven strongly by their reported ‘Monthly Active Users’ (MAUs). By investigating and writing about the phenomenon of fake followers, I wanted to highlight that investors should take the MAUs figure with a pinch of salt.</p> <p>Last week I received an email out of the blue from the Federal Trade Commission as follows:</p> <blockquote> <p style="color:#365f91"><img alt="Federal Trade Commission Logo" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5525f9ce-cb5b-49b3-9dfd-7fad54762d5c" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/ftc-seal-updated-7-variations-full-logo-sm_original.png" /></p> <p style="color:#365f91"><strong>What You Should Know About Your Devumi Purchase</strong></p> <p>The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, recently reached a <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/10/devumi-owner-ceo-settle-ftc-charges-they-sold-fake-indicators">settlement with a company called Devumi</a> for deceptive social media influence practices. Devumi sold fake followers to help people and organizations gain a strong social media following. The people and companies who bought the fake followers did so to make it look like they had more “influence” on social media than they did.</p> <p>According to Devumi’s records, you bought social media influence from Devumi, or one of the websites it operated:</p> <ul> <li>Devumi.com</li> <li>TwitterBoost.com</li> <li>Buyview.com</li> <li>Buyplays.co</li> </ul> <p>You may have paid for social media influence like</p> <ul> <li>Twitter followers</li> <li>LinkedIn connections</li> <li>YouTube views</li> <li>SoundCloud plays</li> </ul> <p>If you still have followers, connections, subscribers, views, or likes you bought from Devumi — or anyone else — <strong>you must delete them from your social media accounts immediately</strong>.</p> <p>It’s illegal to pay for social media followers to increase your influence. Companies and individuals that break the law may face a lawsuit from the FTC. A court could order violators to stop the illegal behavior and pay a money judgment.</p> </blockquote> <p>It’s taken 6 years but Devumi’s website confirms that US law has caught up with them, as it shows a message saying they have closed for business. It’s interesting that the email states “It’s illegal to pay for social media followers to increase your influence.” as that indicates that there are US laws relating to social media! The press release linked to in the FTC’s email makes for fascinating reading, in particular:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>In the first case, Devumi, LLC (Devumi) and its owner and CEO, German Calas, Jr., have agreed to settle the FTC’s first-ever complaint challenging the sale of fake indicators of social media influence, which are important metrics that businesses and individuals use in making hiring, investing, purchasing, licensing, and viewing decisions.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>And also:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>In the second case, cosmetics firm Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC (Sunday Riley Skincare) and its CEO, Sunday Riley, have agreed to settle an FTC complaint charging them with misleading consumers by posting fake reviews of the company’s products on a major retailer’s website, at the CEO’s direction, and by failing to disclose that the reviewers were company employees.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Looking at our original <a href="https://twitter.com/not_zodiacmedia">fake twitter account</a>, which at one point had around 2000 followers, all fake and bought through Devumi, the followers count has reduced to 0. We can only assume this is Twitter themselves purging fake profiles. I was previously aware that a bonfire of the fakes had taken place through stories causing minor <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5448059/devumi-paul-hollywood-fake-twitter-followers-james-cracknell-martha-lane-fox/">embarrassment for some celebrities including Martha Lane Fox, James Cracknell and Paul Hollywood</a>.</p> <p>Repeating the original Google search query from my old blog post for '<a href="https://lmgtfy.com/?q=buy+Twitter+followers">buy Twitter followers</a>' shows many listings purporting to offer the same service as Devumi. Testing whether these deliver or not can be saved for another time. Anecdotally we have definitely seen a recent increase in ‘anti bot’ challenges when using Twitter, such as Google’s Recaptcha and email or phone number validation.</p> <p>The second point in the FTC press release is more interesting as fake product reviews on e-commerce marketplaces have a much more direct commercial benefit compared to fake followers on social media platforms. The FTC press release relates to abuse on <a href="https://www.sephora.fr/">Sephora</a>, a beauty products marketplace. The next question that forms in my head is whether the FTC will set their sights on policing the world’s biggest online marketplace - Amazon.</p> <p>For several years now I have noticed a&nbsp;trend of product reviews on Amazon seeming increasingly bogus. <a href="https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/07/exposed-the-tricks-sellers-use-to-post-fake-reviews-on-amazon/">I’m not alone in this</a>. A quick Google shows there are easily findable services where you can <a href="https://www.appsally.com/products/amazon-verified-reviews-fba/">buy fake Amazon reviews</a>. Amazon themselves have previously <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38130838">taken steps to reduce the likelihood of fake reviews.</a> Again, anecdotally, if you take the time to skim product reviews a lot are in pidgin English and often don’t say much. Dig further and look at a reviewer’s history and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amzn1.account.AG7W746YPYLL3MRIDA6W4C3DPLPQ/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_gw_tr?ie=UTF8">a pattern can emerge of similar vapid 5 star reviews</a>.</p> <p><img alt="A screenshot of a vapid product review on Amazon." data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="50480b99-86b8-4659-a4f3-41163b5a2a91" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/amazon-vapid-review_0.png" /></p> <p>Real, meaningful reviews are one of the best and worst parts of Amazon depending on whether you’re a consumer in a hurry or a merchant whose product is rated 4 stars compared to a competitor’s 5. We believe it is in Amazon’s interest to turn some of its web services machine learning superpowers on itself and weed these puff pieces out. The question is will they, and equally will the FTC have the ambition to push Amazon to do so.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="768" height="464" alt="Drawing of a bird stealing twitter bird logos" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/twitter-abuse-illustration.png" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="768" height="464" alt="Drawing of a bird stealing twitter bird logos" data-src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/twitter-abuse-illustration_0.png" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <div><a href="/blog/tags/twitter" hreflang="en">Twitter</a></div> <div><a href="/blog/tags/social-media" hreflang="en">Social Media</a></div> <div><a href="/blog/tags/ecommerce" hreflang="en">eCommerce</a></div> <div><a href="/blog/tags/non-technical" hreflang="en">Non-technical</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/a-follow-up-on-fake-twitter-followers" data-a2a-title="A follow up on fake Twitter followers"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fa-follow-up-on-fake-twitter-followers&amp;title=A%20follow%20up%20on%20fake%20Twitter%20followers"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--6" class="comments-container"> <div class="comments-reply-container"> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=161&amp;2=field_comments&amp;3=blog_comments" token="p43RFP33_aSkOExk1TiDPwuENZx0sBFuEBTPOf_a5io"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </section> Tue, 05 Nov 2019 10:30:59 +0000 billy.davies 161 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk Zero UI Part 2: Gestures, Wearables, and Hearables https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/zero-ui-gestures-wearables-hearables <span>Zero UI Part 2: Gestures, Wearables, and Hearables</span> <span><span>Dr Simon Davies</span></span> <span>Fri, 02/23/2018 - 15:58</span> <div><p>With tech becoming smaller and cheaper, companies are cramming as much functionality as possible into more consumable platforms. One avenue of product development has been a mad dash away from the standard controllers associated with such devices.</p> <p>One such example is DJI’s Spark Drone.</p> <p><iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/74Cm1p3fr0g" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>This tiny light-weight drone dispenses with a remote entirely and is controlled via gestures. Simply extending your arm left, right, up, or down will see the drone match your movements. You can even recall the drone and have it land in your hand simply by holding your palm outstretched.</p> <p>Another example is Google’s Project Jacquard.</p> <p><iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k9vqmT9OvfM" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>Project Jacquard is a wearable smart-jacket. Capacitive threads woven into the fabric of the left sleeve respond to the wearer’s touch and can be used to control their smartphone through running their finger over their cuff in different ways. You can even put it in the washing machine.</p> <p>Hearables are essentially smart-earphones, with the most common use being for exercise.</p> <p><iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZEXY4L6Zx_g" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>The Jabra Elite Sport gives you real-time coaching from an AI assistant whilst measuring your heartbeat and running distance, along with the obligatory smartphone connectivity. Control via head gestures and haptic feedback are just some of the Zero UI methods employed.</p> <p>The Zero UI market is growing, but how does it relate to a business’s online presence? Well, the most ubiquitous Zero UI devices are smart-speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. These devices are frequently used for online shopping. How can you make sure your product is at the top of the list when an AI is doing the browsing? When there’s no catalogue page to show your product? What if you have your own proprietary smart device you want to connect to all these smart-speaker interfaces?</p> <p>Check out Part 3 of our Zero UI series to see the eCommerce solutions to establishing a presence for Zero UI devices.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1280" height="1138" alt="zero ui gesture interface" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/zeroui.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1062" height="415" alt="zero ui drone banner" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/DJI_Spark.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/zero-ui-gestures-wearables-hearables" data-a2a-title="Zero UI Part 2: Gestures, Wearables, and Hearables"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fzero-ui-gestures-wearables-hearables&amp;title=Zero%20UI%20Part%202%3A%20Gestures%2C%20Wearables%2C%20and%20Hearables"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--7" class="comments-container"> </section> Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:58:20 +0000 dr.simon.davies 151 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk Zero UI Part 1: The Science Behind Nissan’s Mind-controlled Car https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/nissan-mind-controlled-car <span>Zero UI Part 1: The Science Behind Nissan’s Mind-controlled Car</span> <span><span>Dr Simon Davies</span></span> <span>Thu, 02/22/2018 - 15:30</span> <div><p>At the last CES, Nissan unveiled its “B2V” (Brain-to-Vehicle) device, a headset designed to anticipate driver actions.</p> <p><iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oCi6taII6Yo" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>Nissan claim that they will be able to detect driver actions 300ms before they occur, allowing the vehicle to anticipate braking or turning actions.</p> <p>After our resident <a href="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/brain-computer-interface-consultancy-bci-london-uk"><strong>Brain-computer Interface</strong> (BCI) expert</a>&nbsp;analysed the footage, they concluded that this device functions by painlessly measuring the driver’s <strong>surface-EEG</strong> over their motor cortex and detecting an <strong>Event-related Desynchronization</strong> (ERD) – a disruption in brain activity caused by the motor cortex “booting up” out of sleep mode in preparation for physical activity.</p> <p>Contrary to what you might think, the most important part of a BCI is its software. The hardware that is used to measure brain activity has plateaued in the last few decades, and though they are becoming cheaper and there are some variations in design, fundamentally everyone makes do with the same silver chloride electrodes used to obtain brain activity.</p> <p>What makes the difference between a BCI working and not working is the <em>software</em> used to clean up and interpret the incredibly weak signals from the electrodes. Nissan will be using a proprietary combination of digital signal processing and machine classification techniques to decode and identify whether the ERDs it’s detecting come from the driver’s feet, or left or right arms, though the best-performing techniques are usually <strong>Wavelet Transform</strong> or <strong>Common Spatial Patterns</strong> in conjunction with <strong>Support Vector Machines</strong> or <strong>Neural Nets</strong>.</p> <p>Wavelet Transform and Common Spatial Patterns are both <strong>Blind Source Separation</strong> (BSS) techniques. BSS is when you take a composite signal, and without knowing what its components look like, automatically split it into its original constituent parts – in this case brain activity and a whole heap of noise. Common Spatial Patterns and Neural Nets on the other hand are machine learning techniques where you train the computer to identify patterns until it constructs its own classifier.</p> <p>Nissan aren’t the first company to use BCI to control a car, our own BCI expert having done it for two separate companies, but they may be the first to bring it to market. It's also part of a growing trend of Zero UI product design, something we'll be touching on in later blog posts.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="701" height="701" alt="brain computer interface thumbnail" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/brain-post.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="959" height="470" alt="brain computer interface banner" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/brain.jpg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/nissan-mind-controlled-car" data-a2a-title="Zero UI Part 1: The Science Behind Nissan’s Mind-controlled Car"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fnissan-mind-controlled-car&amp;title=Zero%20UI%20Part%201%3A%20The%20Science%20Behind%20Nissan%E2%80%99s%20Mind-controlled%20Car"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--8" class="comments-container"> </section> Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:30:47 +0000 dr.simon.davies 150 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk GDPR - What it is and How to Prepare https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/gdpr-what-it-is-and-how-to-prepare <span>GDPR - What it is and How to Prepare</span> <span><span>Luke Marlowe</span></span> <span>Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:34</span> <div><p>You may have heard about “GDPR” – the General Data Protection Regulation that will become enforced from 25th&nbsp;May 2018. How organisations and websites collect and store data is a huge part of GDPR, so here’s our no-nonsense explanation of what GDPR is, how it applies to your organisation, what the effects of it will be, and what you must do to ensure your website is GDPR compliant.</p> <p>GDPR will have a direct impact on all businesses that operate within the EU – but what is it, and how does it affect your business?</p> <ul> <li>The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a piece of EU legislation that unifies the various members' data legislation -&nbsp;&nbsp;in the UK’s case, the Data Protection Act (DPA)</li> </ul> <h2>When is it happening?</h2> <ul> <li>GDPR takes effect on 25th May 2018.</li> <li>It’s unaffected by Brexit. Once Britain leaves the EU this may change, but GDPR will be in place for the foreseeable future.</li> </ul> <h2>Will it apply to your organisation?</h2> <ul> <li>It directly affects organisations with an EU presence</li> <li>Organisations without an EU presence but who have EU residents as clients should still understand the specific details of GDPR in order to ensure compliance. As per the GDPR, “Where no EU presence exists, the GDPR will still apply whenever: 1. An EU resident’s personal data is processed in connection with goods/services offered to him/her; or 2. The behaviour of individuals within the EU is monitored.</li> </ul> <h2>What are the main points of GDPR?</h2> <p><img alt="Man writing notes" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="eca20f67-7434-4e7f-a4a5-edf7adc6a655" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/writing-notes-idea-conference_1.jpg" /></p> <p>The focus of GDPR is data – and this takes two forms, <strong>Personal Data</strong> and <strong>Sensitive Personal Data.</strong></p> <p><strong>Personal Data</strong> is any information relating to an identified person, or that can be used to identify a person. This includes:</p> <ul> <li>Name</li> <li>Home/Work Address</li> <li>Home/Work Phone Number</li> <li>Home/Work Email Address</li> <li>IP Address</li> <li>Cookies</li> <li>Photograph</li> </ul> <p><strong>Sensitive Personal Data</strong> is any information that can be used to profile a person. This includes:</p> <ul> <li>Race/ethnicity</li> <li>Political opinions</li> <li>Religion</li> <li>Sexual Orientation</li> <li>Union Membership</li> <li>Mental &amp; Physical Health</li> <li>Criminal Record,&nbsp;whether as a perpetrator or a victim</li> <li>Filed Work Grievances, whether as a perpetrator or a victim</li> </ul> <p>In short, the GDPR applies to all data from which a living individual could be identified, whether directly or indirectly. Businesses must be far more transparent about what data they’ll be using, how they’ll be using it, and where it’ll be stored. They must also be sure that every act of data processing has a lawful basis.</p> <p><strong>Lawful Basis</strong> – The possible bases identified in the GDPR are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Consent</strong> – reserved for data processing that is not “necessary”</li> <li><strong>Contractual Interest</strong> – data processing necessary for carrying out a contract the user entered, e.g. processing client data to ensure payment is received for a service</li> <li><strong>Compliance with legal obligations</strong> – e.g. submitting employee data to HMRC to prove tax compliance</li> <li><strong>Vital Interests</strong> – data processing to protect the interests of the user. This only applies to life or death situations, e.g. sharing fatal employee allergy information with paramedics</li> <li><strong>Public Interest</strong> – data processing to protect a public interest set out in law, e.g. reporting a crime recorded on company CCTV</li> <li><strong>Legitimate Interest</strong> – data processing that is in the interests of the data controller, so long as it does not conflict with the interests of the user. You will need to inform the user of this process and they may object at any time. Expectation forms a key part of this – with the aim that a user would not be surprised to find out a controller was taking the action.</li> </ul> <p>For Sensitive Personal Data, the lawful bases become a lot more stringent:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Consent</strong> – with the same restrictions on regular personal data applying</li> <li><strong>Employment law</strong> – the data is necessary to comply with employment, discrimination and equality laws</li> <li><strong>Vital Interests</strong> - where the user is physically incapable of giving consent, with the same restrictions on regular data applying</li> <li><strong>Not-for-profit</strong> – the data processing is in relation to a body that is associated with the company and that the user is a member of, e.g. trade union, charitable foundation</li> <li><strong>Public Info</strong> – the data in question has already been made public by the user</li> <li><strong>Legal defence</strong> – the data processing is in relation to legal proceedings, whether obtaining legal advice or preparing a case for court</li> <li><strong>Public interest</strong> – data processing to protect a “substantial” public interest set out in law, with the user’s rights safeguarded as much as possible</li> <li><strong>Medicine</strong> – data for the purposes of diagnosis, preventative or occupational health care</li> </ul> <p>The most immediate point to concentrate on is <strong>Consent</strong> – as this will directly impact how data can be obtained, how it can be stored and whether you’ll be allowed to keep it. It’s particularly relevant as it’ll change how you gain permission to store the data of visitors to your website.</p> <p><strong>Consent</strong> – gaining consent on an “opt-out” basis is no longer possible when it comes to personal information. Under GDPR, individuals will need to give their consent to each different way an individual’s data is processed by a business. Consent must be:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Opted-in to by the individual </strong>– pre-ticked opt-in boxes are no longer acceptable</li> <li><strong>Granular &amp; Specific</strong> – individual consent options must be available for every different way a piece of data will be used. For example, if you intend to email and phone clients, the user will need to be able to opt-in to both methods of communication, either, or none. &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Clear</strong> – burying the terms of consent in legalese is no longer acceptable. The uses of data must be clearly stated from the start of your relationship with a customer.</li> <li><strong>Fair</strong> – consent can only be given by people over 16 years of age, or by the guardian of someone under 16.</li> <li><strong>Stored</strong> – a full record of all consents given must be maintained.</li> <li><strong>Removable</strong> – there is no set time limit in which consent can expire, but individuals can withdraw their consent at any point.</li> </ul> <p>It’s a lot to take in, but you should ensure that your requests for consent are prominent, clear, and easy to understand. They should include:</p> <ul> <li>Your organisation's name</li> <li>The name of any third parties who may be accessing the information</li> <li>Why the information is being requested</li> <li>What the information will be used for</li> <li>An understanding that consent can be withdrawn at any point, and how this can be done.</li> </ul> <h2>How will GDPR affect your business?</h2> <p><img alt="Spreadsheets and CVs" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5a58b3fc-06ae-4519-95ad-13c474cac944" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/pexels-photo-590016_1.jpeg" /></p> <p>There’s no doubt that GDPR is going to have an impact on how your business is run, as it is an all-encompassing set of regulations that covers anyone who’ll be visiting your website, as well as anyone you may have under your employ. It’ll affect all of them in slightly different ways, as follows:</p> <ul> <li>Customers: <ul> <li>In short, customers will have more rights</li> <li>They’ll know from the off what you intend to use their data for</li> <li>They’ll be able to withdraw their consent for you&nbsp;storing that data at any point</li> <li>It’ll be far easier for customers to request access to all the data an organisation holds about them</li> <li>They’ll also be able to instruct an organisation to delete all records relating to that customer, as per their “Right to be Forgotten”&nbsp;</li> </ul> </li> <li>Employees: <ul> <li>Will need to be informed exactly what you’ll be using their data for</li> <li>Will have a right of access to that data at any point</li> <li>Can request that any data they feel is inaccurate or incomplete be rectified</li> <li>Have a right to be forgotten (under very certain circumstances)</li> <li>Will have the right to “block” or suppress processing of personal data – essentially meaning that they are allowing you to store data but not to process it</li> <li>Will have a right to “data portability”, meaning that they’ll be allowed to move, copy or transfer their personal data easily from one IT environment to another.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Anonymous Website Users: <ul> <li>If a user is browsing your site anonymously, you should still give them the option to opt in or out of cookies, but it’s unlikely that any information is going to be stored that contains Personal or Sensitive data.</li> <li>Third party analytics systems such as Google Analytics and Hotjar are very clear that their software will be fully GDPR compliant by May 2018, so will not require stating on a site if used.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h3>Data Governance Obligations</h3> <p>Having to document your processing activities is a new requirement under the GDPR. What exactly needs to be documented depends on the size of your company:</p> <ul> <li>If you have 250 or more employees, all your processing activities must be documented</li> <li>If you have less than 250 employees, you need to document any processing activities that: <ul> <li>Are taking place on a regular basis</li> <li>Could result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals</li> <li>Involve the processing of special categories of data, such as criminal conviction and offence data</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h3>Data Breaches</h3> <p>A major part of the new GDPR regulation is the increased transparency surrounding personal data breaches. Failure to report a data breach correctly could result in a fine of up to 10 million euros, or 2 percent of your global turnover – so a potentially costly price to pay for something that can be avoided with prior planning.</p> <ul> <li><strong>What is a Data Breach?</strong><br /> <br /> A data breach is a security incident that affects the availability, confidentiality or integrity of personal data that you have stored. This includes the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, disclosure of or access to personal data, and includes breaches that are accidental and breaches that are done maliciously. In the event of a security breach, businesses then need to establish whether a personal data breach has occurred as part of this and whether the breach is one that needs reporting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>When does a breach need reporting?</strong><br /> <br /> If a breach has involved personal data, you need to look at the information and see if the breach could impact on the rights and freedoms of those whose data was affected. If you think it could, you must notify the relevant authority. If you think it’s unlikely, then there’s no need to report it – but you must document your reasoning clearly for posterity.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Who do we report the breach too, and when do we need to report it?</strong><br /> <br /> If you feel that the breach could impact on the rights and freedoms of those whose data was involved in the breach, you’ll need to inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours. If not reported within the 72-hour timeframe, you’ll have to provide your reasoning as to why, which could leave you open for fines. Do bear in mind that ICO are aware that investigations into data breaches could well be ongoing – so allow you to provide the information in phases, provided it is done as swiftly as possible and given a high priority within your organisation. If you believe that the data involved in the breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights of those whose data was involved, those whose data has been breached must be informed as soon as possible to allow them the opportunity to mitigate any potential effects that the data breach may have on their lives.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>What information do we need to provide when reporting a data breach?</strong><br /> <br /> You’ll need to provide: <ul> <li>A description of the breach, including: <ul> <li>Categories of data concerned</li> <li>Approximate number of individuals concerned</li> <li>Approximate number of data records concerned</li> </ul> </li> <li>Name of data protection officer or relevant contact</li> <li>Your thoughts on the possible consequences of the data breach</li> <li>Detailed descriptions of the measures proposed and taken to deal with the breach, including mitigation of adverse effects</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h3>Further Points to Consider</h3> <p>If your organisation is based in the UK you'll need to report to ICO, but organisations from outside of the UK may have to report to other bodies, depending on their location. In addition, current notification obligation laws relating to data breaches still apply, so may affect your business if it follows the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation, or has incident-reporting obligations under the NIS Directive.&nbsp;</p> <h2>How do you ensure that your website is GDPR compliant?<br /> <br /> <img alt="man looking at a website" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c6c2a678-8fa4-4966-abb0-9ddb76854e34" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/pexels-photo-374016_1.jpeg" /></h2> <p>May is fast approaching, and to comply with GDPR, you’re going to need to ensure that both your website and business are collecting and storing data in an appropriate manner. There are various points you’ll need to consider, and actions you’ll need to take, which we’ve listed below:</p> <h3>Data audit and inventory</h3> <p>In order to ensure your compliance, you’ll need to complete a Data Audit. The data audit should cover all the information you collect and store as an organisation, and for each category of data, should answer the following questions:</p> <ul> <li>What is the data?</li> <li>Why is the data held?</li> <li>What is the data used for?</li> <li>Basis for processing data (e.g., where was consent gained for this)</li> <li>Who holds the data and who can access it?</li> <li>What security controls are in place?</li> <li>How long is data kept for?</li> <li>Is this covered by our privacy notice?</li> <li>Are any actions required?</li> </ul> <h3>Transfer of Data – Territory Restrictions</h3> <p>If you outsource any of your work to areas outside of the EU, you need to be aware that GDPR will prohibit businesses from transferring personal data to countries that don’t have adequate data protection. The list of countries outside of the EU which it considers to have adequate protection is relatively small, so it’s worth checking to ensure that your business will remain compliant.</p> <h3>Cookie Policy</h3> <p>The information gained from cookies is, in the majority of cases, information that could be classed as “Personal Data”. As a result, it’s likely that you’ll need to make changes to your cookie policy in order to obtain consent in the correct manner. Two points that are worth considering on this front:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Implied consent is no longer enough</strong> – visiting a site doesn’t count as consent, and nor does the “By using this site, you accept cookies” message that many sites use. Consent must be given through a clear action by the user.</li> <li><strong>Sites must provide an opt-out option</strong> – and it must be as easy and as straightforward for users to withdraw content as it was to give it.</li> </ul> <h3>Privacy Notice</h3> <p>Under GDPR, the privacy information companies need to provide has become a lot more detailed,&nbsp;and it must always be concise, easy to understand, and free of charge.</p> <p>The list of information you’ll need to provide is lengthy&nbsp;and it’s worth reading the documentation from the Information Commissioner’s Office in order to ensure exactly what you’ll need to provide. However, key points you’ll always have to cover are:</p> <ul> <li>Identity and contact details of the person controlling the data</li> <li>Why the data is being processed and what the legal basis for doing so is</li> <li>The interests of the data controller, and/or the third party the data will be sent to</li> <li>Any recipients of the personal data</li> <li>Details of data transfer to other country and safeguards put in place</li> <li>How long data will be stored</li> <li>How a user can request data be removed</li> <li>How a complaint can be made regarding the data</li> </ul> <h3>Data Protection Officer</h3> <p>For the clear majority of organisations, ensuring that you have a Data Protection Officer will be extremely important for GDPR compliance. The Data Protection Officer can either be someone engaged from outside of your company, someone shared with other companies or a current employee,&nbsp;but they should have a good understanding of GDPR, knowledge of your organisation’s business sector, and be able to oversee the culture of data protection within your business. In addition, they should be a good communicator, as in the event of a breach they’ll be the one dealing with both the ICO and the public.</p> <h3>Data Breach Protocol</h3> <p>To ensure that any potential data breaches are dealt with as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to get strict data breach protocols in place. Points for this protocol should include:</p> <ul> <li>Knowing how to recognise a data breach</li> <li>Allocating responsibility for breaches to a dedicated person or team</li> <li>Ensuring staff know when to escalate a security incident to the appropriate person to determine whether a breach has taken place.</li> </ul> <p>Remember that all data breaches involving personal data should be reported to ICO within 72 hours, so time is of the essence. A good Data Breach Protocol can help you act swiftly and surely in the event of a data breach, halting the spread of the data and lowering the risk of any potential repercussions.</p> <h2>How Zodiac Media can help you<br /> <br /> <img alt="A Business Meeting between a Man and a Woman" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="768d9ddd-078f-47e3-83a5-d70be9de29d4" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/pexels-photo-630839_1.jpeg" /></h2> <p>With a huge amount of experience in the IT industry, Zodiac Media are up to date in GDPR legislation and will be keeping a close eye on changes and clarifications to GDPR as it rolls out in May.&nbsp;We’re here to help you understand GDPR, and to ensure that your business complies with GDPR requirements,&nbsp;which we can do in just some of the following ways:</p> <h3>Data Audits</h3> <p>We can assist you in carrying out an audit of your customer data. Not only will it enable you to be GDPR compliant, but will also aid you to streamline your data processes, increase your security and future-proof your business.</p> <h3>Onshoring of Development to Approved Territory</h3> <p>With the territory restrictions that GDPR brings into place, businesses are going to have to be incredibly careful about where they outsource work to. As a London based development agency we’re ideally placed to take on any development, support or hosting work, with our small size and tight focus meaning we can deliver “big agency” work at a fraction of the cost.</p> <h3>Simple Updates to Cookie and Privacy Policies</h3> <p>The vast majority of organisations are going to have to change their Cookie and Privacy policies in order to be in line with GRPR. We’re able to assist with the wording and fine detail of these notices, as well as building them onto your website in order to offer your customers the clear and straightforward information they’re required to have before they access the site.</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="4200" height="2800" alt="man with computer" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/pexels-photo-530024%202.jpeg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="4576" height="3051" alt="security on computer" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-02/security-protection-anti-virus-software-60504.jpeg" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/gdpr-what-it-is-and-how-to-prepare" data-a2a-title="GDPR - What it is and How to Prepare"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fgdpr-what-it-is-and-how-to-prepare&amp;title=GDPR%20-%20What%20it%20is%20and%20How%20to%20Prepare"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--9" class="comments-container"> </section> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 11:34:08 +0000 luke.marlowe 147 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk Removing an image's background with Adobe's new Select Subject tool for Photoshop CC 2018 https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/removing-an-images-background-with-adobe-select-subject-tool-photoshop-cc-2018 <span>Removing an image&#039;s background with Adobe&#039;s new Select Subject tool for Photoshop CC 2018</span> <span><span>Tyler Savin</span></span> <span>Tue, 01/23/2018 - 09:15</span> <div><p>Adobe have just released an update to Photoshop CC which includes the new tool Select Subject. In one click this tool will make a selection of a prominent subject in your image with the help of Adobe's AI technology <a href="https://www.adobe.com/uk/sensei.html">Adobe Sensei</a>.</p> <p>As some of our client work requires us to separate the background from the subject of an image, we thought we'd take a deeper look into this new tool and share our results with you. If you are currently working to remove a background from an image and the new Select Subject tool isn't quite doing the job, we also touch on the Magic Wand&nbsp;and&nbsp;Quick Selection Tools&nbsp;as alternative approaches for different image types.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will be taking you through Photoshop's Select &amp; Mask tool and some other ways to separate backgrounds using channels and the pen tool.</p> <h2>Using&nbsp;Select Subject in Photoshop</h2> <p>Select subject is very easy to use and can be accessed using any of the following methods:</p> <p>1. <strong>Select</strong> &gt; <strong>Subject.</strong></p> <p>2. With <strong>Quick Selection</strong> or <strong>Magic Wand</strong> activated, click <strong>Select Subject</strong> in the options bar.</p> <p>3. While using&nbsp;<strong>Quick Selection&nbsp;</strong>during&nbsp;<strong>Select &amp; Mask</strong>, click&nbsp;<strong>Select Subject</strong>&nbsp;in the options bar.</p> <p>When used, the tool is able to find a variety of objects in an image and isolate them. In their user guide, Adobe encourages the user to&nbsp;refine the initial selection by using the other selection tools available, but for now we will try the tool on it's own to see just how accurate it is.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are some tests we did on a variety of images:</p> <p><img alt="select subject 3b" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7418bf53-9390-4887-8dc5-00ebbdecb974" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/select%20subject%203b.png" /></p> <p><img alt="select subject 1b" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e0ae9996-e24b-402c-8d3c-93c9f00b8db0" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/select%20subject%201b.png" /></p> <p>The results with the bird are interesting because I would probably be able to get a better selection by just using the Quick Selection tool. It has left out a lot of space in between the feathers of the wings.</p> <p><img alt="select subject 2b" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="dd27c7f5-a33c-4c21-b553-7eb878564371" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/select%20subject%202b.png" /></p> <p>The tool seems to do a reasonably good job in selecting the main bulk of the subject, but starts to struggle around thin areas of background and sometimes completely mistakes background for subject. In our first image, there is still blue sky in between her arms, fingers and hair. Certain features like hair will always require more manual work, but this tool would still improve work flow by giving the user a good place to start. As mentioned above, Adobe recommends&nbsp;refining&nbsp;the selections by using the other available tools.</p> <p>To anyone new to Photoshop, below you will find some simple guides on using the Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools to create selections and remove backgrounds with your images.</p> <h2>Alternative 1 -&nbsp;Magic Wand Tool</h2> <p>If you have an image with a clear and solid background, the magic wand tool can give you a nice and quick result. The Magic Wand selects pixels based on the colour and tone of your image. This works best when there is a clear difference between your target and your background.&nbsp;</p> <p>The process behind using this tool is to simply use it to cut out the background and leave the target image behind.</p> <p>Firstly, go to the layer panel on the right and unlock the background by double clicking on the layer and then "Ok". The layer is locked with the aim that you will protect the basic image and use other layers to edit. For the purpose of this demonstration we will unlock the original layer.</p> <p><img alt="magic wand 1" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="0b08dbcd-a172-4f0c-8c9b-eb865d628251" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%201.png" /></p> <p>Find the Magic Wand Tool over on the left by holding down on Quick Selection Tool and moving to the Magic Wand Tool.</p> <p><img alt="magic wand 2" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d633f89c-6a84-4621-840a-0fe1f4d9396c" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%202_0.png" /></p> <h3>Select colour areas</h3> <p>You will see a tool bar at the top of the page showing some options.</p> <p><b>Sample Size</b>&nbsp;is used to set the initial colour used to compare with. If you have a noisy image, selecting an average area could work better than selecting a single pixel.</p> <p><strong>Tolerance</strong> should be set to around 32 by default. This determines how many colours will be selected in relation to the colour you click on. For example, if the number is set to 0, it will only select the colour you have clicked on. We need some tolerance as there are many different hues of blue within our background.</p> <p><strong>Anti-alias</strong> allows the tool to add semitransparent pixels along the edges, producing smoother results.</p> <p><strong>Contiguous&nbsp;</strong>will limit the selection to only areas that are connected to the pixel you click on. If contiguous is unchecked the tool will also select similar colours that are not connected.</p> <p><strong>Sample All Layers&nbsp;</strong>is exactly what it says. Leave this unchecked to select only the colours on your current layer.</p> <p><img alt="magic wand 3" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8826aa07-d860-4fc3-a955-e11dd36876a7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%203_0.png" /></p> <p>Once you have set the toolbar options,&nbsp;simply click anywhere on the background to reveal marching ants around the edge of your target and background. This is your current selection.</p> <p><img alt="magic wand 4" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="10efcc12-73ad-4f09-8502-a97101ef08b6" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%204.png" /></p> <p>In the example, there are various&nbsp;shades of blue and even some reds and blacks which were left out of the selection.&nbsp;If there are areas remaining you can hold down your <strong>shift</strong>&nbsp;key and click on these areas to add to your selection. A small <strong>(+) </strong>will appear on your wand icon when adding to a selection. Increasing tolerance can also help at this point.</p> <p><img alt="magic wand 4b" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1c6053b1-cbb2-424e-b649-6ade73d3fd51" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%204b.png" /></p> <p>Once my entire background is selected, I can remove it by deleting or I can go to&nbsp;<strong>Select</strong>&nbsp;&gt;&nbsp;<strong>Inverse.&nbsp;</strong>My selection will now be on the subject instead of the background, where I can copy the subject to a new layer with shortcut&nbsp;<strong>Command + J</strong>&nbsp;(mac) or&nbsp;<strong>Control + J</strong>&nbsp;(windows).</p> <p><em><img alt="magic wand 6" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="354b36bc-f3a7-4f9c-8d94-f3f2f950fc8f" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/magic%20wand%206_0.png" /></em></p> <h3>Selecting background over target</h3> <p>Your selection should depend on the complexity of your target versus your background. In my example, the background and the ball are not very complex, so selecting either would be fine. However, if you were working with an image containing a clear blue sky and some detailed buildings, it would be much easier to select the sky.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you duplicated your original image, you would be safe in just deleting the selected area.</p> <p>If on the other hand you are working on your original image, it would be wise to copy your area on to a new layer.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Alternative 2 - Quick Selection Tool</h2> <p>The Quick Selection tool can be used to make a selection by dragging a brush across an area. This also works at it's best when there is a very clear and defined edge to what you want to select.</p> <p>In this case, it will be the sky behind our mountains.</p> <p><img alt="quick selection 1" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f8d70c22-6ff3-446e-808d-58c1533a61d2" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Quick%20Selection%201.png" /></p> <p>If you head over to the top toolbar you will see a range of options.</p> <p>While using the tool, the <strong>+</strong> will add a selection and the <strong>-</strong> will remove a selection. Use the ( <strong>[</strong> ) and ( <strong>]</strong> ) brackets to decrease and increase the brush size. We will leave <b>Sample All Layers&nbsp;</b>unchecked.&nbsp;<strong>Auto-Enhance&nbsp;</strong>will reduce the roughness around your selection edges but this will also be left unchecked for now.</p> <p><img alt="quick selection 2" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="829a881a-c94f-44e4-8c81-0e471b55522b" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Quick%20Selection%202.png" /></p> <p>To make a selection, simply click and drag across the area.</p> <p><img alt="quick selection 3" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="78d07b31-ad5a-4e3f-94a1-e4b519df3d07" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Quick%20Selection%203_1.png" /></p> <p>Fill in any remaining gaps and if it selects more than you intended, hold the&nbsp;<strong>alt</strong>&nbsp;key to change from plus to minus, then click to adjust your selection. When you are happy you&nbsp;can delete the background&nbsp;or go to&nbsp;<strong>Select</strong>&nbsp;&gt;&nbsp;<strong>Inverse</strong>, then copy the subject to a new layer with shortcut&nbsp;<strong>Command + J</strong>&nbsp;(mac) or&nbsp;<strong>Control + J</strong> (windows).</p> <p><img alt="quick selection 4" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="dd2fdb5d-369f-45ca-ba9f-7d1e8f385bfd" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Quick%20Selection%204.png" /></p> <p>&nbsp;<img alt="quick selection 6" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="359686fe-504a-4cb6-bf05-440b45e7b79d" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Quick%20Selection%206.png" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Complex background separation with Photoshop CC 2018...</h2> <p>Coming soon!</p> </div> <div> <img src="/themes/custom/zodiac_media/assets/images/placeholder-image.gif" width="1280" height="311" alt="one" data-src="/sites/default/files/2018-01/one.png" class="b-lazy" /> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk/blog/removing-an-images-background-with-adobe-select-subject-tool-photoshop-cc-2018" data-a2a-title="Removing an image&#039;s background with Adobe&#039;s new Select Subject tool for Photoshop CC 2018"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zodiacmedia.co.uk%2Fblog%2Fremoving-an-images-background-with-adobe-select-subject-tool-photoshop-cc-2018&amp;title=Removing%20an%20image%27s%20background%20with%20Adobe%27s%20new%20Select%20Subject%20tool%20for%20Photoshop%20CC%202018"></a></span><section id="node-blog-post-field-comments--10" class="comments-container"> </section> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 09:15:42 +0000 tyler.savin 143 at https://www.zodiacmedia.co.uk