Strategic Initiatives
5072 stories
·
45 followers

Uber rolls out a Spotlight button that gives riders a colored screen, pre-written messages, and guaranteed pickup windows to users in US and Canada today (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)

1 Share

Uber is aiming to perfect the art of the pick-up with three features it says minimize cancellations. Guaranteed pickup windows boost confidence that you’ll make your flight, and give you a credit of $10 if your scheduled ride is late. Pre-written messages let drivers and riders let each other know they’ll “Be right there” or “I’ve arrived” with a single tap.

And most flashily, three years after I suggested Uber let you hold up a colored screen so your driver could find you amidst a crowd of hailers, it’s introducing Spotlight. Each driver gets assigned a semi-unique color gradient to look for. Hit the Spotlight button, that color takes over your screen, and you can wave it to help your driver locate you. 

alt

These optimizations show the depths Uber is willing to go to shave seconds off of pickups. That can reduce unpaid waiting time for drivers while boosting the number of rides they complete per hour for the startup. And the peace of mind that they’ll be able to hop in right when they’re ready could lure riders away from competitors as Uber dukes it out across the globe. The updates are rolling out on iOS and Android in the US and Canada today.

“Human-to-human interaction is hard. Driver initiated cancellations after the driver has arrived at the pickup point are particularly stressful” Uber sr. product manager for rider experience Ryan Yu tells me. But in tests of the new quick messages features, “We found cancellations on both sides reduced significantly, especially for drivers after they’ve arrived.”   

We can only hope this level of attention to detail will be applied to optimizing its internal company culture — a hope shaken by this month’s resignation of Uber’s head of HR Liane Hornsey after a probe into how she handled racial discrimination at the company, and the NYT’s report of insensitivity complaints about COO Barney Harford.

altUber has been steadily adding little improvements to the pickup process over the years. Here’s a quick, abridged list:

  • Incentivizing drivers to wait instead of cancelling by starting the meter after waiting at the pickup spot for more than 2 minutes.
  • Live location sharing so riders can optionally let drivers see where they are as they seek the vehicle
  • Suggested pickup spots nearby where drivers can safely pull over, and avoid them looping around one way streets
  • Sequential pickups so you’re assigned the nearest driver, even if they’re still finishing their previous ride
  • Pick up location changing so you can choose a different spot nearby if you got the address wrong or are on the other side of the building

There are three upgrades in particular that serve as the foundation for today’s updates.

alt

In-app chat between riders and drivers makes it so you don’t have to use SMS. Uber could only anonymize your number in some markets, creating privacy concerns, and SMS could be cost prohibitive in some parts of the world. Uber messaging launched in mid-2017, and could be read aloud to the driver and replied to with a thumbs-up emoji to reduce the chance of distracted driving. Lyft still uses SMS for comparison.

Now both users and drivers will see the most common messages pre-written and sendable with the touch of a button so they don’t have to type. “Drivers noted that they were more reassured when their rider actually sent them a message” said Yu, which can keep them from cancelling if the rider needs a little more time to get to the pick up spot. I asked if automatic translation would be available here, so if driver in Brazil sent an American user “eu cheguei”, it’d show up as “I have arrived”. Yu told me “Translations are on the roadmap. We’re figuring out how to best pair them alongside voice.”

Uber added scheduled rides in mid-2016 shortly after Lyft did the same. You can plan a ride up to 30 days in advance, but you’re still subject to surge pricing in the moment. At least now you’ll get $10 credit if the driver is late. But unfortunately, the pickup window Uber showed me in the demo was 15 minutes, though Yu said it may very be region. I sometimes only make my flights by 10 minutes, and since my pickup ETA in San Francisco is typically only 3 to 5 minutes, I’m probably better off just booking the ride when I’m ready.

alt

Uber’s Beacon and Lyft’s Amp are color-coded dashboard lights that help riders find their driver

Back in 2015, I suggested that “Uber could offer some signal on the driver or passenger’s phone to help them find each other”. A week later it announced it would start testing Spot, which let users pick a color that would light up on an LED bar installed on driver’s windshields. In November 2016, Lyft launched its Amp dashboard light that assigned a random color riders could look out for. A month later, Uber’s Spot had evolved into the dashboard Beacon light that lets users pick the color and is now available in 14 cities.

Today’s update gives riders a light too, which is great if you’re one of dozens of people waiting outside a concert or sports game trying to find their Uber. Hit the Spotlight button, and you’ll get instructions to wave your colored screen in the air. Drivers are permanently assigned a color that stays constant across trips so they can train themselves to look out for it.

alt

“Spotlight is meant to supplement beacon. Not all drivers will have a bacon, and we want to pass that to two-way communication” says Yu. But since the Beacon dashboard lights are always visible, Uber says that if a driver has one, users won’t see the Spotlight option and will instead just be able to choose the Beacon’s color.

Together, these features should eliminate most pickup problems. We’ll see if Uber’s competitors and international partners like Didi adopt them too. After retreating from markets like China in exchange for a percentage of ownership of the local leader, there’s more pressure on Uber to squash its homeland competitor Lyft, which has been gaining market share. Yet neither has offered an oft-requested feature some users would even be willing to pay an extra dollar for: a ‘quiet ride’ where the driver doesn’t make small talk.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Read the whole story
bogorad
3 days ago
reply
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete

As the policing of speech, largely by mobs on social media, becomes normalized, the would-be targets of censorship must reject the notion of "acceptable" views (Daniella Greenbaum/Washington Post)

1 Comment

Daniella Greenbaum is a writer living in New York.

As an opinion columnist for Business Insider until my resignation Thursday, I had grown accustomed to strong reactions from readers when I wrote about Hamas (I’m not a fan) or the problems with accusations of cultural appropriation. But I didn’t see this one coming. Commenting on recent criticism of actress Scarlett Johansson for taking a movie role that called on her to portray a transgender man, I made the commonsensical and, I admit, not particularly original observation that actors specialize in make-believe and ought to be allowed to take any jobs they like.

The brief online post stirred immediate fury — among some of my Business Insider colleagues. As has been reported elsewhere, several people within the organization complained to the editor, who responded by scrubbing the ScarJo post from the site and instituting a new policy of requiring “culturally sensitive” work to be reviewed by an executive editor or an editor in chief before it can be published. As the Daily Beast reported, he also suggested that writers and editors talk with a group of employees who would volunteer to be sounding boards on issues of cultural sensitivity.

Given that in these thin-skinned days just about any subject can be called “culturally sensitive,” and given that a committee would basically ensure that my column became a safe space, I had no alternative but to resign. And so I’ve had the disorienting experience of becoming one small data point in what is a disturbingly large set.

Columnists on the right and the left have known for years about the ferocious blowback that awaits the expression of unpopular ideas. But now the definition of “unpopular” has expanded so widely that reasonable views that might have seemed mainstream just a few years ago can be deemed unacceptable by self-appointed censors. Even publications that pride themselves on holding open-minded values are watching their backs.

We are slowly normalizing the policing of speech and opinion. Sometimes overtly, and sometimes through the intimidation that stops people from saying or writing or publishing what they believe because they know that the social media mob is lying in wait.

These hordes might come from the left or the right. Or from Russian bot farms. The thing to remember is that they are not the majority, not even close. They’re just louder. And they’re here to stay. The only responsible reaction must come from their would-be targets, refusing to allow the definition of what is acceptable thought to be wielded like a cudgel. Some opinion is beyond that pale and deserves to be shunned (not obliterated), but allowing the lines to be redrawn at will by those who have no interest in free speech will ultimately be poisonous for democracy.

The problem is not confined to the college campus, where conservative speakers are being shouted down or disinvited. It’s not confined to the media, where publications and television stations and their audiences seem increasingly comfortable in liberal or conservative silos where conflicting outlooks and even conflicting information are unwelcome. It’s beginning to permeate every area where we use language — every area of life.

The only way to fight it is head on. Defend the idea that more speech is always better. The best way to put bad arguments to bed is to air them out and highlight their weaknesses. Want to eliminate “unsafe” thoughts? Turn them loose in the marketplace of ideas and debate them — don’t try to silence them.

As the definition of what constitutes offensive speech grows ever wider, more and more people who are certain that their views fall somewhere in the mainstream will find themselves backed into corners. Ultimately, even the wokest of the warriors will realize that when it comes to outrunning the predatory mob they’ve created, no space is safe.

Read more: George F. Will: A red flag on campus free speech Catherine Rampell: A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech Geoffrey R. Stone and Will Creeley: Restoring free speech on campus The Post’s View: The Justice Department is going after Berkeley for squelching free speech. That’s unfair.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Read the whole story
bogorad
3 days ago
reply
Удивительно, что напечатали.
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete

Conservation of Threat

2 Comments and 5 Shares

Here's some interesting research about how we perceive threats. Basically, as the environment becomes safer we basically manufacture new threats. From an essay about the research:

To study how concepts change when they become less common, we brought volunteers into our laboratory and gave them a simple task ­-- to look at a series of computer-generated faces and decide which ones seem "threatening." The faces had been carefully designed by researchers to range from very intimidating to very harmless.

As we showed people fewer and fewer threatening faces over time, we found that they expanded their definition of "threatening" to include a wider range of faces. In other words, when they ran out of threatening faces to find, they started calling faces threatening that they used to call harmless. Rather than being a consistent category, what people considered "threats" depended on how many threats they had seen lately.

This has a lot of implications in security systems where humans have to make judgments about threat and risk: TSA agents, police noticing "suspicious" activities, "see something say something" campaigns, and so on.

The academic paper.

Read the whole story
bogorad
20 days ago
reply
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
jimwise
20 days ago
reply
...
kazriko
19 days ago
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/06/sexism-racism-never-diminishes-even-everyone-becomes-less-sexist-racist.html Another link to the same subject.

Sources: Google is taking more steps to curb trolling and ad hominem attacks on internal message boards, passing new rules and empowering forum moderators (Douglas MacMillan/Wall Street Journal)

1 Share
After years of encouraging free expression and giving its employees digital tools to debate ideas, Google is struggling to keep those debates under control. Above, Google's offices in New York City.
After years of encouraging free expression and giving its employees digital tools to debate ideas, Google is struggling to keep those debates under control. Above, Google's offices in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Google is trying to quell the debates roiling its workforce by setting new internal rules designed to limit offensive language and ad hominem attacks against fellow employees.

In a set of guidelines sent to employees last week, Google said it would discipline any employees discriminating against or attacking colleagues or engaging in discussions that are “disruptive to a productive work environment,” according to a copy of the guidelines reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The rules aim to curb so-called trolling, in which people are deliberately provocative or offensive online in order to elicit strong reactions, as well as “blanket statements about groups or categories of people.”

The company is also giving more power to the volunteer employee moderators who oversee its thousands of intranet discussion forums, including developing tools to help them enforce the rules, a person familiar with the matter said.

After years of encouraging free expression and giving its 80,000 employees digital tools to share and debate ideas, Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOGL -0.40% is struggling to keep those debates under control. Over email discussion groups and a message board called Memegen, employees have waged verbal wars over all manner of social and political beliefs. Many insiders increasingly see these as a drain on productivity and a barrier to conducting business.

Google has punished employees for online posts that violate its employee code of conduct, but the new community guidelines are the first set of rules explicitly geared toward governing discussions on the forums and across the company’s campus. The rules are broad, asking employees to respect one another and honor Google’s values, and they leave room for interpretation about what type of conduct is prohibited, a review of the guidelines shows.

The company plans to leave much of that interpretation up to its volunteer army of intranet moderators, who have day jobs at Google but in their spare time oversee discussion groups about anything from animal rights to sexual expression. For now, Google is relying on moderators and other employees to flag instances of abuse on their forums, which triggers a review by human-resources staff.

In the future, Google’s software may let moderators revoke the ability for users to post or view messages in a certain group, the person familiar with the matter said.

The new rules are being issued nearly a year after Google fired a software engineer, James Damore, who wrote an internal memo saying gender differences might have something to do with women’s underrepresentation in the tech workforce. His memo and resulting dismissal ignited frenzied debate between employees who accused Google of wrongly firing an employee for expressing himself and others who said the company hadn’t done enough to stand up for gender equality.

Mr. Damore’s firing was also followed by several lawsuits, including legal actions from female employees alleging pay discrimination against women; from male ex-employees and potential new hires claiming bias against conservative white men; and from a transgender engineer who said he was fired for making derogatory statements about what he called white male privilege.

Google last week told employees it had also revised its workplace-conduct rules, providing more details around what constitutes harassment and discrimination, the person said. The policy says derogatory or insensitive jokes and offensive images may be considered forms of harassment, according to excerpts of the policy reviewed by the Journal.

The company added a new section to this policy addressing “retaliation” in an effort to curb the practice of doxing, or sharing someone’s home address or other personal information to punish them for something. Google said in its new policy that it may terminate or demote employees who retaliate against another employee.

Google is also among several tech giants grappling with unrest over government contracts tied to controversial policies or programs. In response, Google earlier this month laid out a new set of internal guidelines for determining whether new artificial-intelligence products meet its ethical standards, including a ban on the use of such technology in military weapons.

Write to Douglas MacMillan at douglas.macmillan@wsj.com

Let's block ads! (Why?)

Read the whole story
bogorad
22 days ago
reply
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete

#AssumeNothing Campaign Calls Out Men Who Mistook Black Women for Sex Workers at Cannes

1 Share

CANNES, France—Sherry Collins has a long history in advertising and media: for years, she worked in production on campaigns for brands like Reebok and British Airways in addition to music videos for Oasis and Lily Allen. In 2015, she launched Pitch, an independent London-based trade publication.

But nothing could prepare her for her first experience at Cannes several years ago, when an unnamed man who also works in the industry whispered in her ear, “how much for the night?”

“I was shocked and embarrassed,” Collins told Adweek, explaining that it was the first time in her life that she’d been solicited. “I couldn’t believe it had happened, but I tried to keep my cool as I didn’t want him to know that he had upset me. I then changed the subject.”

The event understandably stayed with her as she soon discovered other women of color within the business had “very similar” stories to share, even if they hadn’t all taken place at Cannes.

While preparing to attend Cannes again this year, Collins decided to turn her experience, along with those of her peers, into an awareness campaign using the hashtag #AssumeNothing.

“I decided to create the advert a couple of months ago after deciding that I really need to make a statement at Cannes about what is happening to some black women who attend the festival,” she said. “Even if it meant that I could potentially lose all my clients and sponsors, it just had to be done.”

Or, as she wrote on the campaign’s homepage: “This is racism and I’m calling it out.”

The print ad appears on the back cover of the new Pitch, with a sticker blocking the final words “please do not ask us how much for the night” to heighten their impact on readers.

alt

The Cannes Lions organization stands behind Collins’ message. When managing director Jose Papa learned about her experience and the campaign, he emailed her a note which she proceeded to post on the website “as I wanted the industry to know that it has been supported at the highest level,” she said.

“First I’d like to thank your continued partnership and advocacy of Cannes Lions. It is very unfortunate you had to go through such an abominable experience. Congratulations on making your voice heard which will help to further silence the acts of absurd disrespect many have to endure,” Papa wrote. “We have reiterated our Code of Conduct to all our delegates.”

While not as comprehensive as Cindy Gallop’s proposal to “eradicate #MeToo,” Cannes’ official code of conduct encourages attendees to alert Cannes staff if they experience “offensive verbal comments,” “deliberate intimidation” or “inappropriate physical contact.”

Media outlets as prominent as the BBC have noticed Collins’ effort, and she wants to use it to make a point about advertising’s continued efforts to address matters of diversity and inclusion.

“I think the industry has a really long way to go,” she said, adding that while most want change in the form of better working environments, equal pay and “a workplace free of racism and sexism,” the business also collectively needs “a long-term plan, starting at grassroots level and also supporting those already in the industry.”

The question remains: how can advertising bridge that gap?

“By being real about what it is they are looking to do,” said Collins. “They either want diversity and inclusion because it is good for all or they stop talking about diversity and inclusion if they are not truly doing it. Bringing in one BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) talent in the building doesn’t make a company diverse. It isolates the BAME talent, to be honest.”

Regarding the larger issue of assumptions made about black women, she believes that “there are voices in the background” trying to tell stories like hers, even if “not everyone is listening.”

“Go and Google Black women traveling alone abroad,” Collins said. “Honestly, those stories will shock you.”

Let's block ads! (Why?)



Read the whole story
bogorad
29 days ago
reply
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete

McDonald’s Ads Win Cannes Outdoor Grand Prix by Turning Golden Arches Into Arrows

1 Share

CANNES, France—A clever and minimalist approach to sending motorists toward the nearest McDonald’s has won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions, as has a Daily Show activation that created a “presidential library” of Donald Trump’s tweets.

Canadian agency Cossette created the “Follow the Arches” campaign, which cleverly cropped the McDonald’s golden arches to create direction arrows, with copy such as “on your left,” “on your right” and “just missed us.”

alt
alt

“It’s very deserving,” said Outdoor jury president Chris Garbutt, global chief creative officer of TBWA Worldwide. “If you live in Canada or the U.S., there’s all these ugly billboards on the highways that give you the next turnoff to a restaurant. (McDonald’s) took something and reframed it. It’s iconic. It’s confident.”

OMD Canada was the media agency on the campaign.

The other Grand Prix winner this year was The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library. An activation with heavy signage elements, the “library” was a collection of famous and infamous Trump tweets, framed and displayed in satirical reverence.

Created with content studio 23 Stories x Conde Nast, the project generated 480,000 engagements and a mountain of PR visibility.

“It was fabulous because it invited the audience into the experience,” jury president Garbutt said. “It wasn’t a one-sided conversation.”

He acknowledged that the piece drew mixed opinions when being considered for Grand Prix, largely because U.S. jurors felt it might not have enough global resonance. But the international jurors disagreed.

“The Americans in the room thought it was too American, too New York,” Garbutt said. “But when we heard different points of view from people in the room, it’s actually truly inspiring. It used satire to combat a real tension and problem in a way that innovates the issue.”

Gold Lion winners from the U.S. were:

National Safety Council, “Prescribed to Death.” Agency: Energy BBDO. Production: Flare BBDO and The Mill. Media: PHD Chicago.
• Nike, “Australian Marriage Equality Swoosh Vote.” Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland.
March for Our Lives, “Price on Our Lives.” Agency: McCann New York.
National Down Syndrome Society, “C21: A Unique Dining Experience.” Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Media: Spark Foundry New York.
HBO, “HBO’s SXSWestworld.” Agency: Giant Spoon. Production: Mycotoo and Glass Eye.

Other notable gold winners include:
KFC Birdland (Hong Kong), “Hot & Spicy Fire.” Agency: Ogilvy Hong Kong
Burger King, “Scary Clown Night.” Agency: LOLA MullenLowe Madrid. Other agency partners: Weber Shandwick London, Alison Brod Marketing and Communications.

Let's block ads! (Why?)



Read the whole story
bogorad
29 days ago
reply
Moscow, Russia
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories