Twitter's future and cognitive bias | Twitter's future and cognitive bias | DMA

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Twitter's future and cognitive bias


This week the BBC focused on technology startups, with articles examining where the jobs are (London, obviously), but per head of population our Silicon Valley shifts eastwards to Cambridge.

Rory Cellan-Jones asked why we don’t have a big startup culture, and of those startups that do work, they often sell at an early stage rather than aim for world domination. Here are six of those potential tech giants, from Sinclair to ARM Holdings.

Others jump ship for Silicon Valley in order to get their ideas off the ground because our startup culture isn’t set up as well as the US is says the BBC’s north American tech reporter Dave Lee.

According to news site Quartz, startups are really the preserve of those who can afford to fail, not necessarily those with the most talent.

The startup mentality is spreading, however. You may have noticed a clutch of startups for razor blades and mattresses springing up – The Guardian tackled the mattresses.

One startup that has gone from small to huge is Twitter.

Founded a decade ago in silicon valley, the idea came right at the cusp between old-style mobile phones and the smartphone explosion (the iPhone was launched a year after Twitter in 2007). The 140 character limit comes from the limits of the pre-smartphone phone – that’s the character limit of an SMS message.

That limit has been the social network’s biggest problem and biggest attraction. Small tweaks through the years have allowed small increases, and now links are excluded from the total, so your Twitter goes a little bit further.

Despite its success (one-third of a billion ‘active users’), the service doesn’t make money like Facebook can, leading many to speculate about its future.

In fact one investor has opened a law-suit, claiming Twitter exaggerated its growth. The Economist is also rather sour about Twitter's prospects.

This can be illustrated by the recent deal between Twitter and the NFL for the social network to stream American Football games. In a recent experiment, roughly two million tuned in total. That seems healthy enough until you consider that Yahoo did something similar last year when they reeled-in 15 million viewers.

Recode looked at possible buyers for the social network. While it's prospects for growth may disappoint, it's not short of users, so there could be some real value for another comany. Possible buyers include the usual suspects plus some more left-field suggestions. This is Charles Arthur's take in The Guardian, who comes to some similar conclusions.

One hope is the WPP founder Martin Sorrell. He probably won't buy it, but he might start using it. Maybe.

Do you remember the film Team America? Well much like that film, which used foul-mouthed puppets, a real bunch of celebrities have clubbed together for a cause. Trump is not mentioned, but he's the elephant in the room.


In another move, UK publisher of Marketing Week Centaur bought matchmaking agency and consultant Oystercatchers, while Google has launched its new WhatsApp-style messaging service Allo, which includes a virtual assistant.

Advertising is the power of persuasion. How much can the way you present something nasty, like eating insects, be turned into something attractive?

But advertising is not just about the creative, it's also about the planning. Agencies will go to extraordinary lengths to defend difficult creative, but why is there not such impassioned defence of strategy?

Finally, a nice piece from Quartz, exploring four groups of cognitive biases:

  • Information overload, so we filter
  • Lack of meaning confuses, so we fill in the gaps
  • We need to act fast, so we jump to conclusions.
  • We try to remember the important bits

Each of these groups of biases will lead to worse decision-making, so remember the four pointers above when you are confronted with an important decision.

The cover pic this week comes from the best amateur astronomy pics, this one is City and star lights in Hong Kong by Wing Ka Ho. See more here.

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