Things I’ve Learned from Lately #49

“Things I’ve Learned from Lately” is a regular compilation of articles that have made me a smarter marketer. Hopefully, they’ll help you, too.

Because NASA Can’t Move Fast Enough – David Samuels profiles Skybox, a company aiming to build cost-effective and efficient satellites capable of taking photos of the earth that are regularly updated because of the ability to have so many of them. The potential is in the data. Businesses will be able to view images of their businesses in action and make decisions on things like efficiency and customer flow. This is one example of a business picking up where the government left off as NASA funding is limited.

Key Takeaway: The traditional routes to getting things done are no longer the only options. The maker movement has created a mindset that anyone can do anything with the right know-how and access to materials.

Long Live Long-Form - Chris Dannen writes in Fast Company about an experiment with long-form articles. Recently, they’d experimented with short, quick articles related to breaking news that are updated as a story develops. The approach led to a dramatic increase in engagement and time spent.

Key Takeaway: As obsessed as we are with short bursts of content, long-form content has a place, but it’s evolving. Short-form evolves into long-form as a story develops.

Snowden’s Security Policy - Quartz breaks down how Edward Snowden’s data insurance might work. Snowden gave encrypted files to several parties that he says will become accessible if something happens to him. Quartz writes that the method for doing this may be “secret sharing,” allowing files to be unlocked if every party with access to the encrypted access shares a different portion of the combination.

Key Takeaway: This is the most interesting story of the year because it puts data front-and-center. Data isn’t typically an attention-grabber, but the NSA program leak was about data being monitored and collected secretly. Now, data is being used to protect the individual who leaked the program.

Building Data Storage to Deal with Relationships - Facebook has taken steps to update how it stores user data to better handle the complexity of relationships between people, places and things. This updated effort is called TAO (The Associations and Objects) distributed data store.

Key Takeaway: Relationships are complex offline, and making that information actionable online is an incredibly complicated challenge. Facebook has discovered this as it had to shift its plans in how it deals with data. It probably won't be the last time either.