Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week

Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Photo Essay: The Uneasy Relationship Between Humans and Nature

Nat says: I found this article interesting for several reasons. Firstly, the debate between humans and nature is both topical and philosophical. Human beings have always had this innate ability to see nature as something that is separate and distinct from ourselves. However, nothing is further from the truth. We were birthed from nature and rely on nature for our survival. The conflict between mankind and nature is often seen as a rift in ego – of man not understanding the intricacies of his own being and, as a result, seeing wiggly and untameable nature as something that needs to yield and bend to our desires. We try and force nature into structure and smooth things out. This is evident with our cities, as all technological achievements represent a process of alchemy when man and nature meet. All technology comes from material of the earth and its end product is the result of man and nature meeting.

Interestingly, through our technological advances, we have tried to remove ourselves directly from nature as much as possible. If you think about how cave men lived versus how we live today, one of the main differences is the protection we have from the elements. Our technology also makes hunting and gathering a thing of the past as we can now process and manufacture the things we need for our survival. The irony is, however, that this somewhat removal from nature has allowed our species to evolve and live longer, yet the price we pay for this is that we are now killing the planet as a result of our over consumption of it. In our pursuit of progress, we gift ourselves with our demise.

This photo essay and its accompanying story states that there is now no place on Earth untouched by human activity. The newly released book to which the article is promoting, aptly named Human Nature, depicts the age-old rift we as humans have had with our planet as expressed in photographs. Everything from science and engineering, to exploration and wonder, are captured in the images. If anything, the images remind us of how connected we are to the very thing we see as being distinct from ourselves.

Readhttps://www.wired.com/story/human-nature-photography/

Brands Heed Social Media. They’re Advised Not to Forget Word of Mouth

“(There is) a “dichotomy” between what people say in the heat of a moment online and how they act offline… and companies often wrongly saw social media as an accurate and sufficient guide for tracking consumer sentiment.”

Emilio says: When I first made my foray into social media and word-of-mouth marketing, one of the first tasks I was assigned to do was track brand sentiment using online and social media posts tracking software. The exercise involved wading through tons of websites, blogs, social posts and comments, all distilled and filtered efficiently by the software. Social sentiment was a big deal – and carried more weight and importance than the sheer number of likes and follows generated for the period. And rightfully so: what’s being said online is a brand guardian’s main concern because it has the potential to be magnified and amplified.

However, whether overwhelmingly positive or fairly negative, online chatter about a brand is really just one indicator, as this article pointed out and the case studies presented show.

Could the social media chorus to boycott Nordstrom and Chick-fil-A – prompted by calls from President Donald Trump and the influential LGTB bloc, respectively – resulted to the downfall of both businesses? From a reputation management perspective, it certainly was a threat in the immediate term – but both brands’ strong and loyal customer base proved far more powerful in the long term.

While it is imperative for brands to look at online as well as offline sentiment to ensure they get the full and more accurate picture, I would add that it is equally important to understand people’s behaviours and motivations.

For one, it would be wise not to take what people say at face value, especially online, where the tendency to conform and bow to popular opinion is convenient rather than make honest, dissenting and less popular views. The same may apply in offline or face-to-face surveys where people may avoid causing offence. Further, smart marketers would not assume people act rationally, as most of us rarely make rational purchase decisions anyway. Consumer psychology studies have proven we decide based on a number of factors: our perceptions, biases, emotions, habits and human tendencies – most of which aren’t rational in the slightest.

Readhttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/business/media/advertising-social-media.html

Uber-style driverless cars set for Perth as part of international trial

 

Joel says: Perth is set to become the first Australian city, and one of the first places in the world, to trial on-demand driverless cars capable of picking up passengers. Operating in much the same way as ride-sharing services like Uber, customers will be able to order a ride using a smartphone app. A car will then arrive to take them wherever they need to go – only without a driver.

The WA Government has partnered with the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and the French company behind the technology, NAVYA, to bring several driverless cars to the state for testing next year. Perth was one of three cities chosen for the trial, the others being Paris and a US city yet to be announced. The vehicles are set to arrive in April 2018, and will be tested on private roads before being taken onto city streets later in the year. Let’s just hope their on road trial goes a bit smoother than Google’s driverless car trial, with many other motorists causing accidents and/or colliding with them after being fascinated with the lack of driver.

Members of the public will be able to sign up to be passengers during the public road tests, in much the same way as the trials of an automated shuttle bus in South Perth, also made by NAVYA. Unlike the bus, the driverless cars have leather seats for six passengers and can reach a maximum speed of 90 kilometres an hour. But it is expected that like the buses, speeds will be regulated during trials — and the RAC will also have a human chaperone onboard, capable of overriding the computer systems. Which is great! The last thing we need is for some buggy programming to turn these things into a 90 km/h death trap.

Read the full article to learn about how these cars work and how they detect obstacles, as well as the predictions these cars will be fully operational by 2021.

Readhttp://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-29/uber-style-driverless-cars-to-be-tested-in-perth-in-global-trial/9207120

Hummingbirds are where intuition goes to die

Jakkii says: My piece is a little left-field this week, but bear with me. This is a short piece about discovering how hummingbirds really drink – and the discovery is genuinely interesting. But that’s not the reason I’m sharing this.

I chose this one as I think it’s a fantastic reminder of what it really means to challenge the status quo; that long-held beliefs may not be accurate; that if something doesn’t seem right to you then speak up, investigate, dig, figure out why and – if you can – fix it.

The belief about how hummingbirds drink was held as assumed fact for nearly 200 years – it was first proposed in 1833. I’m sure Rubega & Rico-Guevera – who would eventually prove this theory wrong – weren’t the first people to think ‘that doesn’t sound right to me.’ Maybe they were simply the first fortunate enough to have access to technology that would aid them in discovering the truth, but I don’t think that diminishes from the point: just because we’ve always done things one way, or known something to be ‘the way’, doesn’t mean there can’t be a better way, a different way, or a more correct way. It doesn’t mean we’re right. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong, either, but how will we know unless we continually challenge and question ourselves? We can’t avoid disruption or the changes technology, science and society may bring if we aren’t willing to question and adapt our ways of working, of thinking, of doing, and of being.

This is true in business, and it’s also true for ourselves. Opinions we may hold strongly may not be right. Consistently allowing the media we read and the platforms we use to perpetuate an echo chamber thought bubble isn’t helpful – we must  seek out news, information, ideas that challenge our thinking, and our biases. If we are to grow as people and to hold well-formed, robust ideas we must seek to consistently challenge them and adapt when new information breaks or disrupts our ideas. There is so much polarisation in publicised views, in public discorse, in poitics today – so much othering, and ‘us’ vs ‘them’ that it seems easy to put a stake in the ground and remain immovable on subjects. But that doesn’t serve us as individuals anymore than it does as a community or a society. The more willing we are to challenge our own ideas, the easier we will find it to meet others on common ground, to empathise, and to understand.

Hummingbirds may be where intuition goes to die, but they sure are a great reminder of why we should aim to think differently.

Readhttps://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/hummingbird-tongues/546992/