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The Age of Misinformation: Is the Truth Dead? – ReadWrite

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The Age of Misinformation: Is the Truth Dead? - ReadWrite


We live in an era of distrust. People of all backgrounds and political affiliations are increasingly distrusting the individuals, the platforms, and even the news media companies that present them with information. And on top of that, we’re learning about malicious actors intentionally trying to manipulate the public with bad information.

We entered into the 2000s believing we were building the information age, but it’s turned into something closer to the “misinformation age.” Is the truth dead? What’s responsible for this problem, and how can we move forward with a reliable sense of what’s true?

Information Accessibility

Information accessibility seemed like it would immediately democratize news (and information in general). And to be sure, this has inspired a wave of transparency across some industries and organizations. However, this isn’t exclusively a “good” thing for truth.

For starters, accessibility works both ways. Thanks to the internet, anyone can search for anything they want—meaning they can conduct their own research. But it also means that anyone can create any kind of content they want—which means they can write a blog post about how all U.S. presidents have secretly been cyborgs and nobody can stop them.

The combination of these effects means it’s possible for anyone to find almost any information. With confirmation bias and information accessibility in play, you can find a source that backs up your beliefs — no matter how wildly untrue they are.

Echo Chambers

The plethora of information bracketed in bias, delivered directly to your favored sites — leads to the effects of echo chambers. An echo chamber is any kind of community or platform where people tend to share the same opinions, limiting the influence of novel or competing thoughts.

For example, if you frequently post on a forum about how great the Star Wars prequels were and you ban anyone who says they were awful, you’ll find yourself in a self-sustained community that only believes the Star Wars prequels were good.

Echo chambers have devastating effects, especially on a large scale. For starters, people in an echo chamber don’t know they’re in an echo chamber, and they’re inclined to double down on their beliefs — regardless of how much they do or do not reflect reality. On top of that, echo chambers have a tendency to ridicule and exaggerate the beliefs of others, resulting in distorted thinking about whatever the “other side” is.

If you personally subscribe to Star Wars prequel quality, this is no big deal. The danger comes when the echo chamber rings in someone’s head as “true” and brings about “a causation.” Causation is the action and there is always a consequence to the action. What is the consequence of those doubting the validity of a pandemic or questioning the legitimacy of a political candidate? People can be inspired to take drastic—and sometimes violent—action.

Echo chambers don’t distort the truth; they just serve as a kind of filter that eventually leads to distorted thinking. They make it harder to find the truth, or be sure that what you’re reading is the truth.

Attention Spans, the News Cycle, and Headline Impact

We also need to look at the complicated interactions between human attention spans, the news cycle, and the current state of news media overall. Over time, the news model has changed. The rollout of 24-hour news broadcasts, early in the internet’s development, incentivized media companies to release new information as quickly as possible; in other words, they began to favor fast dispersal over inherent accuracy.

These days, the effects are even more severe. The majority of people who get their news via social media don’t read full articles; instead, they read headlines and assume they know the rest of the context. This is part of what makes “fake news” so powerful; despite being riddled with obvious inaccuracies in the body of an article, a sufficiently emotion-provoking headline can rouse the masses.

Incentives for Journalists and Newspapers

Incentives for journalists and newspapers aren’t the only problem with news media in the modern world. We also need to look at the incentive structures currently in place for both journalists and newspapers. The old news model relied on paying subscribers; if your newspaper had a good reputation, people would subscribe to it, and you’d be able to make money.

These days, if you want to succeed, you need to provide your content for free and make money with advertising. The only way to get advertising dollars is to get clicks to your website. And the only real way to get clicks to your website is to be sensational; you have to release new content faster than your competitors, evoke strong emotions, and inspire curiosity. And none of these goals has anything to do with providing the truth.

That’s not to say there aren’t good journalists or news media companies out there. But the best ones at finding the truth end up getting far less attention and less money under this model.

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers

We tend to rely on trustworthy websites as our barometer for truth. If we read something wild on the internet, we turn to a source we know and trust to see if what we read is accurate. But who’s checking the fact-checkers?

Fact-checking websites and “authoritative” sources are often an extension of the echo chamber effect. Even some of our most trusted institutions and organizations have subtly become biased over the years or have resorted to providing mere snippets of information rather than the full context of a situation. People use these sources not to research and discover more, but to quickly prove themselves right in the middle of an argument with someone else.

Technology Advancements

Everything is made even more complicated by advancements in technology that make it easier for people to distort the truth—or fabricate a new kind of truth entirely. New kinds of content are very exciting from an entertainment perspective, but terrifying from a truth management perspective.

Take Deepfakes as an example here. With Deepfake technology, a person can replicate the face, expressiveness, and voice of a famous person, inserting them into previously existing footage. At its most innocent, this is a great way to see how an actor like Tom Holland might have looked in an older movie like Back to the Future. But it could also be a way to provide video “evidence” that a politician said something—even if they never truly said it.

The Power of User Manipulation

There are more incentives to lie than there are incentives to tell the truth. Lying is more flexible, because there are more falsehoods than accurate ways to describe the recent past or current events. Lying allows you to persuade people in a way that moves closer to your agenda, whatever it happens to be. Lying is also easier, because you never have to do any research to back up your claims.

Countless actors, from media companies to foreign states, are willing to lie to achieve their goals—even if those goals are altruistic. User manipulation is just too powerful and too accessible to ignore.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Leadership can be highly influential. When a small handful of individuals and companies benefit from lying, manipulating the public, and segregating us into echo chambers, others are inclined to follow. This has created a kind of snowball effect in which more and more people are willing to bend or break the truth to suit their needs.

How Important is the Truth?

At a certain point, we need to ask ourselves how important the truth really is. On an individual level, the importance of truth is obvious; it leads to trust, helps us build bonds, and helps us access the things we need. But on a social level, does it really matter if one isolated group on the internet believes in a crazy conspiracy theory?

There are philosophical arguments to be made that the truth is subjective, that it can never be known, or that believing an untruth isn’t inherently bad. However, it does seem like for our society to keep moving forward, we need some reliable way to evaluate the truth—if we can’t discover and distribute it ourselves.

What Can Be Done?

So what can we do about this? The power and impact of Deepfakes, fake news, and other tools of manipulation are so complex, so multifaceted, and so widespread that no single law could resolve them. Instead, we’ll have to rely on changing human perspectives and behaviors—and that’s something that tends to happen gradually, over time.

The age of misinformation is in full swing, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. But in time, we may rediscover the values most necessary for us to trust each other and collaborate.

Image Credit: aleksandar pasaric; pexels

Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach…preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee.

Politics

How to Find a Professional Design Team

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Low-Cost Business Ideas for 2022


A business that wants to grow and scale will need a design team. According to Firstsiteguide, 70% of small-to-mid-sized enterprises invest more in their digital presence. As companies began to move online, the demand for user-friendly software to attract large numbers of customers has increased.

If existing enterprises require designers to create a website or application, startups also hire specialists to develop a product design. Software is essential for sales and recognition, so managers carefully approach personnel selection. If you’re looking for an experienced design team and want to know how to choose the best one, check out the tips for finding the perfect candidates.

When to Look for Designers

The online market is constantly improving, and with new digital features, customers are no longer willing to collaborate on the old model. To avoid losing your clients, you should keep up with innovations: update a legacy interface, introduce new communication ways and think about a payment system. Rapid adaptation gives the company a guarantee of maintaining sales and image.

Selling software needs a convenient and simple design, but only some entrepreneurs decide to improve it. To determine if it’s time to involve a designer in the project, analyze your situation:

  • you do not have a selling website design or your product design;
  • you are constantly selling your product or service using the software;
  • you are not satisfied with your design quality at the moment;
  • your potential users are not willing to interact with the content;
  • your product design is different from the design of the application.

If you are familiar with these issues, your business needs an experienced team of designers who will analyze the product and create a modern structure for productive work with clients and partners.

Types of Design Teams

Before starting the search for specialists, managers decide on cooperation options. There are two types of employees: in-house and outsourced. Each has its pros and cons, making a choice more difficult.

In-house Designers

In-house specialists are full-time employees engaged only in the company’s project. They are fully involved in internal workflows and communicate closely with the team. In-house designers understand the product they work with, its values, and its philosophy. It is much easier for the manager to control the result of such an employee and set new tasks at no additional cost.

In-house designers are well-versed only in a particular industry, so tasks from other niches can cause them difficulty. Also, constant work on one project can lead an employee to burnout and dismissal. The primary in-house designer disadvantage is the expense of sickness and vacation pay. While outsourcing teams only budget for working hours, a full-time employee also counts on vacation pay.

Outsourcing Team

The outsourcing team is specialists who come to the company for a specific project or task. They help businesses free up time for more important things or help with tasks businesses can’t handle. Each outsourcing specialist offers a wide range of knowledge as they constantly interact with different niches.

A significant advantage of companies providing outsourcing or outstaff services is strict personnel selection. They choose only experienced employees and introduce them to the modern features of the digital environment. Outsourced teams do not require payment in the event of an employee’s illness or vacation. If one of the employees falls ill or is unsuitable for your project, they replace them with another in a short time.

The main disadvantage of outsourcing is the price. You need to pay for each hour of work of each specialist, reducing the quality of cost control. Also, you will be unable to assign additional tasks to an outsourced designer in other areas, which sometimes burdens internal processes. Outsourcing workers cannot be trained for themselves, as they come to your company for a certain period and work only on the agreed tasks.

Signs of a Professional Design Team

Meeting future colleagues for the first time can take time to determine their competence fully. Since candidates want to make a good impression, they will highlight their good qualities while glossing over their flaws. Catch the details to avoid falling for this trick and make the right decision.

Creative Portfolio

The portfolio of a professional design team should impress every beholder. And this does not apply to individual works but to the entire portfolio. When selecting candidates, check the quality of each design rather than picking only the best.

To understand your compatibility with potential employees, find a project similar to yours in their examples. If the design team already has experience in your industry, they know how to interact with your audience and hook them for a successful sale. Experienced specialists will tell you about your niche’s design features, what design details they can add to software development, and which ones you should avoid.

Teamwork Ability

If you are hiring an outsourcing team for a project or using an outstaff, you need to determine how these people will interact with your full-time employees. Since designers communicate closely with developers and project managers, they will have to find a common language to understand and support each other. At the interview, ask your future designers about their attitude to working in a team with employees from different departments.

Organizational Skills

The outsourcing design team is fully responsible for the work specified in the contract. The project implementation is a long, complex process, but the specialist must adhere to the designated deadlines. The ability to self-organize and write a clear action plan to avoid going over budget is an important criterion when selecting web designers.

A person’s design skills, as well as managerial skills, play a significant role in the successful completion of a project. Experienced workers will competently build an action plan, and you will be calm about the timing of work completion.

Continuous Improvement

One of the vital signs of a good specialist in any field is the desire to grow and develop. Progress does not stand still, and the digital environment offers new solutions for IT engineers. Since any leader wants to make gradual progress in their product, they will opt for a designer who wants to learn something new and implement it into current projects.

An experienced worker will make changes to avoid confusing the client and let them get used to the latest software version. Thanks to the constant improvement of the user experience, the business will not only scale but also increase sales.

Where to Find a Professional Design Team

Finding a reliable outsourcing development team is a manager’s first and most challenging task. Many entrepreneurs need help finding professionals with extensive experience in their industry and how to make sure that they are experts.

The best way to search quickly is word of mouth. Ask for recommendations from your friends or colleagues who will tell you the right decision. You can also search the Internet yourself. The most popular sites for designers are Clutch, Dribbble, and Behance. These resources provide complete information about the company, customer reviews, ratings, and examples of work. Having found an attractive offer, you can read reviews about the design team on third-party resources and conclude.

Hiring employees is a responsible job that must be approached with caution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn as much as you can about designers’ expertise. Hiring the right people can build a successful business and achieve your goals faster than your competitors.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!

Elina Nazarova

Chief Marketing Officer of Powercode

Elina is accountable for digital strategy development and implementation. She is certified in business and startups development and has more than 5 years of experience in content writing and management. Her core belief is that well-designed digital transformation is able to lead any business to success.

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No Cookies? Retention.com Helps Provide Privacy-First Actionable Data

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Brad Anderson


The ongoing struggle over safe data management continues to heat up. Third-party cookies have had a bad rap for years, and while their future for providing actionable data remains murky, it doesn’t look good.

This leaves businesses scrambling to look for new, more ethical ways to collect and utilize customer data. This is especially the case in an information-first environment that has no intention of reducing the importance of analytics going forward.

Retention.com is a revolutionary e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider that has been sounding the alarm on the demise of third-party cookies for a while now. In response, the innovative brand has developed industry-leading identity resolution technology. This offers timely aid to companies looking for alternative customer data management solutions.

Retention.com has created a unique, user-friendly approach to first-party actionable data. Before considering its impact, though, let’s start with the major issue facing marketers at the moment: the slow but steady death of third-party cookies.

The Delayed (But Inevitable) Doom of Third-Party Cookies

Digital marketing has always relied on cookies. This browser-based form of tracking analyzes basic user behaviors, from dwell time and frequency of site visits to past purchases.

Sometimes brands gather this information directly from a consumer for internal use. Often, though, it’s collected by others and utilized across various other websites without consent — something called third-party cookies.

Third-party cookies are an unpopular form of data collection.

In fact, they’re not just unpopular. They’re unsafe, which is why Google has announced it will phase them out in the name of greater data protection and consumer security. However, the search engine giant has delayed this deprecation process to 2024 (as of the time of this writing).

Even with the delay, the removal of third-party cookies still poses very real concerns for e-commerce businesses. Any company that doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed by the shift when it does finally take place needs to find an alternative to third-party data now.

The Struggle to Capture Actionable Data from Customers

For those who lean on third-party data to market and engage with consumers, the impending doom of third-party cookies is a monumental concern.

Even for those who don’t tap the unsavory data source, it still leaves them with the challenge of capturing customer data first-hand — something referred to as first-party data. Brands can glean first-party data through various tools like surveys and sign-up forms, but these are only effective up to a certain point.

For instance, consider a customer who visits an e-commerce site from their desktop computer. The visitor ignores a request to sign up for their newsletter. They start looking at products and then leave without making a purchase.

They could be at any point in the sales journey. Perhaps they are discovering information on a sales page, adding items to their cart, or even looking for a promotional code. Regardless, if they leave before clicking that all-important “complete purchase” button, they disappear into the ether. They leave no possible way of following up.

To make matters worse, they might hop back onto the site later from their phone, and the company wouldn’t even know that it’s them. The visitor would have to start the purchase process all over again, too, making the likelihood of completing the activity that much lower.

All of this can be resolved with actionable data.

When a brand has basic customer data, it can reserve its clients’ past activity. It then catalogs their preferences and streamlines future purchases. With third-party data on the way out and a cookieless future ahead, though, companies must find effective ways to collect first-party data if they want to boost ROI.

That’s where Retention.com comes into the picture.

Retention.com Streamlines First-Party Data Collection

Retention.com has developed a solution to first-party data collection in the form of its identity resolution software, Reclaim. This addresses a key area of underperforming ROI that the e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider refers to as “abandonment revenue.”

The definition of the term is in the name. When potential customers abandon a sales funnel, they leave unrealized revenue behind. When a company doesn’t have its website visitors’ personal information, it can’t follow up or provide personalized interactions.

Reclaim boosts abandonment revenue as much as 10 times over. The software does this by quickly and effectively tying unidentified customers to first-party cookies. This turns anonymous e-commerce site users into bonafide, real-world individuals.

The ability to identify who is on a site can have a dramatic effect on engagement (and consequentially ROI) by triggering different activities, such as cart abandonment emails and SMS flows. This leads to more browsing and greater dwell time.

One of the key factors of Retention.com’s revolutionary marketing software is its ease of use. Reclaim doesn’t require days of setup and integration. It takes hours to implement the code and proliferate it across an e-commerce site. This creates a quick-and-easy, set-it-and-forget-it solution that businesses can use to start tapping into their abandonment revenue streams. The software is even designed to scale along with businesses as they grow.

No Cookies, No Problem

As third-party cookies continue to die a slow death, every e-commerce business faces the prospect of a dramatic change to the status quo. The question is, which enterprises will be able to find creative solutions to help them operate in a cookieless environment?

Retention.com offers a simple, effective way to outsource the issue of first-party data collection. Its Reclaim software takes less than a day to implement and integrates with countless e-commerce applications.

This fast application leads to near-immediate results in the form of boosted abandonment revenue. Customers begin receiving SMS and email communications through ethical first-party cookie connections that offer personalized messages and encourage results-oriented engagement.

To top it off, the service is affordable, and customers only pay for incremental performance. Retention.com even offers its “Flow Insurance” as a 100% guaranteed refund if clients don’t see their abandonment flow revenue improve.

From the ease of use to its impressive impact, Retention.com’s software solutions are showing e-commerce companies that it’s perfectly possible to not just survive but thrive in a cookieless world.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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What is Metaverse and How is it Changing AR/VR World?

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vr-augmented-reality


VR augmented reality has already been a mainstay of science fiction. The idea has been the subject of numerous works of fiction and popular media, but we are finally at the point where it can become a reality.

It’s safe to say that the Metaverse has been the subject of several discussions and arguments. While some see it as the future of technology, others dismiss it as nothing more than a fad. The reality is that the Metaverse is here to stay, and its effects on everything from our mental health to our ability to do our jobs will be profound.

The Metaverse: what is it?

The term “metaverse” refers to a network of socially-connected 3D virtual worlds. It’s defined as a simulated online setting that uses VR augmented reality, blockchain, and social media concepts to create environments that seem very much like the actual world but allow for more nuanced human participation.

Everything can be found there, from sports to conventions to retail therapy. Putting on a headset and logging into the virtual reality portal is the only way into Metaverse.

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), estimates that it will take five to 10 years for the core features of the Facebook metaverse to become standard.

On the other hand, the Metaverse is growing at an astounding rate.

Even though not everyone has access to them, ultra-fast broadband connections, virtual reality headsets, and always-on online worlds are now a reality.

Now we will examine the two most distinguishing features of a Metaverse platform:

Interactivity

The Metaverse tech would combine elements of vr augmented reality. Space and time in a Metaverse app should feel roughly equivalent to real life.

Visual, aural, and kinetic interaction modalities are all possible in the real world. Similar digital collaborative opportunities are anticipated from a Metaverse platform.

Interoperable

One of the requirements for a successful Metaverse software is that it can function on multiple Metaverse systems (s).

Creating applications for the Metaverse hints at a wide range of untested technology possibilities.

The developers, whether newcomers to the Metaverse or established figures with deep roots, might create either restrictive or flexible features.

Furthermore, there is an abundance of resources that can be used to bring this envisioned future into being. Unreal Engine, Unity, Amazon Sumerian, Blender, and Maya are just a few examples of such development environments.

Learn more about the practical applications of the Metaverse and the benefits it provides by looking at examples from other industries.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the Metaverse technology market could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2030, up from a projected $800 billion in 2025.

The sector is getting the outside stimulation and attention it needs to change both vr augmented reality technology and the future. Let’s look at some pioneering initiatives that have led to the development of Metaverse tools.

For example, the Metaverse Rules contain the following:

Only one Metaverse exists. All people should have access to the Metaverse.

The Metaverse exists beyond everyone’s control. The Metaverse must be accessible most of the time.

Most importantly, the Metaverse doesn’t care about your hardware. Both the internet and networks are part of the Metaverse.

When you put on your VR headset, you enter a virtual reality (VR) environment called the Metaverse.

It has enormous potential in many areas, including retail, business, and the workplace. In the Metaverse, real and virtual worlds are fused using tools like VR augmented reality (AR), describing a vision of a linked 3D digital global (AR).

Virtual worlds like Decentraland and online gaming platforms, like The Sandbox, are only two examples of existing metaverses. Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry.

According to Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry according to 65 % of the global population has participated in media extravagance, such as viewing a television show, movie, or premiere within a video game or working together to create a live concert.

Who Uses the Metaverse the Most?

Sixty-nine percent of humans have engaged in social activity, meeting new people, attending a group gathering, or visiting a virtual world while playing a game.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people on Earth have engaged in some form of financial activity within the Metaverse. This can include the purchase of virtual goods, the purchase of virtual money, the purchase of digital goods from digital markets, or the purchase or sale of other gamers.

Augmented Reality (AR) in the Virtual World

Market leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are betting big on the potential of the “embodied internet” that is the Metaverse. It’s either a virtual reality experience or something that can be brought into your life (via AR).

The popularity of virtual worlds is on the rise, but the actual Metaverse may be the future wave regarding augmented reality.

The most natural way to supply digital content to the human perceptual system is to incorporate it directly into our physical surroundings.

How Does Your Brain Make a Unified Representation to You?

Your brain creates a unified representation of the arena based on information gleaned from your senses of sight, hearing, touch, and movement.

As long as virtual factors are powerfully recognized in your environment in terms of space and time, this is possible with augmented reality, even with reasonably poor visual constancy.

Now that our ability to judge distance (or intensity perception) is refined, it is not hard to believe this.

Augmented reality will inevitably become the norm. It may replace smartphones and computers as the dominant interface to digital content, and it will undoubtedly eclipse virtual reality as the primary doorway to the Metaverse.

Augmented reality may give us superpowers, allowing us to change our surroundings with a finger or an eye.

VR Augmented Reality in the Metaverse

Customers can now bridge the gap between their digital and physical worlds by entering the Metaverse thanks to virtual reality.

We will be able to explore new locations and make reports more accessible to more people by using virtual versions of people, objects, and landscapes.

In a nutshell, it’s an alternate reality where you can do all sorts of things like go to class, work, a concert, or shop without ever leaving your house. Virtual reality allows users to experience events, shop, and learn about new opportunities. Augmented and mixed reality, on the other hand, will open hitherto unimaginable possibilities for enhancing the physical world around us.

There are already add-ons to the XR landscape, such as haptic commenting tools, that will allow us to feel the handshakes and embraces of our contacts no matter where we are physically located.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!

Siva Subrahmanyam

SEO Analyst at PlugXR

A SEO Analyst at PlugXR, I manage the company’s search engine optimization strategy

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