Letter from 30,000 feet: airplane mode

Letter from 30,000 feet: airplane mode

Wifi in the sky, fake news toolkit, Wikipedia’s gender bias, ethics of AI manipulation, marketing and PR measurement, and farewell social for Lush.

This week’s letter was written midflight between Seattle and London Heathrow.

It’s no longer possible to escape the internet on a flight. More than 90% of British Airways flights now have satellite internet connectivity.

Your excitement at being connected in the air may be contained by the price and access speed.

The service costs £5 for an hour to £15 for the full flight. Speeds are around 1MBps which is okay for email but video will stall.

🔧 Toolkit for countering fake news

The Government Communication Service has published a Counter Disinformation Toolkit to support communicators in identifying and countering threats to democracy. Fake news or disinformation isn’t a new phenomenon but the changing media environment and social networks means that it can travel faster than ever before. The toolkit is based on a RESIST model: Recognise; Early warning; Situational insight; Impact analysis; Strategic communication response; and Track outcomes. The 72-page Counter Disinformation Toolkit includes examples and case studies.

🚻 Challenging Wikipedia’s gender bias: 90% of editors are male

David B. Grinberg called out Wikipedia this week for gender bias. It acknowledged Katie Bouman, the imaging scientist who captured the first image of a black hole with a biography but failed to post her photo. I flippantly suggested to Grinberg that he should call it out to Wikipedia editors on the Talk Page but quickly learnt that it isn’t that simple. According to Grinberg less than 18% of 1.6 million English Wikipedia biographies are about women. Men account for about 90% of all Wikipedia volunteer editors. He tackles the issue in a long form article on Medium. Wikipedia suggests that it reflects the society that it serves. Grinberg suggests that its definition of notability and organisational structure need to be revised so that both are more gender neutral.

🎦 Beckham campaign highlights ethics of AI manipulation

Last week I shared Reuter’s newsroom guidance to spot so-called deep fake content. Manipulation can range from altering the words spoken by an individual to showing an individual performing sex acts. But applications of AI video manipulation or voice synthesis aren’t always unethical. This week my colleague on the CIPR #AiinPR panel Kerry Sheenan shared a legitimate example. UK AI video production firm Synthesia used the technique in a campaign to end malaria. It produced multiple language versions of a video featuring David Beckham achieving scale that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

💰 Results are all that matters

I caught up with Andrew Smith this week. He’s been reading John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters. Doerr is the chair of Kleiner Perkins, the investment firm that backed Amazon, Google, Intuit, Netscape and Twitter, creating more than 425,000 jobs along the way. Doerr is credited with introducing the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework to Google. Smith urges us to adopt this approach in marketing and public relations campaigns. Objectives express clear intent and should be aggressive yet realistic. Key results define outcomes against milestones. Larry Page credits OKRs as driving growth at Google.

👋 Farewell as Lush leaves social

Lush bid goodbye to social media this week claiming that was tired of fighting with algorithms. Organisational social media is increasingly a paid, customer service or public information channel. But not for Lush. It urged customers to engage via live website chat, email or phone. It leaves customers on networks such as Instagram and Twitter talking to each other.

I’m taking a break for Easter. Sarah and I are heading with family to Wild Northumberian. My weekly letter will be back on 28 April.

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