Letter from Seattle: searching podcast content

Letter from Seattle: searching podcast content

The state of PR, PDF mark-up tool, regulating AI, universal internet access, breaking phone addiction, searching for podcasts and identifying deep fake content.

The CIPR published its annual State of the Profession report this week. Jobs and salaries are up but otherwise it makes for a grim read.

The report calls out diversity, gender pay and mental health as issues that the PR profession is failing to address in a meaningful way.

It’s an issue that I picked up with the CIPR’s Koray Camgoz. He pulled no punches.

“It would have been easy for us to shy away from difficult conversations, but these are issues which need to be called out for what they are.

“We’ve been stronger in our condemnation of these employment practices this year and believe those responsible for recruitment and line-managing in our industry should live up to the values they project.”

I explored the demand for basic skills in the report. If you can write, you’ll have a job for life but there remains a significant difference, particularly at a senior level, between the skills that employers seek and the capabilities of practitioners.

Here’s what’s been on my mind this week.

📖 Tool for proofing PDFs

I’ve started editing chapters for Exploring Public Relations. The fifth edition will be published next year. There are lots of different apps for creating, reading and marking up PDFs. My favourite is GoodReader for iOS because it does everything in a single app. It allows you to check and mark-up two documents side by side. You can save edits in a new PDF so that they can’t be changed. Finally, you can export a series of images as a PDF. It turns out that it’s handy for expenses as well as proofing.

😐 Google AI advisory panel folds

Self-regulation rarely works where profit conflicts with market opportunity. Google’s AI advisory panel crashed and burned this week after a staff backlash against the inclusion of Kay Coles James, President of right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation. James has previously made anti-trans comments. Her inclusion was believed to be an attempt to appease conservative US law-makers. Google has shut the panel down and is considering next steps.

🌐 Amazon joins race for universal internet access

More than half the world have access to the internet. That still leaves a lot of people to get online and benefit from access from connectivity and knowledge. Amazon has joined Facebook and Google in the race to connect the remainder by 2030. Project Kuiper will see more than 3,000 satellites deliver global internet coverage. It’s a laudable initiative but the tech platforms clearly have a huge interest in increasing internet access.

📴 Switch off data in bid to break phone addiction

There are two types of commuter: regular travellers and those who dawdle, head down glued to a mobile screen. I’ve almost come to blows on tube platforms in London. Mike Elgan suggests switching off mobile data as a simple way of breaking smart phone addition. You’ll still get calls but will need to seek out WiFi to connect to web services. We need to raise our heads and start paying attention to the world around us, he says. I’m going to give it a go for a week.

🔎 Searching for podcast content

Indexing audio is a challenge that makes podcast content hard to find. That’s changed thanks to the Google. It has started machine transcribing podcasts to make content searchable via its app. You can hunt down audio that you’ve previously heard or find original content using a search query. Unfortunately it doesn’t work via Google’s native search engine.

❓ Tests for identifying deep fakes

An experiment by Reuters to create fake video content has helped develop techniques for identifying dodgy content. Manipulation can range from altering the words spoken by an individual to showing an individual performing sex acts. The Reuters team identified three red flags to help identify deep fake content: audio to video synchronisation issues; and unusual mouth shape, particularly with sibilant sounds; and a static subject.

I’m in Seattle this week for work. Let me know if you’ve any recommendations otherwise have a great week.


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Letter from 30,000 feet: airplane mode

Letter from 30,000 feet: airplane mode

Learn to write and you’ll have a job for life

Learn to write and you’ll have a job for life