Déjà Zoom! You're taller in person
Plus, my review of Spotify's Car Thing, which makes dumb cars kind of smart
You are reading Social Signals, Greg’s weekly email about creative, digital, social, and cultural signals worth noting. Today’s email was written to Lazerbeak’s Luther. If you haven’t already subscribed, there’s a big button right there!
hi. Welcome to all the new subscribers this week (and an equal hello to everyone who has been along for the ride all these years). It was another busy one, so let’s get right into the social signals I’m tracking this week…
🧐 Déjà Zoom
After more than a year apart, many colleagues and clients are starting to see each other again. But meeting IRL for the first time can be strange if you only knew each other via video, and there’s now a word for that: “Déjà Zoom.”
Key quote: “Meeting Zoom friends in real life reveals how much is omitted when your computer’s graphics card renders someone: their height, whether they sustain or avoid eye contact, what they look like outside their kitchen. Uncanny vibes abound… Déjà Zoom can be jarring or awkward, calling into question the degree to which we really know the people we met in quarantine. But it’s also a testament to how close we’ve grown to people we’ve never physically met before.” Yay technology!
🌳 Nature-Based Zoom Backgrounds Foster Creative Thinking
Beyond showing off some creative flair, fandom, or masking your living space, it turns out which virtual background you chose may actually boost creativity in your next video meeting.
According to a new research study on the effects of nature virtual backgrounds on creativity during videoconferencing, a simple nature background image (e.g., trees, beaches, waterfalls, sunsets) may enhance the creative thinking of its viewers after only a few minutes. It also showed that nature stimuli boosted creativity even when not the explicit focus of overt attention and that nature imagery in virtual backgrounds may foster a serene and pleasant effect, which in turn, can restore cognitive performance to produce novel ideas.
Here’s a link to free downloadable nature backgrounds for your next video call!
🚗 Spotify’s “Car Thing” Makes Even Dumb Cars Smart
Earlier this year Spotify got into the hardware business, launching a small screen device for helping the streaming service easily interface with your car’s stereo – both those with and without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The device is called Car Thing and features voice-activation (“Hey Spotify”), a responsive touchscreen, dedicated preset buttons (similar to your saved radio stations but you can link to an artist, album, podcast or playlist), and a slick knob for navigating between albums, playlists, and recommendations while on the go. The device has three mounting options (dashboard, vent, CD player slot) via magnet and can be easily removed for security. Here are photos of mine in action.
Overall, Car Thing is an incredibly intuitive and helpful device for keeping your eyes on the road while navigating the best of Spotify’s wealth of features and options that are not offered through CarPlay’s UX or the now-discontinued “Car View” in the mobile app. For streaming power users, Car Thing solves a lot of problems you didn’t know you had from automakers and OEMs, plus features more practical utility than Amazon’s Alexa Auto from 2019 (read my review here). However, it does need USB power, bluetooth access to your phone, a bulky power cable strewn across your dashboard, and Spotify Premium to operate.
But hey, dumb cars can’t be choosy! Car Thing is available for $79.99 here.
🐤 The Good Tweets
📚 Weekend Reads:
The Rebooting: BuzzFeed and digital media's next chapter
Platformer: How Snap is sidestepping the metaverse
Embedded: Should we be paying for TikTok sounds?
VentureBeat: The metaverse needs aggressive regulation
The Atlantic: Peloton Is Stuck, Just Like the Rest of Us
🔥 Quick Hits:
TikTok published its 2021 Year in Review.
Twitter published its Best Tweets of 2021.
Pinterest published its 2022 Prediction Report.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) revised its projections for the holiday season and says U.S. sales could grow by 11.5% YoY to a record $866.7B.
Doja Cat and Girls Who Code released the first codeable music video. Check it out!
Instagram is hosting a series of celebrity holiday shopping live streams, testing a 'Dancify' option for Reels which would automatically sync video and music and planning to add a chronological feed option.
Meta (Facebook) announced it is opening up Horizon Worlds, its metaverse world, to anyone 18 and older in the U.S. and Canada.
Snapchat’s Lens Fest 2021 was this week, with lots of new platform updates for AR.
Word of the Week: “Zalgo text” is digital text that has been modified with combining characters and Unicode symbols used to add diacritics above or below letters, to appear creepy or glitchy. Here’s a zalgo generator where you can try it for yourself.
Infographic of the Week: How much data is generated every minute.
Insta of the Week: Learn from Bounty’s #ad FTC disclosure mistakes.
Snap of the Week: @lensdrop features new lenses every other week.
TikTok of the Week: The Compaq Presario with scanner-keyboard, 1996.
See you on the internet!
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