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Xavier's Newsletter - No. 5

It´s Friday again. This week both great articles the links and my own piece on ethics in data collect
Xavier's Newsletter - No. 5
By Xavier van Leeuwe • Issue #5 • View online
It´s Friday again. This week both great articles the links and my own piece on ethics in data collection. Wishing you a great week!
Missed the previous issue? It’s right here.

The Right To Be Anonymous
The more I learn about data, the more I think we should restrain ourselves, as data collectors. 
Let´s go back to March 27, 1943. The Dutch resistance lead by Gerrit van der Veen raids the municipal register of Amsterdam and destroys it. They want to get rid of this particular data collection because it was too easy for the occupying Germans to identify the 70.000 Jewish citizens in Amsterdam. The database simply had too much information.
The Dutch civil registration the day after the attack in 1943
Today, this information is to be found in many places. Consider such an innocent piece of data collection as a supermarket loyalty card. It can predict your religious background, detecting a pattern when you buy kosher food only. 
We leave traces of our identity everywhere. Although I believe in optimizing customer experience by collecting the right data, we have to make sure we only collect the essential data. I admit I am torn between these opposing needs: better customer experience through profiling on the one hand, and anonymity for protection against evil doers on the other. 
Another - much smaller - example of collecting too much information is the Daily Telegraph. They installed (and later removed) workplace monitors this week to see whether newspaper staff were at their desks by using heat and motion sensors, BuzzFeed News has learned. For what?
Anonimity As An Option
Are there ways out? Maybe. ProPublica has made a totally anonymous version of their site and thereby offers us choice. To be tracked or not be tracked. That’s the question.
Unlike mere SSL encryption, which hides the content of the site a web visitor is accessing, the used Tor hidden service would ensure that even the fact that the reader visited ProPublica’s website would be hidden from an eavesdropper or Internet service provider.
To most this sounds like an unnecessary level of paranoia to go through to read the news. But last year when ProPublica was working on a report about Chinese online censorship, and wanted to make sure the reporting was itself safe to visit for Chinese readers. This is as relevant in 2016, as it was in 1943. 
Although collecting data can do great things, it is important - in my view - to restrain ourselves to the information we really need to achieve our business goals. And we must never forget our societal goals. I like Propublica’s idea of offering complete anonymity as an alternative. Everyone should have the ability to decide what types of metadata they leave behind.

Using Slack To Engage Subscribers
On a much lighter note, here is Podcast with Jessica Lessin who started The Information, a Silicon Valley news site that relies on $399 annual subscriptions. Their eight-person team produces two deeply reported pieces a day. With thousands of subscribers, she says, quality stories breed quality subscribers. 
Go to 19:11 minutes, if you want to hear her talk about a Slack team for their (influential) subscriber community. Subscribers are discussing with each other, thus involving their subscription community with the content. Typically Sillicon Valley, you might say. A look into the future, I say.
Something else. In the podcast Lessin is worried that publishers often miss an essential reality: “Facebook doesn’t care about the media world, and the media world thinks it does,” she said. It just wants ways to get people to stay on its platform, whether that’s gaming or news articles. Meanwhile The Onion laughs at publishing executives making pilgrimages to Facebook to offer content at the feet of Mark Zuckerberg. Not sure I agree, but definitely quite witty.
News On Apple...
Apple News has 40 million users, but plenty of problems. Link
Apple bought a startup that’s working on how to read people’s emotions from facial expressions. Link
Apple wants to get rid of the space consuming 3.5mm headphone jack in the next iPhone, using the Lightning cable or wireless instead. Saving space inside the phone and more room for batteries. Link
Apple had $20 billion gross revenue in the AppStore alone. This is up from just under $15bn in 2014. Link
On Customer Experience
And here is a link to an interview with the makers by @wouter_boon.

Refugees In Germany Launch Paper
Why You Need to Create Buyer Personas (and How to Do It)
On Data
Forrester: Predictive Analytics Solutions
On Advertising
How Quartz Is Making Money From Sponsored Content
GQ Asks Ad-Blockers To Pay Up
Consumers to GQ: “Thanks for the free content!” GQ to consumers: “Turn off your ad-blockers or pay up!”  Link
Marketing Fail: Buzzfeed Has To Change Labelling Advertorials
On Media
AJ+ Generated 2.2 billion Facebook Video Views
Print: Still Very Big
Did you enjoy this issue?
Xavier van Leeuwe

This newsletter is about passing on what I found compelling on customer experience, employee engagement or data. I wrote The Relationship Economy. My second book Mensenwerk is due April 2020. I work at See more or subscribe at

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