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Historian Leslie Berlin talks about the rise of Silicon Valley

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In this week’s episode of Technotopia I spoke to author and historian Leslie Berlin, writer of Troublemakers: Silicon Valleys’ Coming Of Age. Berlin is the Project Historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University and one of the few people who can see the entire rise of SV tech culture from a researcher’s perspective.

Berlin’s book is quirky, fun, and fascinating and in this podcast we discuss the gender gap in tech and how the world can – and can’t – centers of innovation in a real way. Have a listen.

Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in StitcherRSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.

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The Scope

Snapchat adds a 2017 year in review feature for saved memories

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Snapchat users who snap and save can take a stroll down memory lane with the app’s new feature, “A Look Back at 2017.” If you’re the type that would rather ruminate than remain committed to Snapchat’s previously purely ephemeral philosophy, you can find your 2017 year in review in the memories tab.

The feature is noteworthy mostly for the fact that it rips a sheet out of Facebook’s playbook— a role reversal for a company that watched its biggest competitor clone its killer innovation to wild success. Naturally, as is the course of tech’s great derivation cycle, Facebook borrowed its “on this day” nostalgia bait ideas from Timehop.

Snapchat clearly knows it has an Instagram Stories problem and is open to new ways to get users interested. Just yesterday, a report on Cheddar suggested that the company might be introducing a feature called “Stories Everywhere” that would take Snapchat content beyond Snapchat, a smart move for a company losing users to Instagram’s unrivaled Facebook-powered social graph.

If you don’t see the look back at 2017 waiting for you in Snapchat’s memories tab, you probably just didn’t generate enough content because you were busy over on Instagram. If you’re truly upset, as some Twitter users appear to be, it’s probably time to make a New Year’s resolution to your Snapchat #engagement levels in 2018.

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Facebook has a 100-person engineering team that helps advertisers build tools and infrastructure

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Stories about Facebook’s advertising business tend to focus on the big numbers — its billions of usersmillions of advertisers or its enormous lead over any competitor that’s not named Google.

But Facebook says that one of its success stories in recent years involves a relatively small group of engineers — in fact, originally it was just one engineer, Vastal Mehta, who serves as Facebook’s director of solutions engineering and now leads a team of more than 100 people. That team works with advertisers to build the technology and infrastructure needed to run more effective campaigns on Facebook, often on top of Facebook’s APIs.

Mehta said that when he first started working on this in 2010, it was a very different landscape, both for mobile (where BlackBerry was still a major player) and for Facebook (which hadn’t even introduced advertising into the News Feed). This was right as the company was trying to shift in a big way toward mobile, and advertisers were still trying to wrap their heads around the change: “For example, travel companies didn’t have teams set up to reach consumers with mobile advertising. We knew that we needed to invest in helping businesses build infrastructure to power their mobile advertising, so I started a team that could help businesses in this sort of bespoke way,” Mehta added.

You’d expect any digital media business to offer some degree of technical support to its biggest advertisers, but the solutions engineering team is actually building products.

For example, it was involved in creating Facebook’s dynamic ads format (where ads show different products to different users based on their activities and interests). Mehta said dynamic ads were first inspired by the complaints of an advertiser he was meeting with in Hamburg, Germany, and he then worked with the Facebook Ads team to create a prototype, eventually leading to a more polished product and broader availability.

It’s probably safe to say that not every client meeting leads to a new ad format — sometimes Mehta’s team is just helping advertisers understand how to use their existing tools in a more effective way. But that other option, working with the rest of Facebook to build something new, is also on the table.

To give me a better sense of what the team actually does, Facebook connected me with Anthony Marino, chief marketing officer at online thrift store thredUP. Marino said that when his company started talking with Facebook’s solution engineering team in 2016, there was a big challenge: How to use ads to highlight thredUP’s constantly changing inventory.

“On thredUP, the site is practically remade every hour as thousands and thousands of new items are added,” he said. “We looked at that flow of product, of apparel, and it was like being a news site … We had to figure out a way to automate the process of, okay, once we capture and the attributes and qualities of different items of clothing, how do we get them in front of the right person?”

To enable that, Facebook worked with thredUP to launch dynamic ads that were connected to thredUP’s real-time product catalog. The system uses machine learning to further improve the targeting; for example, showing users different types of ads at different times of day.

“The first thing is, Facebook puts the right people in the room,” Marino said. He recounted working with Facebook to create “new ad products, new data pipelines” between the two systems, and he said, “There were product people, there were operations people in the room. We were able to really integrate at the data integration, at the business process level.”

Did this actually lead thredUP to buy more ads on Facebook? The companies didn’t share numbers about the company’s ad spending, but part of the process involved shifting thredUP from Criteo retargeting to Facebook dynamic ads, and Marino told me, “Working with the solutions engineering team at Facebook enabled us to spend our dollars more efficiently, so that we could amp our marketing budget and drive more new customers to thredUP.com.”

The team has worked with other customers, including Michael Kors, Edmunds, The New York Times, Gilt and Zynga. It also works with the companies that offer ad-buying tools on top of Facebook, like Smartly, Kenshoo, Marin Software, Adobe, Social Code and Nanigans — and mobile gaming company Machine Zone said the Facebook ad-buying platform it built with the solution engineering team’s help was so successful that it’s launching a new business called Cognant.

Facebook says that on average, clients working with the solutions engineering team see their return on ad spend improve by 100 percent.

Of course, while Facebook continues to do extraordinarily well financially, it’s been battered in public perception as the government scrutinizes the role it may have played in spreading misinformation as part of Russia’s election interference efforts. On the ad side, Facebook has announced new transparency features like the ability to see every ad campaign from a given advertiser, and an archive of ads related to federal elections.

When I brought this up, the company said these changes, and the broader political environment, haven’t really affected the day-to-day work of the solutions engineering team, which is much more in the trenches, helping advertisers do new things.

As for what they’ll be up to in 2018, Mehta said:

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Four Most Adorable Gifting Categories for Your Valentine’s Week Gifting Requirements

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Chocolates on Valentine’s Week: Open the ways to the cutest Valentine’s Week gift boxes conveying the luscious chocolates with flavors from your affection. By wrapping up the chocolates along with a greeting card you can send gift for wife or husband in improving introduction. Chocolates have for some time been related to the possibility of stunning sharing over sentimental discussions. Give them an essence of your affection with the delectable chocolates to offer unbelievable endowments comfortable entryways. The entire valentine’s Week is the time when you need to shower each other with your affection and any gifting article combined together with chocolates are perfect to praise this seven day stretch of love celebration moments.

Gifts for wife

Gems and Jewelry in Valentine’s Week: Chocolates are something we can opt to give the amazement to your wife or girlfriend; and for a lady, nothing can show improvement over adornments. For a gifting requirement during the Valentines Week, the accumulation of adornments endowments is an appropriate category and you can choose from to make a lovely expansion of your love towards your wife. Gems and pieces of jewelry hold an interest for wives of any age and thusly you can choose as your Valentine gift to your spouse. GiftsbyMeeta presents to you a gathering of selective gems that is appropriate for all events.

Valentine Gifts

Romantic Valentine Week Gifts: The entire Valentine’s Week is the most appropriate occasion to exchange the romantic gifts among lovebirds as these giftings enable them to express their feeling and emotion of romance. The bunch of red roses, soft toys, teddies, chocolates, personalized phone cover, engraved plaque, tabletop, grooming items, accessories, candles, and so forth like items in more amazing bundling and style will be the perfect romantic sort of gift for the couples. During the Valentine’s Week, the love must be communicated and these items based on the romantic themes would do it in the most intriguing way.

Valentine Gifts

Celebrate Valentine’s Week with Gourmet Gifts: The flavor and taste of yummy chocolates, desserts, cookies, other natural products, and numerous different scrumptious and health friendly gourmet gifts are those special items that a husband or boyfriend would accept with greater warmth. So on the eve of Valentine’s Week, any day in this week, Gourmet endowments are a perfect alternative to showcase your love and that can be exhibited on practically every event and it will adequately spoil the beneficiary.

A delightful divider workmanship that has been outlined in the loop is only the imaginative way that you have been searching for to wish them with. Along comes the plant all new for your flourishing love. You will get an elastic plant in an artistic vase, the succulent is anything but difficult to water and keeps up and weaving circle, from this combo.

A crate loaded with spoiling things is here to compliment her hair. Best things to get incorporated into their everyday course, this container are loaded with adoration caringly. This combo has a Khadi cleanser and conditioner with glycerin cleanser, a Potpourri pack fragranced in vanilla, a white shaded hand towel, White pail with botanical prints and in addition a tag.

The above-mentioned gift ideas can best for your valentine partner. So come and place your order on GiftsbyMeeta with free shipping in India and abroad.

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