Facebook's Future Content Strategy Could Change the Way You Use the Internet

The future of Facebook may be as a major content-host. Instead of clicking links to visit outside sites, much of what you read on the web could soon be within Mark Zuckerberg's domain.

Remember all those articles from 6 years ago questioning whether Facebook would ever be able to make money off their userbase? Whoops.


As Marcus Wohlsen writes over at Wired, Facebook has deposed lesser homepages and ascended to the throne of online content royalty, thus opening itself up to a whole lot of ad revenue. The site has become the internet's biggest hub for content-driven web traffic (for example, most of Big Think's pageviews arrive via links on our Facebook page) and Wohlsen wonders whether we've only just seen the tip of the iceberg:

"Given that links appear to be more clickable when shared on Facebook, online publishers have scrambled to become savvy gamers of Facebook’s News Feed, seeking to divine the secret rules that push some stories higher than others. But all this genuflection at the altar of Facebook’s algorithms may be but a prelude to a more fundamental shift in how content is produced, shared, and consumed online. Instead of going to all this trouble to get people to click a link on Facebook that takes them somewhere else, the future of Internet content may be a world in which no video, article, or cat GIF gallery lives outside of Facebook at all."

Wohlsen references David Carr's New York Times piece from earlier this week about how Facebook has offered to collaborate with various publishers by hosting their content on-site. These publishers are hesitant to trust the social media juggernaut but Wohlsen believes they may not long have a choice. 

(Note: Another relevant read on this topic is Ravi Somaiya's piece from the same publication about how Facebook has changed the face of online journalism.)

Now that Facebook has mastered mobile ad revenue while other sites have struggled, there may soon come a time where much of the content you access via Facebook will all be hosted on Facebook. We're already seeing Mark Zuckerberg's push to include more content within the site itself. The relatively new trending topics sidebar is an example, as well as how the mythical algorithm favors on-site content such as Facebook-hosted videos over those hosted by competitors such as YouTube, which is owned by Google.

If only a few popular sites decide to give in to Facebook's offer, Zuckerberg could ignite a major ad revenue war. Hosted content would be heavily promoted while links to off-site publishers would be buried, thus tanking the latter's ad revenue. Wohlsen makes the perceptive point that search-giant Google has a vested interest in making sure content stays  on the web while Facebook would rather have users do all their surfing on-site. Such a conflict between two of the tech world's most powerful companies makes Batman vs. Superman look like a schoolyard scuffle.

Take a look at the entire piece, linked again below, and let us know what you think.

Read more at Wired

Photo credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

Drill, Baby, Drill: What will we look for when we mine on Mars?

It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back

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  • In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
  • Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
  • The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points

Want to go to Mars? It will cost you. In 2016, SpaceX founder Elon Musk estimated that manned missions to the planet may cost approximately $10 billion per person. As with any expensive endeavor, it is inevitable that sufficient returns on investment will be needed in order to sustain human presence on Mars. So, what's underneath all that red dust?

Mining Technology reported in 2017 that "there are areas [on Mars], especially large igneous provinces, volcanoes and impact craters that hold significant potential for nickel, copper, iron, titanium, platinum group elements and more."

Were a SpaceX-like company to establish a commercial mining presence on the planet, digging up these materials will be sure to provoke a fraught debate over environmental preservation in space, Martian land rights, and the slew of microbial unknowns which Martian soil may bring.

In National Geographic Channel's genre-bending narrative-docuseries, MARS, (the second season premieres tonight, November 12th, 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT) this dynamic is explored as astronauts from an international scientific coalition go head-to-head with industrial miners looking to exploit the planet's resources.

Given the rate of consumption of minerals on Earth, there is plenty of reason to believe that there will be demand for such an operation.

"Almost all of the easily mined gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, antimony, and phosphorus we can mine on Earth may be gone within one hundred years" writes Stephen Petranek, author of How We'll Live on Mars, which Nat Geo's MARS is based on. That grim scenario will require either a massive rethinking of how we consume metals on earth, or supplementation from another source.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, told Petranek that it's unlikely that even if all of Earth's metals were exhausted, it is unlikely that Martian materials could become an economically feasible supplement due to the high cost of fuel required to return the materials to Earth. "Anything transported with atoms would have to be incredibly valuable on a weight basis."

Actually, we've already done some of this kind of resource extraction. During NASA's Apollo missions to the Moon, astronauts used simple steel tools to collect about 842 pounds of moon rocks over six missions. Due to the high cost of those missions, the Moon rocks are now highly valuable on Earth.


Moon rock on display at US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL (Big Think/Matt Carlstrom)

In 1973, NASA valuated moon rocks at $50,800 per gram –– or over $300,000 today when adjusted for inflation. That figure doesn't reflect the value of the natural resources within the rock, but rather the cost of their extraction.

Assuming that Martian mining would be done with the purpose of bringing materials back to Earth, the cost of any materials mined from Mars would need to include both the cost of the extraction and the value of the materials themselves. Factoring in the price of fuel and the difficulties of returning a Martian lander to Earth, this figure may be entirely cost prohibitive.

What seems more likely, says Musk, is for the Martian resources to stay on the Red Planet to be used for construction and manufacturing within manned colonies, or to be used to support further mining missions of the mineral-rich asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

At the very least, mining on Mars has already produced great entertainment value on Earth: tune into Season 2 of MARS on National Geographic Channel.

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
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Study: The effects of online trolling on authors, publications

A study started out trying to see the effect of sexist attacks on women authors, but it found something deeper.

Maxpixel
Surprising Science
  • It's well known that abusive comments online happen to women more than men
  • Such comments caused a "significant effect for the abusive comment on author credibility and intention to seek news from the author and outlet in the future"
  • Some news organizations already heavily moderate or even ban comments entirely; this should underscore that effort
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