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⌨️ What’s your favorite keyboard shortcut?

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In today’s email:

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Where did Ctrl+Alt+Del come from?
  • Chart: 2021’s biggest movies for product placements.
  • AI writing: Helpful, but don’t rely on it to work for you.
  • Around the web: A glowing mine, global license plates, social media tips, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear about what Netflix plans to do now that it’s losing subscribers, an unlucky moment for Lucky Charms’ $300m operation, and more.

The big idea
keyboard

Where do keyboard shortcuts come from?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve used a keyboard shortcut. Ctrl+C, perhaps?

For years, Macs and PCs have offered shortcuts (AKA hotkeys) to help users execute various functions.

If you’ve ever wondered where the heck they come from, WSJ’s Dalvin Brown tracked down a legend in the keyboard shortcut game to get the scoop.

The 1st keyboard shortcuts…

… were created at Xerox in the 1970s, and include functions like cut, copy, and paste.

But the crown jewel of shortcuts, Control-Alt-Delete, was created in the early 1980s by David Bradley, an IBM engineer.

Bradley said it only took 5 minutes to dream up the iconic combination, which became a hit among IBM employees, then got programmed into the company’s original PC.

Beyond Control-Alt-Delete…

… Brown found keyboard shortcuts tend to follow similar origin stories — starting with either a problem that needs solving, or a function that needs to be easier to execute.

The challenge for engineers is threefold:

  • Make shortcuts easy to remember
  • Ensure they make sense with existing keyboards
  • Develop combinations that don’t trigger other shortcuts

They also need to factor in how frequently a shortcut will be used. Shortcuts that are used more often tend to include simpler key combinations (e.g., copy and paste), while those that are less frequent tend to include more keys (e.g., force-quitting an app).

Modern apps are ushering in a new era of shortcuts

One of the biggest trends in productivity software is using shortcuts. Companies like Notion, Superhuman, and Figma have created their own shortcuts to help users save time by ditching the mouse.

If you’re looking to start using your keyboard more effectively, Use The Keyboard is a website that lists shortcuts from a range of popular apps and websites.

If you’re more of a DIYer, you can always take your keyboard into your own hands — both Mac OS and Windows allow users to create their own shortcuts.

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SNIPPETS

Victoria’s Secret named actor Darren Barnet of “Never Have I Ever” as its 1st male brand ambassador. He’ll be promoting Pink’s Gender Free collection, a gender-neutral clothing line. #ecommerce-retail

This is cool: Wildbook is an open-source platform that combines wildlife photos and AI to aid conservation efforts. Over one month, it analyzed 17m images. #clean-energy

Amazon posted a job opening for someone to make a “magical and useful” AR/VR product. Could this be Amazon’s foray into the metaverse? #emerging-tech

Crypto exchange Coinbase launched its NFT marketplace in beta, featuring curated NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain. #fintech-crypto

ICYMI: Let our social media manager Nicole Phillip explain how AriZona iced tea hasn’t raised its prices in 30 years. #hustle-picks

Chart
biggest product placement movies

Singdhi Sokpo

Movie product placements are big money

The odd thing about seeing a movie is that, in a way, you’re paying to see a bunch of ads.

Entertainment research firm Concave Brand Tracking recently identified every brand appearance and mention in the 50 most-watched movies of 2021. (Side note: that sounds like a fantastic job. Anyway…)

Across these films, 1.2k+ brands were highlighted, generating $2.7B in ad value, with the top 10 films accounting for ~55% of all value. More stats:

  • Ford was in 39 of these movies, but Dell saw the most screen time.
  • Nike had $94m worth of airtime, just from Space Jam: A New Legacy.

In some cases, brands pay for product placements. For example, Heineken reportedly dropped $45m on this 7-second swig in Skyfall.

In most, they’re mutual relationships: Films save money on props, and companies get exposure. Think, Reese’s in E.T.

Learn more: Our own Zachary Crockett previously reported on the economics of movie product placements.

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Free Resource

6 post-pandemic social media trends

How’s your relationship with social media?

In 2020 and 2021, social media users averaged 140+ minutes per day doing what they do for the dopamines. We know the vibes.

This HubSpot blog post details 6 ways quarantine shook up social media, with implications for marketers. So it hits home, but helpfully.

How lockdown changed the social media landscape:

  • More scrolling: Global social media users increased by 11% between 2019 and 2021.
  • More videos: Consumption increased by 85% in 2020. (It shows.)
  • When to post: Remote work has changed peak hours on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • More fun and real: At least, that’s what people are looking for.

We’d fit the whole article if we could. Read below for deep social media engagement insights.

Thanks, quarantine →
AI Authors
Google on a computer

Don’t rely on Google Docs’ new writing tool to do your work for you

AI is fun when it eats horror movies and churns out Netflix’s Mr. Puzzles Wants You to Be Less Alive. But sometimes the lack of context is an issue.

Take Google Docs’ new “assistive writing” feature, which makes suggestions as you write (e.g., switching from passive to active voice or deleting repetitive words). This makes your writing more accessible, which is great.

It may also suggest more inclusive language, while flagging words that could be deemed inappropriate.

That’s cool, in theory…

… but many users have found the suggestions to be, well, a little weird.

Motherboard tested out several text excerpts. While the tool suggested more gender-inclusive phrasing (e.g., “policemen” to “police officers”), it also flagged the word “Motherboard.”

And while it suggested “property owner” in lieu of “landlord,” it didn’t flag anything in a slur-laden interview with ex-KKK leader David Duke.

Context is key

Numerous startups are banking on AI to help us write, and it often does a great job.

But AI learns from people and can pick up their biases. A study by The Allen Institute for AI (AI2) found that AI language tools “are prone to generating racist, sexist, or otherwise toxic language” for that reason.

AI also lacks context. When Facebook sent its human moderators home amid the pandemic, its automated system mistakenly removed numerous posts. YouTube warned its systems would likely do the same.

A Google spokesperson told Motherboard that while its tech is evolving, it may never have a “complete solution to identifying and mitigating all unwanted word associations and biases.”

The takeaway? Bots are helpful. But you still have to do the work.

BTW: If you’re looking to use more inclusive language in your writing, here’s a guide.

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AROUND THE WEB

🐺 On this day: In 753 B.C., twins Romulus and Remus founded Rome on the site where, as orphans, they’d been nursed by a she-wolf until being rescued by a passing shepherd — well, at least according to legend.

🚗 That’s cool: This website showcases license plates from around the world.

✍️ Take notes: Our social media sage, Nicole Phillip, spoke about social’s impact on journalism and tips for making great organic and live content. Listen to the podcast episode here.

🍓 How to: Experts explain how you can start composting at home.

🌟 That’s interesting: Under UV light, the hyalite in this North Carolina mine glows a vibrant green, which you can see if you go on a Black Light Mine Tour.

🐒 Aww: And now, a monkey and its ducklings.

Meme of the day
keyboard shortcuts

Exactly how it feels. (Source: Meme Generator)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Can’t function without Ctrl+Tab” Dent.

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