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🐶 Will we ever talk to animals?

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Google announced its Pixel 7 colors via potato chip flavors: salty lemon, obsidian pepper, snow cheese, and hazel onion. Customers in Japan can sign up to win a box.

In today’s email:

  • Ding! Why Wikipedia wants a sound.
  • Erie: The town that bought its only grocery store.
  • Animals: Can we learn their language?
  • Around the Web: Habit helpers, errands as adventures, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast for a special episode about why free stuff makes people irrational.

The big idea
sound waves

Why Wikipedia wants its own sound

The Wikimedia Foundation — the group behind Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and other projects — is on the hunt for “the sound of all human knowledge.”

It’s accepting submissions for a sound logo to identify Wikimedia properties when its puzzle-globe logo can’t, like when a voice assistant answers a question.

What’s a sound logo?

A sound trademark that identifies a brand. It’s very short and can be melodic or atonal. Some examples:

  • Netflix’s “ta-dum”
  • The “60 Minutes” stopwatch
  • McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle
  • The Windows 95 startup sound

Sound is great for brand recognition. People can hear 20-100x faster than they can see, and the right sound can trigger the right emotional response.

For example, the “Law & Order” dun-dun lets you know it’s a serious drama; THX’s “deep note,” which debuted with The Return of the Jedi in 1983, conveys a sense of spectacle.

Why does Wikimedia want one?

Wikimedia properties are often sourced without citation by voice assistants and in creator-made content.

You’ve probably listened to a podcaster or YouTuber read or paraphrase a Wikipedia article without saying so.

Wikimedia wants people to know where info is coming from so they can better evaluate it, and hopes to partner with resharers for increased transparency.

Wanna submit?

The contest is open through Oct. 10. A panel of Wikimedia volunteers, sound logo experts, and a musicologist will identify 10 finalists for a public vote starting on Nov. 29.

The winner will be announced in early 2023, and receive $2.5k, a trip to a recording studio, and, of course, internet clout.

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SNIPPETS

Bad news first: The stock market had its worst day of 2022, following a worse-than-expected August inflation report.

Starbucks is exploring tech to help stop baristas from being overwhelmed by online orders (and, hopefully, TikTok trends).

Netflix’s “Squid Game” is the first foreign-language drama to win an Emmy, with Hwang Dong-hyuk and Lee Jung-jae taking home outstanding director and best actor awards, respectively.

Circle back: Waze now lets you set “Biz Jargon” as your navigation voice for a limited time.

Uber will pay New Jersey $100m in back taxes after the state argued its drivers were misclassified as independent contractors.

Nintendo made several announcements yesterday, including “Octopath Traveler 2” and a “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” sequel.

Hmm: In an uncommon move, Adam Neumann gave a16z a stake in thousands of apartments in exchange for its $350m investment in his real estate startup.

Eye of the beholder: Fur Affinity, a fansite for furries, is one of the first platforms to ban AI art, claiming it lacks “artistic merit.”

The Harlem Globetrotters return to TV on Oct. 1 after 40+ years. Unlike previous TV appearances, the new NBC series is not animated but live-action.

Amtrak is suspending several long haul routes in anticipation of a potential railroad strike.

It’s startup September, which means Trends has founder-led, agency-building master classes lined up, plus the content and community to get you rolling.

Chart
Stub's Market

Zachary Crockett

The town that bought its only grocery store

In the final days of May 2020, residents of Erie, Kansas, received a letter in the mail.

“Do you support the City of Erie purchasing Stub’s Market?”

It was a dire moment for a town of ~1k people in southeastern Kansas.

  • Covid was raging, basic items and foods were running low, and Stub’s — the city’s only grocery store — was on the verge of closing.
  • To find fresh meats and vegetables, residents — many of whom don’t have cars — would’ve needed to travel 10 to 20 miles out of town.

What followed is a rare feat of community activism.

To keep its only grocery store from shuttering, the city decided to buy it.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

Three free UX research templates

How do people really feel when using your product? Or perusing the offer?

When people land on your website:

  • Is the focus crystal clear?
  • Does the page have flow?
  • How’s the load speed?
  • Color scheme?
  • Cluttering?

A lot of little things impact whether prospects will purchase.

But you don’t need a PM to start optimizing — break in with this UX research kit from HubSpot.

Included are templates for user testing, UX research reporting, and UX research presentation. Start smoothing out the kinks.

Do the deep work →
Dolittle Dialogue
dog with a child

Can machine learning help us talk to pets?

When Dr. Dolittle premiered in 1998, Eddie Murphy’s character lived the longtime dream of animal lovers everywhere.

Now, more than two decades later, could technology soon make it a reality?

Machine learning algorithms…

… are pretty good at understanding humans, which helped give rise to Alexa, Siri, and other voice assistants.

Scientists are now using the tech to analyze animal communication patterns, per The New York Times.

Some active projects include:

  • Unpacking the dialects of naked mole rats
  • Analyzing the syntax and semantics of sperm whales
  • Deciphering differing tones among Egyptian fruit bats

Diana Reiss, an expert on dolphin communication, likened these projects to building a “Google Translate” for animals.

Studies on animal communication aren’t new…

… but machine learning tools can do things humans can’t — like tell individual animals apart, and differentiate which sounds animals make in specific situations to decode their meaning.

The field is nascent, which means the possibilities are endless. It also means it might be awhile before you can shoot the shit with your Shih Tzu.

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AROUND THE WEB

🌕 On this day: In 1959, the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 space probe intentionally crashed on the moon, becoming the first man-made spacecraft to touch its surface.

📅 How to: Does habit tracking work? Yes, but there are a few must-dos for success.

🤑 Useful: This site catalogs free trials, discounts, and other freebies.

🧙 Cure boredom: Go outside. But make it an adventure.

🥰 Aww: And now, look at this baby pudu!

Meme
sounds meme

*Slams the volume down button* (Source: imgflip.com)

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: Jennifer “Chats with cats” Wang.

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