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By Mitchel Russo
The amount of time we spend in front of our phones is growing, indeed that growth has skyrocketed during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and with it has come a flood of content creation.
Content creation, in the visual sense, used to mean TV shows and movies that we digested via a TV or cinema screen, but now content is everywhere, and the bulk of it isn’t made by professional filmmakers, but by amateurs. It’s made by us.
The kings of content creation at present are TikTok and YouTube, two behemoths who host, process, and offer millions upon millions of hours of content for our amusement and entertainment.
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TikTok is really surging these days, despite the efforts of a certain soon-to-be ex-president (who has made it his ambition to curb the platform in the US), and the continued success of the Chinese owned video-sharing social networking service is quite something to behold.
It’s particularly popular with the youth market, a market that has left the likes of Facebook and Twitter in large numbers, and the continually vivacious appetite of its users to watch and make content is unprecedented.
You can barely walk down a stretch of pavement without watching an individual, or group, filming themselves performing the latest dance craze, which they then expertly look to overlay with royalty-free music in order to produce an end product and share it with the world.
Indeed the amount of content consumed by the younger demographic is scaling up but a great deal of that increase comes from the aforementioned platforms, and not so much from the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
The democratization of content creation has meant that the platforms that offer content are growing month on month, new streaming services emerge continually, and a young audience will not sit in one place for too long, but the push to digest ‘amateur’ content creation has an additional benefit for the likes of TikTok and YouTube.
It’s very much a representation of the edict, ‘give the people what they want,’ where users now don’t have to settle for content products that are offered to them, they can just go out into the world and make their own.
The very fact that the content being created is being shared so widely, and so organically, means that budding content creators feel that they too can get their products out into the wider world. It’s potentially a never-ending loop that these platforms will ride on to secure mind-bogglingly large levels of revenue.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: ओटीटी पर डॉक्यूमेंट्री-ड्रामा को मिल रहा अच्छा रिस्पांस
Taking TikTok specifically as an example of the upward trend, the service is available in 150 countries and has over 1 billion users, the app itself has been downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide, and markets in India and China are growing at an astonishing pace.
Users spend on average 52 minutes per day on the app, indeed a user opens the app eight times a day, and perhaps the most telling statistic is the fact that 83% of users have posted a video themselves.
On the subject of revenue, TikTok is estimated to bring in upwards of $500 million in the US alone, and the platform is looking to strengthen its stranglehold on the market by paying key influencers to join the app. So you can expect their dominance to continue long into the future.
So far, efforts by the likes of Facebook to rival TikTok have failed to bear fruit, their version “Lasso” didn’t come close to making a dent in the market and duly closed in July.
Given that the platform allows users to broadcast their efforts to a huge audience and the hope of going viral continues to entice users, it’s a fair bet that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to restrict our daily lives, users will look to entertain themselves, and others, as much as ever.
In many ways, the act of content creation, on an amateur scale at least, is a release from the everyday travails. It’s a chance for users to express themselves in an easy and engaging manner and a form of entertainment that provides a break from the uncertainty and concern caused by the coronavirus.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)