Changing habits in the world after coronavirus

What comes after coronavirus? Possibly, a world with new habits and routines.

Welcome to the FWIW newsletter about tech, media & audio written by David Tvrdon. 🌐 Read it online and 👉 be sure to subscribe, if you were forwarded this newsletter.

In this edition

What is going to happen after?

🎧 Podcasts are struggling but not everywhere

💬 Other news: Zoom security fiasco, drones might be the winners of this crisis

What comes after coronavirus? Possibly, a world with new habits

📷 by Adrià Tormo on Unsplash

What is going to happen after? That question has been bugging me for the last week. We are at a moment when there is no clear end to this situation (yes, COVID-19) and also everyone is saying something different.

Almost after each pandemic, at least since the Plague of Justinian (541 - 750 AD), there has been a more or less significant shift in society.

The aftermath of the Smallpox outbreak in the 15th - 17th centuries brought eventually modern capitalism. The Spanish Fluin 1918 - 1919 led to improvements in public health. And the SARS pandemic in 2003-2003 increased awareness about preventing viral disease transmission.

[Dive deeper in pandemic aftermaths, I recommend this Business Insider article.]

It’s much harder to forecast the economic development and impact on various businesses. I have been looking for some good writing and explanation on the topic, but haven’t found a lot.

For example, The Economist is super vague:

We cannot know what long-run effects covid-19 may have, but we can feel reasonably sure there will be some.

And The Conversation put it like this:

This pandemic is both a shock to demand and supply. Just as the disease is highly contagious, so too is the economic crisis it causes. The labour lost from implementing the recommended 14 days of self-isolation for suspected cases alone will have serious economic implications. Closing down entire regions or countries, as recently enacted in Italy, will no doubt cause a recession.

Not entirely useless, but without a clear forecast.

Other questions

There have also been some other questions going around in the minds of people as I have seen them being asked on social media, blogs or personal conversations:

  • Is my company going to make it?

  • Is my favorite place going to still be around?

  • Should I have spent the time in self-isolation by learning to code?

  • Will grocery deliveries become a normal standard part of life?

  • Will my favorite shop finally start an e-shop?

And here are some questions that will come after this crisis ends and I suspect some managers and CEOs are going to be asking them:

  • Do we have to have that meeting in person?

  • Do you need to spend this money?

  • Is there a way to introduce subscriptions to our business model?

Changing habits

As I have grappled with the answers it occurred to me that several-weeks lasting isolation might have a subtle impact on our daily habits and routines.

A quick example: Most podcasts are seeing drops in consumption of about 20%. Media consumption is changing, also Spotify’s total music streams are globally down by 11.4% last week.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is a professor of political communication and the Director at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

I love this part of his Tweet:

When routines can be resumed, people resume what they miss or need.

During your life you built up daily habits and routines, now they are disrupted for a few weeks. There is no clear science on how much does it take to create new habits or change old habits, some research suggested it takes weeks, other hinted it may take months.

Anyway, it’s safe to say you will not resume your daily life exactly as you did before.

When I am thinking about media consumption and technology I have used every day before coronavirus came and my current situation, a couple of my routines just disappeared and I see some new emerging.

I know a lot is going to change after the crisis anyway, but I can’t help thinking there will be new opportunities for tech and media companies alike, it’s just a matter of who figures those things out the first. Those will be the winners.

In other news

🎧 How do Corona and COVID-19 affect podcasting? Apparently, it differs by platform and country. In the United States, podcast downloads have seen a decrease in general with some exceptions (Vox Media, Slate). Spotify, on the other hand, reported an increased interest in news podcasts, also health, lifestyle, and children's stories (which of there are less than you would think). And over at Europe, Germany's largest podcast hoster revealed a 10% increase in downloads, and also a high interest in new podcasts registrations. Again, news podcasts have seen the biggest growth, followed by science, comedy and somewhat strangely sports. [Podtrac, Podigee]

📚 The curious case of audiobooks vs. podcasts. In 2019, according to Pew Research, 20% of Americans listened to audiobooks compared to 32% who have listened to a podcast in the last 12 months (per The Infinite Dial 2019 by Edison Research). In 2020 audiobooks will become three times bigger in terms of revenue, even with 2/3 of the userbase podcasts have. Turns out those fewer users are happy to pay from $20 to $30 per audiobook or subscribe for $10 per month. In this piece on my Medium blog, I tried to highlight that podcasting has a monetization problem. [Medium]

🛸 Drones and coronavirus. One of the winners of the current crisis might be drone delivery startups. Human-to-human contact is canceled, but people still need food, medication, and other essential items. Delivery companies are plugging the gap:

In Africa, Zipline runs the world's largest drone delivery network, with over 1 million autonomous miles flown and 60,000+ vaccine, medicine, and blood delivery drops. Zipline wants to help in the U.S. "and could be ready to hit the ground within weeks of getting the greenlight," said spokesman Justin Hamilton.

The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States already has received inquiries about expanded drone operations to respond to COVID-19. [Emerging Tech]

👾 It’s been a hard week for Zoom. All the news is still coming in at the time when I am finishing this newsletter, in short - Zoom has a problem, actually several. First, The Intercept dropped an investigation saying the marketed end-to-end description is not true. Also, many users have been surprised by a surveillance feature called Attention Tracking (Zoom notifies the meeting host if someone is not watching for more than 30 seconds. And on Wednesday an ex-NSA hacker found a Zoom bug that can be abused to steal Windows passwords, plus another security researcher found two new bugs that can be used to take over a Zoom user’s Mac, including tapping into the webcam and microphone. Zoom has a lot of explaining to do, and a lot more fixing. [The Intercept, TechCrunch]

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