The Recommendation Engine: Assembly's Arie Hefter

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This history buff and news junkie has an intense case of FONK (Fear Of Not Knowing).

The Recommendation Engine is Campaign US' weekly feature in which we learn about the media young people in the ad industry are currently consuming. This week, we get to know Arie Hefter, associate director of integrated communications at media agency Assembly, headquartered in New York.

What I’m watching
When not continuously binge-watching old episodes of "The Office and Parks" and "Recreation," I’m a huge fan of documentaries. Mostly due to my inner quest to officially be coined a "history buff," but also because I believe that understanding the past is a powerful tool used to reimagine the future. I just finished Netflix’s "13th" and "White Helmets," both of which are very good. I’m also in the middle of Ken Burns’ "The Roosevelts." Depending on what I’m watching, I usually alternate between screens—starting an episode on my phone and then finishing on my TV, through my Roku.

I also love watching more snackable stories and mini episodes, especially 360 video content through the New York Times VR app. It’s a more active viewing experience overall, and I tend to find myself rewatching things a few times, just to get a slightly different angle or make sure I didn’t miss anything. I just watched a cool story called "Notes on Blindness"– though it’s somewhat ironic that I watched a story about being blind on probably the most visual medium imaginable, but it worked.


What I’m listening to
I'm pretty obsessed with audiobooks and podcasts. As a perpetual multi-tasker (for better or worse), I love the idea of hands-free reading and learning, being able to get swept up in content without having to completely cut myself off from everything else. Some of my favorites are "Stuff You Missed in History Class," as well as NPR’s "How I Built This," which dives into the stories behind great innovators and the businesses and movements they shaped. Apart from the intriguing narratives, I get immense value in hearing accounts of creative individuals and how they overcame obstacles on route to big things. Obviously, as the saying goes, you learn the most from your failures—but if I can get the wisdom from other peoples’ obstacles, even better. 


What I’m reading
Techmeme and Hacker News are great aggregators on news in the space. I always try to read at least three articles a day, especially as technology is an ever-changing beast. Like most people due to this election cycle, I’ve dived head first into the realm of news and politics content, reading the New York Times pretty much every day through its app. While a lot of people face the idea of FOMO (which I do as well), I like to think I suffer from a new, yet fairly treatable condition, of FONK (fear of not knowing), so I try to absorb as much as I can to make sure I am informed on what’s happening outside of my little advertising bubble.

I often like to read the same story on two different, political-leaning sites, such as MSNBC and Fox, to compare the differences (which is definitely also amusing at times). I also love reading The New Yorker, mainly to try my hand at their cartoon caption contests, but its stories aren’t too shabby either.


Who I’m following
Nat Geo’s Instagram account is really one of the only publishers that I let into my feed (besides, of course, the brands I work on). I’m a huge nature geek and, outside of the fact that the imagery is pretty unbelievable, the context they give is also quite powerful. I really don’t follow any traditional "influencers;" rather, I lean on my friends and coworkers, who I think share or disseminate the best content. My coworker actually has a great Pocket account that he fills with cool stories and news in the tech, AI, and data realm, which I follow pretty regularly (shout out to Luc: http://sharedli.st/ldespaux).

Day dreaming of this place // by @drewtrush // NASA has recently released a new map of earth's "night lights", showing how the lights of human activity shine around the world. It’s getting harder for a lot of people to see the stars, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to find what stargazers refer to as Dark Sky sites. The Bortle scale, was created in 2001 by John E. Bortle to help amateur astronomers evaluate the dark sky potential of stargazing sites. A nine point scale, at Class 1, over 5,000 stars are visible and the Milky Way begins to take on a three dimensional shape as shadows are cast on dust clouds 390 Light-years away. Here, you can see the Sagittarius Star Cloud as well as the Prancing Horse Dark Dust Cloud. My favorite Dark Sky site recently has been the Temple of the Moon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah while on a family road trip. How bright are the lights at night where you live, how many stars can you see? • Click the link in my bio to learn more and see the new NASA maps. @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @nasa

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on


What I’m ignoring
Fake News and the amount of time I spend on Amazon for Pez refills for my extensive candy addiction…both of which are equally alarming.