Things on Sunday (FToF #220)

Hey Gang,

FYI: What with the popularity of my newsletter edition of this blog, I’ve switched around how I publish Five things on Friday. It used to be that I drafted, finalised, and published direct into WordPress. Then, on the back end, various Mailchimp plugins did some magic and sent out FtoF to the hundreds of subscribers shortly after. It worked ok. Occasional fails meant extra work from time to time and the formatting wasn’t amazing… but it worked well for a hundred or so editions. Anyway, I decided to change things.

As of last week’s edition, I now draft, finalize, and publish direct into Mailchimp. Then, once I’ve hit send on the subscriber edition, I copy and paste it all into wordpress. I say ‘it all’, there’ll be some tiny variations (mainly: if you subscribe to the newsletter you get: a new / better intro from me, a sign off gif guaranteed, and, when feasible, SPECIAL OFFERS (I have no idea what these are at the time of writing but if you’ve been reading these long enough you know that some proper random stuff comes my way sometimes)) so the point is: Five things on Friday isn’t going anywhere, it’s just starting somewhere else from now on.

And if you want the best version of this post: be sure to subscribe.

You can do that by clicking on the following link:

OMG, JAMES – I WANT TO SUBSCRIBE

Right, on to the things!

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1. A PHOTOGRAPHER’S TAKE ON ‘PHOTO MODE’

If you follow me on Twitter then you might already have an inkling that I’m quite the fan of a game known as Horizon Zero Dawn.

The 4K HDR graphics/resolution/sheer beauty of this game has to be seen [in action] to be believed. My shots, thus –



– barely do it any justice (note these are all in-game shots; I’ve literally hit the pause button, lined up the camera, and then snapped – incred).

However, a photographer named Paramjit Nahar got hold of HZD, and its built-in photo mode, and put together a really interesting take on both – from a photographer’s POV.

A fun read with a different viewpoint combined with some fantastic visuals.

Worth a look.

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2. GOOGLE HOME + BURGER KING

I mean, we should’ve seen it coming.

If you missed the news this week (and to be honest, you could easily be forgiven what with PepsiUnited AirlinesGodwin’s Law of Press Secretariesthe President of the United States remembering his dessert over the name of the country he just bombed – Hell, at the time of writing, the planet has never been closer to it’s next World War and here I am writing about fast food + the future of home utility/comms… Point being: with all that’s been going on, you’re allowed to have missed some things) then the short version is: some idiots at Burger King’s advertising agency decided it’d be really funny/cool/’creative’ to include a Google Home trigger in its latest TV ad.

Here’s a link to the ad (and subsequent Google Home response)

If you don’t want to click and view/listen, it goes something like – Burger King employee appears and says ‘This ad is 15 seconds long, which is nowhere near long enough to tell you all about the Burger King Whopper. So let’s try something: OK, Google, what is a Burger King Whopper?’

And then Google Home, your Google Home, responds with the Wikipedia definition of the Burger King Whopper.

There are a bunch of things to say here:

First: big up to Google for jumping on this super quick and shutting the damn thing down within 24hrs (although there are reports that BK is finding a way around this (way to go gang, pissing off Google is always a smart move)).

Second, to all the numpties that said: ‘Woah! This breaks new ground for advertising / smart-home integration – it like, totally breaks the 4th wall man’ – just get out. Leave. Go take a long hard look in the mirror and have a serious word with yourself.

YES, this was a ‘clever’ thing to do. But really? How is this useful, to anyone? Which leads me onto my third point.

Where the hell was the planner in any of these conversations?

Who was the person responsible for saying Wait a second, will any consumers actually find this useful? Or will most of them find it INCREDIBLY infuriating?’  

Hell, maybe they knew that’s what’d happen. Maybe they knew it’d be a PR win and, irrespective of the ‘result’ (eg: Google shutting it down and/or BK’s Wikipedia entry being hacked/edited continuously just to mess with the whole thing – again, really not thought through at all gang), this is what they were ultimately aiming for and I’m just playing into the trap by writing about it here…?

Maybe.

But I’d gamble not.

Point is: this could’ve been done better. So much better.

I don’t know, how’s ‘OK Google, where’s the nearest Burger King?’ or ‘OK Google, add ‘get a Whopper’ to my to do list’ – or something else that actually be useful as opposed to just being irritating.

Eesh.

I guess I should round off this section by saying something like ‘IT’S NOT HARD, YOU GUYS!’ – but maybe it is. Maybe it’s REALLY DIFFICULT for people that SELL BURGERS to consider what their potential consumers MIGHT ACTUALLY WANT IN THEIR LIVES.

Maybe.

/rant

Sidenote: at SXSW this year there was a whole piece on advertising in the smart home. Partly driven by general future-gazing around what the current trend of home assistants mean for the industry but given a kick-start by the recent Beauty & the Beast ‘integration’ [also] into Google Home.

The question I came away with was: if you’re living in an internet-enabled home, with voice assistants, internet-enabled fridges, speakers, etc… and it’s all set up in a way that your house can actually speak back to you, could you ever see a point in the future where you would sign up to having advertising interspersed within your audio notifications? For example: ‘Hey Google, tell me about my day’ ‘Good afternoon, James, you have a team lunch at 12pm. May I suggest Young’s, I hear the views are spectacular and if you use ‘Google’ at point of booking, you’ll get 10% off your final bill’

Your immediate response would perhaps be ‘Oh my God, No‘.

But what if agreeing to have this in-home advertising contributed to your rent? Or maybe madeyou savings against your utility bills? Does it become more of an attractive offer? Something to noodle on, as we march slowly towards our assisted future…

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3. FREE PARKING DOESN’T HELP

Apple has a new HQ nearing completion in Cupertino.

The Economist writes:

‘Even if the new headquarters that Apple is creating in California does not prove to be “the best office building in the world”, as Steve Jobs boasted shortly before his death in 2011, it will be an astounding sight. The main building resembles a flying saucer with a hole in the middle. Through its large, gently curving windows, workers will eventually look out on a wood containing some 7,000 carefully chosen trees. It is as though a race of high-tech beings has landed on a pristine planet.

And then, unfortunately, there’s the car park. For 14,000 workers, Apple is building almost 11,000 parking spaces. Many cars will be tucked under the main building, but most will cram into two enormous garages to the south. Tot up all the parking spaces and the lanes and ramps that will allow cars to reach them, and it is clear that Apple is allocating a vast area to stationary vehicles. In all, the new headquarters will contain 318,000 square metres of offices and laboratories. The car parks will occupy 325,000 square metres.

That’s crazy. For what is supposed to be the most amazing building in the world, to not bake in a better way of getting employees to and from the space seems like a huge oversight.

Except it isn’t Apple’s fault.

Cupertino laws demand it.

And it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Said Economist article is worth a read.

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4. WHY DO FEMALE CHARACTERS HAVE TO BE LIKEABLE? 

Erica Jong re-examines the writing behind Girls and, in doing so, uncovers an ugly truth about how female writers / professionals / ‘s’ in general are treating over and above their male counterparts.

Much to take in and consider here.

But not much I can quote or pull from – the whole piece needs to be read in full.

So I suggest you do that.

Off you pop.

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5. ‘KIRK DRIFT’

In perhaps a companion piece to Thing 4, this excellent long read entitled as above takes a look at the collective mis-membering of Captain James T Kirk and his supposed reputation as a chauvinist and womanizer.

I implore you to read at least part one (of this nine-part essay) purely to enjoy the writer’s perfect approach the problem at hand.

Erin Horáková writes:

“There is no other way to put this: essentially everything about Popular Consciousness Kirk is bullshit. Kirk, as received through mass culture memory and reflected in its productive imaginary (and subsequent franchise output, including the reboot movies), has little or no basis in Shatner’s performance and the television show as aired. Macho, brash Kirk is a mass hallucination.”

AND THE EVIDENCE SUBSEQUENTLY PUT FORWARD IS AS BRILLIANT AS IT IS WELL-RESEARCHED.

My favourite long-read of the week.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

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And that about wraps things up.
Remember, if you want the best version of this stuff – please subscribe to via Mailchimp (and obvs share the link around pls) and I will love you forever.
Whatley out x

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