a brief interlude

I could sit here all day. I probably will.

Sat in green. The air is cool. Four vehicles in view: two similar, two practical. The trees are cut purposefully into square arrangements. It is unclear why. Three squares of trees, four if you count that one twice, stand on hills. Their shared diagonal rooves sharing the same degree as the angle they’re growing upon.

There were hedgehogs here last night. Two of them, fattening up quickly before hibernating into the long winter months that lay ahead. 650 grams is the minimum weight required for a hedgehog to survive its seasonal sleep. The little lad finishing off the plates last night knows it and will keep returning until his internal body scales tell him it’s OK. I wish him well.

Back to those hills, rising up like the arched backs of sleeping giants, they surround us. Left, hills. Forward, hills. Right, hills. It is only the gravel track behind us that provides any route out of this deep maze and even that feels like driving through the bottom of a ravine. As a result, the wind barely comes down and it is a magnificent anomaly of nature. There is no wind to be felt, in this hole between hills, and yet the clouds above race by at an incredible speed.

My mind jumps briefly. From here, sat still in green, to there, racing past in white. And I wonder if it feels still up there. If the cloud looks down and marvels at how fast the world is turning below it. I wonder.

The cows are moving. Up high on the hill ahead, a heard of around 40 bovines have erupted into noise. They are being herded, slowly, up and over the crest. Their silhouettes atop the hill would make a beautiful photograph – perhaps I’ll try to draw it later.

The clouds part, hello sunshine.

I could sit here all day.

I probably will.

But first: coffee.

Fresh.

 

The Good Old Days

When I was a kid we had a thing called Video City.

My friend Roger inadvertently shared this with me.

And I like it (in a sad yet nostalgic-totally-on-point kinda way).

Blockbuster

– via Neatorama

When I was a kid we had a thing called Video City. I remember renting things like The Never Ending Story, They Live, and Transformers: The Movie. When Blockbuster opened in my home town it was like all my Christmases had come at once; not only could you rent videos but you could get video games as well!

Weekends would never be the same again.

Bodger will remember these great days. Tony will too.

Tecmo World Wrestling for the NES.

Mortal Kombat for the MegaDrive.

The good old days.

 

Today.

War.

A short, three letter word. It’s the sound some make when they yawn. The guttural release when something goes right; a goal, a catch, a winning pitch. The word that allows the massacre of innocent children.

War.

A short, three letter word. It’s the sound some make when they yawn. The guttural release when something goes right; a goal, a catch, a winning pitch. The word that allows the massacre of innocent children. From five months old to five years old. Below and beyond. Children are dying. This is no epidemic. There is no disease. This is war.

Words float around on TV screens around the office: Hamas. Israel. Gaza. Tunnels. Occupation. Palestine. Terrorism. Defence. Western influence. Children.

My phone, a product of its generation, offers up emoji whenever I hit upon a corresponding keyword.

I type Child. And 👶 appears.
I type Children. And 🚸 appears.

A toddler’s face, smiling.
Two children, holding hands.

The harsh reality is only made harder when illustrated in the language of the young.

It makes you sick.

There aren’t many I know who could explain the situation in Israel right now. The issues are far too old, far too complex, far too beyond the point of understanding that there can be no cliff notes, no cheat sheet.

My son is six months old. I look at him and wonder, often, what he might do, where he might go, what he will see? How can I leave something good for him, something positive?

And then I look around and I despair.

The situation in Gaza is horrendous. The Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow published a video over the weekend talking about his time there.

A follow up piece to a blog post he wrote before that, it addresses some of the atrocities that are happening to children in the area.

Jon Snow

It makes you weep.

After watching, I shared it on Facebook. On Facebook. Others watched. Others shared. I commented on one share that perhaps the video should’ve explained how a viewer could help. Maybe some kind of call to action. The cheek. The Western presumed privilege. The disgusting arrogance. ‘Great video, Jon, but are you expecting me to Google it now?’ FFS.

I did Google it. I discovered the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. I’ve donated and right now I’m looking at how I might volunteer in the region and actually help.

Because something needs to be done.
Because someone needs to help.
Because we are better than this.

So much better.

//

I uninstalled Twitter last week. Logged out, switched off, unplugged.

The reason? Someone I follow retweeted an image of a dead child into my feed. A grotesque corpse. Held up by adults to show the literal effect of the missiles and shells that rain down on Gaza daily. It/he/she can never be unseen. Twitter displays images ‘inline’, which means you can see whatever gets sent no matter what.

I went into shock. Seeing death, in any form, is no pleasure for anyone. Seeing death like this. In this manner. Made me ill. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think. I could barely see straight. Since then a day hasn’t passed whereby I haven’t thought on this. So many thoughts. So many reasons.

Again, Western privilege.
Again, how dare dead children interrupt my day. What on earth are these images doing in the place where it is my job to help brands sell more stuff.

Ugh.

WTF Whatley. Who are you? Do. Something.

Do something.
FFS, someone do something.

I did something.

I wrote this.

I donated.

I’ll do more. I don’t know what yet.

What will you do?

 

Exhibiting at the Saatchi Gallery

Yup.

Whatley @ The Saatchi

BACK STORY

In March I wrote a post about the reason why I use Google+. In short, it’s only really down to one thing, and that thing is a little feature known as ‘Auto Awesome‘.

What Auto Awesome does is automatically add special effects to the photos that it thinks could do with them. Obviously this is all done separately from your main folder, so you don’t ruin your originals, but the net effect is actually quite fun and cool.

The awesomes themselves vary but my favourite is definitely when Google+ spots a batch of photos that look similar, and then throws them together to create an animated gif.

Like so:


THE COMPETITION

Shortly after that post went live, I was alerted to a Google-sponsored Motion Photography competition at the Saatchi Gallery (that obviously lent itself to the creation of these Auto Awesomes).

Google+ Motion Photography

Of the six categories available, I entered this one into the Urban category –

 

I didn’t win.

Boo.

_________

BUT I DID MAKE IT AS A FINALIST!

Which means:

  1. My work was judged by film director Baz Luhrmann, artists Tracey Emin, Shezad Dawood and Cindy Sherman, and Saatchi Gallery CEO, Nigel Hurst – AMAZING!
  2. I got my name in The LondonistBRILLIANT!
  3. My work is at this very moment on display in the Saatchi Gallery – SPEECHLESS!

 


And that’s pretty darn awesome.

As you can see, I’ve already been to see my stuff (and the rest of the entries, including the rather excellent winning entrants) and the whole exhibition is pretty special.

It’s an odd feeling, having work up in the Saatchi. It didn’t really hit me until I was leaving, just how lucky I am to have stuff there. The other work that has appeared in that building. The other artists. The effort.

I’m still a bit dumbfounded by it all really.

_______________

The Motion Photography Prize is on display on the top floor of Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, SW3 4RY until 24 May.

New stuff from me.

Short post covering off five things that happened this past seven days.

Whatley x 3

Regular readers will know I run a feature called ‘Five things on Friday‘ and I very nearly included these things in that, but then I realised it went against my own brief for that (e.g.: things about me might not actually be that interesting), so I broke them out into a separate post.

1. My new job got announced. So that was exciting.

2. I’ve started keeping a log of the brand-related Snapchat activity I find interesting. You may or may not find it useful [one day].

3. The Mobile World Congress edition of The Voicemail went live. If you only ever listen to one episode of this weekly mobile technology podcast, make it this one. It’ll prime you with all the mobile knowledge you’ll need for the rest of the year. Probably.

4. The Guardian wrote about ‘the secret to viral marketing‘ and they asked me to comment. I commented. They published it. Before you click through, can you guess what the secret is?

5. I wrote a piece for work about why Facebook bought WhatsApp and it went on to become one of our best performing posts to date. Proper sense of achievement that. As was presenting a webinar on my 2014 social media trends to the social teams globally (including this bunch of pizza-munching Ogilvy folk in DC). Amazing. Thanks for having me guys!

There were a few late nights and several early mornings, but this past week was pretty awesome.

That is all.

2013: in review

Where do I start?

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 17.35.03

Photo from my trip to Aldwych Underground station in November.

Let’s start with numbers.

THE BLOG

The most popular post of 2013 was the publication of a rare DJ set from The Avalanches (I can thank Josh Russell and an appearance on Reddit for that particular bump), and coming in at a close second was my super excited review of PACIFIC RIM back in July.

Overall, stats-wise, 2013’s numbers are down on 2012’s. As you can see below –

Site_Stats_‹_whatleydude_—_WordPress-3

This is down to a number of things. First off, in 2012 I wrote up ‘Five things on Friday‘ every single week, without fail (maybe I should bring that back for 2014). Blogging regularly increases traffic – who knew?

That lift in 2012 combined with a general decrease in posts this year means the disparity is quite large. I’m not kidding on the post decrease either. YOY 2013 has seen my lowest publishing rate for some time. The lowest in seven years in fact.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 16.49.23

[more here, thanks Jetpack]

So why the dip in output? 2013 has been a very busy year.

WORK

I’ve had pretty much had two jobs for most of 2013 (this is changing next month, but more on that in the New Year – shh), which has been as fantastic as it has challenging. From awesome travel brands kicking ass on Twitter, through to award-winning innovations for an online furniture retailer. To say 2013 had been ‘a bit full on’, would be an understatement – but in the best of ways.

I’m staying true to my mantra of ‘Great work, with inspiring people‘ – and long may it continue.

AMBITION

This time 12mths ago, I set out two very public ambitions. Speaking and Running. How did I do? In the former I set out to beat 2012’s rather lacklustre total of THREE and at least match 2011’s total of SIX.

Looking back over 2013, it looks like I topped out at a grand total of TEN. Each one unique in its own way and each one different from the one before. If you helped me achieve this goal in 2013, then thank you very much – I am chuffed that I managed to beat it so definitively.

On the running front, I started on Jan 1st 2013 at zero. I’m finishing on Dec 31st at 228km, with a couple of charity efforts in there for good measure.

Highlights? The British 10k for CALM and completing the Tough Mudder with Team Expedia at Ogilvy. Again, if you helped me achieve this goal in 2013 – then thank you. I feel an enormous sense of achievement, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

In the New Year I intend to continue these two even further. The speaking one I’ll continue plugging away at it – it isn’t the number of gigs, it’s the intention to keep doing them (and I’ve already got three pencilled in for 2014, and I figure that should be my baseline). And on the running front, I fully intend to smash the 300k marker for 2014.

Hurrah and hurrah again.

PREDICTIONS

In the summer of 2012 I wrote three social media predictions for 2013. Let’s review:

Prediction 1: The outsourcing of community management to emerging markets
I’ve got no proof of this happening yet. But I still think it will, if it hasn’t already (and I just haven’t seen it).

Prediction 2: 2screening + Advertising
The big thing I covered here was about ‘super micro targeting’, eg: Twitter allowing media planners to buy against actual TV shows. BOOM.

Precition 3: 4G networks spurring further innovation
I think I might have been a bit too hopeful on this front. 4G isn’t really hitting the ground here in the UK quite yet, so maybe it’ll be another year or so until it bears fruit.

Final score? 1/3.
Rubbish. My predictions for next year are out, hopefully I’ll do better next time.

FILM & MUSIC & GAMING

Film: I really went for it this year, I saw loads but managed an average of one write up a month (12 film reviews).
Music: Spotify’s got me covered.

Spotify

Gaming: I jumped off the Xbox ship and went for the PlayStation 4.
You should do the same.

ADDITIONAL BITS AND BOBS

AND FINALLY: LIFE IN GENERAL

I’ll be honest, 2013 has been a veritable roller-coaster of a ride. With super high ups, and woefully low downs. At one point, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive. But here I am, in spite of it all, still kicking and at the precipice of a whole new chapter.

Who knows how it will work out.

I made a decision a couple of years back to keep a fair chunk of my personal life offline, and I’m pleased to say that I’m sticking to it. My friends, my true friends know where it’s at – and that’s all that matters.

There are some amazing people out there that have helped me through this past year. Friends and colleagues, old and new – you know who you are.

Thank you.

Next year is a whole new adventure.

BRING. IT. ON.

COOL STORY