Why @OneQuestionConf was the best event I went to in 2016

tl;dr – One Question Conference is fantastic and you should really try and get to the second event this coming May

tl;dr – One Question Conference is fantastic and you should really try and get to the second event this coming May (tickets are on sale here). Newsletter subscribers can get a 15 discount of the stated ticket price in the next edition (#218).

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In November last year, I tweeted this:

It’s been a good three-nearly-four months so I figured now is a good a time as any to finally write up my notes from the inaugural One Question conference.

One Question, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is, to use its own words:

‘…an event like no other; a focused agenda based on a single topic, with speakers from vastly different backgrounds providing their unique perspectives. There are no slides, no sales pitches; just inspirational stories designed to educate and excite. Designed to challenge the way we think, as people and professionals.’

The ‘one question’ in this first instance was thus:

‘How do we successfully marry technology and humanity?’

The speakers lined up to address this question came from industries such as advertising, music, technology, media, finance, and more.

And everything about it was excellent.

The venue – stunning. The speakers – well curated. The Wi-Fi was reliable (shocking, I know) and it was clear a lot of care and attention had gone into making the event enjoyable, insightful, and, ultimately, successful.

In short: if you missed it, you missed out.

What follows is a rough, three-month-percolated (yet unfiltered) download of the thoughts, quotes, and notes from the day (with occasional additional commentary). On reflection, there aren’t loads of notes and, tbh, that speaks a lot to the quality of lecture from each presenter.

But still. Here are said notes from One Question 2016.

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Session One: The Human Perspective

Rory Sutherland on ‘Benign Bullshit’
– aka ‘things that are meaningless’.

‘Economics is psychology dressed up as maths’.

‘Why doesn’t Google Maps show you a journey by scene vs speed?’

This reminded me of being in Exeter a short while before. I can’t remember why. I think a trip somewhere? Maybe a wedding? I can’t recall. Wait, yes, it was a wedding. Anyway, the day after I met my good friend Scott Gould for a coffee and he said, amongst other things, to take a different route home afterwards. ‘Yes it’s 30mins longer but the scenery is beautiful – and you’ll pass Stone Henge!’ – sold.

Session Two: The Future Perspective
Trevor Hardy on ‘The Long View’.

Delayed gratification. Long news. Slow news. Speed is not always good, says Trevor. I tend to agree.

Session Three: The Creative Perspective
Vikki Chowney speaking to tech is nothing without human influence/narrative. Story-telling. Empathy. Land Rover doing a thing on Instagram (I disagree). Cadbury and QR codes. Have you all seen the QR code on the back of a bar of Cadbury chocolate? You definitely have. Scan it next time. See what happens.

Sidenote: some friends and I used to plant easter eggs behind QR codes (silly photos, comments etc) and stick them around London. I might start that again. Ha.

Session Four: The Start Up Perspective
‘You can’t talk to any start-up for more than 30 seconds without them spasmodically yelling ‘DISRUPTION!” – Richard Newton (brilliant). Also, go look up Nancy Tilbury of XO, super interesting.

Session Five: The Editorial Perspective
‘Reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection’ – Michael Harris, The End of Absence

‘The lamp of human attention can only shine on one thing at a time’ – I like this.

‘We’re not multi-tasking, we’re lame spasm attention shifters’

‘Checking your Twitter is like picking nits out of your hair’

Session Six: The Media Perspective

Gut instinct or data insight?

Bias in algorithm. You know algorithms have bias, right?

Not many notes on this one. Not sure why.

(oh, I think I had a work call – bugger)

Session Seven: The VR Perspective

Sol Rogers is ace. Go look up VRTogether.org/Rewind (RWD). Retirement VR is being used to help people save more. Google ‘Clouds over Sidra’ – also, VR as medical treatment. And ‘Bravemind: PTSD’ – or VR snowball fights for burn victims.

This sessions is probably the best answer to the question so far.

Questions from the audience:

  • Will technology like this create a bigger societal divide? Maybe. But democratize it and make it as accessible as possible.
  • What about the dangers of dopamine? Will there be VR addiction centres? ‘Yes, probably. But that’s because dopamine is addictive’

Session Eight: The Music Perspective

This session was amazing. Freda Bolza (there’s a Spotify link you need to get, James) took us on a journey of technology + humanity from starting with Bach, then to the invention of the vocoder, then Moroder (legend), and then to T-PAIN. What an AMAZING session!!!

Got a link to that talk/playlist right here.

General Notes:

  • Great Venue
  • Well Cast – good speakers / mix of people
  • Good length of sessions
  • Water, food, and wi-fi – all reliable.
  • Damn this event is fantastic.

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So yeah. One Question. It’s pretty damn good.

You should go.

Five things on Friday #217

Things of note for the week ending Friday March 10th, 2017.

First thing first: thanks to all of you that got back to me re: last week’s formatting. Many of you liked it, a lot of you didn’t like it. For those of you who suffered weird issues where the damn thing didn’t fill your screen properly – yeah, that was my fault. I know what I did wrong. That said, I have no idea why it didn’t actually send in the first instance so… we’ll have to wait and see this week, right?

RIGHT.

Where was I?

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Things of note for the week ending Friday March 10th, 2017.

Hello.

I’m writing this to you from Houston, Texas. Currently waiting for a delayed flight to Austin so that, next week, I can attend the SXSW Interactive festival. Woop.

I’m going to TRY and not be an over-sharer on Twitter this time around so if you wanna keep up with my shenanigans while I’m there, add me on snapchat. The username, you guessed it, ‘whatleydude’.

Thing time:

1. THIS LETTERMAN INTERVIEW

Oh, hi David Letterman.

Right?! Jeez Louise. Since retiring from ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ he has grown a stupendous beard. Also, this interview with the [now] elusive Letterman is a must-read for any passing fans. Good coverage on Trump too (if you remember his run ins with him).

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2. EDWARD SAPERIA

Here are three things about this week’s eponymous thing number two.

  • Thing one: Ed Saperia is an interesting person.
  • Thing two: Ed Saperia has an interesting network.
  • Thing three: Ed Saperia has started a weekly newsletter that contains links to everything he posts to Facebook in the week previous. And it’s genuinely REALLY interesting. You can read the first edition via his archive and then probably figure out how to subscribe and stuff on your own after that. Give it a go.

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3. DIE HARD PLOT HOLE

I’ve seen DIE HARD (aka ‘the best Christmas movie ever’) a million times but this always passed me by.

There’s a bit in the film where Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) pretends to be a hostage when he first comes face to face with John McClane (Bruce Willis). McClane suspects that something is off and manages to get away—but it is never specified what exactly set off his alarm bells.

If it’s ever bugged you then LOOK AT YOU! Spotting plot holes a mile away. AREN’T YOU GOOD? As luck would have it, some 29yrs after the film was first released, Stephen E. de Souza has told us how and why this happened…

Esquire has the answer.

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4. IMPORTANT ASA UPDATE

The ASA updated its advice to ‘affiliate marketers’ this week and goes out of its way to underline how the new guidance includes blogs, vlogs, and social media posts & content. If you or your work leads you near any of these areas, then you really should familiarise yourself with this latest update.

They’ve even made you an infographic.

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5. THE BEST THING I SAW THIS WEEK

Amazing, right? Go RT the source.

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Bonuses this week are as follows:

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Aaaaaand that’s me, I’m out.

See you next week with a TON of SXSW stuff to tell you about.

I BET YOU CAN’T WAIT.

 

Five things on Friday #216

Things of note for the week ending March 3rd, 2017.

Things of note for the week ending March 3rd, 2017.

1. FACEBOOK VIDEO FORMATS – A ‘HANDY’ GUIDE

In its ongoing attempt to ensure that all its competitors’ features are available across all its apps and services, Facebook is launching vertical video (announced on its blog – you may’ve missed it among the noise re: autoplay ads w/sound on).

Anyway, the point is: Facebook video requirements are changing. And to help, it created this… er… handy reference guide.

Right click.

Save.

 

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2. MOAR VR STUFF

I met Sol Rogers shortly after I saw him speak at the inaugural ONE QUESTION conference (tickets for the second one are available now). Armed with an infectious enthusiasm and a brain to match, Rogers’ just happens to be founder and CEO of REWIND, a company specialising in VR experiences.

Here he is, writing for Little Black Book, asking the question: ‘Entertainment or Empathy – What do people really want from VR?‘. Minor correction to Sol’s piece, Samsung shipped 4.51m Gear VRs. I doubt very much they sold them all (many were given away as freebies with the latest devices / as an apology for the Note 7 kaboomzle problem).

I remain bullish on the future success of VR. Yes, we’re heading out of the peak of the hype cycle but I doubt the trough of disillusionment will be as deep as many predict.

As ever: we will see.

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3. OI. YOU. IMPOSTER. READ THIS. 

Did you know that approximately 70 percent of us will experience a period of self-doubt at least once in our lives.

If you’re struggling to validate why you are where you are, worry not – here are five ways to help move past it.

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4. OPEN STRATEGY

The Open Strategy newsletter is excellent.

This post rounds up their most read articles over the past 12mths and covers everything from content strategy to MILLENNIALS (and all the guff in between), it really is an excellent resource for some interesting and challenging reading.

Go swim.

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5. DISNEY X MAKER = ?

If you’ve been paying attention, Disney-owned YouTube-talent-owners known as MAKER has been scaling back its operations to focus on less ‘stars’ and land with more impact.

Digiday has its own write-up. It makes for hella interesting reading.

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Bonuses this week are as follows:

Until next week.

Stay cool.

 

Five things on Saturday (FtoF #215)

Things of note for the week ending Saturday 25th February, 2017.

Things of note for the week ending Saturday 25th February, 2017.

Hey gang, good week?

Let’s do this.

1. THE FLEABAG MYSTIQUE

NY Mag has a fantastic interview with Pheobe Waller-Bridge and you should read it.

I am a fan.

Here are three things about PWB:

Thing one: I saw Fleabag at Edinburgh Fringe, before it was TV (see no 18. here), and it was ace (in fact, I think the first time I saw PWB was in the 24hr production of Sixty-Six Books at The Bush Theatre – that was something else).

Thing two: the last time I saw PWB, I was stood behind her in the queue at my favourite London food spot –  she looked cool, and I very nearly said ‘Hello, you’re great’, but didn’t.

Thing three: er… SHE’S IN THE NEW HAN SOLO MOVIE. WHAT.

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2. ZUCK ON FACEBOOK AND ITS FUTURE

Mark Zuckerberg published a long letter to the world explaining how he would push the company toward humanity coming together, as a global community.

You can read it in its entirety on Zuck’s page (it’s worth the time).

 

Dave Pell, of Next Draft, has a perfect response:

“It is now. And the Internet that was designed to bring us all together may in fact be driving us further apart. As I’ve mentioned before, the open communication network we thought we were building turned into a hunting ground for trolls and spammers; unavoidable because of our ferocious addiction to our mobile screens. Social media evolved into a confirmation bias-riddled cesspool of lies, hate, and totally unrealistic versions of our lives; which would gradually amount to little more than weightless collections of Retweets and Likes. And somehow — with more tools to connect than ever before — we made our lives less diverse; racially, politically, and culturally; each of us left to sink in the quicksand that lines the thickening walls of our silos of homogeneity. So we’re left with a question. Can Zuck fix it?”

Further reading over at the NYT.

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3. JEDI MIND TRICK

That is all.

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3. SHOULD YOU TAKE YOUR PHONE TO THE UNITED STATES?

Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC takes a closer look at whether or not you should reconsider taking your phone on your next trip.

Key part:

I decided to seek some advice from the UK Foreign Office and the US embassy in London.Was there a danger that I would be forced by border officials to unlock my phone or hand over my social media passwords? The Foreign Office told me their travel advice did not cover this subject because they had not received any calls about it. But they did suggest that if I happened to be trapped in immigration at JFK airport with a border agent demanding my passcode, I could call the British embassy and arrange a lawyer.

Something to keep in mind.

I’m headed to the US next month and I’m still unsure what to do about this, if anything.

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5. KRAFT v UNILEVER

You may’ve read about this during the week. The FT has the best write up. Bar none.

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A relatively short edition this week

But dems the breaks.

Until next time,

Whatley out.

🐻🐾🐿

 

 

 

Five things on Saturday (FToF #214)

Things of note for the week ending [whatever date this goes out this week].

Things of note for the week ending Satuday Feb 18th, 2017.

1. WHEN THINGS GO MISSING

As someone who may or may not be questioning his own ability to remember things as well as having to help a loved one say farewell to those he has lost of late, these reflections on loss make for compelling reading.

When we lose something, our first reaction, naturally enough, is to want to know where it is. But behind that question about location lurks a question about causality: What happened to it? What agent or force made it disappear? Such questions matter because they can help direct our search. You will act differently if you think you left your coat in a taxi or believe you boxed it up and put it in the basement. Just as important, the answers can provide us with that much coveted condition known as closure. It is good to get your keys back, better still to understand how they wound up in your neighbor’s recycling bin.

But then, it evolves.

The verb “to lose” has its taproot sunk in sorrow; it is related to the “lorn” in forlorn. It comes from an Old English word meaning to perish, which comes from a still more ancient word meaning to separate or cut apart. The modern sense of misplacing an object appeared later, in the thirteenth century; a hundred years after that, “to lose” acquired the meaning of failing to win. In the sixteenth century, we began to lose our minds; in the seventeenth century, our hearts. The circle of what we can lose, in other words, began with our own lives and one another and has been steadily expanding ever since. In consequence, loss today is a supremely awkward category, bulging with everything from mittens to life savings to loved ones, forcing into relationship all kinds of wildly dissimilar experiences.

Your recommended long read of the week.

(and it features Patti Smith too)

 

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2. FIT FOR PURPOSE VIDEO FOR THE NEWSFEED

I’m noodling on this one a fair bit at the moment. What with the ever-changing landscape of video being hurriedly forced upon us (see slide 52, here), how is any one way to market supposed to be correct?

Well, fortunately for us, Twitter and Omnicom Media Group have published some research that can at least act as a guide for content marketers.

The full report is available from Twitter and Campaign has a decent write up. The key takeouts from the latter are as follows (my comments in bold):

Tips for better in-feed videos

  • The first three seconds do not need audio to capture attention (this has been true for a while – read this as ‘subtitles/interstitials/title cards matter).
  • In-feed videos viewed in the morning are more likely to elicit a feeling of personal relevance and generate detail-orientated encoding (this is especially useful if your brand/client publishes tips  or ‘how to’ videos).
  • Videos with an early story arc are 58% more likely to be viewed (this is really interesting, especially when you put it against Facebook’s own data that 65% of 3 second views go on to watch 10secs and  45% of 10sec views go onto watch 30 – in short: grab attention and do it quickly)
  • Topical content is 32% more likely to be viewed and leads to an 11% higher completion rate (obvious).
  • The presence of people in the first three seconds is 133% more emotionally intense (traditional marketers have known about people power for decades – the channels might change, the strategy rarely ever).
  • Text (or subtitles) stimulates left-brain memory response. Videos with text are 11% more likely to be viewed and have a 28% higher completion rate (Twitter and Facebook both [currently] play video silently – not using subtitles in 2017 is like not putting paid behind your content: why bother publishing it in the first place?)
  • Dialogue is more effective than music at driving relevance, emotion and memory (this is the people thing again – see also: Cialdini).

If you’ve been following literally any of the stuff Facebook has been wanging on about in regards to editing for the newsfeed, you’ll see a lot of similarities here.

How does that all fit against Facebook’s recent news about audio being on its way to auto-play videos?

Well, maybe I’ll have something on that for you next week.

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3. BUILDING A BOT? READ THIS

Venturebeat has three very good tips for bot-builders. Not rocket science and if you’ve spent five minutes talking to me about the topic then you may already know them.

However, this is definitely a good piece to have to hand if/when you’re trying to land a point about the basics.

One for the bookmarks.

 

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4. QUESTION YOUR ANSWERS

This is excellent.

Michael K. Williams asks the question (of himself) ‘Am I being typecast?’

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5. OK, GOOGLE, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

I won (!) a Google Home a little while ago and, combined with having a Google Pixel, I’ve been slowly getting accustomed to being able to tell Google’s Assistant to do/help with the things I need.. er.. assistance with.

Thing is, it can become a little painful trying to work out what it can, and more specifically what it can’t, do. Google hasn’t been that brilliant with providing a full list of these commands.

Fortunately, a savvy chap (and NOT a Google Employee, btw) by the name of Kristijan Ristovski has taken upon himself to fix that.

 

If you use Google Assistant, in any way, shape, or form – then do look at OK GOOGLE IO.

It’s dead useful.

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Bonuses this week are all a bit self-serving.

The best kind – ha!

  • First up, the frankly amazing conference ‘ONE QUESTION‘ returns later this year (if you missed last year’s keep an eye out for my write up of that one, very soon) and tickets have just gone on sale. The one question this time around is: ‘Can we really trust technology?’ – and features speakers from Pixar (!), a former member of Obama’s White House staff (!!) and even someone from Ogilvy (!!!). Definitely worth adding to your calendar and seeing if you get along. I promise you it will be excellent.
  • Next, the rather awesome people at Business Insider have put together a list of ‘The 30 best people in advertising to follow on Twitter‘ – and muggins made the cut. I’ve no idea how or why, however, I’ve gained about 200 or so new followers since it was published and I’m stupidly chuffed to be included with such legends and luminaries. Please check out the whole list and follow the lot of them (yes, even that guy).
  • The full day of music playlists that my friend Sarah and I put together are still going and, for no real reason whatsoever, I thought I’d share the link to our latest before it’s finished. It’s currently around 3hrs or so long and we’ll cap it off when we hit 8hrs (a full day you see). So if you want a playlist that’ll slowly grow and update over time, give this a follow.

 

And that’s it.

Until next time, fam x

Five things on Sunday (FtoF #213)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday February 12th, 2017.

Things of note for the week ending Sunday February 12th, 2017.

A busy week this week and many projects either being sold in or at last coming to fruition; very exciting. Hopefully can talk about some of them soon…

In the meantime, would you like some things? Of course you would.

A random collection this week.

Oh, and one last thing before we dive in: do please recommend this newsletter to someone this week.

Thanks, y’all x

Let’s do this:

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1. THE STATE OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN 2016

I’m pretty bullish on VR becoming mainstream – at least as a gaming experience – and the numbers coming out of 2016 tell a decent enough story to support that.

  • An industry revenue figure of $1.8bn (£1.4bn)
  • 4.51m Samsung Gear VR headsets shipped
  • 750k PlayStation VR units shipped
  • HTC Vive: 420k unites
  • Oculus: 250k units

A few things to note here. First, the above numbers don’t [seem to] take into account any Google Cardboard / Daydream numbers. Admittedly the latter only launched at the back end of last year however, this time last year, the former was touting all sorts of huge usage/shipped numbers; it would be nice to get an update from the big G on those numbers…

Second, PSVR (the one I have) has done well – which pleases me! And I’m kinda shocked that Oculus, arguably the poster-child for consumer VR – is shipping at so low numbers. Then again, the price of entry at that end has only just started to come down.

Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Gear VR headsets are leading the pack. Something to do with Samsung throwing a LOT of cash at awareness – both with advertising and freebies (if any of you bought a day one Samsung phone last year, you no doubt have one of these headsets sat at home somewhere).

Point being: VR arrived in 2016. Where it goes next, we shall see…

EDIT: it’s interesting, a day or so after I drafted the above, I read this story about how Best Buy was closing/pulling around 200 or so of its 500 Oculus demo areas across the US, citing ‘seasonal changes’ –

In a statement, Oculus spokesperson Andrea Schubert told The Verge that the closures were due to “seasonal changes,” and that people could “still request Rift demos at hundreds of Best Buy stores in the US and Canada.” She noted that other retail outlets, including Microsoft stores, offer demonstrations. Affected Best Buy stores will continue to sell Rift headsets and the accompanying Touch motion controllers, and Oculus plans to keep up public demos. “We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo,” said Schubert. “We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop-ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.”

If you believe the press, then this is the first death-knell of the end of the VR industry. I don’t believe the negative-hype. As shown above, Oculus is the highest cost and the lowest selling VR product on the market. Gaming is still the core area for VR, I think, but we’ll see what the next couple of years bring…

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2. RUSSIANS HACKING… SLOT MACHINES

According to Willy Allison, a Las Vegas–based casino security consultant who has been tracking the Russian scam for years, the operatives use their phones to record about two dozen spins on a game they aim to cheat. They upload that footage to a technical staff in St. Petersburg, who analyze the video and calculate the machine’s pattern based on what they know about the model’s pseudorandom number generator. Finally, the St. Petersburg team transmits a list of timing markers to a custom app on the operative’s phone; those markers cause the handset to vibrate roughly 0.25 seconds before the operative should press the spin button.

I mean, as cons go, this is pretty darn good. Best of all, because of the nature of the hack, there’s no immediate way to fix it.

Fascinating reading.

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3. GETTING TO MARS

This is really quite lovely.

Click and enjoy.

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4. AVENGERS INFINITY WAR

Is looking pretty spectacular.

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5. THE WORST INTERVIEW EVER?

You’ve just been given an opportunity to interview the White House Press secretary and you decide to send in this clown. Jesus.

Can you imagine if they’d actually paid attention in school?

(could be worse, they could’ve attempted to shake hands)

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Bonuses this week are as follows:

And that’s it.

This is the end.

You made it.

AREN’T YOU AMAZING?

Five things on SUNDAY [FToF #212]

Things of note for the week ending Sunday February 5th, 2017.

Things of note for the week ending Sunday February 5th, 2017.

1. USING TINDER TO FIND YOUR (PRI-)MATE

Park this one under ‘First thing here is probably going to make you smile’.

This is amazing:

Samboja, an 11-year-old orangutan at a Dutch zoo, is looking for love. Samboja and a team of scientists are foregoing the traditional approach of finding a mate and instead opting for the application many singles are currently using to find love: Tinder.

Scientists hope that by showing Samboja images of potential mates on a touchscreen device they can observe what effect appearance has on a primate’s love life. The program, dubbed ‘Tinder for Orangutans,’ is part of on-going research in the field that maps the role of emotions on animal relationships.

More here, via TNW.

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2. BRASS EYE AT 20

I’m just writing this and I’ve seen an ad saying ‘BRASS EYE – WHEN FAKE NEWS WAS FUNNY’ – on Channel 4. It seems they’re running a week dedicated to the modern-day phenomena currently gripping the western world. It should make for interesting viewing.

That aside, BRASS EYE turns 20 this month.

It was an incredible show.

Never heard of it? Go hunting on YouTube.

Feel about it the same way I do? Go revisit it anyway.

Also: the Guardian did an ace write-up/retrospective.

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3. HORIZON ZERO DAWN

I don’t indulge my love of gaming too much in this here newsletter/blog/thing of mine. At least, I don’t think I do. There’s a new game on the horizon (no pun intended) that I’m quite excited about, called ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’.

If you’re into your gaming, you might enjoy this hands-on preview that Polygon published last week. I’m quite excited about it; and it’s out at the end of Feb.

There’s a 4K trailer too.

Enjoy.

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4. PEOPLE WATCHING

This is the best thing in this entire post. ‘Ten Meter Tower‘ is a little over 16mins of pure people-watching bliss. Find the time to watch it.

Even if you just start.

It’s compelling viewing.

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5. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

I enjoyed this. Much.

Bruce Springsteen is asked to cover ‘You Never Can Tell’ (you’ll know it from Pulp Fiction).

And, being The Boss, he smashed it.

But to watch the band come together and figure it out along the way is brilliant.

I grinned. A lot.

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Bonuses this week are as follows:

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Thanks again for reading.

Have a great week x