Five things on Friday #225

Things of note for the week ending Friday May 26th, 2017.

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Shall we?

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1. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE STUFF THAT HAPPENED IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK? 

I genuinely would have no idea. But my colleague (and all round smart person) Karin, spotted this excellent advice from BBC Newsround and I think it bears sharing, repeating, printing, and re-sharing.

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2. THE PROM DRESS: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL HISTORY


Fascinating –

A strange ritual takes place across the United States each spring. It shares elements with the Hindu marriage ceremony, in which the young bride is wrapped in a red sari, and joined with her life-mate amid elaborate festivities. Or Japan’s Seijin-no-Hi, when young women adorn themselves in beautifully detailed kimonos and men don their smartest suits. Or the Ghanaian puberty rite of Dipo, in which girls wear ceremonial cloths as part of their initiation into womanhood each April and May.

During those same months across the US, young people gather for a dance sanctioned by local elders, where they dress in fancy costumes that embody traditional gender tropes and old-fashioned notions of sexuality, to celebrate their transition from childhood to adulthood. The Americans call it prom.

Tracking the history of The Prom – its meanings, the dresses, the symbolism – this piece over on Quartz was a great read.

You might like it too.

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3. AND THE AWARD FOR THE MOST HARMFUL SOCIAL NETWORK GOES TO… 

In a survey of nearly 1500 14-24-year-olds (they’re not millennials, btw), Instagram was found to be the number one social media platform when it comes to damaging young people’s mental health.

Shocking? Yeah, I’d say so.
Surprising? Probably not.

Worth reading up on.

See also: ‘Why Generation Y are Unhappy‘, by Tim Urban. 

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4. TASTY TEMPLATES

“In less than two years, Tasty, a Facebook page filled with short recipe videos, has become the engine of BuzzFeed’s video view. In April, it hit nearly 1 billion views, according to Tubular Labs, even ahead of BuzzFeed’s main video page. Now, Tasty is driving the company’s social video strategy.

With 85 million followers just in the U.S., Tasty is on track to be Facebook’s biggest page, according to its gm, Ashley McCollum. BuzzFeed has spent accordingly, putting a team of 75 behind it. Tasty has spawned international editions from Mexico to Germany, spinoffs Tasty Vegetarian, Tasty One Pot and Tasty Junior, not to mention a lot of copycats. There’s even a Tasty cookbook, which has sold more than 150,000 copies.”

The success of Tasty (or ‘Proper Tasty’, if you’re in UK) has been phenomenal. The main reason why I’m so aware of it is the data the work uncovered around the video-through-rate (VTR) lift that you get when you switch to a square format. It’s upwards of around 12-19% (which I cannot link to, alas, but I heard the stat at a Buzzfeed talk once. That said, BF has talked about its Tasty data before – and that’s very interesting reading) and the impact on [pretty much all] social video echoes all around the industry as we know it.

The thing I’d like to point you towards now is this Digiday article that takes a look at Tasty’s impact – specifically on Buzzfeed content outside of the recipe-based sub-brand.

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5. VR / WORLDSENSE

Worldsense VR is coming. Google VR without wires and without a phone/device shoved in the front of it. A standalone device that allows you to move freely, and easily, in the world around you – and in front of you.

The video looks good (if a little textbook California) and I’m excited about it. From a personal perspective, I’ve played with a few different VR offerings – in fact, I think now I’ve pretty much played with all the main ones (woop). I’ve not made the jump to a Google Daydream quite yet but I have Carboard (as well as a Colorcross – basically a posher Cardboard, dead useful) and PSVR at home, the latter of which really is quite spectacular.

Is VR mass-consumer-ready yet? Arguably not. But I’d say that perhaps Worldsense will nudge us all just a little bit closer.

Via Fast Company.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

ALL OF THESE ARE EXCELLENT.

GOOD LUCK DOWN THERE. 

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And we are done…

 

Have a stellar weekend y’all.

JW

Five things on SUNDAY #224

Things of note for the week ending Sunday May 21st, 2017.

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Let’s do this.

1. NETFLIX, THE BBC, AND THE FUTURE OF SCREENWRITING

Anthony Horowitz, for the Spectator, writes:

There have been two revolutions in television during my lifetime. The first happened in 1975 when Sony launched its Betamax video system — which allowed viewers to record shows and see them when they wanted. Of course, Betamax was found to be clunky and unreliable and it was soon replaced by VHS but, without realising it, the networks had lost control of their audience. No longer would we watch the films they wanted us to watch when they wanted us to watch them. Never again, as the technology spread, would the whole nation come together as one to find out what the newscasters had been up to on Morecambe and Wise.

He continues:

The second revolution has been even more profound — and it’s happening right now. It can be defined in one word: Netflix. Founded in 1997, Netflix is the world’s number one television and film subscription service, even if there are other companies — Hulu, Vimeo, Amazon — snapping at its heels. It has 75 million users worldwide and an annual revenue of between $7 billion and $8 billion. Think of the most talked-about programmes of the past year: Narcos, House of Cards, Stranger Things and, most recently, The Crown. All of them premiered on Netflix. As a result of a Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer, half a million people signed a petition to free its main subject, Steven Avery.

And in that single two-paragraph setup, Horowitz begins a slow yet precise of both how we are indeed in a new golden age of TV and of how the damage it might be doing to the greats of old.

A really good read.

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2. WHERE OIL RIGS GO TO DIE

When a drilling platform is scheduled for destruction, it must go on a thousand-mile final journey to the breaker’s yard. As one rig proved when it crashed on to the rocks of a remote Scottish island, this is always a risky business.

An excellent long read from The Guardian (Long Reads section, natch).

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3. THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EYE OF MELANIA TRUMP

This one’s a doozy.

We can all picture the gilded monstrosity of the Trump home from publicity photos (chandeliers, sad boy astride a stuffed lion, golden pillars), but it is a different place through Melania’s eyes. She takes photographs inside her house at weird, skewed angles. It is a strange effect when the half-obscured objects, chairs and ceilings, are all so golden. It looks like what a terrified little girl held captive in an ogre’s fairytale castle might see when she dares to sneak a peek through her fingers.

Melania Trump’s social media photos – treated as a body of work. What do they say about her, her surroundings, her eye?

@Kate8 is doing God’s work.

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4. WHAT FILM SHOULD YOU WATCH NEXT? 

In last week’s edition, I asked one simple question: what’s your favourite movie (and why)?

I won’t go into the whys, but the whats? They’re definitely worth sharing. If you’re stuck with not knowing what film to watch one night this week, give one of these a go (it comes recommended by a like-minded person).

Readers of FTOF say:

  • The Godfather
  • Love, Actually
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight
  • Taxi Driver
  • All The President’s Men
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Smokey and The Bandit
  • The Princess Bride
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Pelle The Conqueror
  • Changing Lanes

The good news is: I’ve seen about 95% of this list (hurrah for like-minded folk!) and there are others I’m yet to enjoy.

Brilliant.

Thanks y’all. I hope you enjoy.

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 5. GOODBYE MESSENGER

I have to admit, my mate Olly told me about this a good few months back but The Verge has written about it now so I feel like I should bring it to your attention (perhaps again? I may have covered it before).

In short: Facebook Messenger as we know it is a heinous piece of messaging software with ripped-off and barely-used Snapchat-esque features that take up too much screen space and frankly ruin the entire experience.

The good news is: there’s an app for that.

Welcome to Messenger Lite.

No gimmicks. No games. No ‘stories’.

Messenger Lite is faster, uses less data, and is basically the nice, clean, and simple Messenger app from years past.

Want in? This is how you get it.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

Rich and plentiful. 

Five things on Friday #223

Things of note for the week ending Friday May 12th, 2017.

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REMINDER: If you subscribe to the Five things on Friday Email Newsletter, you’re guaranteed to get MORE STUFF than reading it here on My Happy Place. So, y’know – SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

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1. A NIGHT IN ATLANTIC CITY

This one is if you’re stuck. Stuck with a problem, stuck with writer’s block, stuck with…something.

This, from Stray Bullets:

“I’m stuck. I’ve got a grab bag of tricks for getting unstuck. They don’t always work. Here’s one that helps sometimes, and I’m putting it here because I have a tendency to lose this whenever I need it most. It’s the script for “Arctic Radar” the tenth episode of the fourth season of The West Wing, written by Aaron Sorkin. One scene in particular. Here’s the set-up: Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) is stuck. In the sort of peppy, verbose meet-cute that Sorkin excels at, Toby swaps speech drafts with prospective speechwriter Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). There’s a lot more going on than that (and you can read the whole thing here), but here’s the bit that I’m particularly interested in…”

And you’ll have to go and read the rest yourself.

Point being: I read it before headed out on an evening with my friends; I needed a night in Atlantic City.

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2. WHO TARGETS YOU? 

Stephen Waddington, writing for The Drum:

“A group of activists called Who Targets Me? is calling on the Electoral Commission to apply the same level of transparency that [it] applies in other areas of political campaigning [against those on online].

“Traditionally, when you print a leaflet, there’s a physical copy that’s there for all to see. Online ads vanish without a trace, potentially making them a haven for the dark arts of politics. This project shines a much-needed light on the hidden side of electioneering,” said Dr Seth Thevoz, a political historian at Nuffield College, Oxford University.

Analysing the aggregated data will enable the Who Targets Me? project to determine which demographics are being targeted. It will seek to draw insights from the language that campaigners are using to influence voting behaviour.”

Whether you believe in any of the voting influence stories floating around the news cycle(s)or not, this is important work.

You can find out more at the ‘Who Targets Me?’ website. I’ve installed the Chrome extension. You should too.

Lots of links in the above section.
All of them worth clicking. 

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3. OUR MOTHERS AS WE NEVER SAW THEM

I haven’t seen any old photos of my mum when she was young for a very long time. Next time I visit, I’m going to ask to do just that.

All because of this excellent opinion piece, courtesy of the NYT.

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4. THIS ISN’T AI


In the same week that I heard a very popular ‘AI’ solution described as ‘an over-complicated spreadsheet’, here’s Terence Eden on excellent form writing about his (eventually successful) attempts at coding his first Alexa skill.

“I kinda thought that Amazon would hear “solar panels” and work out the rest of the query using fancy neural network magic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The developer has to manually code every single possible permutation of the phrase that they expect to hear.

This isn’t AI.

Voice interfaces are the command line. But you don’t get tab-to-complete.allow you to test your code by typing rather than speaking. I spent a frustrating 10 minutes trying to work out why my example code didn’t work. Want to know why? I was typing “favourite” rather than the American spelling. Big Data my shiny metal arse.”

That final sentence is probably the best thing I’ve read all week.

If you’re building an Amazon Alexa skill (or even if you just have a passing interest in what it takes to build your own voice interface) then Terence’s post is worth a look.

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5. PAY TO PLAY

This is super interesting.

Video games journalist, Cecilia D’Anastasio, paid women to play OVERWATCH with her and by the sounds of it had a really great time.
There a bunch of things worth pointing out here:
  • The paid-for players were found via UGC ‘service’ site, Fiverr.com. We’ve used Fiverr folk before (on client work at Ogilvy, would you believe – it was awesome) and it the wide variety of things you can pay people to do never ceases to amaze me. Not a bad way to make a quick buck.
  • D’Anastasio also took the time to interview her part-time gaming employees(?!) and explores some of the wider issues that come with being a female gamer (read: guys).
  • I play a game called Destiny (the full collection is dirt cheap at the moment, if you’ve not played it and the sequel is out in September so y’know, get on that) and you can actually pay people to do this kinda thing on that game. Although it’s never appealed to me, I wonder if this kind of thing is done (sometimes) just for the company of having someone to play with.
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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

You might want to open a new window for these bad boys 

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AND FINALLY, THE QUITE FRANKLY, AMAZING, CONFERENCE ‘ONE QUESTION’ IS BACK NEXT WEEK. SPEAKERS INCLUDE PIXAR, OBAMA’S WHITEHOUSE, MONZO, YOUGOV… AND SOME BLOKE FROM OGILVY. 

You should go. And stuff.

Also: follow @OneQuestionConf on Twitter.

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And that’s me, I’m out.
Have a great weekend y’all,
JW x

Five things on Friday #222

Some things for the weekend?

Things of note for the week ending Friday May 5th, 2017.

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IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you subscribe to the Five things on Friday Email Newsletter, you’re guaranteed to get MORE STUFF than reading it here on My Happy Place. SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

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Shall we?

1. JAMES, WHAT PHONE SHOULD I GET? 

Now, I have to admit, I don’t get this question as often as I used to. Way back in the late noughties when yours truly used to be a big shot mobile blogger (HAHAAHAHAHA) I used to get it all the time. And that was fine. In fact, I welcomed it (the rationale being: there is NO REASON AT ALL for anyone to have a bad phone – like, NONE, at all – so if you didn’t know which one to get or worse, how to get it, then you could just ask an expert / me).

It got so bad/good that I genuinely used to have complete and total strangers call me up and say things like: 

‘Hi there, we don’t know each other but my friend Sarah said I could just call you and you’d give me mobile phone advice – is that OK?’

‘Yes, of course… what phone do you have?’ – etc etc.

I DIGRESS.

The reason why I’m writing about it this week is that I’ve had this question come up a few times over the past month or so and I figured I’d write it all down so you could refer back to it should it come up in conversation.

If I had to go out and buy a phone TODAY, I would go and take a serious look at the:

  • Google Pixel (or XL)
  • Samsung S8 (or S8+)
  • Huawei P10 (or P9)

Reasoning as follows:

THE PIXEL is a gorgeous phone. I picked one up last year, on launch day, and still swear by it. Not only is it ‘pure’ Google Android but it also comes with free unlimited Google Photos storage for life (for anything uploaded and backed up from the phone). Oh and the camera is AMAZE.

THE SAMSUNG S8 is the newest kid on the block. I literally just played with one and the screen is INCREDIBLE. Sidenote: the man said S8 belonged to did tell me it was his second device already (the phone has been out A WEEK) as he dropped it once and the, admittedly ridiculously, shiny/massive screen smashed to smithereens. That said, if you’re a careful phone user, you should check it out.

THE HUAWEI P10/P9 I like to throw into the mix because I had a P9 on loan for a month or so last year (pre-Pixel, post-Sony-Z5) and it was a fantastic little phone. Dual-camera, Leica lens – it was the right form factor with a frankly brilliant camera to match. The P10 is its successor and for all intents and purposes is equally as good. But, with the P10 being out, the P9 is now a cheaper option. Meaning that if you’re running a slightly lower budget, a decent flagship phone should still be within your grasp.

It should be worth noting that many iPhone-owning friends of mine are making the jump to Android. This recent comparison shoot-out from The Verge (also including the LG G6) has this quote –

“What surprised me the most is how the iPhone now feels a generation behind. It was harder to see last year when we pit the iPhone 7 against the Pixel and the less capable S7. But the S8, along with the Pixel and the G6, illuminates the extent to which Apple has fallen behind.”

Sounds about right.

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2. OBLIQUE STRATEGIES

First published in 1975, Oblique strategies: Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas is a deck of 7-by-9cm printed cards in a black box.

Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.

I bought a set a few years ago (not cheap) and I don’t actually know where are right now. Probably on a bookshelf somewhere. I really enjoyed using it (when I knew where it was – I may try and find it at some point) and I actually miss using it.

If you want to use it but don’t want to spend fifty notes on a little black box of potentially thought-provoking cards, then you’ll be pleased to know that some bright spark has put them all online.

Go give them a go and see how you get on.

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3. IP + HASHTAGS

This is one of those things that if you and I had spoken about it a good few years back, I probably would’ve laughed you out of the building. ‘Copyright you say? On a HASHTAG? Are you for real?!’ – but not today. Not anymore.

This article – ‘Protecting IP from bloggers and tweeters‘ – digs into some of the details of where and how we got here (eg: the Olympics has a lot to do with it). But also, some of the numbers here are incredible. The article states:

“Research by Thomson Reuters CompuMark showed that 1,398 applications were filed globally during 2015, up from seven in 2010.”

That’s a phenomenal increase.

If you work in branding or in/around social and digital – then this article is worth a look.

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4. IS ANYONE USING FACEBOOK STORIES?

This, from Mashable, is as great as it is unsurprising:

“Facebook is the world’s most successful social network — but it shows you an abject failure every time you open its app.

One month in, no one’s using “Stories,” the Snapchat clone that sits on top of your News Feed on the mobile app. Facebook wants this to be the place where you “show friends what you’re up to,” but it’s amounting to bupkis, a worthless void taking up a prime slice of the internet’s most important real estate.”

Every time you open the Facebook app on your phone, taking up a decent finger’s width near the top of the screen is your ‘Stories’ feature. People I know with THOUSANDS of ‘friends’ on Facebook literally stare at a bunch of greyed out faces on this list because literally, no one is using them.

Why? Well, maybe it’s because they’re a generational/demographic thing. Maybe it’s a platform thing (I mean, the Facebook-owned Instagram has more daily users of its Stories feature than Snapchat has users). But, whatever the reason, Facebook Stories just doesn’t seem to be taking off…

How long before we see it disappear?

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5. BLADERUNNER 2049

Oooo look! Two new posters for the incoming BLADERUNNER sequel.

Pretty.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

I used to leave three or four bonuses in each week but I think from now on there may be a few more than that because why not. 

OH! AND ONE LAST ONE BEFORE WE GO TO PRESS!

I caught this on the train this morning. HAIM are slowly coming back with new music. Their latest track ‘RIGHT NOW’ has a fantastic video (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) and is worth YOUR TIME right now

And that’s me…

I’m out.

Thanks for reading, y’all. Hope you have a stellar weekend.

Much love,

JW x

Five things on Friday #221

Things of note for the week ending April 28th, 2017

Things of note for the week ending April 28th, 2017.

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REMINDER: If you subscribe to the Five things on Friday Email Newsletter, you’re guaranteed to get MORE STUFF than reading it here on My Happy Place. So y’know, you should SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

Now… to the things!

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1. ECHO JUNCTION

Adam Fraser, of Echo Junction, runs a smashing tech/digital/social podcast down under and, a few months back, asked yours truly if I fancied jumping online and recording an episode with him.

Since putting my own podcast on hiatus, any excuse to jump in front of the mic and chat with like-minded folk is always a super attractive idea.

And so we did!

The initial topic proposed was a review of the Key Digital Trends presentation I co-authored at the end of last year; we started there and then went where the conversation took us.

I enjoyed it, I hope you do too.

Cheers Adam!

GO. LISTEN.

(feedback welcome)

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2. THAT UBER PROFILE PIECE + UNROLL.ME

Well, a lot has happened on this since I first added it to my drafts.

First thing first: if you haven’t read Mike Isaac’s profile of Uber founder, Travis Kalanick, in the New York Times yet, that should be your first port of call. Covering everything from [successfully] pulling the rug over Apple’s eyes (when it came to tagging individual iPhones – worth reading for the audacity alone) to sabotaging Uber’s competitors, and a whole lot in-between, it is 100% worth your time. Especially if you would class yourself as being in the dark when it comes to exactly how Kalanick’s start-up operates and where that specific modus operandi comes from (clue: he’s in the gif above).

Second thing, in among a whole bunch of other nefarious stuff there’s this amazing morsel:

“They spent much of their energy one-upping rivals like Lyft. Uber devoted teams to so-called competitive intelligence, purchasing data from an analytics service called Slice Intelligence. Using an email digest service it owns named Unroll.me, Slice collected its customers’ emailed Lyft receipts from their inboxes and sold the anonymized data to Uber. Uber used the data as a proxy for the health of Lyft’s business. (Lyft, too, operates a competitive intelligence team.)”

If you’re unfamiliar with the service, Unroll.me is an email tool that claims to ‘clean up’ your inbox by identifying, and ‘unsubscribing’ you from, spammy emails.

Except it doesn’t. Not really. It just creates a new folder and bumps everything there instead. Oh, while at the same time reading the contents and then selling that content on to those that would want to buy it.

Like Uber, for example.

The fallout of this has not been minor. Many people have deleted their Unroll.me accounts (including me, for what it’s worth – if you want to too, here’s a useful guide on how). So many in fact that the founder felt like he should say something. That something was basically ‘Sorry we got found out, maybe y’all should read your T&Cs sometime‘ – which is fair enough, I guess.

Oh, then a co-founder weighed in and probably made things worse.

The latest? Well, of course, there’s a lawsuit on the way.

Point being, Uber is a car crash waiting to happen. And the collateral damage occurring en route will only just build from here… Seriously, read the NYT piece above, you’ll see.

🚗 🚙 🚗 🚙  🚗

Sidenote: I uninstalled Uber back in February. The final nail in the coffin was this post, ‘Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber‘. At SXSW earlier this year, Anil Dash argued that if start-up founders had ethics training, Uber wouldn’t exist. After reading all the above, it’s hard to disagree with him. 

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3. LOOK AT THESE PEOPLE

There’s only one way to follow a piece about Mr Kalanick and that’s to point y’all in the direction of some AMAZING WOMEN out there for you to go find out more about.

This list of 101 London Women in Tech to follow on Twitter is a MUST READ and y’all should go follow them.

Sidenote: good list to keep on file next time you’re faced with an #allmalepanel or something similar.

👊💥

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4. SPEAKER STUFF

A couple of things for the public speakers out there.

Thing one: Ben Donkor (he who also connected me to Adam Fraser – see Echo Junction, earlier in this issue) recently sent out a survey asking public speakers to submit answers to questions around being paid to speak; the hows, the whats, and the whens.

This is pretty solid research (with over 500 people getting in touch with their responses) and, even if you’ve not really looked at public speaking before, it’s worth having a look.

Thing two: I am a growing fan of Mr Jason Miller. Since hearing of his rather smashing turn at Social Media Week London last year, I’ve been keeping an eye on him and he even turned up on an in-flight magazine I was reading the other day too.

One of Jason’s latest piece, ‘Confessions of an Accidental Keynote Speaker‘, is a great read. If you’re dancing around speaking or if you have a gig coming up, then go give this one a look over. Good words, Jason. Keep it up.

REMINDER: me, and some AMAZING people (people who have worked at The White House, Pixar, and Coca-Cola – to name but three), are speaking at next month’s ONE QUESTION event. Tickets are still available and my lovely readers can get 15% off the face value by using the code ‘OQJamesW2017‘ at checkout. 

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5. JUICERO

Long story shot: Silicon Valley start-up makes a juicer that turns out to be the epitome of Emperor’s New Clothes.

Case in point:


Amazing.

FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A JUICER THAT YOU DON’T NEED.

Point being (and for the second time this edition), the note from the CEO is ridiculous/hilarious.

Go and read it. And then, when you’re done, read the responses (they are SOLID GOLD).

That is all.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

Literally, loads this week; I dare you to click them ALL

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Things on Sunday (FToF #220)

Things of note for the week ending Easter Sunday, 2017.

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

THINGS (FtoF #219)

Things of note for the week ending April 8th 2017.

1. AMAZON’S BRICKS & MORTAR STORE

You may have read about this already. And by ‘this’ I don’t mean the PR stunt that was the Amazon Go ‘launch’ last year – I mean this: Amazon’s new Book Store in New York.

While a predominantly online entity switching to offline is an interesting thing on its own, what I find really interesting in this instance is how Amazon is managing the sections of said book shop.

Paul Shapiro went and had a look:

Hurrah for data-driven sales techniques!

It’s worth clicking on the link to Paul’s original Tweet above (or just click on the image and it’ll open) as he’s threaded a bit more commentary + photos for your reading pleasure.

Enjoy.

2. THE MELANCHOLY OF DON BLUTH

From American Tail to The Land Before Time, if you grew up in the 80s then you’ll know the work of Don Bluth. If you grew up in the 90s, the Disney movies you saw were heavily influenced by Don Bluth.

This piece, entitled as above, is a gorgeous and in-depth look at Bluth’s phenomenal work. It is very hard to lift quotes without spoilers to the movies mentioned so I won’t just in case any of you SICK PEOPLE haven’t seen The Land That Time Forgot, for example.

3. MARTIN SCORSESE 

As intros go, this ain’t bad:

“Have a conversation with anyone, anywhere in the world about the greatest living filmmakers, and if the name “Martin Scorsese” isn’t one of the first two or three mentioned, leave that conversation immediately and never speak to that person again. Because Scorsese’s greatness isn’t up for debate, it just isn’t. For nearly a half-century now he has built film upon film into a diverse and heralded oeuvre that includes crime films (Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed), intense character studies (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, The Aviator), religious epics (The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, Silence), documentaries (The Last Waltz, Public Speaking, A Letter to Elia), and rollicking tributes to art and artists (New York New York, Life Lessons, Hugo). There is no doubt that no matter who comes after him, Martin Scorsese will always remain not only one of the greatest filmmakers ever, but also one of the most important. If you think we get Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, or even Wes Anderson without the influence of Scorsese, you’re wrong. As a director, a writer, a lover and conservationist of film and film history, Scorsese has had an impact on pretty much every significant filmmaker who’s come after him, and that might sound like over-enthusiastic, hyperbolic mythmaking, but you know I’m right. He’s Martin Fucking Scorsese.”

This is another link to Film School Rejects but this time it’s the mother lode of video essays on Scorsese.

4. ARTIFICIAL EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Leigh Alexander is always such a good read and this week, via How We Get To Next, Alexander tackles the idea of AI taking on the emotional workforce.

There aren’t many writers that can get from Teddy Ruxpin to dismantling the patriarchy but in her search for emotional intelligence from our robotic friends, Alexander manages just that – and more.

Good reading.

5. THE CALM PHOTOGRAPHY MOVEMENT

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. Charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) was set up to address some of the underlying causes behind this shocking statistic, particularly the fact that men are far less likely to seek help with depression than women.

In order to prompt discussion around masculinity and mental health, as well as raise awareness and funds for CALM, Scott Shillum and Steve Wallington, both of whom have lost family and friends to suicide, have founded the Calm Photography Movement.

Amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit images which shine a light on the limitations of traditional masculinity for a chance to be featured in the Calm Photography Movement exhibition at the Getty Images Gallery in central London, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week in May. The submissions will be judged by a professional panel. Selected photographs will feature in the show (which runs from May 10 to 19), be used in print and social campaigns as well as be curated into a catalogue available for purchase in support of CALM.

You can find out more / get involved yourself via the official website.

BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

Aaaaand I’m spent.

Until next time,

Whatley out, x