Five things on Friday #228

Things of note for the week ending Saturday July 1st, 2017.

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Shall we crack on?

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1. GEN XENNIALS

I don’t REALLY have to repeat how much it makes my gut reach whenever I read some of the latest guff around generational ‘cohorts’ now do I?

For those of you that didn’t throw up the moment you read the above thing title, keep reading!

The ‘micro-generation’ of people born between 1977 and 1983 (and the reason that this, ahem, research is appearing in this edition MAY WELL BE because I fall into said category) now have their own name.

GENERATION XENNIAL.

— passes the sick bag —

AHEM.

It says here:

Look. I get it. That is definitely me. And the full definition makes a lot of sense.

But it’s still a massive wang-a-thon

I’ve said it before, if you want a decent take on all things cohort, you could do a lot worse than read this excellent piece by Jed Hallam – Millennial is a useless term‘ 

Xennials. I mean, really.

— — — — —

2. WETHERSPOONS DELETED ITS ENTIRE EMAIL DATABASE – ON PURPOSE

I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.


WIRED* is reporting that UK pub chain (and oft-favourite haunt of student-Whatley) J.D. Wetherspoons has deleted its entire email mailing list and says it will stop sending newsletters via email completely.

JDW’s CEO, John Hutson, wrote to its subscribers last week and said –

“Many companies use email to promote themselves, but we don’t want to take this approach – which many consider intrusive. Our database of customers’ email addresses, including yours, will be deleted.”

BECAUSE WHO WANTS MORE EMAIL, AMIRITE? 

This is nothing short of superb.

Like I said, WIRED has the full story.

Worth a read.



*Incidentally, I subscribed to WIRED magazine this week. £28 for 24 issues. That’s £1.10 per issue. Not bad

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3. THE SECRET HISTORY OF PIXAR’S CARS UNIVERSE

Buckle up.

Shit’s about to get weird.

 (this is probably my favourite thing this week)

Earlier this week, I read the following:

—–

“One of the beauties and dangers of the internet’s ability to dilate fandoms so that they never begin and never end is that people get to spend too much time thinking about stuff. For instance, Cars 3 — the latest kid-friendly Pixar film — is out today, but it will likely not address the fact that a car genocide happened in which Car Hitler exterminated 6 million Car Jews during Car World War II. It is very easy to prove that Car Hitler is real, using canonical Cars lore.

The general line of thought is something like this: The Cars-verse includes a World War II–era Jeep named Sarge, who explicitly references events like the Battle of the Bulge. In the direct-to-DVD film Planes (made by Disney but not Pixar), there is an actual WWII flashback in which the plane Skipper recalls losing his entire squadron in the Pacific Theater. Assuming that Car WWII occurred, and that it contains the same contours as the actual WWII, we can assume that there were Car Axis powers, and thus a Car Hitler.”

The problem with this stuff is the more you read it, the more you just want to keep scrolling…

Which you’re going to do once you click through and read the whole damn mind-bending thing.

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4. A SECTION ABOUT MOVIES + STUFF

There’s a whole bunch of film-based news/knowledge/trailers that I’ve missed while away so I’m bunging it all under one section (save running a whole FToF dedicated to movies – but that might still happen one day – maybe).

Ready?

In no real order whatsoever:

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And that’s that section done. While we’re here though, let’s throw in another bit. Being off work for as long as I have, I’ve been catching up with a number of box sets I’ve had my eye on:

  1. 13 REASONS WHY (Netflix). Hard watching. But very good.
  2. AMERICAN GODS (Amazon Prime). Made by the same team that brought us the HANNIBAL TV series (still my favourite TV show of all time ever – not kidding), AG has some stellar performances but overall suffers from assuming too much knowledge on behalf of its audience. EXPLAIN MORE STUFF PLEASE AMERICAN GODS. THANKS.
  3. PREACHER (Amazon Prime). I started this AGES AGO but with S2 arriving I figured I’d revisit. It is gruesome, weird, messed up, and (unlike AMERICAN GODS) includes a decent plot. I enjoyed it.
  4. HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix). Do I really need to talk about this?
  5. Over to you, dear reader…​
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5. OMG – COMPETITIVE PUNNING

This week, on ‘RANDOM THINGS I HAVE WATCHED ON THE INTERNET’, this video utterly killed me.

Go. Watch it. Then come back.

So yeah, found that video via this AMAZING article on Fast Company that explains how Joe Berkowitz spent a year exploring the culture in and around COMPETITIVE PUNNING.

“The best pun I heard during the course of writing the book was: ‘I went to go shopping for cherries and microphones the other day: bought a bing, bought a boom,’” Joe told me. “The worst pun I heard was: ‘If steaks can’t satisfy you, can ribs?’ where the words ‘Can ribs’ were somehow supposed to form a pun on ‘Cribs.’ This was 15 minutes into a pun duel about furniture and all the good puns were taken, but still: wow,” Joe recalled.

If you only watched the video at the start of this section then I will be happy but this whole thing, in general, is so mentally brilliant, I can’t impress it upon you enough to go read, explore, and enjoy/cringe/laugh.

Go go go!

— — — — —

BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

HERE BE THE BONUS SECTION. AKA: ‘THE SELECTION OF LINKS THAT JAMES FOUND INTERESTING ENOUGH TO SHARE BUT NOT INTERESTING ENOUGH TO ADD A WHOLE PARAGRAPH OR FIVE OF THOUGHT ABOUT’

DON’T SHY AWAY, MIND. THERE BE GOLD IN DESE HILLS.

DEEP BREATH.

HERE WE GO.

What’d I miss?

— — — — —

And I think that just about wraps it up.

WHAT A WEEK. 

I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.

Whatley out. 

Five things on Friday #227

Things of note for the week ending Saturday, June 10th, 2017.

Hello, my name is Matt. James is taking some well-deserved offline time and he’s subbed me in to hold the fort in his absence, much like José Mourinho throwing on an extra defender in the 89th minute to hold onto a 1-0 lead.

It probably won’t have the panache of James’ newsletters (I’m sure it’s the first time his newsletters had a football analogy in the opening paragraph) but I hope to provide a – dare I say it – strong and steady performance while he’s away.

OK, intro out of the way.

ON TO THE THINGS.

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1. WHO KILLED THE WEEKEND?

I often feel a pang of guilt as Sunday night draws to a close. I’ve spent a good few hours playing and then reviewing a game, pulling my hair out as I try to put words onto paper in a cohesive sense.

Checked my email, work email, my email again, Twitter, because unplugging yourself feels a bit selfish.

Then there’s the litany of other things, small things, things that I have to do. Finally, I sit back as Monday starts to loom on the horizon, shattered because I’ve essentially crammed as much activity as possible into 48 hours, and think “Have I made the most of those precious two days off?”

This excellent article argues the case for doing what weekends were created for: giving yourself time to relax, time with loved ones, time disconnected from the digital world.

Time to breathe.

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2. EVERY GENERATION HAS BEEN THE ME ME ME GENERATION

“Millennials are the “ME ME ME GENERATION,” writes Joel Stein for the cover of Time magazine, which is apparently a marked departure from the Baby Boomers, who were the plain old “Me Generation” (one me, no caps) and who created the “Me Decade” in the 1970s, and who coined the phrase, “But enough about me… what do you think about me?” in the 1980s when they were raising the next narcissists, Generation X.”

You often hear commentary about the supposed narcissism of Millennials, documenting every moment of their life via filter-tinged Instagram posts or selfies on Snapchat. Elspeth Reeve, writing for The Atlantic, argues the case that every era seems to think the one that follows is the ‘ME Generation’.​

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3. ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO WATCH JAWS LIKE THIS? 

I’m a notoriously easily scared person, so much so that my documented attempt to play through the recently released Resident Evil 7 in VR was brought to an inglorious end after one solitary video (Yes, I know James has linked to that video in a previous Five Things On Friday. What can I say? I’m part of the ME Generation).

So, would I choose to watch Jaws 3D while bobbing along in a rubber dingy, in the middle of the night, in a lake?

tout.jpg

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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4. 50 WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT

Dave Parkinson writes:

“Several years ago I decided to be “not fat” anymore and lost 20KG (44lbs). Ish. During that time I have read a lot of books. A lot. Watched a shedload of videos, ate a lot of chicken and in the process accidentally became an “enthusiastic amateur” into the how and why. I meet a lot of people who knew me before I lost the weight and they all (seemingly slack-jawed) ask me the how so I decided to try and distill all I have read and watched into SIMPLE tips, guidance and advice as one list. They all worked for me.”

Now, a few years back I decided to ‘get fit’.

I started eating better, running, and strength training, and in a relatively short space of time I lost a decent chunk of weight, became noticeably stronger, and just generally felt better, physically and mentally.

One knee injury, that required a surgical procedure, led to a lengthy period confined to a sofa. Sure enough, old eating habits crept back in and the weight piled back on.

Many people, including myself, over-complicate losing weight, jumping from diet to diet, often doing themselves more harm in the long term. Dave Parkinson (pictured before, and after, below) has put together a list of simple, easy to follow tips, to help you shift some pounds. He’s not quite reached 50 yet, but the 41 so far should get you well on your way.

1-2EOmwg0VwBqSQPHSzIAccw.jpeg

Also contains a cracking protein pancake recipe.

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5. SPECTACLES LAUNCH IN THE UK / ACROSS EUROPE

Snapchat’s first foray into hardware debuted in September 2016, although initially only in the US, and even more initially (pre-initially? Pre-nitially? Is that a word? It is now.) via vending machines called Snapbots.

Well, now they’ve made their way across the Atlantic and can be yours for £129.99.

So far I only know one person with a pair of Spectacles, and that’s James himself. He acquired a pair while at SXSW last year, allowing me to follow him galavanting around Austin.

I don’t think he’s used them much since though.

Passing fad? Maybe.

But there’s some undeniably cool stuff captured so far.

Want some? Go get some.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS:

CONTINUING THE TREND OF THE PAST FEW WEEKS, HERE ARE A TON OF RANDOM LINKS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE USEFUL TO YOUR LIFE.

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And…  I’m done.

I hope this was at least partially as good as an authentic Whatley-written Five Things. Enjoy your weekend and, like I said above, have an actual day off to yourself, and breathe.

To borrow James’ weekly sign off…

Matt out x​

Ps. If you reply to this email it’ll go to James. If you want to send me feedback directly, I’m @munkimatt on Twitter – you can find me there x

Five things on Friday #226

Things of note for the week ending Friday June 2nd, 2017.

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Shall we crack on?

//// ⭐️ ——— ⭐️ \\\\

1. THE MEEKER REPORT

I’m sorry, what was that?

Did you just say ‘James, I’d really like 355 slides of the latest Internet Trends that covers everything from Internet Advertising to Gaming, Healthcare, Media, and more?’ 

YOU DID?

GREAT! I got you covered.
_______________________________


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That’s right, Mary Meeker is back with her yearly motherlode of global stats and facts about all things Internet-ty.

Recode had the exclusive, meaning it was first with the analysis too.

Both are a worthwhile read.

Pro tip: you’ll need coffee. 

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2. THE IRREGULAR SECTION ABOUT WARREN ELLIS

Honestly. If you’ve been reading these for a while you know Warren Ellis comes up every now and then, if it’s not wanging on about one of his many writing projects then it’s something I’ve enjoyed from his casual thought dump, Morning Computer.

This week I’m going to talk to you about his newsletter, Orbital Operations. In short: it’s great. Really interesting (if you’re into that kind of thing) and, if I’m honest, a decent source of interesting things to me – from this week’s edition alone.

For example:

  • Warren Ellis is the lead writer for the new Castlevania series on Netflix. His behind the scenes chat about it is super interesting and of course, here’s a trailer he shared too.
  • In the same edition, he talks about what it means to write a fight scene (for what I believe is a book) and compares this Transporter 2 fight scene to any one of those in John Wick. While the latter are good, JW never fought a man with a firehose. Where’s the realism?
    (Oh – sidenote: I’m totally working that video into a talk at some point. It is excellent) 
  • And this Deadpool blooper reel (that I had totally forgotten about).

So yeah, it’s awesome.

Go get some.

EDIT: I just found this in one of the recent editions –

Who even writes things like ‘micro-continuum of futures denoted by the colour of sand’?! – who?!

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3. CAMPAIGN UNDERGROUND

Trade publication CAMPAIGN recently ran an evening of talks around behavioural insights and adjusting brand approach to marketing through consumer understanding.

Some people might read the above paragraph and dismiss it, ‘Er, well, of course, you need to understand consumers to market to them – duh’

Others might think ‘Behavioural insights, what?’

While the write-up of the event isn’t as comprehensive as actually being there, it does highlight a number of smart ways that big recognisable brands are thinking differently about how they approach advertising and communications in 2017.

Worth reading for further Google / Case Study Research alone.

Read ‘Six Things We Learned at Campaign Underground‘, by Stephen Graves.

Ps. On the tangential note of innovative thinking, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ is my favourite book on this topic and well worth a read if you’re yet to add it to your Kindle. 

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4. MOSSBERG: THE DISAPPEARING COMPUTER

Walt Mossberg, in 1991:

“Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn’t your fault. The computer industry boasts that its products can help everyone become more productive. Maybe so. But many people can’t afford the time and money needed to get the most out of PCs.”

Over the past 25 or so years, Walt Mossberg has been a leading voice in the technology and computing industry. Witness to the age of the PC, smartphone, tablet, and the dawn of voice computing, Mossberg has not only seen it all but had something to say on it too.

And he’s retiring.

Mossberg’s final column, entitled ‘The Disappearing Computer‘ is a great read and, while bearing no real surprises, comes with the gravitas of a man who really has seen it all and has a bloody good idea of where it might all be headed next.

Nice one, Walt. You were ace.

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5. GOOGLE V UBER: IN DETAIL

This one is a little old (I read it too late to include in last week’s edition) but still 100% worth your time.

Some of you may or may not know but Google (or Waymo, a the self-driving-car subsidiary of Alphabet, both of which used to be Google – details) launched a huge lawsuit against Uber after the former alleged an ex-Waymo-employee, one Anthony Levandowski (pictured about) misappropriated (read: ‘stole’) hundreds of gigs worth of data, before heading off to work for Uber. The same Uber that is also developing a self-driving car solution.

Yeah, you can see how sticky that is going to get, right?

Two things to know:

1. The latest news it that Uber has fired Levandowski for his involvement in the lawsuit and that really doesn’t look that good AT ALL.

2. The other thing to familiarise yourself with (and the original article that prompted me to add it to an edition of FToF), is this slightly-longer read by the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘How one engineer sparked a war’ – featuring, you guessed it, Anthony Levandowski.

Honestly, some of the sheer crazy that has reportedly happened in the history of this case is phenomenal. And that crazy is covered by all parties involved, not just that of those accused.

This is a really interesting read and an amazing insight into the world of how the San Francisco tech/valley set behave and think. Wow.

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BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

CONTINUING THE TREND OF THE PAST FEW WEEKS, HERE ARE A TON OF RANDOM LINKS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE USEFUL TO YOUR LIFE.

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You are now at the end.

See you next week.

Until then…  you should consider SUBSCRIBING.

Five things on Friday #225

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

REMINDER: if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday email newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF than reading it here on My Happy Place.

You can do that by hitting the inconspicuous button below.

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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 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