Five things on Friday #185

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 15th, 2016.


It’s 00:24 on a Friday night / Saturday morning and I’m just sitting down to write this week’s FToF. It’s been a long week. Two days leave at the start, a day in the office in the middle, then a two day client workshop. Basically: attempting to fit five days’ work in one day. You know how it is. I’m taking a break from my inbox to write this to you, now.

To that end, this week’s edition will be swift (I think – I haven’t written it yet) and full of random interesting bits for you to go off and read at your leisure. If you want to do something for me this week, then by all means RT this Tweet so others may find this newsletter.

Finally, before we crack on, the word ‘Pokémon’ appears only once in this publication – and that was it. I think you’ve read your fair share of hot-takes this week and I’m not about to add to them.

Shall we?



I’ve been building chatbots lately. I’ve built one for the office (still in beta – but early tests are good) and I’m in the middle of building one for my department. In short: they’re great. I’ll tell you more about them hopefully in a couple of weeks (when we start talking publicly* about them) but in the meantime, go and look up some chatbot-building services.

They’re really, really interesting.

In the interim, here are a couple of chatbot-related pieces that I’ve read this week.

First is ‘The Humans Hiding Behind the Bots‘ –

Amy Ingram, the artificial intelligence personal assistant from startup, sounds remarkably like a real person. The company designed her to take on the mundane tasks of scheduling meetings and e-mailing about appointments. If a bot had access to your calendar and was cc-ed on correspondence, why couldn’t it do the work for you? After she made her debut in 2014, users praised her “humanlike tone” and “eloquent manners.” “Actually better than a human for this task,” a beta tester tweeted. But what most people don’t realize about this artificial intelligence is that it isn’t totally artificial: Behind almost every e-mail is an actual human—someone like 24-year-old Willie Calvin.

Awww yeah. that’s right. Some of those bots out there, they’re human.

Second up is ‘K I get Uber‘ – I’m pretty sure someone sent this to me and I’ve forgotten who (sorry) but this is less human-as-bot more human-wowed-by-bot. If you’re unclear of how bots will / can / are already changing the world we live in, read this piece from MG Siegler.


*when we do, I’ll publish the drafted post I have called something like ‘X things I’ve learnt while building my first chatbot’ -it’s a hoot!



Southern Rail is in the press a LOT at the moment. It’s basically the poorest excuse for a rail service ever. SO OF COURSE someone has turned it into a video game.

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Called ‘Southern Rail Tycoon’, this browser-based game (mobile-optimised – while you wait for your train to arrive) allows you to play the role of Southern Rail and your objective is to CANCEL ALL TRAINS.


Amazing. So cynical. So perfect.

Go play.


H/T Eurogamer.




A good thought piece on why (and how) Snapchat is becoming the default camera for many phone-owners.



I know a smart woman named Kate. Kate made a tumblr. It is amazing. Go look.

What’s it about? Clue’s in the name.



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I’ve not seen the new film yet (and I might – early reports are good) but this 9min look at How [the original] Ghostbusters Became Ghostbusters uses the screenplay as the central analysis and builds out exactly how it became the film that we all know and love. Specifically looking at the PREMISE as the DESIGNING PRINCIPLE.

It is excellent.


Bonuses this week are as follows:

It’s 01:24 and I’m signing off.

Whatley out.


PS. If you get this via email, hit reply and tell me something exciting.

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Five things on Friday #184

Things of note for the week ending July 8th, 2016.


Christ on a bike.

It never ends.

How are you today? Well? Smiling? Safe?

Perhaps all there. I sincerely hope so.

I’ve just returned from the #BlackLivesMatter march / vigil on London’s South Bank and I’m feeling pretty raw. A black girl, probably only around 17, spoke to the crowd – ‘We just want them to stop killing us’. I was stood, watching and, I guess, participating in the vigil from around 18:30 onwards. I walked with them too, for a while, and listened to the cheers of the bystanders as we chanted: ‘Black. Lives. Matter. Black. Lives. Matter.’ – and yet I still couldn’t shake her voice from my head: ‘We just want them to stop killing us‘ – that word. ‘Us’. Here, in London, speaking for all people of her colour. I choked up. Tears in my eyes.

The march continued and I slowly wandered home.

It has been a heavy evening.

And now I am here. At home. Writing this for you.

Thing is with FTOF, I draft it throughout the week – so don’t expect any of the below to reflect any of the above.

Shall we?



So, this is legitimately amazing. After an epic five year journey, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has arrived in orbit at Jupiter.



And, at the time of writing, Juno is waking up RIGHT NOW to take its first proper look at Jupiter close up. The closest look at Jupiter we have ever had. Ever.

Juno is on a 53 day orbit of the giant of our galaxy (to put that into perspective, the same satellite would take a mere 90mins to orbit the Earth – that is how much larger Jupiter is in comparison to our home) and, on August 27th – when Juno takes its next closest pass to the planet, it’ll start collecting data. NASA will be sharing those findings near the start of September.

So y’know – put that in your diary.

You can read more about the amazing Juno over at NASA (who, as usual, is doing a fantastic job of sharing everything online).

Oh, and while you wait, why not look at these amazing images of Jupiter’s North Pole.




I’ve been thinking a lot about the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) again this past week. Not just over the whole ‘we have no jurisdiction over the pack of lies that were used during the Vote Leave Brexit’ debacle. That’s a whole other thing.

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No, this week a friend of mine pointed out a timeline of events that I’d hitherto not really noticed.

Indulge me for a second.

Let’s start with the ASA CAP Code on ‘non-broadcast advertising‘. It reads:

Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such

This means they need to be designed and presented in a way that makes it clear they are advertising material. The medium or targeting will also be relevant when deciding what is necessary to ensure that consumers know they are viewing a marcom (see Recognising marketing communications and identifying marketers).

Got that? OK. We might revisit it later.

May 2013
A blog post called ‘One of these things is not like the others‘ highlighting the amazing differences between Nike communications and genuinely commentary / content over on the Wayne Rooney Twitter account.

September 2013
A complaint to the ASA about the above content was not upheld. The reasons into the why it wasn’t upheld can be found on the Social Media Remit page of the CAP Code (it’s used as an example against a similar complaint and well worth a read).

October 2013
A post appears on the The Drum entitled ‘The ASA must sharpen its teeth on social media; if we don’t police ourselves properly, the government will‘ (catchy). In it the author – ahem – complains that the ASA a) isn’t fast enough and b) doesn’t take into account longer-term sponsorship deals of sportsmen and women. It also raises concerns about potential governmental involvement if the ASA doesn’t step up the policing of its CAP code to a more satisfactory level.

In short: too much grey, not enough hard lines.

April 2016
The Competition and Markets Authority (the government agency known as the CMA) steps in and publishes a pair of open letters. One to Marketing Professionals and one to Online Publishers.

Key point:

“Misleading readers or viewers may not only damage your reputation – it also falls foul of consumer protection law and could result in enforcement by either the CMA or Trading Standards Services, which could lead to civil and/or criminal action.”

July 2016
This is amazing.

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The above is an example of a ‘Thunderclap’ tweet campaign. Thunderclaps are normally used for charity work. Helping those that need the attention lift their signal up from the Twitter noise. Deliveroo isn’t a charity, so probably paid money for these accounts to tweet these messages at this time.

Furthermore, each of the accounts shown has tens if not hundreds of thousands of followers – all looking out for comedy memes all day long. If the word ‘#ad’ is hidden in an image that you need to expand, is that ‘obviously identifiable’? A few years back – being this adventurous with the rules would earn you a slap on the wrist from the ASA and a naughty letter telling you to remove the Tweet (probably around 3mths after it was tweeted).

From what the CMA say, misleading viewers in this way could lead to criminal action.

We live in interesting times.




Not kidding, this is an actual ad you can see on the Tube right now.

Joe’s response is perfect.

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This is really cool.

“How connected is the world? Playwrights [1], poets [2], and scientists [3] have proposed that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else by six other people. In honor of Friends Day, we’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is 3.57. Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. The average distance we observe is 4.57, corresponding to 3.57 intermediaries or “degrees of separation.” Within the US, people are connected to each other by an average of 3.46 degrees.”

This ^ from Facebook’s latest research into just how connected we have all become. Clue: it ain’t six anymore.

Best thing about this research? If you’re logged in, it’ll show you your own number 😉

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This bobcat rules.




a) Cool. Cat.
b) More, at the source.




Bonuses this week are as follows:

  • If you’re working in or have an interest about non-profit organisations then you should try and be in London on Friday August 12th and attend this barcamp. Tickets are free. Go check it out.
  • We live in a world where racists believe that their behaviour is acceptable. If you’re a witness to this and don’t know what to do, here is some rock solid bystander advice.
  • On the flipside – for an example of how the world CAN be – just look at this photo.
  • My friend Alfie Dennen wrote this piece about autonomous vehicles and the ‘trolley problem‘ – this is a really, really good read.
  • Here is a live stream of a live stream (where bears are fishing for salmon)


I’m going to bed now. It’s late.

Have an amazing weekend, you beautiful people.

Whatley out.

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Five things on Friday #183

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 1st, 2016.



So here’s a thing: would you believe that people are actually sharing LESS ‘original’ content than ever before? So much so, that Facebook recently held actual crisis talks (yeah, because that’s a crisis) over the huge drop it had seen in content from users.

There are three different data points that support this. First, there was this report from April that stated:

“Overall sharing reportedly fell 5.5 percent from mid-2014 to mid-2015, so Facebook has fewer posts to choose from for your News Feed. But the bigger issue is this: people are posting far fewer of their own personal updates — stories about their thoughts, their life, what they’re up to — to Facebook. The report says this type of post fell 21 percent during that same timeframe. The decline has continued into this year, though at a somewhat slower pace of 15 percent year over year.”


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But there’s more.

To combat this decline, Facebook has announced yet another algorithm change.

This particular change is switching the focus of your newsfeed to real life people (in your face, brands). As Facebook itself said:

We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.

Yep. Sure.

Whatever you say, Facebook.

Reading between the lines you can see the intention here: by upweighting ‘things posted by the friends you care about’ (eg: photos of your life), the newsfeed will contain more ‘original’ content and therefore inspire you to share / make / upload more of your own.

This is fairly conjectural on my part but still, you can see how I got there. Oh, especially when Instagram is suffering too.

Didn’t you hear?

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Over the past three years, Instagram has increased its user numbers by 500%.

That is mental.

However, the average number of photos shared per user is down.

This could be the start of a worrying trend.

As with all [good] trend analysis, it’s good to understand the key drivers of the new behaviour. In this instance the key drivers could be:

  • The rise of messaging apps driving content off public platforms to closed chat groups
  • Related: the rise of Snapchat (a very clear competitor in the content-creation game)
  • Growing mind-share of the cultural implications of over-sharing.

Watch this one closely, it could be the start of something… big.



A 10-year-old girl applied to a Paris-based summer fellowship to help improve her robot-building/coding skills. Her pitch?

“The streets of Paris are sad. I want to build a robot that will make them happy again. I’ve already starting learning how to code on Thymio robots, but I have trouble making it work. I want to join the program so the mentors can help me.”

This is what they said.

(probably my favourite thing this week)

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What next?


Zoe Margolis on happiness, the long hard fight, and ultimately: acceptance.

Also one of the best things I’ve read this week.

I love you, Zoe. You’re awesome.


A few issues ago I told you lovely lot about the radio show that I was going to co-host alongside the internet’s favourite webmong, Matt Muir. It was fairly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it BUT if you did miss it and you’re currently worried about how you’re going to live the rest of your life without such aural wonderment gushing into your ears… THEN WORRY NO MORE!

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Simply by clicking the above image, you will be magically transported to the Ogilvy Blaze Mixcloud page where our excellent broadcast has been uploaded for your enjoyment.



Yes, that’s right. Stickers.


So far so Snapchat / so what. BUT. In what could possibly be the smartest thing that Twitter has done this year, said stickers will be searchable.

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And that is kinda awesome.


(official link)




Bonuses this week are as follows –

  • Get Emoji. A useful place to cut and paste emojis if you’re working on desktop and need some for a presentation or something…
  • The original Clash of the Titans is one of my all time favourite films. This behind the scenes report shows the REAL clash of the titans that happened on set at the time. Brilliant stuff.
  • It’s all kicking off between Apple and Spotify. Like, massively.
  • Google Maps is FINALLY letting you navigate somewhere via multiple way-points. AT LAST.
  • Classifying the emotions of Facebook (via reaction data). Data + emojis = ?

And that is that.


Except, it isn’t.

As has now become the norm, I’d like to present a new weekly feature I’ve decided to call: ‘What the eff is going in your country, Whatters?’ and the following links reflect just that.

  • I went viral last weekend – 2.2k RTs and counting (and nearly again during the week – shh). I got called ‘thick as fuck‘, was told me understanding of the word ‘lets’s’ was ultimately flawed, and, above all, I made the top post in a Buzzfeed list. How did it feel? Well, it was funny. You get to see the ‘hilarious’ brutal underbelly of what it’s like out there on the internetz. The only thing I found myself feeling was: ‘James, can you imagine how worse this would’ve been if you were a woman, or person of colour, or sikh, or muslim, etc’ – exactly.
  • Here’s a letter to MPs from a Remain voter (at the London School of Economics & Political Science) that I thought was an excellent read.
  • While we’re at it, Professor Michael Dugan, the leading EU lawyer whose criticism of the referendum campaign’s “industrial dishonesty” went viral, is back with another video this time assessing the current situation. Worth a watch.
  • If you’re overseas and still have no real idea how the hell we found ourselves in this position, then this brief history lesson should offer some decent insight.

And finally, given that I’ve used a gif from the film earlier in this edition of FToF, maybe we should all take some time and re-watch THE IRON GIANT this weekend.

Farewell, my friends.

Stay safe.

Until next time,

Whatley out.




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Five things on Friday #182

Things of note for the week ending Friday 24th June, 2016.

On with the things.


Kicking off this week with a fantastic ‘Did you know?’


Did you know that

If this blog is The Young Ones then Terence Eden is Alexei Sayle – such is the regularity of his appearance here. But, just like the anarchic Liverpudlian against whom I am drawing such an odd comparison, his presence is welcomed and is often as amusing as it is informative.

As a demonstration of this fact, please fine below the opening section of one of Terence’s latest posts:

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Thing is, the man in the hire car office was wrong.

Terence knew (something that I did not know) that the DVLA has online portal that exists for just this kind of occasion. Far be it from me to steal Terence’s Thunder, mind.

Go read about it from the man himself.




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“Evacuation [of the South Pole] is exceedingly uncommon.The brutal cold and near-total darkness that blankets Antarctica during the austral winter make flights in and out of the station all but impossible. In 1999, a doctor who discovered a cancerous lump in her right breast treated herself — even performing her own biopsy and administering her own chemotherapy — for almost six months until the weather thawed enough for a rescue plane to arrive. A decade later, when a manager for the station suffered a stroke in August, the question of whether an airlift was possible led to a tense standoff. She was ultimately flown out in mid October.”

Earlier this week, the South Pole Station had such a situation. Two people fell so ill that the onsite facilities were not able to provide the medical support needed.

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The Washington Post has an incredible write up of exactly the kind of effort that goes into reaching the South Pole. Even more harrowing when you have a medical emergency.

The National Science Foundation’s Facebook page also has further details.




This week, in lol-worthy cock-ups (no, not that one – we’ll get to that) – this happened.

Picture 1:


Picture 2:

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Apart from the obvious formatting, can you spot the major difference?





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This is interesting: Twitter has quietly launched ‘location feeds’, powered by Foursquare. Yes, that’s right – FOURSQUARE. And it looks a little something like this –

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Techcrunch has not only the scoop but also some good ideas on what and how the partnership could work (for both parties).

Go read.





sub buzz

An old friend of mine, Cate Sevilla, left her position as Managing Editor at Buzzfeed UK this week and, as her final post, publishing this post entitled ‘7 things that happen when you live in a different country for 10 years‘ – it is an excellent read.

Poignant on a day like today, when perhaps many of you are reconsidering home as a concept.

This is the best long read in this entire rundown.

And my favourite piece of the week.



Bonuses this week are many:



And here we are.


Living in a post-EURef world.

Last week I said:

“The country is split in two on this referendum. Whichever way it goes, I sincerely hope that the same amount of passion and effort that went into the campaigning gets poured into how much work it’s going to take to patch us back together again afterwards.”

And I meant it.

I’m giving myself a day to grieve but then, over the weekend, I’m going to spend some time thinking about how to put some positives in the world.

As my friend Robbie said to me a little past 7am this morning (FAR TOO SOON IF YOU ASK ME):

“I’m really saddened to see so many disappointed people vocalising their dissatisfaction by seemingly turning their back on Britain (e.g. posts/tweets decrying the country has gone/dead/over). That makes me more sad than the result.

As I said in the last couple of days, this vote was won on desperation. People are angry and disillusioned and can’t see a way out. The fact so many who’ve made the intellectual decision to remain are so surprised at the way this has played out IS the problem (the fact some of these people work in marketing is its own oddness).

There is only space for a positive reaction.

Anything else just strikes me as acceptance and resignation.
I hope it the tone will change over the weekend.”

It is sad. And I am sad.

But I’ll get over it. And, like Robbie, I too hope the tone will change. We have to deal with the cards that we’ve been dealt (by ourselves) and hold up those responsible thereafter.

As always: the real hard work starts on Monday.

In the mean time, go find a person and hug them.

Whatley out.



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Seven things on Sunday (FtoF #181)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday June 19th, 2016.


Another week, another nudge from Friday to Sunday. Friday was an awful day. Awful. I didn’t want to do, or write, anything. Saturday I just needed to chill. And so here we are, on Sunday, and at last I’m writing to you.

You never know, this thing might become regular… Shh. Don’t give me ideas.

Shall we crack on?




Princess of Power, bitches. Deal with it.

This excellent piece, via The Atlantic, highlights how the Princess of Power herself, She-Ra, was the first step on the long road towards eliminating the ‘token girl’ approach to [Saturday morning] kids’ shows.

“The 1980s were a golden era for TV cartoons. Animated shows including TheSmurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Real Ghostbusters featured vivid landscapes and a variety of strange heroes, from blue forest people to human-cat hybrids to sewer turtles. But they had one significant thing in common. As the writer Katha Pollitt noted in The New York Times in 1991, most cartoon series featured a legion of male characters but only a single female, a phenomenon that Pollitt called the “Smurfette Principle.” Because the animation industry and the children’s toy market were so closely linked at the time, the trope of a token girl amid a troupe of boys dominated not only television, but also the shelves of toy stores.”

Covering off everything from Thundercats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and everything in-between) it’s clear that ‘Token Girl’ is still an issue when it comes to kids’ entertainment. But the efforts are out there (hello Powerpuff Girls!) – you just have to look for them.

Small point of note (that I picked up from reading this): I haven’t watched them for a while but it wouldn’t surprise me if 100% of all She-Ra episodes passed the Bechdel Test.

And that’s amazing.



‘Who did you first fall in love with?’

‘What makes you laugh more than anything else in the world?’

‘What is something you’ve never told anyone else before?’

‘Where do you find peace?’

‘When have you felt most vulnerable?’

— all of these questions, and more, I found at this incredibly moving posts ‘Things to ask your parents before they die



This isn’t new but, if you haven’t read it yet, then you should. It’s very good. Hell, even if you have read it, it’s worth a revisit.

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Josi Denise on why the ‘mommy blogger’ is over. It’s a brilliant piece of writing and so unbelievably on point I actually can’t find any one single paragraph that I’d want to pull out as a quote. Instead, I’d prefer you to go and read the whole thing in its entirety.

You will not be disappointed.

On a tangential note, back when I was working at 1000heads, we came up with a theory that ‘there was no such thing as a mommy blogger’ – instead it proposed the idea that in fact – heaven forbid – women (or moms) had passions that they enjoyed and instead talked about those passions through the lens of being a mom. It was fairly academic and didn’t really go anywhere. But still, interesting.



Earth has a new moon.


It’s name? 2016 HO3.

And it’s kinda cool (there’s a video and everything).





Excuse while I lol into my cornflakes.



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OK, so this is from MASHABLE of all places.

But seriously. This is just utter drivel. Within the above named article you will find SEVEN HUNDRED WORDS on ‘a new social dawn of traditional marketing’ (their words, not mine) on how SONY is using online influencers to create content for launch of its next big movie launch.

Seven. Hundred. Words.

Online. Influencers.




7. WWDC & E3

If you’re interested in either of these events, my friend Stefan and I did a podcast specifically to cover both of them. You can download it from the website or subscribe via iTunes.


Bonuses this week are:

And with that, FTOF/STOS comes to a close.




Well, kinda.

At this point I would normally publish a comedy gif and say something cool and catchy like ‘Whatley out’ – but this week, things are a bit different.

For what it’s worth, this Thursday I’ll be voting for the UK to REMAIN part of the EU. I’ve had many discussions with many people (huge thanks to Robbie for keeping my/his/our confirmation bias in check) and, if you’re reading this and you’re still unsure, here are the three best people I’ve seen/read on the subject:

  1. Professor of EU Law, Michael Dougan – this man knows the topic like no other and is a 25min watch and worth every second.
  2. Professor Nicholas Barr, of the London School of Economics and Political Science – probably the most in-depth and fact-based piece that I’ve read. This really nails each issue for me.
  3. Founder and Editor of Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, giving his brilliantly objective piece on the topic. If expert professors don’t work for you, then maybe this authoritative voice will.

The country is split in two on this referendum. Whichever way it goes, I sincerely hope that the same amount of passion and effort that went into the campaigning gets poured into how much work it’s going to take to patch us back together again afterwards.

We are, after all, stronger together.

Until next time.