Things of note for the week ending January 10th, 2014.
I’ve made a list…
1. The Solar-Powered Wall Socket
I bloggedtumbled this at some point last year, it’s still an awesome idea though. Create a solar plug socket anywhere; on a train, on a plane, in a hotel room, anywhere there is sunshine. This is awesome. SO AWESOME.
This photo doesn’t do the art justice; but this ‘deconstruction’ of a sculptured bust really speaks to me. I can’t place it. Is it the interpretation of the mind [breaking out of the confines of the skull]? Or is just the simplistic beauty of nature hidden away deep inside our heads? I don’t know.
I post a fair bit of art from time to time, but it’s rare that I see something that I’d like to own myself. The above is one of those rarities. That is all.
3. The Eye of Sauron.. sorry, SATURN
This is stunning. Just. Stunning. If, you’re like me, you’ll probably be wanting more.
4. Thor is the new Superman
Thor is fun, the way Superman should be; his cape is a bright, hopeful red and you want to hang out with him. The Superman in Man of Steel is a guy you want to keep your distance from, more coldly alien than the Asgardian who just arrived here. They’re both immigrants to Earth, but even though the Man of Steel Superman was raised here, Thor feels more connected to humans in his movies, more their champion. More their Superman.
After a year long break (and a few false starts with my Tumblr), I’m bringing Five Things on Friday back for 2014. The good news is, last year I managed to last FIVE WHOLE MONTHS before the itch finally got the better of me. That’s right, five, not twelve. Today’s date (the date of writing, not publishing) is May 1st 2013, and I’m writing this a whole seven months in advance. Mental, I know, but I’m finding a fire truck load of stuff at the moment and I need to bank it somewhere.
So here it is. The first Five Things of 2014. Pre-written, sometime in May 2013. From now on I figure I’d make this project a bi-annual thing. One year on, one year off. Yeah. That.
EDIT: this ^ is slightly untrue. I’m now updating #5things each week and swapping stuff around (eg: the post from Zoe in at number 4).
Wait, where we? Oh yes, here -
Things of note for the week ending January 3rd, 2014.
1. Dioramas of Death
These are proper gruesome.
These miniature death scenes remind me a lot of one of my favourite werewolf films, Ginger Snaps. In it , the two main protagonists have an obsession with recreating death scenes as art (and it’s kinda awesome). The artist behind this work, Abigail Goldman, covers everything from crime scenes through decapitation and death by lawnmower. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by them, but they’re just really cool and, should I ever have a place suitable, they’d be on display in my house in a flash.
2. IRON MAN!!! YEAH!!!! IRON MAAAAAAAAN!
At the time of writing, Iron Man 3 has just been released and the above photo was taken at a special screening of the film put on by Disney to say thank you to the teenagers of the Police Athletic League who volunteered to clean up the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged areas of New York.
Why is the kid freaking out so much? Robert Downey Jr. had just turned up, unannounced, to say thank you in person. Amazing.
This 8min short film about a human-obsessed android is dark, but beautiful; I loved it. Be warned: it is not an easy watch.
I haven’t seen Zoe Margolis for too long now, but I stay on top of how things are with her via the wonders of social media and, of course, her blog ‘Girl with a one-track mind‘. Zoe’s latest post, published Jan 1st, 2014, marks ten years of blogging and is full of insight, life lessons, and love. This is one small excerpt -
Back then, it felt like I was shouting about sex into a vacuum where there were two extreme, opposing perspectives: one, in women’s magazines, where women were portrayed as basically ‘innocent’ non-sexual beings who ‘give’ away their virginity to men and whose objective is to a) find a man and b) please him; and two, the other end of the media spectrum, where women were seen as ‘sluts’, and sexual ‘liberation’ meant the ‘freedom’ to be objectified for men’s titillation and gratification. I related to neither position.
Take some time out of your day and read it. And Zoe, if you’re reading this, you still continue to inspire me and I remember our stroll around Soho fondly. Big love.
Things of note for the week ending December 28th, 2012
1. #EmptyUnderground, New York
The above photo is taken from the mythical City Hall subway station that resides underneath New York City which, thanks to the demand of longer and larger trains, has been closed and deserted since 1945.
According to the source, New Yorkers now have the opportunity to see said subterranean architecture for themselves -
You don’t have to take my word that the secret City Hall Station exists, as the 6 Train will now allow the passengers who have been enlightened with the knowledge of its whereabouts to stay on the train during its turnaround and see the Station. You won’t be able to get off, but you’ll be taken for a slow tour of the platform and see what a beauty it was in its heyday!
2. WE DID IT. WE REALLY DID IT.
If you’re reading this then that means you’re reading the last ‘Five things on Friday’ of 2012; week 52 is in the bag and my year-long blogging project is complete.
I am spent.
Back on December 30th, 2011 – aka, ‘Five things on Friday #0′ – I made a promise:
Every Friday (hopefully on my way home from work) I’m going to jot down the five things I’ve done or seen that week. Or perhaps even five things that have happened to me or that I’ve seen or whatever. Either way, it’s going in the Moleskine and then, naturally, it’s ending up on here.
Over time that promise has moved around. Earlier posts focusing on what I’d been up to, who’d I seen or what projects I’d been working on, with later entries mainly being about the coolest things I’d found on the web that week. It’s interesting – to me at least – how (and why) that changed in the way it did.
Moving to big agency life means that there’s more structure around what projects you are (and more specifically are not) allowed to talk about. With a few slight changes in place already (I still work for Social@Ogilvy, I no longer work for OPR), I’m hoping that will change in the New Year.
What else? Well, life has been tough this year. Perhaps the toughest year to date. Both for me and for the woman in my life. We’ve not been able to do all the things we’ve wanted and we’ve had some pretty hard personal and professional battles to fight too. But again, things are changing and, as 2013 rolls around the corner, already we seem to be armed better than ever before to face the year ahead.
Work and home life aside (huh, it’s strange isn’t it? How through the simple act of collating different things you do and don’t like over the course of 365 days allows you to view the past year of your life with a new and more thoughtful lens? I never thought that this project would provide such post-year analysis – and I certainly never thought it’d wind up in this way either), here we are: exactly 52 weeks later and Five things on Friday 2012 is complete. I honestly still don’t know if I want to keep going. It was a year-long project and that year is over.So I guess, we’ll have to until next Friday and see how I feel.
What have we learnt?
Stupid things? Probably.
What it feels like to actually finish a project? Definitely.
Right then, enough wanky introspection Whatley, you’ve still got three more things to bash through – GO!
3. Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up
The New York Times ran a profile on Jerry Seinfeld just before Christmas and, even if you’re not a fan, it really is one of the best things on the web this week.
4. Christmas in The Trenches
On Christmas Day, 1914, Private Frederick W. Heath wrote the following -
“The night closed in early – the ghostly shadows that haunt the trenches came to keep us company as we stood to arms. Under a pale moon, one could just see the grave-like rise of ground which marked the German trenches two hundred yards away. Fires in the English lines had died down, and only the squelch of the sodden boots in the slushy mud, the whispered orders of the officers and the NCOs, and the moan of the wind broke the silence of the night. The soldiers’ Christmas Eve had come at last, and it was hardly the time or place to feel grateful for it.
Memory in her shrine kept us in a trance of saddened silence. Back somewhere in England, the fires were burning in cosy rooms; in fancy I heard laughter and the thousand melodies of reunion on Christmas Eve. With overcoat thick with wet mud, hands cracked and sore with the frost, I leaned against the side of the trench, and, looking through my loophole, fixed weary eyes on the German trenches. Thoughts surged madly in my mind; but they had no sequence, no cohesion. Mostly they were of home as I had known it through the years that had brought me to this. I asked myself why I was in the trenches in misery at all, when I might have been in England warm and prosperous. That involuntary question was quickly answered. For is there not a multitude of houses in England, and has not someone to keep them intact? I thought of a shattered cottage in — , and felt glad that I was in the trenches. That cottage was once somebody’s home.
Still looking and dreaming, my eyes caught a flare in the darkness. A light in the enemy’s trenches was so rare at that hour that I passed a message down the line. I had hardly spoken when light after light sprang up along the German front. Then quite near our dug-outs, so near as to make me start and clutch my rifle, I heard a voice. there was no mistaking that voice with its guttural ring. With ears strained, I listened, and then, all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: “English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!”
Following that salute boomed the invitation from those harsh voices: “Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.” For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity – war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired, except for down on our right, where the French artillery were at work.
Came the dawn, pencilling the sky with grey and pink. Under the early light we saw our foes moving recklessly about on top of their trenches. Here, indeed, was courage; no seeking the security of the shelter but a brazen invitation to us to shoot and kill with deadly certainty. But did we shoot? Not likely! We stood up ourselves and called benisons on the Germans. Then came the invitation to fall out of the trenches and meet half way.
Still cautious we hung back. Not so the others. They ran forward in little groups, with hands held up above their heads, asking us to do the same. Not for long could such an appeal be resisted – beside, was not the courage up to now all on one side? Jumping up onto the parapet, a few of us advanced to meet the on-coming Germans. Out went the hands and tightened in the grip of friendship. Christmas had made the bitterest foes friends.
Here was no desire to kill, but just the wish of a few simple soldiers (and no one is quite so simple as a soldier) that on Christmas Day, at any rate, the force of fire should cease. We gave each other cigarettes and exchanged all manner of things. We wrote our names and addresses on the field service postcards, and exchanged them for German ones. We cut the buttons off our coats and took in exchange the Imperial Arms of Germany. But the gift of gifts was Christmas pudding. The sight of it made the Germans’ eyes grow wide with hungry wonder, and at the first bite of it they were our friends for ever. Given a sufficient quantity of Christmas puddings, every German in the trenches before ours would have surrendered.
And so we stayed together for a while and talked, even though all the time there was a strained feeling of suspicion which rather spoilt this Christmas armistice. We could not help remembering that we were enemies, even though we had shaken hands. We dare not advance too near their trenches lest we saw too much, nor could the Germans come beyond the barbed wire which lay before ours. After we had chatted, we turned back to our respective trenches for breakfast.
All through the day no shot was fired, and all we did was talk to each other and make confessions which, perhaps, were truer at that curious moment than in the normal times of war. How far this unofficial truce extended along the lines I do not know, but I do know that what I have written here applies to the — on our side and the 158th German Brigade, composed of Westphalians.
As I finish this short and scrappy description of a strangely human event, we are pouring rapid fire into the German trenches, and they are returning the compliment just as fiercely. Screeching through the air above us are the shattering shells of rival batteries of artillery. So we are back once more to the ordeal of fire.”
Things of note for the week ending December 21st, 2012
1. One helluva tree house
The above image is, believe it or not, one of the primary residences of the Korowai tribe. Living over a hundred feet in the air is second nature to this isolate people as the area they call home is somewhat dangerous nearer the ground (thanks to killer insects, flooding etc). Some people would move out. The Korowai, it would seem, move up.
2. The Web We Lost
This, from Anil Dash, is one of the best things I’ve read this month -
When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself. -
We’ll fix these things; I don’t worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we’re going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.
4. Under Cover: Erotica and Sexism
I first met Zoe Margolis way back in 2008, I think it may’ve been at Tuttle – all those many moons ago. Delightful, warm, and fiercely intelligent, we had a fantastic stroll around Soho discussing all sorts. I follow Zoe on Twitter and recently I saw her tweet a link to her Lost Lecture on ‘Erotica and Sexism‘. I’ve only just got ’round to watching it – this morning in fact – and it’s a damn good watch. Enlightening and engaging, you’ll never look at an erotic book cover in the same way ever again.
Things of note for the week ending December 14th, 2012
1. The Atlantic’s photographic review of 2012 (Part 1) Heart-wrenching and beautiful; some made me laugh out loud, others caught my breath and made me cry – take some time of your day, and scroll your way through. I honestly can’t recommend this enough. (Parts 2 and 3 ain’t bad either – there, that’s your lunchtime sorted)
2. Catfish now eat pigeons. PIGEONS.
In Southwestern France, a group of fish have learned how to kill birds. As the River Tarn winds through the city of Albi, it contains a small gravel island where pigeons gather to clean and bathe. And patrolling the island are European catfish—1 to 1.5 metres long, and the largest freshwater fish on the continent. These particular catfish have taken to lunging out of the water, grabbing a pigeon, and then wriggling back into the water to swallow their prey. In the process, they temporarily strand themselves on land for a few seconds.
This past week, a dear friend (whom I shall miss) highlighted to me the above titled piece on Harvard Business Review. I read it. I read it again. It spoke to me. And so I read it once more. In short: I’m going to try and read it every single day for the rest of my life.
I would’ve done separate posts for each of them but in a week where we’ve already seen Star Trek Into Darkness and OBLIVION both make their respective trailer debuts, I really didn’t want to drown you all in two minute videos (or more moaning about the over-use of HOOOONK as a large scale drama trailer device).
Things of note for the week ending December 7th, 2012
1. The Hawkeye Initiative
There are tonsand tons of completely amazing blog posts pointing out the continual (and not to mention completely and utterly sexist) objectifying of strong female comic book characters today but now – finally - someone seems to have come up with a way to test whether or not the sketch in question is insulting to women or not.
Ready? It’s this simple -
‘If your female character can be replaced by Hawkeye in the same pose without looking silly or stupid, then it’s acceptable and probably non-sexist. If you can’t, then just forget about it.’
So, what we need then is a blog post that collates said efforts…
He’s all over the news (and he got a mention last week too). And, even though the story has developed a lot since it was published, this New York Times piece ‘Hide-and-Seek in Belize‘ is a damn good read.
3. This is not Eros
Piccadilly Circus, London. Home of bright lights, buzzing tourists and this beautiful statue of Eros. Right?
Thanks to awesome Serena, I found out this past week that this isn’t Eros at all. This is in fact Anteros, Eros’ twin. Confused? Yeah, you should be.
Anteros is the subject of the Shaftesbury Memorial in Piccadilly Circus, London, where he symbolises the selfless philanthropic love of the Earl of Shaftesbury for the poor. -
The memorial is sometimes given the name The Angel of Christian Charity and is popularly mistaken for Eros.
4. Dumb Ways to Die
OK, so this has already been seen 30m times but I’ve only just got to it. Yes, it’s super sweet and super brilliant and hey, even you have seen it already, you should watch it again. Because it is SUPER.
5. Matt Muir wins the internet today
This – lifted from Matt’s brilliant (yet sadly, final) blog post for H+K today[EDIT: post now removed - can't think why] – is quite possibly the best thing I’ve read all week.
“There is a client we have, whose name shall remain nameless, who produces biscuits – you will agree, a fine and noble profession. As part of our work for said client, we were required at one point this summer to work with other agencies in that hideous parody of friendly collaboration that is the ‘loop team’ (you will doubtless have experienced this; various agencies sitting around a table, smiling at each other with the dead-eyed sincerity of sharks or insurance salesman, nodding and making vacuous promises to ‘work collaboratively’ whilst simultaneously imagining violating each and every one of their competitors with a splintered fencepost) in order to promote a NEW THING. The process of promoting said NEW THING would involve the collaborative production of a DECK (why? WHY? WHY DO YOU ALL USE THIS BLOODY WORD?????? Is it because it makes it sound more important or interesting than ‘73 slides of powerpoint that MEANS NOTHING’??? And, as a tangential aside, Powerpoint – WHY? Why do you all persist in taking a medium that was designed primarily for the communication of visual information and not for extensive prose and then MAKING US WRITE BLOODY ESSAYS ON THE SODDING THING???? If it’s more than 100 words of copy, USE WORD. There’s a clue in the name. Christ’s sake) which was to be compiled by us with input from all of our other agency FRIENDS. Fine. Great.
So we receive submissions from other people, and start to look at them. And then this happens. I chance upon a slide which has very obviously taken ‘inspiration’ from the raft of interactive advertising that our industry has become so enamoured with this year – you know the sort of thing I mean; bus stop ads that either smell nice, or dispense free samples; that type of idea. That’s ok. There’s no such thing as a new idea, etc etc etc. I look at the slide. On it is drawn (very nicely, I must say – the agency’s art department was really rather good, so credit to them for that at the very least) a bus stop, with in clear view the advert on the inside panel. Clearly visible is the brand logo (nice and big!), a video screen, and a small, letterbox-type slot. The only other thing on the slide were the following words, and it was these that pretty much pushed me over the professional edge:
“Insert Biscuit To Receive Content”
Let me read that back to you one more time. “INSERT BISCUIT TO RECEIVE CONTENT”. Now, let’s just break down exactly the process that this one line of prose and a (very competent) illustration seem to be suggesting might take place:
Consumer prepares to leave house in morning to go to work; consumer grabs biscuit product to snack on to abate feelings of gnawing hunger and existential inadequacy that can often afflict one in the hours before 9am.
Consumer walks, whistling, on their path to work
Consumer passes bus stop
Consumer stops, thinking “Hm, well, you know what? I might be quite hungry, but there’s a video screen on that bus stop that looks like it might offer me the opportunity to watch 30-seconds of poorly made branded ‘content’ [read - advertising] if I give it a biscuit. Hunger be damned!
Consumer inserts biscuit
Consumer receives content
Consumer cries, bitterly, as they realise what they have just done and the sort of awful, dystopian, Blade Runner gone wrong nightmare that they are living through
ON WHAT PLANET, I ASK YOU, CAN RATIONAL MEN AND WOMEN WHO I PRESUME ARE OF REASONABLE INTELLIGENCE ACTUALLY THINK THAT THAT MAKES ANY SENSE AT ALL???? WHO CARRIES BISCUITS WITH THEM WHEREVER THEY GO IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MIGHT AT SOME POINT BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRADE THEM IN FOR SOME MOVING PICTURES THAT ARE TALKING TO THEM ABOUT HOW GREAT THEIR LIVES WOULD BE IF THEY HAD MORE BISCUITS??? ARE YOU ALL INSANE???
1. Pacific Rim
I first blogged about Pacific Rim back in July (when it was merely a launch poster at Comic Con), and this past week a blueprint for one the giant robots – or ‘Jaegers‘ – that feature in the film has turned up as well as the first part of the teaser campaign, below -
A few things -
I love Guillermo Del Toro and I’m quite close to believing that he’s never made a bad film.
The tech blueprint is a MUCH BETTER example on how to do tech blueprints (back of the class please Prometheus).
I’m using a Nokia Lumia 920 myself at the moment and, if you’re interested, initial thoughts are up over on The Voicemail…
3. Is Twitter ruining the celebrity endorsement? This article, from The Verge, dissects the current trend of celebrity / technology placement and is fantastic food for thought, in more ways than one.
“As sales of physical recordings continue to decline, it no longer makes sense to spend six figures on a video that might not pay. That doesn’t change the production cost of a video, however, so product placement is increasingly used to fill the gap. Nokia has been particularly active in this space, with Lumias popping up in videos for Flo Rida, M83, Ke$ha and Katy Perry. Often, the deals are limited to the budget of the video itself, which can leave the performer unsure of his or her obligations once production is done. Was Flo Rida just playing a character who loved his Lumia phone, or was the “Whistle” video really a window into his life? Either way, it’s hard not to feel like someone’s pulling a fast one. Finding him tweeting from an iPhone would be like catching Bad-era Michael Jackson drinking a Coke. We can overlook a low-level sellout, but switching sides is just bad form.”
That last sentence kind of nails it for me. ‘Bad-era Michael Jackson’ wouldnever have been caught drinking a Coke because Bad-era Michael Jackson was around in the disco/pop, cash-rich, yuppy/money-can-buy-me-anything world of the 80s. NOT the new media/capture-and-share-anything-and-everything world of the post-noughties social media generation.
Basically, what I’m saying is, there’s nothing wrong with these placement deals – of course there isn’t. It’s just another form of marketing and advertising and, believe it or not, it does actually work. However, what’s required is a more in-depth contractual commitment that lives past the 4min music video. An arrangement that not only guarantees that you hold device X for one shot, but also defines that you throw device Y in the bin as you do.
The answer to the question is: NO, Twitter isn’t ruining celebrity endorsement. Poorly thought-through modern-day endorsement contracts are ruining celebrity endorsements; Twitter is just pointing out the holes.
When it comes to placement, brands need to think harder, and work smarter.
Before I dive into this week’s bonuses, a moment to pause -
This week I realised that this post marks the 48th part of a 52 week promise I made myself at the start of the year. A blogging challenge if you will, to reflect on the week that was and – at the end of the year – have a single blog post for every week that would show what I’ve achieved and/or done with my time on this earth.
I won’t lie. This year has been tough. For both me, and my partner. As we head into December reflecting on 2012, the year of awesome, is hard. Professionally I’ve had ups and downs, winning my first major pitch for Ogilvy was a definite highlight, but the low-points – in general – include more character assassination attempts than I’d care to shake a stick at (from friends, (ex)colleagues/girlfriends and enemies alike), as well as dealing with a few health issues affecting the one I love…
Somewhere along the line the Five things on Friday changed. Changed from things I found awesome and wrote in my Moleskine, to things I’ve found on the internet and thought you should read. I don’t know how I feel about this change. I don’t even know if I want to continue with the weekly thing [once the 52nd week comes to an end].
I guess my question is, to you dear reader, what do you think? This project was going to be a one year only deal, things have been mad – hectic even – is it worth carrying on into next year and beyond?
Things of note for the week ending November 23rd, 2012
I’ve been on a bit of a digital-comics-sabbatical of late (it’s far too easy to spend a lot of money, on a lot of comics, in a very short space of time), but what with it being my birthday this past Wednesday (more on that later) and a couple of iTunes vouchers coming my way (thanks Dad), it was high time I dived back in again.
A new series launched to tie-in with the character’s new found fame thanks to a certain super-massive superhero movie, this standalone book is not only incredibly well drawn but also brilliantly written. The image above, taken from issue three ‘Cherry‘, gives you a bit of an insight on what I’m talking about but basically, what I’m saying is, if you’re looking for a new comic to get into, go and get Hawkeye. I genuinely lol’d about four or five times reading this month’s issue.
I worked at American Apparel for two years. During the time that I worked there, the company implemented a company-wide recruitment policy where any person applying for a position must be photographed (1 headshot, 1 body shot) The actual resumes were thrown in the garbage. These photos were then sent to a company email address where someone would either give a thumbs up or down to the photographs. Staff were encouraged to recruit instore and on the street and were given a $100 bonus for every person they got approved.
As a former cart pusher at walmart, one thing i always noticed was how they pushed all of their employees, i mean “associates” , to 39.5 hours a week so that they wouldn’t get full benefits. That and the 10% discount card only worked on taxed items.
5. Birthday awesomes!
It was my birthday on Wednesday – WOOOOO – and an awesome day/week was had. At the time this post is scheduled to publish, I’ll be boarding the Eurostar en route to Paris for a long weekend of relaxing with my lovely lady.