Five things on Friday #65

Things of note for the week ending March 28th, 2014.


1. Kuratas is coming to get you
This is nuts.

Above photo via The Verge.

2. 8 bit Fight Club
Remarkably well done.

3. The Seven Best Games for Non-Gamers
I’m a gamer. I make no secret of that. From original Super Mario Bros on my NES, to games on my phone to my PlayStation 4, I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. But not everyone else has. So, in fear of being told they’re ‘like a dog at the controls of a helicopter‘ what can those people play? Well, fortunately enough, Kotaku has put such a list together. Worth reading.

4. The second best Lorde cover EVER  [CLOWN KLAXON]
Last month I showed off a video of Puddles the Clown covering the Lorde hit ‘Royals’. And it was spectacular. Well, he’s back. This time covering ‘Team’ and it too is bloody fantastic.

5. The Instagram Bazaar
While we’re on a ‘Five things rewind!’ trip, back in Five things #56, I mentioned a nifty little trend in Middle Eastern e-commerce in the shape of using Instagram to sell sheep. Well, it would seem that this trend has gone global. Not the sheep-selling aspect, but the small-business-using-Instagram-as-a-shop-window element is taking off stateside, as this article from the New York Times reports -

Beverly Hames, owner of the shop [Fox & Fawn], said she began posting items on Instagram as an experiment a year and a half ago. Now, sales deriving from those postings make up 20 to 40 percent of the store’s daily revenue, she said, and they come from all over the country and occasionally from overseas.

Markets in everything indeed. When all the talk is about how the lack of paid budget will slowly push the little guy out, there are small businesses all across the world cutting corners and capitalising on any and every opportunity possible.

Fair play to them.



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Ads on Instagram are already here. But are they legal?

Place your bets now please…

The facts:

  • The Facebook-owned photo-sharing site, Instagram, does not have a business model (yet).
  • ‘Official’ ads will be coming soon (if on hold), but celebrities (and their sponsors) aren’t waiting around.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission state that ads on social media must be labelled as such*.

With those key points in tow, let’s take a look at a few recent examples of how ads have begun to appear on the this particular social network -

EXAMPLE 1:  Lebron James, Nike

Copy: ‘These are simply the best!! Ultra comfy and can wear them with anything. I’m ordering 100 pair right now. #kicks #Nike #family’

Is this an ad? It could be deemed as such, certainly. Is Lebron James sponsored by Nike? Definitely. Is ‘endorsement of product across social media’ part of his contract? Maybe. This is something I’ve talked about before. In short: how do social media advertising rules work when it comes to sponsorship deals? Should this image have an #ad tag?

Let me know in the comments.

EXAMPLE 2. Kim Kardashian, Sun Kissed

Copy: ‘Sprayed tonight after watching KKTM! My legs are soooo dark! Loving Kardashian SunKissed! #AvailableAtUlta’

If this isn’t an ad, then I really don’t know what is. Let’s review -

  1. We’ve got a CLEAR product shot!
  2. We’ve got a a massive ENDORSEMENT (Kim’s ‘LOVING’ it guys).
  3. Finally, that final hashtag? Oh, hi there call to action. How you doin’?

All of these elements add up to a clear piece of advertising. Is it marked up as such? No. While you could argue that KK is endorsing her own products here (so no money has officially changed hands, and this is technically not actually ‘paid for’ advertising) and therefore she’s exempt from the advertising guidelines… but still, it’s a grey area at best.

EXAMPLE 3: Nicole Richie, Suave
(image via Ad Age)

Copy: ‘Ad: My new don’t-leave-home-without-it product? Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil from @SuaveBeauty! Check out ways to add brilliant shine to your style here:’

OK, so this works. Finally someone is using the ‘Ad’ tag properly when it comes to advertising via earned media – hurrah! The interesting point here is that the brand in question has gone on record and said that the above image was indeed part of the existing partnership between the company and Ms Richie. Again, making things even clearer. Perfect.

——  So what can we learn from this?

There are three things at play here -

1. Without a business model, Instagram, and therefore Facebook, is clearly missing out on potentially lucrative ad dollars being bought and sold on their network.

2. Celebrities, and their sponsors, are getting smarter, faster.

3. In the same way that the ASA took Snickers and Nike to tribunal here in the UK, I wouldn’t be surprised if the FTC went knocking on the doors of a few US-based brands in the very near future.

It sounds so obvious when you say it out loud but, when it comes to paid-for endorsements on social media, clarity and transparency are key.


*Here in the UK, the ASA have a similar policy but the terms regarding disclosures are not as explicit.


Short stories on Instagram

I’ve been writing short stories on Instagram.

I’m not really sure why, but it’s just something that has started happening recently, since my last haircut in fact (which is an odd way for things to start but still). I remember the hairdresser handing me a copy of the latest GQ magazine and thinking ‘Ugh, I haven’t read this since I was a teenager’.

But then I opened it and started browsing – ‘I’ve got nothing else to do for the next 40mins, why not?’ – and I found an amazing and quite lengthy article about Philip K. Dick. Prolific science fiction author, futurist and drug user (I would be amazed if you’d never heard of him or of any of the films that are based on his works), I’d never read anything about him, the man, before and it was just completely mind-stretching.

I really can’t remember the full ins and outs of the actual piece (quotes etc) and you’re a better man than I if you can find anything relating to the piece on the GQ website but what I do remember is the way they described Dick’s imagination and the way he viewed the world in which we live.

It really did blow my mind.

The guy was a mental case, a drug-[ab]using* genius and yet, his imagination was – and still is – ridiculously inspiring. That article, on top of this additional piece from Warren Ellis, entitled ‘How To See The Future‘, is pushing my brain in new directions and it is awesome.

On the way home that afternoon, I was on the look out for a decent Empty Underground shot or three and I spotted this:

Inspired, on Instagram

‘That’s cool’, I thought ‘reminds me of the use of amber, from [the TV series] Fringe‘. Then I boarded my tube and started typing. I don’t know what the character limit is on Instagram images, I’m yet to find it. But what I am finding is that being able to go over and above 140 characters is somewhat freeing.

My imagination takes me to all kinds of places…

I wrote:


Emergency tube closure.
Large rats, the size of cattle, have been reported roaming the tunnels at Oxford Circus. These orange panels, an emergency procedure in place since 1997, are actually made up of a thick orange sinew. Frequently mistaken as a deterrent to the unbelievably large rodents, the panels – also known as ‘honey squares’ – are actually covered on one side with a sickly sweet, yet dangerously poisonous, honey-like coating. This honey trap, if you will, lures the wildrats out of their dark dens and snares them with their hypnotic flavour.

Death occurs merely minutes after first contact. All that remains is for a clean up team to dispose of the captured carcass and reopen the station to the public. The whole process takes approximately one hour.

Quite remarkable really.


I’ve been writing short stories on Instagram. I’m not really sure why, but what I can tell you is that they’re inspired by Philip K Dick and Warren Ellis.

More short stories –

The Witness

Another World

Sentient Life

Emergency Tube Closure


A bit similar to my N8 project from last year, this time it’s with Instagram.


*user or abuser? The word is undecided. He took the drugs to push himself, and his work, into new dimensions. Surely, for him at least, that’s not abuse; that’s using them exactly what they’re for. 


Social Media Strategy

Here endeth the lesson -


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Five things on Friday #40

Things of note for the week ending October 5th, 2012

1. The Penis Blouse

That’s a penis, on a blouse. Brought to you by those lovely people at ASOS. Spotted it a couple of days ago and within 24 hours it was all over the place. ASOS are clearly onto a winner; everyone loves a penis blouse.

2. Statigram
Statigram is a web interface for Instagram. Given that Instagram is mobile-only, this is actually quite a useful tool. What’s really useful however is the super-cool stats (see what they did there) it pulls out of your Instagram activity.

eg: my most popular pics

Lovely stuff. On Instagram? Go have a play.

3. Dog shirts
Exactly what is says on the tin.

I bought one of these for Robbie last week (it was his birthday, we don’t just buy each other gifts for no reason – well, we do but that’s not for now), AND THEY ARE AMAZING.

4. 4G Networks
At long last, 4G is scheduled to launch here in the UK on October 30th. Well I say networks I mean network (singular, not plural) this is because of a whole bunch of reasons most of which are covered off in this rather informative article on The Register as well as this week’s episode of The Voicemail (I may have had a rant).

In summary: 4G is coming from network this year, but from everyone else in 2013. Rubbish.

5. Choons
This is the best thing I’ve listened to all week.


Bonuses this week: FIFA have somewhat incredibly re-badged and relaunched FIFA 12 as FIFA 13; this article about how Nokia keeps its maps up to date by using UPS and Fedex van delivery data is quite the eye-opener; and finally, Snoop Dogg is voting for Obama. Wanna know why?

- Whatley out.

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Five things on Friday #32

Things of note for the week ending August 10th, 2012

1. Christchurch Dedication
The building above is what’s left of the Christchurch Normal School that was damaged during the earthquake in New Zealand earlier this year. The additional images, that have been placed in as a kind of optical illusion, are only temporary as the building itself is due for demolition any day now. However, the work itself has meaning.

Mike Hewson, the artist responsible, wanted to pay tribute to the talented people that once lived there and covered the building with these mixed-media installations that did just that.

Thanks to Marek for the source.

2. Olympic Heat
Now that the first part of the Olympics is coming to a close, once wonders how the athletes themselves might celebrate. Well, wonder no more, ESPN has the scoop and they lay it down perfectly -

Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the Summer Games and 2,700 at the Winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. To join, prospective members need only have spectacular talent and — we long assumed — a chaste devotion to the most intense competition of their lives. But the image of a celibate Games began to flicker in ’92 when it was reported that the Games’ organizers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms wasn’t enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.

It’s quite a long article, but the whole thing is worth a look. It’s a great read.

3. This is Now

This is Now pulls together real-time Instagram feeds and organises them by city. The usual suspects are covered and from Tokyo through to Sao Paolo, you can see exactly what’s going on where, right now.

And yes, of course I chose London – LOOK AT ALL THE OLYMPIC GOODNESS!

4. A man walks into a bank
Patrick Combs deposited a junk-mail cheque for $95,000 for a joke. The bank cashed it.
Free account set up required to read this article [on the FT] – but it’s worth it.

5. Thiel vs Schmidt
This isn’t new, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks ever since it happened.

First, a re-cap:

Eric Schmidt is chairman at Google and Peter Thiel is ex-CEO and founder of Paypal. A couple of weeks ago they appeared alongside each other at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen and their topic of debate was ‘The Future of Technology‘.

Apparently these events tend to be quite plain and a bit boring (I can’t remember where I read it) however, this time ’round, Thiel wasn’t pulling any punches. Choice quote:

“Google is a great company.  It has 30,000 people, or 20,000, whatever the number is.  They have pretty safe jobs.  On the other hand, Google also has 30, 40, 50 billion in cash.  It has no idea how to invest that money in technology effectively.”

Which basically translates as Thiel saying ‘Hey! Google! You suck! You’ve run out of ideas!’

Thing is, while Schmidt didn’t actually agree with him, the two of them did kind of agree when it came to barriers to innovation, namely: the US government.

ERIC SCHMIDT: What’s very odd about this conversation is you’re saying technology doesn’t matter, that it’s all politics.

I didn’t say that. I said, in fact, it’s the only innovation available, which is your point.

But, you’re saying we’ve been stagnant for 40 years because of bad government policy. If technology ‑‑

I didn’t say we’re stagnant. I said our policies could be improved.

And then… most tellingly, the moderator of the session asks Eric directly -

ADAM LASHINSKY:  You don’t want to address the cash horde that your company does not have the creativity to spend, to invest?

ERIC SCHMIDT:  What you discover in running these companies is that there are limits that are not cash.  There are limits of recruiting, limits of real estate, regulatory limits as Peter points out.  There are many, many such limits.  And anything that we can do to reduce those limits is a good idea.

— The whole transcript is available to read online and I implore you to grab a cup of coffee and sit down and read it all. It’s brilliant. There’s just so much that’s alluded to… and it makes great pub-chat fodder too.


Whatley out.


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Five things on Friday #27

Things of note for the week ending July 6th, 2012

1. Stunning Ocean Waves
These are gorgeous and I could honestly sit and stare at them for hours. Dreams are made of this. Click through, gaze, hear the waves crash around you and… breathe.

2. The 3 White Lies Behind Instagram’s Lightning Speed
Instagram is a great service (I’ve blogged about it before) but this post, from Fast Company Design is a bloody fantastic read, a must-read in fact for anyone looking at mobile code and/or best-in-class some good examples of smart UX programming.

There’s some great insights here (three, to be precise) and, for someone who has spent some time in mobile app start-ups, it’s excellent to see/read about some of the lateral thinking behind one of my favourite social networks.

3. Conversations with my 12yr old self
Best bit of UGC I’ve seen on the internet this week. Bar none.

Yes, it’s gone an annoying ad on the front. But hey, that’s what happens when stuff goes big. Just watch it, and be amazed.

 4. Vodafone + BT Openzone access
If you have an iPad with Vodafone, apparently you get free access to a wealth BT Openzone WiFi hotspots all over the country.

The funny things, not many seem to be able to get it to work. Including me. This is a guest post over for Mobile Industry Review, go check it out.

5. Batman on a Pizza Hut
Exactly what it says on the tin. And I love it.

Exactly what it says on the tin


Bonuses this week; Five things on Friday is on a Thursday in Qatar, thanks to my friend Tarek; additionally, this digital hipster has inspired others too; and – when things move to the next stage – this poster is going on every single wall I can find.


Until next time…




Why I love Instagram

I started writing this post last weekend, before the big Facebook sale was announced, as I wanted to talk about – in light of the recent Android-owners backlash – I use (and enjoy) Instagram. It’s funny now though how that very same backlash has not only continued but also now includes all things Facebook. Incredible. C’est la vie.


I love Instagram. There, I said it.
I also don’t own an iPhone.

So how?

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time knows that I am a Nokia fan. My current phone du jour is the Nokia Lumia 800 and before I now I have waxed lyrical about its predecessors the N8 and the N86. Similarly, regular readers will also know that I am an iPad-owner also. Of that too, I am also a fan.

I am a social media junkie; If something is new and shiny, I take a(n educated and measured) interest and, in all honesty, the lure of Instagram was too much.

The next logical step? Install Instagram onto the iPad.


While there isn’t an official Instagram iPad app, the iPhone version doubles up just fine. Problem solved, right? Well, yes but that’s not enough. I own an iPad 2 y’see and, while it does have an onboard camera, you may as well give a packet of crayons to a pack of blind monkeys for all the use it’ll do you. A decent image it produces, not.

The great thing about Nokia devices however, is that the top end bad boys tend to come packing high-end mobile camera technology. Which is great, and as 99% of the images I snap with my Lumia end up on my Flickr account – all I need is a method of getting those images into Instagram.

Well, that’s where Flickr Studio comes in -


I can browse my Flickr photostream and download the images I want/need onto my iPad (you can see where this is going can’t you) which closes the circle nicely -

Lumia – >; Flickr
Flickr – iPad
iPad – >; Instagram

Yes, it’s a lengthy process and yes it’s not exactly ideal either but like I said, I like the network and I like the people I follow there. I installed Instagram onto my Nexus S a couple of days ago and I’ve hardly used it. I prefer the iPad experience. Plus, my pictures are infinitely better.

Since the Android release last week it’s almost too funny how much the elitist iPhone-owners have spat back at the network [EDIT: even more so now after the sale]. Apparently some slighted iPhone-Instagrammers are even flocking to new services to escape the influx of ‘tasteless’ Android-ers. Hilarious.

I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Instagram community and have never uploaded an iPhone-created picture, ever. That makes me happy inside and that’s how I use (and why I love) Instagram.


PS. As I said earlier this week, post-sale, Instagram will be fine -