Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th July 2018

‘Abundant capital, rapid change, and growing sophistication are the key characteristics of China’s Internet landscape. So, too, is the guiding hand of the central government’. This is why China’s internet is bigger….and different. 

On 7 July Nesta’s FutureFest kicked off in London’s Tobacco Dock for two days of discussions, debates, performances and immersive experiences exploring alternative futures and innovative solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. See here some of the highlights from the festival.

The Economist on Netflix, the one FAANG technology stock that may be headed for a happy Hollywood ending. ‘Alone among the giants, Netflix is a clear exception to a mix of soaring share prices and suspicion. Since its founding in 1997, the company has morphed from a DVD-rental service to a streaming-video upstart to the world’s first global TV powerhouse’.

The danger with ‘Deep Fakes’ – videos in which one person’s face is stitched onto another person’s body. ‘Rather predictably, the technology has already been used to generate a number of counterfeit celebrity… videos. But the method could also be used to create a clip of a politician saying or doing something outrageous.’

From Eye For Travel . ‘Sports travel was named as the fastest growing sector in global tourism by the World Tourism Organisation. The sector is expected to rise over 40% between now and 2021.’ 

“I am an artistic transvestite, an artistic parent, but that doesn’t stop me from being the transvestite that I was from when I was a teenager fetishising about certain sorts of female roles. I still like to dress up as a housewife sometimes peddling into town, walking around the shops.’ Never a dull moment with the wonderful Grayson Perry, here interviewed prior to the opening of Frockaholic: Grads, Grayson and Gorgeous Dresses exhibition at McCann London.

From the sometimes edgy but often entertaining Urban Dictionary, a recent ‘word of the day’ : ‘Tweetplomacy’ – a noun, using social media sites such as Twitter to manage foreign relations and conduct diplomatic discussions publicly – e.g : ‘the new President’s tweetplomacy may be transparent domestically, but it could also ruffle feathers abroad…..’

15, Comic-Con 2018 panels to be excited for. Including The Predator, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad Reunion and Call of Duty Zombies. 

From the always intriguing and innovating (friend of The Filter) @stevexoh – ‘Sound Of Silence’. ‘Sound of Silence is a downloadable pause.  An experimental podcast that records the silence that arises between two people. Each episode is less than 3 minutes in length, features a special guest and 2 minutes of shared silence recorded face to face in a variety of spaces.’

A really nice piece and change in strategic direction from Dollar Shave Club. ‘The cornerstone of the campaign is a three minute, 39-second-long video that sees a number of men (and women) going about their own getting ready routines, each of their bathrooms positioned on a soundstage, massive overhead lights flicking on and off throughout —with Sammy Davis Jr.’s classic tune “I’ve Gotta Be Me” playing in the background.’

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

7th July 2018

I attended Nesta UK’s #FutureFest yesterday, including great sessions with Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon, and Annie Mac. More on this next week, but thought I’d share this image of an installation at the event – ‘Disability-free life expectancy, by region, across the UK’. The highest and lowest ages are at the bottom of the chart. 

Dave Trott on where advertising is going wrong. ‘Media isn’t about the number of impressions you make. Media is about the power of the impression you make’. 

In the field of political advertising, this video piece is pretty inspirational. ‘My whole life has been about opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door in my way. Ready for a Congress that opens doors for Americans instead of slamming them in our faces? Vote MJ Hegar for Texas.

From Aeon – The Deep Roots of Writing. ‘This…narrative needs villains, and writing serves this purpose brilliantly because it’s the tool of power that makes subjects. The state is a recording, registering, and measuring machine,… and a coercive machine that makes lists of names, levies taxes, rations food, raises armies, and writes rules. Without writing…. there could be no state – and without the state, there could be no writing.’

After a bit of inspiration? Here are 46 stimulating sites that can provide intellectual refreshment, in under 10 minutes a day.

‘Everyone’s big possessions — your car, your house — should be up for auction all the time. I would put a price on my car — say, £5,000. It would go into a searchable public register, and if you thought the price was attractive, you could buy it. Having named the price, I would have no right to refuse.’ Tim Harford on the progressive case for auctions for everything.

‘Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.’ Frankenstein author Mary Shelley on Creativity.

In the age of video, wonderful to see that simple, static images still have the capability of powerful effect. Here are 14 eye-catching campaigns from Cannes. (Adweek subscription may be necessary)

‘Islands represent freedom, independence, and creativity. They appear and disappear over time, according to weather events, water flow and intervention by people. Islands have an enduring and often romantic appeal. Being closer to nature, at the mercy of the elements and somewhere as distinctive as an island makes us feel alive.’  This is ‘London Islands’ a rather lovely new book from the wonderful Carl Goesteam.

Since the invention of plastic, we’ve become completely dependent on it. How much is our dependence harming the world? This is the problem with plastic (a nine-minute animated video).

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

30th June 2018

“We and many other media companies will go from trying to find the silver bullet narrative of the future of advertising and being a services company now, to admitting that we will be a diverse business. We’re going to sell many different things. The ad business of the future will be dominated by the platforms…. branded content as a stand-alone line of business is going to go away.” NYT’s head of ads Sebastian Tomich: ‘The role of the publisher is to sell ideas.’ 

Mediacom reflects on selected trends and learnings that stood out at this years Cannes Lions – Gender, technology and transformation, Diversity, and Trust. Still in Cannes, an AI-fueled rendition of a never-delivered John F. Kennedy speech won the Grand Prix for ‘Creative Data’. The project, created by Irish agency Rothco for the Times of London, used artificial intelligence to stitch Kennedy’s voice into the speech he had been set to deliver on the day he was killed in Dallas.

Issues with trust and associated ‘reputational malfunctions’ have been in the press a good deal over the last few weeks and months. Here is my piece that picks up on this and looks at the related threats and opportunities affecting marketers – The End of Reputations? – Marketing In a World of Distrust and Misinformation.

Although I couldn’t make it, the Firestarters Event at Google HQ last week, looked like a cracker. ‘Learning From The Innovators’, – ‘featured people who have actually been at the coal face of innovation with clients, think about the implications of how innovation is changing, and what this could mean for the role of agencies.

‘Early in the morning of June 6, 1944, in the darkest days of WWII, 156,000 troops prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy. To improve the odds, Uncle Sam had equipped the men well. Among other things, each carried an M-1 Garand rifle, a first-aid pouch, a watch, and K-rations. And while casualties would be heavy that day, the Army also tucked a specific item into the men’s haversacks that would come in handy to those who made it off the beach: a Michelin travel guide to coastal France.’ Here is the story of how two brothers revolutionised the Automotive and Travel industries, two sectors that hitherto they had had no experience in.

SpinLaunch Inc., just received $40million to build a space catapult – ‘rather than using propellants like kerosene and liquid oxygen to ignite a fire under a rocket, SpinLaunch plans to get a rocket spinning in a circle at up to 5,000 miles per hour and then let it go…..’ ; and still in space…this is how many people we would need to send to Proxima Centauri (6,300 years away) to ensure that someone gets there.

Adweek’s Creative 100. A list worth dipping into, with representatives from Agencies, Celebrities, Directors, Editors, and Artists. 

From Oath: ‘Travel brands are increasingly transforming into “experience platforms” and with this shift, the concept of the consumer lifecycle is changing. ‘ From this category, this is how Princess Cruises keeps its focus on top-deck customer experience.

‘I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first-day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island’ – here is Nat Geo’s Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest 2018.  Still with Nat Geo, this insightful piece from (friend of The Filter) Brand Learning is work a look – How National Geographic is creating a modern marketing machine.

This is rather fun. ‘Despite dating from millennia ago, Sisyphus and his eternal plight, Narcissus and his lethal vanity, and Midas and his deadly golden touch are still familiar stories today – these clever graphicvignettes communicate the timeless simplicity of the Greek myths.’ And here, a similarly engaging graphic approach ‘Hand of God’ celebrates eleven unforgettable moments of football history – reduced to their essentials. 

And finally – a 10 minute time-lapse of a 30-day nautical journey including the Red Sea — Gulf of Aden — Indian Ocean — Colombo — Malacca Strait — Singapore — South East China Sea — and Hong Kong. Best experienced with the music turned up and if you are looking for storms, check in at 4.09.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

1st June 2018

John Stuart Mill was 212 years old last week. Whilst the views of the venerated author of On Liberty have received strong criticism in the ‘era of fake news’, perhaps some of this criticism has been misguided. ‘Mill acknowledged that there was nothing certain about the process through which the “truth” would emerge as the winner following an intellectual contest. He knew that bad ideas can hold sway over good ones, often for a very long time…and ideas don’t exist somehow apart from social context.

‘Interesting’ times with the GDPR recently. By way of some light-hearted distraction, I found this piece from Russell Davies in Wired, most amusing – ‘To my friends, acquaintances, former colleagues, suppliers of plumbing services, players of Walking Football, supporters of Nottingham Forest, Chinese oil painting suppliers, let it be known; I have your email addresses….’  You might also enjoy this  ‘I Love GDPR’  playlist on Spotify, including ‘What’s Your Name and Number’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘Don’t Go’. Finally, courtesy of @itsjimmyb, a GDPR joke – Q.  Do you know a specialist on the GDPR? A.  Yes.  Q.  Can you give me her email address? A.  No.

Why Childish Gambino is a Shakespearean character for a modern (dystopian?) world. ‘A key aspect of Shakespeare’s works is the lack of easy answers; his “problem plays” with morally unsatisfying endings have confounded scholars and audiences for centuries, and he sometimes grotesquely breaks up intermittent murders and violence with comic relief. Likewise, Childish Gambino and (filmmaker) Hiro Murairefuse to provide cheap moralism or pie-in-the-sky comfort. “This is America,” perhaps like the real America, has a fluid morality and no heroes.’

Forget millennials, according to Adweek we should be focusing on ‘Transformists’. “Transformists” are tech-savvy individuals who don’t just use technology for fun, but to better their own lives and supplement the values and causes they believe in, from social issues to work goals. Driven, curious and connected, transformists are exactly the group that brands should be striving to reach.’

Mark Ritson on the 10 LinkedIn profiles to avoid.

‘Repeat addiction and the potency of doing something only once’. An interesting perspective from friend of the Filter – Can Scorpions Smoke – ‘There is something bitter-sweet about doing something for the first time. The sweetness comes from fully experiencing the vibrant edge of not-knowing…and at the same time, the bitterness comes from knowing that having done it once, I can never do it for the first time ever again.’

The Economist on how heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness. ‘Youngsters report problems with anxiety, depression, sleep and “FoMO”, and Instagram is the main culprit.

From Adweek. ‘How did we reach this point where otherwise good people call other otherwise good people the worst human being ever; where a teen survivor of a school mass shooting is called out as a “crisis actor” and where “don’t read the comments” is yet another awkward conversation parents have with their teens. Here is a story of hubris and greed; of capitalism taken to an extreme; of representing humanity writ large.’ This is Why The Internet Sucks. 

‘For now, however, there remains no AI that has demonstrated an ability to abstractly solve tasks. AI works because it can see millions of nearly identical examples and then make educated recommendations based on what it has already seen—only humans can imagine something that has not yet been seen’. The CEO of IDEO explains how your “creative capacity” is the key to surviving automation.

Flipstarter is Kickstarter for really, really, really bad ideas.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

11th May 2018

From Digital Content Next -“Wayne’s World for Radio.” ‘That’s one of the ways in which Steve Jobs described podcasting in 2005. This was the same year that Apple put podcasts on iTunes and The New Oxford American Dictionary named “podcast” its word of the year. Thirteen years ago, there may have been an element of hyperbole in that assertion, but it’s certainly true now. The success of Serial in 2014, from the creators of This American Life, has sparked new levels of interest in the genre, and is often seen as the catalyst for a new golden age of podcasting. PS – if you haven’t yet, definitely worth listening to West Cork.

At 50 million views and counting, This Is America from Childish Gambino has struck a chord with audiences all over the world. In Creative Review, Rob Turner (Lecturer in 20th and 21st-Century Literature at the University of Exeter) examines the many political and cultural layers that lie within the video. ‘As a short film, This Is America is sharp as hell, and it holds its own alongside a spate of violent fantasies imagining life after Obama.’

This should get tongues wagging. ‘My contention is that any media company or indeed agency (whether media agency or creative agency or any other flavour of agency) should be obsessing about the ‘how’ much more than the ‘why’. Tracey Follows on why Simon Sinek was wrong.

From Tim Harford, @undercovereconomist. ‘A new book by the late Hans Rosling and his family, Factfulness , advocates the merits of understanding the world both through data and through personal experience — not of news stories or tourist traps, but of the everyday lives being lived all over the world. Numbers will never tell the full story of what life on Earth is all about.’

From The Drum – music to a copywriter’s ears… ‘If I ask you to think of any one of the most talked-about streaming series in recent years, chances are you will immediately conjure in your mind the show’s headline title with its often-iconic typeface. Much has already been said of these now-famous title sequences, but less often discussed is how typography and orthographic design has recently found a new starring role, thanks to the meteoric rise of streaming services.
 Why typography has won a starring role in the streaming TV age.

From Digiday. ‘It’s a breath of fresh air for an industry where multiple players have come in, hoping to create a platform for premium short-form programming, only to find no audience interest in such a product. Now, video makers ranging from digital studios to publishers see an opportunity to sell and create short-form shows for the big streaming giants.This is why Netflix and Amazon are experimenting with short-form programming.

Do we need our memories when we can document virtually every aspect of our lives?

From MIT. ‘The reaction to Google’s Duplex has been, well, mixed. Here is how to know if the “person” on the other end of the phone line is a robot. Perhaps robots should be required to identify themselves when you begin a conversation?

From Aeon. ‘The young Russian stunt performer Kirill Vselensky has amassed a large internet following thanks to his death-defying exploits, which include snapping astounding, vertigo-inducing selfies from atop some of the world’s tallest, most iconic buildings. Short film, The Hanging, follows Vselensky just as he was rising to internet fame.. Dive in at 13.14 to see a nerve jangling climb.

A Pilot boards his ship, Hopping aboard it while it passes by. Wait for it…

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

29th April 2018

From Aeon – ‘We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now.

Couldn’t agree more. This from (friend of the Filter) Can Scorpions Smoke –  ‘George Bernard Shaw once famously said  ”We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” ‘We lose interest in our work, get stuck in loops of common sense where change and novelty are difficult and generally experience a lethargy and staleness through repeating the same routines over and over again.’ This is a sign of Vitamin P deficiency.

From the APG blog, @Faris’s article on the framework for a balanced media diet. ‘.. Seeing patterns in different things is abstraction, the basis of creative thinking. The more diverse the inputs combined together, the more creative the idea. Your job as a planner is to provide the right inputs.’  How To Be Curious – Cognitive Fitness for Planners.

‘Earning the consumer’s hard-won cash and attracting brand marketers into the digital space will pit TV networks, program distributors, tech firms and social media companies against each other as never before.’ eMarketer releases a new outlook on the SVOD Landscape.

Here is my piece published this week on the Econsultancy blog (and derived from my recent trip to SxSW) – The implications of voice tech for marketers, from brand to customer service’.

From Campaign – Guardian Media Group and D&AD have come together to launch a global festival of creativity in London. ‘The event will bring together business leaders, practitioners and emerging talent from creative and cultural sectors including advertising, design, film, gaming, music, fashion and architecture. It will champion the power of creativity and explore how it shapes culture and intersects with business.’ 

An interesting piece given ongoing political events in the UK. ‘After decades of globalisation, our political system has become obsolete – and spasms of resurgent nationalism are a sign of its irreversible decline.’ As a side thought interesting to note that, despite the impact it has had across the last couple of centuries, Nationalism is actually a fairly recent construct in historical terms; only coming into existence at the end of the 18th Century with the Battle of Valmy.

Videographer Duncan Sinfield says “it’s only a matter of time until the campus becomes shut-off to drones completely.” This could be the last drone video flyover of Apple Park. 

Clever and funny. From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – This is New Erotica For Feminists.  Please note – #VSFW (very safe for work).

From 1843 Magazine, a graph comparing GDP and average hours in bed, across a selection of countries. ‘Which Countries Get The Most Sleep?’ (New Zealand seems to have a pretty good balance).

And finally. Wow. Dust, stars, and cosmic rays swirling around Comet 67P, captured by the late @ESA_Rosetta probe. 317,000,000 miles from Earth.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

21st April 2018

Stuart Russell (UC Berkeley Professor) and the Future of Life Institute, created this eerie video that depicts a future in which humanity develops lethal drones. Video starts at around two and a half minutes into thepresentation. 

From Digiday : ‘Ads.txt has gained adoption, but 19 percent of advertisers still haven’t heard of it.’ ‘Ads.txt is a file on a site, listing which companies are authorised to programmatically sell or resell inventory, and was introduced last May, as a way to root out domain spoofing and ad tech arbitrage.’

From Campaign. ‘Creativity’s female future: Meet the next generation of women redefining creativity.’ Campaign and Creative Equals present thefuture creative leaders; the women defining creativity today and tomorrow.

The Economist looks at the decline in the importance of ‘customers’ and the rise of ‘subscribers’, in The Subscription Addiction; but discusses three flaws in the approach – the cost of paying upfront for new subscribers, consumer disloyalty and lack of exclusivity.

‘Hold The Front Page’… The House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, has published its report. You can wade through its observations and recommendations here; and here is a recent perspective from McKinsey – ‘Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and value of deep learning’.

From The Drum. ’50 years on, Kubrick’s ”2001, A Space Odyssey”, continues to both inspire and inhibit brands.…often credited in all its glorious, futuristic technicolour for having prophesied tech like Amazon Alexa and Space X.’ And here (just because it is awesome) is the opening sequence. Strauss’s  Also Sprach Zarathustra  – starts at 12′ : 40″ in. 

As (some) people move away from Facebook, where are people going for their news? From Digital Content Next : ‘They seem to be turning (or returning) to news aggregation and curation apps (such as Flipboardwhich have had their ups and downs over the years.’

Two different perspectives on the future of Facebook and other social networks. Firstly, The Monday Note, on ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s long game : the next billion.’ – The growth areas are Africa and Asia, facilitated by internet.org and its ambition to ‘be the internet’ across these continents. An alternative perspective is from Buzzfeed (perhaps more relevant to the occident) : ‘There are big forces pushing us toward fragmentation. These are not attempts to take over but instead to carve out an independent territory  – What Comes After The Social Media Empires’.

‘Festivals once offered spiritual release, but like so many things, they have been co-opted, and repurposed by corporations and the state. Festivals today promote brands and war through marketing, surveillance, and subtle propaganda. Consumers, effectively, are buying tickets to their own subjugation.’ From The Outline : ‘Music festivals are the cultural dystopia we deserve.’

And finally, the Walmart Yodelling Boy, Mason Ramsey, proves a big hit on the Ellen show. 

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th April 2018

Mothers of Ambition. ‘Influencers and high-profile female execs are leading a new positive dialogue about what it means to have a career, and be a mom. #EmbraceAmbition is shattering the stigma around being an “ambitious woman,” ambitious being a term that has historically been used to compliment men and denigrate women.’ This is the powerful launch video.

Tim Harford gives fake news and information, a kicking. ‘I use normal statistics that are compiled by the World Bank and the United Nations. This is not controversial. These facts are not up for discussion. I am right and you are wrong.’ In Praise Of Factfulness.

Here is the summary piece from my trip to Austin this spring. Stories from SxSW 2018 – some of what I saw and what I have taken away. 

Eli Pariser would be proud. Vice is encouraging people to consider other worldviews by bursting the bubble of their Facebook news feed, and liking posts they hate.

Often worth checking in with the outputs of the JWT Intelligence Briefing. Their recent reports have been ‘Amazon Everything‘, ‘High Times‘ (the rise of the cannabis economy) and ‘Elastic Generation, The Female Edit’ : ‘Women in their 50s, 60s and early 70s are active, engaged and involved. Pillars of family, community and society, nothing they do is motivated by their age. It’s time for brands to take age out of the equation.

Visit this website, answer 15 personal questions and it will guess your name. Oilsjt Analytica’s offer, was covered by 100 international news outlets & websites and 200,000 people shared their information. None of the data was stored, it was just an excercise to show how easy it is to get people to hand over personal information, online.

Zuck, obviously in the news a good bit this week….I liked these slightly different perspectives pertaining to his appearance on Capitol Hill : Silicon Valley’s 60 Year Love affair With The Word ‘Tool’(Zuck used this word eleven times in his testimony) ,and Mocking Congress Won’t Make It Tech Literate

Golly. From National Geographic : In 2015, motorcyclist Robert Jan van der Kaaij kicked off a three-month solo ride from the Netherlands to India, taking on the tallest mountains on Earth. Don’t look down….

Of all US Sports, I would suggest that Baseball is the one that is least likely to be associated with on-field violence. As result, this is quite a surprise, accentuated by the fact that the season has only just begun.

Cartman from South Park had some fun with Alexa. In what appears to be a very fulfilling user journey, he acquires some interesting new things on his (and other peoples) shopping lists. Two videos on this link from The Verge. (please note – NSFW)