Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

9th November 2018

So, the ‘search’ for Amazon’s HQ2 is over and the result looks like a tie–  Long Island City in New York and Crystal City in Virginia. in this punchy Winners and Losers video piece, Scott Galloway denounces the process as a sham, and that he knew the answer all along’. 

Will Mindful Technology Save Us From Our Phones—and Ourselves? ‘At what point does the cycle of new products and upgrades reach the point of diminishing returns?  A minimalist tech movement is gaining steam, but not without a cost.’ ‘ The Palm is the latest entry into a new genre of hardware, one that attempts to limit the barrage of digital add-ons that consumers increasingly expect to find in their devices.’ ..And here is the NYT, on how to be more mindful at work.

NESTA’s : Ten Challenges For The Internet. Including  – ‘isolated communities’, ‘isolated issues’, ‘data sovereignty’ and ‘searching for a panacea.’

We still live in the long shadow of Man-the-Hunter: a midcentury theory of human origins soaked in strife and violence’. Aeon, On the hunt for human nature.

Fairly long, but fulfilling piece from the How We Get To Next‘s newsletter. Samira Shackle asks – What makes humans violent to one another?’ Philosophers have long pondered this question. The modern debate in the West goes back to 1651, when Thomas Hobbes famously described the lives of humans in their “natural condition,” without a government to enforce order, as “nasty, brutish, and short.” In the 1700s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued instead that the human propensity for violence was shaped by civilisation, not by nature. Among philosophers, social scientists, and evolutionary biologists, this framing of the debate as being one of nature versus nurture, has continued ever since. (go to ‘One Last Thing’ at the bottom of the newsletter to read this piece).

A couple of interesting pieces from WARC this week.A rep ort on how to use creativity to drive effectiveness and an article on Spotify’s personalisation strategy.

According to Wired, you can now search insecure cameras by address. Just another chapter in the Internet of Things’ security problems.

Campaign Magazine on delivering a Brexit deal that works for UK Advertising. ‘As the UK’s departure from the EU moves ever closer, the Advertising Association’s Stephen Woodford looks at what UK advertising needs to see from Brexit negotiations so that it remains a leading creative force.’

How luxury brands use the psychology of sound to make you fall in love with their products. ‘For top-flight car and watch brands, every single tick and rumble is an opportunity to provoke an emotional response.’

In this video, a cat chases a rat, but immediately regrets its decision; whilst another feline friend is a ‘catwalk scene stealer’ at the International Fashion Show held in Istanbul. Finally… this dog sees a big body of water for the first time and has no idea what to make of it.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week


New York Times on Orson Welles and the Birth of Fake News. ‘Many people believed his famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast — but many didn’t. The difference offers a valuable lesson today.

Some interesting sessions at Wired Live yesterday, held for the first time in Tate Modern’s Tanks. Gapminder are seeking to inject greater factuality into information delivery, supported by quizzes and awards.Their project Dollar Street is an original  and insightful piece of consumer insight, as well as an intriguing peek into peoples lives. ‘Imagine the world as a street. All houses are lined up by income, the poor living to the left and the rich to the right. Everybody else somewhere in between. Where would you live? Would your life look different from your neighbours’ from other parts of the world, who share the same income level?’

From The New York Times. Quotation of the Day: A dark consensus about screens and kids begins to emerge in Silicon Valley. “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”

From Scientific American : Illuminating the Dark Web. ‘It might sound scary, but the ‘dark web’ is not much different from the rest of the internet. People often think of the dark web as a place where people sell drugs or exchange stolen information—or as some rare section of the internet Google can’t crawl. It’s both, and neither, and much more.’

Had to happen eventually. Influencer Luka Sabbat was sued on Tuesday for failing to live up to an agreement to promote Snap Spectacles on his Instagram account. The Influencer who failed to Influence? 

‘More patrons want to eat at home, and so food chains are renovating their spaces’. Restaurants are shrinking as food delivery apps get more popular. 

From The Conversation. ‘There are no chairs in the Bible, or in all 30,000 lines of Homer. Neither are there any in Shakespeare’s Hamlet – written in 1599. But by the middle of the 19th century, it is a completely different story. Charles Dickens’s Bleak House suddenly has 187 of them. What changed? With sitting being called “the new smoking”, we all know that spending too much time in chairs is bad for us. Not only are they unhealthy, but like air pollution, they are becoming almost impossible for modern humans to avoid.’ Why the chair should be the symbol for our sedentary age.

From Adweek.This Newsstand Is filled with inaccurate headlines you may have seen on social media (NB. reg many be necessary).

From Reuters. ‘Bitcoin, the world’s first and most famous cryptocurrency, celebrates its tenth birthday on Wednesday. Its emergence has spawned a multitude of other digital currencies, brought blockchain technology to global attention, and vexed regulators worried about its crime misuse and weakness to hacking. Here are some major milestones from its first decade.

Snapchat is ramping up its online TV proposition in the UK after snaring 17 media brands to launch content on its new Shows platform, which will include non-skippable ads.

This is wonderful. ‘A third part of the popular series based again on the question: What would these great book covers from the past look like, when set in motion? Even More Covers – A series of 66 animated vintage book graphics’.

And finally, New Zealand Police are back with the latest instalment in their entertaining recruitment ad series. Do you care enough to be a cop? 

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

19th October 2018

Amazon in the news a lot (again) this week. This from Real Life – ‘recent technologies have enabled the role of customer to be fused with the newer role of user, who inhabits an entire system rather than a specific transaction – Amazon’s mission is to make customer identity more primary than citizenship. And Jeff Bezos, defends Amazon taking defence contracts, even as Google and others shy away: ‘This is a great country and it does need to be defended’.

Nice piece on Voice Tech, from The Atlantic. ‘The voice revolution has only just begun. Today, Alexa is a humble servant. Very soon, she could be much more—a teacher, a therapist, a confidant, an informant. Alexa, Should We Trust You?

Stephen Hawking’s last book gives just two options for a positive future for humanity. ‘First, the exploration of space for alternative planets on which to live, and second, the positive use of artificial intelligence to improve our world…The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence.’ Meanwhile, this piece from MIT suggests that (other) experts do not believe that super intelligent AI is a threat to humanity.

Bill Gates on Paul Allen.’Paul foresaw that computers would change the world. Even in high school, before any of us knew what a personal computer was, he was predicting that computer chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry….In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul.’

Interesting and highly pertinent  series on Radio 4 this week. Presented by Guardian journalist Oliver BurkemanWhy Are We So Angry? Mirroring this, is the observation that LEGO faces are becoming more miserable. (The) ‘study found that over time, happy faces became less common, making way for other many other emotions. Since the 1990s, anger is the fastest growing emotion.’

Netflix is Responsible for 15% of Global Internet Traffic. Youtube isn’t too far behind with 11.4 percent. Further back but still with a significant share, Amazon Prime Video is responsible for 3.7 percent.

‘Is this a dagger I see before me? No, wait! It’s a knight riding on a sea turtle!’ Mixed reality theatre: new ways to play with reality. NESTA explores the future of theatre.

This is a bit of a trip down memory lane, to my early days in the advertising industry. ‘When James Brown combined comedy, clubs, and football..into ‘Arena edited by Hunter S Thompson’, the lads’ mag was born – and went on to define an era of irreverence and excess. The birth of Loaded, the first lads’ mag, in 1994.’

Great, glad that this is resolved. ‘Professor Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University and colleagues served vodka-cranberry cocktails to 20 male subjects until their blood alcohol levels neared legal intoxication and then gave each a series of word association problems to solve. Not only did those who imbibed give more correct answers than a sober control group performing the same task, but they also arrived at solutions more quickly. The conclusion: drunk people are better at creative problem solving.

This from a few years back, but still a classic. ‘You are probably a bit of a blamer – most of us are. But why should we give it up? In this witty RSA Short, inspirational thinker Brené Brown considers why we blame others, how it sabotages our relationships, and why we desperately need to move beyond this toxic behaviour.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

12th October 2018

By Tim Harford. ‘Why big companies squander brilliant ideas.’ ‘J F C Fuller did not invent the tank. That distinction should probably fall to E L de Mole, an Australian who approached the British war office in 1912 with a design that was — in the words of historians Kenneth Macksey and John Batchelor — “so convincingly similar to those which finally went into service that one wonders why it was never adopted from the outset’.

The very smart Rosie and Faris Yakob from GeniusSteals.co recently delivered a predictably engaging and inspiring webinar on WARC.com – ‘The Re-birth of Comms. Why It’s Time To Re-Examine Your Strategy’. If you didn’t manage to tune in, here is the deck. 

A couple of pieces on Voice Tech. This piece from WARC, is very well observed – ‘consumers are increasingly comfortable with using virtual assistants on their phones and sales of smart speakers are growing fast, so is voice becoming the new battleground for marketers? No, or at least not yet….A major stumbling block is access to data..’ …And this research reveals which verticals are successfully leveraging voice search, and which are not. 

The always enlightening Martin Weigel has updated his ‘Case for Chaos’. A polemic defending the integrity of originality and creativity in the face of technology and ‘efficiency.’ I especially like this quote – ‘We’ve been suckered into believing that we don’t need memories, but just identify the precise moment a consumer needs something.’

An interesting and attractive take on visualising commuting routes. This approach makes city networks look like living corals. ‘The varying patterns of urban forms are inherently dictated by their road network; a complex, seemingly organic connection of links moving people across their city.

From Lonely Planet. ‘Our Instagram feed may be full of shiny, saturated images of travels we could never afford but that doesn’t mean the influencers are actually affecting our travel choices. In fact, a recent survey suggests that social media influencers and celebrities are the least trusted source of travel recommendations.’

If you live in the US, this interactive map shows how hot your city will be in 2100. Spolier alert, they will all be pretty damn hot.

Been revisiting some of Marketoonist (Tom Fishburne’s) marketing cartoons recently. This is one of my favourites, Inside the mind of the consumer, and you can buy his new book ‘Your Ad |gnored Here.’ 

A Google intern is behind some shockingly good fake images. A new algorithm called BigGAN creates detailed photos from scratch, representing a leap forward for AI. But it may come at a steep price. This, also from Google, is a fun interactive graphic looking at twenty years of search. Click on ‘new insight’ to compare searches across different categories.

Rather like the highly useful visual thesaurus.com (for words) , this interactive mapping tool does a similar thing, but for music .It plots a specific artist, around other artists that `are closest in style. So Nick Drake, is like Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello. 

This endearing Vimeo ‘Pick Of The Week’, is all the more relevant in the week of Mental Health Awareness Day – ‘Stripes are the loneliest pattern, because they never cross‘. And finally….Giorgi Bereziani lost dog Jorge in 2015. After three years of looking, he finally found his beloved pup on the streets and oh man, we’re crying now. Look at that tail go…..

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

6th October 2018

From @wired. Tim Berners-Lee wants to save the web using decentralised data storage. ‘Solid.edu builds on existing web protocols to allow users to keep their own data on the cloud service, server or another platform of their choice in personal online data stores or ‘pods’, rather than having it stored on centralised servers.’

Forget traditional market and consumer research.This BrandGym piece looks at – 8 consumer intimacy methods for a connected world, including –virtual immersions, gamification and neuro-testing.

A couple of lists worth perusing. The winners of this year’s coveted D&AD Impact Awards, and from Econsultancy – the Top 100 Digital Agencies 2018 : The State Of The Industry.

From WARC. ‘Daily time online shows signs of saturation. Daily average online consumption reached 6:42 (hours:minutes) in the first half of 2018, two minutes lower than the level seen in 2017. While this represented the first annual dip since 2015, it is still one hour and five minutes greater than the level seen in 2012.

‘Raised by YouTube’ – The platform’s entertainment for children is weirder—and more globalised—than adults could have expected. ‘ChuChu TV is a fast-growing threat to traditional competitors, from Sesame Street to Disney to Nickelodeon. With all its decades of episodes, well-known characters, and worldwide brand recognition, Sesame Street has more than 5 billion views on YouTube. That’s impressive, but ChuChu has more than 19 billion.’

From The–Dots. ‘This Black History Month 2018, we’ve brought together a group of outstanding industry heroes to each nominate 10 black changemakers and creators that are shaping culture, arts, design, business, tech and beyond.’

Users can put an Instagram picture of a place into the easyJet app to find out the best flight options to get there. EasyJet re-engineers the booking experience for the Instagram generation. (reg may be necessary)

‘The recent meteoric rise of esports – or professional competitive computer gaming – is making the gaming industry an increasingly tempting prospect for brand experiences and sport sponsorships’. From Campaign – The Esports boom is giving brands access to ‘unreachable’ audiences.

More interesting than most standard perspectives on social media strategy; these are the 4 findings from WARC’s Effective Social Strategy Report : human connections drive social success;  social video formats diversify; communities of interest; and built-in discoverability. …And a piece with a ‘slightly’ more negative slant, also from WARC – The influencer apocalypse: are we doomed?

‘A lock of Walt Whitman’s hair, Jack Kerouac’s boots, and Virginia Woolf’s cane are just a few of the items of literary paraphernalia available at the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection—if you have an appointment.(HT @DavidPearlHere). A short video.


Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

28th September 2018

Nice interactive report from Campaign – The Future Of Brand Experiences. ‘Consumer demand for experiences, shows no signs of abating, as brands turn to live campaigns to inspire, engage and provoke.’

A crop of dating simulations, where the goal is to reach a ‘virtual happily ever after’ have recently become hits. Are they a substitute for human companionship or a new type of digital intimacy? This is – Love In The Time Of AI.

An excellent Google Firestarters event took place recently, celebrating Google’s 20th birthday, incorporating an excellent line-up including the irrepressible Rory Sutherland; and Simon Andrews of The Media Kitchen. In a session looking at the friction between ‘Planning’ and ‘Performance in the communications process, Tom Roach’s presentation (from BBH Labs) was standout – ‘We’re in danger of forgetting the value of brand in business. It is so terribly wrong that it has become such an ‘either/or’ debate. Too much focus on performance marketing can detract from the fact that all marketing is about performance.’

Meet Nesta’s New Radicals 2018, in association with The Observer – 50 radical-thinking individuals and organisations changing the UK for the better. Some really inspiring stories here. 

From The Drum. ‘Are we in the midst of the golden age of crafted animated advertising? Habito’s visceral depiction of hell and heaven is more reminiscent of a messed-up episode of Rick and Morty than a daytime TVC for mortgage sales, while Mini’s latest commissions proudly celebrate the beauty of stop motion from under the sea and up above in space.’

If you are not aware, worth checking out the Strands Of Genius newsletter from GeniusSteals.co. An especially impressive missive this week with its focus on Mental Wellness. Selected stories include – ‘Is There a Link between Creativity and Mental Illness?’, ‘Why Instagram Is The Worst For Social Media Health’ and ‘The MHL aka The Mental Health League.’

It’s a year since Mark Zuckerberg announced, at the Oculus Connect Event, that he wanted to get one billion people into VR. Well, it’s been disappointing progress since then with slower than expected pick-up, but now, Oculus hopes its $399 headset will (finally?) bring virtual reality to the masses. Meanwhile in the travel sector, Alaska Airlines hopes to make long flights more bearable with VR movies.

If you can’t get to the Future Of Storytelling Summit in New York, next week, it is still possible to pick up on some of the excellent content via their websites, social and newsletter. From their Vimeo channel, Vivienne Ming’s piece – SuperHuman(ity): Optimizing Human Potential, is one such example. ‘ While she believes technology can help us be our best selves, she also cautions of a future where some people are augmented and others are not.

From The Economist’s 1843 Magazine. Why fashion struggles to have new ideas .’ The cool kids are dressed in Nineties clobber. The catwalks are filled with aristocratic throwbacks. Why does fashion struggle to make things new?’

Here is Street Wisdom’s short film summary of the very successful 2018 #WorldWideWander weekend, which included 50 events in 20 countries (I pop up in the film at 1.05 in…).

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

21st September 2018

Interesting piece from Wired, on how frugal healthcare innovation in developing countries may show us a way out of a crisis. Could the NHS learn a thing or two from India’s healthcare innovators?Amazon is now number three in online ads (passing Microsoft) and closing in on Google and Facebook.

Future Today Institute’s, 2019 Trend Report For Journalism, Media & Technology. Over 155 pages of predictions and provocations, with highlights including – ‘the end of traditional smartphones’, ‘AI as the third era of computing’, ‘mixed reality, entering the mainstream’ and ‘Blockchain as a significant driver of change’.

Still with the blockchain, the Fourth Industrial Revolution For The Earth Report, from PWC, ‘highlights opportunities to solve the world’s most pressing environmental challenges by harnessing technological innovations.’ ‘If harnessed in the right way, blockchain has significant potential to enable a move to cleaner and more resource-preserving decentralised solutions,  unlock natural capital and empower communities.

A recent Vimeo ‘Pick of the Week’ – ‘Neuroscientist Anil Seth explains how what we perceive isn’t an accurate reflection of a real, externally existing world. In fact, perception and hallucination are based on similar processes—they are our brain’s interpretation of myriad inputs. His groundbreaking research provides fascinating insight into what this means for storytelling.  Consciousness and Creation: The Neuroscience of Perception’. 

Netflix’s shocking public activation for Altered Carbon, was the year’s most innovative media plan. It’s not every day that one comes across a human body encased in plastic at a public bus stop.

Our present era is one in which the heart of culture is blowing hard upon a coal of fear, and the fascination is everywhere. By popular consent, horror has been experiencing what critics feel obliged to label a ‘golden age’.

Welcome to the Age Of Horror. From The Guardian. ‘As we delegate technology more responsibility to diagnose illness or identify suspects, we must regulate it. We hold people with power to account.

Why not algorithms?’ Google’s latest AI experiment makes GIFs by watching you move. The experiment called Move Mirror, matches your pose with a catalogue of 80,000 photos. Useless? Possibly, but it’s also pretty cool. 

An installation at the London Design Festival – Google’s Trafalgar Square Lion uses AI to generate a crowdsourced poem.

And finally, a short film about an introvert and how his time alone makes him a better friend. In collaboration with Alain de Botton for The School Of Life. ‘Unless we are alone, we feel at risk of forgetting who we are.’

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th September 2018

Larry Page was a no-show. ‘The co-founder and de facto leader of Google is famous for his wild bets on airborne taxis and space elevators, but he apparently couldn’t make the flight to Washington, D.C. where Page had been called to testify on Capitol Hill…His semi-retirement, perhaps coloured by his health issues, conjures visions of a frail and aging luminary.‘…And with a slightly more reverential perspective, Campaign rounds up 10 of Google’s creative marketing highlights, to mark the tech giant’s 20th anniversary. 

‘Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference. Akimbo is a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something. The culture is real, but it can be changed. You can bend it.’ Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin.

Very nice. From Trend Watching. 25 innovations to inspire your team. The State Of Play. 

Google’s new site helps travellers find things to do in 20 cities. It’s called Touring Bird, and it’s the latest product from the company’s Area 120 division. The site lists attractions, activities, and tips for 20 major cities…and in addition to useful information about each place of interest, you’ll also find options to book a seat or gain admission.

Mentioning this as it is such great news, after a long battle with developers. The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded a £200,000 grant to the Southbank Undercroft Transformation Project to help protect and expand the Skate Space on the Southbank in London, often cited as the birthplace of British skateboarding.
Looks like a really interesting and of course hugely worthwhile initiative. About 100 dementia sufferers in Britain will take part in government-backed trials, using virtual reality to help recall lost memories. Virtue is the firm behind the technology.

A particularly pertinent discussion in the current context. From The New Yorker –
Astra Taylor’s new documentary asks “What is Democracy?” ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other ones’.

Always interesting, checking in with the reports from JWT Intelligence. Their Sept report looks at – health apps, immersive art, eco-friendly packaging, mobile hotels rooms and soft masculinity. 

A young Londoner meets his hero, boxing champion Anthony Joshua, in a documentary about the power of coaching, the first long-form film from Lucozade Sport. The nine-minute film, “The next move,” launched on Tuesday (11 September) ahead of Joshua’s Wembley challenger fight against Alexander Povetkin on 22 September. Created by Grey London, it continues Lucozade Sport’s “Made To Move” campaign, which aims to get one million people moving by 2020.

The live feed from Frying Pan Tower, a decommissioned Coast Guard station some 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina, is down after Hurricane Florence hit. Here’s a clip from before the feed went down.

They sure know how to throw a party. Highlights of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 70th Birthday celebrations.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This |Week

8th September 2018

‘The world is being flooded with technology designed to monitor our emotions. Amazon’s Alexa is one of many virtual assistants that detect tone and timbre of voice in order to better understand commands. CCTV cameras can track faces through public space, and supposedly detect criminals before they commit crimes. Autonomous cars will one day be able to spot when drivers get road rage, and take control of the wheel. But there’s a problem. While the technology is cutting-edge, it’s using an outdated scientific concept stating that all humans, everywhere, experience six basic emotions, and that we each express those emotions in the same way. By building a world filled with gadgets and surveillance systems that take this model as gospel, this obsolete view of emotion could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as a vast range of human expressions around the world are forced into a narrow set of definable, machine-readable boxes.’

Adweek on why Nike’s 30th anniversary ad featuring Colin KaepernickIs a worthwhile risk despite the, inevitable, social media backlash. As the debate rages around whether it’s an inspired piece of purpose-led branding bravery, or a cynical monetisation of resistance, Creative Week suggests there should be one area of calm agreement – the writing is brilliant. This is the film causing all the commotion. Dream Crazy.

Awesome case study resource from @juliancole of BBDO – Latest Brand Actions Library contains 200+ examples of innovative advertising from 2018 (HT to @andygreenhouse).


From Fast Company. Amazon, Airbnb, and Asos are all investing in this one simple design idea. Service Design has revolutionised our lives. Here are 15 principles for getting it right, as illustrated by some of the world’s most prominent companies.

Two interesting upcoming exhibitions that are worth a gander. From the V&A, this could be a good one to get the kids into a gallery/museum – ‘In a landmark exhibition dedicated to video games, the V&A is uncovering the behind-the-scenes design of some of the most groundbreaking titles of the last decade.’ and I Object: the British Museum celebrates everyday items of dissent. Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has picked out over 100 unassuming objects from the British Museum collection, dating from 1300 BC to 2016 – all of which share the common goal of sticking it to the man.’

A new book by writer Emily Gosling, offers insights into the working practices of 56 of the world’s greatest creative thinkers, past and present. Including, Wes Anderson, Wolfgang Tillmans and Grace Jones. Great Minds Don’t Think Alike.

Ever since the ’60s, the recording industry emphasised the album over the single. By the ’80s, they were milking as many hits as possible from an album to convince you to buy it—from Thriller to Hysteria. But in the ’90s, labels changed tactics and tried to kill retail singles—promoting hits to radio that you could only buy on full-length albums. This is how the music industry tried to kill the single and in the process brought their own industry to its knees.

Nice idea from Visit Flanders. The perfect destination to enjoy the Flemish Masters in all their glory – is denouncing artistic censorship on social media platforms in a playful manner. At the Rubens House, ‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account are being blocked from viewing nudity by a group of “social media police agents”.

Experience a beautiful timelapse journey through the landscapes of the Dolomites.