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)

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

31st March 2018

Top tip for those looking for great, often free, insights pertaining to the world of communications – WARC events and webinars. A recent event at the Charlotte St Hotel, highlighted some of the secrets of Cannes Lions Winners. Two of the case studies mentioned, are from a few years back, but are always worth a (re)watch – ‘Share The Load’, from P&G India; and the ‘McWhopper’ from Burger King.

Still on the ‘wonderful free insights’ tip, I heartily recommend engagement with NESTA and their events, specifically the current Sparks : Debunking Innovation series. I attended the first one this week, and there are few more coming up. NESTA’s big event of the year is the very reasonably priced FutureFest, in July..

Some interesting lessons for the world of communications from the world of magic. Especially love this classic clip of the man who can’t see the disappearing balls, when the audience can. ‘I Didn’t See a Thing — What Magicians Can Teach Us About the Science of Attention’

The increasing popularity of gifs is, partly, down to their increased use in advertising. ‘Clever marketers are creating GIFs to help consumers express themselves through these humorous, snackable videos which make them a shareable utility, versus an ad.’

‘Virtual embodiment has a different goal: convincing you that you are someone else. This doesn’t require fancy graphics. Instead, it calls for tracking hardware—which allows your virtual body to accurately mirror the movements of your real head, feet, and hands—and a few minutes of guided, Tai Chi-like movement before a virtual mirror.’ From The New Yorker ; Are We Already Living in Virtual Reality?

Dreaming of the summer? ‘The infinity pool extends into the distance beyond blue seas and under blue skies — the rest of the world and its indignities are banished beyond the horizon and space is seemingly endless….’.This is how how the infinity pool became a social media status symbol.

Exponential adoption of [AI] applications is, for now, happening. That’s great, but the idea of exponential inventions is a ridiculous concept.’ Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist and ex-AI researcher, explains why we should adjust our expectations of machine learning progress.

This wonderful and powerful animated film from Dementia UK, uses the visual imagery of a stormy ocean to depict the challenge of connecting with a loved one who is living with dementia.

To parents of teenage kids, who are having trouble getting their offspring out of their bedrooms, the new gaming phenomenon ‘Fortnite’, is likely to be the problem. Here is a parent friendly summary from The Guardian, that may help. There are lots of features that make it popular,  (it’s free, fun and very silly) but the the real secret sauce, is that it is open source. From Polygon – ‘it’s very much a living product that is constantly evolving. There’s this rhythm, this cadence that is much more alive than you’d think out of a traditionally-updated game.’

Struggling to recall a TV commercial as bad as this one. Campaign’s ‘Turkey of The Week’, from Nivea – ‘Footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is having a post-match shower. So far, so bad. The Liverpool FC star then starts shaving his chest but nicks himself’…..(!!??)

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

24th March 2018

This story is both very soulful and really rather sad. It is also a reminder that there can (sometimes) be dangers in socially sharing something you love. ‘For the past few years, Patrik Svedberg has been taking photos of a beautiful Swedish tree he dubbed The Broccoli Tree. In a short time, the tree gained a healthy following on Instagram, becoming both a tourist attraction and an online celebrity..Last week Svedberg posted a sad update. ‘To share something is to risk losing it’.

The rather wonderful curate.tv, is like Desert Island Discs, but for video.It is comprised of video playlists from the most interesting people in the creative industries. And on a bit of a plug for the Filter, you can see our ‘Videos Of The Week’, going back several years, here.

This seems both poignant and compellingly relevant. ‘The exponential proliferation of marketing activity over the past decade has led to unwelcome, wasteful or even toxic activity that gives marketing a bad name.‘Marketing needs a brand relaunch amid so much pollution’.

This shows how the times have changed and, I’d imagine, rather galling for those who still hark back to the days of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. YouTube are to display Wikipedia blurbs alongside conspiracy videos.

$50 billion. ‘This is the estimated size of the legal marijuana business by 2026, up from $6 billion last year. Cashing in on the legal marijuana market is former NFL player and Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams, who to some notoriety left the league after failing a drug test and testing positive for marijuana, then returning a year later, then failing another drug test, then getting suspended, then retiring a few years later.’ Looks like an approach that Homer Simpson would be proud of. 

From McKinsey, a nice interactive infographic : ‘An Executive’s Guide To AI’ – ‘A convergence of algorithmic advances, data proliferation, and tremendous increases in computing power and storage has propelled AI from hype to reality.’

Apparently seriously, Japanese scientists have invented ‘Robo-bees’, that can legitimately pollinate the earth.

From Marketing Week. Instagram launches shoppable posts as it looks to play a bigger role in ecommerce.(registration needed)

In the world of box sets, binge viewing and over extended drama series, here is nice reminder that there is only ever a small line between comedy and tragedy, the ridiculous and the rational. This trailer recut of ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ as a serious historical drama, works way too well.

Finally, a bit of jaw-dropping weekend video fun, featuring Nyjah Huston’s first Nike SB signature model. Til Death. Nyjah’s vow to skateboarding. Renewed.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

16th March 2018

From The New York Times. ‘At one point during the 2016 presidential election campaign, I watched a bunch of videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube…Soon I noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and “autoplay” videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content. It seems as if you are never “hard core” enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes. Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.’

We’ve looked at this area before, but this is a nice piece and so worth revisiting – ‘When you change the world and no-one notices.’ ‘Big breakthroughs typically follow a seven-step path: First, no one’s heard of you ; Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts; Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity; Then they view your product as a toy; Then they see it as an amazing toy ; Then they start using it; and Then they couldn’t imagine life without it. This process can take decades. It rarely takes less than several years.

From @Faris and WARC. ‘Despite increased awareness of behavioural economics in the industry, little advertising is shaped by using it. Could the future lie in Attention Economics instead?’ ‘A Harvard professor….recently published a paper incorporating behaviours into standard economic models. His thesis is that all these biases stem from ‘limited human attention’. Temporal discounting, overconfidence, fundamental attribution errors and many other irrational behaviours can be mathematically represented as functions of limited attention..’

From Politico.com. ‘Our freedoms made these companies rich. It’s time they lived up to their responsibilities and cracked down on foreign interference in our democracy. What Facebook, Google and Twitter Owe America.’

Interesting perspective. ‘A New Approach to Premium’ – ‘As the things to which we ascribe value begin to change, the notion of premium, of quality, of the sought-after is radically changing,…How should brands and designers react?’ Subject areas include – Androgyny In Design, Blended Spaces, New Adaptability, and Beautiful Pragmatism.

Missed out on SxSW Interactive? This Evernote link provides summariesfrom a number of the top talks.This from Evernote – ‘We’ve teamed up with SXSW to give you instant access to the best knowledge and insights from this year’s Workplace, Intelligent Future, and Brands & Marketing tracks.’
From Adweek. ‘Why brands must form an identity to retain customers in the voice economy. Conversation and compassion are expected of marketers today.’

From The Guardian. ‘The cover of NME was still coveted by bands right to the end – but for readers themselves, it was a different story. Ex-staffers, publishers and musicians tell the inside story of how a once-mighty media brand lost its cool’. Douglas McCabe, CEO of media research company Enders Analysis – ‘free isn’t a means to an end, particularly when translating a niche product for the mass market. In the end, its very soul seemed to have been lost somewhere’.

I’ve just seen two fabulous films premiered at SxSW. Highly recommend both as soon as they are available. The documentary, “The World Before Your Feet” tracks a man’s quest to get to know his city better; and “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man.” , taps into the joy of post-modern America’s spirit animal.

From Creative Review. ‘The BBC has returned to Lou Reed’s classic song Perfect Day to promote its broadcasting, this time using the track to emphasise the diversity of content shown on BBC Three.’

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

More and more brands are using live ads during TV events. For me, the one that stands out from the UK marketplace was the live Honda sky-diving ad on Channel 4, and here is a perspective on recent developments in this area – ‘There’s a cachet and a wow factor if a live ad is well executed (Blake Morrison, from Ripplebox). It comes across better to a live audience than something that feels so curated that it doesn’t have any room to breathe.

This a pretty powerful way to ‘encourage’ adoption. The WeChat ID pilot programme in Guangzhou is to be extended to the whole of Guangdong province and further across China from January next year (as) WeChat is poised to become China’s official electronic ID system.

This is worth thinking through for a couple of seconds. From the New Scientist – ‘Chinese search giant Baidu says it can create a copy of someone’s voice using neural networks – and all that’s needed to work from is less than a minute’s worth of audio of the person talking. Baidu can clone your voice after hearing just a minute of audio.’

From Adweek. ‘For those few uninitiated souls, HQ Trivia works like this: In real-time, the show’s emcee poses 12 questions with three possible answers, while players vie for a shot at splitting a jackpot—averaging anywhere from $1,500 to $25,000. On Super Bowl Sunday, 2 million people logged on for a single session, angling for $20,000 in winnings (168 people shared the prize). According to the app-research firm Sensor Tower, since launching in August, HQ has been downloaded more than 5 million times.

From MIT. ‘The most successful people are not the most talented, just the luckiest, a new computer model of wealth creation confirms. Taking that into account can maximise return on many kinds of investment. If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? Turns out it’s just chance.’

A short video from RSA Create. ‘We have taken huge steps towards tackling some of the biggest threats to humanity throughout history, and in many ways our lives have never been better! So where do we go from here? Author and historian Rutger Bregman argues that in order to continue towards a better world, we need big ideas and a robust vision of the future. 

Friend of the Filter, Only Dead Fish’s  Post Of The Month competiton, is a good place to see some insightful writing. This week’s winner was the piece featured in this newsletter last week – You Are The Media You Eat from Genius Steals. This was the piece from the Filter which won in Jan 2015 – How We Read Today. 

From The Guardian. ‘Echoes of Amélie in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, traces of Nabokov in Kristen Roupenian’s Cat Person … Where is the line between influence and plagiarism?’ The highest form of flattery? In praise of plagiarism.

From Wired : A Short History of Technology Worship. ‘In spite of the yoking of technology and science in the word STEM, they’ve always been an uneasy pairing. The word technology is best understood as the masculine form of the word culture, and when you’re pitching culture projects to patriarchal joints that find the idea of “culture” unmanly, I’ve often found that “technology” seals the deal.’

This job application letter (short video) has raised the bar to a whole other level.