Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

10th December 2017

Really interesting piece from @faris, on how the simplistic approach of storytelling can be dangerous. ‘We love stories. Stories compete for attention and dominance in culture.They give meaning to action and to our lives. They are highly simplified models of cause and effect, of culture, that create naive binaries, lines in the world, between in-group and out-group. They require conflict and sides. Good and evil.They are half of humanity, and glorious, when balanced with the sober rationality that let’s science flourish. But when stories subsume observation, when science is ignored, and the narrative feed the needs of the greedy, stories alone will lead us to war, which, famously, is hell.

Some great stuff on this Medium strand – ‘Words That Matter 2017‘ : John McCain on ‘Driving Back Chaos’ and Hillary Clinton on ‘Radical Empathy’.

Campaign’s Top 10 Live Experiences of 2017. Nike’s ‘Strike Night’, Marie Curie’s ‘Garden of Light’ and Ikea’s ‘House Party’, made the list of top live experiences this year.

Looking for a review of the year that actually makes sense? This, from Spotify and Wrapped, lets you relive all the music you experienced in 2017. ‘Because, in a year that many wanted to tune out, music gave us a reason to keep listening’.

Page Not Found. A brief history of the 404 Error. 

It’s the announcement we’ve all been waiting for, Pantone has picked its colour of the year; a shade of blue-based purple which represents the ‘mysteries of the cosmos’. “We’re living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination,” and hence the “complex and contemplative” Ultra Violet has been chosen to be Pantone’s upcoming colour of the Year for 2018.

From Mental Floss, 5 Incredibly Detailed Maps That Explore the Plotlines of Great Movies. Test your knowledge here.

Often wondered why headlines on the web capitalise letters (as above) at the start of every word? This does not appear to be drawn from newspaper headlines where all words are usually in CAPS, but could be to do with making the text easier to read. To distinguish between lower case and upper case, one observer says this should be called Title Case. In any event I like this cartoon making fun of the whole situation. Star Trek Into/into Darkness.

People are doing stunts with Thomas the Tank Engine, and it’s some peoples favourite new extreme sport. Fasten your seatbelt….

Amazing stunt from Red Bull as two BASE jumpers, fly into a plane over the Alps. Mind your head. 

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

2nd Dec 2017

Lots of stuff this week regarding (the end of) net neutrality. Best summed up by the New York Times – ‘Because net neutrality shelters start-ups — which can’t easily pay for fast-line access — from internet giants that can pay, the rules are just about the last bulwark against the complete corporate takeover of much of online life. When the rules go, the internet will still work, but it will look like and feel like something else altogether.’

From Creative Review, the top 20 Ad slogans of all time. Including ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’, ‘Just Do It’, ‘Think Different’, and ‘It Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin.’

‘What do you see when you imagine a country? Maybe India fills your mind with colour. France overwhelms you with the aroma of baked bread. Beaches and wide deserts populate your picture of Australia. What do you think of, when someone mentions Finland?’ Finland’s answer was to turn its diverse gene pool into heavy metal music for Its 100th Birthday. Talk About Extreme.

From AeonMetaphysics of metamorphosis. The swarming, ever-changing character of the living world challenges our deepest assumptions about the nature of reality. ‘Rather than a dysfunction that requires a specific explanation, perhaps cancer is actually the expected state – and what we need to understand is how self-regulation explains our remarkable tendency not to suffer from cancer.’

Agencies are scrambling to meet client demands for Amazon specific solutions. ‘Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google….what it brings to the table is an extensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,’

At this year’s Wired Live, I was very impressed by the presentation from the founder of OfO, a dockless bike sharing operation ; but this piece from The Guardian, tells a rather different story – the ‘Chinese bike share graveyard is a monument to the industry’s ‘arrogance’.

Interesting infographic from Adweek: ‘Here’s How Much Consumers Will Use Voice Technology in the Near Future‘..and an associated piece from WARC on how machines and not humans will be the target audiences of the future – ‘How to convince (and seduce) artificial intelligence.’

Russian election influence, the ever-widening sexual harassment scandal, mass shootings and the opioid epidemic helped identify the word “complicit” as the Dictionary.com word of the year for 2017.

Visit San Antonio (good friend of The Filter) has appeared in National Geographic’s, list of ‘Places You Need To Visit in 2018.’ Founded in 1718, San Antonio is celebrating its tricentennial and its five Missions comprise Texas’ first World Heritage site.

This piece from The Economist, asserts that the real issue around the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) is actually a confusion around how punctuation impacts on meaning.

And finally, this new video from Red Bull is worth a watch. Especially like the way #mtb freestyle rider Matt Jones, ‘catches up’ with himself, as he rides the course.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

26th Novenber 2017

A little known fact, is that women pioneered computer programming. Then men took their industry over. How “computer girls” gave way to tech bros.’

Best of 2017 / Trends for 2018: Adobe UX design predictions for 2018, The 25 best inventions of 2017, Gartner top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018 and last but not least The Pudding Awards for best data visualisations of 2017.

‘Learning is the process of using our innate abilities to construct—or create—new understandings of the world. Learning isn’t about the consumption of new information. Learning is the process of using our innate abilities to construct—or create—new understandings of the world. Learning, by its very nature, is a creative act.’ The uncomfortable secret to creative success is ‘disequilibrium’.

New films like “Kubo and the Two Strings” are pushing the boundaries of stop motion using new 3D printing techniques to create millions of unique designs. This is how 3D Printing Is Revolutionising Stop Motion Animation.

‘How big can the largest tech companies get? How completely can they come to dominate the economy? The “big five” — Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon — now have a combined valuation of over $3.3 trillion, and make up more than 40 percent of the value of the Nasdaq 100 index. But...If Amazon puts retailers out of business, who will advertise on Google and Facebook?

This week, artist Ryan McGinley released 15 never-before-published photographs from throughout his career in an online exhibition curated by New York Times photo editor Kathy Ryan. The project, which also features a Q&A between artist and curator, appears on an unlikely web platform: WeTransfer.

This browser extension turns your angry Facebook emoji into real social action.

Some interesting perspectives on viewing habits, now that we are all watching ‘TV’ outside the home. New survey data from Netflix reveals 67% of people will risk embarrassment, awkwardness and spoilers to watch their favourite shows and movies in public. ‘When bingeing goes public, private behaviours are exposed and social norms are shelved.

Really nice interactive visualisation examining the DMZ (demilitarised zone) – the thin ribbon of land separating North and South Korea and the geography and history that lies behind it. 

We’ve all been that kid sitting in the back seat of our family car, wishing we were somewhere else. Through the boredom, the driveway snow piles, sidewalk handrails and stair sets, start to tease our inner skier. Watch day dreams come to life.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

10th November 2017

‘Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one, industrialisation. We will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed.’ Stephen Hawking on how AI can make the world a better place, if we are prepared. 

‘Someone or something, or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.’ This is really worth a read, especially if you are a parent with younger children. Something is wrong on the internet.

Great ‘old meets new’ article from Aeon.  ‘This piece is on “prodigies” and the preternatural — long-held ideas that something existed between nature and God, which many people used to try to make sense of natural disasters and other seemingly-random tragedies. A perspective on contextualizing modern ideas within their historical antecedents.

Love this from canscorpianssmoke.com , pertaining to the tragic decline in ‘practices’ and the inexorable rise of ‘tools.’ ‘Tools are very appealing to human beings as they allow us to do things that our bodies alone cannot do. Over thousands of years our species has achieved great things (and some abhorrent things) through the use of a variety of human-made implements.  However, in modern times it seems that our perception has become rather distorted and we have become somewhat addicted to tools.  A symptom of this..is the discounting of experiences that are potentially rich in learning because we feel we haven’t discovered a shiny new implement….in my experience we only begin to change when we develop and commit to ongoing personal practices.’

From Arstechnica. ‘A researcher has documented almost 2,500 sites that are actively running cryptocurrency mining code in the browsers of unsuspecting visitors, a finding that suggests the unethical and possibly illegal practice has only picked up steam since it came to light a few weeks ago. This Cryptojacking craze that drains your CPU, is now done by 2,500 sites.

The decline of Snap continues. Its problems include, expenses, user growth, average revenue per user, and of course Instagram.

How the KKK shaped modern comic book superheroes. ‘Masked crime fighters differ from the Ku Klux Klan only in that they are usually afforded socially acceptable status on a large scale. As masked men who take the law into their own hands the superhero comes dangerously close to some of the great evils in American history.’

Uh oh, looks like Rosé Wine is over…. ‘This is how capitalism works: Consumers enjoy something, brands notice demand and turn the product into a lifestyle, and consumers dutifully recoil. But instead of being angry at the free market, the ire toward #rosé is directed at the population widely believed to be responsible for its downfall: women. It’s “lady petrol,” according to Jeremy Clarkson. It’s “exhausting,” according to Eater. It’s unsophisticated. It’s over. From Taste – ‘Women are not ruining food’.

From @wired_uk. Why uploading all your nudes to Facebook, isn’t such  a bad idea.

A guy makes a commercial for his girlfriend’s $499 used ’96 Honda – 141,095 miles on the clock.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

4th November 2017

@smithsonianmag. Where Do Ideas Come From? ‘A small mollusc known as the sea squirt does something strange. It swims around early in its life, eventually finds a place to attach like a barnacle, and then absorbs its own brain for nutrition. Why? Because it no longer needs its brain. It’s found its permanent home….Whether manufacturing cars, or launching modern art, creators remodel what they inherit. They absorb the world into their nervous systems and manipulate it to create possible futures.

Jimmy Wales appeared at this weeks Wired Live 2017 to discuss the launch of WikiTribune, his news venture, that claims to deliver evidence based journalism. As objectivity is (nearly) always subjective, this could be a tricky one. Some sources are, of course, suggesting that it is already biased.

How Snapchat has kept itself free from fake news….It’s proving to be a much more competent media company than either Facebook or Google. Facebook deliberately blurs the line between personal status updates, news articles, and ads—sticking all three in its constantly updating, algorithm-driven News Feed—Snapchat has taken a more old-fashioned approach. The app’s news section, Discover, is limited to professionally edited content, including dozens of channels maintained by old-media outlets.

From ItsNiceThat – ‘AMV BBDO’s #BloodNormal campaign for Bodyform and Libresse fought to break a longstanding taboo in advertising – showing period blood. The creative partners behind the ad, Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley, write about making the film, and their shock when it was banned worldwide.

Really interesting piece from Alex Danco (@socialcapital) – Taylor Swift, iOS, and the Access Economy: Why the Normal Distribution is Vanishing . ‘The world’s shift from Normal, Gaussian distributions of demand towards bifurcated, two-tiered distributions is a natural consequence of our shift from a world governed by scarcity to one governed by abundance.’

How Adidas Football, re-wrote its marketing script. The change in direction included a somewhat controversial, tongue-in-cheek approach. ‘The first example of Adidas’ new style came with the 2015 ‘There Will Be Haters’ campaign, created by the brand’s lead agency Iris Worldwide… the spot addressed – in a fresh and funny way – the abuse that comes with success in the beautiful game’.

By @eatbigfish – ‘Why drama is a strategic imperative for brands that want to get noticed.’ ‘The brilliant thing Pilpel has done is to understand the power of a little drama: to take a banal and clichéd loyalty mechanism and turn it into something I not only find appealing, but am actually sitting here and writing about for several thousand complete strangers.

From @jwtintelligence – ‘The youngest members of generation X are just over 40, but don’t call them middle-aged—midlife crisis is the last thing on their minds. Older millennials are more than 30, and adults in every sense—so why are marketers still lumping them in with 18-year-olds just out of high school? Meet the Xennials: the in-between generation redefining growing up.

Here are some of the social media ads Russia wanted Americans to see. For example: ‘Satan : I win if Clinton wins. Jesus : Not if I can help it! Press ‘Like’ to help Jesus win!’

David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, with Charlie’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. This is their story (short video), which ended up at the Supreme Court. Treated Like We Did Something Wrong.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

28th October 2017

@martinweigel on client bravery. ‘Exhorting clients to be ‘brave’ enough to buy ‘brave’ work is not just poor psychology. It misrepresents and undermines creativity, passing it off as some roll of the dice, or reckless shot in the dark in which the possibility of total failure is deeply embedded.’ ‘Bravery’ : The folly and the vanity.

Nice summary of the WARC event I attended last week – New Technology – Digital Assistants, Voice Strategy, VR and Insights – ‘A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that tech companies now have their eyes on the ‘next billion’ internet users, mostly from the developing world. But the new users are very different from the first billion…. they are likely to favour voice and video rather than typing and text.

From The Atlantic.’It’s been said that software is “eating the world”. More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. A small group of programmers wants to change how we code—before catastrophe strikes.

How Airbnb could be increasing home prices and rental rates.

Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens. The plan is to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents.

Is Efficiency Killing Brands? From @adage – “Digital metrics are very short-term focused, and that has led marketers into a short-term mindset ….A lot of people in management do not have marketing backgrounds, and find the short-term argument seductive. They are judged quarter by quarter, and they want results, by quarter. I wish we had more CEOs and CFOs that understand if we restrain marketing to the quarterly cycle, we stuff it.’

Giving an effective presentation includes three things – making a point, making people care about your point, and asking for something.

‘Who you hang out with has a huge impact on your happiness. A lot of us accumulate friends along the way because we went to school together, or we work with them. And I never say to dump them, but proactively find happy friends who like to laugh. Humour has a measurable impact on daily happiness. So find funny friends. Or at least friends who think you’re funny, that’s big.’ This is a Lazy Person’s Guide to Happiness.

Sumptuous or OTT? Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby) brings his cinematic touch to H&M’s “The secret life of flowers”, a short film set in a mysterious country mansion where it is always spring.

From Open Culture – ‘A list of chronological Oscar winners often tells you more about the state of the culture than the state of the art.’ Here is a short clip of every Academy Award Winner for Best Cinematography in one supercut: From 1927’s Sunrise to 2016’s La La Land.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

20th October 2017

This week I attended a great WARC mini-conference on Machine Learning. The highlight was a joint session hosted by Mindshare and JWT, highlighting their Speak Easy research around Voice Tech. The full report can be downloaded here. Perhaps one of the most alarming aspects is the rise of the virtual assistant, similar to the one played by Scarlet Johannsson in Her. We were introduced to ‘Hikari’, who is a female hologram and personal assistant  – targeted at single young men in Japan.

Artificial Intelligence may one day rule the world, but to get there it will need human help to develop a coherent decision making process. Take this automotive example : ‘In each grisly permutation, the Moral Machineinvited visitors to cast a vote about who the vehicle should kill.’ In order to teach computers (like autonomous cars) how to react, we need to figure out what the average human would do.

Interesting development for display targeting as advertisers start placing paid media behind influencer content for lower CPMs.

This is rather wonderful – James Vlahos’ story of how he recorded hours and hours—nearly a hundred thousand words’ worth—of his father speaking. When his father died, he tried to rebuild him as a chatbot. ‘It’s a story about where life ends and technology begins, and it is beautiful.’

Interbrand’s Global Brand Rankings for 2017. Featuring the usual suspects but the report (free to download) features some developing trends and challenges; including ‘a focus on clarity of brand purpose’, ‘social responsibility’, and ‘design as a catalyst for integration and better performance.’

A couple of my pieces on the Econsultancy blog this week – Why digital out-of-home advertising is not really digital (yet) and The changing face of consumer trust and the implications for marketers.

From an interesting new book : Signs of Life: Why Brands Matter – an intriguing and controversial perspective on branding. ‘So a brand is rather a complicated entity involving many of the absurdities and appetites that define existence itself. A brand is a collaboration between consumer and producer in a piece of theatre: playwright and actor working on an agreed script… By making tobacco companies follow strict packaging restrictions, we’re paving the way to a future where brands no longer reflect our lifestyles.’

“A lot of work left to do”: A handful of publishers argued a few years ago for selling ads based on readers’ time rather than impressions. But time-based ad sales still haven’t gained traction.

One of the positive claims for Uber is that it enables people to ditch their cars and thus reduces pressure on transit systems. Contrary to this suggestion, this piece of research implies that Uber and the like, could actually make traffic worse. ‘Many…trips additionally require drivers to cruise around waiting for rides, and to “deadhead” occasionally after the rides are over (to return to, say, the airport with an empty back seat).’

If your Amazon package is damaged, this could be why. Love this idea from Adobe, providing a nice perspective on how (some) Ad Agency creative departments work – Keep Up With Hovering Art Directors. And finally, I challenge you to remained unmoved, as this baby hears for the first time and doesn’t know what emotion to feel.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

14th October 2017

Keeping America Compatible with Facebook. ‘What is less speculative and more likely though, is that CZI and Zuckerberg himself are deployed by existing political actors as the last best example of …what today’s Democratic Party wants to be seen as: stewards of a rational, meritocratic society capable of administrating grand projects for large populations….If that happens he would be someone that, as Jane Jacobs wrote in Fortune Magazine, “loves the public but hates the people.”

From Adweek….’It’s not difficult to see where these trends lead. When content can be created instantly, targeted and distributed instantly, and then tweaked and optimised instantly, marketing becomes a whole new ballgame. Inference, inspiration and intuition are—for better or worse—on their way out, replaced by an accelerating loop of test-and-optimise.

‘Alongside this need for a new framework, there are new requirements for marketing competencies and capabilities around domains of expertise like data and analytics, customer experience, content, multichannel, and personalisation, which are neither properly understood nor being met. This is acknowledged in the marketing industry but not reflected in any definitive model.’ From Ashley Friedlein and Econsultancy – This is M3 : The Modern Marketing Model.

From emarketer, nearly half of US teens now say they prefer Snapchat over other social media sites, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

My piece on the Econsultancy blog this week. The myth of storytelling in marketing and why brands should encourage ‘story sharing’. 

A compelling ‘info-gif’ from the FT – the changing shape of childhood obesity 1975-2016. As economies have developed, childhood obesity has increased tenfold in 40 years.

Amazon is looking to corner a significant chunk of the video advertising market. eMarketer estimates that US digital ad revenues for the company are expected to reach $1.65 billion by the end of this year. At that level, it would make up 2.0% of total US digital ad spending.However, Amazon will have to tread carefully to avoid upsetting its users, who are accustomed to an ad-free video experience.

‘According to Google and Bing, one in four searches is conducted by talking, not typing, a figure comScore predicts will reach 50 percent by 2020. That same year Echo alone will account for $7 billion in voice transactions—or vcommerce.’ This is how Amazon, Google and Apple Are Giving Brands a Way Into the Conversation.

Smashing communication idea from the world of travel and tourism. Somewhat along the lines of the Swedish Number concept, this Faroe Islands campaign translates phrases into Faroese, rather charmingly articulated by some of the island’s residents.

A great idea and a rather wonderful ad. The Tile app, helps users find items attached to a Tile dongle within a range of about 200 feet. From the ad creators – ‘When we lose something and then find it, it’s an indescribably good feeling. But how could we tell that story so that the lost thing is compelling to everyone? That was the challenge. So, we realised that by transforming something into someone, we could end up with a beautiful love story.

Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

6th October 2017

From Warped (by @krishoet) : ‘It’s probably inevitable at this point that we’ll end up living in an always-watching surveillance state, and this video of a CCTV facial recognition prototype in action is a troubling preview of what that might look like. The recognition suite, built by Chinese company SenseTime, includes SenseVideo — which allows tracking and classification of objects — and SenseFace — which scans and matches faces to a database.

Nice piece from @faris on ‘decisive moments’ . This is the point at which marketers want to connect with customers, but often struggle to do so. Of course, it is not that easy and digital is not always helping. ‘Marketing works in various ways. Some activity fulfils demand; brand activity works over the long term by building memory structures that impact decisions down the line. The confusion of the two is one of the great disappointments of digital.The maxim of right message, person, moment, and cost holds true if we understand this. The decisive moment is not always going to be when someone is about to buy something. It usually won’t be.

With Blade Runner once more amongst us and (despite being long and slow) getting some pretty good reviews. Interesting to see the impact it has had, since most Brits think A.I. should be regulated by the ‘Blade Runner rule’. This rule says it should be illegal for AI applications such as social media bots, chatbots and virtual assistants to conceal their identityand pose as humans.

The very excellent Dots Conference in Brighton took place recently. Unfortunately I was unable to make it this year, but it provided a surprising and inspiring line-up as always. Speakers included – Bruce Daisley, Neil Perkin, Sussex wine maker Sam Linter and Syima Aslam from the Bradford Literature Festival. A short summary of events here.

To show teens how they can be creators, Made with Code is joining forces with Snap Inc. to host a first-of-its-kind competition called #MyFutureMe. Oh Snap! Teens are coding the future.

Canon just announced that it’s developing a new “Free Viewpoint” virtual camera system that will let you virtually move around inside a recorded event. This is some view of a football match. 

And, this is some algorithm, Time Capsule by Spotify. TC is a personalised playlist with songs to take you back in time – to the stuff you were listening to in your youth. My first 5 artists were Blondie, Lloyd Cole, Heaven 17, Earth Wind and Fire and Terry Jacks. Very accurate and somewhat unnerving. Especially the last one.

Hoodmaps tells you where different tribes exist in a number of cites. Who is your neighbourhood full of? – Suits, the Rich, Tourists or Hipsters?

So, this pod of dolphins appear infatuated with a couple of squirrels, outside their tank.

Charming theory in this lovely illustrated book. ‘It takes all kinds of people to make a world, the expression goes. But maybe it really takes only two kinds. People who put ketchup on their fries, and people who put the ketchup on the side. People who squeeze gently from the bottom, and people who manhandle the toothpaste tube.’