Ten Stories From This Week

16th October 2020

From LessWrong. The Felt Sense: What, Why and How. ‘Everyone accesses felt senses all the time, but most people don’t know that they are doing it. I think that being able to make the skill more explicit is really valuable, and in this post I’m going to give lots of examples of why that is and what you can do with it.’

Stratechery on Disney and Integrators vs Aggregators. ‘Aggregators don’t make content, because they don’t need to. Rather, by providing functionality consumers value, they become the most efficient way to reach those same consumers, which means that creators bring their content to the Aggregators.’ Successful integrators (eg Disney) can find success connecting directly with customers via a strategy involving quality and focus.

From Pew Research. ‘In U.S. and UK, globalisation leaves some feeling ‘left behind’ or ‘swept up’. Focus groups reveal the degree to which Americans and Britons see common challenges to local and national identity.’

How to make this winter not totally suck, according to psychologists. The answers lie around connectedness, purpose and inspiration. (HT Kevin Harris)

Wonderful. WindowSwap opens up a new window somewhere in the world.

The 100 Sequences that shaped animation. From Bugs Bunny to Spike Spiegel to Miles Morales, the history of an art form that continues to draw us in.

IKEA is opening a second-hand store in Sweden. The initiative is part of IKEA’s efforts to become a fully circular business by 2030. The second-hand store…will stock IKEA furniture and home furnishings that have been damaged and repaired from a nearby store. (HT @davidpearlhere)

Every member of the UK Government, ‘disneyfied’. #torystory

I cannot in good faith recommend this Japanese desk tent. 

Never mind Tom Brady, surely this incredible dam climbing Ibex, is the G.O.A.T.

Ten Stories From This Week

9th October 2020

Prof. Scott Galloway’s (of NYU), ‘Post’ Corona livestream.Themes include – Decades in Days, Dispersion : Education and Healthcare, A ‘K’ shaped recovery and Dysfunction to Dystopian. Don’t be put off by thelength (47′,08″) , this is mesmerising and profound stuff. (conclusions are just past 41 minutes). 

Benedict Evans, on the end of the American internet. 80-90% of internet users are now outside the USA, there are more smartphone users in China than in the USA and western Europe combined, and thecreation of venture-based startups has gone global.

Compelling long read from Ben Thompson on anti-monopoly and anti-trust. ‘The big question is if the status quo will change: right now the anti-monopolists are still a decided minority, at least as far as tech companies go. These four companies are amongst the most popular in the U.S., and that was before the pandemic, when the tech industry kept the entire economy afloat for those with the luxury to complain about ads, and provided free entertainment for those that don’t. At the same time, thepolitical sands are shifting…

A couple of perspectives from Contagious on Gen Z. Make your brand the band, not the cover song and ‘Scar Tissue’ – predictions of thelong term behavioural scars of the 2020 recession on Gen Z. 

It is World Mental Health Day tomorrow. Alastair Campbell on the second pandemic. ‘On the shoulders of Covid comes a wave of mental illness that the UK is not prepared for. Would the police, fire and ambulance service tell the car crash victim to wait two weeks to see someone? I don’t think so. It shows how far we are from genuine parity between physical and mental health.’

Mozilla wants to unf**k the internet (15″)

Republican colouring books and Democratic hand sanitiser  – comparing Presidential campaign merchandise. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are using their merch to one-up each other. 

Adobe’s Flash will soon be no more.   This is how flash games shaped the video industry.

Google’s latest innovation is a filter that Van Goghs you.

An extraordinary collision of worlds. Dallas, Texas, 1963. British DJ John Peel in the same room as Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.

Ten Stories From This Week

2nd Oct 2020

Interesting stuff in the travel and tourism sector this week. Amazon have announced they are launching a series of 1-on-1 virtual tour guides, called Amazon Explore, where you can connect with hosts in destinations to take lessons, learn about landmarks and view new destinations – all from home. Earlier this year the Greek Tourist board did a similar thing with a Google partnership, and the Faroe Islands had a remote tourism project where you could explore the islands as virtual tourists through the eyes of a local.  The new Live View Google Maps use AR to enable you to see directions, distance markers and to visualise destinations. HT @neilperkin. 

Deepfake Putin is here to warn the US about the possibility of self-inflicted harm to their democracy, but Kim Jong-Un is especially unnerving.

From Patent Drop. Looks like Amazon are looking at voice tracking for emotional data.

…and here, memers are making deep-fakes, and things are getting weird. The rapidly increasing accessibility of the technology raises new concerns about its abuse.

Looks wonderful. From Information is Beautiful. ‘Every day for a year, we’ve charted positive stats, unseen trends and creative solutions mostly unseen on the news. Revealing an alternative worldview, beyond the headlines, where the world is getting better, not worse.

The Drone Awards 2020: the world seen from above

Amazon will now let you pay with your palm in its stores.

Fabulous ‘back to front’ piece courtesy of Creative Review. Ben Brand’s poignant animation is an ode to the circle of life. The Netherlands-based director tackles the notion that everything you throw in the sea comes back to you. (2’26”)

Charming. ‘Footways is a network of quiet and interesting streets for walking in central London’. You can get a free print map, or see the digital map hereHT @Matt_Muir

Why do otters juggle rocks? (1’33”).

Stories From This Week

19th September 2020

Palantir is the most political IPO of 2020, as well as an enigmatic business. ‘Part software firm, part consultancy, the brainchild of Peter Thiel is at the centre of a culture war. Is it ethical to service the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in Trump’s America? Is it treasonous not to? – ‘Palantir’s primary challenges may not be matters of product or market, but politics and public perception.’ And here, from Buzz Feed – Thiel, the venture capitalist and Facebook board member staked his reputation on a Trump presidency. Now what does he have to show for it?’ Spoiler alert – a very great deal.

Wunderman Thompson on Moral Credit – the new brand ranking system, the importance of corporate social responsibility and the imminent consumer reckoning.

Very welcome. The 2018-2020 Creative Industry Mental Health Study. A three-year global study of the state of mental health across the creative and tech industries.

Don’t believe the US election polls. Look at the odds instead. ‘Vegas has the two candidates in a dead heat. Pretty rare if you consider how often two racehorses are ever given the exact same odds of winning. If you had to put money down to vote, who would you bet on?’

From Tim Harford. Don’t rely on algorithms to make life-changing decisions.’The difficult question here was: could we give students the grades they would have earned in the UK exams? The easier substitute was: could we make the overall pattern of exam results this year look the same as usual? That’s not hard. An algorithm could mimic any historical pattern you like — or ensure equality (within the limits of arithmetic) based on gender or race. But note the substitution of the easy question for hard.’

The American commune Is back—thanks to COVID, the recession, and TikTok.

From @here_forth and Forbes. The winners and losers from this week’s Apple Event announcement. (We had) the usual emotional porn-esque interstitials matched with execs discussing and announcing new features. Few surprises but plenty of winners and losers.’

In video meetings it’s a hassle to unmute just to say one word especially if someone else is speaking. @cameronhunter has created a video lens that uses hand gestures to show comic-book style messages instead.

IKEA Is navigating global crises with mindfulness training and humanity.

We need to go to Venus as soon as possible. Answering questions about the possibility of life there will require not one but several new missions that can directly study the planet.

Airbnb re-positions itself. ‘The pandemic has certainly hurt Airbnb, which was marketed as a product for vacationers, replacing hotels. It laid off a quarter of its staff as revenue cratered. But the platform has found a new purpose: helping non-essential remote workers work from (someone else’s) home.

Rare footage of Jimi Hendrix doing “Voodoo Child” on Maui, 1970. The music always reminds me of this scene from Withnail and I.

Lovely story, if true. A Malaysian man ‘finds’ monkey selfies on lost phone.

The suburbs get a boost from pandemic weary masses. Mass retailers and residents alike are trading in urban locales and lifestyles for the relative security, savings and space of the suburbs.

To be creative, Chinese philosophy teaches us to abandon originality. 

TikTok’s most popular creator, Charli D’Amelio, has joined rival app Triller. She is TikTok’s most popular creator with 87 million followers

Marketoonist on the sales impact of advertising.

Friend of The Filter, Street Wisdom, have their annual, global event next weekend. This is what they have to say about it – When the world goes wobbly, wander – non-profit social movement Street Wisdom leads a 60-hour relay of free online WalkShops to boost your wellbeing & inspiration in their annual World Wide Wander on the 25-27th September. You can sign up here. 

Walking in a heavy thunderstorm at night in NYC.

Stories From This Week

13th September 2020

‘TikTok concedes that its ability to nail users’ preferences so effectively means that its algorithm can produce “filter bubbles,” reinforcing users’ existing preferences rather than showing them more varied content, widening their horizons, or offering them opposing viewpoints.’ Inside TikTok’s killer algorithm.

Also on Tik-Tok, a different perspective – ‘TikTok’s success has been written about countless times, and many analysts talk about the terrifyingly accurate algorithm & the lowered barrier to content creation. However, there is another key component to TikTok’s industry leading engagement rates & growth that often goes unnoticed: its ability to cater to lurkers — silent users that consume but rarely create content.’

Is marketing about making soulful bets? ‘You’ll notice a giant chunk of the chart is something called “soulful bets.” To me, a soulful bet is work outside of the typical purview of marketing: Make a film. Commission an essay. Run a marathon. Sponsor a bake sale. Ride your bicycle from NY to British Columbia….’

Spooky. 20+ people who discovered their art history doppelgängers at museums.

Fortnite is launching a concert series it hopes will become a ‘tour stop’ for artists.

From Tim Harford. ‘A week full of new experiences will seem longer in retrospect. A month of repeating the same routine might seem endless, but will be barely a blip in the memory: the “diffs” are not significant enough for the brain to bother with.’ We won’t remember much of what we did in the pandemic.

Patent Drop. Peek into the future with a summary of new patents from the biggest tech companies.

Watch Netflix Through a Filmmaker’s Lens. Here’s how to stream films with screenplays side-by-side, in sync.

By IKEA. Setting itself up as a prequel to the famous tale of the hare and the tortoise, this new spot is a modern twist on the ancient story (1′ 32″)

Nicely observed piece on a well covered subject – Why haven’t we celebrated any major achievements lately? Perhaps we just don’t appreciate progress as much as we used to.

From AdAge. Pornhub celebrates Labor Day in the US, with an innuendo filled spot.

Nice short film from MailChimp (shades of Dr Seuss?) reminds us our “ideas will flow again” in an overwhelming world.

Facebook just invented … Facebook. Facebook Campus aims to help college students find each other. But does Gen Z really need it?

2020. An Isolation Odyssey (split-screen). A minor saga of quarantine and isolation (12′ 04″)

Love it. American Psycho’s business card scene, but with cats.

An artist illustrates his battle with depression as a mystical world of spirit animals. 

Charming. It’s About Time. A homage to the passage of Time. A portrait created with eight visual metaphors orchestrated in harmony.

Humpty Dumpty had a great Fall (but not in the way you are thinking).

Stories From This Week

4th Sept 2020

From Wired. ‘Cameo lets you buy personalised greetings from sport stars, singers, influencers and… zoo animals. What does it say about the nature of modern celebrity?’

..and in the same neck of the woods, this short film portrays a dark side of an online influencer. ‘Jordan desires a lot of attention from his followers and people around him. Surrounded by luxury and armoured with a bold image, he carefully builds his own fake kingdom full of digital dreams. However as it turns out, being the most popular person isn’t always the best outcome.’ (3′ 08″)

Stripe is a payments company that describes itself using the word “infrastructure.” It doesn’t get more boring than that in tech, and yet, Stripe is fanatically adored. People love the company’s co-founders, the charming, intellectual Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison. Its mission is audacious: to increase the GDP of the internet. Engineers rave about its simple-to-use product that makes something as complex as payments ‘just work’. But could it be the internet’s most under valued company? (HT @neilperkin)

From Aeon. ‘William Blake saw angels and ghosts and the Hallelujah sunrise, even on the darkest day. We need to foster his state of mind….Blake’s descriptions, the energy of his verse, and his imagination, can help us expand our sight in the light of the signs we receive, just as he made much of having seen angels on Peckham Rye.

LA 2028 unveils a dynamic Olympics logo, updated by athletes and celeb creators.

Here, a thread of the most beautiful Libraries of the World. 

Definitely worth subscribing. Free from the shackles of the Gartner sponsorship, Professor Galloway is back on YouTube with the Prof G Show.

Funny and clever piece from Coors. Win a trip to the background you’ve been staring at for months. 

Worth a listen or a look. ‘Nine things we learned when Andy Puddicombe (founder of Headspace) spoke to Joe Wicks about meditation.’

The totemic Windows 95 operating system was released 25 years ago this week. Here is the launch commercial. 

‘Beef or chicken?’ What $2 airline meals taste like on the ground.

Camden Town Brewery gives away free pints in ‘world’s first (kind of) drinkable TV ad’.

A goose remembers his last migration. How the Miracle on the Hudson may have looked from the geese’s perspective. (5′ 25″).

Another piece from Vimeo. Circulatory Systems – ‘The major highways, arteries and veins of our cities (2’ 15″). Kind of a souped-up version of 1982’s Koyaanisqatsi (trailer – 2″ 16″).

God is a single parent and amateur programmer. He’s working on project ‘Earth’ but never seems to get a break from the kids. One day though, he finally gets a breakthrough. (7′ 00″).


Stories From This Week

29th August 2020

This piece suggests that the ‘Art of Persuasion’ hasn’t changed in over two millennia. ‘More than 2,000 years ago Aristotle outlined a formula on how to master the art of persuasion in his work Rhetoric. Many great communicators have used it throughout the ages to deliver some of the most influential speeches, presentations, and share their ideas with the world.’

Amazon’s new wearable will judge your tone. ‘The “Tone” feature, which people must opt-in to, uses small mics on the band and machine learning to analyse your voice to predict how other people might perceive your tone. The technology takes into account pitch, intensity, tempo and rhythm, to create timestamps of your speech with labels such as “content” or “hesitant” as well as positivity and energy levels.

Warren Buffett on how money (now) works – ‘If you can have negative interest rates and pour out money, and incur more and more debt relative to productive capacity, you’d think the world would have discovered it in the first couple of thousand years rather than just coming on it now. We will see. It’s probably the most interesting question I’ve ever seen in economics.

Blessing in disguise? How the biggest live media events have embraced the change to virtual. Looks at events from WSJ, The Atlantic and Texas Tribune.

This Finnish firm has designed a machine learning system that is the first to blur profanity in text-editing software like Word or Outlook in a bid to combat cyberbullying. Does not currently work on social media.

From CNN. The Auschwitz Memorial has criticised a trend on TikTok in which young people are portraying themselves as victims of the Holocaust, saying the videos can be “hurtful and offensive.”

Nice visual article on how the jumbo jet revolutionised air travel. Farewell to the Boeing 747.

The Sound of Silence series, from (friend of The Filter) @stevexoh has concluded – A total of 100 episodes were recorded over a period of 2.5 years. The collected silent ‘interviews’ are now being turned into into an interactive physical gallery exhibit.

Chart from Statista. Global international tourism receipts from 2000-2019 and possible scenarios for 2020.

This also from Statista – a great place to go for infographics on the upcoming US election. Displayed here, the number of Democratic/Republican wins in US states in the past 10 presidential elections. 

Tim Harford on ‘Rats, mazes, and the power of self-fulfilling prophecies.’ ‘A vocal minority argues that Covid-19 is not much worse than the influenza we ignore every winter, so both mandatory lockdowns and voluntary precautions have been unnecessary. A glance at the data gives that argument a veneer of plausibility. The UK has suffered about 65,000 excess deaths during the first wave of the pandemic, and 25,000-30,000 excess deaths are attributed to flu in England alone during bad flu seasons. Is the disparity so great that the country needed to grind to a halt? The flaw in the argument is clear: Covid was “only” twice as bad as a bad flu season because we took extreme measures to contain it. The effectiveness of the lockdown is being used as an argument that the lockdown was unnecessary. It is frustrating, but that is the nature of a self-defeating prophecy in a politicised environment.

A further, interesting (video) piece involving Tim Harford looks at ‘bad number analogies’, and how to use “landmark numbers” to make the world add up – How many buses to the dinosaur? (16′:05″)

Charmingly done. CNN gets animated over its 2020 election coverage (15″)

There are only 37 possible stories, According to this 1919 manual for screenwriters

In Scotland, a sheep sells for £368,000.

The wonderful Kenneth Williams on Tomorrow’s World in 1981.Wouldn’t you just love it if he was your science teacher? 

Stories From This Week

22nd Augist 2020

How Covid-19 is De-stigmatising Virtual Life. ‘What’s exciting is that Collective Virtual Experiences (CVE’s) could make up what author Neal Stephenson called the ‘Metaverse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. The Metaverse refers to a post-internet era where the lines between digital and physical worlds are blurred and where… everybody can contribute and nobody is in control….,One of the attributes of the Metaverse is that it’s “populated by ‘content’ and ‘experiences’ created and operated by a wide range of contributors, some of whom are independent individuals while others might be informally organised groups or commercially-focused enterprises’.

Funny, clever and deadly serious. Filmed in May during lockdown, ‘Bat Sh*t’, gives a voice to some of the animal species who have fallen victim to human behaviour over the years including pangolins, rats, pigs, birds, rabbits and of course, bats (7′ 30″)

Director Ridley Scott, weighs in on Fortnite’s parody of his seminal ‘1984’ Ad for Apple.

Research company Gartner recently announced that CMO’s now rank ‘brand strategy’ as their top priority. In relation to this, here is a nice piece on strategy from @Faris : ‘Turning abstract adjectives into specific behavioural guidelines for employees, aligning incentives and responsibilities, brand becomes a generative idea that helps people make decisions on the ground and makes companies more equitable to boot, since a value is only a value if universally applied.’ Brand is a Strategy.

Copying Tik-Tok, Instagram rolls out suggested posts to keep you glued to your feed.

Jim Carroll looks at ‘A Face in the Crowd‘, a 1957 satirical drama that considered the power of modern media to create celebrities, and the influence that those celebrities can wield. Sound familiar? – ‘This whole country’s just like my flock of sheep!… Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers – everybody that’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle… They’re mine! I own ’em! They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for ’em.

Thread on why the UK hasn’t seen Covid cases rise on the same scale as many other countries. ‘Has the government actually got something right? Probably not. Instead looks like Brits have decided – of their own accord – to change their behaviour. 

From Wired. ‘The algorithm calculated the difference between the predicted distribution for current students and previous students, and used this to adjust the actual distribution for previous students to give a distribution for current students…’. – here is everything that went wrong with the botched A-Levels algorithm. And this thread (on the same subject) makes a good point about trust vs ‘accuracy’ :  ‘Whether it is trust in the system, resignation, or suppression, most people are content to live with that. But this same level of acceptance can’t just be transferred to a newly designed automated system. Especially not one that can allegedly be so finely modelled and refined.’

A couple of pieces on travel and tourism – The travel industry is betting big on insurance as the primary assurance needed to win back the confidence of tourists; and (from Google) – what travel marketers need to know to navigate the path forward. 

How to get a husband in 1958′. Numbers 17, 24, 30 and 40 are simply incredible.

In a computer analysis of nearly 40,000 fictional narratives, including novels and movie dialogues, researchers tracked authors’ use of pronouns (she, they), articles (a, the), and other short words, unveiling a consistent “narrative curve:” – staging, plot progression and cognitive tension. This is how invisible words provide a blueprint for all stories.

adam&eveDDB immerse into different worlds to explore the latest features of the Playstation 5.

Muze is a different kind of messaging app. Each conversation takes place on a free-form canvas where you can zoom, draw, layer, edit, and collaborate.

A study confirms that painting eyes on cow butts helps ward off predators. 

Life needs truth: A chaotic NY Times ad via Droga5. ‘How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.’

Have you (like me) been wondering why weather forecasts have been less accurate recently? Here is why.

Impressive. From @RAF_Luton. ‘To celebrate the last flight of the 747 (and to show @Qantas how it should be done, and to show @British_Airways what they should have done) we sent up a Eurovision Typhoon to draw a giant Jumbo Jet over the UK.’

Ha.What do you see? Batman twerking?

Stories From This Week

8th August 2020

Unsettling. An engaging infographic from NYT. ‘The devices owner was easy to trace, revealing the outline of the person’s work and life. The same phone pinged a dozen times at the nearby Secret Service field office and events with elected officials. From computer screens more than 1,000 miles away, we could watch the person travel from exclusive areas at Palm Beach International Airport to Mar-a-Lago. This is how to track President Trump.

Is QAnon the most dangerous conspiracy theory of the 21st century? ‘Perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard for the movement’s popularity comes from Adrian Hon, the chief executive of the gaming company Six to Start and a designer of alternate reality games or ARGs. Unlike video games, alternate reality games aren’t played on a console — they use the world as their storytelling platform. There’s no one particular medium. The story takes place in real time and seems to exist in the world.

This is Histiography. Where every dot is a historic event from Wikipedia (a scrolling infographic).

Nice model, from Think With Google. How people decide what to buy lies in the “messy middle” of the purchase journey.

Interesting stuff from Genius Steals – a deck on the Anatomy of Metaphors; ‘the ultimate guide to creating a powerful metaphor’. And here…from NYT is your brain on metaphors.

A visually engaging deck with some great insights. Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling.

Could this be a new buzzword or actually ‘a thing’. The Gig Economy Is Failing. Say Hello to the Hustle Economy. ‘The Covid-19 pandemic crushed vast swaths of the economy, slashing consumer demand, closing businesses, and vaporising millions of jobs. But it’s been good to the nascent sliver of the digital economy that helps people channel their existing skills into sellable services and products.’ (HT @here_forth)

The top 50 marketing campaigns, on video games.

We discussed the Barbados example last week, but it looks like more destinations are getting in on the act. From Wunderman Thompson – ‘Vacation season is upon us—but so is a global pandemic. The tourism industry’s solution? Long-term quarantine retreats.

A cheat sheet for Coyote and Roadrunner. 

Nice. Shedinburgh fringe festival to be streamed from sheds. 

Finally, no newsletter next week as am off on staycation with the family. Normal service will be resumed in a fortnight :o)