Five things on Friday #112

Things of note for the week ending Friday 20th February, 2015.

Things of note for the week ending Friday 20th February, 2015.

ALL THE THINGS

1. ON THOSE GREEN BUBBLES
You there, reading this. Got an iPhone? Then this might speak to you. Those of you who don’t have an iPhone should keep reading too (as you might be offered some further reassurance over your decision to join in).

iPhone users have their own SMS-like service. If you’re receiving an SMS from another iPhone the message is sent via iMessage and appears blue. If you’re receiving a message from a non-iPhone then it’s sent via standard SMS and arrives green.

Like this –

12 13

Which means there is a very quick and visual way to see which friends / family own iPhones and which ones don’t. You know, so you can judge them and stuff.

Apple know it. Tim Cook has even said it.

Don’t believe me?

Read this: ‘It’s kind of cheesy being green‘.

It’s one part a depressing read on the state of human nature and two parts an interesting read on subtle product decisions that [can] influence culture.

2. MINGERING MIKE
Jon Ronson is one of my favourite writers and his occasional Guardian column is a treasure trove of brilliant worldly idiosyncrasies. His latest article does not disappointment.

Mingering Mike

The two sides of Mingering Mike: the soul legend that never existed‘ is a wonderful, sadness-tinged story made of cardboard, created through a mixture of depression, loneliness, and escapism, that ends with an exhibition at the Smithsonian.

This really is the best thing I’ve read all week.

3. OUR FEAR OF AI
The Singularity. It’s something that all of us will start hearing more and more about. To be honest, given the readership persona of this place, I think a lot of you will know about it already.

You can see it in the technology section of the broadsheets. It lives at the core of the science-fiction of trend of now (everything from TRANSCENDENCE, to EX_MACHINA, to this year’s upcoming AVENGERS sequel, to name but three, all feature smarter-than-human artificial intelligence).

If you don’t know about it; read up on it.

‘But where do I start?!’, you say. Well, right here.

With ‘Our fear of AI

“Because Google, Facebook, and other companies are actively looking to create an intelligent, “learning” machine, he reasons, “I would say that one of the things we ought not to do is to press full steam ahead on building superintelligence without giving thought to the potential risks. It just seems a bit daft.” Russell made an analogy: “It’s like fusion research. If you ask a fusion researcher what they do, they say they work on containment. If you want unlimited energy you’d better contain the fusion reaction.” Similarly, he says, if you want unlimited intelligence, you’d better figure out how to align computers with human needs.”

When one of the real world version of Tony Stark is working (read: ‘donating a shed ton of money’) to support ‘AI Safety’ programmes just as the fictional one is about to unleash an evil AI onto the Earth’s inhabitants, well, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

4. THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY
Last year, just before the World Cup kicked off, a cool little thing went around where you could subscribe to a World Cup Google Calendar that would, rather brilliantly, not only plot all the tournament’s games in your diary but also retroactively update those appointments with the scores of the games after they happened. It was in short: a bloody useful tool.

The month after it finished I was still thinking about how awesome that kind of calendar would be for other purposes. How do you build one for starters? What else could I use it for?

Well, I like going to the cinema (newsflash, I know) and I like writing up what I think about those films after I’ve been.

Through that passion, if you will, I think I can say I now enough about film to have a pretty good hit rate on what will (and will not) be a good film.

What if I used that skill, combined with data from movie release websites to plot UK release dates for upcoming films into a similar calendar and then update those very same dates with links to my reviews after I’d seen said films?

Just like the World Cup calendar but for film.

As a great developer once said to me ‘Nothing is impossible, James. You just need enough time.’ – one Sunday morning I set about setting up the calendar. I plotted three months or so ahead, then experimented with how it might work with some friends (thanks Matt), and after that, I blogged it and made the whole thing public.

coming soon

That was September.

Later that month I was giving a ‘Twitter Card Masterclass‘ on how to best use Twitter Cards. The end section went into a cases of bespoke Twitter Cards. Twitter Cards that Twitter had made possible for certain brands and for no one else.

One of those bespoke cards was a calendar subscription card from Burberry. Twitter didn’t make them available for new people and it wasn’t going to tell you how to build one either. On a flight to Dublin it hit me on how I could hack my own. So I did.

Oh, and it worked.

I shared the calendar, the idea, and the Twitter Card at Social Media Week London. After the event I had a really lovely chat with someone from Cineworld about the idea worked and how I’d been surprised that no one had made one before. Last week, Cineworld launched their own version.

Differences:

  • All your data belong to us. The thing about Google Calendar subscriptions is that Google gives you ZERO information on anyone subscribing. It doesn’t tell you how many people are subscribing nor does it confirm that there any subscribers at all. To get to the Cineworld version you have to either a) log in with Facebook or b) give up your email address.
  • The Cineworld version has multiple calendars available by genre. Because y’know, as a sci-fi fan you only ever want to science fiction films and never anything else.
  • The Cineworld version doesn’t let you filter by quality. That means zero curation… Which is a shame because that’s one of the KSPs of the original.

So yeah. I wanted to call this out because it’s actually really cool to see someone take something and actually try and apply it to a brand properly. And that’s great. The end product is slightly broken but at least they had a stab.

On the other hand, if you want to subscribe to a calendar of the best upcoming films then you know where to come.

5. ALL THE SNL
Saturday Night Live turned 40 last weekend and, as part of the opening ceremonies, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (a pair who are well on their way to becoming the US versions of Ant n Dec) put together this stellar opening:

I’m yet to watch the whole thing but seriously… 40 years of Saturday Night Live? Amazing. If you know NOTHING about SNL then you should know that some of the most famous comedians and comedy actors have started their lives there.

You want some extra SNL love? OK, here are 14 behind the scenes photos from over 40 years of SNL (brilliant) and here’s a link to ‘Live from New York‘, the complete and uncensored history of Saturday Night Live.

Treat yourself.

Whatley out.

___________

Bonuses this week :

  • Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In Dresses. At the Oscars. On Acid.
  • Like video games but hate endless ad-filled websites? Plaaayed, launching soon from a couple of ex-CVG folk, might be just what you’re looking for.
  • How Not To Find A Boyfriend (this one’s a grower).
  • Run a Facebook page for a brand? STOP posting photos.

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