Five things on Friday #185

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 15th, 2016.

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 15th, 2016.


It’s 00:24 on a Friday night / Saturday morning and I’m just sitting down to write this week’s FToF. It’s been a long week. Two days leave at the start, a day in the office in the middle, then a two day client workshop. Basically: attempting to fit five days’ work in one day. You know how it is. I’m taking a break from my inbox to write this to you, now.

To that end, this week’s edition will be swift (I think – I haven’t written it yet) and full of random interesting bits for you to go off and read at your leisure. If you want to do something for me this week, then by all means RT this Tweet so others may find this newsletter.

Finally, before we crack on, the word ‘Pokémon’ appears only once in this publication – and that was it. I think you’ve read your fair share of hot-takes this week and I’m not about to add to them.

Shall we?



I’ve been building chatbots lately. I’ve built one for the office (still in beta – but early tests are good) and I’m in the middle of building one for my department. In short: they’re great. I’ll tell you more about them hopefully in a couple of weeks (when we start talking publicly* about them) but in the meantime, go and look up some chatbot-building services.

They’re really, really interesting.

In the interim, here are a couple of chatbot-related pieces that I’ve read this week.

First is ‘The Humans Hiding Behind the Bots‘ –

Amy Ingram, the artificial intelligence personal assistant from startup, sounds remarkably like a real person. The company designed her to take on the mundane tasks of scheduling meetings and e-mailing about appointments. If a bot had access to your calendar and was cc-ed on correspondence, why couldn’t it do the work for you? After she made her debut in 2014, users praised her “humanlike tone” and “eloquent manners.” “Actually better than a human for this task,” a beta tester tweeted. But what most people don’t realize about this artificial intelligence is that it isn’t totally artificial: Behind almost every e-mail is an actual human—someone like 24-year-old Willie Calvin.

Awww yeah. that’s right. Some of those bots out there, they’re human.

Second up is ‘K I get Uber‘ – I’m pretty sure someone sent this to me and I’ve forgotten who (sorry) but this is less human-as-bot more human-wowed-by-bot. If you’re unclear of how bots will / can / are already changing the world we live in, read this piece from MG Siegler.


*when we do, I’ll publish the drafted post I have called something like ‘X things I’ve learnt while building my first chatbot’ -it’s a hoot!



Southern Rail is in the press a LOT at the moment. It’s basically the poorest excuse for a rail service ever. SO OF COURSE someone has turned it into a video game.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 00.55.00

Called ‘Southern Rail Tycoon’, this browser-based game (mobile-optimised – while you wait for your train to arrive) allows you to play the role of Southern Rail and your objective is to CANCEL ALL TRAINS.


Amazing. So cynical. So perfect.

Go play.


H/T Eurogamer.




A good thought piece on why (and how) Snapchat is becoming the default camera for many phone-owners.



I know a smart woman named Kate. Kate made a tumblr. It is amazing. Go look.

What’s it about? Clue’s in the name.



Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 01.15.36

I’ve not seen the new film yet (and I might – early reports are good) but this 9min look at How [the original] Ghostbusters Became Ghostbusters uses the screenplay as the central analysis and builds out exactly how it became the film that we all know and love. Specifically looking at the PREMISE as the DESIGNING PRINCIPLE.

It is excellent.


Bonuses this week are as follows:

It’s 01:24 and I’m signing off.

Whatley out.


PS. If you get this via email, hit reply and tell me something exciting.

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x