Five things on Friday on Sunday #295

Things of note for the week ending Sunday, May 5th, 2019.

Newsletter #295: Introduction


Well hello there.

Here are a few things in my head for the week of Justin Timberlake’s annual search bump on YouTube (completely true).

First thing in my head as I look toward the summer break (newbies, I tend to take July and August off writing FToF), is probably using some of my weekly email credits to give the newsletter mailing list a decent clean. I’m coming up on 2000 subscribers which, for those in the know, is tipping point over into Mailchimp Pro. The open rate hovers around 50-60% each week meaning there’s at least 500 or so folk who just aren’t reading – and why should I contribute to their email overload?

How exciting is newsletter admin? Not very, is the answer – so I’ll probably delete this whole paragraph (if I remember by the time I get to the end of this).

Second thing in my head is, of course, all the Facebook news. We’re at the end of the week and I would argue that most of the hot-takes that came in so soon after F8’s early announcements seemed to have missed the one major underlying sub-plot: the newsfeed as we know it is coming to an end. I’m still noodling on this and it might make its way into the trades next week (Hi Stephen – I have a pitch for you). We’ll see. I guess the underlying point is: if these changes come as a surprise then you’ve not been paying attention.

More to follow later in the week (maybe/hopefully).

Third and final thing. It’s Sunday at 733am as I write this section. It’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK. Meaning one thing and one thing only: if, like me, you have a Mon-Fri alarm set on your phone, now would be a really good time to turn that off.

Shall we crack on with the things? Let’s.

1. TONY SLATTERY

Growing up in the 90s and staying up late on a Friday night to watch Whose Line Is It Anyway was always a highlight of the week. Seeing Proops, Lawrence, and Slattery absolutely kill it week in week out in improv – IMPROV! – was a joy to behold.

Then Tony disappeared off our screens and, well, this is what happened next.

The best thing in the newsletter this week by a mile. Read it, then go and say hi to Tony on Twitter. He’s enjoying a resurgence right now – and long may it continue.

Here’s to Tony, here’s to Mark Michael Hutchinson, and here’s to unconditional love.

2. A SECTION DEDICATED TO A HANDFUL OF TUBE ADS I’VE SEEN RECENTLY

Changing jobs means changing commutes. The Digitas office over at Television Centre is reachable a number of ways the majority of which require a Tube journey.

Here are three ads that I’ve caught my eye recently. For no other reason than when you’re standing for 20mins and this is all you can see, you can’t help but think about where this stuff comes from and the choices made behind the work (well, I can’t).

AD ONE: THE BELGRAVIA CENTRE

There’s a lot to love here.

The white background. The arbitrary Month 1, Month 4, Month 8 steps. The weird growing font (actually maybe that’s a product message maybe).

The best bit? The social icons. From left to right we’ve got, Trustpilot, Facebook, Twitter, Google (Plus? – I mean it must be but it can’t be, surely?), YouTube, and Instagram. I mean, I acknowledge them as icons but they look like buttons I can’t push. ‘Click here to go to our Twitter page’ on a Tube ad. What do I use them for?

I’m so confused.

AD TWO: MORTAL KOMBAT 11

‘CRUSH SKULLS. NOT CANDY.’ – Great line. Liked that. A lot.

My brain went:
‘Oh because everyone is so used to playing Candy Crush on the Tube they should sort themselves out and play a proper game – like Mortal Kombat 11’.

But it went:
‘Yeah but it’s a console game so you can’t play it on the Tube, therefore, the comparison isn’t that great. Oh no hang on, it is headed to Nintendo Switch (or as the small print calls it ‘Switch Format’) and that is portable so the comparison does actually kind of work but the ad purposefully making the PS4 version the hero here and the ‘switch format’ release is only mentioned in the small print as coming out three weeks after everyone else – ugh, why am I over-thinking this?’

In short: nice. Does the job. But realistically, no one carries their PS4 on the Tube.

AD THREE: JUST EAT

‘Oh look! That one’s got my name in it’

Then I went down the rabbit hole of CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THIS APPEARED ON FACEBOOK? AND YOU HAD ACTUALLY SPOKEN ABOUT KFC THAT DAY? ALL KINDS OF MAD SHIZZLE WOULD BE FLYING AROUND YOUR HEAD, AMIRITE?

But it wasn’t on Facebook. It was on the Tube. Meaning it was just a coincidence.

Imagine that?

—–

Seen any good Tube ads lately? Have a strong opinion on some Out Of Home? Send it over. I think I’ve just about recovered from . So yeah, let’s give this one a shot.

3. ELLIPSES

This week, the Quartz obsession is three little dots that have come to mean so much and yet so little.

Fun fact: the first use ellipsis can be dated as far back as 1588.

Every day’s a school day.

Go read the obsession. Educate thyself (and be nerdy at parties)…

4. APPLE WANTS IT TO BE ILLEGAL FOR YOU TO FIX YOUR OWN PHONE.

“In recent weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for CompTIA, a trade organization that represents big tech companies, have been privately meeting with legislators in California to encourage them to kill legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics

The lobbyists brought an iPhone to the meetings and showed lawmakers and their legislative aides the internal components of the phone. The lobbyists said that if improperly disassembled, consumers who are trying to fix their own iPhone could hurt themselves by puncturing the lithium-ion battery

…In the past, Apple has lobbied against so-called right to repair legislation—which would require Apple and other electronics companies to sell repair parts and tools, and make diagnostic and repair information available to the general public.”


Those pieces there taken from this Motherboard article reporting on the lengths Apple will go to own the customer experience: rolling out consumer lock-in at every available opportunity.

Absolutely mental.

And completely par for the course for Apple. The ‘Right to Repair’ movement (how this is even a thing I don’t know) is why you all read about farmers in Nebraska hacking their tractors with Ukranian firmware (FToF #248) 18mths ago. And now it looks like the bill is on hold thanks to the vague fears that Apple + co has allegedly planted in the aforementioned lawmakers.

I read something yonks ago about how a new generation of hardware is changing repair shops across the globe (FROM a piece of tech put together by people and machines that can be taken apart, tinkered with and put back together again TO a sealed glass artefact that can only be accessed by the right plug and software) and now even the new tools are being suppressed… it does not bode well for the future.

Reminds me of when yours truly used to hang out at the Tuttle Club and repair people’s phones in the corner…

Pasty little fella back then – can you name the phones tho?

Point is, specialist skills and repair knowledge is becoming sparse and the arbiters of the tools required are now at the point where they’d *use actual legislation* to prevent people (that SPENT OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS on a piece of technology THAT THEY OWN THEMSELVES) ever actually getting under the hood of the thing. Yeah, as I said – completely mental.


Can we ever trust technology? Forget the tech, it’s the people behind it all that should have you worried…

5. REUTERS, NETFLIX, AND THE PROBLEM WITH BAD HEADLINES

Last week this headline was everywhere:

If you’ve not seen the show or heard of it before, the Netflix series is a teen drama about a girl who takes her own life and leaves 13 cassette tapes explaining her reasons why. It is mostly experienced through the eyes of her best friend, Clay, who listens to all of the tapes episode by episode and gets to understand the series of events that led to Hannah’s decision. That decision – the act and the impact thereof – is not shied away from. I’ve seen it and it is a hard watch.

Speaking about, dealing with, addressing suicide in any way is really hard. Of course it is. Media representations even more so. In the few brushes I’ve had with it in my life, the damage it can wreak is unconscionable. The pain and subsequent scarring it leaves behind – physically and mentally – are almost impossible to address. It is hard to quantify. Hard to qualify. The guilt. The anger. The loss. All of it.

When 13RW first arrived on our screens, there was a bit of press pushback ‘This will romanticize suicide!’ they said, and at first take at the headline above, it would seem it has done just that.

But that is a bad headline. Because while correlation MAY have been found, causation has not. Reuters does eventually explain this in the article *in the fourth paragraph* – however in the only-read-the-headline-quick-better-tweet-that-and-get-people-stupid-angry* online world of today, this is irresponsible reporting. In short: you kinda expect more from Reuters.

Buzzfeed News on the other hand? They went with this:

An infinitely better headline that gets to the point at hand faster and with care.

I told you about Danny Wallace and his thing about how we’re all reacting more, thinking less. This story – this headline – is one of those examples where that has happened. Irresponsible click-bait is bad. So it falls on us, the consumers of this media to think more, react less.

The Buzzfeed piece is worth a read by the way.

Suicide btw? Not great.

You wanna talk about it ever, there are sources online for that. But if you want to talk to someone else other than CALM or The Samaritans, and maybe compare notes or whatever, you can hit that reply button.

THE ESSENTIALS:

The Essentials are the weekly links to the #MeToo movement. Any article. Any press. Any story. Any white male firing. If it happens, it’s here.

YOU’RE SO CLOSE TO THE END YOU CAN ALMOST SMELL IT. THE THINGS ARE GONE, WE’RE PAST THE ESSENTIALS, WHICH MEANS YOU’RE INTO THE FINAL SLOG. THE ENDGAME. THE BONUS SECTION OF BONUS THINGS.

LET’S DO THIS.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x