Five things on Friday #307

Things of note for the week ending Friday, January 10th, 2020.

Newsletter #307: Introduction

Hello and welcome to issue three hundred and seven of Five things on Friday.

Happy New Year.

It’s been 13 weeks since my last missive. Normally, when I miss a week or two I never explain and I never apologise. But this thing, this newsletter, is a two way contract I guess. You give me your email address (and weekly(ish) space in your inbox) and I in turn give you five things of interest every Friday.

But as it says in the small print it: ‘It doesn’t always come on Friday but there’s always more than five’

This email takes, on average, around 2-4hrs a week to write. Not including research. I didn’t have any kind of weekly rhythm for it however, as regular readers will know, more often than not this email would arrive on a Sunday night when I finally had the time to sit down and write the thing. In fact, the last FToF that went out was sent on Sunday October 13th. That says it all really.

Back when I hit send on that last edition, my other half half casually half seriously mentioned how much time it was taking away from the family. Three hours, when you’re working 35-40hrs a week (pitches/travel not included), and all the main time you have with your young family is small moments in the evenings and weekends… then spending 3hrs of a Sunday night writing FToF suddenly shoots to the bottom of the list. The clarity of my partner’s point stopped me dead.

And with it, my writing.

With the extended break both from FToF and work (17 days off for Christmas – how lucky?!) behind me, the words have started to itch at my fingertips again and here we are.

As I write this intro, it is Monday Jan 6th. Around 1835. I’m on a plane. And I’m writing Five things on Friday. This is alright. This is good. But before this starts again, a new rule is needed for for 2020.

*If I can’t write it in the time when I’m not with my family then it doesn’t go out.*

And I don’t think many of you would disagree with that – if any.

What else can I tell you?

1. We’re still on Mailchimp. The irony of having to pay for the service only to stop using it for 13 weeks is not lost on me. But I’ll get around to moving it. At some point.

2. I unpinned the ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ tweet from my Twitter and yet I still gained just over a hundred new readers. HOW?! Kind of you all to subscribe to something that wasn’t actually live. And doubly kind of others to share and recommend this far and wide. Too kind.

3. In related ‘Mad that this stuff happens when you actually STOP writing’ – TWO sponsorship offers have come in. They are both under consideration.

4. I am now 40yrs old. That was nice.

5. Finally, thank you to the handful of you that checked in with me – either email or DM or WhatsApp – to see if a) I was OK or b) I had unsubscribed you (HA! – as if). All is well and writing has returned. It feels good to be back 🙂

And with that, shall we crack on with the things?



Nothing quite like kicking off the year with a bit of absolutely batsheeeeet display of technology that makes you realise we really are living in the future.

Imagine a billboard or a display that could show individual messages personally tailored to the viewer. Now imagine that display being able to do this with multiple viewers AT THE SAME TIME.

Like this?

Albert and Harry look at the same sign. Harry sees X, Albert sees Y.

Science fiction, right?

Of course the first use shown is for flight details but then your brain turns to dark thoughts such as ‘THINK OF THE ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES!’ (major Minority Report vibes, amirite?) and THEN, once the ads are gone and done, just THINK about how this could be use for nefarious purposes?!

Technology that can change its message depending on the individual?

Can you imagine?

Read the whole story over at Fast Company.


“Picture this.

You’re on a hugely inefficient Dutch bike with a comically large basket. It’s a Wednesday lunchtime and it’s absolutely pissing it down.

You’re going at decent speed: it’s Whitechapel High Street. Too fast, you’ll skid. Too slow, and the road rage directed at you would have you feel as though you’re on the wrong side of natural selection.

Completely seduced by a hefty and heavily-sauced kebab, a large teenage boy steps into the road. It was your green light.

Front brakes slam.

In the next few seconds, which feel like an eternity, you experience the wonder of flight. One of those moments that lasts a few seconds but feels like forever – like going through customs, even when you don’t have contraband. And then you land, with absolutely no grace, partially on the road, partially on the kerb, and partially in the teenager’s kebab that he was so enjoying. There’s a bit of blood, but it’s mostly orange burger sauce on your not-so-ladder-free tights.”

Sara continues, over at The Drum.

PS. If you liked Sara’s words here, you might like her other recent piece on mental health advertising.


In this semi-regular section we take a look at recent Facebook occurrences, point, laugh, maybe gawp in shock… and then carry on using and selling its platforms and services as usual.

Cognitive dissonance – do you have it?


Long time readers will be aware of my previous links and love for all things Teen Vogue. Back when Lauren Duca was absolutely killing it there with her political analyses and reader education – Teen Vogue was THE PLACE to go for great writing and thoughtful POVs on the hell-on-a-handcart state of US politics.

Literally pick any article from this list.

But then today, this happened!

I’d link you to the story itself but as you’ll soon discover – it has been deleted! I was going to write out the whole absolute mess of a misinformation timeline (Denials! Sponsored Content! Bylines! Sheryl Sandberg!) but Gizmodo has done a much better job already.

Go read it and then laugh your backside off when you get to Ben Collins’ tweet embedded in the linked article. ELL. OH. ELL.


Did you know that on Monday, Facebook updated its policy when in regards to DEEPFAKERY. In a post entitled ‘Enforcing against Manipulated Media‘, Facebook’s VP of Global Policy Management, Monkia Bickert (remember her? From May 2019? Arguing with Anderson Cooper about… fake video content?) outlined the stipulations thus:

“[Today we] are strengthening our policy toward misleading manipulated videos that have been identified as deepfakes. Going forward, we will remove misleading manipulated media if it meets the following criteria:

  • It has been edited or synthesized – beyond adjustments for clarity or quality – in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say. And:

  • It is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.

This policy does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words.”

The world is not ready for Deepfakes. Governments aren’t ready. Legislation isn’t ready. The tech to detect it probably is but like all things, it’ll end up beatable. This SHOULD be seen as a good thing.

But YET AGAIN Facebook fails to push this one to anywhere meaningful. The clip I linked to above – from May 2019 – was in relation to the edited Nancy Pelosi video that was published on Facebook. This video would not be taken down under this policy. Only new or fake words will be removed. Real words, re-ordered or edited, are allowed to stay…

The stupid. It hurts.

The Verge has as a decent take on this and there’s also great discourse and discussion to be found in this thread (and sub-threads; click around).


I’m this far in and I don’t know if I can even be bothered with this one. In short, well known Facebook senior exec and all round good pal of The Zuck wrote a long memo. The NY Times got a hold of it and printed the main thrust of it. They then followed up on that and published the whole damn thing (it’s worth a read). The Outline wrote a great response piece which kinda lays it all bear.

But the absolute high point of the whole thing – for me at least – is this section from the memo. The bit where.. hang on, I’ll show you.

There. I’ve highlighted it for you. The bit where a senior exec at Facebook demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of his own platform.



A later entry in at number four; arriving just as we were going to press*, Facebook is running anti-vax ads – and has no plans to remove them.

Woop woop!

*press – as in press the button to schedule this newsletter, this isn’t The Daily Planet, Janine.


If you read this newsletter for occasional video game thoughts, then you might be interested to know or see how I’m getting on with Google Stadia.

Yes, I did get one. No, I did not cancel my pre-order.

Here it is in all its glory.

So the big question:

If you were to ask me today, ‘Should I get Google Stadia?’ my response would be ‘If you’re a Destiny nut, with a solid internet connection at all times, and you’re looking for a back-up way to play then maybe you should consider it – but do your research

Outside of that, it’s broadly a negatory.

The product is half-baked, unfinished, and not ready for mass-consumption. At the time of writing, I’m no longer using mine as the X button on the controller has started to jam up. Google is replacing it, several questions asked -but still, faff. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of a console having such a godawful launch before (I mean, this is just silly).

If you’re interested, I’m keeping a semi-live diary/thread of my first three months with Stadia over on Twitter.

Any questions on it? Fire them over. There, or hit reply here.

Either works.

Did you get Stadia? Add me if you like, Stadia name ‘Whatleydude’ (obvs).


The title says it all.

Go spoil yourself.


Not many this week but it was do this or make it five hundred long…

Last updated by at .

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