Five things on Friday (on Monday) #327

Things of note for the week ending, Monday March 28th, 2022


“At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you”

Hello, friend.

A shorter/ish edition this week. The other half has been a bit under the weather and as such, the downtime for writing and collating has been relatively minimal. In sickness and in health and all that.

I hope you’ve had a decent week. I’m coming up on month one in the new role and reflecting on what it means to be a first-time CSO. The responsibility. The ambition. The sense of duty.

Perhaps a longer noodle for another day.

For now, though, I’d be interested in hearing about your lessons from stepping up into a new role. Best advice you took, the best lesson you learned, anything and everything is welcome. I’ll pull some quotes into the noodle (and attribute you, unless you prefer not to be).

Let’s see where that ends up.

On that note, I’ve just glanced at my notes for THING 4 and maybe this edition won’t be so short after all.

I guess there’s only one way to find out…


PS. FTOF was finished late last night and scheduled to publish at 7am this morning. Turns out if you don’t tick the ‘send email’ box when you schedule, the email doesn’t send – who knew?!


As I write this to you right now, it’s 21:29 on the evening of Sunday March 29th. My notes tell me that THING ONE this week should be a FastCompany article I read earlier this week ‘What happened to Starbucks? How a progessive company lost its way’ (which is still worth reading, btw) but earlier this evening we sat down to watch Amol Rajan Interviews Sharon White – chairman of the John Lewis Partnership (available on the UK on iPlayer) and it is such a fantastic watch I really can’t recommend it enough.

I’ve seen a handful of Rajan’s interviews (and iPlayer tells me I’ve missed more than that however his Sundar Pichai episode sticks out in memory as a good’un) and he is excellent in this format. But that’s not the point of this. The point is Dame Sharon White – who is heart and mind shine through as an exemplar of great leadership looks like. Openly disagreeing with Rajan within the first ten minutes and speaking on matters that clearly mean something to her, and to her staff/partners, it’s an engaging watch. And to think of the background with it?

This image, shown about 20mins in, is barely on the screen for seconds but speaks volumes.

Take some time out and spend 59mins watching it. And maybe watch some more.

Another final highlight? Years ago, when I made it onto the Marketing Academy Scholarship. The brilliant Sherilyn Shackell stood in front of us all and said ‘Leaders are not defined by quarterly earnings or by 3% growth this year or that… truly great leadership is about the leaders you leave behind you’ – there’s a moment towards the end of the programme where White casually lets this slip, that it’s about the seeds that you plant and the talent that grows, that fills the heart.

And reminds you of what leadership is all about.


You know when you think ‘Well, that sounds like a good idea’ but then… it isn’t?

“Until we buy into the idea that we need to sort out the unsexy problems before the sexy ones, we’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes,” says Mateen. “It’s unacceptable if it doesn’t happen. To forget the lessons of this pandemic is disrespectful to those who passed away.”

In a sobering and somewhat depressing read, this MIT Technology Review piece compares and constrasts the multiplicity of AI tools that were rushed into development when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

As it turns out, if lots of people set out on their own to try solve a global problem on their own, they’re destined to make the same mistakes.

Teamwork makes the dream work, right?


This week in gaming: a mini five things!

  1. ELDEN RING still has me in its blood-drenched grip. I say again: subscribe to my Twitch channel to watch me die and make such incredible mistakes as this wonderful gamplay that one of my ahem, FANS, clipped earlier this week. As an aside, I beat the Tree Sentinel this week (if you know, you know) and I HAD AN ACTUAL ENDORPHIN RUSH LIKE I HAD JUST RUN 15K AND WHAT. Now I know why people play From Software games. Just wow.

  2. Confirming: I will be at the WASD Video Games Expo next month. Thursday and Saturday. Diva is a sponsor (main stage + industry drinks) but I am not on commission – I just want to see some friendly faces. If it helps, you can get 10% off your ticket price by using the friends of Diva code DIVA22 at checkout. See you there?

  3. Completed the new raid on Destiny 2. Big deal (for me at least).

  4. I’m also getting into and really enjoying Gran Turismo 7. It’s super relaxing and the graphics are ridiculous. Related: My friend Olly shared this film me earlier this week, ‘The evolution of Deep Forest in Gran Turismo, 1997-2022’. Which is a) GREAT and b) exactly the insight that led to the idea behind this film we made for Honda F1 way back when.

  5. I opened with Elden Ring so I’ll be closing with it as well. When someone says ‘Hey, why don’t we make a podcast with all the insane Elden Ring rage from WhatsApp voice notes. Mixed with music and silly levels of silliness…’ then you might like this. You might not. Will there be an episode 2? Who knows.

Oh, and we are now a four Switch household.


When you start your week thinking: ‘Y’know what, maybe this Friday I won’t have to write about some idiot’s latest interpretation of the metaverse’ and then someone tweets the below into your timeline? Well, it’s only down from there.


Ignoring the above for a moment, I regret to inform you I have had “the conversation” again.

What is “the conversation”, I hear you ask? The Conversation is when someone tries to convince me that NFTs are the future of gaming because ‘WHAT IF’ (and it always starts with ‘what if’ – because what use are those words unless they’re doing Atlassian levels of heavy lifting), what if digital items you bought in a game, could be OWNED by a player. Could be taken to ANOTHER GAME by a player. Could be SOLD ON by a player on the blockchain. Now look, let’s be clear, I know for those things to happen this technology needs to be in place and yes, blockchain technology is foundational to making this a reality.

But please.

In a world where at a dinner party just last week I hear ‘Oh, you’re on Android… that’s why I had to use WhatsApp to message you [oh, why’s that? iMessage doesn’t work with their kind of phone]’ we’re expected to believe the interoperable magic of “THE METAVERSE” will make NFTs in-game “just work” – are you insane?

Remember, green bubbles exist for a reason.

And yet, here we are with people still positing the argument of ‘But wHaT iF you could purchase clothes and transfer them to other games and take them with you and sell them on’ – as if EVERY SINGLE THING THAT TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS SCREAM AT YOU IS ABOUT CONSUMER LOCK-IN. You can’t even embed an Instagram photo in a Tweet anymore. Lol, what.

How’s this? The only reason we all use USB-C these days is because the EUROPEAN UNION made it THE LAW. That’s right! It took actual legal intervention to ensure that the UNIVERSAL part of U.S.B. was actually a thing.


Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, that was the intro.

This week’s Metaverse section is about REPORTS

The Gartner Report ‘What is a Metaverse?’. A report from where the opening ‘diagram’ of this section is from is only worth reading because it says ‘Refrain from heavy investment’ and I think that’s about the only good thing there.

Metaverse. Gartner says: ‘Refrain from heavy investment’. Frame it.

The Game Developer Conference State of the Industry (GDC SOTI). I’ve featured this before (FTOF #322) but maybe some of y’all missed it. It was GDC this week and and while I didn’t make it out myself, I thought I’d go back and re-read it (full transparency: I blame “the conversation”).

Yes, it came out a couple of months ago and some may consider it ‘old news’ but as all this metaverse nonsense continues creating froth for consultants to drown client budgets in, it’s worth *once again* taking a look at where the true leaders in this space – games developers and publishers – are bottoming out.

In the first instance, I strongly recommend you spend some time with the report yourself. It’s a fascinating read and acts a snapshot in time of exactly what is (and isn’t) keeping over 2700 developers up at night.

That’s the hook: 2700 developers. Because reader, I am tired of being told by people who have never spent any amount of time this space trying to tell people that are in this space how this space will work in the future.

The reason for the re-share? This [tweet]:


When you look at the report, and again I recommend you do, you’ll understand I’m being selective with what I’m sharing. However, these are quotes from games developers:

“I’d rather not endorse burning a rainforest down to confirm someone ‘owns’ a jpeg.”

“Burn ‘em to the ground. Ban everyone involved in them. I work at an NFT company currently and am quitting to get away from it.”

As I’ve said in this newsletter on few occasions now, when you move past the self-serving Meta-mixed manure around tHe MeTaVeRsE and listen to the people who have been making metaversal experiences for decades now, you begin to understand that… well, what you’re being told by everyone invested in the future of it all probably isn’t what is actually going to happen (this tee being widely ridiculed at GDC should scream it out loud).

The grift is real.

Crypto, Web 3, and The Metaverse – a policy briefing published by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, Cambridge.


[I]t is important to note that the metaverse does not yet exist. Mark Zuckerberg’s presentation on the metaverse at the 2021 Connect conference and the re-branding of Facebook, Inc. to Meta Platforms, Inc. have encouraged commentators to describe existing VR applications – including those available through Meta’s Oculus headsets – as manifestations of the metaverse. This is incorrect, as such applications are neither persistent (because they reset when users quit them), nor interoperable (because they are siloed and it is not possible to move seamlessly between them). So, unlike the other concepts and technologies described in this paper, the metaverse can only be discussed in terms of its potential.”

No further questions your honour.

Oh. Last thing. It’s been metaverse fashion week this week. The fact this is news to you tells you exactly how important that was.

Shall we move on?

5. MEN

Alex Garland is back.

Watch the Trailer.

It looks grim.


And very Alex Garland.

Here for it.





Only thing I want to leave you with this week is this:

Go and listen to some Amy Winehouse. I saw her at Glastonbury, years ago. And after catching some impressions of her on a godawful TV show on Saturday… which even now felt too soon, I felt like I owe it to her to go back and re-listen to her incredible voice. She misses you.

Whatley out x

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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

3 thoughts on “Five things on Friday (on Monday) #327”

  1. I have so many thoughts on taking a new role (these are based on my career pivot to a whole new function/sector in the last year), but here are just a few: Use the enthusiastic newcomer status to ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS. I wanted to quickly learn a ton and know how to do things right, and this also helped me to build the confidence to start proposing new approaches.
    But how to ask all the questions without constantly pinging rando chat messages or emails to people? We ended up setting regular office hours where I could just save up all of my Q’s to discuss, and it made for lots of great convos while also ensuring I didn’t feel like I was interrupting other colleagues.
    Also, I love what being exposed to so much “new-ness” does to the brain, the joy of learning and discovery and everything suddenly clicking.

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