About James WHATLEY

Here are my most recent posts

On Gaming.

At the end of last year I made the decision to actively take a step back from “Strategy Twitter“. The White Male Opinions™️ can get tiresome – and they nearly always follow the same pattern. It’s telling that the last – I think five? – muted accounts on Twitter all fall under that description. There’s nothing quite like opening Twitter, seeing something decent, you click to open the thread, and before you know it there are three white male opinions arguing over the semantics or, y’know, ‘playing devil’s advocate’. Y-a-w-n. So this year I made the choice to lean into my passion, and tweet/write about gaming instead.

So here’s some stuff on that.

I’m not sure when it started.

Well, that’s not true. I do know when it actually started. The Atari 5200 was when it started. Specifically, this model (because I can just about make out the far reaches of my memory the overlay cards for the joysticks).

They were fascinating.

I barely remember the games. I think we had ET (who didn’t?), a tank game as well, definitely. It was my sister’s machine, not mine, but that’s when it started.

No, I mean leaning in to gaming and making it more of who I am and what I put out into the world.

Three things maybe.

First: I’ve always been a gamer. Atari 5200. Nintendo Entertainment System (the ‘NES’), then the SNES, GameCube (this was when the online fun started – finding friends on forums that had bought an Action Replay, subsequently imported Animal Crossing and then got themselves banned from the official Nintendo forums for trading pink sofas on a game not out in the UK – you know who you are), then the Wii, Xbox 360 (I was a signed up Wii60er), then the PS4 – my first PlayStation – and up to now, where I’m old enough and earn enough for it to be: ‘yeah, just about everything but PC’.

But that brief history is a) not why we’re here and b) a longer post for another day. The point is: I’ve always been a gamer.

Second: It’s true to say that the arrival of the PS4 unlocked a new community of gaming and gamers for me. From forums to Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats to annual IRL meetups – the community of people I game with are second to none. This is helpful because it’s also true to say that a mental health problem a few years back gave me time to explore and dive into spending more time with and understanding myself. Gaming – and the friends I found there – was a part of that too.

Fast forward to today and I have a solid clan of good people, a healthy rhythm of play, and access to amazing games with challenges and gameplay loops that forge long-lasting friendships and memories.

But what else of today? Well, in case you’ve missed it (or frankly, just simply been unable to get your hands on one yet) there’s the next generation of consoles arriving. Hella useful when there’s a global requirement for something to do when you can’t go outside.

Combine that with [the rest of the world waking up to] “GAMING” as an entertainment format coming of age – which leads me to my third thing – it means there’s a level of social acceptance that comes with owning up to being ‘a gamer’.

I mean, there’s ‘I play a bit of FIFA at the weekend’ levels of being a gamer, and then there’s ‘I play so much Destiny that I’ve got a dedicated game night, a handful of real-life medals, and a raid jacket‘. It’s all gaming. From a skillset perspective, I would still argue I’m bang average but on the spectrum of casual-hardcore, I’m definitely to the right of centre.

But it doesn’t matter where you sit, it’s all gaming. And that’s the point. People that gatekeep on streaming, on communities, on ‘hardcore’ vs ‘casuals’ can all get in the bin.

In short: Gaming is fun. Online play mean it’s more sociable than ever; yes couch co-op games are still great (albeit uncommon) but the abundance of online play/chat/team games means you can jump on at any time of the day and find people to play with.

Gaming is more accessible than ever. Yes, we’re in the middle (tail end? – Ed) of a global chip shortage, and yes the new consoles aren’t exactly cheap but there are options available for everyone. Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, cheap Ps4s the Xbox Series S, hell, even Google Stadia – are all different/accessible (read: cheap) ways to dip your toes in and try it. The days of spending hundreds and hundreds of pounds on consoles and games to play on them are – if you want them to be – long gone.

And Gaming is more acceptable than ever. I read this great quote in the FT a few months back, from game designer Jenova Chen:

“You don’t ask someone, ‘Do you watch movies?’ or ‘Do you listen to music?’ You just ask what kind they like. One day, we will simply ask each other: ‘What kind of games do you play?’” This day now seems closer than ever.”

I talk about gaming to friends, family, and colleagues. The eye rolls still happen, yes – and that’s fine – but not as often as they used to. Social acceptance is growing. Hurrah! Although, hilariously, if you’d asked me what I thought of ‘the casual gamer’ and the popularity of gaming growing massively (broadly I would argue thanks to PlayStation making it cool) 20 years ago, I probably would’ve growled something grumpy like ‘Rah rah rah, Nintendo is the best’. Thankfully I’m past that now.

For me, the popularity of gaming means I can embrace my passion and talk about it freely and openly.

And the best part? Very occasionally, I get to overlap it with my other my passion: my day job.

Writing is thinking. And being asked* to write – to think – about the thing I enjoy most in my spare time is ace.

Be that wanging on about the popularity of Animal Crossing OR deep-diving and celebrating what passionate gaming communities can do when they put their hearts and minds to it OR having a long look at why Xbox vs PlayStation is about to be more exciting than it’s ever been OR examining who has what edge when it comes to the forthcoming game-streaming wars OR simply sharing my gaming exploits with my friends and followers – it all floats my boat.

My point is: this isn’t one of those articles about ‘What games mean for brands’, or ‘top ten things marketers can learn from gaming’ (There are loads of those and if you look hard enough, you might actually find a good one – no promises though).

Far from it.

This is simply a call to arms for you. If you’ve never tried gaming before, now is the perfect time to give it a go.

If you’re a lapsed gamer, it’s time to get back in again.

The water has never been better.

See you there? x

*I don’t always have to be asked.

On Writing.

I used to write a newsletter.

I guess I still do. Just not recently. Last year, post-pandemic, I count seven editions. This year we have a grand total of one

For a ‘weekly’ publication, that’s not exactly regular.

March 23rd, 2020. We all know and remember that’s when the UK went into lockdown. Since then I’ve been back into the office I think five times? Twice for a shoot, once for a pitch, then twice to see (and in some cases, meet for the first time) my team. 

I do not miss the commute. I know I am not alone in this, not by any stretch. The benefits of working from home (higher productivity, deep work) far outweigh those of being in the office every day (commute, open-plan offices) – I can’t ever imagine going back to the ‘old’ normal ever again.

Incredible really. 

Being able to close my laptop at 6pm, immediately cuddle my children, start [a proper] dinner, and generally enjoy an evening at home with the family; that holds immense value for me.

But of course, that benefit comes at a cost: the 90-120mins a day of ‘dead’ time on the train/tube/walk of a commute mind, that’s where I did the thinking. The reading. The mental drafting and percolating of words, thoughts, and provocations that would ultimately wind up in an edition of Five Things on Friday.

And that’s gone now.

Not for good. But it’s telling that having travelled to and from the office twice over the past fortnight, there are words available at the end of these fingers once more.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Throughout all this I’ve kept my job, the roof over my head, and – frankly – my life.

But today, today I’m allowing myself to miss writing.

Because I do.

I am in no rush to return to the office. But when I do (at least part-time) then maybe the words will return with it.

12 things I learnt taking 12 months off the ‘gram.

Reproduced from an original article published on Medium, Dec 30th, 2020.

12 months ago I posted my last in-feed photo on Instagram.

It was, like so many others around that time, a ‘Top Nine’; the nine MOST-LIKED photos from my feed throughout that year.

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Instagram, #TopNine2019 — @whatleydude

8/9 family. 1/9 work. That’s a good balance, I’d say.

A few days after that I posted – and pinned – an ‘end of year review’ to my stories and then after that… promptly uninstalled the app.

One month or so prior my other half, (pictured top left, 319 likes), shared with me a quote from Matt Haig’s Notes from a Nervous Planet:

“An online profile of your best friend is not your best friend. A status update about a day in the park is not a day in the park. And the desire to tell the world about how happy you are, is not how happy you are”

It stuck with me.

And so at the end of 2019, I thought I’d take the damn thing off my phone and just see. Could I do a year without Instagram?

Spoiler: I did. And you can too.

So here, as promised, are:

12 THINGS I LEARNT TAKING 12 MONTHS OFF THE GRAM

THING 1.

I didn’t miss it that much.

This is interesting to me. I thought I would. Like I really would. I thought removing the app from my phone would be one of those things that I’d try for a bit and then eventually crumble again for, I don’t know, work reasons or something. Truth be told, I did have to visit the platform a couple of times to preview some builds for work but nothing further than that — and virtually all of that through the web interface.

Point being: it was easy.

Much easier than I thought it’d be.

THING 2.

Seriously, I didn’t miss it at all.

I remember when I first signed up for Instagram (August 2011 — a photo of a Green Goblin action figure, 5 likes), I think I was convincing myself that it was a great place for photographic creative expression.

And I guess for a while I think it was. But then you find yourself in the early hours, trapped in the endless scrolling of the never-ending feed, either looking at what other people are doing, or seeing if that latest exquisite framing of a great sandwich has got… just… one… more… like… than the last one, or just checking your activity page to see if you have any new followers.

This is not healthy.

And for why?

In Cal Newport’s excellent book, Deep Work, he asks the question (admittedly of a journalist’s Twitter usage):

“Why are [they] urged to regularly interrupt their deep work to provide, for free, shallow content to a service run by an unrelated media company based out of silicon valley?”

It’s an adjacent point but one I am drawn to from time to time. You see what I mean? Why are you doing this? Why is anyone doing this?

I enjoy the creative expression. But if I’m pouring it into Instagram then where isn’t it going instead?

THING 3.

You don’t actually MISS much.

For transparency, I re-downloaded the app earlier today (I’d forgotten the password — of course) to see exactly what I had missed.

Turns out I had nine unread notifications. Of those notifications, three were posts that people had shared with me directly, one actual Direct Message (we’ll come back to this) and five ‘X has mentioned you in their story’ — an entirely useless notification anything later than 24hrs after it happened.

Why? Because I click on them and I literally see… this:

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Useful Content™

Like. What?

So while I may have missed the occasional engagement announcement from that person I once met at an after-meeting drinks thing, or a Stories Mention (what even do those two words together mean) from someone that I’m hanging out with telling me that they’re hanging out with me… I think I’ve done alright here? Yes my life doesn’t revolve around instagram and it turns out when you remove it from your life, life goes on!

Both on Instagram and off.

And if people want you — you specifically — to know stuff, they’ll tell you.

THING 4.

The platform kinda sucks now?

I installed the app this afternoon to take a proper look at what I had missed. The new dark mode looks L U S H on my phone’s OLED screen, that’s nice. But the muscle memory instantly went click on the ‘Activity’ on the bottom nav and, oh look, Facebook has switched it with ‘Shop’.

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Hmm. Crispy blacks.

I understand that this is a dark pattern of some kind and I also understand I am VERY LATE to this party. But still. It sucks! And no matter how Facebook paints the decision, it is clear to everyone why it was done and what the ambition was. It’s all just so transparent.

Speaking of things that suck.

THING 5

My God the ads get worse.

You saw that one above right? So far today in feed-ads I’ve seen: crap for extendable desks, crap for bikes, crap for… WhatsApp? And just more crap. It’s a photography platform. Create ads that look like gorgeous photography maybe? Can it be that hard? Apparently: yes.

Actually, no. It’s not about making things hard it’s about what Facebook makes easy. Facebook makes it easy to run the same ad across all of Facebook’s platforms with just one click. So why bother making something platform-specific when platform-agnostic (and screw the user experience!) is so much quicker?

And don’t even get me started on Stories.

Image for post

I used to run a Tumblr aaaaages ago, called ‘Instagram ads are awful’ — I don’t think much has changed. I’m sure there are some great ones but aye carumba they are drowned out by the dross.

Dross that appears after every fourth post.

I know this is veering into old man shouts at cloud territory but I work in this stuff and man alive I wish people would just. stop. with. the. bad.

THING 6

None of it matters.

This too shall pass. And people will remember you for the things you did, not the photos you posted or that amazing Stories compilation you nailed.

THING 7

It changes the way you look at social apps.

For background, I think I took Facebook off my phone shortly after the ‘Sorry, didn’t we mention we use your 2FA for targeting advertising?’ debacle (but then again it might’ve been sooner. Given how much I’ve written about how they simply cannot be trusted, like, with anything). So when’s that? 2018?

Possibly even earlier.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use the platform; exclusively on web and almost exclusively for groups (work, gaming, and smart people — w_w). Those conversations are valuable, yes, but the app actually being on my phone is too high a cost for that, thanks.

For Twitter, I have an on/off love affair with how I have it installed or not. And that changes from time to time. I’m relatively self-aware of how much time I spend on these things so if I catch myself spending too much time on it, I’ll take it off.

If idiocy levels get too high, if strat-gash gets too much, or if a firetruck load of muppetry gets delivered to my feed… then Twitter gets uninstalled.

Twitter is not currently installed on my phone.

TikTok was on for a short while but OH MY GOD WHAT A TIME SUCK so I had to that off as well. My children (combined TopNine score: 435 likes) need my time, not TikTok. I get it, I understand it, I read about it — I just don’t need it in my life right now.

So my point is, until earlier today when I installed Instagram back on my phone, I didn’t have any social apps installed at all.

And I didn’t realise how good that felt until I did.

By moving all social apps to web-only experiences, you’re removing some data-syphons, some terrible features (looking at you, Fleets), huge memory sponges on your device, and — perhaps most importantly of all, no notifications whatsoever. You decide when to look (or not).

No one else. Just you.

Freeing. Utterly freeing. I simply cannot recommend it enough.

And I think that’s what I might aim to do for 2021: try and spend the year with no social apps installed at all (almost impossible, given my job — but still, a healthy ambition nonetheless).

THING 8

Life is better without it.

Tim Urban, the amazing author of the Wait But Why website has written about this at length. This image (one of many) encapsulates a lot about why people feel the way they feel. Look.

Image for post

You can read the whole article right here.

And you should.

Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. My own version of that is simply ‘Never measure yourself with someone else’s yardstick’. Either way, by removing the platform from your life, you stop being Lucy and you can start being you again.

THING 9

Practical one this: If you’re going to leave a platform, and really mean it — then you should definitely tell people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand those people that flounce off platforms at the drop of a hat (only to return <12hrs later). And there’s that tired old trope of ‘If you leave a platform and tell anybody about it, have you even left?’ BUT BUT BUT… hear me out!

I had to send a handful of messages this afternoon each saying ‘Hey, I’ve only just seen this! Sorry!’ and actually mean it — which is as hilarious as it is ridiculous:

‘Hi friend, this DM you sent me in July, what was the context? Can I help at all now… six months later?’ (this is a real thing that happened).

I guess if my last post on Instagram had said ‘Hi, I’m taking 2020 OFF this platform — if you need, send me a WhatsApp, thanks!’ then maybe that would’ve been helpful? Shame you can’t set an auto-responder or an out of office for these things.

I think I’m going to add one more post to my gram, in the short term — saying just that. Yes, that might be useful.

Point is: if you’re leaving, tell people.

Even if it is subject to tiresome mocking.

THING 10

2020 was a stellar year to not be doing the gram.

In these uNpReCeDeNtEd TiMeS, going on Insta and talking about how great your life is and how well you’re doing is… kinda gross?

Amanda Hess wrote in March about how ‘Celebrity Culture is Burning’, highlighting just how brilliant/disgusting it was to see/read/hear about what the ‘slebs were doing to help people STAY SAFE.

“Staying home is my superpower,” the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot reported from her walk-in closet. Ryan Reynolds urged his fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his rustic loft…

…Ellen DeGeneres is going “stir-crazy” from having to stay inside her enormous home; Katy Perry has lost track of the days she’s spent inside her enormous home…

Madonna, performing for the public and holding fans in her thrall is yet “another luxury gone, for now,” she says in one video. In its place is the disturbing sensation of normalcy. “The audience in my house is not amused by me,” she says. Later, from the bath, she concludes that Covid-19 is “the great equalizer.”

Sublime. Incredible. And distasteful AF.

The lack of self-awareness is sublime.

THING 11

You should probably print more photos.

When I were a lad, you’d take photos on your camera and then take the film to Boots to get developed and then a few days later (or an hour if you paid extra) you’d get your pack of photos back, pick out the best ones for your wall/album, then chuck the rest (either in the bin or in the drawer with all the others).

Not being on Instagram didn’t stop me from taking photos (or sharing them, tbh — I’m still quite active on Twitter) but what it did do was make me start cherry picking what photos I have on our digital displays at home. And also think about how we might start bringing real-world photos back into the house somehow. We’ve already started — calendars have been made and there’s a cork board in the kitchen — but by not being on t’gram, I think I’ve come to appreciate photoGRAPHS more.

These things are important.

THING 12

Your mileage may vary.

I don’t know what I’ve truly missed out on because… well… I’ve missed it. But given the year we have had (yes, I said it again) I’ve probably spent more time figuring out what’s most important to me over above that of ‘things I might be missing on social media’. Yes, I am painfully aware that that point of view comes from an enormous position of privilege: I am a white man. I have a young family. We have our health. We have our jobs. We have each other.

And while we have struggled with mental health this year (all of us have)…

We are not struggling with the disease.

We are not struggling to make ends meet.

We are not struggling with loneliness.

For some, Instagram might be a window into the lives of friends that they’ve been missing all year round. For others, Stories might be the replacement for the person to person connection that they’ve each craved during isolation. My point is: the platform is what YOU make it.

And that is both its core benefit and ultimately, for me at least, the source of its downfall.

Scientifically proven to be bad for your mental health, Instagram is not something I want or need in my life. I thought I’d try removing it — for a year — and it worked out OK.

More than OK, in fact. I didn’t miss it.

And I doubt very much that it missed me.

One more post this year and then I’m out for good.

Your mileage may vary.

41.

Haven’t written a newsletter for maybe a couple of months and I’ve got a .txt file of links longer than my left leg to go through but instead of doing that, I thought it was high time to boot up the back end of my dusty weblog, blow off a few cobwebs, and see what comes out. Because of course.

It was my 41st birthday a fortnight or so ago.

Turning 40 was a huge deal for me. It is my firm belief that I spent a good part of those 40 years properly messing things up. Yes, I achieved so much – so so so so so much. And it was great – but it was also at great expense. To myself and to many others. I felt like 40 – and to be fairer to myself – the year leading up to turning 40, was a genuine full stop. End of page. New chapter. The second half of the book… And… Here. We. Go.

We spoiled ourselves last year. I’m glad we did. We owed to each other. Amazing gigs, several holidays, family trips – just saying ‘fuck it, we’ve earned this’ – because we had. ‘And in 2020,’ we said, ‘we won’t go on holiday. Instead, we’ll get the garden done, sort ourselves out financially, and focus on turning our house into a home’. Couldn’t have picked a better year for it.

This year, almost gone in the blink of a thousand video calls, is nearing its end. Christmas decorations are up. Tentative plans are being made. And yet I look around and think ‘Hey, wait a minute – it was March, like, yesterday? Where did it all go?’ Now don’t get me wrong, this year has been A yEaR uNLiKe AnY oThEr. But still.

I remember when I first became a parent someone said to me ‘The years are fine, it’s the decades you wanna watch out for’. And they were right. My children grow (my god they grow), life turns onwards. I find myself reflecting often on what I might leave behind (good therapy does that to you). Someone asked me recently, what would people write in your obituary?

“One of the best pieces of advice my therapist ever gave me was this: “spend your life helping your children write the obituary you will never hear. Make it easy for them.” It doesn’t matter what I think, feel – it matters what I do. I hope that what I do is enough.”

And I do. I wonder about it a lot.

Everything from ensuring my kids don’t feel pressured to conforming to false societal norms (I’m not the only one that does this, right?) to just making sure I use my platform to elevate voices that may not have the chance to be heard (Get DICE). Micro and macro – how can I not be a fuck up (anymore)? How can I give more back? How can I make sure I’m leading by example?

How can I ensure that what I do helps me live a life of meaning.


It was my 41st birthday last month.

That, for me at least, marks a full year of not being a fuck up.

And I’m alright with that.

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to My Happy Place.

I’ve been writing here, on and off, since May 2006. A long time.

These days, however, the time I would normally spend writing my blog is now spent writing for my newsletter project, Five things on Friday.

What started out as a weekly exercise in writing has grown and matured into a (semi-)weekly publication that features most of what I’m passionate about and interested in.

So, if you’re looking for the very latest on what I’m noodling on, your best bet is to start looking over the past issues of Five things on Friday – all being well, that stuff will be bang up to date*.

So yes, thanks for visiting. If you’re looking to speak to me quickly, then you can nearly always find me on Twitter (DMs are open).

If not, then maybe I’ll see you on the subscriber list of the newsletter sometime.

Cheers,

James.

*The posts below this one are examples of FToF but I doubt very much that they’ll be reflective of the latest work. 

Five things on Friday #272

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Things of note for the week ending Friday October 19th, 2018.

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Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.

So y’know, SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

TO THE THINGS!
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1. ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER ‘AND WHAT A WEEK IT HAS BEEN FOR FACEBOOK’ SECTION

Sometimes, when it’s a slow news week, the press – especially in this country – might pick a ‘villain of the week’.

One week it might be beneficiaries of entirely legal corporation tax avoidance or the next it might the dangers of kids obsessed with gaming (it’s Fortnite currently,  Pokemon Go before, expect that to change at some point), or social networks and THE DANGERS OF SCREENTIME.

It is what it is. 

Facebook, whether you agree with it or not, right now can’t seem to catch a break. I only made passing comment to its new spy-device/home-video-calling system, PORTAL last week (and it was only in an email reply conversation did I realised I’d not unpacked my thoughts on it – I’ll come back to it, thanks Dev) but it was not received all that well at all. 

This week we had (first): 

Instagram Has a Massive Harassment Problem‘ 

An essential long read that really lays out just how effing awful it is for some people on the Instagram platform. 

Worse yet, people working there are quoted as saying: 

“There’s an effort called ‘kindness,’ which is to reduce bullying and harassment, but there’s not that many people working on it,” said Alex, a current Instagram employee who asked to be referred to by a gender-neutral pseudonym. “Generally, what you’ll find is a lot of these efforts on harassment or bullying, or there’s a new feature to track how much time you spend—they’re mostly done for PR.” Another Instagram employee told me nearly the same thing: that Instagram’s anti-bullying rhetoric “doesn’t seem connected to what’s actually going on in the company.”

I am reminded of the Listerine debacle all over again (thing three, here). 

Anyway, after that Instagram thing we have the ongoing saga of the exposed accounts issue (first they thought it was 50m, to be sure they revoked 90m security tokens, but now it turns out it was ‘just’ 30m). That’s worth reading up on

As a side point, it’s a bit horse has bolted but this week I went back through my Facebook account and just started deleting profile information (aka the stuff that has been exposed) and reconsidered what I want to keep on the platform. From a personal perspective, I only use the Facebook platform for two groups that I’m part of. And even that interaction is through the browser (not even the recent 3D photo update could pull me back). 

And then to top it all off, in the middle of this past week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a lawsuit that has been filed claiming Facebook knew about its over-reporting of video metrics for a year before it acted on it. NOT A GOOD LOOK.

Really
 
So yeah, it’s been a rough week for Facebook indeed. 

OH WAIT, THIS JUST IN: as we go to press (er, who’s ‘we’?), former leader of the UK political party, the Liberal Democrats (the US pundits will have fun with that), Nick Clegg, has been hired to lead Facebook’s global affairs and communications team.

Can’t think why… 

Ha. This piece from the FT (that the above is from) probably says more about the appointment than anything you’ll read on Twitter today (h/t Kate Bevan). 

So yeah, there’s your Facebook news for the week. FOR THE WEEK. Cray cray.

Finally, regarding PORTAL, Facebook initially said it had ‘no plans at this time’ to serve ads on PORTAL. But what you use it for, though? That’s another story

PS. Clegg has just published this to The Guardian. I’m about to read it, you should too. 

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2. Y&R

Burn, baby burn.

You hear stories and then you hear stories. All of this is entirely believable and, well, entirely on par for the advertising world of old (that I’ve oft-heard about and ne’er encountered). 

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3. A FEW THINGS REGARDING RED DEAD REDEMPTION II

HEY YOU, NON-GAMER, DON’T SKIP THIS SECTION QUITE YET. 

First off, in the same way that Marvel’s Spider-Man (for PS4) trailers and posters were literally EVERYWHERE a few weeks ago, expect the same from the incoming western ‘sim’ RED DEAD REDEMPTION II. 

Things to know about this game: 

1. It’s expected to be MASSIVE
2. It’s out on October 26th. 
3. I’m almost intimidated by how massive it is. 
4. I know SEVERAL lapsed gamers that are specifically coming back for this game (you know who you are).

Bear in mind the original came out May 2010 on last gen machines (PS3 and Xbox 360), that’s a huge statement. More so that we’re headed towards the end of the life cycles of the machines they’re launching on – the fact that one new release can drive hardware sales is testament to how big a game this is and just how much, if you’ll pardon the pun, is riding on it. 

5. Enjoyed S1 of Westworld? Imagine that but without the crazy robots. 
6. Here’s a ridiculous gameplay trailer
7. Don’t try and talk to me after Oct 26th. 

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4. BYE BYE GOOGLE+

If you haven’t read this massive thread on how bad everything was over there back when G+ was a thing, you should.

Neither Google or the author come off that well IMO.

But still. Silicon Valley is mental.  

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5. SMART DOORBELLS REDUCE CRIME BY UP TO 55%

Or do they?

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THE ESSENTIALS: 
 

  1. Five rules for the workplace 
  2. The Indian Government (again – but with impact)
  3. Hope and Despair

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THE BONUS LINK SECTION OF BONUS BONUS LINKS

Right you animals, let’s get these bonuses IN AND ON. 

  1. I pulled a 1,500-year-old sword out of a lake‘ 
  2. Crazy Random Re-Opened London Street? Amazing.
  3. My jury is still well and truly out on the Pixel 3 but this piece on exactly how they’ve computationally attacked the zoom function is PEAK NERDERY of the highest order. 
  4. A great thread of ‘facts’ (not all are true) about Freddie Mercury
  5. Pots. Kettles. Scamtastic.
  6. AMAZING PERCEPTUAL ILLUSIONS
  7. Yes.
  8. I’m speaking at a thing in Bristol next month. Are you in that part of the world? Come.
  9. ESCAPE FROM FANTASY (this has been everywhere but still, if you haven’t read it – read it)
  10. #COPYSAFARI. I mentioned Dr Draper in the intro. One of the many things he’s been up to in his trip here (and probably my favourite thing) was this ‘Copy Safari’ with Vikki Ross. Worth a read of this great hashtag.
  11. DOES YOUR STRATEGY EVEN LIFT BRO?  – compelling.
  12. I just can’t get enough.
  13. Man? Read this.

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PS. Don’t forget to subscribe for MORE.

Five things on Friday #271

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Things of note for the week ending Sunday October 14th, 2018.

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Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.

So y’know, SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

TO THE THINGS!
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1. SNAP ORIGINALS

Did you catch this announcement last week?

With Snap Originals, Snapchat turns to TV-like show programming

“Two years after Snapchat premiered its first original show, original programming has taken on new importance for the app, which has struggled to grow its daily audience. Snapchat is formalizing its original programming push through the formation of the Snap Originals brand.

Snap Originals will encompass Snapchat’s existing original shows, like political news series “Good Luck America,” as well as a new slate of scripted and documentary series that will begin to premiere on Snapchat on Oct. 10 and mark the platform’s entry into TV-like programming.” 

OK, so that’s interesting.

I read that and I think a couple of things.

Snap created Snapchat Stories. It was a huge success. Facebook lifts the feature wholesale first into Instagram, then into everything else – and makes it bigger. 

Facebook launches IGTV. It doesn’t seem to be a huge success. Snapchat copies it. And… makes it smaller? I don’t know. I remain unconvinced on long-form portrait content. But then again, from the same article:

“At the same time as Snapchat has seen its daily audience shrink — losing 3 million daily users in the second quarter of 2018 — its made-for-Snapchat shows have sustained regular viewerships. Half of the audience for two of Snapchat’s existing shows — NBC’s news show “Stay Tuned” and ESPN’s “SportsCenter” — tune in at least three times a week, said Sean Mills, head of original content at Snapchat’s parent company, Snap. Now Snapchat is looking to give people more reasons to check Snapchat more often by premiering episodic series that are designed to be watched on a recurring basis.”

Ignoring the DAU number drop (!!!), the episodic retention numbers aren’t bad at all.

And with a view to start selling six second unskippable ads against that content (also mentioned in the article), you can see how this might work for Snap. Might.

Is it something I’m going to be recommending to clients? Probably not. But then again I’m equally as bullish about IGTV’s lack of impact. Portrait long-form? Not a thing. I’ll gladly admit to being wrong when it is. But right now? There are better uses for your advertising dollar. 

Also: Ouch.

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2. GLASS. GLASS. GLASS. 

There’s a new trailer and it looks ace and I want to see it right now please thank you very much. 

I’m going to guess that you’ve already seen UNBREAKABLE (if you haven’t, fix that). The one that people missed, and criminally underrated, is another film called SPLIT. James McAvoy is (and IS AMAZING) in it and it’s worth a watch. GLASS is a little bit of a spoiler for the end of the movie but still, watch SPLIT…

And then get excited about GLASS.  

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3. READ THIS 

This, from HuffPost’s ‘Highline’, is a provocative look at the attitudinal and societal structures in place that go out of their way to deny support to the obesity epidemic. 

Read it and rethink.

Also: the photography is fantastic.

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4. FIVE TRENDS IN LEADING EDGE COMMUNICATIONS

Back in July, a rather lovely man named Iain Bundred (a recent FTOF subscriber and avid reader) asked me if I would like to contribute to the next joint WPP + Government Communications Services (GCS) digital communications report. 

TL;DR – I said yes, and we published this week. Hurrah!



You can find the full report over on the GCS.GOV website and, having written one chapter (voice) and helped build out another (ethics), as well as occasionally advise on the thing as a whole, I am immensely proud of it. Go see. 

If you’ve never heard of GCS, it’s basically a professional body that is set up to support any and all people working in communications roles across UK government. These kinds of documents are put together to both offer a level-setter on what is happening now and what is to come in the future – and of course, how you might prepare for that. 

Iain and I travelled up to Birmingham last week to help launch the document at the Public Sector Communications Academy. It was a big deal! And pretty awesome to be there and present my trend in person

One of the things I really love about my job is the whole responding to a client brief, thing. It’s the main thrust of what I do. It requires research, noodling, and fundamentally, a lot of writing. And I love writing. Writing something like this, something that could have broad-reaching practical application in governmental departments across the country reminds me of why I love what I do. So yeah. I did that and I like it. 

Next up: #OgilvyTrends2019! 

PS. Last week I shared some words about esports that I’d written (but didn’t get used). There were a few other bits in the pipeline that may or may not have been used too. I followed up on them and two will be landing before the end of year (so I’m told). So expect those at some point. This, the section above, is the one I mentioned that was definitely coming. So for those of you keeping track, you can tick that one off now 😉 

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5. THE BATTLE FOR THE HOME

I’m doing a ton of reading and research around Voice at the moment. Home assistants and their ilk will feature in some way or form come the next Ogilvy Trends doc (see #OgilvyTrends2019 for progress – right now, it’s just all drafts).

This piece ‘The Battle for the Home‘ is a great primer of the scene as it is today, including all the most recent announcements (including Facebook’s laughable Portal offering). 

Want to get up to speed? This is the article to read. 

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THE ESSENTIALS: 

  1. Bollywood
  2. The Indian Government
  3. Hey you know what, just India generally

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HE BONUS LINK SECTION OF BONUS BONUS LINKS

B O N U S – B OU S – B O N U S

  1. I really like this Tube ad from 1928
  2. Into Advertising? Looking for a book to read? BBH’s World Cup of Ad Books is a decent place to start. A bit heavy on the male side but still a good batch to be found.
  3. Instagram’s guide for keeping your children safe on its platform (what?).
  4. Did you catch YouTube announcing vertical video ad units? I nearly missed it.
  5. I’m assuming after last week’s edition you’ve all binged KILLING EVE by now? Good. You’ll be pleased to know that the BBC has acquired the rights for Season 2. Hurrah.
  6. Karen Blackett, UK country manager for WPP, appointed as Race Equality Business Champion is brilliant (also: my friend’s cousin, randomly).

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Until next time.