the pressure of immediacy

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Mobile phone and the Japanese 2

— Image via cocoarmani

First, I want you to apply the following quote from this Fjord iPad post to all modern smart phones –

It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required.
Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.

The key word/sentence I’m going to zero in on this time is ‘the ability to focus‘.

We’re losing it. 

Second, I want you to think of that thing where you’re talking at the pub and someone says: ‘Oh did you see that thing today? Oh my God it was soooo funny! You haven’t seen it? No, I’ll pull it up.’

Not only is it massively anti-social (we’ll come back to that), but also – in the time that it takes you to reach for your phone and start googling for ‘IKEA Monkey’ or whatever, the conversation has undoubtedly moved on and no one is actually that interested come sharing time. Forget it. Move on. Leave it.

It doesn’t matter.

These two notes are what, to my mind at least, drive the ill-perceived pressure of immediacy. As in, just because we can look up just about anything on the glass screens in our pockets doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. The pressure to know something immediately is balderdash. It is fallacy, claptrap, and poppycock. It is a make-believe blanket of self-made suffocation that we have placed upon our own social and professional situations that really has no need to exist at all.

So what do we do? 

  1. At dinner, play the phone stacking game. I have and it works.
  2. At work, create a digital hat stand for meeting rooms.
  3. At your desk, invest in an NFC-enabled on/off mat for your phone.
  4. At the pub, focus on your friends.
  5. At home, unplug your WiFi; break habits.


Two quotes for you –

‘If we learn to disconnect in order to connect with ourselves, the impact will be amazing’
– Arianna Huffington

‘I wish I’d spent more time on the internet’
– Nobody on their deathbed, ever.


Stop. Think. Breathe.

Stay in the moment.

The pressure of immediacy does not exist. 


Five things on Friday #47

Things of note for the week ending November 23rd, 2012

1. Hawkeye

I’ve been on a bit of a digital-comics-sabbatical of late (it’s far too easy to spend a lot of money, on a lot of comics, in a very short space of time), but what with it being my birthday this past Wednesday (more on that later) and a couple of iTunes vouchers coming my way (thanks Dad), it was high time I dived back in again.

My first stop? Hawkeye.

A new series launched to tie-in with the character’s new found fame thanks to a certain super-massive superhero movie, this standalone book is not only incredibly well drawn but also brilliantly written. The image above, taken from issue three ‘Cherry‘, gives you a bit of an insight on what I’m talking about but basically, what I’m saying is, if you’re looking for a new comic to get into, go and get Hawkeye. I genuinely lol’d about four or five times reading this month’s issue.

2. Corporate secrets (you can now disclose)
This Reddit thread is awesome –

American Apparel –

I worked at American Apparel for two years. During the time that I worked there, the company implemented a company-wide recruitment policy where any person applying for a position must be photographed (1 headshot, 1 body shot) The actual resumes were thrown in the garbage. These photos were then sent to a company email address where someone would either give a thumbs up or down to the photographs. Staff were encouraged to recruit instore and on the street and were given a $100 bonus for every person they got approved.

Walmart –

As a former cart pusher at walmart, one thing i always noticed was how they pushed all of their employees, i mean “associates” , to 39.5 hours a week so that they wouldn’t get full benefits. That and the 10% discount card only worked on taxed items.

Eye opening, and ace.

3. Russell ‘Fag Pimp’ Brand


4. Random Robot Shopper
Darius Kazemi has a bot that buys him random stuff from the internet. His first shipment arrived this week and it’s kinda cool to read about. I don’t have much else to add except that this is a delightful read and it’s probably something I need to add to my Trello (as it resonates with an ongoing conversation I’m having with Kai about sparking innovation with serendipity).

5. Birthday awesomes!
It was my birthday on Wednesday – WOOOOO – and an awesome day/week was had. At the time this post is scheduled to publish, I’ll be boarding the Eurostar en route to Paris for a long weekend of relaxing with my lovely lady.

Other birthday awesomes

Friends and loved ones are brilliant – thanks for an awesome birthday, you know who you are.

Bonuses this week are three articles that I enjoyed – a crackin’ interview with Robert De Niro; this dissection of the sorry state of pop marketing (via Rhianna); and this piece from the Atlantic – about Obama’s reelection – is immense – ‘The Hippies are punching back…’

“Fish where the fish are”

It’s a wonderful phrase.

You hear it often in this here industry of ours: it’s a ‘quick win’, an ‘obvious’ way forward – you do a spot of audience analysis, find out where people are talking [about you] and then go and make them buy stuff, right? Simple.

Except, it’s not that easy.

There’s more to it than that.
Much more.

First you need to make sure you’ve got the right equipment: is the line strong enough for the fish you’re aiming to hook? Have you got the right bait? Have you brought enough bait? Scratch that, do you even need bait? Perhaps a spinner will work in its place? What hooks will you use?

Hell, have you even organised a boat?

Once you’ve got your kit sorted, then you need to hone your technique: how do you cast? How long should you wait? What do you do when you get a bite? Do you reel in immediately or take your time and let the fish come to you? Again, all things that you need to consider.

Like any good fishing trip, you need time and you need patience. You’re not going to catch Jaws overnight (you might, there is such a thing as beginner’s luck). But know how long you’re going out for and know what fish you’re trying to catch and, crucially, how many fish you need to catch to put a smile on your face.

Moreover, why are you here? Are you fishing for game, or for your supper? How dependent are you on this next catch? If I give you a fish now, would that be OK? Or would you rather work at it and catch it yourself, later?

Remember, in nearly all instances, chance favours the prepared mind and fishing where the fish are is all well and good as long as you know how.

Be prepared.

Go fish.


5 things on Friday #7

This week I am running horrifically behind; the notes I’m writing up have been in my Moleskine for well over a week (today’s the 27th of Feb and I’m backdating this post to the 17th!) and I have two batches to write up.

Right then, shall we?

  1. Chronicle
    I have a much bigger post to come about this film at a later date [read: when I get a chance]. In the meantime, seek it out. It’s worth it.
  2. SMW4x4
    Last week was Social Media Week and Monday saw four case studies given by four different agencies at the HMS President upon the river Thames. Hosted by This Little Lady Went To London and sponsored by Cloud nine Recruitment, 1000heads and BDMDigital, the event was not only about raising awareness around four (well, three) great pieces of work but there was a charitable angle too, with all ticket proceeds going to CRISIS. There may be some bias (I chaired the event in question) but it was by far and away the best night I had throughout Social Media Week: Samsung, Nokia and Brewdog all being well represented by their respective agencies.
    Good job.
  3. The Other Cinema
    Brief Encounter @ The Troxy. Feb 14th. Date night. Bliss.
  4. social@Ogilvy
    The launch of social@Ogilvy meant a fancy get-together across five pods on the London Eye. No more 360 Digital Influence, now there’s just social@Ogilvy. Champagne. Sushi. Awesome.
  5. Google+
    The second social media week event I managed to get along to was the afternoon hosted by Google+. With a programme of speakers that included Professor Robin Dunbar (yes, he of Dunbar’s Number fame) and demo after demo of how awesome Google+ can be, I must say I’m fairly sold [I event wrote my first Storify about the event]. All it needs now is users, in volume.
    I’m on Google +, circle me there.

Bonuses: Matt finding this awesome shirt, being interviewed for ‘Behind the Headlines‘ and rediscovering my love for all things Cat Stevens



Butterfly effects

Everyone has their favourite toys from childhood, I was fortunate to have a few. If you remember things like He-Man, Thundercats or Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors – then this tale is for you.

When I was a kid my big thing was M.A.S.K.

– aka Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand.

MASK Crusaders! Working overtime! Fighting crime!

I remember one Christmas morning when I walked down the stairs to find Boulder Hill completely all set up and ready to play with [can you imagine depriving me of an unboxing today?!] –  it was brilliant.

Switchblade, Condor, Volcano… the toys were amazing. One in particular, was Bulldog.

Bulldog was an American truck that fell down into a tank-like contraption at the press of a button. After a while (I don’t remember when), the spring loader in the click broke, which basically meant that Bulldog couldn’t return to truck mode.

This video talks you through the general awesomeness of Bulldog. You don’t have to watch it, hell you might even want to just skip it completely. However, the money shot is around 1min in. Y’know, just in case.

To add some background to this story, my father was an extremely talented carpenter and joiner, who owned his own building contracting company. He liked to build things. And as such, so did I. Lego was my thing as a kid, in the main at least, but outside of that you had Zoids.

Zoids were great. A seemingly impossible mixture of prehistoric robotics, each toy came in tiny little pieces that you had to assemble yourself (or in my case, with my dad).

What this all meant was that when Bulldog broke, dad and I set about taking it apart (like a Zoid in reverse) to see what the issue was. The cause: a small dog-leg-shaped piece of plastic that had somehow snapped during playtime. Damn.

‘What do we do now, dad?’
‘Well, now we know what’s wrong, son, we can get a replacement part and fix it.’

A few days later, an eight year old James Whatley wrote a letter to Kenner Parker toys explaining what had happened and asking very nicely if they could possibly send out the replacement part that we needed.

A few weeks later, my mum greeted me from school to tell me that she thought Kenner might have got my letter, as a parcel had been delivered while I was in class – and it had a MASK label on it. We raced home as fast as we could and, sure enough, there it was was: not a small packaged envelope containing the piece we needed, but instead a whole brand new Bulldog. Brand. New.

I still beam when I think about it now.

Two things to take away from that story:

  1. Surprise and delight: I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it again. It’s nothing new, but it is [still] a beautiful way to deal with your customers. Even now I can imagine that marketing or customer care manager sat at their desk, opening my letter and thinking: ‘Hey, let’s just send him a new one. That’ll make his day.’ – and they were right, it really did.
  2. That one decision, made all of 20+ years ago in a random office somewhere in the UK, had such a profound affect on a little boy that not only does he still remember it fondly, but actually now spends his waking hours working out how he can make his clients’ customers feel just the same way.

That’s some butterfly.

Some thoughts on #DriveTime

This post is about the recent home release social media activation of the film DRIVE. There maybe spoilers ahead BUT I’ll be sure to yell loudly if they come near. Then again, we may make it without any. We shall see…

Drive: a stunning, nay breathtaking, film from 2011 (some would argue THE film of 2011). Woefully ignored by the Academy but adored by fans worldwide, its a glorious tale of love-driven revenge told through the haze of 70’s LA neon with a soundtrack to match.

Of Drive, I am a fan.

On Monday, Jan 30th 2012, Drive got its UK home release on both DVD and Blu-ray and, to celebrate said launch, film-studio-friendly agency, Think Jam, sent out early copies of the film out to a select group of fans on Twitter.

The aim? To kick-start a pre-scheduled participatory/group viewing, snappily referred to as #DriveTime.

Nice idea.

But not everyone agreed –

Dan has a point.

In fact, the whole conversation between him and Mike is worth a look (especially as both have proven experience in this kind of marketing). I stumbled across the conversation between the two of them after the film had finished, however found myself unknowingly agreeing with them midway through.

That aside, there’s also the very real issue of SPOILERS.

I would be gutted if someone I followed [on Twitter] unwittingly gave away key plot points throughout any film that I was yet to see (especially on THE DAY of its home release, ie; if you didn’t see it at the cinema then you’re stuffed). In fact, so much did it concern me that I issued my own warning before the film started.

Those issues aside, the ‘event’ seemed to go well. So well in fact, that my friend and I started kicking around some ideas around data visualisation that could work alongside it – yes, that’s right, we’re data geeks.

Bear with me, this is where things get interesting –

Data Visualisation around group events is nothing new, see The New York Times and the Super Bowl or before that, The Guardian and the World Cup; with swathes of data, you can make beautiful, beautiful visualisations.

But these events, they’re huge, global happenings with hundreds of thousands of tweets to process, giving you an extremely granular level of preciseness that you wouldn’t find with say, 1200 or so tweets… right?

Well, ish.

“…I bet they haven’t sold it in.”

One of the great things about these kinds of social media campaigns is that the data is (relatively) free and available for anyone to access. So what if you could steal the data from the Drive activity and not only present it back in a gorgeous fashion, but also demonstrate your skill as a potential new partner in doing so?

“Could you piggy-back another agency’s paid activity to showcase your own?”

Well, as I said, the data is there. So all you would need to do is farm that information and go from there… right?

Search term: “#DRIVETIME” – parameters 30-31 Jan 2012 – network: ‘TWITTER’

Export as .csv, group & subtotal the number of tweets by time published and… Voilà!

Look at that lovely data.

I’ve cleaned it up somewhat (only showing the data between 7pm and 10pm – the film started at 8pm) but you can clearly see the flurry of activity that happened throughout.

Now, we can sexify this chart (thanks Robbie) and we can also actually map the highlights of the film against the peaks and troughs of conversation.

A – 8pm: the film starts
B – End of [the awesome] opening sequence, ‘Night Call‘ kicks in
C – The Driver meets the girl for the first time – it’s encapsulating
D – Combination of ‘Under your Spell‘ starting + a key killer quote from our hero
E – Sequence of Driver and Irene spending time together [intense]
F – That elevator scene
G – Dip for a(nother) particularly violent piece
H – Film ends, people loved it and tweet according

.  Incredible.

What are the takeaways from this exercise?

  1. If you’re planning a scheduled viewing (over social media) make it both a) a universally accepted film (read: a classic that most people have seen) and b) perhaps one that’s not so visually sumptuous and arresting.
  2. Think about THE DATA. Alright there was a Storify after the fact, but if me and my friends can throw together a crude visualisation of what our collective tweets look like… then Christ, what else is possible?

Which in turn asks a bigger question:

If today’s brands (and consumers) are ready to remix anything and everything, what’s to stop the agencies of tomorrow doing the same?

..oh and look, no spoilers.