Phew. Three weeks since I last did one of these, and my word has there been a lot going on. Bankers have shut down a church (well, you know, indirectly)! The Sun gave us possibly the most tasteless frontpage in years! One of the most appalling hatecrimes of the (admittedly newish) decade was committed to little or no mainstream media fanfare! France and Germany mocked Italy’s sexually incontinent Premier! The filthy rich just keep on getting richer! And loads more besides, much of it even more dispiriting than those few links I’ve just shared.
Ignoring the fact that world is going to hell in the proverbial handcart, though, I’ve actually had rather a lot of fun (because that is obviously the MOST IMPORTANT THING). I’ve seen comedy; I’ve been to an awesome gig;I’ve been to the theatre and seen probably the most harrowing play I’ve ever seen, ever (actually, make that the second-most harrowing - this was probably worse); I’ve eaten some truly tremendous food; and I got to see a truly tremendous rapper live in a tiny venue. So, you know, I’m alright. Are you alright? I’m starting to worry.
Anyway, enough of this. Make yourself a cup of tea, settle down in a suitably confortable chair, and imagine my soothing, dulcet tones reading this out to you (and, if you like, imagine my malcoordinated body acting out every single video too. You pervert). You may want to get some biscuits too; this could take a while.
Stuff that only people in made-up jobs like mine will conceivably care about:
- A load of information about LinkedIn: I never write about LinkedIn on here. Mainly because I remain unconvinced of its utility for anyone other than recruitment people (and, judging by the quality of approaches many people I know seem to get from recruiters, even they don’t know how to use it properly). Nonetheless, the recent ’status’ feature which they implemented may go some way towards changing that (although there are other services around which take the best bits of the concept of a branded newsfeed and do it in a more directly useful fashion). As an aside, do you think anyone really takes any notice of the ‘recommendations’ feature on there? Is it not just saying ‘I like this person; they like me too and think I am AWESOME!‘? It’s like having references from your mates on your CV.
- Which social networks are most popular, where: So there are various versions of this data around – including the now-ubiquitous social media map of the world by the lovely Vincos – but here’s another dataset based on Google searches per country. We can, of course, quibble for hours as to the validity of that metric as a measurement of popularity – or we can simply say a heartfelt ‘thanks!’ to the kind soul who gathered the data and use it to prove or disprove whatever we like. CHOICES.
- TwitterStuff: On Sunday, there was a red-carpet event for the premiere of an animated film about a boy and his close relationship with both his dog and an ageing sea captain. That’s not germane to this blog, though. What is germane is Paramount’s clever step in buying a promoted tweet around the premiere, and streaming footage from the red carpet live through Twitter. It’s part of a concerted drive by the company to stimulate brands to work with it to use the platform in more creative – and media-friendly – ways (and to get them to pay money for ads, natch), another example of which is the voting tie-up with US X Factor. All of this is being supported by an update of the manner in which the Twitter timeline works, with more media, threaded conversations, etc. In case you care, one of the major reasons as to why these changes are important is that it’s very much in Twitter’s best interests to have people using it through twitter.com – because that way they get more accurate data on who (and how) uses it, which means more information they can give to companies to persuade them to spend vast boatloads of cash on advertising. TRUFACT.
- This is absolutely the cleverest, most useful application of Foursquare I’ve yet seen: although given I don’t drive I still won’t use it.
- Engagement is a dirty word: This week’s ‘brilliant and intelligent piece of writing that I can guarantee 99% of you won’t read because it’s long and you all have the attention span of ritalin-deprived goldfish’ comes from Martin Weigel of W&K Amsterdam. He sets out in a long, methodical blogpost all the reasons why the term ‘engagement’ is meaningless pap that we should stop using. To (very basically) summarise, the crux of his argument is that nobody knows what it means, and that even if they did it’s not a valid measurement of anything. Read it; it will make you better at your job, and it will hopefully mean that I am less likely to have some sort of aneurysm/seizure in a meeting when someone YET AGAIN uses the term in a nonsensical, vapid fashion. Now if someone could do the same for the word ‘viral’ I’d be very grateful; thanks.
- How not to sponsor an industry awards ceremony: tangential, but worth reading – this is how not to behave when you are the sponsors of a media awards ceremony, in this case the games industry’s GMAs.
Some stuff that’s probably still sort-of about my job but which other people might also find interesting, maybe:
- The future according to Microsoft: this is a very nice video by the world’s least favourite tech company (I must say, I still don’t totally understand the anti-MS opprobrium, but whatever) all about what the future will look like. The near future, rather than the very distant one. It’s slickly executed, and gave me that slightly weird ’scared-but-excited-but-uncertain’ vibe that all the best near-future futurology should. Anyone who finds the video interesting really should read ‘Super Sad True Love Story’ by Gary Shteyngart, which is one of the best and smartest (and funniest and saddest) books I’ve read this year, which whilst not being about tech per se has some very smart things indeed to say about the logical progression w/r/t the interface between tech and society that we are moving towards. Buy it.
- That skeleton-bloke makeup video: for the three of you who haven’t yet seen it, this is one of the best pieces of branded content I’ve seen in AGES.
- 3d projections on water: Nike and Coke are so horrendously good at making cool stuff for the internet to gawp at. Part of me hates sharing stuff that I know has been explicitly designed and packaged to tick boxes for generic media wankers like me; on the other hand, this is such impressive stuff. Nike launch a new trainer with some spectacular experiential stunts.
- Barack’s Tumblr: Nothing especially new about world leaders signing up to social media sites – eh, Dave? – but the page announcing the launch of an official Obama Tumblr is noteworthy for the little section at the end which waves to the trolls. A sign of a media team who get it, no doubt.
- Slavery Footprint: This is a really slick and well-executed piece of website design; pretty, functional and smooth. More importantly it’s for an excellent cause, raising awareness of the very real human costs of the 21st century consumption/manufacturing ouroboros (yeah, you try out-pretentiousing me any time soon).
- Simply the best print ad I’ve seen all year: and it’s for haemmorhoid cream. Although this one runs it a close second.
Stuff that I quite simply like and that has no obvious connection with my professional life at all:
- So the 99% concept, and the whole ‘occupy’ movement as a whole, are obviously very OF THE NOW. There are some decent photographs of the US occupy movement in this flickr set, but if you’re at all interested in the concept of popular disenfranchisement and the growing ‘us vs them’ feeling formenting amongst large swathes of the world’s population, it’s very much worth reading this lengthy-but-interesting look at quite how strange and wrong the homogenisation of experience inherent in the concept of the 99% is.
- Eugenides, Franzen, Wallace: I’ve got a not inconsiderable posthumous mancrush on David Foster Wallace. This piece from NY Mag looks at the relationships between him, Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides – probably only one for the US literophiles (that is not a word, I know), but fascinating nonetheless.
- Like manga and anime and hiphop? You will ADORE my mate Adam’s latest mixtape, in that case. It is epic.
- A present for your most narcissistic friend(s): I’m not entirely sure that I approve of this gift, but if you have a very vain mate who is also on Twitter then this might be just the thing for them. Along, perhaps, with a few sessions of therapy.
- The best present for small children EVER: Sadly the actual shop website is down at the moment, but the blog I’ve linked to explains the concept – get a kid to draw something, send it to these people, receive bespoke stuffed toy that looks EXACTLY like said kid’s drawing in return. AMAZING, and reminiscent of this but in real life.
- Fifty for Fity (redux): I know I linked to this last time too, but there are some lovely entries that are worth checking out. Design a new £50 note for a chance to win a new £50 note
- How to write romance novels: probably the funniest piece of writing I’ve read all week. Though it also made me consider giving it all up to write Mills & Boon fiction.
- Jewellery made from teeth and hair. Not much more to say, really.
- On Depression: the ever-excellent Hyperbole And A Half blog covers depression; funnier than you’d expect, and will ring true to most people to some extent.
- It’s actually quite sunny in London today, but if you want to recreate the coddled atmosphere of being indoors whilst rain pounds on the windows then this is the website for you. Probably the greatest aid to sleep (and, potentially, incontinence) ever – Pianos and Rain.
- It’s 10 years since Rockstar Games (a former client of mine, fact-fans) changed the world of videogames forever by releasing Grand Theft Auto 3 – probably the only game in the world your gran has heard of (unless this is your gran, of course). Amazingly, civilisation hasn’t collapsed totally in the wake of this amoral festival of violence - take the time to look back in this fascinating interview with Dan Houser, one of the brains behind the series.
- New York City from above. Gorgeous pictures.
Videos! Prepare yourselves; there’s some MAGIC in here this week.
1) First up, as a sort of visual palate-cleanser, have this – it’s a branded video, admittedly, but the mouths are HYPNOTIC:
2) I like this next one for several reasons; partly that there’s some very cool parkour-type moves in it, and also because of the obvious love it has for Tony Hawk’s videogame series. Serious question – how do people get good at this stuff without dying in the process?
3) Every year the Sun et al go mental trying to find Britain’s gaudiest house. In advance of that, this year’s lightshow-to-beat comes in the shape of this son et lumiere-Hallowe’en extravaganza. Amazing:
4) My favourite video of the week, this is technically brilliant, and cute, and quirky, and I even like the song (which admittedly has massive shades of The Real Tuesday Weld). Evelyn Evelyn, with “Have you seen my sister Evelyn?”:
5) This, on the other hand, is significantly less cute, but in it’s own way is no less impressive. Khat, with Ring of Fire:
6) I can’t really not link to the Duck Sauce ‘Big Bad Wolf’ video, though most of you will probably already have seen it:
7) I’ve featured Genki Sudo before, but their new video is another masterpiece of choreography. Office monkeys of London – why not spend the afternoon making your own versions? Go on.
I know my mum reads this sometimes – Mum, I want this for Christmas, please. IT’S A ROBOT RIDING A BIKE!!!:
9) Last up this week is something you should only watch if you’re feeling strong. It’s an amazing piece of animation, but it’s also quite disturbing and features what are often euphemistically referred to as ADULT THEMES. And it goes quite mental at one point, and doesn’t really let up. I’ve probably put you all off now, but whatever. Suffice it to say that when I first watched this my jaw literally dropped at about the 1 minute mark, and didn’t close again til it was well finished. This is a song called ‘Fantasy’, by Dye – ENJOY!: