Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

The Spiniflex Group did this amazing digital projection mapping for the Vivid arts festival in Sydney

A bit sad to see The White House in Clapham closing, I didn’t venture south of the river much; but the people running The White House deserve credit for trying to do something about Clapham’s night life.

My friend Alex Banks shared this Dimitri from Paris mix with me:

Worthwhile listening for the Candi Staton acapella thrown over a breakbeat that comes in at 4:25 complete with a hint of cowbell underneath the jazz flute riffs.

You know summer is on the way when Mary Meaker drops her Internet trends presentation and talks about all the usual buzz topics.

Finally, a shout-out for Unfinished Man; a GQ-wannabe blog with the best comment policy:

Comment rules:Remember what Jesus was like? Cool. He was a cool dude, and that’s what I expect of you. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please, do not put your URL in the comment text and, please, use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation!

Less is more in Apple’s PR world

At the moment the D10 conference has been happening in the US where the great and the good of Silicon Valley are interviewed by a mix of Wall Street Journal reporters in front of a public audience. The conference opened up with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook being interviewed. Looking at Techmeme first thing this morning which is a site that curates content of interest to a techie audience over the half the stories featured on the page featured interpretations of the Cook interview. This was a powerful demonstration of Apple’s less-is-more strategy of PR where content is usually so sparse that when it does arrive the coverage piles up. In a task orientated profession like PR doing nothing for the right reasons can yield better results.

Archived from the PR Week blog that I used to write.

Great guide to WeChat

Tencent’s WeChat is one of the smartest mobile messaging applications available and I really liked this guide to the platform for marketers:

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Is it time for Microsoft to dump Xbox and Bing? | Computerworld Blogs – no.

TelecomTV | Video | Six minute guide: what SDN & NFV REALLY mean

Singapore to regulate Yahoo!, other online news sites | Reuters

1 in 5 shops in UK ‘could close by 2018’ – RTÉ News – Wales and North West will see biggest amount of closures

US entertainment industry to Congress: make it legal for us to deploy rootkits, spyware, ransomware and trojans to attack pirates! – Boing Boing – this is nuts

The Engagers: Vikki Chowney on Influencer Outreach – Traackr

Hidden iPhone Features – Business Insider

US, Japan, Korea Drive about 80% of Google Play’s Games Revenue

Here’s to the crazy icons

Is it just me or does Rolex’s Icons campaign feel very similar to Apple’s Think Different campaign?


The tone of voice is a bit different to appeal to a different customer base and there is the Eames Office House of Cards-style video effect, but I couldn’t help feel that I had seen the prototype of this ad before:

Apple’s campaign from 1997.

It feels to me like the Apple ad with a sprinkling of Glengarry Glen Ross in the voiceover and as a Rolex wearer it made me a bit disappointed. Which is a shame because of the individual profiles of Andy Warhol and Elvis Presley are nicely put together visual vignettes (the voiceovers could do with a bit more substance).

The Rolex campaign seems to be primarily online, I am seeing a lot of banner ads that go through to the video on the Rolex site on the pre-article interstitial pages on Forbes that go through to a campaign mini-site on

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Google Glass in 10 years: The view from dystopia | PandoDaily – all your cyberpunk fantasies belong to us via Nigel

Mr. China Goes To San Francisco | TechCrunch – PCH extending up the value chain to product design

The Google Glass post

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation that I had with Ian Wood around this time last year and a twitter exchange that I had earlier this week with Excapite. We started off talking about what Tumblr meant to Yahoo! and what it meant in the broader scheme of things in the digital eco-system  and the primacy of mobile device experience in the world now.

Nigel suggested that the future is likely to look like Google Glass, but that the current device is too early rather like the Apple Newton PDA. Part of the problem is a social one, the device usage is too conscious, so you have the ‘Glasshole’ phenomena as demonstrated by the white men wearing Google Glass tumblr account.

I suspect that the problem with Google Glass is partly one of execution rather like the HP-150 personal computer of the early 1980s. Why the comparison with a thirty-year old computer design?

Let me quote from chapter nine of Accidental Empires by Robert X. Cringely

The other problem with the HP-150 was what was supposed to have been its major selling point—the touchscreen, which was a clever idea nobody really wanted. Not only was it hard to get software companies to make their products work with HP’s touchscreen technology, users didn’t like it. Secretaries, who apparently measure their self-worth by typing speed, didn’t want to take their fingers off the keys. Even middle managers, who were the intended users of the system, didn’t like the touch screen. The technology was clever, but it should have been a tip-off that HP’s own engineers chose not to use the systems. You could walk through the cavernlike open offices at HP headquarters in those days without seeing a single user pointing at his or her touchscreen.

Funnily enough touch screens were tried again and again. They only seemed to sell in reasonable quantities when they were on devices that:

  • Didn’t have a keyboard (as standard) (PalmPilot, iPhone, iPad)
  • Didn’t try to do the kind of tasks that one would need a keyboard for. When one thinks about the the PalmPilot, the iPad and even the iPhone they are primarly information consumption devices

I think that the glance up display Google Glass has a level of social and user awkwardness similar to the touch display. Google are on to something, the use of sneaky applications that would provide the right information at the right time. But the very act of using the device is a big tell that is both distracting and takes away the social impact of the information provided.

If we think about the way similar displays are used in fiction:

  • The Terminator – it isn’t obvious that the data is being used as it is ‘in retina’ but cyborgs are really anti-social. In the first Terminator film, the posters showed the cyborg status information projected on to the inside of the Gargoyle ANSI Classics sported by Arnold Schwartzenegger
  • Jacking in to the ‘net in William Gibson’s sprawl series of novels have goggles and similar visual tools that augment the characters bodies; both of which detach the character socially as they go online or put them outside of the social norm with their artificial nature in the case of body augmentation

In real-life Zeiss and Sony’s personal cinema video goggle sets detach the user from their surroundings physically by concealing the eyes and psychologically by providing an immersive audio visual experience. So visual overlay may not be the best way of going about things.

When one thinks about the UN general assembly or news broadcasters, the participants get their cues via a discrete ear phone or assistant whispering within earshot. Sound may be a better way of providing sneak application information. However despite services like Siri the technology for audio input and output may not be there. At least in small discrete package with a reasonable battery life.

More information
Things are looking up for Google Glass | I, Cringely

Links of the day | 在网上找到

My questions for Tim Cook | asymco – some interesting questions here

Upscale Hotel Lets Guests Shop At Luxury Department Store After Hours – PSFK – luxury is as much about experience as it is about the logo on the items

IPhone Urinalysis Draws First FDA Inquiry of Medical Apps – Bloomberg – expect the whole health 2.0 space to be much more closely examined

Daily Mail publisher’s print revenues slide | Media | – as big as the Mail Online’s audience is, the revenues derived from it are less than a tenth of the print revenue

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week.

Veteran DJ Greg Wilson was all over Mixmag with a great interview, the key quote for me came from Wilson quoting an article he had written about his experience of the Hacienda’s acid house boom:

My abiding memory of the Haçienda in those ‘rave on’ days was the overwhelming response to the track “Rich In Paradise” by the FPI Project (an instrumental version of the classic “Going Back To My Roots”), which I witnessed during a visit from London (where I was living at the time). I stood chatting to Kermit (then of the Rap Assassins) in one of the alcoves when, while continuing the conversation, he raised his hand in the air as the track’s piano breakdown filled the room. In my heightened state I then noticed that all the people standing near us were giving the same type of salute. As I looked around it became apparent that everyone in the club was sharing this outpouring of togetherness, hands held high in the air! It was the most unifying moment I’ve ever experienced in a club and, although I witnessed similar sights subsequently, everything that followed seemed to be just chasing shadows, trying to re-capture something that was no longer there, at least not in its purest form.

Wilson also provided Mixmag with a re-edit of Marina Van Rooy’s Sly One, a track that still gives me the goose bumps listening to it:

Vice magazine did a critique of rave and hardcore YouTube comments that echo Greg Wilson’s sentiment.

The new flickr design gave me yet another reason to recommend my favourite social media platform to clients and colleagues.

The newsblur redesign made the world’s best RSS reader even faster, more responsive and even more of a delight to use.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

BBC News – Taiwan’s pop culture leaps Chinese hurdles

The New York Times Is Applying the Same Cool Interactive Technology of Its Editorial Content to Ads Courtesy of its Idea Lab | Adweek – creative page takeovers, what is interesting is how the media company is displacing the advertising agency in creativity

AnandTech | The Xbox One: Hardware Analysis & Comparison to PlayStation 4

Flickr – a social media unsung hero – Dot Comms – a post that I wrote some two years ago for Ruder Finn that still has legs

Coca-Cola Small World Machines – Bringing India & Pakistan Together – YouTube

Pew: 94% Of Teenagers Use Facebook, Have 425 Facebook Friends, But Twitter & Instagram Adoption Way Up

The UK government collides with the changing global consensus on austerity – Quartz

The EU mandate to negotiate the TTIP: should copyright be an outcast? | Kluwer Copyright Blog

pC LIVE Podcast: How to monetize digital content: Advertising or paywall? — paidContent

The Next Free Trade Agreement Aims to Regulate the Internet

China has too much US government debt, so it’s gearing up to buy real estate instead

Mobile data is the new luxury good in southern Europe – Quartz

Coca-Cola small world machines

My colleague Sasha showed me this great use of interactive kiosks.

The project wasn’t without its risks, given the volatile relationship between India and Pakistan.

Brands can look slickr on the new flickr

Whilst the story may have been lost in the Yahoo! acquisition of Tumblr, the company had also given flickr a visual upgrade. Photo sharing site flickr has been a stalwart of online PR life for the past eight years and hadn’t changed that much, which is a measure of how much Yahoo! neglected it and how forward thinking the original flickr team were in the way they had developed the site.

flickr now provides free accounts with greater storage capacity and an account page re-design that is more visually appealing. A second aspect of the change is that flickr allows more space for branding a given account. There is now a banner image at the top of the page that is 1,350 x 185 pixels, in addition to the original postage stamp sized account icon. My colleagues and I spent the last day exploring the new design and have been implementing a more branded experience for clients. We think that the new banner offers a better uninterrupted visual branding space than many other social platforms.

You can find out more about the new flickr design here.  More on using flickr for PR on a post I wrote for the Ruder Finn blog here.

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Exxon Takes Algae Fuel Back to the Drawing Board | MIT Technology Review

But Wait. Didn’t Yahoo Try a Deal Like This Before? –

Why Google will crush Nielsen |

A better, brighter Flickr « Flickr Blog

Amazon buys Samsung display subsidiary Liquavista

Statistical Formulas For Programmers

Unilever: Is Creating its Own Tea Pod Machine a Risk Worth Taking? – Analyst Insight from Euromonitor International

Cosmetics groups move deeper into China –

Communities Dominate Brands: Q1 Numbers in Bloodbath Year Four: Smartphones Galore

NYRB 50 Years International Reportage reviewed Gabriel Debenedetti | New Republic – what hard news misses

Why Yahoo Doesn’t Think Tumblr Has a Porn Problem – AllThingsD

How two Valve engineers walked away with the company’s augmented reality glasses | The Verge

Social Media Pose Riddle for CIA –

Tech City News announces ‘transatlantic tech news alliance’|

Mondo Vice: going backwards to bring news media forwards

Over the past few weeks I have been watching the team at Vice magazine’s new TV documentary series. The content is familiar territory to people who have watched the Vice YouTube channel, just the segments are joined up into cohesive themes. At the beginning of each episode you can hear Shane Smith introduce the programme with the following refrain:

The world is changing,
And no one knows where it’s going
But we’ll be there uncovering the news, culture and politics
And expose the absurdity of the modern condition
This is the world through our eyes,
This is the world of Vice

Vice’s news media offering comes from a position that mainstream media has failed to give consumers the information and insights that they need and deserve as part of a modern society. Having heard Shane Smith talk about the offering you get the sense of frustration that has driven the programming. Smith cited the anger felt by the youth that they came across, research that indicated younger consumers were interested in the world around them, but weren’t engaged by current news offerings.

This is blamed on a lack of integrity within the western news media which is viewed by some to have sold out during the post-9/11 period. And an inability to come to terms with a changing media landscape of social media publishing combining with a smartphone becoming a broadcast studio in the palm of your hand.

For me Vice looks to have re-invented the news media by going back and borrowing from the journalism of the past. Firstly, Vice stories are one of personal exploration of an issue: a travelogue to find out the different sides of the situation they are examining: whether it is smoking in Indonesia or gun markets in the border regions of Pakistan. This is very reminiscent of the New Journalism movement from Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe to Hunter S. Thompson which put the narrator into the story.

The edgy, surprising and shocking material reminded me of Italian film-makers Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi’s Mondo series of films. These were often travel vignettes offered up within a theme including:

    • Mondo Cane – focused on different cultural practices around the world that would be alien to a western audience
    • Africa Addio – documented the move to post-colonial government across the continent; with some of the little documentary footage shot of the Zanzibar revolution

Vice is managing to make the future of news media with ingredients from genres of journalism that grew out of the counterculture.