Thursday, July 31, 2008

entertain me!

I just childishly typed show me a website I haven't seen before into Google. I got some very nice pictures:


nice animation

nice animation for the World Science Festival. click on the image innit.

Via Swiss Miss


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


i like it. can you make it less interactive?

I had a thought the other day. It's not an amazing thought, so to make it appear more amazing, I'm going to present it in a "high-potency insight". If nothing else, it'll make people cleverer than me disagree passionately in the comments section and then maybe we'll all learn something:

"Make traditional comms more interactive and make digital comms less interactive"

*Strokes chin*

As many people have pointed out; some more elegantly than others, 'there's a lot of stuff out there'. It's very tempting with digital comms to make things as interactive and immersive as possible. Clients of course want their consumers to dump their partners, lose interest in the guitar, forget Facebook exists and spend their afternoons toying with some product-related game or 'community'.

But there's too much stuff asking too much of us. I want the 'Lite' version of everything - especially online. Arguably, it's a smarter tactic to ask for 5 seconds of someone's time every day than to try to squeeze out 20 minutes out of them just once or twice. If I had had more coffee today I would go off on a ramble about the band-aid culture of marketing in general. Not today.

But there's also ways to slim things down without reducing interactivity. it requires a more sensitive approach...

This is brilliant.

And it's a perfect analogy for how all digital communications should be. OK not all. But a lot. It's an onion and you peel away the layers as you see fit. The very existence of the layers act as a hook too. Give it to me quick and let me know there's more.

I'm done. Any more and I'm in danger of looking like I have a conclusion. rant over.

Labels: ,

picasso's guernica in 3D


Done like this:

By this girl

Found here.


nice quote:
"Communication pollutes, action communicates"

on a nice blog.

from another nice blog.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


"please be voicemail, please be voicemail, please be voicemail..."

Wahoo! It IS voicemail.

Enter Slydial, via Shiny Shiny


bullmore on fridges - or something

Something I've acknowledged for a long time but never put quite this nicely:
"Words in themselves are never completely explicit; they are merely stepping stones for thought."
From a great article on insight

From Northern Planner

look who's doing doing

Just like Noah said:

This app is also “just a glimpse of the future,” says Hewitt. As the newly-available iPhone 3G has the ability to detect location, the company is looking at ways to “let you opt-in to share your location and discover nearby friends.” This, and other new features, will become available in the coming months, he says.
Full story at Venture Beat

p.s. anyone else getting bored of the tone of 'official commentary'? Why can't someone come out and just say "In your face Twitter! @Facebook is flipping you the bird"

Labels: ,

pulse smart pen

You write. It listens. It plays back the audio when you click back on your words. Just watch the video.

So many mixed emotions do I have about this thing.

1. why does everything have to be so clever these days?
2. I want one. Give it to me now.
3. the future is a scary place. I want to go back to 1990 where the hardest thing to understand was how Elton John's Sacrifice got to number 1.

via PSFK

Monday, July 28, 2008

say it like it's '75

From now on I want you to imagine this is me and this is how I stand whilst reading my blog aloud to you.

ok, I don't really. But these are brilliant.

Thanks Knotty.

facebook and nasal update

Is Facebook trying to eat into Twitter territory?

It used to say "update your status":

It seems to have recently changed to: "What are you doing right now?"..

I wonder if they'll chop off this communication stream and turn it into a twitter-like service? Phew it's lucky I wrote this quickly. I just realised I don't really care if they do and that this isn't very interesting.

I'm far more interested in my post-cold symptom of having blocked ears. Someone help me! Pinching your nose and blowing just doesn't work. And my nose makes a strange gurgling sound when I do it.

paris: more bikes, less ads

I was in Paris this weekend.
Instead of sharing details of how I celebrated two years with the lovely Wrisley, I'll introduce you to something a little more relevant to this blog: the world of Velib.

It's like Streetcar for bikes. It's fantastic. And you can't go five minutes without seeing someone whizz past on one of these:

If I understand correctly, you pay €150 as a deposit and then you can swipe a card at one of the many Velib stands and off you go. (I realise the instructions are in English. My lack of confidence understanding is not a language thing, it's a laziness in reading thing)

The best part is that if you 'dock' the bicycle again (at any stand in the city) within 30 minutes of setting off, the journey is free. I think it's then €1 per 30 minutes after that. Fantastic.

I saw only one bike that had been discarded at a lamppost with a broken chain. Other than that people seemed to treat them with total respect. Oh wait - I just found this:

Another pleasant observation in the French capital was an apparent total absence of 48 sheet ads. There were only bus-stop ads and those ones wrapped around decorative cylinders. Nathan, you would have liked it a lot.

Lastly, Eurostar is still brilliant and still a million times better than flying. Enjoying champagne in the sunshine and under the glorious St Pancras roof before setting off is the perfect way to start a weekend. Anyway, back to my coffee and email-checking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

brands are people too

Lots of people get very unhappy when brands are referred to as though they were people. Well you know what - the image above is a bloody sink, but I bet you can't help imagine what it's 'thinking'.

Fact is, we can argue all we like; people will still respond to any hint of human characteristic instinctively as though it were a person. 'You' are your primary reference point to anything that isn't you.

Sometimes it's best to hold back from trying to over-rationalise stuff and just accept that if 'something', including a brand appears to conjure up personality or intent then for that moment it becomes a person. It may be made up of words and pictures created by multiple people, but our brains are more interested in the illusion of familiarity. So there.

P.s. I think the sink has caught a glimpse between the legs of a chubby bather and is frightened at the prospect of ghoulish, floating gonads heading its way.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

help build a London graphic design gallery

'Quids in' to help Michael Johnson raise a million to set up a London Graphic Design gallery.

The full story.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

police to quiz batman

On the front page of the Evening Standard today. Brilliant.

Monday, July 21, 2008

web of lies 2.0

Question: Does social media make us liars?

Let me explain.
It's no secret that social media generally breeds a culture of super niceness. Bloggers generally say pleasant things about each other or nothing at all. In a small, transparent world who would want to spark any kind of hostility?

But there's another factor. If you blog, tweet or tumbl then everything you consume is potential currency. And though most events, exhibitions or talks I read about seem to be portrayed as a glorious success, I can't help but guess that I'm not always getting a faithful account. A nice picture and a positive write-up makes a better story than a paragraph about how the writer wasted his afternoon.

Eesh. I'm cold man. Cold. You're going to tell me that this says more about me than about other people aren't you. You're going to ask me if I lie when I write about things. I don't really. In fact I'm not that nice. I'm difficult. I wasted my evening here and I got bored out my mind (mostly) here.

ok, enough. I'm just pleased I finally had a thought. My brain has been like an empty tub of margarine recently - and I've been scraping the last warm slithers of crumb-ridden grease from its corners.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Maybe I'm being too British, but I resent that the icon for "normal" priority on Apple Mail emails is an exclamation mark.

One ! is about right for "urgent" thanks very much.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

chainsaw maid



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I wonder if you'll find this interesting

Wrisley sent me this great article from the New Yorker on 'perspective taking'; or:
“stepping outside of one’s own experience and imagining the emotions, perceptions, and motivations of another individual"
Apparently, the more powerful you are the less good you are at doing the above. Interesting to me because I'd say the attribute I have that most influences my take on branding and communications is my tendency to be very empathetic. It's also the inspiration behind a lot my work - especially the mood based stuff.

I guess I'm not very powerful. But maybe that's a good thing.


I love words - as you may know. I especially love how they can shape concepts. In the Metro this morning was a quote from Professor Peter Borriello, director of the HPAs centre for infections:

"Increasingly a shag now stands for syphilis, herpes, anal warts and gonorrhoea."


i feel toronto

I just launched I Feel Toronto. Hooray. But the maps are a blank canvas, awaiting your input. Hopefully. If you know anyone in Toronto, please spread the word. Tell them they'll be an early adopter. Or something.

I also added I Feel Broke to the London, NYC and Toronto maps. Thanks to Eric for the suggestion.

Is Broke a mood? Not really. But 'mood' is just a convenient shorthand for state of mind - or things that affect your state of mind. The important bit is seeing the world through an introspective prism of sorts. Crikey - bit early for sentences like that. Being broke, or just feeling like doing cheap, free or no-frills stuff is definitely a nice way to think about how to spend your time.

I'm now chatting to some geeks (I mean, friends) about doing this whole I Feel thing 'properly'. I'm chuffed so many people have responded passionately to the idea. Now it needs to move away from its invite-only, google-account-reliant, clunky ways. Onward and upward.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Friday, July 11, 2008

a test for planners

Feel free to use this yourself in private. Cheat notes on your hand maybe?


hello buoys

Nice. If I made 'proper ads' I'd like to make ones like this. Especially on Fridays.

Nicked from Nathan


no apples

Warning: Geeky, dull post.

Went to a gig at Koko last night as part of the iTunes festival. It was interesting (to me) that there wasn't an Apple logo in sight. Check the pass they give you. None on the back either.

They realise the power of the iTunes sub-brand. Nice.

I was especially pleased because I went to an Apple store gig last summer in NYC (Kings Of Leon) and although I enjoyed the music, it was wrong. it was wrong because all the energy you associate with live music was somehow muted by the presence of the Apple logo and accompanying slick, minimal design and typography. Wrong.

So well done Apple. You did it right. And you gave me ten free songs too, which is nice. I'll add them to my other 7000 free songs.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

members of the board

Last year I got totally sucked into playing Scrabulous on Facebook. I grew up playing Scrabble and like millions of others, found endless pleasure in the Facebook 'representation'. I use that word very deliberately, because we're fairly familiar by now with the story: Two guys in India make an unofficial Scrabble rip-off for Facebook. People get happy. Hasbro get pissed off.

Well Hasbro and Electronic Arts are about to release their official Facebook Scrabble now. So the lawyers must be getting ready behind the scenes (putting face paint on; donning brightly coloured, 'motifed' silk dressing gowns.. that kind of thing) before booting Scrabulous into touch.

I'm fascinated to see how this plays out. It will say a lot about people's loyalty and emotional connection to things/experiences. Do the people that play Scrabulous care that it's unofficial? No. Will they switch to the the official Scrabble unprompted? Probably not. Will they be angry if Scrabulous is removed - even if the official Scrabble version arrives the same day? Probably.

Many of the players (me included) have an emotional attachment to Scrabble from their youth. But is it the brand or the experience we love? When I played Scrabulous, as far as I was concerned, it was Scrabble. I imagine its new environment helped ease me into a 'different version' but my emotional attachment to the experience of playing moved effortlessly from board to screen. In fact, I probably couldn't have told you who made the original Scrabble anyway. As long as I could move tiles about and make words I was happy.

Another factor is the investment of time people have put into Scrabulous. Every game you play adds to your total score. And it record the number of Bingos (7-letter words) you have too. Here are my stats:

And I have 42 bingos. If I switched to Scrabble I'd lose all that.

How much will heritage matter when the switch is flicked? I have a feeling that Scrabulous's digital heritage will stand strong. I also imagine that two guys that made this thing in an apparently unassuming, nice way will look like saints next to the large organisation that didn't have the vision to see this opportunity themselves.

Via fimoculous


Monday, July 07, 2008

me and iPhone

been teaching myself to use Keynote today. This seemed like an appropriate graph to create.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

more faces of sleeveface

I was about to do a post called "Leave Sleeveface alone". I was even going to write it across this image:

Because months after some record chop nicked their idea, I just saw a Smooth FM ad that has done the same thing. Turns out though that Smooth actually approached the Sleeveface guys. So it's ok. I'll calm down and say things like "well, jolly good, too!" instead.

They could have at least tried to do something different with it. I wonder how long it took them to post-rationalise the concept with the line "Lose yourself..."



I can't tell you how much I love these images. I'd need to do something drastic like eat my own legs just to get the point across.

By Russian illustrator Dmitry Maksimov.

Found at Design You Trust via FFFFound.


Friday, July 04, 2008

mind games

Last week I picked up the Metro and there was a story about Wimbledon on the cover. Two pages later I saw this:

For a good few seconds I thought it was the famous leafy backdrop for Wimbledon interviews. Funny how your these things can influence you.

Turned out it was a mass of migrating Golden Rays.

Did you also think it was the leafy backdrop, once I planted the tennis seed? No, just me then.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Feel Brainwashed

To continue my mini series: 'My little project and how it's all I think about', I've altered the look of I Feel NYC / I Feel London. I've tried to simplify the messaging, because it was looking a bit complicated in the top right corner.

It used to look like this:

And now it looks like this:

There are some fiddly details as a result of making it invite-only. I have to explain that you need a google account to edit maps, but also ask for people to provide that email when they request an invite.And I need to warn people they'll get one invite per mood map.

It's been an interesting lesson for me. I'm no designer and considering the flow of the user journey is quite challenging. I opted to start with a clean entry point and then explain a few things on the request page. My girlfriend also told me to do this and she's usually right. Sorry. She's always right. I also decided to give people two ways in: To get started on one map, or have them all.

Maybe I should just open the maps up to everyone? But I'm nervous that it would just be abused and plus, these barriers to entry ensure that the people who end up adding things to the maps are very careful and interested people, which has benefited the overall quality of the entries.

Anyhoo.. just thought I'd externalise some of that. I'm all ears for suggestions about how to do it better, but (for the time being) it has to be executed in iWeb. Ah, the art of compromise.

Do please give it a go. And let me know how the experience was for you so I can improve it.

Oh - and I've redone the help videos (again!). I used Snapz Pro X, which is really rather good. Be even better if it came with a voice actor. Someone with a cruel, chocolatey tone. mmmmm.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

the new literacy

Noah just posted a thing about Programming being the new literacy. I can't link directly to it because it's on his sidebar, but it'll be on his front page for a while.

He links to this, which amongst other things, says this:
"One might ask, 'Will every educated person really have to program? Can't the people who need programming just buy it?' Possibly. Of course, with that model, we have in a sense returned to the Middle Ages or ancient Egypt, or even before. Then, if you needed to communicate your thoughts on paper, you couldn't do it yourself. You had to hire a better-educated person -- a scribe -- who knew the writing code. Then, at the other end, you needed someone to read or decode it -- unless, of course, you were 'well educated,' that is, you had been taught to read and write and thus had become literate. "
I have lots of thoughts on this, none of which have a satisfying ending, or any kind of point so I won't bore you with them. I imagine Tim has a lot to say on this. I bet Iain's got a few nuggets too.

Me got no nuggets. Here's a few mumblings though:

• I am a prime example of someone that can't carry out his own ideas as he'd like. But there are always new pieces of software arriving that automate programming for us. (I made I Feel London with iWeb)
• Douglas Rushkoff would presumably argue that tools like iWeb (and even more sophisticated ones like Square Space) are still making us create things on other people's terms.
• I've uploaded a lecture from Rushkoff called Why Johnny Can't Program that is very relevant to all this, here.
• Is it just that the concept of 'literacy' has become radically more sophisticated to the point that a comparison with reading and writing is no longer relevant?
• These days, things change so fast, should I be learning to code or just wait for the next bit of smart software to come out that can do it for me?
• Is it too late for me? A 14 year old can do this better. Shouldn't I just take comfort in this: "The one who knows 'how' will always get a job. The one who knows 'why' will always be her boss." ?
• If programming is the new literacy, does it make sense to put so much of my life into learning something that is easy to find around me? Shouldn't I just have a fuck load of kids and make them my programming slaves?


outdoor office

I was working on a pun for the title of this post, but it didn't come.
On 3 and 4 July workers in the capital will be given the opportunity to use St James's Park as their office.

The campaign will see the "Outdoor Office" created in order to encourage both Londoners and visitors to the city to make more of the great outdoor spaces that London has to offer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

how to do how tos

My hat is off to the likes of Common Craft and anyone else that does excellent video tutorials. I just updated the help video for I Feel NYC and can safely say that I'm really bad at them. I recorded it about 6 times. And it's still awful.

Here's how you do it:

So I apologise to anyone that has to sit through my effort. I'd explain it in text but it would be quite a read. I hope it makes sense.

If there are any voice actors out there that want to practice, get in touch.