Wednesday, October 29, 2008

google reader, the book

Sort of.

Today, Age of Conversation 2 launched. It features 237 authors/bloggers writing about, you know, bloggy stuff: social media, business, communication, life etc.

Presumably - as is usually the case when words are to become immortalised in ink - the authors will have made a special effort to say something especially valuable or thought-provoking. Imagine a day when every blogger stops rambling and really nails something. That's what I imagine this book to be like.

It feels strange to be promoting the book, because while I am one of the 237 authors, I have also been wallowing in blog-block for quite some time and generally lost my mojo. So don't take my word for it - and don't buy it to read my chapter.

Buy it for these reasons:

1. There are 236 other authors that probably wrote something really good that you won't find anywhere online
2. It'll make you look 'in touch' when people see it on your desk
3. It's for a children's charity
4. It's a sequel. Which means more explosions and a longer car chase

You can buy it at Lulu right now.

The exhausted organisers, Gavin and Drew, along with the people at the Variety charity will very much appreciate it.

As will the authors...

Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Chris Brown, Connie Reece, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Schawbel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Dave Davison, David Armano, David Berkowitz, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne & Todd Cabral, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, John Herrington, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kristin Gorski, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem


Friday, October 24, 2008


Sounds like I'm a bit late, but I just caught onto the 'MadMen Twitter craze'. It immediately reminded me of Matt Beaumont's e, where a story is told through the emails of staff at an ad agency, but as you can read here, this story (t?) is inevitably more complex and interactive. Who are the 'real' characters? Who knows. Who cares.

I'm sure the same idea has been played out with other TV shows too(?) but I suppose it works especially well for a show that appeals to ad people that probably use twitter.

I love the idea of a story playing out across these kinds of tools. In fact, I started one myself a while ago but gave up quickly from a lack of time/motivation. My idea was to tell a serial killer's life through a blog, called Killer Blog.

I quickly became uneasy with the idea and decided to make it obviously jokey in case the Feds knocked at my door. Or whoever the dull, understated version of the Feds are in the UK.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Howard, Howard, Howard

Last night I glugged down a disorientating cocktail of authentic and contrived advertising.

I attended a lecture by the very watchable Erik Kessels, presented by paper company, Howard Smith.

Kessels is renowned for his 'authentic' approach to advertising. That is, holding up a mirror to his audience, rather than conjuring up synthesized ad-land gloss.

He looks for the truth in things, for human emotion, mundanity and innocence and it shines through in both his advertising and his penchant for unravelling the stories behind discarded photographs.

The lecture was the seventh annual talk of its kind, presented by Howard Smith papers. It's an initiative the company is obviously committed to, and those of us that enjoyed the show on their credit card are grateful.

It's just a shame the organisers didn't look into Kessel's methodology before the night itself. The way they crowbarred their products into the experience was utterly painful and a masterclass in misunderstanding context.

Before the lecture itself, A Howard Smith representative explained the importance of paper to a person like Kessels. This was a little forced, but just about relevant. Just about.

What followed though, was embarrassing. A shaky, nervous co-presenter went through a ten-minute (which is a very long time!) presentation about Howard Smith and all its different paper stock.

The stock was detailed in huge letters in front of the trapped audience, as the presenter lauded the products as though they were the main attraction itself.

It wasn't done with wit, charm or character. It was like a watching a primary school play, directed by the retired science teacher.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to communicate with an audience you have assembled about a product you have deemed relevant to the event. But this episode displayed an utter lack of respect for the context and a total lack of empathy for the audience. It reminded me of this:

The opportunity was seen as a way to force their products into the eyes and ears of an audience with nowhere to run.

I left wondering what Mr Kessels would have made of it. And how he might have advertised the paper on their behalf.

Oh wait - he did - we all got a book of his work, printed on the stock itself. Wouldn't that have been enough?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

i love the future

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

monsters of boredom

I almost slapped myself in the face yesterday.

The guy in my local newsagent was about to put my yoghurt and milk into a plastic bag, when I raised my hand. "No bag is necessary." I told him, emphasising the word 'bag' unnecessarily.

"No bag is necessary." That convoluted sentence has come out of my mouth several times in the last couple of weeks. It's a shocker. I'm going to try to never say it again.

It got me wondering why this word-cluster popped up from nowhere and got lodged in my brain and I've decided that it's because of boredom. I think I actually got bored of regularly saying "it's ok, I don't need a bag" and out of sheer desperation for variety I started saying it in a new way, despite that new way being hideous.

Andy, stop writing drivel.. go lie down or something.

Ah - but I have a point to make. You see, I was in a meeting the other day in which an idea we had been kicking around for ages started to be dismissed for the first time. Its novelty wore off and we got bored of it before anyone else had even seen it. Something we've all faced, I'm sure.

Lars Svensson, author of A Philosophy of Boredom suggests that humans are notorious for valuing novelty above usefulness and that this is a direct result of boredom's hold on us. The problem is, this attitude of avoiding boredom at all costs leads to making surface changes just to scratch our itch.

Scratch enough and you turn it into a monster.
That makes absolutely no sense. I've decided that I have little patience for the last 10% of a blog post. I make a vague point and then trail off. I'm going to go and have some toast...

unlit with jont, dave, orange, monkey and poke

There's always a little hesitation when bloggers poise to promote themselves or their agency.

This (brief) story is a fine example of how such projects tend to span agendas and personal involvement in ways that make 'self-promotion' an unsatisfactory simplification. Or something less wordy.

I only had light professional involvement with this Poke project, The Orange Unlit Tour - a series of gigs played in people's houses across the country.

But by chance I knew personally, the people involved in it. Dave, the director and partner (of sorts) to Jont, is a friend of mine. I've known him for a few years through my friend Tash. The three of us can be seen below. (That's right, I'm pretty 'street' out of office hours)

Bizarrely, I had recommended to Poke that we work with Jont and Dave for a different project a few weeks before I heard about this one, not knowing they were already talking. And I had been to two previous Unlit gigs at Dave's house. (I appear briefly in one of the other YouTube videos)

To make things more interesting, I also know the Producer they subsequently hired: Garfield. I know him through a girl I used to work with. All very strange. I snuck onto the bus just before they left and took a rubbish photo of Dave and Garfield. Then I made a comment about their sleeping arrangement to make them suitably uncomfortable and left them to it.

So here I am with a Poke project involving two people I know separately and based around an event I had been to.

I have bias shooting from every pore. So I won't say toooo much about this.

What I will say is that the tour looked like a lot of fun. And it was put together by a bunch of people that all loosely knew each other. Even the peeps at Poke and Orange get on really well outside work.

If I have a point, it's that probably that there is naturally scepticism when any brand supports an initiative that existed without it and having been to the original Unlits, I was particularly aware of it. But I think this was done very tastefully and Jont and Dave were over the moon with the support of Orange. I think. Dave? Orange has, for me, always been quite an intimate brand and it fits well with the mood of these house-gigs.
From my fairly unique view-point this project looked to have been put together by a bunch of people (agency-side, client-side, production-side and performance-side) that all loosely knew each other and loved what they were doing. That seems to me, the best expression of what Orange are trying to support.

Group hug anyone?

The video is worth a look, especially if seeing interesting bands play in people's houses sounds fun to you. I watched it all the way through, which is rare for me. It starts a little slowly in my opinion, but the last two thirds are great. I really wish I had been there for the Mongolian Throat singers!

Anyhoo, here's the video:

Monday, October 13, 2008

keane and osang gwon

Friday, October 10, 2008


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

the sleeveface family tree?

Just saw yet another sleeveface rip-off. These guys didn't even try to make the copy fit with the image.

I sigh (again), along with Neil, who feels the same pain.

Anyway, it reminded me of two other things. First this - a nice different spin and presumably not a sleeveface rip-off, although I really can't be bothered to research it.

And lastly...

I was watching the awesome Arrested Development recently and saw what could potentially have been the original inspiration for Sleeveface. In the final episode of Season Two, 'Righteous Brothers', GOB is driving in his brother, Michael's car when he finds a mix-tape he had made for Michael.
A photo of Michael's face adorns the tape and as GOB holds it up in front of his own face he gets snapped by a speed camera. The photo is used as legal evidence that it was in fact Michael who was in the car and not GOB.

It's ok. It's a comedy.

This is the only grab I could find:

The moral of the story?
1. This isn't that interesting. I should find something else to write about
2. We get it, it's fun to hold photos up when they blend into their surroundings
3. The next person that rips this off is going to have me and Neil arrive at their door with stern looks and empty threats. You heard.


Friday, October 03, 2008

rubbish blackberry photo observations #402

Both pictures taken on my RUBBISH blackberry camera on the way to work two days ago.

1. BAD
Jack Daniels deja vu. Haven't we been told every day for the last five years that it's Jack's birthday?? I'm getting bored of it. The British don't need an excuse to drink. I'll celebrate the tying of my shoelace if it helps get things going.

Nice sign on the till in Pret. Translation due to rubbish camera: "We're legally required to add on VAT when you eat in. Nightmare."

I love signage like this. (and this and this)
You might say it's contrived, but I like it. When it's done well. Nice.