My Talk at Under The Influence

Here’s the talk I did at Iris’ excellent Under the Influence day. It’s basically about digital experiences and magic and how the two are interconnected.

Hope it’s OK – from my perspective I think it wanders a bit at the end (I sort of ran out of preparation time). As usual I can’t bear to watch it in order to tell if it’s rubbish or not. I need to get over my fear of seeing and hearing myself, it makes it impossible to do anything on YouTube or the like.

I wish I’d got to see more of the day’s other talks but I was busy writing my presentation and doing other work. But now thanks to the magical internet and the generosity of Iris I can see them all online. Hooray.

Google Visualisation Gadgets – Cool

I discovered the world of visualisation gadgets through this excellent blog:

They’re things that can basically turn a table full of boring data into interactive gadgets that you can publish and share as you like.

I thought it looked easy. So I tried it out.

I grabbed some European Internet Population data from here. Copied and pasted it into Google Docs (via an Excel html import). Then added a column of country codes from here.

Then just clicked insert gadget and bosh…

It took about 15 minutes total to create something mildly useful. I’ve probably not picked the best information to display in this way – and the data is incomplete. But I was impressed with how simple it was.

There’s lots more types of gadgets – timelines, charts, and all sorts…

You can read documentation of the heatmap gadget here.
The data source is here.

10 Reasons Digital Is Better Than Advertising – Remixed

This is all going to seem a little strange. Why on earth would anyone want to remix a presentation in such a fashion?

Well it’s a funny story you see. I was mucking around with some basic VJing software. It’s a thing called Quartonian that can take a folder full of images and do crazy stuff with them (using Quartz Composer on the Mac if you’re geekily inclined).

Anyway I tried it out with some holiday snaps and it was a bit odd. The images were all a bit too, well, holiday like. I wanted some pictures that had a more thought out narrative. So I thought why not stick a presentation through the VJing software? I didn’t want to use a client presentation so this is what came to hand.

Here’s what happened:

10 Reasons Digital is Better than Advertising from iaintait on Vimeo.

Oh my good lord I can see myself having some fun with This. Slipping in transformation like this 1/2 way through a boring creds presentation into an acid inspired 3d alternate reality…

The original version of the presentation can be seen in video format with me presenting it over at PSFK. The remixed version is much shorter and more interesting though ;-)

[If you want to do such a thing, and why wouldn’t you? It’s really very simple – just export your presentation out of Keynote or Powerpoint as a series of JPEGs, then point Quartonian at the folder – you’re away! I turned it back into video using Snapz Pro to screen capture the output]

Boo hoo. I missed Rider Spoke.

I’m a little gutted.

I just got the programme for the Brighton Festival and got all excited when I saw that Blast Theory’s location based cycling thingy Rider Spoke is coming to Brighton for a weekend! Woo hoo!

Then I called up to try and book. And it’s all sold out. Boo Hoo.

Read more about the project here.

And just in case anyone’s got a ticket they can’t use, you know where I am ;-)

Adobe Downloads Cost More Than Boxes – WTF?

I feel bad posting bad stuff about Adobe being as they’ve just launched 2 really cool things: is an amazing online word processor (the export functions are dead tight and you could almost survive without MS Word), and Photoshop Express (the free online Photoshop version) is pretty cool as well.

So those are good things. Here’s the bad thing…

I was looking to upgrade Photoshop Elements (on my MacBook I don’t need anything more powerful). When I got to the checkout of the UK online store I selected the ‘download’ option rather than the ‘ship me a box’ option AND THE PRICE WENT UP!

Getting the box sent costs £45…

Downloading it costs £47…

Why on earth would that ever make sense to anyone? It doesn’t make sense to a consumer. It doesn’t make sense to a business surely? And it certainly doesn’t make sense to the planet.

Unless the fundamental laws of atom shifting have changed while I wasn’t looking.

URLs Out – Searches In

I was watching TV last night and an ad came on for continuing education. It’s one with fingers walking around the place. The ad was OK. I didn’t really pay much attention. But at the end of the ad the call to action was – “search for EMA online”. Not visit or what you’d normally get, but just search for EMA online.

So I tried it. And it worked.

On Google both top natural search listing and the sponsored link would have taken me to the right place. On Live search and the right link was the sponsored top link as well as being number 2 in natural search (not perfect, but good enough).

Then a couple of minutes later I stumbled on this article (via: BoingBoing) about how in Japanese advertising the use of search terms in posters is really kicking off. I quite like how they’re integrating a search box with a suggested search term into their ads.


Visit to read the whole thing and see more pictures.

It does seem like a potentially smart way to go now that most of the short and memorable domain names with any meaning have been scooped up. But making sure you’ve got the right people looking after your search engine optimisiation / marketing stuff is EVEN more important than it was yesterday.

Is It Broken?

Brilliantly simple.

We’ve all had those moments when a site’s not working. And you wonder, is it down for everyone or just me?
answers the question for you.

You enter a URL and it tells you.


I did do a double take on the Google ad served up in the bottom right of the results page though! Yowza!

My New Invention – Suspense Pregnancy Kits

Pregnancy tests are a staple of TV drama. You can’t have a soap opera without the cliffhanger moment when someone is waiting in a bathroom staring at a wet little stick to find out if they’re up the duff or not.

And these days the technology is pretty advanced:

I just love that line about ‘the most advanced technology you’ll ever pee on’.

And it’s cool how it shows you ‘in words’ whether you’re pregnant or not. But it’s all a bit boring. And it doesn’t help with building the tension and excitement. It just says yes or no.

Imagine if Who Wants To Be A Millionaire behaved like that? “You’re wrong. Goodnight”. It just doesn’t work. You need the tease. The pauses. The moments of anticipation.

And lets face it. For most people the results of a pregnancy test are of gameshow sized importance.

So what if we changed from this:


To something more like this:

Pregnant Animation

Obviously this is a very crude prototype. The real thing would have a sound chip in it to get the heart rate racing. And the speed of flashing would vary. Probably going from fast to very very slow. A bit like a roulette wheel of fertilisation.

Or an alternative would be to have a whole group of words fading in and out of view: pregnant, not, are, you, maybe, etc. etc.

Anyway I think that there’s room to make an even more advanced piece of technology for people to pee on. Especially for the world of TV drama.

Absolut Machines

Dickon from work pointed me at: ABSOLUT MACHINES.

It’s so killer it’s not even funny. They’ve got a load of top drawer interactive music machines that you can play with over the internet. And the way they’ve done the queueing and stuff is really nice.

I’m not 100% sold on the old skool interface look, but it doesn’t get in the way so I don’t care too much.

I just had a go on the choir and it was fun. And now they’re going to send me a film of my ‘performance’. How nice.

This is the kind of shit that gets me really excited. I love stuff that still feels like magic. It makes me all hot and bothered with the thought of possibilities and the things that can happen next. And that’s a good thing.

Typographic Synthesizer – So Good It’s Magic!

You know sometimes when you see something so amazing that you almost forget to breathe while you’re looking at it. Well I’m just about finished hyperventilating after the end of this video.

The guys at have created something that creates an incredible relationship between typography, sound and a control surface. You can tweak type using knobs, and the sound is generated by the form of the letters. It’s nuts. Totally nuts.

I also love the modesty of the video, the fact it ends with an almost slightly unsure: “OK, that’s it. Thanks”. If I was wearing a hat I’d take it off to these guys.