I don’t fully agree with all of it all the time, but The Outline is a wonderful thing. A publication that’s well written and beautifully designed for phones and computers. Loved this piece that came in the email yesterday: Productivity Is Dangerous.
Perhaps most surpsingly of all they’ve also managed to make advertising that doesn’t make you want to punch it in the face. I even shared a Goldman Sachs Blockchain Ad they’d made. Not because it was a good or bad ad. Because it was the best way of describing the Blockchain I’d come across. To be fair I’ve no idea who made the ad, maybe I should be congratulating the Goldman Sachs guys, but I’d rather not.
I think it’s about time I gave it a go. I’m reading Medium content more and more every month. And over the last couple of years I’ve started to feel like I’m missing out by not being a contributing participant in the Medium community.
It’s kind of like what blogging used to be back when I enjoyed it. There’s a genuine community of people engaging with each others’ content. And it seems to welcome longer-form content with ideas in it – not just click-baity pro-blogging nonsesne.
When Google Reader went away my blogging network almost disintegrated overnight. At it’s best Medium is like the best bits of blogging, with the essential bits of Google Reader plumbed-in round the back.
I’m working on a bunch of new stuff that I think might be interesting to share. There some things that I’d like to put out in the world and see how people react – to see if I can get smarter through sharing stuff with a community of good people.
Watch these spaces…
I also have a bunch of draft pieces that have been sitting there gathering dust in the Medium back-end for a couple of years. It’s time to wipe them down and put them out.
Is Crackunit over?
Far from it. I’m going to play around with different kinds of cross posting between Crackunit and Medium and see what happens. I’m interested in how the two things can co-exist. And to see where traffic and conversation happens. Who knows maybe I’ll even managed to eek some kind of post out of it…
Fundamentally I’m still a bit old-fashioned and I like having my own place on the web. A spot that I ‘own’ that can’t be messed up through corporate acquisition or whatever. So Crackunit is here to stay, for now.
I did a talk the other day at Here London. I had a truly lovely time. The other speakers were all – without exception – amazing, talented, interesting and passionate. I felt spectacularly un-worthy.
I whanged-on about what I reckon might be wrong with the world of ‘advertising’. (The same thing may also apply to other types of commercial creativity. It’s just that advertising feels like the canary in the coal mine of fucked-up-ness).
In one bit I drew an odd parallel between nightclubs and communication. And how, in the good old days, you’d have moments when a big tune dropped. And you’d get a reaction like this:
But now there’s so much music out there, no-one ever plays the same tune twice, for fear of appearing out of date. Everyone wants to be cutting-edge.
And it doesn’t come much more contemporary than DJ Anklepants. Seen below performing a set for Boiler Room in Berlin. You might notice that the crowd do not seem to be experiencing outpourings of ecstasy, there’s just a strange sense of bewilderment.
I’m not saying there’s not a place in the world for DJ Anklepants and his animatronic cock-nose (I’m actually a closet fan).
But there’s too many people in our industry spending too much time worrying about appearing unique, innovative, and disruptive to their peers. Instead of focussing on making things that are actually great, and might one day be seen by a actual real people.
I suspect that the current spate of ‘innovative’ advertising exists because it’s harder than ever to make a dent in mainstream culture. And perhaps it’s also why so many of these projects end up immortalised as: ‘look how what we did really moved people’ videos.
You know the videos I’m talking about. The ones where a brand does something surprising (typically on a sunny day, and often in a town square, or equally universal venue). We see people looking thrilled, entertained, helped, inspired, weeping, or whatever.
And we can’t help but think to ourselves: “Look! Real people, being emotionally touched by an advert”.
We’re all suckers for these images of collective joy. Because we spend our time glued to screens, physically separated from each other, these ‘experiences’ appear tantalisingly ‘real’ and joyful.
Especially when most of us struggle to imagine the feelings that people experience individually at computers or on phones around the world when we do something that appears on a screen.
So instead we make ‘happy people’ videos. To remind us that people really really love advertising, in all it’s glorious forms. And, because the video makers are experts in making stuff look great, we can’t fail to be impressed by how innovative, clever, and genuinely touching the work looks. But it’s also impossible to see what’s actually going on.
If the cameras were fixed, and the footage was honest and unedited, I suspect that much of today’s celebrated advertising work would capture audiences as bewildered as a bunch of clubbers faced with DJ Anklepants.
We’re at a unique moment when it’s possible to engage vast quantities of people on massively exciting platforms. And it’s up to us to use those platforms to reach people in meaningful and lasting ways. So let’s not be suckered by the shiny happy people enjoying mini-spectacles in the sun. Let’s stop faking togetherness and get some more Hardcore Uproar on the go instead.
WIL3D is one of my favorite things of all time, and having the warped mind behind it working for the same company is beyond thrilling!
So like a proper fanboy I sent Rajeev a message of love and admiration. Rajeev send a nice message back, and pointed me at a recent project called Nice2HackYou which is also for a band, and also mind-bendingly awesome.
I installed the Chrome Extension and held my breath. Thankfully I installed it on a ‘clean’ machine. So I’ve got very little Fox News or other disgusting items in my browser history…
Then I start playing the mix, and look what happens to my tab:
Spot it? If not let me make it clear…
SoundCloud have always been very good at attention to UX detail and this might seem like just a tiny little thing. But it’s actually really very good. It means that you can spot in a multitude of tabs which one is playing. Love it a lot.
In under 24 hours I’ve noticed these 2 ads for what I suppose are Google’s nearest competitors in a bunch of things.
First this Yahoo! ad.
Now I’m not crazy about the chick with the Social Media Tattoos. I’ve seen her around a bit and I find her a little bit, um, contrived. Especially when you put her outdoors in the middle of Tattoo-town (Portland, OR).
But then as I walked closer to the ad I noticed…
Holy shit, it’s hand painted!
At the very least this deserves an A for effort. Even if the ad is a bit horrible.
Then, this morning, I noticed this Microsoft Bing ad for the Portland Foodcarts Map.
You can view the map here: http://www.bing.com/foodcarts. The site takes a while to load and it’s not the best experience ever (and it only works in some browsers – not Chrome). But they have gone and made a theoretically useful map of Portland Food Carts. So again, A for effort.
It made me realise just how lazy I’ve been with blogging. And of course I have excuses for that. But there’s a part of me that genuinely misses the whole blogging thing. For a while I was thinking about just jacking it in. Especially after the whole hacking episode.
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.
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…