Ten Stories From This Week

15th May 2022

Great list from the Do Lectures. ‘Life is busy. There’s no getting away from that. But there are ways to make our busy lives that little bit easier. We have put together a list of 100+ tools that do just that. We hope they help.’

Inside the Apocalyptic World View of ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’. Simple but effective interactive storytelling, that highlights how frequently he uses 2 common words to divide a country. From NYT.

Powerful and positively moving. The trailer for the new LBGTQ+ VR museum from Tribeca, has dropped.  (one minute, 50 seconds)

Nice short piece on the importance of tension and showing your work: “Paul wants the group to be excited.He wants George to be happier. Most of all, he wants John to like his songs. That’s his fuel. And Paul’s practice is simple: Bring the work forward. Play a song before it’s ready. Because in the moment before it’s ready, that’s when it’s ready.” (2 min read). Drawn from Peter Jackson’s, Beatles movie on Disney +.

Another reason to get Disney +. From Esquire. ‘Danny Boyle Takes on the Sex Pistols. ‘The British filmmaker’s 30 year career has revolved around a kind of punk patriotism. For his latest, a series about the formation of the iconic band, he goes back to his roots’.

‘The Feelings’ follows a group of seven emotions working in healthcare, including Power Less, Rising Dread, Red Rage and Deep Sadness. By animating the real emotional states of first responders in a child-friendly aesthetic, the video is able to talk about a serious topic in a safe way. (2 min watch) ht@storythings.

Great overview of the re-launched C.I.A. website, including one of the pithiest ‘About Us ‘ pages around. How about this line – We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go’. Woooaahhh….

Great stuff, via James Harris Design. The Periodic Table of Storytelling.

Very charming this. Fingerbot Sense. The ultimate minirobot to automate everything. ht@onlydeadfish

Striking…Platinum jubilee Queen Elizabeth Barbie sells out in three seconds. Now online traders are after at least twice the original £95 asking price of the special commemorative doll.

Ten Stories From This Week

8th May 2022

The Inner Development Goals group hosted a fascinating summit in Stockholm on 29th April. The IDG, via their Sustainable Development Goals have a comprehensive plan for a sustainable world by 2030. There is a vision of what needs to happen, but progress so far has been disappointing, as we are lacking the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges. Nice quote from their summary video (five mins long) – ‘I used to think that the top environmental problems, were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy. To deal with those, we need a spiritual and cultural transformation’.  

From Fast Company. 2022’s World Changing Ideas Awards. See the 39 inspiring winners, and hundreds of honorees.

From Wunderman Thompson. A new trend report cataloguing the metaverse. New Realities: Into the Metaverse and beyond. Some stats of interest – 74% of people who know what the metaverse is believe it’s the future ; 66% believe it is going to be life-changing.

Twitter announced this week that they are testing Twitter Circles, which allows you to Tweet to a smaller group of up to 150 people

Really nice idea for anyone doing some writing. This technique for writing a first draft is weird but strangely makes a lot of sense. Try it! See how you get on. 

Love this form @storythings (a one minute read) The Original Pitch Letter For Desert Island Discs.
In 1941 BBC freelancer Roy Plomley wrote a letter to the BBC’s Head of Popular Record Programmes with an idea for a new radio show. The pitch was brief and the idea was a twist on an existing idea. It was commissioned and is still being made 80 years later. So, keep your pitches short and don’t be afraid to remix old ideas.

Cool idea from Burger King Germany, reveals the myth about cravings with inspired sandwiches. The Pregnancy Whopper (one minute watch).

How pop culture (and mainstream culture more broadly) is becoming an oligopoloy. A cartel of superstars has conquered culture. How did it happen, and what should we do about it?

The Nicholas Cage movie, museum is freaky. Especially if you reverse, so the camera looks at you. (ht @here_forth) mycagespace.com.

Montage of all the films and TV shows that have used Bowie’s Heroes. (six minute watch)

Ten Stories From This Week

2nd May 2022

Essential reading. From The Mindfulness Initiative, a new policy report, Reconnection: Meeting the Climate Crisis Inside OutThis groundbreaking report calls urgently for policy attention to the neglectedinner dimension of the climate crisis, and outlines the importance of mindfulness and compassion practices in restoring the conscious connection fundamental to human and planetary health. 

Amazon-as-a-service, integrates Prime benefits and functionality into third party merchant sites even if they don’t sell in Amazon’s store. Part of an ambition to not only to take an ever-greater slice of commerce through their own destinations (e.g. marketplace) but also to become integrated right across the entire commerce ecosystem.

Vice reports that (according to a leaked internal memo) Facebook has no idea where all of its user data goes, or what it’s doing with it…..

Wanting to attract the best talent possible (globally) Airbnb announce that their employees can live and work anywhere, in what seems to be a very enticing approach to hybrid (including the option to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location).

On the flip side to the above, apparently (and no surprise?) new research shows that we’re worse at generating creative ideas on Zoom than in person.

Why Hotels Are Perfect Story Vehicles For NationsIt is doing and not telling…the marketing and word-of-mouth that has come as a result of hotels has been impressive. By making the hospitality space a proxy for the best parts of national culture, you make things more tangible, more sensory, and create a deeper emotional bond between the guest and the country.

A chart showing just how innovative Snap has been over the last 10 years. ‘Comparing this with an equivalent version for Twitter would be… painful @benedictevans

The Secret Code of Beauty Spots. Fake facial beauty spots were the emoji of the 17th century. They came in many shapes and conveyed all kinds of messages. (ht@storythings)

“Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.” —A surveillance drone warns angry Shanghai residents not to shout from their windows, as the city’s extensive lockdown continues.

 Try Heardle (instead of wordle) where instead of trying to work out five letter words, you have five goes to name that tune (ht@neilperkin)

Ten Stories From This Week

9th April 2022

From Wunderman Thompson. Micro-dosing happiness. Consumers are looking to small, daily interactions to bring them greater overall happiness and health.

The oldest joke in the world? Jokes have a lot to teach us about what humans find funny. National Public Radio in the US suggested in 2016 that the oldest recorded joke is from Bronze Age Sumeria (an early Mesopotamian civilisation dating 3300-1200BC). The joke goes: “What has never happened since time immemorial?” (Head to the article for the punchline). ….and, why do we even have humour? “Some researchers suggest that because humour brings us together it might have an evolutionary purpose. Perhaps our ability to make light of bad situations helped us to overcome them – by joining together in laughter, we were able to reinforce our social bonds.”

The Death of Ideals. TikTok, goblin mode, and the end of Platonism. TikTokers are going “goblin mode”. Burnt out by the pandemic and the pressures of modern life, millennials and Gen Z have taken to shamelessly “slobbing out and giving up”, malnourishing themselves with junk food and mangling their sleep cycles by staying up scrolling until 3am. Described elsewhere as a “full-on rejection of self-betterment”, goblin mode is the antithesis of being “that-girl” who embodies productivity, wellness and aesthetic perfection. It is an unapologetic unleashing of the creature within, and a complete lack of aesthetic. (ht @here_forth)

Crypto clubs. What does a members-only social club look like in the age of decentralization?

Droga5 helps good ideas get found in this catchy musical campaign for Meta. 

From the BBC. This first known fossil of a dinosaur killed the day the giant asteroid struck Earth is pretty incredible

‘It takes your hand off the panic button’: TS Eliot’s The Waste Land 100 years on. 

Highlights from the top five events from the first ever Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW).

From MIT. This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world. 

From Aeon. In a Mongolian burial, a body falls on the land before getting swept up to the heavens. (nine minute animation)

Hope everyone is doing well. No newsletter next week as I will be travelling. Back in a couple of weeks. 🙏👍🏽

Ten Stories From This Week

3rd April 2022

Love this.The untold story of 2021: people became kinder. Global rates of helping strangers, volunteering, and giving to charity are nearly 25% above pre-pandemic levels.(ht @storythings)

Some takeaways from SxSW 2022 – dominance of web3, holograms, sound taking centre stage, the importance of social justice and equity, and the magic of meeting in person.

Not an April Fool. Dyson’s bizarre new headphones have a built-in air purifier(ht @here_forth)

The Museum of Endangered Sounds.

In 1955, President Dwight D Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack while playing golf. What happened next brought on the BIGGEST obesity epidemic the world has ever seen. A powerful example of selective research highlighting misleading information.

Jony Ive on ‘focus’ – and Steve Jobs as the most focused person he ever met. The secret of Focus? Saying No. (90 seconds)

Interesting combination. Ryan Reynolds Talks Cybersecurity and Skincare with Wrexham AFC in 1Password commercial.

Interesting. The unskippable opening credits for Severance. Looks worth a watch – Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.

Some inspiration here perhaps? Mighty Marvel Comics’, Strength and Fitness Book. Read down thread to access individual superhero suggestions.

SNL on the Will Smith slap, and this is what ‘O.J. Simpson’ thought about it. 

Ten Stories From This Week

5th March 2022

Another fascinating, engaging perspective from The Nerdwriter on cinema, in this video essay (7′:34″), arguing that explode-y superhero movies aren’t the only movies worth seeing on the big screen. Asserting that “massive faces emoting on massive screens is just as epic, if not more epic, than explosions and battles”.

In the storytelling space, this is a fantastic tool and resource for those with a creative bent or just anyone interested in this area. From strongerstories.org this particular ‘story canvas’ has been completed using ‘Don’t Look Up’ as an example. HT @storythings.

A sad and sobering infographic from statista.com. Where Ukrainian Refugees Are Fleeing to.

From CNET. We’re getting a better picture of what happens inside a black hole 🕳️ .Algorithms are helping to solve a mind-bending theory called “holographic duality.” Perhaps an alternate holographic universe may lead us into a black hole?

The video game Elden Ring (created in conjunction with George R.R. Martin) is all the rage right now. Should you join the army of avid fans? See trailer here. 

Advertising veteran and marketing expert Susan Fournier reflects on her seminal 1998 study on brand relationship theory and asserts that it’s not just a metaphor. ‘ We learned that the essence of a given brand was not an inherent property of that brand as defined by marketers and reinforced in a 30-second ad. People’s life projects, identity tasks, life themes, current concerns, cohorts, etc. provide the lenses through which brands come to have meaning’. This Is Why You Fall in Love With Brands.

I imagine we are all doing a fair bit of ‘doom scrolling’ at the moment. With this in mind, this Oliver Burkeman piece on looking after yourself in amongst the rolling news cycle, is most welcome. The news ≠ your life. 

An old truth, but always worth remembering and brought to life engagingly in this animation from The School Of Life (3′:40″) Other people have been nasty because….

Love this from The Economist’s data viz team. The Greatest Cape – estimated heights and weights of on-screen Batmen (visualised) 

And finally an online conference recommendation… 

Friend of the Filter, Paul Armstrong (here_forth) curates an annual event – the TBD Conference, which is well worth checking out. Paul is offering 33 readers of this newsletter 33% off list price. This event is for people who are after a little hope, science and want the no BS version of where things like the multiverse, NFTs,  and future of work are really going. Speakers include Twitter, The Economist, Babylon Health, FT, Russell Davies, Takram, Twitter, Grey, Futurists, Neuroscientists, Slam Poets and +20 others. March 31, Global live stream.
INFO/TICKETS: thetbdconference.com / Use ‘DIGITALFILTER33’ at checkout or click here

Ten Stories From This Week

5th Feb 2020

How to explain the metaverse to your grandparents. ‘We’re using the term ‘metaverse’ as a proxy for a sense that everything is about to change’. This is very good for those still wrapping their heads around it all. (ht @zoescaman).

When Women Make Headlines : An Interactive Essay About (Mis)Representation of Women in the News.  It looks at the frequency of words used in headlines about women and how sensationalised headlines about women are compared to other topics. Towards the end, there is an interesting section that looks at events that have encouraged less gendered and more empowering headlines.

This has been around for a while, but constantly updated and super easy to use. Idea generation tools for creative professionals. The Deck of Brilliance.

And…If you’re looking for inspiration for a campaign, dive into this wonderful collection of case studies. A Curated Collection of the Most Inspiring Creative Brand Activation Ideas. (ht @storythings).

The oldest registered trademarks in the world are for beer. 

4 principles for great writing. Love this…”People naturally remember musical language, and I would encourage writers to inject their prose with a bit of music. When you’re writing, think about repetition and variety. Crescendos and rests. Pace and punctuation. Read your work out loud, and feel the rhythm of the words in your voice.”

Mr, Doctor, Mister, Miss? Here is the vanishing art of Folk Branding.

This is nice. The Wisdom of WinterHow to embrace the cold and its teachings. ‘Take a walk to notice all the things around you that elicit joy. A bird dusting snow off its feathers. The quiet stillness of freshly fallen snow. A trail lined with green leaves; a signal that life exists amongst the sea of barren trees. Just noticing…..

A couple of, very different, ads this week. Firstly, ‘Bud Light Seltzer takes a trip to the ‘Land of Loud Flavours’ in a new Super Bowl ad. This is the first of this year’s SB ads I’ve seen, and in my view this is not one that will be remembered for long…. and secondly a radically different (and rather wonderful) pioneering music video collaboration between a German composer, tea specialist and creative agency showing how a particular mushroom can turn a violin into a refreshing drink (four minute watch).

Nice. From @StreetArtUtopia.This mural reveals its full meaning when looking at its reflection in the water. 

No newsletter for the next couple of weeks as (negative test allowing) I will be travelling. Next newsletter on the 5th/6th March. Until then, please stay safe and well. Nick 🙏

Ten Stories From This Week

30th January 2022

A compelling thirty minute watch. The Lonely Century. In this WIRED Briefing, Noreena Hertz, who is a renowned economist, explores why this is the lonely century, how we got here and what each of us can do to help reduce loneliness for ourselves and our communities.

From VOX. Everything is not awful. ‘Sometimes it’s good to remember that while we perceive almost everything getting worse lately, the overwhelming majority of measures of the long arc of human progress are moving in the right direction.’

Discord, an invite-only social media platform has become a way to create hype and find audiences for NFT projects. It’s the latest gateway for brands including Adidas and Gucci to enter the metaverse.

Lessons on creativity via The Oatmeal in comic form. Insightful and great fun.

Blimey. The charming story of two Irish boys aged 10 and 13 on a stowaway adventure of a lifetime from Dublin to New York in the summer of 1985. Keith and Noel recount their childhood journey for the first time on screen in this nostalgic transatlantic adventure. Nothing To Declare.(trailer)

An extraordinary story. The Jewish commando who rescued his parents from a Nazi concentration camp.

From The Atlantic. Is Old Music Killing New Music? Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Even worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking.

The Atlantic Spent Two Years Studying What Readers Need. Interesting for anyone producing content. From this study, they came up with five audience needs – Give me deeper clarity & context, Help me discover new ideas, Challenge my assumptions, Let me take a meaningful break and – Introduce me to writers at the top of their craft.
If you feel like something a little edgy. Here is every time Logan says “f*** off” across all three seasons of Succession.

64 Reasons To Celebrate Paul McCartney. After all these years, he’s still underrated.

Ten Stories From This Week

23rd Jan 2022

From the very smart people at NESTA. ‘We think uncertain times call for a different approach to figuring out what the future holds. Our new #FutureSignals series does just that: using data points, insights and evidence to offer interpretations of the movements, technological developments and social changes that could impact our lives over the next year and beyond. From retrofitting robots to avocados grown in Aberystwyth, sleep as a new dimension of health, inequality and toddler tech, our authors give their take on what’s to come in 2022.’

Provoking piece on sports sponsorship, from ‘Why This is Interesting’ – -The Magic Helmet Edition . ‘ The Red Bull helmet is like a super sponsorship on top of the athlete’s already hard-won set of benefactors. Unlike any other piece of gear, it immediately identifies the wearer as someone who is reaching beyond the established top tier of their chosen sport. Unlike any other piece of branding, it ensures that the energy drink is front and centre in all media coverage of the chosen athlete. The mystique of the helmet is so large, no other brand has even attempted to match it.’

Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s The Future 100: 2022, their annual snapshot of the most compelling trends to watch this year. Highlights include – Unbounded optimism,Virtual teleportation, Brandalism, Emotional health and Metaverse recruits.

From phys.org. Apparently 1980 was the year when facts fell from favour – ‘researchers looked through millions of books published between 1850 to 2019 and analysed the prominence of 5,000 of the most common words in English and Spanish. They found that since 1980, words associated with fact-based argumentation (‘determine’, ‘conclude’) have been declining, while words relating to the human experience (‘feel’, ‘believe’) are on the rise.

From @storythings. Creativity and Constraints – How Jagger Got His Dancing Style. David Byrne wrote a brilliant book about how the music bands make is shaped by the venues they play. I’d never considered how this could relate to how artists dance. This story about Mick Jagger’s dancing technique is a classic case of creativity coming, from turning constraints into opportunities.

From YouGov. UK – Interesting stuff in their assessment of the Biggest Brand Movers – for the month of January 2022. Top performers include the British Film Institute, Lindt, Facebook, Sky Atlantic and Waitrose.

Letters of Note: the Art of Saying ‘No’ We all have to say no sometimes. It’s rarely easy. Sean Usher at the wonderful Letters of Note has compiled some of his favourite letters declining invitations. I might start using this one from E.B. White: “Thanks for your letter inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower. I must decline, for secret reasons.” (HT @storythings)

WikiTrivia – A New  Trivia Card Game to Test Your History Knowledge
If you’re looking for a new game to play, this digital card game is fun. Simply drag and drop cards, featuring moments from history, along a timeline. (3 min play)

An Interesting Fact About Every London Tube Station. East Finchley: “Jerry Springer was born in the station during an air raid in WW2.”

So sorry to hear of the death of Thich Nhat Hanh (know as Thay) who sadly passed away yesterday. The Guardian’s obituary was entitled ‘From MLK to Silicon Valley, how the world fell for the ‘father of mindfulness’’ He was an inspiring individual for thousands of people (including me) and a wonderful communicator. I think this passage serves as an appropriate message for us at this time : ‘Tomorrow, I will continue to be. But you will have to be very attentive to see me. I will be a flower, or a leaf. I will be in these forms and I will say hello to you. If you are attentive enough, you will recognise me, and you may greet me. I will be very happy.’  Thich Nhat Han

Ten Stories From This Week

10th January 2022

From MIT. The way many of us will initially experience climate change will be through water—either too much of it or not enough. We will flood. Or burn. Or both. The latest issue of MIT Technology Review brings you stories of the way changes to the water cycle are playing out all over the world as we begin to experience climate change (reg needed but free for limited number of stories).

This controversial commercial, uses fear as tool to motivate and sell. Difficult to forget though. The New Apple 911 Watch Advert.

Tim Harford, on the lifesaving magic of playing games, and how this can help with pandemic resilience. This study asked how people had best coped during strict lockdowns in China early in 2020. “Two promising candidates for effective coping,” they wrote, “are flow and mindfulness.” “Flow is a state in which people become absorbed in an enjoyable activity, such that they become blind to their external environment,” explained the researchers. In contrast, “mindfulness is a state of being aware of and attentive to one’s current internal and external experience.”

Extraordinary. An Italian mafia fugitive arrested in Spain after Google Street View sighting. 

In the first newsletter of the year, I would normally do quite large piece on on CES. This year, picked up on one big story was about BMW’s app that changes the colour of your car; but little else. Looks like not that many people attended.

From The Economist. 2021, the year as told through illustration (reg may be necessary).

From @storythings. Brief and amusing piece on setting targets and a reminder of why we need to pay close attention to what we measure.  The Three Musketeers and the Danger of Poorly Set Targets

What San Francisco’s skyline reveals about the city. A visual essay.

Lifts the spirits. The special relationship between The Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu (video – 2’03”)..and if this is of interest, there is also the book they co-authored in 2016 – The Book Of Joy. Finally, I came across this quote from Archbishop Tutu last night, which struck a cord… “Giving an emotion a name, is the way we come to understand how what happened affected us…..

This ad from Macmillan Cancer support, Whatever It Takes is more than two minutes long but you won’t notice. A rollercoaster but worth taking the ride.