Ten Stories From This Week

1st August 2021

From @storythings. The Death of Counterculture: Where Are All The New Style Tribes?
‘In the early days of the teenager we had mods and rockers fighting on Brighton beach. But since grunge, the idea of style tribes has faded. This piece looks at a few ideas as to what happened: “Put simply, thanks to the internet, the churn of ideas, and the speed with which those spread – and become co-opted by fashion brands – makes the establishment of a style tribe a seriously tall order. Style tribes need time to bed in – those cited above didn’t just explode, but seeded and grew over the best part of a decade – and the internet’s info torrent does not allow that: the new is old almost instantaneously.”

From the excellent Tortoisemedia. ‘First he came for your friends, with a mission to bring the world closer together. Now Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, has announced an even bigger ambition: to build Facebook into a unified and interconnected digital world…. a goal to “transition” Facebook into a “metaverse company”? To Zuck, it’s a “successor to a mobile internet” where “instead of just viewing content – you are in it”. That means that Facebook users would feel as present in it, as if they were in the real world. 

Apparently, TikTok never drops below 95% in the proportion of installed users that open up the app weekly. Here is a useful WSJ video on how the TikTok algorithm works.

The world first learned of Sophie Zhang in September 2020, when BuzzFeed News obtained and published highlights from her nearly 8,000-word exit memo from Facebook. Zhang has supplied concrete evidence to support what critics had long been saying on the outside: Facebook makes election interference easy, and that unless such activity hurts the company’s business interests, it can’t be bothered to fix the problem.

A good read on the problem of link rot – the phenomenon of article links no longer pointing to their original target. This story reveals the extent to which the internet, which holds so much of our knowledge, is rotting: overall, more than half of all articles in The New York Times that contain deep links, have at least one rotted link.”

Interesting perspective from The Atlantic, on a remote work future. ‘Remote work empowers those who produce and disempowers those who have succeeded by being excellent diplomats and poor workers, along with those who have succeeded by always finding someone to blame for their failures. It removes the ability to seem productive (by sitting at your desk looking stressed or always being on the phone), and also, crucially, may reveal how many bosses and managers simply don’t contribute to the bottom line.’

Naomi Oreskes, a science historian and expert on climate denial at Harvard, says the anti-vax movement is following the same playbook. “The doubt mongers have a much easier job than scientists because they don’t have to prove anything.”

Young people can make real money selling vintage clothes online — if they can stay on the right side of the algorithm. These are the Teen Tycoons of Depop.

Great piece from The Guardian. Mental health memes are everywhere – can they offer more than comic relief? A meme may help, but it doesn’t come close to a hug.

As a keen paddler, I particularly liked this piece – Swimming gives your brain a boost – but scientists don’t know yet why it’s better than other aerobic activities. 

Ten Stories From This Week

10th July 2021

Great piece on the current period of uncertainty, considered from the parallel, historical perspective of the eruption on Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815. The devastating impact this event had and how, out of the crisis, modern agriculture was born- ‘We Have No Idea What Happens Next’.

Really like this from from Business Insider. ‘Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country.’ This is how different cultures understand time. (we have linear, multi-active and cyclic).

Smashing idea, wonderful result. 100% of bars supported by Heineken’s Grand Prix-Winning, Shutter Ads idea, have re-opened. This campaign turned locked down bar shutters into media space and showed that purpose-driven and commercially impactful creative ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Nice from @geniusteals. Culture & trends report from YouTube. References specific videos or channels which you can add to your playlist. You could use it for your next presentation, or simply for a way to discover some new YouTube content.

TikTok is upending the book industry. “BookTok” has sent old books back to the top of bestseller lists and helped launch the careers of new authors. Videos with the BookTok hashtag have been viewed a collective 12.6 billion times and getting more people to take up the hugely fulfilling habit of reading.

GOGOSOHO: Celebrating the independent spirit of the eternally cool London neighbourhood.

Nice guide from, friend of The Filter, Greenwood Campbell. The Human Guide to Tech, Summer 2021 Edition. Challenge, Adapt and Thrive.

Artist Jan Is De Man asked residents of an apartment building to identify a treasured possession — then painted an image of that possession on the side of the building. Images on Street Art Utopia.

Magnum gives poet Dante and muse Beatrice a kiss to remember for International Kissing Day (6th July). Over 700 years ago Dante fell in love with his muse Beatrice and some of his most famous works were inspired by her. But despite his dedication, their love never happened. To celebrate Dante’s anniversary and International Kissing Day, Magnum, the brand that is about pleasure and art, has finally brought them together. (1’28”)

Take a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty.

Ten Stories From This Week

4th July 2021

From Wunderman Thompson. Reunion and reconnection are the themes for the upcoming months, and brands are toasting to optimism and human interaction. Advertising Togetherness.

Great ‘freemium’ update last week from Zoe Scaman – on the ‘Power of Fandoms’. ‘Last year, I wrote a piece titled ‘The Future Of Fandoms’, in which I posited that fandom would become the dominant currency, both culturally and commercially, within the realms of music, sports, movies, TV and more. What I hadn’t realised is just how fast this prediction would turn from theory into reality and how expansive and exciting the developments would be.’

The Hottest Streamer (Right Now).  Who is winning the platform wars? Netflix’s streaming supremacy is being challenged as never before. The digital TV universe has dramatically expanded over the past 18 months with the launch of well-funded platforms from conglomerates old (Disney, WarnerMedia, Comcast) and new (Apple).

The World’s Best Adverts In One Place . A fantastic collection of all the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Grand Prix Cannes Lions winners. This could seriously eat a big chunk of your day…..

From NiemanLab. As the pandemic recedes in the United States, publishers opt to keep experimenting with virtual events. ‘In the transition into post-Covid life, more and more news outlets in the U.S. are opting to keep putting on some virtual events even as in-person ones return.’

You don’t have to be vegan to be vegan.The ongoing war between “belonging” and “doing the right thing” is invisible, but epic.

This ‘Wasted Potential’ Beer is Made From Goose Poop.

A nice short read on Alfred Hitchcock’s use of suggestion, and the role of surveillance in his films: “In an earlier, 1970, interview, the director offered a distinction: ‘Mystery is when the spectator knows less than the characters in the movie. Suspense is when the spectator knows more than the characters’ — usually because they have been spying on the characters. Such illicit knowledge reverses the gaze. Neither able to remain aloof nor stop the horrors they see coming.” (3 min read)

This BBC Tokyo Olympic Trailer is really very good. “The trailer boasts an aesthetic inspired by Japanese anime and video games and we watch as the camera moves seamlessly from a music video where real life singers transform into anime versions of themselves to an arcade screen displaying Olympic athletes in the style of Street Fighter characters.” (1 min watch).

Compelling drone footage of a giant herd of sheep. Honestly, it’s better than it may initially sound.

Ten Stories From This Week

27th June 2021

The TV Hit Isn’t Just Dying – It May Already Be Dead. Two years ago, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” gathered 20 million viewers to watch its finale. Nothing on the current pay-TV landscape would stand a chance of coming close. A new culture of niche TV has given a platform to more voices for narrower audiences and is helping to retain subscribers: If you’re Netflix, it makes a lot more sense to have five small shows that are liked by five different family members than one show that all five family members can watch together, you’re much less likely to unsubscribe from the service in the first option. There’s always going to be something someone wants.” (ht @storythings).

Google’s Chrome web browser will not fully block tracking cookies until late 2023, the Alphabet company said on Thursday, delaying by nearly two years a move that has drawn antitrust concerns from competitors and regulators. Rivals accuse the world’s biggest online ads seller by revenue, of using improved privacy as a pretence to gain greater market share.

Here are all the Cannes Lions 2021 ‘Reach’ Grand Prix Winners. Pakistan takes its first ever Grand Prix and Reddit goes large.

Little Amal’ – Not so ‘little’ at 3.5 metres, this 9 year old Syrian child was created by The Handspring Puppet Company & The Good Chance Theatre and will be travelling across Europe to spread awareness of theplight of refugees. Along with hundreds of artists and cultural organisations, you can help her along her way HERE.

Here, a couple of social media stories of import this week. TikTok is launching ‘TikTok Jump’ which enables brands and creators to build mini-programs and services that they can link to from their videos…and Instagram are testing ‘Fan-Club’ Stories – exclusive content that can only be viewed by members of an approved group.

From The Guardian. NFTs and me: meet the people trying to sell their memes for millions.

A chilling video from Australian charity, Anglicare WA makes you feel colder through ‘temperature contagion’. This is a scientific phenomenon where people unknowingly cool their own body temperature by up to 1-degree when seeing or hearing someone who is suffering from the cold. Here the presenting actor is experiencing mild hypothermia after spending one hour in a commercial freezer. (45″)

This is why small museums are stealing the show on TikTok.Museums can sometimes have a reputation for being distant and static — scattered with ‘Do Not Touch’ signs and often incomprehensible plaques. On TikTok, however, innovative institutions have seen great success, bringing their collections and knowledge base to life by leaning into opportunities to bring lighthearted humour to serious history and culture. 

A former NRA president unknowingly delivered a commencement speech to 3,044 victims of gun violence. (1.56″).

The famous Easter Island heads, have bodies which are buried underground.

Ten Stories From This Week

13th June 2021

From Wired. Twitch turns 10, and the creator economy is in Its debt. The livestreaming platform for gamers helped pioneer the patronage systems that prop up so much of the internet today.

The app that monetised doing nothing. Inside the meteoric, chilled-out, totally paradoxical rise of Calm.

London’s Wigmore Hall celebrated its 120th birthday recently. From The Guardian –  Its artistic director picks 12 of the hall’s greatest and most unexpected – moments : sexual congress, cigarettes and David Bowie: the Wigmore Hall’s hidden history.

Click on this interactive map of the US and see where a rain drop willl end up after it falls. Into streams, rivers, oceans..

This Wired article (sub reqd) expresses what a lot of people are possibly misunderstanding about crypto – that it is less about Bitcoin and more about financialising fandoms (HT @zoescaman)

Very cool. Who better to share words of wisdom than an activist, artist, father of seven children, and creator of 144 (!) albums? To celebrate his 88th birthday, world-famous musician Willie Nelson has kindly provided us with his 10 rules for life which are, unsurprisingly, sage, epic and smile-inducing, just like Willie himself.

Interesting. Apparently, depression amongst teenagers went DOWN in the last 12 months. Why? Because they’re getting more sleep.

From Vanity Fair. The 25 Most Influential Movie Scenes of the Past 25 Years. Great scrolling design and a few surprises here (for me anyway).

Just love this apology for missing a deadline. From the wonderful Dorothy Parker.

Sad to hear of the death of Edward De Bono this week. When setting up my business ten years ago, I was hugely influenced by his work and by the book ‘Lateral Thinking – A textbook of creativity’; in particular. The father of creative thinking, I don’t believe there is a creative thinking blog, book or podcast in existence, that doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude. As he said, If you never change your mind, why have one? 

No newsletter next week as I’m taking a few days out. Next edition on the 27th. ❤️🙏

Ten Stories From This Week

29th May 2021

Can Apple change ads? The ad market is a mess, and now very unstable, and poised, perhaps, to move to a very different idea of what ‘privacy’ means and how it works. Apple has both the market power and the brand to launch a new privacy-based tracking and targeting ad model, and offer it on hundreds of millions of high-spending users’ devices.

Some graphs from @benedictevans. Interesting to watch UK e-commerce emerge from lockdown. Very clear we are settling at significantly higher penetration. UK is now clearly at 30%, where the US is at 20%.

From the British Library. Music can give you goosebumps. Scenery can give you goosebumps. But can a word give you goosebumps? It sure can. And in Georgian, they even have a word for it: ჟრუანტელი / zhruanteli, ‘a beautiful word that gives you goosebumps’. So with English Language Day on Friday, here is a selection of the BL’s favourite words.

Why QAnon is disappearing from online view. ‘Aggressive content moderation aimed at limiting extremist content can work, but decisions to enforce rules and address threats of extremism are often prompted by tragedy instead of proactive thinking’.

From Creative Review. Stonewall’s new identity embraces a more activist future. 

For our American readers or those who may travel over there, soon. Have to say I swum in the ones in Texas and they are special. From CNTraveler – 8 Stunning U.S. Swimming Holes to Cool off in This Summer

Typically bonkers from XKCD cartoon. I have a collection of Wikipedia links to throw behind my car if I’m ever being chased…

Very true. Embracing boredom will change your life. You see, boredom isn’t just boredom, but rather, it’s the anxiety around being with self—one’s thoughts, emotions and ideas. Because when we are truly present, what seems to be mundane is really an opportunity for introspection.

Does Amazon know what it is selling? ….and just how extraordinary (terrifying?) they could be if they did.

Not the best acronym in the world

Ten Stories From This Week

22nd May 2021

How Apple screwed Facebook. Apple’s iOS 14.5 update has triggered an unstoppable collapse in Facebook’s ability to collect user data.

Worth a watch with a spare 20 minutes this weekend. A film from the FT – we know what you did during lockdown. We gave up our privacy to fight Covid-19, can we get it back? An interrogation scene explores how Covid-19 has exposed the tension between the need for data to track and trace, and the right to privacy and justice (18’02”).

The inadvertent art of tiny bodies – stunning, hidden patterns of animal movement. A mesmerising confluence of biology, aesthetics and filmmaking, ingenious nature photography condenses frames of footage to reveal marvellous patterns in the activities of small creatures. (5’24”)

Powerful stuff from Greenpeace. (1’48”). Less than 10% of our plastic recycling is actually recycled in the UK. The rest is sent overseas where it’s often burned or dumped, fuelling health and wildlife emergencies.

TikTok has spawned a new gaming genre. A lot of “baddie games” are centred on exaggerated gender performance, much like drag or ballroom culture.

The world’s most beautiful gas stations.

A new podcast from friend of the Filter @davidpearlhere (founder of Street Wisdom). Here, you can listen, learn (and laugh) whilst you walk…Tune In.

On this day in 2006, football prodigy, Kiyan Prince tragically lost his life. To show the world the player he could’ve been & to raise awareness of knife crime, Kiyan has been made a player in FIFA21.

“The aerial geometry and colours of Singapore’s communal dining areas.” Pretty … and somehow satisfying.

Unfortunately, this is difficult to un-see. ‘Someone worked very hard on this. I thought that after two years my feelings would fade, but the Slack logo is four ducks all sniffing each other’s butts and I’m tired of pretending it’s not.

Ten Stories From This Week

16th May 2021

From The Guardian. ‘The pandemic has seen a boom in companies offering a paid monthly membership. But why are so many of us signing up – and will we kick the habit after lockdown? From coffee to cars: how Britain became a nation of subscribers.

Guinness welcomes punters back with tongue in cheek ode to pubs reopening. You were always on my mind…

Loved this idea. Ajax fans haven’t been able to get involved in the action this season because of the pandemic, so the club have decided to share their league title with them, as they melt down Dutch title trophy to make 42,000 stars to give to fans.

Stumbled is a collection of anything interesting, weird or astonishing; websites of exceptional quality, sites to kill time or learn something new. ‘You won’t find any clickbait Buzzfeed stuff or low-effort blog articles here….’ Start Stumbling.

TikTok is launching a jobs service for Gen Z.

Came across this on a course I recently completed and loved the idea. Futureme lets you write a letter to yourself in the future.

An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found. Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.

While our imagination can sometimes play tricks on our mind, it is more about tricking the imagination. Vincent Bal, a Belgian movie producer creates art by making shadow doodles turning something as ordinary as a fork into a head of hair or a rolling pin into a pair of legs. (6′ 23″)

Great fun. If you like Rube Goldberg (chain reaction) machines then this is worth a watch. Machine learning pipelines. (56″)

Extraordinary and quite unnerving.Animate the faces in your family photos with amazing technology. Experience your family history like never before!’

Ten Stories From This Week

9th May 2020

May is Living Streets’ National Walking Month. ‘Walking is good for our minds, our bodies and our neighbourhoods and has been a lifeline during the past year, helping people stay active and connected.’ (ht @davidpearlhere).

‘The Creative Review Annual is one of the most respected and trusted awards for the commercial creative industries, which celebrates the best work of the last year across design, advertising, digital, craft, music, creative effectiveness, and more. Each Annual is a time to honour great work but also a chance to reflect on the trends and ideas that have emerged over the past 12 months. Welcome to The Annual 2021 Winners.

From MIT. In 2017, China stopped sending its hackers overseas to compete in security competitions, which aim to find hidden weak spots inside the world’s most popular technologies. Instead, it set up its own: The Tianfu Cup, which launched in November 2018 and was won by researcher Qixun Zhao, who showed off a remarkable chain of exploits that allowed him to easily and reliably take control of even the newest and most up-to-date iPhones. This how How China turned a prize-winning iPhone hack, against the Uyghurs.

From Tom Roach. “If ‘Marketing Myopia’ was an over-focus on products vs consumer needs, its modern variant is an over-focus on the present vs the past, present & future, that puts us in danger of losing sight of the bigger picture for our brands.”

In the early 1990s, a British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar argued that humans couldn’t handle more than 150 stable relationships, based on the size of the human brain’s neocortex and observations of other primate groups socialising. Now, a team of researchers in Sweden say that number is bunk.

Mmm…we’ll have to see if this works. Twitter will now prompt users to review and revise “potentially harmful or offensive” replies.

From Conde Nast Traveller. ‘A compilation of Mother Nature’s greatest hits, these 51 destinations need to be on your travel list.’

From MIT. We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed. Of all the kits used, Lucira was far and away the favourite. This is a laboratory-type test, with techniques similar to those used by professional labs, and you feel a little bit like a scientist using it.

Very cool. The world’s largest photo of New York City. Taken from the Empire State Building. 

Clever. Are all these balls the same colour?

Ten Stories From This Week

1st May 2021


Introducing the Sidewalk Talks movement. Volunteers set up chairs on streets around the globe and invite strangers to talk. And be heard.  A simple idea that’s changing the world one street at a time. (ht @davidpearlhere)

HOY Buenos Aires collaborates with local firefighters and newspapers to combat irresponsible behaviour and increase donations to local firefighting organisation by 500%. Fireproof newspapers in Patagonia spark awareness about forest fires. (2’08”)

From Wired. Lots of talk about Returnal – the best video game ever? ‘The game isn’t perfect, but it’s an exciting vision of things to come’

The City of London is planning to convert empty offices into housing in a bid to revive the area after the Covid crisis. The City of London Corporation, which looks after the Square Mile, is aiming for at least 1,500 new homes by 2030.

From xkcd comic. Virus Consulting.

From Aeon. Changed by art. ‘Gazing at a painting feels like an almost magical encounter with another mind. But what real effects does art have on us?

Of the third of Brits who admit their mental health has worsened during the pandemic, 90% felt talking to someone made things better. To encourage the nation to become better listeners, Three UK has partnered with the Samaritans on #BetterPhoneFriend. The campaign is devised to help people identify the traits that could prevent them from being great listeners, using a series of animated films.

Relationship charity Relate and Rankin talk the joy of later life sex.‘You’re fed up with having rice and peas every day, so you’ve got to mix it up…(1’14”)

From Magda Michalska in Daily Art Magazine – The Best Bums in Art History. ‘When nothing goes according to plan and you’re feeling down, there are many pick-me-ups like meeting friends, eating chocolate, or going on a walk. But I guess there is one more pick-me-up when all the other things fail: some hot and shapely buttocks to admire.’

Inside the bizarre world of celebrity impersonators on Cameo – Celeb impressionists are providing a stand-in for the celebrities too rich, too busy, or just too elusive to bother joining the site.