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

22nd August 2021

Did America just lose Afghanistan because of WhatsApp? ‘It appears the Taliban tried something different this time around. Open source reporting shows that rather than rocking up and going toe to toe with theAfghan national army, they appear to have simply called everyone in theentire country, instead, told them they were in control, and began assuming the functions of government as they went.’

Another instance in which Bitcoin is seen to be helping individuals achieve some form of economic independence in an authoritarian regime. As political demonstrations show the world that Cubans are tired of dictatorship, Bitcoin is providing an option to peacefully protest and opt out of a broken system.

Is anyone surprised? Harvard just discovered that PowerPoint is worse than useless.

Five truths about covid that defy our intuitions by Tim Harford. ‘It’s striking how much Covid confusion still reigns. Some of the informational miasma is deliberate — there’s profit for some in the bewilderment of others — but much of it stems from the fact that epidemics defy our intuition.’

Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves. When augmented-reality face filters first appeared on social media, they were a gimmick. They allowed users to play a kind of virtual dress-up: change your face to look like an animal, or suddenly grow a moustache, for example. Today, though, more and more young people—and especially teenage girls—are using filters that “beautify” their appearance and promise to deliver model-esque looks by sharpening, shrinking, enhancing, and recolouring their faces and bodies.

Wonderful. Adam&eveDDB launches worlds biggest inclusivity movement for people with disabilities – ‘#WeThe15’. Supported by the International Paralympic Committee, the film supports the 15% of the global population who have a disability. (1’51”)

Perhaps the true value of an adventure is that it shrinks our ego. From Conde Nast Traveller – For the most intrepid travellers, exploration has more to do with mental resilience than trying to reach a destination.

Asteroid update. Scientists think they know where the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago came from. Researchers simulated more than 100,000 asteroid trajectories, finding that an asteroid more than six miles wide hurtled towards Earth 250 million years ago. Frequency of occurrence is five times more common than previously thought. Nasa has increased the odds of an asteroid hitting Earth before the year 2300, from 1 in 2,700 to 1 in 1,750. The riskiest single date is 24 September 2182, so make sure to pop that in your diaries.

Pixel: a biography. ‘An exact mathematical concept, pixels are theelementary particles of pictures, based on a subtle unpacking of infinity’. This brief history of the pixel begins with Joseph Fourier in the French Revolution and ends in the year 2000.

Blip is a short 2D animation that explores the topic of digital addiction, an issue increasing year by year and especially during the pandemic lockdown. (1′ 12′)

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

28th Feb 2021

‘Walking is one of the simplest and most strategic things you can do for yourself. It takes little preparation, minimal effort, no special equipment, and it can contract or expand to fit the exact amount of time you have available. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a single bout of moderate-to vigorous activity (including walking) can improve our sleep, thinking, and learning, while reducing symptoms of anxiety.’ From HBR, Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Walk.

Another cracking piece from Tim Harford – From vaccines to homework, why we humans can’t stop overpromising. ‘In 1977, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky put a label on the fact that everything takes longer than we hope: they called it the planning fallacy. At the heart of the problem is that we intuitively make such forecasts by focusing on the project itself and imagining in our heads (or on a project management chart) how it will unfold. We never quite manage to imagine all of the different ways in which things might go wrong.’

Lots of talk at the moment about NFT’s.  This thread provides an explanation – ‘But what makes it an NFT rather than just a cool gif? for starters, it’s unique. NFT stands for “non-fungible token”, fungible = something that’s interchangeable, non-fungible = something that’s one-of-a-kind.’ 

MIT’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2021. Including Messenger RNA Vaccines, GPT-3, Lithium-metal batteries, data trusts and green hydrogen. 

A Beautiful Collection of Manifestos . WeTransfer have a wonderful publication called WePresent. This month it’s all about manifestos. This collection includes manifestos from artists and activists such as Pussy Riot, Alain de Botton, Lee Scratch Perry, Fontaines D.C., and Patrice Cullors. Fascinating and beautiful in equal measure.  

From The Guardian. Hello Las Vegas! How live-streaming is transforming the stage. It was meant to provide theatres with a lifeline during Covid. But live-streaming is now giving them extraordinary reach. Can it be sustained – and could it turn out to be a new existential threat?

Russian diplomats leave North Korea on a hand-powered rail trolley. 

A Search Engine For Movie Screen Shots. A movie-based image search engine that returns screenshots from movies, based on keywords like ‘clock’ or ‘tree’.

Very cool. Walk the streets of a selection of major cities, whilst listening to their radio stations.

Not on Clubhouse yet? No need to worry, you can effectively duplicate the experience with this – Clubhouse Bio Generator.

And finally. Draw an iceberg and see how it will float.

Ten Stories From This Week

24th January 2021

The average UK person’s lifetime CO2 footprint is 520 tonnes, the World’s largest Giant Sequoia has captured over 1400 tonnes. You can plant a Giant Sequoia to capture your lifetime carbon footprint .Rather wonderfully, you can plant it yourself (if you like) they will tell you where it is and you can dedicate it to someone.

‘From the Norwegian fjords to the Serengeti, readers are using the internet to bring music, vistas, wildlife, art and street life into their homes.’ From The Guardian, 10 of the best virtual travel experiences.

A twitter thread from @corydoctorow. Many wonder how epidemiology could have become so politicised. But epidemiology – like climate science (the other “mysteriously politicized” subject) has intrinsic politics: to take epidemiology seriously, you have to acknowledge that our species has a shared destiny.

TikTok surges past Facebook in average monthly time spent per user, The social platform is also set to surpass one billion users in 2021

Contagious has collated The World’s Best Creative, from their perspective.  ‘The most inspirational  creative ideas from brands including Lush, McDonalds and Ikea.’ (ht @here_forth)

Donald Trump has been banned from a number of social media platforms. Feel like you are missing out?  You can very simply set-up your own network here, and then ban him.…and according to this cartoon from XKCD, looks like the State Apple Grower’s Association, has got in on the act. 

How New Year’s resolutions have changed this year.

From NYT. A compelling look at individual behaviours, up on the ten metre board (16’16”). To get a perspective on the size of the challenge ‘jump in’ at 6’02”. 

Great fun. Very nice animations from Mailchimp in their series, All in a Day’s Work. This one is Silicon Valley Legends. (2’24”)

The game about the mad year 2020. Play through all the major events of 2020. The Australian wildfires, Covid-19, the Stock Market crash, Quarantine, the rise of Tik-Tok, the USA Elections and more… (I lasted 5 seconds).

And finally, this Tesla autopilot could not drive past a cemetery because a non-existent person blocked its way. (ht @lukehammond01)

Ten Stories From This Week

29th November 2020

If you need a calming break from work this simple mindfulness site allows you to go stargazing, lie in a meadow, or explore a forest. (HT @neilperkin)

Bitcoin at $100,000 in 2021? Outrageous to some, a no-brainer for backers.

From Wired. The Ethics of Rebooting the Dead.The notion of resurrecting people as digital entities is becoming less hypothetical. But just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be.

Spotify are now experimenting with letting influencers post stories to introduce their playlists.

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing. This was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

From Time Out. Revealed: British accents are the world’s sexiest.

Wonderful. A couple in New Zealand shunned developers to give 900 hectares of pristine land to the nation.

For the launch of Anheuser Busch-Inbev’s new blonde beer Victoria, the strategy was to confront the competition head on. Victoria is ABI’s challenger brand to the world-famous Belgian beer Duvel, which means Devil in Flemish. So, the launch campaign offers ‘Victoria The Angel’, to challenge the devils and invite consumers to make a new choice. (47″)

From Creative Review. ‘Scarfolk’s dystopian travel guide is a fitting tribute to our turbulent times. Everyone’s favourite Orwellian time warp is hoping to capitalise on the boom in staycations with a printed guide to the area’s ‘outstanding unnatural brutality’.

Love this commercial take on the classic Singin’ in the Rain, from Burberry. They say – ‘It’s about that fearless spirit and imagination when pushing boundaries.‘ I’m not going to argue with that. (1″59″)

Stories From This Week

7th June 2020

From The Atlantic. The new executive order targeting social-media companies isn’t really about Twitter. In reality, Trump’s salvo on social-media companies has primarily an audience of one: Mark Zuckerberg. And it is already working. After the executive order was issued, Facebook’s CEO quickly gave an interview to Fox News, in which he said, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”

Prof Galloway’s message to marketeers. ‘A 30-second spot…doesn’t prove you are serious about systemic racism. I believe this is a seminal moment in advertising. Simply put, brand-based social messaging has jumped the shark. After consulting to the CEO/CMO of every major athletic apparel shoe company in the world, my advice is to…Just Stop It.

Thank you @Faris for pointing me in the direction of French anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss. Love this -‘The purpose of a myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction.’ The human mind tends to organise thought and culture around binary opposites, and seeks to resolve the resulting tension through the creative act of myth-making.

Advertising in a Crisis – Then and Now. …Brands have long played supporting roles during testing times, turning government directives into actions and behaviours.

Snapchat will stop promoting Trump’s account in Discover: ‘We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice’. 

A massive wave crashes in a Seoul aquarium as part of the world’s largest anamorphic illusion

Courtesy of Empire Magazine. 14 Films By Black Filmmakers That Everyone Should Watch In 2020.

This 1957 drawing reveals the brilliant strategy behind Disney’s lasting success.

From Minneapolis to Syria, artists are honouring George Floyd through murals and public artworks.

From (friend of the Filter) Street Wisdom. ‘What can we learn from trees? In this simple exercise, Street Wisdom founder David Pearl shows you how to feel more natural and connected. Lose some of the constraints of laptops and lockdown by connecting with nature.’

In case you didn’t know about this (I didn’t) – The ‘Step Chickens’ is one of the trends that has been going around for a while now. Here is what are the Step Chickens on TikTok and how it started.

Short Film – Other Side Of The Box. Winner of the 2019 SXSW midnight shorts category. Late one night a couple receives a mysterious package from an old friend. 

From Wired. How US police used military tactics to turn peaceful protests violent.

‘Superlative things were done in the past century by marshalling thousands of people in the service of a vision of the future. Where did the grandeur go?

Reddit’s stream, Last Images Ever Taken is a tremendously sad and moving collection of images and memories. HT @neilperkin

The Guardian’s take on the greatest UK No.1’s ever ; and here the list on Spotify. For me, no real surprise about the top pick. ‘ Call the police, there’s a mad man around.’

How space flight controls haver changed – Apollo (1967), Space Shuttle (2002), Crew Dragon (2020).


Stories From This Week

16th May 2020

From WARC. ‘Increased local consumption of goods and services, an expansion of e-commerce to include a new wave of digital shoppers, as well as a new era of value-consciousness, are three major consumer trends that are likely to continue as the world emerges from lockdown, a new global study has revealed. ‘Localism’ is forecast to be a major post-pandemic trend.’

From The Royal SocietyDELVE group publishes evidence paper on the use of face masks in tackling Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

@neilperkin’s Post Of The Month competition is a fine, long-standing initiative that has highlighted some interesting writing across the last 12 years. In the most recent contest, my piece Mindfuness in the time of the virus, narrowly lost out to the lovely, A letter to my daughterby Patricia McDonald. I did manage to top the poll back in Jan 2015, with my post  – ‘How We Read Today’. To date, the most well received article I have written.

Detailed and accessible data, from Information is Beautiful. The coronavirus data-pack updated and interactive.

How vaccines eradicated common diseases. From Statista.

Tim Harford on Why we fail to prepare for disasters. ‘This, then, is why you and I did not see this coming: we couldn’t grasp the scale of the threat; we took complacent cues from each other, rather than digesting the logic of the reports from China and Italy; we retained a sunny optimism that no matter how bad things got, we personally would escape harm; we could not grasp what an exponentially growing epidemic really means; and our wishful thinking pushed us to look for reasons to ignore the danger.’

Sharp and sobering piece from the smart people at NESTA. Four coronavirus futures – Where might we be headed and to what kind of new normality? Including –  ‘the return to normal’; ‘permanent emergency’; ‘the post coronavirus settlement’ and ‘the big brothers’…

Another nice Lockdown Learning session from Contagious this week. The subject was Digital Reboot, and you can see the session here. I especially loved the Black & Abroad case study, that rehashed the derogatory ‘Go Back to Africa’ phrase to instead encourage black clients to travel more, especially to the African continent, in an award-winning campaign.

Staying in after the lockdown? Here is the % of UK respondents likely to avoid the following locations for a while, even after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

From Eat,Sleep,Work,Repeat. Office culture is crumbling before our eyes. ‘Cities are markets for talent, we’re about to dismantle them’.

Rising retail categories from Think with Google. Top trends include – sneeze guards, party streamers, insect repellents, cocktail sets and picnic baskets.

LifeLock’s marketing stunt went terribly, laughably wrong. This is what not to do in marketing.

From WARC – A playbook for strategy in a recession. ‘There are lessons that can be learned from past recessions, but the one the world is now entering is likely to look rather different.’

Up for re-election this November, AOC is making house calls in ‘Animal Crossing...and in the same zone, Animal Crossing is home to 2020’s hottest late-night talk show.

From The New Yorker – The first great original play of quarantine. Richard Nelson’s “What Do We Need to Talk About?” takes place on Zoom, which, for once, isn’t an irritating technical compromise but an integral plot point.

Curious silence from media agencies on last week’s ISBA study on the supply chain of the UK’s online advertising market. The study reported that half a brand’s adspend never reaches the publisher; researchers were also unable to trace 15% of the money spent by advertisers, an area the report called the “unknown delta”. AdContrarian is predictably scathing on the subject – Our Invincible Ignorance.

The First US Space Force recruitment video asks you to “plan for what’s possible while it’s still impossible.” – ‘maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.’..and in (somewhat) related news, Tom Cruise will work with NASA on the first movie filmed in space. 

Online game ‘Distance Disco’ brings people together during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Find the person dancing to your song.’

From Pitchfork. How you throw a music festival on Minecraft.

‘Did somebody say Just Eat?’ : re-done Snoop Doggy style. Nice mix of graphics and filming style plus 3D elements, involving a number of creative teams working remotely.

Video Of The Week

28th March 2020

If your dog needs a walk but you can’t go out. Here is a video of a drone ‘walking’ a dog



Video Of The Week

15th May 2022

‘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)