How Technology is Changing… IPA courses

The IPA, a fine organisation who do a lot of things I have a lot of time for, are putting on a great looking course next week entitled…

How technology is changing behaviour 

(and what you can do about it)

All the stuff about the course is here, but rest assured it’s full of interesting people (Mark Earls, Rory Sutherland, Matt Willifer and so on) tackling this most interesting of questions.

Faris has written a great post on the reasons you should go.  So why am I writing a post about it here too? 

Well, because technology has changed the way people sign up for courses, of course.  It used to be the A4 pamphlet would land on your desk, you’d show it to your boss, and she’d either let you go or chain you to your desk.

Nowadays though, I think we’re much more influenced by the other people who say they’re going… be it people who tweet it, blog about it, or mention it in pubs.  Actually, the ‘mention it in pubs’ isn’t new.  That’s really old.  Ignore that bit.

But you get the idea from going from other people who’re going. I’m going, with a few PHDers too.  Because some of my friends are going, and some of my friends are speaking, and therefore also going.

If you’re going, then maybe we can have a chat about the comings and goings of the ways to make more people go. 

But only if you’re going.

You are going, aren’t you?


The international language of taking the piss

Idly through twitter this morning, I saw Ben tweeting this… why would you not click..?


It’s a link to a video on youtube by Russian boy band Steklovata.  I say ‘video’ and ‘boy band’, but I’m using the terms in the loosest possible sense…


It’s called Noviy Noviy God, and it’s Not Very Not Very Good.

Lesson one; Anyone can be a pop star nowadays.

The more interesting thing for me was the links that started appearing to other videos beside it…

…somewhat inevitably, people have started making parodies.

First up was the Swedish version…


…then there’s the Polish version…


…the Lithuanian version…


…Bosnian version…

…just when you think it’s getting a bit like Eurovision, we travel halfway around the world for the ‘Brazilian Trash Version’…


…and of course the inevitable ’50 Cent vs Steklovata’ mash-up…

Lesson two:  Anyone can be a pop star nowadays, but you’d better be prepared for the great global pisstake if you put up something like Noviy Noviy God…



Instant Google Instant Ad… and the time it takes to get things right

This is wonderful… the guys at Whirled Creative have taken Google Instant and used it to create a video for the wonderful Tom Lehrer’s Elements song…

(Via Farisarium)

It was only launched, what, twenty four hours ago?  It’s amazing how quickly you can turn things around nowadays. 

And, in fact, how quickly you should.

When we we started on the Pocketgame project for Cadbury’s Spots V Stripes, we realised we could either spend ages getting something exactly spot on…

…or just do something to the best of our ability as quickly as we could.

We summed it up like this…






Photoshop & Tate Modern's Giant Baby installation

I was at Tate Modern this weekend, and was really impressed by their new Giant Baby installation in the turbine hall…



Ha, yeah, fair cop… I was just mucking about with a bit of perspective, and using the TiltShiftGen app on the iPhone.

The app replicates some of the functionality of proper tilt-shift photography, which is most often used to replicate miniature photography…

…for instance this shot below from the Wikipedia page is a great example of a real life scene that’s been made to look like a model village scene.



All very fun, but do I have a point beyond just posting fun family pics?  Well, maybe.

A while back I wrote a post about how phone apps were beginning to replace hardware things

Well, Max (PHD’s resident photography whizz) and I were talking yesterday about the implications of apps for the more professional, heavy duty software like Photoshop.



This is a screengrab of Photoshop Elements, which I’m trialling at the moment; since switching to a Mac, I don’t have a copy of Photoshop anymore, as I was using an ancient version (PS7) on my old Windows laptop.  I do have CS3 at work though.

It costs £80, it’s very much the stripped back version of Photoshop, designed for the home amateur.  To be fair, I’m not found that much I’m missing from the full version, but there’s the odd thing here and there that bugs me when it’s missing. 

I’m not sure I think it’s worth £80 though, and that’s probably because my internal perception for the value of ‘mucking about with images’ is being pulled down by various things.

Firstly, of course, there’s the phone apps. 

QuadCamera, Hipstamatic, CameraBag, TiltShiftGen… they all do a small element of what Photoshop can do, and in comparison they are just one-trick ponies. 

There’s a Photoshop app too, which I’ve got, but only use it infrequently for the cropping tool.



But having the suite available wherever and whenever has meant that I never do what I used to with snappy phone photography, which is go back to a computer and touch up the best ones in Photoshop.

I have the instant ability to either take more interesting photos, or adjust ones I’ve taken already, right there in my hand.

Then there was Sumo Paint, which Michael drew my attention to yesterday… it’s basically a cloud-based version of Photoshop (and feels very like Photoshop too). 

As long as your connected to the web, you can use it.  If you’re offline a lot, you can buy the download for about £14.  That seems a lot better value than Photoshop Elements…



(Suneil pointed out the irony of something that challenges Photoshop so directly running on Adobe’s other big ‘ting, Flash…)

It’s all made me think that the ‘photo manipulation’ market if fragmenting in much the same way that the print market is.

Imagine Photoshop is the original newspaper; it sells you everything in one big package, you can’t strip out just the parts you want, because originally it couldn’t be served to you that way… and it was just the model they continued with when the interweb came along.

Then something like Sumo Paint is the news website… it gives you most of the content you used to have in a paper you paid for, but for free.  The catch?  You’ve got to be online to use it.  But that actually suits a lot of people, so they stop buying the newspaper…

Finally, the apps are… well, the apps.  They take one specific element of the paper, do it REALLY WELL, and sell it to people for a small fee.

I guess Adobe are heading down The Times paywall approach with photoshop; big fee, small audience. 

Personally, I’d like to see them playing more in the app end of things… let their imagination run wild, and use their excellent tech to make many small, cheap, wondrous things.

But maybe that’s not how big companies work.


The #commutebox playlist principles

While we’re talking about #commutebox

…the playlists are being successful enough (eg lots of people adding lots of songs, which is ace) that I thought I’d post up some principles to shape the playlist: 

So, without further ado…

The commutebox playlist principles.

i) Whatever the playlist theme, think of a connection for the song you add.  You may be tested.

ii) Add a track here and there.  Maybe two or three.  DON’T bulk add, it just looks greedy

iii) If you’re a-twitterin’, then tweet what you’ve added using the #commutebox hashtag

iv) At a randomly designated time, the playlist will be closed, and I will curate…

Eh?  Curate?

Yeah, I know, harsh, when people give up time to add stuff. 

But if a playlist is open to everything, it just gets WAY too long.  Just a big list of songs.  Take your big list elsewhere, sunny-jim. This is commutebox.

Each playlist will be timed, see, to be twice the UK average commute, which some old news item randomly found on t’internet suggests is 45 minutes.  Even my maths tells me that’s an hour and a half of music, put together by your peers.  Nice.

So, what’re you waiting for; see if you can make the cut at on the commutebox summer playlist


#commutebox playlist & spotify; TV next, please?

It’s been a while since a few folks and I started mucking about with the #commutebox hashtag on twitter.  It was a way for friends to share the tracks and albums they were listening to on the way to work. 

That way, you’d find out what else folk were listening to, and might find a few more interesting things yourself.  (I talked about it here, ’twas over a year ago now it seems.  Doesn’t time fly..?)



But of course, twitter’s hardly the most natural home for doing it perfectly.  Like it is for many other things, the simple twitter interface was the inexpensive ‘best’ we could do at little effort at the time.

But most folk didn’t search for #commutebox every day, they probably just saw a tweet here and there suggesting some new music.

What we were probably all waiting for was the social Spotify malarkey. 

Since they launched the social features, we’ve compiled a lovely spring playlist, and we’re halfway through a summer playlist.  It’s really easy just to quickly add tracks whenever the mood takes you.



Then everyone who subscribes to the playlist has it on their desktop, or their phone if they have a premium account.  An instant source of a peer-curated music.

So with that experience, it’s of great interest to see the launch of Spotify TV in Sweden & Finland…



Sure, at the moment it’s just for creating your own playlist of music through the TV remote.

But you’ve got to think they’re just paving the way for the technology to work for TV content, rather than just music.

Which would be great; a TV guide curated by you and your mates, that you can all set up to watch on specific occasions (not unlike when we’re ‘all’ commuting with the music…). 

It’s been talked about before, but please, make it so, Spotify…


Email Mountain, I'll get over you someday…

I was just catching up on a month’s worth of delayed rss reading… and found Neil’s excellent piece on ‘unproductivity’… go have a read.

The thing that really chimed a chord with me was this…



(which I believe comes from Len Kendall)

52 emails?  Ah, the luxury, if only…

I was speaking to Chris a couple of weeks ago, who’s taking a new novel approach to unread emails… viewing it as a game to get to as many unread emails as possible.  He was on 2,500 odd when I saw him.  He was aiming for the big 10,000.

I’ve adopted a different strategy over the last couple of years; read as many as you can, but only do things about the ones people chase you on.

If it’s really important, someone will call you, find you, set a snare trap in the kitchen etc etc.

I suppose that this issue is what Google Wave was meant to solve.  But as I mentioned before, it was launched in a weird way, so didn’t take off

Maybe they got caught in a cycle of unproductivity like the one above…


“Email Mountain, I’ll get over you someday…” is of course paraphrased with many apologies from Modesty Blaise’s superb indie-pop classic “Carol Mountain”…

…which if you don’t know you really, really should listen to here.




Dave Mykopedazzi's Google Pacman downfall

21st May, 2010.  4:00pm

Somewhere in a Google office, Dave Mykopedazzi presses the button to release their first playable doodle, Pacman.  Then mentions it on Google twitter account.  He reclines, and awaits reaction.




Ah, reaction is pretty good.  Lots of OMGing and ZOMGing.  RTs all over the shop.  Lots of people are playing, according to the Google Pacometer they built to monitor the gameplay. 

Some people wouldn’t spend six months and $3.2 million developing something to monitor gameplay on a free game that’ll be up for a day.  But some people aren’t Google; each toilet roll in the lavatories contains an interwoven strand from the Turin Shroud.  Money is no object.

The Pacometer whirrs nicely, as does Twitter.  Dave rises from his Dodo-pelt chair, and strides casually to the kitchen for a cup of tea, the gentle swagger befitting of someone who ‘brought back Pacman’.


After spending a few extra minutes making tea as he engaged in some mild flirting with Pam from Algorithms & Process (that ‘impossible number’ line always works…), Dave returns to his desk…

…and the first thing he notices is the silence… the Pacometer, which gave off a faint, softened ‘click’ every time someone finished a level, is soundless.  Is it broken?  Is PACMAN DOWN..?

Dave checks Twitter…

They HATE it.  The disparaging remarks, the derogatory comments, the cruel taunting.  What HAPPENED?  In the few minutes he was away, it went from being the darling of the digerati to becoming loathed and despised across the globe.  A seething wall of vitriol heads Google’s way…


‘They put Pacman in their logo’ becomes the phrase that supercedes ‘jumping the shark’…

…needed, obviously, as ‘jump the shark’, in a cruel moment of irony, had jumped the shark itself… and no one wants to see a shark jumping itself.

The wikipedia entries for Google, Pacman, TV Shows, Happy Days and ‘things you have to explain to your mum’ are updated to reflect the new age.


Google share prices start to tumble… the fall is unlike anything seen in the history of modern capitalism.  Yes, including even all that bank stuff.


The Channel 4 news, desperate to appear ‘with it’ by heavy-handed use of use modern phrases, refers to the story about Google putting Pacman in their logo as the most famous case to date of a company ‘putting Pacman in their logo’. 

By the end of the bulletin, having been informed by a junior producer who has become the first person in history to open the ‘Stocks’ app on an iPhone, they’ve moved to talking about Google in the past tense…


Distraught at his desk, Dave Mykopedazzi casts a forlorn gaze at the Pacometer, before calmly walking to the nearest window, opening it, and stepping out onto the 7th floor ledge.

“Isn’t it amazing” he thinks, as the ground hurtles towards him “just how quickly people turn on you on Twitter?”


Want a good review for Four Lions? Ask twitter…

This is interesting…

…the honourable Rupert Britton, Dark Lord of Content Strategy here at PHD, has had a tweet picked up of his thoughts on the new Chris Morris film Four Lions, and it’s been used in an ad. 

It’s the second one down…



He’s not the only one though… they’ve used about four or five, mixed in with reviews from proper journalistic organs.

Oh, and the Evening Standard.

Anyway, it’s really interesting, for several reasons. 

Firstly, if you were a little short of good write-ups of your film (which I’m not suggesting Four Lions is, it’s just a hypothetical ‘if’), you could just find the tweets by people who did like your film, and use those.

Secondly, it highlights the fact that we increasingly trust (or at least marketers believe that we trust) the opinions of other people at least as much, if not more so, than those of the so-called ‘experts’.

Thirdly, if you are going to use someone’s tweet in a review… is it polite to ask?  The first Rupert heard of it was when a friend called him up and told him…

Rupert says he wouldn’t have minded at all. 

So why not just ask?

(If you’re listening, Four Lions folks, the very least you could do is send him a poster or something…)