THE SECTION WHICH PROBABLY WOULD PAY FOR TWEETDECK TBH, WHICH SPEAKS TO A SORT OF DEEP-LEVEL ADDICTION I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD:
Facebook Live From Desktop Now...Er...Live: It’s one of those weeks where I’m going to have to report on the launch of features that were trailed a few weeks ago, because this is how the tech news cycle works these days. Isn’t it fun? Anyway, we can all now SPEKE OUR BRANES live from the comfort of our own Cheeto-encrusted chair of choice, as Facebook this week rolled out the ability to stream live from desktop. Will be interesting to see how this develops, and whether it makes any inroads into Twitch’s territory (the lack of inbuilt payments means Twitch is probably not to worried right now) and how quickly the Mail starts frothing about the bongo possibilities this affords. I also reckon that each of you knows one person who, though you and they don’t yet know this, are going to use this feature as an opportunity to go LIVE at any opportunity to offer their own blistering HOT TAKE on news and current affairs to their ‘friends’. It’s going to be so great.
Reactions Come To FB Messenger: Yes, this was trailed too. Sorry. Anyway, this is now live and, as predicted, appears to basically be a wholesale lift of features from Slack. Nothing specific for brands here at the moment, but I quite like the idea of using this to determine the course of conversations - why not treat your next interaction with a group of people on Messenger as an elaborate ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game whilst keeping it a secret from your interlocutors? Each time someone reacts to something you write with a ‘Love’ reaction, say, bring your conversational tone one step closer to ‘murderous rage’, just for LOLs!
FB Awards 2017 - Nominations Open: In case you want to win a metal balloon, pace Koons/Kapoor, and the envy of advermarketingpr people around the world. They have NEW CATEGORIES this year, based on the effect your work had on consumers - click that link and die inside a little when you realise they have had to explain the categories as though everyone likely to be reading it has an IQ in double figures. “Love - This is the work that made us fall in love with a brand”. Oh God, everyone thinks people like us are stupid, don’t they?
Twitter Considering Premium Tweetdeck: I think this isn’t a bad idea actually. Twitter is currently asking a test group of users whether they’d pay for an upgraded version of Tweetdeck (doesn’t actually sound that upgraded at all tbh, but hey ho) and exactly how much they’d be prepared to fork out. I’d pay - Tweetdeck basically underpins the fiction that I know how to do my (any) job - as would journalists and other advermarketingpr drones like me; it’s not enough to unfcuk the business in one fell swoop, but it’s certainly a good way of driving regular income. Although if you try and charge me $20 a month, I’ll...I’ll...well, almost certainly acquiesce, but grudgingly.
Periscope Broadcasts API: All of the fancy LIVE Api multicamera tech wizardry now on Twitter! Great! Not 100% certain why anyone would choose Twitter as their go-to platform of choice for a LIVE given Facebook hammers them on reach, but what do I know (as ever, rhetorical)?
You Can Now Save Livestreams On Instagram: Erm, not much more to say on this other than it’s only the broadcaster who has the option to save the file; obviously useful should you want to reuse the video on other platforms after the fact.
Instagram Trialing Letting Users Book Through The App: This could be quite big and DISRUPTIVE (can everyone please, please stop saying this?) - no suggestion as to when this might come to pass, but the option to book, say, restaurants through Instagram is a pretty big deal when it comes to marketing destinations.
Instagram Launches 2FA: So, er, turn it on. There are also a few other feature announcements in here - users will soon start to see some content in the feed not automatically displaying on scroll - this will be stuff that has been flagged by other users, and verified by Instagram, as ‘sensitive’ (no, me neither) and as such only viewable by choice rather than by default (following another day in which Twitter users continued to erroneously believe that I, and others like me, really wanted to have pictures of a human torso pinned under the wheel of a double decker waved in front of their faces, I can sort of get behind this). Oh, and this, too, which tweeness is so appallingly emblematic of Silicon Valley’s bland tech utopianism that it has made me REALLY annoyed and it’s only 714: “On March 25 and 26, tens of thousands of Instagrammers all over the world will come together for the Worldwide InstaMeet 15 to share their stories and spread kindness in the world. You can find an InstaMeet near you or spread kindness by leaving an encouraging comment, giving an inspiring person a like or sharing a message of support with a friend.” Insagram is about FOSTERING KINDNESS and in no way about selling you things. HONEST.
YouTube Statement On Improving Brand Security: Says nothing other than ‘we’re working on this’. One of the more interesting things about this whole story, imho, is that it points out one of those very weird areas where, despite the vast might of both Google’s computational power and the brains of its workforce, actual people are better than machines at picking out THE BAD STUFF - as poor, embarrassed, bongo-addicted Ben Evans pointed out, pulling down copyrighted material is relatively easy (“does the audio match what’s in our database? Yes? PULL IT!”) whereas determining whether a piece of content is allied to, or inciting, hate or extremism is a little tougher for a machine to determine.
YT Annotations Are No More: A slightly sad farewell to afeature which sort of defined the early YT aesthetic - you will no longer be able to enjoy the sudden, unbidden pop-up of an oddly-coloured ‘SUBSCRIBE BELOW’ box, or watch a YouTuber pointing into space at a suddently appearing message linking to their commercial sponsor or whatever. Except you sort of will, because all the features (including the ability to create branching narratives, etc, which annotations afforded) are all supported by YT cards anyway. As you were, then.
Google Posts Extended to Museums, Teams, Etc (In The US): Google Posts were, you will doubtless recall, launched last year and effectively acted a little as a changeable pinned Tweet at the top of Google search which famouses could set up to share LATEST NEWS with fans searching for them. This is being extended, in the US and Brazil, to sports teams, cultural institutions and, in the case of Brazil, musicians - this will be global eventually, so, you know, GET READY.
LinkedIn Introducing Trending Storylines: This is a rejig of the LinkedIn newsfeed, whereby it will pull out popular stories from across the network and present them in a ‘Trending’ tab on the app; you can use HASHTAGS to JOIN THE CONVERSATIONS. Great! Absolutely no details whatsoever on what the eventual options are going to be for brands to force themselves into the top of this new, exciting information curation EXPERIENCE via the injection of LOTS OF MONEY, but give them a few weeks.
Medium To Offer Premium Service: Now you will be able to pay a small fee to access some fairly rubbish-sounding stuff - EXCLUSIVE CONTENT (what, you mean more endless platitudes from the VC/founder community about how awesome everything is and how the relentless march of global capitalism can only be A Good Thing and by the way do you know how successful and alpha I am? THANKS!) and offline reading lists and new features (unclear what). HM.
Google Data Studio: Potentially useful service, this, which lets you produce reports on your Google Data (analytics, adword performance, etc) which then automatically refresh - basically custom Google data dashboards. Dull, but some of you might find it helpful.
Apple Launches Clips: Sort of their own Snapchat-type thing, except it’s no social element - this just lets iPhone users create Story-type content (video, stickers, drawings, effectszzzzzzzzzzzz...you know the drill by now) which can then b pushed out to all other social platforms. Quite a smart idea - rather than attempting to compete, this is simply providing a high-end content creation tool which is platform agnostic and, if the output’s half-decent and the cool kids pick it up, make iPhones a Thing To Have so you can use it too.
Meet Walter: A new Alien film is coming. This may or may not excite you; I couldn’t possibly comment. This is one of the doubtless myriad web promos for it, introducing the Leyland android Walter (the Fassbender character from Prometheus). It’s pretty but shallow, presenting various android features and letting you click some stuff, but the bit where you click ‘Reserve’ to attempt to buy one broke my heart slightly - you are presented with a message in dead-eyed legalese which states: “Walter is a fictional character in the film Alien: Covenant. By clicking the Connect button, you will not receive an actual "Walter". Fox may place ads about your fictional "Walter" tailored to you on certain websites that you visit. By clicking the check box and proceeding, you agree to receive email updates and offers from Fox” YEAH THANKS FOX FOR KILLING MY IMMERSION IN YOUR METICULOUSLY-CONSTRUCTED SCIFI UNIVERSE. Christ.
Great Britain Experience: Joint work by Expedia and Visit Britain showcasing some of the GREAT THINGS around Britain, this is just a bunch of promo videos, let’s be clear, but the tech which syncs them all together seamlessly as you, the user, switch between London, Manchester, Cornwall, Wales and the Highlands is really rather nice - you can’t see the joins at all.
Tech Nation: This is the website accompanying the recent Tech City UK report into the state of the tech industry; it’s not hugely exciting, fine, unless obviously you work in UK tech or policy (and even then tbh), but this is a textbook example of how you can launch a piece of research with a decent digital version alongside it. All the graphs are individually shareable, the interface is nice, it’s reasonably shiny but not too much so…look, you may not be impressed by this, but I promise you that there are still more organisations such as this who think that creating infographics from a report is DARK VOODOO, so let’s applaud those who are at least a little more advanced in their thinking.
Gucci Memes: This is sort of genius. Not all brands have a right to play (oh my God, WHAT did I just type? Sorry) in this space (OH GOD SORRY), but Gucci do - this project, where they work with artists to create memes featuring Gucci products, nails the aesthetic and the tone perfectly. STRONG work, and if you’re fascinated by the bleeding between high fashion / art and the edges of web culture then this is all sorts of interesting.
THE SECTION WHICH APPRECIATES YOUR SENTIMENTS OF POSITIVITY AND SOLIDARITY BUT WHICH IN NO WAY WANTS TO READ YOUR 20-TWEET ‘THREAD’ ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK AND FEEL BECAUSE, WELL, YOU ARE NOT THE STORY HERE, PT.1:
Name Of The Year 2017: One of my very favourite annual traditions, along with European Tree of the Year (on which note, shout out Oak Józef, worthy winner of the 2017 title), is the Name of the Year contest, which plucks the best names found in the media worldwide over the past year against each other in a public vote to determine which is the BEST name. The site’s a bit horrible, fine, but scroll down a bit and ponder whether to cast your vote for Shaft Cubit or H King Buttermore III, Bonjovi Hardeman or Cherish Bloodgood. Imagine being called ‘Cherish Bloodgood’ - WHAT must life be like?
Resist Bot: When I first saw this I thought ‘wow, what a clever use of bot tech’, and then someone I know in the US tried it and told me it doesn’t seem to work (or at least didn’t earlier this week). Still, a smart concept - an SMS bot which will take text messages a user sends it and turn those into letters sent to the user’s congressperson - easy, simple, and avoids the pro-forma letter thing which apparently is getting less and less cutthrough in US campaigning terms.
Collective Nouns for Pokemon: In case you’d ever had a burning desire to know what one might want to call a bunch of Magikarp (‘a piteousness’, apparently).
This Bot Kills Fascists: A Twitter bot which tweets out pictures of stuff, overlaid with the text “X KILLS FASCISTS”. Which, when written like that, sounds rubbish and sort of is, but some of these made me laugh this week which, for much of it, has been no mean feat.
Tinder Diaries: Ah, men. Men! Lads! What must it be like, I wonder in my more idle moments, to be an attractive woman on Tinder? Or indeed any woman, frankly? Well, curious men of the web, we can now lift at least some of that veil of ignorance thanks to artist Audrey Jones, who in this project creates small drawings illustrating some of the excellent conversations you can have with strangers on dating apps. I would buy these as prints as there is some GOLD in here. “Will you bring me BBQ?”, Audrey asks one potential suitor; “I will bring you whatever you want…”, he replies, “...Including my huge cock”, there conveniently failing to check whether said ‘huge cock’ falls within the Venn Diagram of ‘stuff Audrey wants’. Lads!
Violence Against Women Online Survey: Amnesty is doing research into the violence experienced by women online, across Facebook, Twitter, Reddit an elsewhere, and is looking for women who will share their experiences as part of the work. I hope you don’t you have anything to contribute, but I imagine most women reading this probably do.
Breaker: If you listen to a lot of podcasts this might be an appealing (iOS-only) app - Breaker effectively adds a social layer to podcasts, letting you share what you are listening to, browse others’ selections, discuss whole pods or individual episodes, that sort of thing. Oh, on which note, if you’ve a favourite UK podcast you should vote for it in the UK Podcast Awards.
Oree: I thought this was a joke, but, turns out, NOPE! Ever wanted a wooden keyboard or trackpad or speaker? No, I thought not, and yet here we are. Still, if you aspire to the most Instagrammable of Instagrammable existences, if your home is basically a series of stills from a scandi-inspired Airbnb listing, then a) you might like this; and b) I’d like you to stop reading now, please.
Elbow: This is sort of brilliant, at least from a design point of view. Do any of you old people remember, in the dying days of the cassette tape, someonereleasing a really small Walkman called the ‘Pebble’ or somesuch, which had a really strange design which left much of the tape casing exposed? I can’t find any evidence of it in the 30 second cursory Google I just did, so perhaps it was a fever-dream. Anyway, this is like that (thing that I just failed to adequately describe and which may not have in fact existed - God, I am good at this!) except even more minimalist - Elbow’s a prototypical tape player which just clips over the cassette itself, much like one of those clips your mate’s mum (who was really organised and had a freezer full of these) used to secure freezerbags. It looks ACE and scifi, despite the absolute pig’s ear I’ve made of this writeup, and if you’re a certain type of hipster you will salivate all over it. Details on if and when it will be available are sketchy, but there’s a survey you can fill in to register your interest so maybe fill it in and hope.
Two-Inch Brush: After another week which can charitably described as ‘a touch stressful’, this is a very timely website. Two-Inch Brush collects all of everyone’s favourite fuzzy-haired ASMRtist Bob Ross’s painting videos in one place - all 403 of them. I don’t imagine that there’s anyone reading this (ha!) who hasn’t experienced the soothing, soothing sounds and visuals that characterise Ross’s work and which have made him a legitimate internet legend, but, on the offchance, put some headphones on and give one of these a go. Do let me know if you discover yourself to have ASMR as a result.
Niles: Another really smart bot idea, Niles is a Slackbot which ‘learns’ - that is, you can add to its knowledge corpus through the Slack interface, as well as drawing from a variety of datasources such as Salesforce, Google Drive, etc. This is potentially really rather powerful, and is again a really smart way of using pseudo-AI for practical, tedious drudgery.
Partnership On AI: An organisation looking at the development of Artificial Intelligence (running the gamut of that increasingly imprecise turn) from an ethical / moral point of view. To quote, “the organization will study the potential societal impact of AI systems, and develop and share best practices. We will also create working groups for different sectors, for example healthcare and transportation, allowing us to conduct research on the specific AI applications in these different sectors of the economy. We will also develop educational resources and host open forums to widely disseminate information about the latest topics in the field and support an ongoing public discussion about the technology.” This is one of the most interesting fields in any discipline in the world right now, imho.
A(irport)PI: Sorry, that is a truly APPALLING ‘joke’. Anyway, this is Schiphol airport’s (lovely, lovely Schiphol) APIs, all exciting and open and AVAILABLE. Except at the moment the only thing there to play with, and it’s pretty unlikely that any of these will let you do anything TOO wacky, but still, it’s an interesting idea from both an openness and a data security point of view; although the range of interesting products and services that one can imagine being built on something so ostensibly simple as the flight times is already pretty vast, so the opportunities here are rather large I think.
Passive Aggressive Art Gallery: Artist Justin Cousson has been gently pointing out instances of inconsideracy in public spaces by setting up gallery-style notes and prices around them - so a roommate leaving a spoon in the sink becomes “"Sour Cream-Covered Spoon Left In Sink Before Leaving Town For Four Days," mixed-media (metal, porcelain, sour cream, filth), 2017 - $3400 - SOLD” You get the impression that Cousson goes through roommates pretty quickly, but this is rather funny.
Japanese Animated Film Archives: This is an incredible trove of vintage Japanese animation, covering the history of anime and more besides, presented by what I am guessing is the Japanese equivalent of the BFI. I say I am guessing as it’s all in Japanese, meaning there’s a very random quality to the browsing which I quite like (there’s an English-language version coming in ‘a month or two’, so if you’d prefer to know what the hell it is you’re looking at then bookmark this and wait, patiently).
The Facebookuette Cube: Odd, this - a printable PDF which lets you create a decision die which will help you determine how you should respond to comments on Facebook (if at all). This is EXACTLY the sort of thing I expect to see at Frieze in October - the aesthetic, the copy, the typeface feels VERY artworld of the now to me, which probably means it’s actually ‘artworld of 2014’, but wevs.
Animista: One for the coders amongst you, this site lets you create CSS animations on demand, which, given that as far as I can tell CSS stuff is pretty close to witchcraft at the moment, is useful.
Yesterdaynite: Instagram page of US artist Alim Smith who’s filling his feed with brilliant cubist-style images of black memes for US Black History Month. The style on these is ACE - see how many YOU recognise!
Untitled Serif: Yes, it’s a font, but I LOVE the way it scales when you scroll (look, just click it, it’s beautifully done).
Catching A Real Ball In VR: This is, admittedly, not the most compelling video you will ever see, but the tech is quite remarkable - this is Disney messing about in their VR labs and creating a setup where a ball can be caught by someone wearing a VR headset - meaning that they have been able to track the object’s movement in physical space and render it in virtual space in realtime, with enough accuracy to enable the user to catch the object in virtual and physical space simultaneously. Which, come on, is AMAZING. If nothing else, your future 5-a-side games will be VASTLY more exciting when you can play them in a VR Maracana with 100,000 screaming fans.
Pixelart Baseball Card Paintings: I am including this not because I have any care for baseball but because I really, really want to see this done for football stickers - I want Panini to commission this for next year’s World Cup. Come on, those would be GREAT (as indeed are these, by artist Robert Otto Epstein).