Don’t be a turn off

Ubiquitous computing, blended reality, the internet of things, web 5.0 – it is getting pretty obvious that thinking about digital as a separate channel is a silly idea. Over the past decade we have made giant technological leaps with today a billion people connecting to the web via a mobile phone (last year that figure was 500 million, next year it is estimated to be 2 billion!)

Digital technology has not changed us, it has just enabled us to be more social and with the ability to connect almost everywhere at any time we are leaving a digital shadow wherever we go. It is easy to forget how many posts we have uploaded, how many status’ we have made or how many photos we have uploaded. Technology is enabling us to create a public diary sometimes without thinking twice about the information we are sharing with each other. It can be scary how easy it is to access someone else’s identity.

At the same time digital technology is allowing advertisers to target people by taking advantage of this digital exhaust we are leaving behind. This is great news for advertisers who now think they have the right to talk to us and bombard us with as many messages as they can capitalising on our context, timing and browsing behaviour (we now receive anything up to 5,000 ad messages every day!)

Because brands have more access to consumers’ personal doorways than ever it is tempting to talk to an audience at any given chance. A good tip I read the other day was to think about what you are trying to do as if it were a conversation you were having with someone. This should be a good measure as to whether you are really coming up with something engaging for the audience. If you met someone in a bar you wouldn’t want the conversation from that person to consist of them standing in your way giving you a detailed analysis of exactly why you were right for each other and that you shouldn’t be persuaded otherwise that you are a match made in heaven because you share the same interests. This person would be rather off putting as you would have no room to discover for yourself what this person was about as they will have already told you.

This is what some brands are doing. Brands that try too hard, that get the targeting spot on, in the right context but just end up blurting out too much information. They might ask you to play a game with them, spread their viral or like them without thinking about the reward in doing so for the consumer. People are not stupid and they won’t be persuaded. In fact they will find it a bit weird and annoying.
If we are going to have all this wonderful data at our hands because of the digital exhaust which people are leaving in their trail this is great as it helps us to better understand customers. But the downside to this is that the data can be used in completely the wrong way which in turn means customers become weary of giving information to people who they think might end up abusing it.

Brands need to think about their activity like a decent conversation. If they can’t have a decent conversation then they shouldn’t try to make one. They could think about facilitating them instead. Or just listening and attaching themselves to other things which are relevant in people’s lives. The best brands often look like they are not trying.


How do you get hired in an impossible job climate?

Interesting and clever way to promote yourself with social media as Claudio did. A bit of extra effort meant he was able to cut through the standard pdf format clutter. He got the job!

Or is the new way to become an infographic experience?

I think this one might be one of my favourites because it has such stand out. I don’t like people putting their faces on a CV but this one is so compelling and bold who wouldn’t want to find out more about this person? Conveniently placed over his mouth when the recipient scans the code, they are brought to the video of his mouth speaking to the potential employer. Clever stuff.

What a bloody good idea

I love this. I am one who always does toast like this. I pop it up and realise that due to my impatience it needs to be popped down again for a bit longer.

So Breville have recognised it is clearly not only I who share this experience with a toaster and have introduced the ‘a bit more’ button.

A simple observation of a human habit. Brilliant and I bet they have sold a lot more toasters after introducing this tiny bit of usability design on their products.

Adapting a developed society

Is it possible for us to live sustainably?

As part of Naked Planet I attended the Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium at the London Excel yesterday.

It was a huge meeting place for Government, Business and NGOs operating across all industrial sectors to talk about the issues surrounding biodiversity loss.

There were some great speakers there. Particularly a guy from Arup called Peter Head who spoke about sustainable cities. Some of the innovative ways which we can transform the cities in UK were astounding and also quite beautiful.

Just imagine if we made the most of our rooftops for all the megacities across the world to embrace sustainable living like this impressive video for Manchester shows:

Obviously this issue is far from simple and wacking a few roof top gardens on top of cities but these types of projects and thinking have huge potential to change the way we live.

Move over Nike+, it’s time to get some street cred this weekend

Not satisfied with the success of Nike+, Nike has created NikeGRID for those who don’t own an iphone or Nike+ trainers. Nike continually think like a challenger and they have created an exciting new game.

Street running has just got better with NikeGRID. The grid is in fact London – North, South, East and West. The idea is to select your postcode zone and run between telephone boxes within your zone punching in your code (which Nike give you when you register on their site) each time you hit a telephone box.

For each phone box you run to, you win points. If you are street wise enough you may be rewarded a badge for speed, stamina and insider street knowledge.

Love the idea of ditching the iphone or other Nike+ gear for an old iconic London telephone box and just pelting it round your ‘hood’

You have 24 hour to conquer the streets. Location based gaming just got better.

I feel like I should get a grey hoody and joggers out for this one to look street wise. Can’t wait. It is in my flat mate’s words AWESOME.

Who Do You Think You Are?

I went to the identity exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, Euston about a month ago. It was all about what influences or determines the sense of who we are.

The exhibition explores the idea of identity by having 9 rooms dedicated to 8 people’s lives (one room for twins). In each room there is a gathering of information about how that person represents something about identity.

The more personal rooms are the most intriguing. I spent the most time pouring over the diary entries of Samuel Pepys who obsessively wrote about his life and often wrote his observations in code. As you explore this room you will find Big Brother’s diary room chair, the diary entries of the suffragettes and a video exploring memory loss of a man who can play the piano yet forgets who he is every 5 minutes.

This issue can be more complex and difficult for some people more than others. What I found interesting is that even for those who usually write diaries for personal use, there is always a thought that someone else may read them. This makes you question whether thinking about external perceptions is unavoidable when constructing your identity. Samuel Pepys left a code to his diary in his library which was found years later – he always wanted someone to read them.

The exhibition does not really give you any answers but it does present the dilemma we face when thinking about our sense of ‘self’.

Is it something within that makes us who we are or is it that we are constantly steering every moment of our lives thinking about how people see us? This is particularly relevant when one starts consider how much we publicly broadcast what we are doing on Facebook, Twitter, etc in the digital space (I am doing it now by telling you about this!)

The exhibition was good, you should check it out. I think my only criticism was that the theme could also have been explored through some more modern-day ideas too. It could have considered how the economic situation has led to an identity crisis with people losing sight of their purpose having been found jobless. How social pressures can lead people to do strange things when their image is constantly in the public eye. Even more so how having a multicultural society which one would deem to be liberating, can be more damaging to those that can’t define exactly who they are.

We do think about this question every day whether consciously or subconsciously it constantly shapes our movements, actions and self image. It is sometimes liberating not to have to deal with this…maybe we should dress up more often?

Anish Kapoor

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The thing I loved about the Anish Kapoor was that his exhibition at the Royal Academy was fun. By that I mean it was accessible in a way that some art sometimes can’t be to one’s mind instantly. Anish Kapoor’s work is big, daring and all about texture. While I was exploring his work in each room I would become tantalized – I knew I wasn’t allowed to touch his work but his sculptures make you want to prod them and feel them. Being an interactive based exhibition made me feel as if I had a role to play in his work.

The room which impressed me the most was the room filled with mirrors (a range of stainless steel cuboids, ellipsoids and discs) which distorted your image and sense of space in a different way for each one you looked and stepped towards. It is worth going just to feel the slight unease of your image and sense of space being warped completely. Being in this room you couldn’t help but just talk to the stranger next to you, to express how it made you feel. This is probably why I enjoyed wandering around this room the most, for the personal and collective experience.

The power of sculpture certainly prevailed but I wish there had been just a few more rooms to explore….

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