Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review - The Circle by Dave Eggars

The Circle is a satirical novel that was initially published last year, and has recently appeared in paperback in the UK, published by Penguin.

In it Dave Eggars creates a credible world, a few years in the future, where there exists a company called The Circle, which is to most intents and purposes an amalgam of Google and Facebook.

It's a bit like Google because you have a single identity through which you conduct your online life, in the way that Google likes you to have a single identity over all its properties (including YouTube), and in that it is very actively involved in video and 'streetview' style projects, and 'moonshot' ideas like digitising the world's books; The Circle has a project to count all the grains of sand in the Sahara.

It's a bit like Facebook in that it's all about sharing, and over-sharing, people join groups and send each other endless messages... and the founder is a young genius who is well known for wearing a hoodie.

Eggars explores this world through his heroine Mae, who joins the company and explores different facets of it.  The first line is 'Oh my god, Mae thought. It's heaven', describing her initial reaction to the company's campus.

While Eggars claims to have no particular knowledge of the scene, and denies that its based on any specific companies, it's very good in its imagination of the world of the Internet of Things and the Quantified Self.

I particularly liked his corporate mantras, including:

All That Happens Must Be Known

Sharing is Caring (people want to experience things their friends do)

Privacy is Theft (being private denies friends these experiences)

Secrets are Lies (because openness is truth)

He's also very good at finding names for different concepts, including:

TruYou - Your single online identity

SeeChange - Live cameras recording everything, accessible by anyone

ChildTrack - A way of tracking all kids, to ensure their safety

PastPerfect - A system that identifies people in historic photos and videos so that your history can be traced back easily

Conversion Rate - The proportion of your friends who like products that you recommend

Retail Raw - The retail value of these likes - that is if a product you recommend costs £5 and 100 of your friends 'like' it, then the RR is £500.

I have friends who work at both Facebook and Google (& lots of other places), and I respect both those companies.  I would say that it's better in its imagination of social media in a few years time than it is as a novel about people, but I'd definitely recommend it as a thought provoking book.  It deserves to be far better known than it currently seems to be (very few people at a recent Google event I went to had even heard of it) - read it and see what you think.

Buy it - you'll increase my Retail Raw!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beyonce teases the Fifty Shades Teaser Trailer

Yesterday Beyonce (or, more likely someone at Team Beyonce) posted a teaser for the first trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey on her Instagram account.

It ends with a version of Crazy in Love, which is the connection, but Beyonce is a great person for the brand to have to promote the film.

In this weekend's FT it was claimed that '£4,000 can change hands for each mention of their product in the [a YouTube star's] video itself (it costs roughly the same for a shout-out on Twitter).'  Goodness knows how much Beyonce costs...

Update - & here is the official trailer - 6m views in 24 hours:

Given that it's not released until Valentine's Day next year I think we've got a lot of marketing to come!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stabilo's World Cup goals flipbook

Very well done!

Heineken's @wherenext local discovery service

This is a fun idea.

If you want to know where is 'hot' locally, you can tweet @wherenext with your location - e.g. '@wherenext Chelsea' - and it will tell you places nearby which are being mentioned in social media.

It also works on desktop or mobile through this site - see screen grab

It's a fun idea, but clearly it depends on the level of data being produced, which depends on the existence of people like me tweeting their social, food and drink experiences.

It's also clearly game-able, and many of the most savvy venue owners are actively trying to encourage people to post on social media while they're out.

It also comes down to whether you trust machines (I'm assuming that this is automatically generated) or local experts to curate the best of what's on, for example to tell you in the screen grab that The Lukin is a far better place to go to than The Green Man.

But...  It's a good idea and I suspect that that there will be many more shots like this fired in the 'local' war before we find something that works reliably.  Well done to Heineken, who are pioneers in experimenting with location.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Snapchat's Geofilters

Snapchat is introducing lots of new features at the moment.  We've had Stories - including this World Cup #RioLive story sent to everyone's timeline on the day of the World Cup final - and now Geofilters.

Geofilters are filters that can only be applied at certain places - so for a city (to create a 'Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ' style postcard effect), or for specific locations, like Disneyland, as shown on the video.

Very smart, and you'd imagine brands with locations (McDonalds, Top Shop, cinemas, football clubs...) will be using this a lot by the time we get to Christmas.  & why not have a range of special Christmas ones for multiple locations - e.g. LEGO, Simpsons, Quality Street...

Also, you can imagine Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others following very quickly.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Selfies killed the autograph

A great quote from Taylor Swift in her an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal:

"There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being autographs. I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento "kids these days" want is a selfie. It's part of the new currency, which seems to be "how many followers you have on Instagram."

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Pizza Pilgrims' Panini Sticker Swap

A great promo from Pizza Pilgrims in London.  If you have a sticker that they haven't got in their Panini World Cup Album you can swap it for a free pizza.

Blog post here

"We have started our Panini sticker collection in earnest at the Pizzeria in Dean St – an excuse to feel 8 years old again. so we thought it would be fun to open up our collection to the whole of soho.

In short, we giving away pizza in return for stickers. we will be collecting a different team each week – starting with Italy, obv. if you bring us a player (or, whisper it, a shiny) from the chosen team that week then an entire pizza will be yours, to eat in or take away.

We will also be giving away stickers when you eat in the pizzeria – so you can even get stuck in (!) if you are not a sticker collector (shame on you). we are also selling the sticker books and stickers if you just want to boost  your collection.

Finally – in classic playground tradition – we will be turning our foosball table into a dedicated #sohoswapshop between the hours of 3pm-6pm every day. just come down, and swap your doubles for ones you actually need!"

This week it's Costa Rica.
A great example of using Twitter to push a great (& cheap) idea.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Monster's Twitter Cards

Recruitment company Monster has just unveiled its new Twitter Cards, putting the full job ad into the tweet.

Very well done.

More here

Monday, June 30, 2014

Casey Neistat's Snapchat Stories

Snapchat recently introduced 'My Story' - pictures and videos grouped together - and 'Our Story' - similar for groups and events.

If you're not an active Snapchatter (I'm not) you might struggle to visualise how this works.  As an example here's American social media celebrity Casey Neistat, who posts his Stories onto YouTube to archive them:

For example:


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nescafe's Alarm Cap

Nescafe has made a jar lid that works as an alarm clock, waking people gently with sound and light.  It's part of a bigger trend of brands making interesting things - see also Coca Cola's 'second life' bottle tops, and Budweiser's Red Lights.

This is lots of fun, and it's easy to snark (Where can you get one?  How many of the 'opinion leaders and media personalities' drink instant coffee? Or sleep in the same room as a jar of coffee?) but it's an interesting idea.

See more here

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brands' 'Louis Suarez' Tweets

Lots of brands posted humourous tweets after Louis Suarez' apparent 'biting' incident in yesterdays World Cup match between Uraguay and Italy.


Translation: 'Hi, Luis Suarez, if you are still hungry, come take a bite out of a Big Mac'




& even

Lots more here

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Works with Nest

A video from Google Nest showing examples of things working with the Nest thermostat technology - washing machines, cars and more.

It's a bit reminiscent of the 'things for business travellers and other rich people in the future' sort of videos - see a classic here - but I think that what Nest is trying to do is will be much more mass market soon.

See more examples of how other objects could talk to Nest here
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