2 likes good, 4 likes bad

Facebook is rolling out its ‘reactions’ – a supercharged like™ button with 6 ‘empathetic’ Emoji. Currently being tested in those 2 hotbeds of reactions and emotion Spain and Ireland. Now, I’m all for progress, especially in the exciting tech space arena we are virtually living in, but, I can’t help thinking what’s the Facebook point?


I’ve always thought that there was something quite charming about the simple like button.
Or rather the simplicity of just a “like” button. The cynic in me used to think this was a bit Orwellian newspeak – “like” or “unlike”. However the optimist in me believed it to be positive. Youtube always had thumbs up or thumbs down but Facebook was for ‘friends’, right? So like stuff or not bother, basically.

It’s cool when modern things like Twitter evolve in the manner the ‘people’ use them. There are lots of ways Facebook could be improved, design wise for example, but mainly I wish they’d stop fucking about with the settings and just protect my over all privacy.
With the iconic, recognizable idea of Facebook’s like button, I just don’t get why fix something not broken, just because some people said they wanted an ‘dislike’ button. In a time when lots of people, myself included have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, it’s kind of adding a level of stupidity to something reveling in its own self importance. You can’t tell people how to use their Facebook anymore than you want to be told how to Facebook by Facebook or your Facebooking friends, real or Facebook.
People vote with their feet. LIke, no like, comment. Add, unfriend, block. Simple, isn’t it?
If you don’t like stuff, or your mates are too prolific then unfollow or maybe risk messaging them, commenting or talking to them in that thing called life – that you disapprove, don’t like etc?


I find it sad that we seem to be devaluing and homogenizing the emotional reaction to major actual life or death situations, tragedies etc. through emoticons, Emojis or six stunted icons. If you need an Emoji to tell someone you’re sorry their Nan or goldfish died then I find that tragic beyond words or Emoji.
I don’t mean to judge but fuck it – I mean by adding “love, yay, haha, sad, angry and wow” to the like mix – you actually provide the illusion of choice to people too stupid to write something apt in the comments if they strongly like or dislike. There’s no fifty shades of grey here – just 5 more to what was in hindsight brilliantly absolute and true to a tech platform, ie binary – and let the people do the rest.

Not only that but for me it’s muddying the waters of ‘social’ in a half hearted way that won’t encourage better communication – possibly just make it worse. What if I post something I think is really sad and someone currently doesn’t like it, I’m not offended. But what if they want to send love and they ‘love’ it. How do I feel about that? Or I post caught my knob in my trousers wanting people to think its funny cos I’m just mucking about and there’s no ‘ouch hope you’re joking’ Emoji – what am I going to make of people’s ‘yay’ or ‘haha’ reactions. There’s just more reasons to misinterpret something from both sides of the button. If not actually just more attention seeking Facebook paranoia – I also predict a lot more virtual and real Facebook-off domestics.

Beyond the lazy, it’s also another banal way of encouraging that friend of yours. I mean there’s always one person (we all know one) that robotically and relentlessly likes and likes and likes, now they’re gonna love, like, yay! And like their own love. Awesome.. BUT It’s all just generating more clickbait, clicks and stupid monetizable intangible content clicky things…. Oh I gets it..

My initial reaction to the ‘reactions’ was it reminded me of a simple business model we’ve used for decades (OMG, yes, even before The Facemashbook was an itch in Marky boy’s genius mind). It’s about building brands, understanding them and ultimately loyalty through inertia. The stages are plotted thus on a simple axis that goes from: Unkown > Understood > Like > Love

linear_love like

As much as I detest the concept of ‘owning’ things such as (trademark-able) colours and assets for brands, Facebook, the thumbs, “like” and even the concept of ‘friends’ was somehow quite nice and warm. I find from a marketing point of view – build on, capitalize, evolve that. Why be so greedy and arrogant and actually fucking annoying to bring ‘love’ into it. This is nothing similar to brilliant Milton Glazer ‘I love NY’ in my view, this is the road to hell. Now love is sponsored by a corporation. How long before the generation say “I Facebook you. Why don’t you say you Facebook me?” etc. Chills and spills. It’s the first time I’ve looked at the concept of it and genuinely thought – wow – that’s sinister.

Sorry Facebook I couldn’t give a flying avatar about your reactions, this time you’ve got it wrong. I say bring Bob Hoskins back to give everyone a slap and get us talking to each other, listening to each other again. Isn’t it nicer to gaze at your love by candlelight than smart screen light? By love I mean a human being, not an emoji concept. By feeding the addiction of Facebook, we are becoming so inert that we won’t move our eyes from our smart device when that device is a Facebook device fully converged into every smart wireless, keyless, chipless, pinless, contactless, brainless, humourless, soulless, lifeless little lives. Then the ants will reveal themselves as the true leaders of our planet.

Have a Facebook weekend everyone.


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To err is human

In the past there’s been a lot of talk about the future. The future of advertising, branding, marketing, biscuits and so on. Back in the day at WO we employed a Russian Futurologist. The fact that he was Russian only made it more interesting. On his first day I met him in the lunch queue “I am futurologist” he said. “What was the fish like?” I asked. I’d like to think it was his former Soviet Federative emotionless disposition that prevented him cracking a smile. He often ended brilliant lectures about the future of banking with “and that is the future of banking. Or maybe not, we don’t know – as it is the future”. Everyone nodded with the nonchalance of casual ineptitude and went back to work. Whether its futurologists or Shingy with his cwazy hair and big data predictions, businesses and agencies alike are thirsty for game changing things. Words become concepts, become territories, become USPs:big ideas:killer apps – you get the point. Remember when McDonald’s wouldn’t sell you a coke – it was a McCola? Now it’s not enough to have a plan. Strategies are fragmented into digital and social; online; secular; modular; blah. I miss the days when clients just used to ask “but will it fax?”. Is all this bullshit just more ways of justifying our own marketing existence or do we think that it makes what we do somehow more exciting, relevant, future-proof? Video killed the radio star and content made stuff and shit monetizable. Which brings me back to the future. It would appear the future of ( advertising/brand/marketing/media/something about space )* is definitely digital and content related. So, let me just get that straight? How we communicate, converse and experience things will be affected by technology – and it will have more stuff in it, most probably stuff that we have decided upon ourselves. Cool.


There’s just one thing about the now we live in. In the exponential tech space curve we have ridden courtesy mainly of Mr Berners-Lee; we are more connected than ever and arguably increasingly losing our humanity. Inquiring about everything has changed our desire for knowledge. Automated speed has made us lazy. Accessibility has bred contempt. Social media is often anti social. Caught up in a Kubrick-esque fantasy of the future we are forging artificial intelligence with the arrogance of a species that believes it understands its own, finitely. We jump from Plato to Maslow to AIBO.

Back in 500 years B.C. (Before Content) when M&S was one bloke selling things on a stall for a penny there was no retail brand customer journey experience. When Mr. Coke set up his marvelous new drink his social strategy was word of mouth. People bought stuff from people. Reputation was the brand. I’m not suggesting we revert back to some buttons-for-pigs swapping utopia but maybe we have lost what it means to be ‘human’. Naturally when businesses become successful and scaleable – they lose the touch of the founder. There is a unique tipping point in any business where the tribal nature can not be sustained. To truly succeed it needs to be transcended. In the naughty 90s it was really innovative not to put a car or phone in an advert selling a car or phone. “Is this you?” we asked with portraits rather than products. Off stage became the new narrative. In our narcissistic way we artificially recreate the human touch by creating frameworks around business that emulates our own subconscious human nature. Traditional brand strategies use values, vision, idea – all essentially human traits or mechanisms. We give things tone of voice, personality and so on. In this infinite loop event horizon we often meet ourselves again and like to pretend we are buying into something rather than just taking a product off the shelf. So, what happens when the business or ‘brand owner’ tries to science this humanity? Often marketing professionals seem to think they can crack the code of the cosmos. We categorize and plot demographics assigning buyers or consumers into neat acronyms. People are looked at like ants viewed by the gods for their sport. We know you, we know what you buy, where, in which postcode, or what time, in how many clicks. However, do we really understand ‘why?’. Is there always a why or sometimes just a ‘because’. One answer is – ask yourself why do you buy what’s in your basket / drive / home? As a ‘marketing professional’ are you above all that? Do you have a customer journey every time or do you go to that supermarket because it’s the closest? You drive that car because you just like it. Or because your priorities lie elsewhere. Are you human? It’s OK. Most of the other people are too.

Real progression can be influenced by technology, data, trends and algorithms. Innovation if often human created. The power of the idea. Consciousness will beat intelligence, emotion can overpower logic. We don’t have to end up like Dudley Moore in Crazy People but simple truths and relevance can create beautiful connections.

The future of the agency will be changed by those who innovate and create new rules. Responding to homogenous change is bovine. The smaller the planet becomes the more the need to respect and celebrate diversity. Universal truths can be good. What’s exciting is the way companies are now shaped by the usage or demand of the customer. Democracy can work if its genuine and not a convenient buzzword. Better is better than difference for difference sake. It would be nice for things to just work, it would be great if we could all have some more fun.

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After Kipling, after lunch…


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September 24, 2015 · 5:00 pm

The 2 drinks test

Try this out, you might like it!

Based on my loose knowledge of cognitive behaviour therapy, I have devised a simple experiment that I believe, if you follow it, you will find out a little bit more about how your own brain works and gain insight into how others think too. This is not a strict test, you can deviate, you can do it on your own, you can do what you like. It’s meant to make you question yourself, positively and gain empathy for others. It’s probably best if you do it with a friend or even a partner. I designed it to connect people and spread the vibe. It is that simple.

You will need:
A pen
A piece of paper
A friend
A favourite drink

(This is not about shares or likes but you might need to share this privately with one person. Or just do your version on your own)

Agree with your co-tester a time of day to do this, in different locations.

Pick a time – for example At 11:00am, write down short answers to these questions:

1) Right this moment, how do you feel?

2) What is your earliest memory?

3) If you had just one wish, what would it be?

Now, try to forget about these questions. Go and make yourself a coffee, tea, have a cigarette, go for a walk. Take 5 minutes. Relax. Forget about these three questions. Put away the paper.
Do not talk to anyone else about what you are doing. Forget it. Get on with your day.

Then, later that day – agree a second time. For example, at 11:00pm that same day, get out your piece of paper.
Now, ask yourself the same 3 questions and write down 3 new answers, underneath. They may be precisely the same answers or not. Write it anyway, try not to look at what you wrote earlier.

Look at the paper, read it to yourself out loud. Read it again to yourself without saying anything.

Ask yourself, what if anything is different? What connects the answers? Is there anything that comes up that you could describe in one word?
What is that word?

Finally, if you could create your own one question what would that be and who would you ask it to ?


Now the fun bit.

Arrange to meet your friend for a drink this week. Agree a venue, agree a time, agree a place. Agree a time frame. Agree to definitely go somewhere else after 2 drinks at that place.

Take your paper with you.

When it’s your turn to go to the bar or the coffee house whatever, buy your favourite or usual drink. Then buy the friend the same drink as you.
Whilst you both drink that same drink, one of you speaks about the 3 questions. You can let them read your paper or not or just talk. But the other should listen.

For the next round you do it in reverse.
Your mate buys you their favourite drink and this time, you listen.

After 2 drinks. Throw away the paper. Leave the venue.
Go together. But see how long it is before the other talks.

There are no smart answers to this.
There are no right answers.
No right types, no profiles.

What you do next is up to you.

Then at the next 11:00am after your meeting ask yourself this:

How well do I know myself?
How do I feel right this moment?
How will I feel tomorrow?
How do I want to feel tomorrow?
What can I do to feel more like that?



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The paradox of intelligence

The Paradox of Intelligence

I’m more and more noticing a fusion of online and in real life happenings. There is a theory called “Convergence” in which all of our technologies, our networks, will – converge. I subscribe to this, as it’s already happening. We have become reliant on our mobile phones, especially smart phones (convergence friendly) and social media. We create online persona(s), tweet our every thoughts, no matter how banal, and use abbreviations derived from text speak into real life speak. Like some Orwellian newspeak I have heard people use “LOL” out in the real world. I shit you not. We are en mass using Facebook as our browser. Our gateway to the world, the universe, the actual literal universe and our microcosmic pub universe of mates and gossip, sharing that mad video of a cat getting bummed in India (LOL) and that thing when that bloke said something on that show that was well mad to that other bloke. Everyone can be a comedian. Everyone can be an expert. Online.

like this stick for no reason

Einstein was a great advocator of simplicity and our own imagination. Surely all great thinkers in history just want us to think for ourselves. It’s not like you suddenly decide you are smart just because you understand Steven Hawking anymore than you’re intellectual because you play fucking Chess. I believe it’s in the ability to understand things that are probably “TLDR” and then extrapolate that knowledge to your own ends or dreams. If understanding the primary concepts of particle physics, enables you to perform some some sort of transmogrification into a philosophical paradigm then I’d say you’re probably pretty smart and using your own brain. Research is often lots of reading and no more indicative of being a genius than having a good memory. That sounds really clever doesn’t it, but would you be impressed if I had said: Read a book and think about life?

Gone are the days when people stood shoulder to shoulder, quietly trying to rack their brains to remember the name of Geoffrey Palmer’s wife in Butterflies. Now the smartphones are whipped out and the vast vaults of internet knowledge come to the rescue. It was Wendy Craig by the way. I continue to amaze my tech hating friend Charlie, from the local, who refuses to own a mobile, let alone get involved with “The Facebook”. I like to leave my mobile alone, take it old school and use my memory when talking about music or comedy well beyond my years. It’s still nice to know my iphone will bail me out though if it’s a really tough reference.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking, I believe the more advanced we become, the more reliant on technology, the more stupid we make ourselves. We are loosing skills from the real world like: interaction, conversation, behaviour – and frankly, doing things the proper way. It’s become digital, interaction becomes interactivity and experiential. Emulative ways of real and satisfying experiences, algorithmic re-interpretations and demographic suggestions.

Because of all this potential wealth of knowledge, people can misuse it (in my eyes) and become toe dipping pseudo fucking smart-arses. Even if this level of knowledge is that Twiki from Buck Rogers is spelled like so and no ‘e’ at the end. Who fucking cares? I mean if you had that conversation in real life and someone picked you up on that you’d probably punch them wouldn’t you? But, no, the grammar police are there and they’re telling you which way is up and often missing the point. If you’ve ever thought about why isn’t there world peace, you’ve only got to go and look on Facebook and see why. Go and have a look at someone like Deadmau5 or Katie Price. There are people that will create an argument and troll the arse of anything from some famous person saying “Hi. !  ;) LOL”.


What’s interesting for me is, I try my hardest not to get wound up by the online activity that goes on. It’s all part of the tapestry of life. I mean people standing on the back of my shoe on the tube escalator really fucking winds me up. Facebook, just a laugh isn’t it? I actually learned the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism courtesy of my friends conversing on my thread only yesterday. That was interesting. Some people put far too many pictures of their dog up, but hey, could be worse. I treat it like my own personal comedy channel and I’m sure I annoy the hell out of people too. But it’s just Facebook. I’m much more annoying in real life, LOL. Why is it though that we need to be validated by likes and the like? Maybe it’s what I like to call the burger and chips theory. When we’re kids, and we are asked what we’d like to eat at a birthday party, it’s just burger and chips. Everyone else likes burger and chips, and damn it we are part of that tribe. One of the first games we learn to play is “Snap!”. The same card, matching. Recognizing and getting recognition at the same time. It’s no wonder that we often have a strong in built narcissism. We learn to fit, we seek mirrors not other worlds or experiences. Not until we are much older. Some never do. However, surely we are all really looking for the meaning of life, or our life. We look for things to resonate. We are often arrogant enough to think no-one was ever made to feel small or hurt or as in love as we are. Just listen to pretty much any music- they didn’t write that song for you, it was for them! I believe we are often more creative when we are put through diversity. It fuels creativity. It fuels fight, desire, drive. What I’m interested in is a world where people seek inner peace. Where we listen to each other with a view to understanding, not just arguing. Why do we have to always “win” an argument? If you slow down and think about stuff, we are all in the same boat. We are often trying to understand the same thing. The guy with the PhD might know fuck all about who will win the FA Cup as the guy in McDonalds could be a qualified doctor from another country. The beauty of the internet and indeed Facebook is it is often our own microuniverse blog, and if we all just chilled out a bit from time to time and stopped taking ourselves too seriously: could just heal reignite the art of interaction and conversation. Symbiotic behaviours that could really lead to a collective consciousness.

Or we could keep doing selfies and cat videos. Or I could keep thinking I’m funny and getting wound up by, no I’m not going to say his name. Arrogance and self awareness rarely go hand. Or as Frankie says: RELAX.


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The Game of Life

There’s a lot to be said about the playing of games to teach you about life.

Board games or video games. Anyone who grew up in the eighties will know what I mean when I say Jet Set Willy sets you in good stead for getting a seat on the tube. But not just that. The reason I’m more fascinated with virtual games is our relationship with the computer and what it tells us about our own humanity. Firstly, computers are rather arrogantly set up to emulate the human brain. There is memory and processors, languages and artificial intelligence. The latter, intelligence being the golden fleece of computing. What I believe we’re obsessed with is interaction. Now, there are many synonyms we could curve off into a tangent here, so bear with me. When I was 6 years old and was learning a computer language the first thing I did was get the computer to “say hello to me”. Which is what we want, a subservient (perhaps) entity to be friendly and helpful and maybe teach us. However, I bet you the geeks at MIT or Bolton Polytechnic or wherever they may be, when they crack A.I. properly; the first thing THEY will do is build a sexbot so they can fuck it. And so we’re back to interaction. Anyone who plays or even played Chess will know, you only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent. Nowadays we can use the computer to be our opponent. In life, when I’ve done management training weekends it always amused me the microcosms of process and how early on people usually seek out a common enemy. This is paranoid or assumptive at best, but gives you an insight into real life. Exercises, like games, real or virtual are a learning experience. Nothing bad ought happen, even god forbid – you lose.


There is a lot to be said, to take the analogy the other way and treat life like a game. Now, let’s be clear, I’m not advocating you disregard common sense or laws like a fearless mentally ill person or someone who has ingested a copious amount of Tia Maria. I’m saying people who don’t ALWAYS take life too seriously and see the downtime or learning in life – they seem to have more knowledge, and more fun too. The trouble here, is, yep, our old friend “interaction”. People playing the same game at the same time might well enjoy some companionship or help. But there’s quite an annoying thing that happens when you’re trying to complete Crash Bandicoot and some noblord wants to discuss what type of creature it is, wow, and what about that thing that happened last night etc. Another thing I’m interested in is why do we need to always win? Chess is seen as an intellectual game, we spend billions trying to build computers to beat Kaspirov and the like. Strategy. Games, business, life, war. Why do we create real life business strategies from old Chinese War Lords? Again, context plays the part here.

Perhaps the smarter we get, the more we master something, the less we need to win.

The more powerful we are, the quieter we become. Ironic that we have to complete the game to understand the paradox of the journey. So,what are you playing at? Life is but a game.

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The complexity of simplicity

“A picture paints a thousand words” so they say. Could this be an illustration that the visual world is inherently complex and more stimulating than the written form. It also hints at our imagination normally is a mainly visual tool. We think in full colour (unless we were born blind) and we think in vividness unparalleled by our own internal monologue.
Art always struck me as a bit slow. The greeks had worked out the world, plotted it, philosophized it, argued that and philosophized it again, worked out the mathematics of our surroundings. Yet Ucello still couldn’t work out perspective a thousand years later. It was perhaps the Renaissance that sought to pull all these things together.

DaVinci designed helicopters and applied the Fibonacci sequence. Then many years later, it appears to me the artists, once they had conquered naturalism began to be expressive for the first time. Existentialist even. That Duchamp bloke, you know the one with the urinal, he went and made modern art and reduced it to a concept. The simplified form creates a thousand questions, and that my chums is the point. So, the next time you hear yourself saying “a 5 year old could have done that” remember these guys had a thousand years of learning, then their education, then once they mastered stuff – they all come back to simplicity. Matisse didn’t get up one morning and say “I’m gonna make a naive collage”.
For a start he was bed-ridden and he was on the cusp of his swan song. A reduction. Simple. If you squint hard enough you can see the fibonacci lurking in there somewhere.

Picture 4

Mondrian, the studio line bloke, that was all about trees. He started off trying to understand the organic and the naturalist. Then moved to the visual jus that is recognizable as a grid with primary colours harmonizing somehow. In nature, as in all around us there is a perpetual paradox of complexity and simplicity. Think of a leaf. Simple, if we draw the icon of it or an outline. However look at it closely and its divine in its construction. Straight lines belong to concrete, even if Zaha Hadid is involved. The curve, something so simple and prevalent in nature is hard. Try briefing curves to Zaha Hadid and unless you’ve got the budget of a Qatar billionaire and patience of someone really fucking patient – well you get the idea. Even Damien Hirst has obviously been through this journey. I’m pretty sure he didn’t just meet up with Charles Saatchi for lunch one day. Where Charles said “Oi, you know what I fancy in my collection? I reckon a dead shark would look blinding in the main hall. You know, really pull the room together. Can you do me one?” These are all monumental pieces of simplicity, created via the complex.

I believe people that are brilliant at something often make it look easy.
It takes confidence to be single minded, it also take experience to make that not arrogant. It’s hard to write the headline, say the few words.
Only a fool thinks they can rush to Rothko’s red period. Only a fool blurts “I love you”. Without the journey. Without the reduction.

Here’s to simple.

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