the Apple iWatch: when sci-fi invades reality


The iWatch. No-one
knows much. It’s an Apple product rumoured to be in development, made of curved
glass designed to fit around the wrist.

It sounds cool in a
Napoleon Dynamite sort of way; chic and geek in equal measure. Central to chatter on the subject is the
pervasive question of whether it will actually be made; Apple’s continued silence on
the issue of the iWatch has driven various tech-bloggers giddy with the sweet
smell of conspiracy

What's more interesting is its direct link to Science
. Watch out, it gets a bit nerdy from here on out.
The device will apparently name and describe objects at which it is pointed.
This is a tricorder, not a timepiece.


You could look at the iWatch as part of a slow trickle of technology conceived at the
final frontiers of space-y genre lit. Similar examples abound. Another supposed
Apple product in the pipeline – the iGlasses
– purports to record what you see, edit out the bad stuff, and replay it, see
Minority Report and the Matrix for more details. There’s even a nifty working prototype of a
hover-car flying about
out there.

The fields of
fantasy-technology and real-technology seem destined for cross-pollination. This
piece takes the position that Science actually uses sci-fi to test out ideas,
as a kind of virtual lab. Simpler is the notion that a few kids watch Star Wars
and grow up into product developers with a burning desire to make a robot-hand
that actually
feels things

Its interesting to think of sci-fi as ‘the manual of the possible’. That the genre has a kind of mapping function –
sketching the contours of the land, the limits of what we can think up – which then challenges us fill in the gaps with actual
stuff. It’s cool and it lends credibility to a big swathe of nerd culture
that is too-easily overlooked.


(Thoughts courtesy of Planning Placement newbie James.)

connecting with customers in a crisis

Ash cloud

One interesting thing about being stranded by the ash cloud-related transport meltdown was the extent to which the experience was altered by the current state of social media and the mobile internet. Not long ago we'd have been stuck in our hotel, trying to get through on airport helplines. But with twitter on one's nokia multimedia mobile computing device, one was able to get immediate updates from round the world and swap news and anecdotes with fellow volcanic refugees, clients, colleagues, friends and family back at home. We might have been stuck but we weren't at all cut off. Interesting also to see the differences in the way that some organisations used media channels during the period. Finavia and Helsinki aiport were pretty hopeless, with very little mention of volcanic ash problems on their websites – just lists of cancelled flights, updated about twice a day – and useless links pointing at each other's unhelpful info. Swedavia not much better. And if any of these were on facebook or twitter, I certainly couldn't find them. 

On the other hand, when I tweeted favourably about BA's service on the final leg of our journey home, they replied within  minutes.

Picture 1 

Amazing attention to detail. Pretty remarkable when you consider how busy they must be today. A fantastic way to boost positive customer feeling and a brilliant lesson in the use of social media in crisis management.

pedants of the world, rise up!

A heart-warming story on Radio 4 this morning for all grammar pedants. Also reported in The Times. Exasperated by living in a street where the signage shows a cavalier disregard
for punctuation, Stefan Gatward has been painting apostrophes on to the
signs of “St Johns Close”, in Tunbridge Wells, so that they announce “St
John’s Close”.

Picture 1 

Top man.

optimism unwelcome

Crisis, what crisis? Minister apologises for green shoots of recovery forecast

Vadera's optimism sparks row amid job losses

"In hindsight, it wasn't the smartest thing a minister could have said. Yesterday, as thousands of job losses were announced, the business secretary was trying to sell a rescue package for small businesses and the prime minister was fending off charges of incompetence over the economy, the business minister, Lady Vadera, was telling a TV news bulletin she had spotted "a few green shoots" of recovery. Within hours she was forced to apologise."



From The Guardian today


If this is a sign of the times, we may have to rename the blog.

words of advice


In these economically challenging times, it's perhaps inevitable that some agency/client relationships will become strained. I remembered the old words of advice for dealing with tricky situations. These have been around so long that they may be new to younger readers:

When the client moans and sighs
Make his logo twice the size
If the client still proves refractory
Show a picture of the factory
Only in the gravest cases
Should you show the clients' faces

Kevin Chesters supplied a few additional verses for the modern age:

If the ads have gone to pot
Mention blogging quite a lot

If you want to dazzle them
Drop in terms like CRM

To make your clients think you're sage
Give campaigns a myspace page

To make them think you're clever chaps
Make references to Google Maps

If accused of strategic shirking
Bang on about social networking

If they still think the work is crap

You must present an iPhone app


The sun

A totally classic Sun front page today. I know they are a competitor to our esteemed client The Guardian but kudos to them for finding a way to put a smile on people's faces in the way they report the latest round of tidings of financial doom. The 5-4-3-2-1 touch is lovely and 'Thundersplurge is go' is the icing on the cake.
It is entirely possible that the population of Britain will never again be able to see Alistair Darling without visualising him as a Thunderbirds puppet.

never mind the laughs, admire the cinematography


There have been some nice ideas in the promotional campaign for the new Ben Stiller movie, Tropic Thunder. I like the fact that Booty Sweat energy drink has been launched as an actual product.
But what were on earth were they thinking of with the lead quote on the poster? "One of the best-shot comedies ever made"? "Best shot"?! Now, I'm as much of a snobbish cineaste as the next Renoir regular, but "well shot" screams "not funny" to me. Which is not what we want from Stller and Black.
Coming soon to a movie poster near you (not): "Bergman and Nkyvist don't turn off the funny hose for the whole four and a half hours!"
(And anyway, I haven't seen it, but I bet Tropic Thunder isn't better shot than Manhattan.)

waiting for the end of the world


As many of you will have noticed, we weren’t vaporised by
a giant black hole on the way to work this morning and (despite that electrical
storm yesterday afternoon) everything goes on as normal.

Unless we were
all wiped out and re-created in an alternate but identical universe. I’d check
your jeans still fit if I were you.

Fortunately, the scientific community
know exactly how to communicate the finer points of atomic collisions which
commenced at CERN this morning in a Swiss bunker (where all good things start).
That’s right, they’ve done a rap:

More great photos like the one above can be found here.

Alarmingly, someone has pointed out that the keyboard player in D:Ream, that band that did the song
"Things can only get better" (used as the New Labour election anthem), is one of the scientists working on
this. If I'd known that before they switched on the 'big bang machine' I might have been a bit more worried about the earth being swallowed up by a black hole.

I wonder if he was behind the rap idea.