Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Commander Hadfield rocks, Capcom’s Internet of you and this week’s bits and bytes

7 future comms trends: Last week @drewb spoke at CIPR Wild Wild Web about the seven future web trends that brands should know about – all with a comms slant.

AP social media guidelines: The Associated Press posted an update to their social media guidelines, looking to balance the need for speed in reporting, warning journalists to avoid spreading unconfirmed rumors through tweets and posts.

Google’s still got it: Google’s 6th annual developer conference Google I/O is happening right now in San Francisco. The main event of this 3-day-developer-marathon though was Google’s 3.5 hour keynote where they announced a whole host of new features, updates and even some new hardware. Nothing major, rather an interesting mix of new features as well as leveraging and connecting existing products in Google’s massive portfolio. My faves:

  • Google+ saw a redesign adding a new chat that syncs across all platforms and a new focus on image manipulation called ‘Image Awesome‘. No, really. Awesome. The new in-built photo gallery enhances, categorises, styles and retouches your photos. Oh, and it does this automatically.
  • Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services will have taken note of the terribly named Google Play Music All Access. The service will cost $9.99 a month but doesn’t have an ad-supported version (yet).
  • Google Search will soon receive a makeover in terms of input: you’ll be able to just tell Google in Chrome to search for something by saying “OK, Google“. No keystrokes or clicks required. The walls are growing ears.
  • My favourite new Google feature though is the combination of Google Wallet and Gmail, allowing you to send and receive actual money to people as an email attachment. So simple, so useful.

There’s always money in the banana stand: Netflix are using the infamous banana stand from ‘Arrested Development’ to generate even more buzz around the show’s highly-anticipated return to the online streaming service on 26 May. It’s already made it to Tower Bridge and Leicester square in London!

Huggies’ Tweetpee app: Not sure if this falls into the category of ‘WTAF’ or ‘pure genius’, but Ogilvy Brazil has come up with a sensor/app combo that tells parents when their babies need a diaper change. The sensor attaches to the baby’s diaper and tweets the parent when moisture levels become too high. But, before you just leave your baby pee, Kimberly-Clark confirmed in a statement that the clip-on humidity sensor is intended merely as a concept device and will not be made available for purchase. Back to manually checking those humidity levels.

The history of Typography: Ever wonder what the hell is the difference between serif and sans serif? Why Italics were invented? No? Well, to be honest, neither did I. Still, this animated short provides a great summary of the history of typography from its invention by Gutenberg through the horror that is Comic Sans, to today’s proliferation of different typefaces in word processing software (HT @willio).

BBM on iPhone? In a move that (to me) smacks of desperation, Blackberry have announced plans to make Blackberry Messenger available on iPhone – thereby removing the last reason for actually buying a Blackberry in the first place.

The Internet of things: The idea of a future where your fridge will order another pint of milk before you run out isn’t new. In fact, Wired Magazine’s @billwasik believes the programmable world is already here, writing in his excellent essay that soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives.

Remember me: Take the ‘Internet of things’ idea a giant leap further into the future and you land smack bang in the world of Capcom’s new sci-fi action/adventure game ‘Remember me‘. Rather than connecting inanimate objects through the web, this futuristic dystopia (think Bladerunner) has society connecting people’s memories, sharing them instantly via the web. The internet of you, as it were.

Source: The Art of the Game


To promote the game’s central idea, Capcom partnered with Youtube videographer Devin Supertramp (famous for his clips of attractive people swinging through giant arches) and produced a clip with scenes from Devin’s very own archive of work together with a speech of Antoine Cartier-Wells, the founder the corporation in Remember who has developed the technology to connect people’s minds. Trippy, geeky – I know what’s next after Bioshock!

Here is today: An incredibly simple, yet brilliantly effective and beautiful site to tell the story of the creation of the world, the universe, everything – across all time.

Gran’s cooking: Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti recently finished a 18-month trip around the world during which he completed a wonderful photographic project called ‘Delicatessen with love‘. A homage to grans’ cooking from around the world, the photos show portraits of grandmothers and their signature dish. The outcome is a cookery book of detailed recipes that mix love, photography and travel amongst the many exotic ingredients from Peru to the Philippines.

Source: Gabriele Galimberti

Satellite imagery time-lapse: Last week we had hyperlapse videos created using Google Maps imagery and data – this week I discovered the Google Earth Engine. Using satellite imagery from Landsat, the chaps from Google have put together a number of time-lapses spanning almost two decades from 1984 to 2012 showing everything from lakes drying out, palm-shaped islands popping up off the coast of Dubai, to the deforestation of the Amazon. Amazing and terrifying to see the often devastating effect we humans have on nature – and in such a short time.

As you’d expect from the search engine, you can also Google any other location – I found the Singaporean landgrab particularly impressive. Keep your eye on the South-Western and Eastern tips (Changi Airport) of the island.

Singapore timelapse
Source: Google Earth Engine

Video of the week: It had to be the video of International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ while orbiting our planet. Hadfield has tweeted throughout his mission, sharing everything from Space Station sounds to stunning images of earth from outer space – but to finish it off with the first ever music video recorded in space? Well played.

Acknowledgement from the original Spaceman

I love that this gloriously ‘tached Astronaut has helped NASA land arguably their biggest PR coup since the moon landing – all by engaging the world through social media with fascinating insight into what life in space is all about, a willingness to have a conversation and a healthy dose of Canadian charm.

Here’s a little ‘best of’ compilation of Hadfield in action.

And finally: Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal (HT @a_little_wine).

HMV’s Twitter meltdown, a masterclass in multimedia storytelling and this week’s bits and bytes

Pinch, punch, first day of the month – it can only mean our monthly look back at @SainsburysPR’s favourite tweets from January 2013.

And while we’re on the topic – Sainsbury’s has landed on rank 6 in the FTSE 100 social media index (up from 27th last year!). The report highlighted Sainsbury’s strong presence across all six channels in the index, especially the YouTube channel with its variety of content from recipe tutorials to playlists on its involvement in the Paralympics and with Fairtrade. Sainsbury’s use of Twitter and how we engage our corporate and consumer audiences through dedicated accounts @SainsburysPR and @Sainsburys was also seen as a reason for the strong performance.

Over on Escherman’s blog, @andismit takes a look at which journalists you should follow on Twitter. He uses data from Twitonomy to look at how The Guardian’s tech editor Charles Arthur uses Twitter (does he RT? Does he @? When is he most active?). This leads to a number of suggestions for how PRs should engage with journos on Twitter. It starts to get interesting though when Charles responds in the comments to the post and provides his own view on how to use Twitter – very useful to read his point of view and also goes to show that while using and understanding data is increasingly important for PRs, it should not be trusted in blindly.

In what ‏@marcusleroux from The Times called the most entertaining parting shot since Stephen Pollard left the Express, HMV’s official account @HMVtweets gained 10,000 followers in the space of a few hours yesterday as a an employee live tweeted the firing of over 100 employees. Apparently, HMV HR had started internal redundancy meetings with the marketing teams, including the person responsible for their social media account. The tweets were quickly deleted, but not before they’d been screengrabbed and retweeted all over the world. The social media manager behind it all later posted her motivations from her personal account. I’ve pulled together a summary of it all together in a Storify about the #hmvXFactorFiring.

You should always read things carefully. Especially when you retweet them, as Capital Hotel learnt when they shared what they thought was a positive review by Jay Rayner with their followers. Oops (HT @tomparker81).

Everywhere there is talk about the old media world dying. Interesting then that it is old media institutions like Forbes and the New York Times that are blazing a trail for the rest of the publishing world. Forbes offer a great insight into the changing of the guard that is evident in both the technology used by the journalists as it is in the their mindset in a great piece titled Inside Forbes: A New Wave of Digital Journalist Is Showing a Profession the Way Forward.

But what really blew my mind is this brilliant project by the New York Times about an avalanche at Tunnel Creek. Titled ‘Snow Fall’, it is already being seen as a seminal piece of work in terms of online storytelling techniques. It combines videos, animation and audio around one specific event and pulls it all together through some beautifully written and exceptionally harrowing narrative to deliver what is an entirely engrossing online experience. Truly magical in its implementation as it keeps perfectly the balance between tech and storytelling. Bottom line: PLEASE LOOK AT THIS. IT IS ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT. I can also highly recommend the Q&A with the author of the piece, John Branch (HT @davidjstocks).

Vine, Twitter’s new 6 second video app launched last week. Imagine Instagram without filters and instead of a photo you record a short video. I played around with the new Vine app myself and also had a look at how brands are starting to use it.

Image credit: Vine

Remember Foursquare? That app where you check in and get to be mayor of a location if you check in most often? Well as someone who was once the mayor of my local pub, my local coffee shot, my local Sainsbury’s, Sainsbury’s Head Office and a number of other places – I never really saw the point. Why? Businesses just weren’t rewarding check ins or mayorships. Launched in 2009, it’s taken them four years to finally come up with an app that allows business owners manage specials and view analytics. We’ll see if that will make checking in worthwhile…

Videos of the week

“Push to add drama by TNT – the sequel”

and “The Replacer”

Awesome. And you gotta love the Fargo reference in the second one.

Image source: Failposters

And finally: anybody who has ever spoken to me about QR codes knows I hate them and, given the chance, will go on a rant full of colourful language. Mainly because of the half-arsed and poor executed implementation. Generally I point people to the brilliant Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes but our very own @SimonLP has started curating these wonderfully painful examples of QR Code fails on Pinterest so I shall from now on point people who mention them there.

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