“Are We On The Brink Of The Great Social Media Bubble?” asks ReadWriteWeb

I think the world fell off that 2-3 years ago, I answer.

Rob Frankel offers a frank, straightforward, uncontroversial perspective on brands’ unimaginative social media strategies, and, predictably, gets blasted in the comments as a result.

“It’s got to be the right tool for the right job. If your car doesn’t run and you realize it’s a mechanical problem, you’re going to need a tool set. But that tool set is probably not going to include a hammer and saw,” he said. “Every company out there is saying ‘Like us on Facebook.’ But why? Why would I like a gasket company.”

via Are We On The Brink Of The Great Social Media Bubble?.

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‘Hunger Games’ star Jennifer Lawrence invites fans to look at her books

Ahem. Let’s just say I favour her odds.

Unimpressed

She’s not impressed.

I’d managed to avoid much of the buzz about The Hunger Games until recently. A couple of friends demanded I read it, which I did. I thought it was a great story and should make a damn good movie. Really looking forward to it.

Via BuzzFeed – Jennifer Lawrence “Hunger Games” Book Signing.

Please, please, please let this be radical new marketing’s shark jump

Lance Ulanoff in defence of Homeless Hotspots:

So, what is so bad about this? You’re giving the homeless more money than they might normally have. The homeless are providing a high-quality service. And you may actually get to know someone new (making a literal and figurative connection). Even if you think Homeless Hotspots is a good idea, it is by no means a solution for the plight of the homeless, who may often need far more than just money (support, counseling, help overcoming addiction). On the other hand, it is doubtlessly better than doing nothing, which is what most of us do.

He’s right. It’s not a bad idea. It’s the perfect bad idea. I doubt Chris Morris could’ve done any better.

They missed a trick by not mixing in some gamification. To be fair, at least he recognises this is a particularly imaginative non-solution to nothing.

via Homeless Hotspots: Not a Terrible Idea.

Prediction: The new Apple TV IS going to be revealed today, IS going to be awesome, but IS NOT what you think it’ll be

I love this little guy

I’ve been geekily enthralled by tech blogger musings and predictions about the fabled iTV – Apple’s industry-shaking, style-setting, generation-defining, wall-encompassing flatscreen that Jobs himself apparently hinted at. My interest has not been due to the imagined home entertainment revolution an Apple-bred television would supposedly bring, but at how so-called analysts and experts suddenly lack both expertise and analysis when speculating on the latest shiny gizmo to emerge from Cupertino.

Instead, you get a strange kind of fuzzy logic that can be summed up as:

Item of technology that is feasibly possible (though practically nonsensical)
+
Designed by Apple
=
It must be a good idea
=
Apple are DEFINITELY working on it

Which is why you get the kind of breathless fantasising that the new Apple TV will wrap a 47″ retina-display touchscreen, Siri-style voice controls, and built-in Safari browser inside a glistening black and chrome, wafer-thin shell and sell for $1000. These predictions ignore some obvious points:

  • You can already get TVs with these features… and they suck
  • Ordinary people don’t interact with TVs, or desire to interact with TVs, in a way that would welcome such features
  • Virtually anything Apple could want to get out of a TV (and what users would really benefit from) could be introduced for a tenth of the price via an upgrade to the existing Apple TV boxes

Whichever way you look at it, the idea of Apple releasing it’s own big-screen television seems unlikely. It’s even less likely that such a device will be a runaway commercial success in the mould of the iPad and iPhone. However, with the right push, the £99 Apple TV could become ubiquitous – the must-have accessory for the growing number of iPhone and iPad users, and a way to cement Apple’s presence in the living room.

And you’ve got to assume that this is Apple’s mission: to sell lots of stuff to lots of people at a decent profit, and for these people to spend even more money, hermetically sealed within the Apple ecosystem. That’s got to be far more important for the company than building a sexy, expensive new television, right?

Which is why there’ll be no iTV revealed today. But what could be unveiled may be freaking awesome…

Apple TV whatifery

This is my question:

What if the “Apple TV” is not a device? (Dramatic pause). What if it’s an app?

Imagine a button on your homescreen that acts as a portal to the many media apps already available on the iPad and iPhone. It’s like Newsstand for TV applications, but with a radically new and unique, visually striking interface. One click allows you to flick through all your ‘channels’ (i.e. apps you’ve downloaded), download/rent episodes, or (via a host of clever, new APIs) browse a unified EPG and set up notifications for new episodes of your favourite programmes.

Naturally, if you have the Apple TV box, clicking the the icon on your iDevice will launch the app on your TV screen – making the connection between devices seamless. While your selected show plays on the TV, your iDevice persists as a content browser and remote, or you can simply move to a different app while your show still plays on the TV.

What better way to sell Apple TVs? The existence of an all-in-one media portal (with attractive marketing and distribution benefits for content providers) acts as yet another major selling point for iDevices – and makes the purchase of a cheap and cheerful Apple TV box a no-brainer. “Apple TV” becomes something far more accessible – a brand as all-pervasive as iTunes – and, being available on all (or most) of the 316 million iDevices currently sold, it’s a far more attractive proposition for networks/content creators looking for an audience.

So… that’s pretty much my prediction for today’s Apple event: a newsstand-like-thing but for TV channels/apps, with a cool UI and clever connectivity with the Apple TV box.

I’m probably completely off the mark. This probably doesn’t make any sense, but I thought I’d better quickly chuck this crap down during my lunch break, before time runs out to talk about what’s going to happen and everyone’s talking about what did happen.

Here’s the thing: if I’m wrong, nobody will care. But if I’m right… Ohhhhh, man, if I’m right… Total bragging rights for life. X x

David Cameron went to Europe with a cow and came back with Magic Beans

What I imagine European harmony looks like...

It’s a year in which the world is gripped by uncertainty fuelled by an unstable Europe. A powerful German nation begins the relentless spread of its domination across the continent. A Conservative Prime Minister, following the grand Tory tradition of ‘Splendid Isolation’, returns from negotiations to rapturous popular support and a largely congratulatory press. He proudly announces to have won a great victory for British interests, although time would quickly prove how shallow this victory was.

I’m referring, of course, to 1938, Neville Chamberlain and the famously un-prophetic “peace in our time” speech. I was reminded of this regrettable chapter of British history this morning as the Eurosceptic press heaped praise for David Cameron’s surprise exit from the EU summit.

I must admit, aside from the hero’s welcome, the similarities between then and now are weak. Europe is probably more closely united than any other point in history, for one thing. There is no Fourth Reich and Angela Merkel is obviously not ‘die Fuhrer’. The comparison between Chamberlain and Cameron isn’t even fair – at least, the former came back from his negotiations with something.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not the first person to make the spurious connection. That dishonour goes to Tory backbenchers, who, in advance of the summit, urged Cameron to show the “bulldog spirit” and complained, “We’ve had enough of reading of British prime ministers coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper”.

Ironically, these are the same people now enthusiastically cheering Dave – who’s come back with less a piece of paper and more a red card with ‘NON’ stamped boldly on it.

What European harmony actually looks like.

Why then do I mention the archetypal appeaser? I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that the PM failed absolutely in his aims. He contributed nothing to further the rescue of the Eurozone, he didn’t receive any safeguards for the City, and his veto did nothing to stop the closer integration of the Eurozone. As Kevin Bacon’s character says in A Few Good Men: “these are the facts, and they are undisputed”.

That most the press (and likely the public) think this somehow translates into a Good Thing reflects the great British tradition of seeing retreat as victory.

In the minds of many Conservatives, we’re still living in 1938: there’s some sort of trouble going on across the Channel and the best way to deal with it is to turn away, tuck behind the proverbial walls of Fortress Britannia and leave Johnny European to get on with it. Their mess, their problem.

This explains why leading articles in the right-wing papers are so enthusiastic in their acclaim. As far as these Little Englander’s are concerned, David Cameron, by walking away friendless and empty-handed, genuinely was acting in England’s best interests. ‘To be left alone’ is the means and the end in itself.

And so, the Daily Mail hurrahs:

“Today the Mail salutes Mr Cameron for his courageous leadership and resolve in standing up to Angela Merkel and, in particular, to the preposterous Nicolas Sarkozy…”

The Telegraph intones:

“Mr Cameron was, therefore, pushed into a corner – and refused to buckle under. This brave and bold decision should immeasurably strengthen his domestic position, unite his party behind him and begin to provide the clarity regarding the nature of our relationship with Europe that has long been lacking.”

The Daily Express rants:

“Well Mr Cameron can rest assured that back in his own country many people – including readers of the Daily express – will be queueing up to shake his hand. For his conduct of these negotiations has been admirable.”

The Sun boasts:

“WE asked David Cameron to act like Churchill and stand up for Britain. And he did.”

“If so-called isolation means independence, is that a bad thing?”

And the Times asserts:

“Yet, for all its complexity and its potentially momentous consequences, there is a simple question that can be posed. Did the Prime Minister do the right thing? And a simple answer that can be given: ‘Yes.'”

With so much fuss being made by so many for so little (to paraphrase Churchill), I imagine if Cameron ever did succeed in actually repatriating some powers, the leader writers of these papers would dispense with the usual breathless verbiage and simply staple a jizz-drenched tissue on to the front pages.

In terms of ensuring an informed electorate, it’s a shame so many British papers possess this dogmatic “By Jingo, Alone!” mentality but it’s pure incompetence to portray a major historic event in such a blinkered and fawning manner.

David Cameron went to Europe carrying the hopes and fears of a proud yet struggling nation. He returned with less than nothing and is hailed a hero. I know we Brits can’t help but support the underdog – but why celebrate the loser?

[Update: the extent of Cameron’s failure is spelt out by Faisal Islam in his article: “Ten Curiosities about David Cameron’s Veto”]

Missing the Point of the Occupy Protests

Fuck the 99%, this dude speaks for EVERYONE

With the threat of eviction looming over the Occupy St. Paul’s protesters and the forces of America PD already coming down hard on its trans-atlantic primogenitors, we may be witnessing the final days of a movement said (by particularly deluded or insensitive supporters) to rival the Arab Spring.

It’s been a confusing and potentially alienating journey for spectators. I mean, I’ve always assumed I supported things like social justice, fairness, a more equal society, and so on. But I quickly grew frustrated and annoyed by the London occupation.

Recently, I voiced my concerns and criticisms, only to be told I’m “missing the point”. That troubled me. Was my feeble brain incapable of comprehending how brilliant, worthwhile and successful Occupy has been? Were my peers headshotting the point between the eyes at abandon, while I stood apart, aimlessly spraying my sympathy-bullets into the surrounding scenery like some n00b meat-puppet playing Goldeneye?

Fortunately, it seems I wasn’t such a freak. A quick Google search revealed the point to be as elusive as the Pokemon Mew . Actually, that analogy doesn’t quite fit. While there were a lot of people, like me, being told they were missing the point, there wasn’t much agreement on what exactly we were missing.

For example, the REAL point of the Occupy movement is, depending on who you ask (or don’t ask, as the case may be)…

Asking rhetorical questions…

“you are missing the point about that sign. I don’t think it is an attack on those people, I think it is an attack on what this society considers as freedoms. The purpose of it is to get people to question what freedom really is. Freedom is a word that gets used a lot by politicians and we all like to think we live in a free society. But do we?”

History is Made at Night

Solving a crime…

“The lack of an “agenda” or a lack of a coherence to the aims of the protestors is missing the point… A crime has been committed but the only clue they have is that it is something in the City and this thing in the “City” has made them a victim of a crime they don’t understand and it has cost them their job/home/car whatever… They are coming back at a perpetrator that government has failed to bring to book but in the hall of financial mirrors they don’t know where exactly to aim or exactly who to aim at for but they know roughly where the perpetrators hang out.”

CityWire

Rejecting democracy…

“I agree with your first part of the argument, the vinyl vanguards looking for a single unifying anthem of youth are missing the point. Occupy London are not representative of a single sub-culture, or even a shared ideology. Like you say, this is about a rejection of conventional politics.”

New Statesman

Rejecting debates…

“[One member of the camp] said Chartres’s [Bishop of London] earlier suggestion of a debate was “missing the point of this global occupation”.

The Guardian

Totally, like, opening up space in people’s imaginations, man…

“Screeds of criticism have now been written about the protest and on almost every point, they misunderstand the purpose of this form of street protest. Is this a revolution in the making? Of course not. Will it topple the government? No… The protesters’ aim is to open up space, physically and socially, for people to connect and thereby open up space in people’s imaginations.”

The Guardian

Setting up a camp site (while not making demands)…

“These questions miss the point… they’re not interested in making petty demands on a system they see as irreconcilably flawed. If anything, the camp itself is their demand, and their solution: the stab at an alternative society that at least aims to operate without hierarchy, and with full, participatory democracy.”

Patrick Henry Press

Not having an impact on its target…

“The purpose is not to directly affect your target. It is to rally support for your cause.”

Boardgame Geek Forums

Protesting for the right to protest…

“Anyone active on the left might be tempted to judge it and find it wanting in any effort to challenge capitalism, but that would be to miss the point. Understanding what it represents not judging it is the essential task. Here an historical framework can help and several models come to mind, the first of which is the symbolic occupation of space… All these instances are about winning the right to protest in certain spaces and that is certainly what has happened at St Paul’s in recent weeks.”

Morning Star Online

Attracting people who are temporarily pissed off…

“…enthusiasts for the action say this misses the point of the encampment – to provide a permanent focal point for dissent, not a home for an unchanging cast of campaigners.”

BBC

Having a wider, deeper conversation OR Acting as some sort of weather vane for human sentiment…

Even people accusing other people of missing the point are, apparently, missing the point:

Article: “The political [Labour] left have – in several places – criticised the Occupy movement for the lack of clarity in their aims. For me, this misses the main point the movement is trying to make… Since the crash showed us all the man behind the curtain, protestors are no longer simply trying to stop or promote particular actions or policies. They’re now trying to have a wider, deeper conversation about what happens now the house of cards has fallen.”

Comment: “I think this article misses the point entirely. The occupy movement is a spontaenous ensemble. The idea it has to forge itself into a lean mean fighting machine is not what it is about. Its about, for me at least, a weather vane about current sentiment and about what that current sentiment might become.”

Liberal Conspiracy

And the actual point is… our secret (so there!)

Maybe the point is they don’t want to tell us the point? The following (genuine, non-satirical) quote from an Occupy Wall St. activist writing on CiF certainly suggests so…

First, they come to us demanding, “What are your demands?” Then, they come to us insisting, “Where are your solutions?” We have waited our entire lives for this moment. And we could not be more ready to answer these questions. We smile, unphased, and tell them what they already know: “Our demands are too numerous to choose between, and we refuse to do so. The solutions are out there and we have long known what they are.”

Comment is Free

All this makes me suspect that I was right all along and it’s the protesters who are missing the point, NOT ME. But if you think I’m going to persecute myself by telling you what that point is… well, I might have to let my foot occupy the space between your left butt cheek and your right butt cheek. Purely to engage with you on a deeper level, of course…

The worst Guardian CiF article I’ve read (today)

The art of writing an effective CiF article seems to be cramming the minimum amount of point in as much horrendous writing as possible. By this measure, Angela Davis’ recent article, with the suitably meaningless title “The 99%: a community of resistance”, is a very effective article indeed. Here’s why:

1. Clumsy Stupid Rhetoric.

“When the Occupy Wall Street movement erupted on 17 September 2011…”

Nakedly partisan. Massively overblown. Possibly inaccurate. Mildly sexual? Good start.

“well-established and similar encampments had emerged in hundreds of communities around the country…”

Communities is one of my least favourite examples of unspeak. In this context, at least, I think she means ‘cities’ – ‘the encampments emerged in hundreds of cities around the country’.

“which would mean working on behalf of those who have suffered most from the tyranny of the 1%.”

The meaning of tyranny risks being neutered through misuse. Does Angela Davis honestly look at oppressed people protesting in genuinely tyrannical regimes and think, ‘oh, do they have to pay for their university education too?’

“we have had to engage in difficult coalition-building processes, negotiating the recognition for which communities and issues inevitably strive.”

I don’t know what coalition-building processes are, nor what makes them difficult (or what doesn’t, for that matter). Must you ‘engage’ in them? And she’s talking about communities again – though this time I think she’s using it to mean ‘peoples’. Can issues ‘strive’ for something?

“I don’t know whether any of us could not have predicted that on the second day of the conference, the plenary audience of more than 1,000 would be so riveted by this historical conjuncture that almost all of us spontaneously joined a night march…”

If this conference was anything like I suspect it was, I think I could’ve predicted you would ‘spontaneously’ do that. I think I could’ve predicted it very easily. Unless the double negative isn’t a typo and that’s your point…

“Indeed, it can be persuasively argued that the 99% should move to ameliorate the conditions of those who constitute the bottom tiers of this potential community of resistance”

Sure, it can be persuasively argued, but why bother when it’s easier to just assert that this is the case? And she’s using fucking community again! Only this time, it seems to be referring to, well, everyone minus the 1%. So we’ve got a community of communities occupying communities. Crystal.

“They call upon the majority to stand up against the minority. The old minorities, in effect, are the new majority.”

This strikes me as being the first part of the article to be written. “The old minorities are the new majority”. That’s the sort of ethereal guff certain people go nuts over. It doesn’t actually make any sense of course, whether in effect or in actuality.

“And if we identify with the 99%, we will also have to learn how to imagine a new world, one where peace is not simply the absence of war, but rather, a creative refashioning of global social relations.”

Why if we identify with the 99% do we have to do that? I honestly have no idea what the writer is getting at here.

2. Clumsy Stupid Language

I am probably being really unfair, but parts of the article made my brain vomit inside my own skull. Offending words and phrases in bold…

I happened to be reflecting on my remarks for the upcoming International Herbert Marcuse Society conference.”

“…we were struck by the serendipitous affinity of the theme with the emergent Occupy movement…”

[Aside: can something that’s previously erupted be considered emergent?]

“…we repeatedly expressed our enthusiasm about the confluence of the Wall Street and Philadelphia occupations and the conference theme, which seemed to us to emphatically enact the 21st-century relevance of Herbert Marcuse’s work.”

“…which wended its way through the streets of Philadelphia toward the tents outside city hall.”

“At the site, I reflected aloud – with the assistance of the human microphone…”

“Thus, the most pressing question facing the Occupy activists is how to craft a unity that respects and celebrates the immense differences among the 99%.”

As you can imagine, after reading the article I reflected upon an emergent need to craft a unity between the computer screen and my fist.

3. Clumsy Stupid 53-Word Long Paragraph

At what point in the paragraph quoted below do you a) find yourself merely scanning instead of reading, b) forget how the sentence began and what the point is, and c) lose the will to live.

“The organising theme of the conference – “Critical Refusals” – was originally designed to encourage us to reflect on the various ways Marcuse’s philosophical theories push us in the direction of a critical political practice located outside the proper realm of philosophy, but nevertheless as anchored in philosophy as it is in a will to transform society.”

For me, the answers to a), b) and c) are all at ‘PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE MAKE THE PAIN STOP’. At least, that’s what flashes before my eyes before I black out for a few hours.

4. Clumsy Stupid Crowbarring of a Point

Although hazy on the specifics, I think it’s kinda been established that OWS (and company) are pro- social equality and anti- capitalist greed. Watch how Angela Davis tacks on her own particular beef with all the grace and subtlety of a wild elk suffering from dystonia attempting to re-tile your bathroom floor.

“In the past, most movements have appealed to specific communities – workers, students, black people, Latinas/Latinos, women, LGBT communities, indigenous people – or they have crystallised around specific issues like war, the environment, food, water, Palestine, the prison industrial complex.”

“It seems to me that an issue such as the prison industrial complex is already implicitly embraced by this congregation of the 99%.”

“We are learning also to say no to global capitalism and to the prison industrial complex.”

“Decarceration and the eventual abolition of imprisonment as the primary mode of punishment can help us begin to revitalise our communities and to support education, healthcare, housing, hope, justice, creativity and freedom.”

“There is a direct connection between the pauperising effect of global capitalism and the soaring rates of incarceration in the US.”

5. Clumsy Stupid Complete and Utter Absence of an Argument

[tumbleweed]

Things that are “a luxury, not a right” (according to the Blogosphere)

(Digging through the Crunkfish archive of ‘almost-articles’, I found this – originally drafted a year or so ago. Can’t imagine why I never posted it before. The level of insightful pointlessness is perfect for this blog)

The wisdom of the blogosphere tells us that the following are luxuries, not rights…

Disposable diapers

Comics

Toes

Live Venues

Friendships

Weekends

Flasks

Events

Health Insurance and candy bars

Side towels

Niche Artistic Markets

Lights on a soccer field

Safer transportation routes

Helmet deposit stalls

Education

The high interactivity of this site

Seeing an R-rated film in a cinema

Uptime on Facebook

Protection against someone calling you anything

Manga

3D TVs

Entertainment

“My trust”

Music

“Me time and blah blah blah”

Privacy

Buying your own home

Baseball

“Being obesity”

Job choice

Everything other than having character of Jesus formed in us and building house of God

Can we get on with fixing the world now? [BEST

Global warming is a fact. It’s even more of a fact than it was yesterday. It is factier. The factuality of it all has been proven beyond de-factification by a sceptic-sponsored super-study of weather station data. It’s done. Fact this in your fact hole, fact-face. I fact yo’ momma. And she loved it.

If you’re anything like me (and I hope, for your sake, you aren’t), your first act after hearing the news was to quickly check its “interpretation” by the Telegraph’s resident troll, James Delingpole. Sadly, at the time of writing this, he’s been unusually quiet. No doubt he’s busy scouring the (three) denier blogs he reads, looking for someone, anyone, to tell him what to think.

In truth, believers in reason over ideology will find limited satisfaction in this news. Already arch-sceptics are either weaving this study into their elaborate conspiracy theories, or pointing out (genuinely in some cases, but with slippery dishonesty in others) that they never, ever said the earth wasn’t warming and, anyway, the real question is whether or not the change in global temperature is being caused by humans. So there.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem an unreasonable position to take. But this argument, like much of the news coverage I’ve seen of this study, misses an important point. The BEST report is further proof that climate scientists are not engaged in deception, exaggeration, or sloppiness. There is no conspiracy. There is no scam.

It’s shocking, I know, but they really have been telling us the truth all along.

And while climate scientists have been vindicated, the climate ‘sceptics’ are the ones who have been proven wrong. Yet again. All their doubts, protestations and demands for ‘real science’ have been shown to be completely unfounded.

So, maybe next time the science guys and gals who’ve been proven right say to the public, “yes, global warming is caused by humans, we should be worried about it and here’s our evidence to prove it”, should we, and the media that channels things into our putty-like minds, not trust them a bit more? Wouldn’t that make sense? I mean, not everyone can be a climatologist or a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Some of us can’t even spell physicist. And we can’t all spend our days picking apart stultifying statistics in some stodgy journal. We’ve got to accept some things on the basis of authority and credibility, right?

And when the alternative is to listen to the confused rants of the eccentric, hysterical science-deniers, repeatedly, embarrassingly showing themselves to be wrong time and time again, is there really any choice at all?

We all know the results of this latest study will not change a single person’s mind. But who cares? If you want to believe that a secret, globe-spanning cabal of evil scientists are inventing science while under the command of a mysterious shadow-EU for the sole purpose of inventing a crisis that allows them to impose new taxes FOR SOME DIABOLICAL REASON, then go for it. Good luck with that.

I only hope journalists, bloggers, columnists, politicians (and anyone else setting the agenda that defines the future) stop indulging in the fake “debate” and focus on the real one. Climate change is here. Shit. What the fuck are we going to do about it?