Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Commercial: Round-up radar

Some bits and pieces that you may, or may not, have seen:

1. Latest 26 recommendations are here.

2. The economic cost of watching Konnie Huq, as discussed at Stumbling and Mumbling (finder's fee: Times' Comment Central).

3. Creative Review dissects how Uniqlo was reborn (via PSFK).

4. Weare, web 2.0/collaboratively authored clothing from those geniuses at Moving Brands (via PSFK).

5. Matter, a new line in tangible DM, thanks to Artomatic and the Royal Mail (thanks, ProteinOS).


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Commercial: Sticking it to the grocer

Wedge Card is a lovely attempt to, through a loyalty card, persuade us to forego some of our trips to big, impersonal shops, and instead frequent our friendly neighbourhood local shops. All very worthy, and Beta is looking forward to using his in the London Review Bookshop.

And even better, Wedge isn't afraid to have a pop at the Goliaths of the retail world. For the card's positioning is:

Wedge - Every little shop helps

Go get 'em tiger!


Friday, January 18, 2008

Commercial: Oh EMI!

Alas, alack and woe; for one, who knows who to side with in this most deliciously entertaining of disputes - the pampered dionsaurs of rock, or the bull-headeadly delicate wallflowers of private equity? Beta doesn't have a view. No, really.

Instead, you are directed to this excellent article in The Times, which is the sanest take on it so far.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Science: it's brilliant!

And to convince you of that, here's two pieces of evidence:

1) An impromptu speech given by Douglas Adams in Cambridge in 1998. A work of giant, giggly, mind-bending genius. Best quote?

"Without a god, life is only a matter of opinion."

(Finder's nod: Anna V)

2) New Scientist reports that scientist at Kyoto University in Japan have developed a program where a user can enter a few key words, and a robot will pen a haiku.

Can a book of Bender's verse be far behind?


Monday, January 14, 2008

The facebook conspiracy

Good to see that a good conspiracy never dies, merely grows turbocharged wings. Today's is the one that facebook is a tool funded by the CIA to control us all and monetize our friendships. Admittedly is expanded more elegantly than that, but Tom Hodgkinson does let himself down with this:

After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which "identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions".

"Look! Look! The CIA knew that 9/11 was going to happen, and had set up a venture fund to benefit!" I assume this, or words like it, will be used on some of the wilder fringes of t'interweb today.

Meanwhile, gibbr has a more scabrous take on it.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

For your reading pleasure

Two more sites, promising insight and some bite:

Nothing original, with a particularly hard-bitten take on advertising, digital culture and the like

Internet Futures, from FutureScape, which provides some business grounding to emergent digital culture.



Sunday, January 06, 2008

Editorial: The small print

One of the things that wise old hands in print journalism always used say to newbies into the industry was, "Look after the small stuff." That is to say, a publication where the details are strong is a publication doing well: no spelling mistakes, text locked to baseline grid, captions scrubbed hard, and so forth.

The sign of a publication on song is where the subbing goes beyond competence and into the realm of entertainment. On that measure, Observer Sport is a publication singing lustily right now. As evidence, get hold of a copy of today's supplement, and in the centre-spread half term report on the Premiership so far, have a look at the bottom right-hand corner.

The section is titled 'The small print', and what could have been a dry litany of dull stats is enlivened by the canny use of footballing slang as headings. To whit:

*On the spot - Penalties scored
*Big man - Headed goals
*Slide-rule - Passes
*Hard as nails - Tackles
*In the mixer - Crosses
*No prisoners - Fouls
*Caught in a trap - Cuaght offside
*Safe hands - Clean sheets
*Cow, banjo - Shots without scoring

All that was needed was some way of working 'early doors' and 'Hollywood ball' into that list.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Christmas nuggets &c

This year's double issue Christmas Economist was the usual treasure trove of interesting baubles. The ones that caught the eye most readily were:

* How advertising agencies can raise their revenues easily (in an article about why the beautiful are more successful):

Even more unfairly, Dr Hamermesh found evidence that beautiful people may bring more revenue to their employers than the less-favoured do. His study of Dutch advertising firms showed that those with the most beautiful executives had the largest size-adjusted revenues—a difference that exceeded the salary differentials of the firms in question.

* Panda branding is a discipline of branding in its own right

* Three insights of Evan Williams, of Obvious, inventer of Twitter and Blogger, amongst others:

First, that genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out; second, that new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known; and third, that good ideas seem obvious in retrospect.

* and that Chairman Mao was a great brand-builder:

The brand-building lesson is that a clear, utopian message, hammered home relentlessly, can obscure inconvenient facts. Great salesmen are born knowing this. Executives whose strategies are not delivering need to learn it.

Other things of note from elsewhere include:

* New York Times technology columnist David Pogue's realization that copyright is dead for anyone under the age of 30, provided they're not employed in the media industry

* Unnecessary quotation marks - lingustic genius.