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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Commercial: Not the Financial Times

The Anti G20/capitalist/banker/Uncle Tom Cobbleigh newspaper that was printed last week has an associated website. Both spoofs are done with tender loving care indeed. (You can get a PDF of the paper from there too.) Good on the FT for not attempting to sue them (as far as I'm aware).

I'd say 'take to the barricades', but then no doubt someone will come and take me away for being a trouble maker.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Free The Blog

is back back back, so posting will be a little lighter over the next few weeks at Beta towers.

For those who can't remember as far back as 12 months ago, Free The Blog is a 26 curated blog running in tandem with International PEN's Free The Word festival. We're sort of the festival's official blog, but we do wander all over the shop. Last year we reviewed some of the events during the festival and even did a live Twitter feed of one of them, long before that sorta thing became fashionable.

This year's festival is between April 16-19, at various venues on London South Bank. If you're in town - and even if you're not - you should come and see some of the world's best up and coming, and established, writers from all over the globe. Dip in, and you'll find meditations on sex, pleasure, secrets and heaven, all across the weekend.

You can find out more about the festival, and book your tickets, here. And if you fancy writing something for Free The Blog, drop me a line.


This should be an ad (slight return)

Originally uploaded by SgtRock333
for Clingfilm. And this time, poor desk owner isn't on sabbatical.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is important, scary reading

over at The Atlantic, by a former chief economist of the IMF, who argues that the US economy is showing the signs that emerging market economies that were about to fail, not least the capture by an oligarchy. This quote highlights what remains the key, unsolved issue:

Even leaving aside fairness to taxpayers, the government’s velvet-glove approach with the banks is deeply troubling, for one simple reason: it is inadequate to change the behavior of a financial sector accustomed to doing business on its own terms, at a time when that behavior must change. As an unnamed senior bank official said to The New York Times last fall, “It doesn’t matter how much Hank Paulson gives us, no one is going to lend a nickel until the economy turns.” But there’s the rub: the economy can’t recover until the banks are healthy and willing to lend.

I smell revolution, within the next three years. Perhaps.

More insightful commentary here.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Poetry flashmob

I know, there's some words you wouldn't have expected together. Anyhoos, word reaches me that there's:

a poetry flashmob at London's Euston station.
This friday [27th] it's taking place on the main concourse in the station,

It will happen at 12:05 and the stations main display board is going to be taken over
with a poem for all to see. No really !

You should arrive just before 12:05 Aim to get there on time, if you are early, stall, if you are late hurry! although no one will need to rush.

Why not bring an old poetry book along and swap it with a stranger afterwards.

After the Flash MOB, carry on with your lives as per normal. At all times remember that a flashMOB is just fun.

Please forward either this
email or send people to the sign up page
to anyone you might know who would be interested in coming along.

As always the TV will be around so don't come if you are supposed to be working ;)

I can't make it, but hopefully some of you of a metrical bent can.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Holding pattern

Boeing 777-200
Originally uploaded by matt.hintsa
Yes, I know I've been very slack in posting here recently. Let's blame the month of illness I've just about gotten out of, although this morning's slightly sniffly nose suggests I could easily regress to the infirm ward.

I have been trying to think in the meantime, but mostly that's been towards tomorrow's lecture at Westminster University; some thoughts about retail and social networking; trying to articulate more a notion around the near impossibility of spontaneity now; and an idea about a horse and a whale which makes even less sense the more I try and pin it down.

But then, isn't that always the way?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Commercial: Archived Music Press

This one's for gentlemen, I suspect, of a certain age. A random trawl, scan and post through the back pages of the late '80s and early '90s inky pages of NME and Melody Maker. It's saved me going through my archive to dredge up reviews of Bandwagonesque and Green, for example.

Go on, relive getting the ink on your fingers, without getting ink on your fingers at Archived Music Press.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Paris poem: update

Thunk at Mandatory Thinking did me the favour of popping into Shakespeare and Company on the weekend, in search of my poem.

He didn't find that (the library was 'in use') but he did find one my Moo notecards up on the wall. Cool!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Commercial: Flickr Clock

I've not seen much mention of this, but after the hoohah a while back about Flickr hosting videos, it turns out their doing something lovely with them.

It's called the Flickr Clock, and it's certainly the first time that I've seen content attempt to be organised by time as opposed to some other heuristic. As the note in the group says:

Flickr Clock is an ongoing project that will collect member video and display it according to the (approximate) time that it was taken....

Help us build a clock that celebrates the Flickrverse -- in how, despite our borders or geography, we're very much the same and uniquely different.

Please feel free to share video that you feel captures a "real" moment in time where you are. Think long photo.

BTW, isn't that 'long photo' lovely?

This is what you see when you first get to the clock:

Flickr clock 1

And when you choose something to watch:

Flickr clock 2

It's not perfect: I find the three overlapping layers of colour on the bar chart at the bottom a bit disorientating, and I think there needs to be a bit of an explanation when you land on the page. But it's certainly a charming way of organising charming stuff.


Commercial: Comic Relief Friday

I missed the memo that turned today's fundraising extravaganza into a public holiday. Still, this effort from Fallon made me titter.

Give early, give often etc.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Commercial: Facebook status updates now mess with my head

Facebook has recently made it's fan and product pages more like individual profile pages. That's cool.

However, it can lead to some unexpected anomalies.

Like the implication (as in the image above) that I'm friends with - rather than a fan of - David Peace.

An implication which makes me slightly uncomfortable. In part because it lends the 'relationship' we have a falsely intimate air; and because it implies I'm some sort of literary celeb stalker when I'm not.

I'm not sure I like this.

It doesn't echo the real world all that well. It's rare in real life one becomes friends with people you are fans of.

And it implies a false promiximity I'm uncomfortable with.

Clearly it's not going to be a major problem - 'The New York Times' showing up like that in a status update will at least not lead to many existential crises on my part.

But still, it's a messing about with online and real life boundaries, in an unthinking way, and perhaps unsatisfactory way.

And that's even before we get on to the implications of what this means for more obviously commercial brands trying to be our 'friends'.

If commercial brands act in this, feels-a-bit-sneaky manner, rather than openly and clearly, it raises the question, 'why would I want to be friends with a brand that acts in this way?'

Hmmm. This one could get a bit complicated.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Paris poem

Paris 0902 138
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333
The few days we spent in Paris last month were, despite the cold and the grey and the snow and the rain, pretty cool.

Especially as I managed to get to Shakespeare & Company, a place I'd always wanted to go to; for it's history, it's associated romance, it's useful entry into my 'bookshops I could live in' ledger.

It was a fruitful visit in other ways, as it inspired a poem:

Exchange rate

One waterfalling Monday,
inside Shakespeare & Co,
I was reminded of a lesson
I used to know

but had forgotten,
in the rush and glow
of ‘soaring Sterling’
versus ‘new Euro lows’;

an eternal vérité,
that purchasing power parity
can in reality mean
you’re in need of charity.

Apologies other authors –
I hope you won’t mope –
but all I could afford to buy
was a Wendy Cope.

Now, in the crazy way of these things, I decided on a whim to mail a copy of said verse to the shop. As you do, not expecting anything to come of it.

So you'll imagine my surprise when yesterday, via Facebook, I got this message back:

Hi Rishi, wasn't sure how else to contact you but wanted you to know that we got the poem that you mailed and it's great. We put it up in our library for everyone passing by to read. We also stuck the card up on the Mirror of Love. Cheers, Shakespeare and Company.

As you might guess, I'm a wee bit chuffed.

And now a request: if anyone happens to be in Paris in the next few weeks, could you pop by and take a photo of it in situ in the library? Would be lovely to see it.


Evan and The Propellers

No, not the sainted Mr Davis' new band (although EMI, if you're listening, there's a concept act right there. I'll take 0.1%, ta), but rather one of his more outre demands in this film for Today, as made by the good chaps at Rubber Republic.

Now, this is all a bit meta, as the film was made after a challenge issued on the programme to show the power of viral marketing.

Well, it works for me as film - just about - as it is - just about - funny enough (through professional opinion mandates me to say it should have been a good 1.30 mins shorter - the script wasn't funny enough to sustain the film's length.)

So, considering that, and the brand, and the fact that I use it, and I'm just about in it's target audience, it makes sense that I spread the word about it.

So me blogging about it means that I'm proving their point re the effectiveness of it.

But am I, as I'm aware that I'm part of an experiment? And doesn't that devalue the experiment?

What I'm trying to say is that any type of content that's worthy of being passed on has to do so without the aid of a big ol' plug on Radio 4 in the morning. And I'm not sure that this would have. But it does show now that an 'ad' doesn't have to be an ad any more - just something related to the brand that people are willing to spend time with. And perhaps pass on.

Still, good to see Evan's penguin suit. Do you think he has a dragon one for the wrap party after t'Den?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This should be an ad

for Bacofoil. Beware what happens when you go on sabbatical...


Monday, March 09, 2009

Linkorama for 09.03.09

Still ill, this time with a cold, which is even more endlessly annoying.

So while sustained concentration is proving even more head-hurty than normal, some more bits and pieces for your perusal:

1. McKinsey's solution to get things moving again

2. A novel told through an auctioneer's catalogue

3. Best business card ever (via Sell Sell)

4. Of brands and gas safety, via Noisy Decent Graphics. This is an important post, as it shows the perils of upending well-established brands for little reason other than 'we can'.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Random album cover malarky

that no doubt some of you have been gleefully participating in on Facebook over the last few days has made the Guardian. As did my mock slavic tecno techno techno outfit. Rock on Pristina!

(Original photo credit: iliasnikon)


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dieter Rams' ten commandments

So, we popped along to the V&A the other night to see Dieter Rams give us his collected wisdom, accumulated over a good 50 years at the top of the design profession. Alas, thanks to a combination of poor lighting and microphone placement, hesitant English and a manner of vocal delivery heavily dependant on speaking into his shirt, we weren't quite able to catch the nuances of what he had to say.

Good job then that Vitsoe had already put Rams' top 10 design commandments online for us to peruse at a later date.