Category Archives: Future of Media

New Product Idea: ID numbers for clothes 

Wouldn’t it be nice if brands acknowledged their secondary market? 

Those lower price, everyday brands, your H+Ms, Gaps, Club Monacos etc?

Rather like Chanel et al at the top end have serial numbers for their products to combat forgeries. 

You would need a number per designed item, not a different number for each individual version of the item. Think of it as more of an ISBN for clothes, much in the same way that books have one.

The end game is that if enough brands used these unique numbers, donated items would be easier to classify. I’ve heard that Madewell jeans for example, have a healthy secondary market. If those items were listed online but with the clear number to identify it, buyers might be more confident buying something sight-unseen. I imagine it would remove some buying anxiety and thus potentially help second hand shops obtain better prices. As a loyal Housing Works shopper, I like the idea of spending there as it is a charity shop. 

Furthermore, do we really need to keep on making more? I’m fairly certain that in terms of clothes, the world collectively has made everything we need already.

How would it work? Barcodes on the labels? So it’s only a case of finding it for the garment to be classified correctly. 

PROJECT: Auction Results in the Search Results – How would I go about this?

Whilst I am over-whelmed by the sheer level of technical knowledge required for my dream project, a level far beyond what I am (currently) capable of, I’ve decided to step back, relax and just think it all through. By breaking it into tiny projects I might, slowly, slowly make progress and can iterate on the idea as needed.

Where to start?

1) Define the product: build something that shows auction results in the search results, a specific google product that does this, like the recipe boxes, map results etc. Product should have images as this is critical for an art dealer.

2) Research a list of auction houses, start nationally.

3) Build a search engine crawler, that will visit the websites of these auction houses, scrape the results and present them in the as-yet-non-existent search product, or, in the short-term a website.

4) Display the data in a uniform, engaging way. There is Artnet already, but there info is behind a login and I don’t think the UI is particularly effective, easy or engaging. I haven’t even tried to look things up on a mobile…

Does this all sound wonderfully simple? Well, it won’t be, because I’ll have to:

a) work out how to build a search engine crawler. Looks like i’ll be learning Python after all..

b) work out how to collect and present what will be a mess of data. At this point, I have no idea how I will be able to plough through it all algorithmically to then make sure the fields populate as they are meant to. Nothing worse than an automated product that doesn’t work.

I believe the data lake I will be presented with will be my biggest challenge. How to order all of that? How to make sure all art works are properly collected under the right artist?

For example,

Making sure the following are all grouped under one man:

Henry Moore

Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)

Henry Moore (British, 1898 – 1986)

circle of Henry Moore

attributed to Henry Moore

Moore, Henry

The ‘circle of’ and ‘attributed to’ are iffy, but I believe it is still important to offer these results initially, whilst giving people the opportunity to filter them out.

At present, spelling mistakes or formatting errors mean results get lost. I also know that you can ‘hack’ the results by asking the auction houses not to submit their results to the existing product.

Work needed.

The Digital Marketing Dilemma: content, immersion or entertainment?

AKA the hunt for content that makes me content?

From a young age, I have always loved reading, getting completely absorbed by the world of the book, whether Mallory Towers, Hogwarts or Thornfield Hall. Even now, as an adult, my capacity to lose days and nights to books is a pleasant reminder that I’m not jaded and numb in this adult world – I can still get lost!

It is hard to predict what will get me, but now this desire reveals itself when I’m browsing online episode reviews, fan videos (love me some fan art) and twitter. The internet is the home for fan devotion, it’s amateur in nature and charmingly sincere. This is content that makes me content. It goes someway to indulging my curiosity about the story, be it Lost theories, love triangles or Sherlock tumblrs.

Content of this ilk absorbs me and has my attention.

Do you know how hard it is to generate that sort of reaction?

In my marketing day job I harp on about the importance of making good, high-quality content, but am I setting up my clients (and myself) for failure with the bar set so high?

Let’s be honest, the absorbing potential of a story about stationery supplies is low. You might get the odd hit and generate some positive buzz but beyond that, it is unlikely that people will get too caught up in Stapler-gate: who used the last staple?

I’ve been reading @Sree, @LesHinton and @SuperWuster’s work, the TL;DR of which is human attention is the scarcest resource. With this in mind, where does this leave me? What can I recommend to clients?

Here we are now, entertain us

Here’s a novel idea, instead of making people work when reading your beautifully-crafted content, why not focus on entertaining them instead? Short videos instead of lengthy blog posts. Give them less to do but more to enjoy.

Perhaps we should leave immersion to the creative writers and storytellers and instead, focus on FUN? Less is more, when it comes to content. Save your users some time.

Unbelievably simple way to prioritise projects…


Everyone talks about this, this urgency to take the wheat and let the chaf be still. To butcher Chaucer. Consultants are defined by their ability to do this, but it’s very hard to make someone understand how to do this sort of thinking for themselves.

I certainly struggled with it, finding it difficult to prioritise projects as a result. Not to mention producing results that would keep the client fitter, happier and more productive. After all, it’s all well and good getting more traffic to the site but if none of that traffic signs up, tunes in or buys something, it’s just not going to impress The Boss. I don’t mean Bruce Springsteen. I doubt he’d be impressed with anything in the realm of Digital Marketing. Not that he has anything against it, forcibly, I’d imagine, but, you know, it’s just not his thing.


That magic, clarity-inducing solution to project overload? The simple binary test as to whether something is worth doing. Or not?

Vitamin or Aspirin?

That’s it.

Just ask yourself if i’s a vitamin or an aspirin for this particular problem.

To put it another way, is it a ‘nice to have’ or will it solve something? Will it help your client make more money?

I’m not the first person to use this analogy, just chiming in as  I hope it brings clarity to anyone struggling with how to schedule projects. I cannot explain why this wording worked for me, but lo, I share the knowledge.

Pass it on, or let me know if this helps you with project planning.

White Spaces and Pacing in Storytelling

Or – what unites Frank Rose, Charlie Melcher, Maria Popova, Scott McCloud and Derek Walcott?


In my mind, something does, but first, some exposition:

I did one of those slightly useless but thoroughly interesting degrees, studying Classical Civilisation at the University of Warwick and whilst this degree in no way trained me for any sort of profession, it was definitely influential for shaping some of my ideas and critical thinking skills.

Continue reading White Spaces and Pacing in Storytelling

Branding , Building and the Knowledge Gap

I am currently knee-deep in the mysteries of front-end development. It has been a productive few weeks and I’m pleased to say that HTML + CSS are treating me well, so far. Javascript is a tricky mistress, complicated language makes an already-unfamiliar approach more error-strewn. I’ve spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to understand the basic structure and it’s dismal how little progress I have made. I may even have gone backwards.

Branding and Copy – how to convey trust?

Continue reading Branding , Building and the Knowledge Gap

The LA Times’ site redesign: Twitter front and centre. Facebook is also there.

The LA Times has, this very morning, released a site update. We were given some idea what to expect from Eddy Hartenstein’s email, detailing responsive design, image-centric journalism. So far, so now, so what?

Happily, the new site looks good. Slick, cool, and of the time, which, as shallow as it sounds, does mean something to users. Outdated websites are just a bit depressing to use and also reflect badly on the company. So this is good. I will discuss each of the features in more detail, but the first glaring, searing observation is the dominance of Twitter over Facebook, or other social networks on article pages.

Continue reading The LA Times’ site redesign: Twitter front and centre. Facebook is also there.

BBC Open Source and Vice Media: emphasis on Open Source

TL;DR: Publishers are now newswires and it’s always all about the user. UX For the Win!

On this distressingly cold morning, armed with coffee and my laptop checking the news via twitter, I spotted this tweet from @BBCOS, retweeted by @BBCNews

BBC Open Source Tweeting About Vice's Content
BBC Open Source Tweeting About Vice’s Content

Continue reading BBC Open Source and Vice Media: emphasis on Open Source


I’ve had a couple of posts to write for le works recently, which has rather consumed my attentions, well, that and Sherlock.

Here’s one I wrote on Moz, detailing what publishers are doing for growth in 2014 and what I’d like them to be doing.

The second was a wee one for the work blog, covering in scant detail the state of TV right now, to set up the work of my colleagues, many and varied, and the great work they have done on the future of TV.

These are just a couple of small steps that I’ve taken, in an attempt to fill this odd creative frustration.