The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Qantas. Cultural Appropriation And Revulsion At The Same Time …

So recently Qantas launched their Perth-London direct flight.

This is definitely a game-changer for the air industry so I get why they wanted to celebrate it.

But Qantas being Qantas – as I’ve written about many times, such as here and here – couldn’t help but snap defeat out of the jaws of victory by reinforcing the past when this was a story all about the future.

Based on the picture above – taken at Heathrow Airport when they were about to embark on their maiden London-Perth flight – when Qantas say they’re the ‘Spirit of Australia’, they’re saying their country is about surfboards, kangaroos and what suspiciously looks like a white guy made up to look like an aboriginal.

All they need is a ball-tampering cricketer and Paul Hogan and they’ve completed the bad cultural cliche set.

For an airline that’s never suffered a catastrophic accident, it’s good to see Qantas PR are doing their best to ensure they still have plenty of other types of plane crashes to talk about.



How Technology Can Help Protect Humans …

So this is linked to yesterdays post about AI/VR.

A friend of mine recently put up this poster of an idea he’s trying to get Amazon to do with their Alexa virtual assistant.

Basically he wants Amazon to allow people suffering from domestic abuse, to be able to set up a ‘safe word’ in Alexa.

If the word is ever heard, Alexa will automatically start recording all ambient noise and send it directly to the Police.

While I appreciate there are a mass of legal implications, it’s a simple, brilliant idea … designed to empower humanity rather than laziness.

The fact is was created by a planner, in an agency, makes me extra-happy.

I’ve written a lot about my frustration that too many agencies believe creativity only exists if you sit in the creative department – and while what they do is an amazing thing that can take ideas to even more magical places – they do not have the monopoly on creative thinking and this is additional proof of that. Better yet, my mate is not doing it for an award or some scam shit, he’s doing it because he gives a shit about humanity and has created an idea that could make a real difference to someone’s life.

Something we are all supposed to be doing but often end up just communicating.

If anyone out there knows someone of influence at Amazon, please can you show them this.




It’s Called Artificial For A Reason …

So this is sort-of following on from yesterdays post.

Specifically the last line of yesterday’s post.

The bit about AI/VR.

You see a few weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about the future by Frog Design.

No, I don’t know why they asked me either.

Anyway, it was a great panel and I learnt a lot of stuff but where things got a bit sticky was when the subject of AI came up.

OK, I was the reason it all got a bit sticky, but that’s because I feel companies are approaching AI with the sole goal of enabling the lazy.

Yes, it’s still early days but automating the most common/basic of tasks feels such a waste of potential.

I get they have to get people used to things before they can push them to new things, but to focus on such mundane tasks doesn’t naturally push the industry to explore the bigger possibilities of it.

My suggestion was that I’d like to see it being used to take people to new places.

New opinions … thoughts … possibilities … experiences.

More inspirational intelligence than artificial.

When you ask for news headlines, it reads you how different news sources see the same story.

When you ask for a countdown, it plays you music you haven’t heard before until the timer is up.

When you ask for the weather, it tells you some places you can go to, to take advantage of the climate.

In other words, make you benefit from the AI beyond the fact it’s performing a function that saves you approx 0.3 seconds doing. Kind-of like the premise behind user-unfriendly tech I wrote about a while back.

Of course to do this means that they have to do more than just follow the data.

It means they have to add something to it.

Context. Insight. Humanity. Creativity.

Things that companies are seemingly valuing less rather than more.

To be fair, Amazon are trying to do this with some of the more quirky aspects of Alexa … but I still would like to see more being done, because not only does this add real value to the tech, it means brands have a chance to build additional value with their audience rather than sit back and watch their engagement get less and less.



All The Fun Of The Fair …
April 25, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

When I was a kid, I used to go to the annual ‘Goose Fair’ in Nottingham.

Goose Fair is, if memory serves me, the biggest and oldest fair in Europe and from about the age of 5, I used to go there – first with my Dad, then with my friends – to play on the arcade games, go on the rides and eat mushy peas out of a polystyrene cup.

I loved it and even now, if I find myself in England in the first week of October, I’ll make it a priority to go along, even though it isn’t quite as magical to me as it once was.

I say this because a few weeks ago, we took Otis to an old-school fair in LA.

It’s nothing like Goose Fair, it’s indoors for a start, but it has rides, games, prizes and food.

As you can see from the photos, he kinda-loved it.

Talking to him afterwards, it became apparent that it wasn’t just the lights, noise and fun that captured his attention but the ability to feel like he was in control of all that was around him.

I don’t mean that in terms of him getting me to pay for whatever he wanted to try, I mean it in the sense that he was suddenly able to explore activities and adventures that were normally off limits to him … either because of access or age.

Things like riding a horse.

Or a motorbike.

Or patting unicorns.

For him, the fair was less about igniting his imagination and more about stepping into a World of possibilities.

Maybe that’s what made me love Goose Fair when I was a kid and maybe that’s why it still holds a fascination with me today … because while I’m old enough to do pretty much whatever I like, a fun fair lets me do it with all the enthusiasm and freedom I felt when I was younger, without any concerns what anyone else will think.

In other words, the fun you get at a fair isn’t because of the rides, but because it let’s you live without the limits society places on us.

Sure, video games do a similar thing – but there’s something very different between physical transformation and just emotional – which is why it’s a shame so many of the fairs are closing down, including this one in LA, because as much as I love playing video games, there’s something far more infectious when you’re in it rather than just controlling it.

Which is possibly the best reason everyone should give a shit about AI/VR.



The Frothy Coffee Man Is Go …
April 24, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Agency Culture, Comment, Confidence, Culture, Fulfillment, Paul

Remember a while back I wrote about my best mate who was starting his own business?Well, he’s doing it and he’s being successful at it.

Of course I knew he would, and while there’s been the odd rough day – ie: when it snowed – he’s enjoying himself, which is more important than many people give it credit for.

Yes, I know money is important – and for some people, it’s about survival rather than lifestyle – but enjoying what you do is often overlooked in favour of the size of the pay cheque and I think that’s a shame because in my experience, enjoyment tends to keep you in a company for far longer than just a semi-decent salary.

And that’s why I find it amazing companies don’t really invest in culture.

Of course, part of that is because many don’t know what it really is.

Mistaking it for free food rather than a sense of belonging to something bigger, more important, more powerful.

But then, when a lot of companies will u-turn on their supposed beliefs in a bid to win a new account, I guess it’s not that surprising.

And that’s why I think Paul is creating something far more valuable than just a cash machine, but something that is an investment in his happiness and ability to forge his future, which is – at the end of the day – far more fulfilling than earning cash in a job you don’t like.

The amount of people I meet who say they don’t like what they do but don’t do anything about changing it.

I don’t mean just in terms of changing their job, but changing their approach to their job.

Look, I get it if your income is your families livelihood, but you’d be amazed how many of these comments come from people who just want to moan rather than change.

I get it … moving can seem daunting, especially if you want to move to do your own thing, but to them I say one thing …

Be more like Paul.