Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fraser Digby's Washbag

This is an internet meme in the making.

Danny Baker presents the BBC 5Live Tuesday night football phone-in show 606. Unlike most football-phone ins this isn't full of fans ringing up to say how rubbish / great their team are; Danny Baker sets more arcane and amusing subjects like 'how did you miss seeing a goal' or 'instances of people wearing replica kits while abroad (& not watching football)'.

One week he was doing an item about 'what do you have that used to belong to a footballer', and one fan rang in with a tale about doing a backstage tour of Swindon. During the tour of the players' changing room he saw the washbag belonging to Fraser Digby, their goalkeeper, and managed to steal a tortoiseshell comb from it.

Danny Baker seized in this, declaring that 'Fraser Digby's washbag' was a very poetic phrase, and asked listeners to re-write popular songs around it.

In the weeks that have followed we've had versions of My Old Man's a Dustman, Eleanor Rigby, Changes, Sunny Afternoon (probably the most inventive - see it above) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other songs in the pipeline include (apparently) All Along The Watchtower, The Ace of Spades and I Predict A Riot.

This clip shows the moment Fraser Digby came onto the show to help to sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It shows radio at it's best, and how a great presenter can create something magical out of nothing. Well done for 5Live for putting it online, although apparently it's blocked for people outside the UK. You can also hear them by downloading the podcasts - search iTunes for '606'.

Wikipedia entry on Fraser Digby, now incorporating his bizarre new cult status here

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jeff Buckley for Christmas No. 1

This would be a great summation of the year in digital in the UK.

The TV show X Factor finished on Saturday, with the winner releasing a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and immediately making her dead cert to be the UK Christmas no. 1 single. (This is a big deal in the UK - there is a very long tradition of bands trying to be the Christmas number one, but in recent years it's been dominated by reality show winners).

There is now a movement, focussed on a Facebook group, to make Jeff Buckley's version the number one instead. This is easily possible, because Buckley's record company do not need to physically release it - digital sales count.

Buy it from iTunes here

In a year that Facebook has established a strong position in the UK psyche (everything has a Facebook group, every news story has led to activity on Facebook), this would be a very fitting outcome.

(I actually prefer the Leonard Cohen version, but a movement is a movement...)

Thanks to David Cushman for the tip off!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Digital Paper

One of my colleagues has just received a very innovative Christmas card from the Cowan Group.

It won't embed, but click here to see how it works.

Very good!

Brutal Legend

You have to admire the kind of genius behind this concept!

Brutal Legend (the 'Brutal' has an umlaut over the u) is the story of a humble roadie who works his way up to be a rock god (insert Noel Gallagher joke here), in a sort of Swords and Scorcery / Dungeons and Dragons setting. Presumably it'll be a mix of guitar playing like Guitar Hero, and a fighting game. The main character is played by Jack Black, just to tick a few more boxes.

I can't get access to the site, which means that there's either a technical fault, or you've got to be under 18 to enter!

More here: Fansite here:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Facebook Connect

I freely admit that I'm playing catch-up on this one. Facebook Connect is a new service from Facebook, currently in beta and only on a few sites. It allows you to log in to select sites with your Facebook ID, bypassing the standard site log in procedures, and then do social things like chat to friends also on the site. Sites using FC will also give more prominence to reviews from your own friends than people that you don't yet know.

One of the best examples of this in action is the new beta version of CitySearch, seen here. The site now shows reviews of bars etc from friends, giving the site more credibility (lots of local sites suffer from users posting unreliable reviews, either settling scores or boosting friends). Sadly when I logged in (the process is so easy) I couldn't find any reviews from Facebook friends, but here is an example of how it does work.

Other sites that have signed up include Hulu, Digg, TheInsider (also now live), CBS and Discovery.

Here's an excellent presentation from Razorfish looking at the potential of Facebook Connect (& other similar initiatives like MySpaceID and Google Friend Connect) on sites like Amazon, iTunes and iPhone games.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amazon's iPhone app - war declared on traditional retailers?

I was in the US in July, and while I was shopping at a couple of places, I saw a few things that I really liked (a book, two kids toys) but that I didn't want to buy and have to carry home. So I took photos with my phone, and added them to my Amazon basket when I got home. The shops didn't see what I was doing; one store, the museum shop at Moma in San Francisco specifically bans photography. I did feel a bit guilty while I was doing it, but I did buy other, smaller things in both shops.

Anyway... Amazon has now made this much easier by creating an iPhone app:

"Use Amazon Remembers to create a visual list of things you want to remember when you're out and about. Photos you take from the app are stored on both the Amazon app, and the site as reminders.

If the item you want to remember is a product, Amazon will try to find an item for sale like the one in the photo. If we do, we'll send you an email alert, and post the result along with the original photo."

This formalises what people have been doing for years, but you can imagine that retailers will be very annoyed. There are also lots of price comparison apps on the iPhone, letting people scan bar codes compare to prices in local stores and online.

Expect to see lots of signs banning taking photos and scanning in-store!

Thanks to the ArsTechnica & AdverLab for the tip!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clerk Dogs - movie recommendations

Clerk Dogs is a site, currently in beta, that aims to solve the problem of movie recommendations.

Other services like Amazon make recommendations based on buying patterns - people who bought this also bought this - but that's not very good at recommending obscure or less mainstream stuff.

Clerk Dogs has asked a team of experts - mainly people who used to work in US video stores (hence the name) - to rate lots of movies based on a number of criteria, to produce what they call a DNA for each movie.

So - does it work? Here is a comparison with Amazon, using totally random selections:

Wall-E - Clerk Dogs recommends ET, Amazon recommends Kung Fu Panda
Annie Hall - Clerk Dogs recommends Manhattan, Amazon recommends The Graduate
Apocalypse Now - Clerk Dogs recommends Agurre, Wrath of God, Amazon recommends Platoon
Super Size Me - Clerk Dogs recommends Fast Food Nation, Amazon recommends Sicko
Titanic - Clerk Dogs recommends Pearl Harbour, Amazon also recommends Pearl Harbour

Pretty interesting! In some cases the recommendations are a bit obvious (a search for a Woody Allen seems to bring up another Woody Allen, a search for Spinal Tap brought up a pretty poor sequel), but in general they are more inspiring than Amazon's.

So far it's only in beta, and there are lots of films I like with no results, but It's definitely worth following.

Monday, December 08, 2008

We Are Sterling Cooper - Fans as stakeholders

You may have heard about the controversy about We Are Sterling Cooper earlier in the year, but if not, here is a summary:

- Fans of the TV show Mad Men started to set up twitter accounts purporting to be the characters, and started to interact with fans
- The show's producers/owners got very nervous, and persuaded twitter to remove the accounts
- Fans protested, and the accounts got re-instated
- One of the twitter users, Bud Cadell, set up the site We Are Sterling Cooper to collate all of the conversations around this, and discuss the issues

...& now Bud has released his report on what happened, and the implications for brands in the digital age. Many related what was happening to Fan Fiction, but Bud argues that it is more than that - it's about the whole relationship between fans and creators.

Bud makes the point that posting as a character on twitter is really no different than re-enacting favourite TV scenes in the office the day after, and that brands need to be aware that the audience also have a powerful stake.

As Bud concludes:

"Crowds will always congregate around a flame, but how long it burns and how it is carried into the rest of the world will rely on that relationship. Some writers already have different attitudes about their own creation. Michael Chabon, author of Kavalier & Clay, has said “I came to realize that everything I do is fan fiction. I think everything that we all do, all fiction, is fan fiction in that you are always inspired to write by things that you love. So much of writing for me is about finding a way to convey my own love of other writersʼ work.” If we begin to see all works as an extension of what has come before, we begin to appreciate something like Mad Men on Twitter for what it is, a story. It should be judged as a piece of entertainment and art; for how well it engages an audience and what it has to say about a changing world. We shouldnʼt threaten fans with legal notices and we shouldnʼt isolate them. We should cultivate the relationships weʼre either lucky or gifted to have and help them with their expression of their fandom. Brands should offer as much content in as many types to its audiences with the hope that they feel compelled to rearrange them and add novel elements to tell their own stories. We fight to insert ourselves in the conversations of real people, and that is exactly what happened with the Mad Men characters on Twitter. If we cling to this sense that we are the sole owner of creative work, weʼll continue to isolate that work from the actual world and the human beings we work to affect. In truth, we are all Sterling Cooper."

Head over to WASC to download it and read it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Digital Stats

Years ago (probably over ten years ago) while I was working for a media consultancy, I went to see a headhunter to talk about getting a new job.

During the interview I said something like "I very numerate, but also very literate - I'm interested in communication and media from both sides", to which he said "Yes, that is a problem, isn't it?" (exact quote).

No, it's not a problem, it's a good thing.

& so while I have this blog to cover adverts, virals and sites, I'm now starting a new Digital Stats blog.

The new blog will feature interesting and jaw dropping stats from the digital world. All stats will have a headline figure, a quote to show the figure in context, and a link to the original article.

So, for example:

10bn photos have been uploaded to Facebook

91% of UK mobile owners keep their phones within 3 feet, 24/7

& XBox 360 owners buy 3.8m music tracks a month

It's clearly not exhaustive, and while I may be accused of 'lies, damned lies and statistics' the blog is meant to provide small, memorable facts about how the world is becoming more and more digital.

The aim, as with Digital Examples, is to be able to post in less than 5 minutes, so that I can post often and regularly.

Go over and have a look!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UPS Regifter

This is a nice idea from UPS. Taking a cue from Seinfeld, which coined the term 'regifter' to mean someone who would pass on unwanted presents they'd been given. (In the show Elaine gets annoyed when she discovers that a label maker she'd given to her then beau Tim Whatley was given by Whatley to Jerry.)

UPS Regifter allow you to upload a picture of something you've been given, and then send the pic on to friends. A good way of laughing at the inappropriate stuff you get given.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pete the Meat Puppet for Diesel

I have absolutely no idea what this is about - but it's very strange, and very compelling.

The Diesel site is now full of similarly grim and surreal films - for example this celebration video, and this motivational video.

More info here
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