This week, start with Tom Goodwin, dropping his mic (5 min) in The Guardian:

I’ve never met anyone who has seen a vending machine reward them for laughing, I’ve never walked through a door marked ugly, got a Coke from a drone, or been offered a crisp packet with my face on. I’ve never had a friend share their personalised film, I’ve not seen outdoor ads that are also street furniture or had an ATM give me a funny receipt. I’ve not received a magazine with a near field communication thing and I’ve not had a virtual reality experience outside advertising conferences. I’ve not once seen a member of the public 3D print anything. The one thing that binds together the more than 200 Cannes winners I’ve seen, is that they are ads only advertising people have a good chance of seeing. I’m not sure that’s what the industry should be about.

Tom goes on:

We need to rethink our concept of advertising and challenge the boundaries of where our good ideas can live. Cannes should reflect these new and exciting times, not celebrate the worst of an industry that’s in love with technology and itself, not the people it purports to sell to.

Sure. The larger issue, though, is not what Cannes celebrates, but rather that the broader industry has come to fetishize investment that reflects that love of technology and self. Perhaps the problem isn’t that Coke-delivering drones are winning Lions, but rather that they’re winning pitches (and funding).

Somehow, this all shares DNA with Jess Greenwood’s essay on millennials and the marketers who heart them (2 min). In case you missed it:

They seek out ‘immersive experiences’. They prefer these experiences to material things like cars, so they dance on beaches, and hold each other with windswept hair. They are having the best night of their lives. They are always having the best night of their lives. They are having the best night of their lives on Instagram. Here is a shot of them taking a selfie, to capture the best night of their lives. Selfies are relevant.


Take a few minutes with Boston Consulting Group’s engrossing interview with Maersk Group CEO Nils Andersen (7 min) and managing the transformation of a global enterprise whose business (shipping) is ‘volatile on a strategic level’. Also from BCG: the gap between strategy and execution (about 25 min) for organizations rolling out global operations.

Anne Burns’ discourse for the London School of Economics blog on the rapidly evolving field of the study of social media photography (5 min) makes for captivating reading.

Alice Rawsthorn’s piece for Frieze on the pros and cons of new digital interface design (9 min) is steeped in design history and ridiculously good. This jumped off the screen:

The analogue symbols that seemed reassuring to tech ingénues in the early days of digital interfaces had become patronizing. They also risked confusing younger users, who may never have owned any of the objects which were being rendered redundant by the very apps they symbolized.

Not entirely unrelated, Nick Hunn on Arduino (6 min):

The beauty of the Arduino is that it distances the developer from the difficulty of hardware and firmware.  Hardware and firmware are both difficult.  It takes a lot of experience to produce good engineers who can do either.  Arduinos and Rasperry Pis are so much fun because other engineers have done the hard work, letting developers play at the margins without having to understand too much of the detail underneath.

While it’s easy to deride tools like Arduino, this is precisely why they’re so enormously transformative.

You might, for example, use it to build an indoor positioning system (3 min).

A Nissan-funded formal ethnography of drivers designed to help map the ‘specialized technical knowledge’ that needs to be built into driverless cars? (9 min) Yes, please.


As Summer arrives in the northern hemisphere, a friendly reminder:

Read fiction.

As James Caig wrote so eloquently (4 min) in 2014:

Fiction provides an insight into the lives of others. It offers different perspectives, mapping out reference points for the behaviour of real people. It explores motivations, relationships, adversity and emotions. You don’t find those in big data.

Fiction was back in the news this week via two fantastic pieces, each worth your time:

  1. William Pierce writes for Electric Literature on Karl Ove Knausgaard and the reimagining — or, at least, radical broadening — of the way in which fiction is defined (5 min).
  2. If you missed it, the conversation in New Statesman between Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman on blurring genre boundaries (33 epic minutes) and fantasy resurgent is absolutely wonderful in all of the ways you’d expect.

Have a great week.