The Second Smartphone Revolution

Fred Wilson writing about mobile and the developing world:

But the next 2.5bn people to adopt smartphones may turn out to be a different story. They will mostly live outside the developed and wealthy parts of the world and they will look to their smartphones to deliver essential services that they have not been receiving at all – from the web or from the offline world. I am thinking about financial services, healthcare services, educational services, transportation services, and the like. Stuff that matters a bit more than seeing where you friends had a fun time last night or what it looks like when you faceswap with your sister.

The developed world created the smartphone, then we used it to solve all kinds of first world problems.

Now that the developing world has access, they’ll be using it to solve more fundamental problems. And without the burden of legacy anything – infrastructure, economy, business models, ways of working – it’s not far fetched to think that the next major disruptions to how we go about life will be cooked up in places that couldn’t be any further removed from Silicone Valley.

The Ad Industry Has Survived Another Super Bowl

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. Which for me has meant another year of having done my taxes during the game. It makes an excellent yearly appointment to get them out of the way. You have all of your materials. There’s still plenty of time to bring in a professional if things get complicated. And you get to brag about how smart you are to people who think you’re nuts.

As usual, I caught the second half of the game, and I’ll go back and watch the ads that I missed later this morning.

It’s difficult to miss the reactions to the ads. Every year is always the year of “the worst ads ever.” Or, sometimes “the ads are good again!”

I do think that they are plagued by expectations of what a Super Bowl ad could be from back before we had YouTube.

Super Bowl ads used to be the soul source of strange and over-the-top video making. They come from a time when kids would pass around Faces of Death videos, and eventually Jackass found an audience. Now we’re used to seeing strange and unusual videos. And most of them come without some kind of marketing message getting in the way.

Being on the industry side of things, it’s hard not to be cynical about Super Bowl ads. You can see where the edges of ideas were sanded down by clients and you can feel some of the work trying too hard to be amazing. It’s easy to make a case for most of the advertisers that the Super Bowl is bad use of their budget.

However, the reality is that it is a minor miracle that anything even halfway good ever sees the light of day. That’s the part of the picture that the typical armchair critic doesn’t understand.

I once watched from a distance as creatives burned through over 300-scripts for a Super Bowl spot, finally selling an idea, going on production over Christmas, only to have the client sell the ad time a couple of weeks before the game.

The sheer number of hours that people pour into these spots, along with their blood, sweat and tears, is enormous. As is the number of hurdles that any idea has to clear on the way. Selling an idea through an organization the size of GM, for example, means getting in front of hundreds of eyeballs, most of which are attached to brains that don’t understand how advertising works. Each pair of eyeballs then feels compelled to offer an opinion on how to make it better.

…And so it goes for months. Making its way from an initial concept, to storyboards, to hiring a director, to treatments, to production, and on through editing … any ad that is going to run in the Super Bowl will be run through the approval spanking machine multiple times. And at any point, there is the danger of some junior person in finance making an offhanded comment that ends up ruining the idea. It’s like walking a balloon through a thicket of well-intentioned, but very thorny vines.

So congratulations to the teams that made work that they are proud of. There aren’t many of them. And they all deserve a good nap.

Roger Ebert on His Rules for Twitter

Roger Ebert, back in 2010:

My rules for Twittering are few: I tweet in basic English. I avoid abbreviations and ChatSpell. I go for complete sentences. I try to make my links worth a click. I am not above snark, no matter what I may have written in the past. I tweet my interests, including science and politics, as well as the movies. I try to keep links to stuff on my own site down to around 5 or 10%. I try to think twice before posting.

Via Daring Fireball

The Limits of Videogame Interaction: The Fat Pipe-Thin Pipe Problem

Sure it sounds pornographic, but I think it’s an interesting idea that can apply throughout experience design of almost any kind.  

“Stated simply, the FPTP problem is an issue of discrepancy between the bandwidth a game uses to communicate to the player and the bandwidth the player has to communicate back. A game’s capacity to output rich, nuanced information exceeds that of film or television, yet a player’s capacity to reply with equivalently rich and nuanced statements is massively constrained by our input devices and our game designs. In a sense, from the perspective of a game, players would appear to suffer from some extreme form of autism; our inputs suggest that we take the game’s output at such a literal surface level that we appear to either not understand or not receive all the cues the game gives us.”

(Via Edge Online )