Of all the things I love to read, long form is my favourite
I have enjoyed long form journalism for a very long time. I like a story that's lengthy enough to grow familiar: events I can dread or anticipate, characters I can get to know and watch change. I like going on that journey.
Long form used to be a bit of a rare beast, but this has changed over the past year. There are more places to get your long form fix these days, and more and more of them are online.
Curiously enough, while the rest of the publishing industry endures a series of beatings from the world wide web, things in the long form corner are starting to look brighter.
Instagram has changed the way I look at photography, from taking single images of beautiful found ephemera to sharing sequences of images as an event or moment unfolds. These moments become a journey through your life, one that is both shared and intimate (as @malbonster mentions in his recent blog post; Making sense of life through photography).
This made me think about the way that photography has evolved and integrated into our lives. It also made me wonder how literal photographic journeys could evolve. How could the day of a social group be documented though more than just a camera lens? To capture more than just one media (or sense)?
This led to an experiment: could the 'development' of a photographic journey be through the addition of sound bites? What would the experience become, would sound enhance or disrupt the imagery?
Remember when the Web was new and every brand had to have a 'home page'?
Back then - in the 90s - the term was used inter-changeably with 'website'. No-one knew what they were actually for, but everyone had to have one. Every brand, even breakfast cereals, shoe polish, toothpaste and cat food, had to have one. Even the most boring brands had to have them. They eventually became known as microsites. No-one knew why they existed or what they did, but everyone assumed that it was massively important to have one and if you didn't you'd be missing out on a potential global audience of billions.
I saw Mark Earls talk at Planningness in Brooklyn: How to understand and create social influence, and since then I have found myself thinking a lot about the video of the dancing man at the Sasquatch Music Festival that he showed us.
Mark's talk was about Social Learning. The basic premise, people learn through observation - a phenomenon he was able to demonstrate with an eager audience. Mark has described this type of open social 'copying' at a group level as:
The engine by which stuff gets pulled through populations, from technology to health habits
And the point he makes about the Sasquatch dancing man is how it's NOT about the intervention of influencers, but rather it's about everyone reacting to the growing crowd in a kind of cascade. The video made me think more about the way we should try and design social spaces to be more open - possibly open enough to allow people to lose themselves in the crowd. It seems to me that being able to lose even a little a bit of your 'self' within a semi-chaotic social experience is a type of primal joy that everyone - everyone except the lone nut - enjoys.
I was hunting on the web the other day for a comprehensive list of UK brands on Twitter, as part of some research. Some UK brands are included in Fluent Simplicity’s Social Brand Index, an extremely comprehensive list of brands on Twitter, but it is more US-focussed, with just a few UK brands.
When @stueccles first encouraged me to enter the 10k apart competition (to create a web app in under 10 kilobytes) I wondered what was really possible in only 10k. After a little tinkering I realised quite a lot.
About a week ago (August 5th) a new Twitter account appeared. Nothing strange in that. But this one belonged to John Hegarty, Worldwide Creative Director of BBH. The BBH whose offices we share.
His account accumulated over a thousand followers in a matter of hours as word spread that one of the most well known ad agency creatives in the world had joined Twitter.
However, within a day or so people began to suspect that this wasn’t the real deal. The language was poor and the tweeted quotes hackneyed. “Not the language of Hegarty” people cried via Twitter.
On Monday night I tweeted that I was unfollowing the account. The 1990s management speak and trite ‘creative’ blatherings were too much. This was obviously an imposter. And I think I know who it is…On Monday night I tweeted that I was unfollowing the account. The 1990s management speak and trite ‘creative’ blatherings were too much. This was obviously an imposter. And I think I know who it is…
I did a quick poll via Twitter and email last week to see what sites, services and apps some of the people I know are using in their daily lives. These are of course likely to change as more and more services make their appearance (or, as I sometimes wickedly dream in the case of Facebook, slowly die), but for now I notice some clear trends:
News sites will continue to be a key source of information, even as print fights for survival
BBC News, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Dallas Morning News, Al Jazeera, News24, the Daily Mail and the Sun were the most commonly visited sites amongst respondents to my poll, with the BBC and Guardian clearly leading the pack. Smaller, more local sites still have their audience amongst people who have an affiliation to those areas. News sites found a mention by all respondents, so whatever happens to print magazines, their digital avatars are here to stay. As the Times prepares to go behind a paywall, it will be interesting to see how they respond to the changes in the behaviour of their audience – something that is bound to happen.