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The angelic discarnate man of the electric age

Just found this. Father Patrick Peyton ("The rosary priest") interviews Marshall McLuhan on television show, "Family Theatre" on 14 November 1971.

Absolutely fantastic.

Since first studying his work at UPenn a dozen years ago, what has always impressed me about McLuhan is how well he understood and predicted our digital future. Make no mistake, he wasn’t very happy about where things were going. He was a sceptic who thought that we were ill-prepared for the coming electronic age. He saw media’s influence and growth as something to be wary of, and he was convinced that our institutions were not at all ready.

He was also deeply religious and a devout Catholic. And what is incredible, to me, is how McLuhan draws parallels between technology and connectedness to the church. At points, you expect him to say the word “internet”, and instead he says “rosary” or “church” or something else. I’m not trying to be blasphemous. I just find it incredible how easy it is to conflate the internet with mystical bodies.

In the electric age, man becomes a kind of disembodied spirit. I don't think our institutions have any way of coping with this new dimension of man ... The angelic discarnate man of the electric age who is always in the presence of all the other men in the world.

Most of the relationships between men are now invisible. The human bond, the electric instant bond around the planet, is invisible ... which is not unlike the things we were taking about with relation to the mystical body, which is entirely around us and entirely invisible.

It is hard to understand where the media starts and ends. The media is an all-encompassing service, and man seems to be an inadequate figure.
The bit on “interface” is incredible. See 8m26sec. If this doesn’t foreshadow social networks, instant messaging, and microblogging, then I don’t know what does.
He wants an interface, a resonant dialogue. He wants to rap, chat and empathize with everybody about everything, and this constitutes an interface of change in dialogue. It isn’t just the passing of gossip back and forth. It is a kind of interrelating by which people feel that they are changed, that they are getting with it, they are getting involved, they are participating.

All of these things seem to me to be profoundly related to the rosary and to the church and the mystical body.

Incredible that this was in the 1970’s and the topic of conversation was more about the telephone and satellites than anything else.

I’m considering a change of line to, i-boy, the angelic discarnate man of the electric age who is always in the presence of all the other men in the world.

This is from 1971. Think about it.

Hat tip to Metheus for the tweet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

2 little hacks

For you Windows folks, here are two little hack/apps that I find incredibly useful:

Taskbar Shuffle
A simple, small, free utility that lets you drag and drop your Windows taskbar buttons to rearrange them.

Have you ever copied some text from a web page or a document and then wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple by adding a new Windows hot-key (default is WINDOWS+V) that allows you to paste text to any application without formatting.

Monday, March 30, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

Laptop Hunters

The PC vs Mac battle is heating up thanks to new work by CP+B.

“I would have to double my budget, which isn’t feasible,” Lauren says as she drives away from an Apple Store, where 17-inch notebooks start at $2,799. Then she sighs and delivers the ad’s coup de grace: “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”


This is Lauren. On a strict $1000 budget, she finds her perfect laptop - a speedy HP Pavilion with a big screen and a comfy keyboard. Find your perfect PC at
In the comments section of the article where I found this on Fortune commenter "Todd" from Vancouver writes. "Laruen’s first choice was a Mac. Her PC was a consolation prize. Great marketing, MS."

I'm not so sure.

You see, I just bought a new laptop for K's dad. He finally decided to take the plunge and get online so he could Skype with Julia. To make a long story short, getting a PC was the only way to go. Like "Lauren" in the MSFT ad, we wanted to get a 17" laptop and getting a Mac was a non-starter. They were price-prohibitive, and we found something with a ton of memory, software and features at a very good price.

In tight times, this kind of communication is bound to play well with the public. Even in Tokyo, H&M and UNIQLO are doing well in the Ginza district, once a luxury-only mecca.

By not competing on price, is Mac missing something? Do they need an entry-level product? Or, is Mac destined to be a niche? Is that a bad thing? Given the high-end positioning of the iPhone, is this where the company wants to be, anyway?

Plus, the fact that the Mac crowd is up in arms means something: It is the first time in ages that I can remember a PC ad getting under the skin of the Apple crowd. CPB is obviously onto something.

All those "I'm a Mac" ads that took swipes at PCs were just fine until MSFT fired back. The idea that "you're too expensive and really not all that cool" has Mac fans pretty pissed off and vocal, and the sound is music to MSFT and CPB's ears.

Sunday, March 29, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     4  comments


This is our daughter, Julia Helen Ruth Nimeh.

She was born on 17 March at 12:03pm.

Not getting any sleep has its advantages ... In between diaper changes, multiple feedings, and trying to figure out the best way to put an incredibly cute and tiny girl into a "onezie", we've managed to teach Julia how to blog. Yes, that's right, little Julia is already a blogger ... and a keen one at that.

Posting here on i-boy will be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks, but I do plan to stick with it. In the meanwhile, you can always follow me on Twitter.

Or, you can follow Julia.

Saturday, March 28, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     1  comments

Exclusive: Q&A with Jon Mitchell from Spotify UK

Jon Mitchell, the UK head and sales director of Spotify, came to iris last week and gave us an overview of the service, the opportunities for advertisers and a glimpse at what might be in the pipeline. He played the future bit pretty close to the vest, with several "check Google for that" answers. But I don't blame him. They're on a roll, and he's a good sport.

After the group session, I asked him a few questions about Spotify, and he was kind enough to let me record it and share this with you:

I'm "long" Spotify and think they have a legitimate chance to transform the way we interact and think about music. Here's my take:

For individuals, Spotify is a killer service, combining a deep catalogue of music with a social media twist. Finding, playing and sharing songs and playlists is free (with ads) or ad-free (with a subscription). It has an instant appeal and is bound to be popular.

For advertisers and media companies, Spotify is like radio on data-driven steroids. They’re able to aggregate individuals based on their listening habits (since all the tracks are well-tagged) and target listeners on a very granular level. Mood-based targeting and other clever ways to reach people with the right message at the right time are sure to be on the horizon.

Spotify knows that the best way to compete with the pirates is to make using their service easier than illegal downloads. Whilst telcos and the music labels may see the potential for partnerships, others involved in the music business should be wary, as Spotify would seem to be a substitute to music services such as Nokia’s Comes With Music or Sony Ericsson's Play Now Plus, rather than a catalyst to their use.

What do think?

Sunday, March 15, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

Fun Friday: Gervais + Elmo

Hilarious ... I needed that.

Friday, March 13, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     0  comments

NLP with the AAR

Another nice turnout at this morning's Digital Breakfast series organized by the AAR here in London.

After a much-needed dose of caffeine, we settled into breakfast room at Aubaine to spend some time with Dawn Sillett, who gave us a primer on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and some insight in terms of how to apply NLP to the agency biz.

Essentially, NLP helps people to understand “preferred representational systems”. In plain English, I’d say that means how people make sense of the world and other people around them. There are three main preferred representational systems, audio, visual and kinaesthetic. Knowing which type you are (and what type others are) can provide very powerful insight into relationship building both inside and outside the office.

Building rapport when we’re dealing with clients and prospects should be something that comes naturally, right? Not necessarily...yet with some simple techniques we can all raise our game. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is often applied in professional sport, coaching, business and especially sales. What you will get from this interactive breakfast briefing is a no-nonsense insight into how you can use simple NLP techniques to make more effective use of chemistry meetings, presentations and pitches. You will explore your own preferences and how these can influence your rapport-building, and take away 5 practical tips to apply right away.

Here are Dawn’s 5 Tips to use your senses to build better relationships mixed with vox-pops from other people who attended the breakfast.

1) Look at your last presentation. Ask yourself if you are catering to all three preferred representational systems or heavily weighted to one or the other.

2) Identify colleagues with different preferences and combine them wisely internally and for external client and new business work.

3) Revamp your new business kit. Is it hitting all three rep systems? Got a podcast? And so on ...

4) Turn up the auditory. For most, this is the weakest of the three. Don’t forget it.

5) Feel the love. Don’t forget about ergonomics. How people feel when you’re presenting can be as important as what they’re looking at. Seating, lighting, and other physical attributes should be taken into consideration. And don’t forget what people touch during meetings as well as what they take with them.

As for me, I wonder how this all combines in terms of the work we do in the digital space. Can we use the same three categories to be better at creating a more comprehensive user experience? Is there a relevant and otherwise valuable way to group what we do according to how people use it? Is that of value? For example:
  • Audio: Spotify, Last.FM, iTunes, Podcasts
  • Video: Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Picassa
  • Kinaesthetic: Flash, Ajax, Shopping carts, 360-tours, augmented reality, Twitter
Obviously, this just scratches the surface. What do you think?

I thought today's session was really interesting. If you’re into it, you should contact Dawn, as she makes what could be an otherwise extraordinarily and potentially mindnumbingly complex subject quite approachable. Dawn recommends NLP at Work by Sue Knight as a no-nonsense way to get up to speed with the concept.

As always, a big thanks to Juliet Blackburn and Nisha Mandalia and CEO Kerry Glazer from the AAR who truly walk the talk in terms of demonstrating expertise helping develop strong, meaningful and active agency:client relationships.

And I’ll never think about holiday descriptions the same way again ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

The Twitter Experiment: Wrap-up

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they found themselves in the Garden of Tweetdom.

What do you get when you buy 46 tickets to a Tweet Reading? Well, I'm not so sure I know the answer, but I do know that I met a bunch of people I only knew online, we raised a bucket-full of cash for Crisis, and we had a few beers at the Market Porter together, which is always a good thing.

And I got to meet @marcus_brown ... He is so choice. If you have the means or the Tweets, I highly recommend tracking him down.

Yes, this is without a doubt the geekiest post I've ever put on i-boy. Is this a new low or the start of something big? Only time, and Twitter, will tell. In the meanwhile, here are some short post-performance clips from @marcus_brown Tweet Reading

Tweet Reading: Marcus, Sam and Vox Pops ...

Next time, will someone remind me that it probably isn't really necessary to film in HD. Transcoding is a bitch!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     9  comments

Please read this now

Sometimes you read something and wish you had done it. This is a simple presentation that I'd file under that category. Please share this with everyone you know who works in ATL agencies, media planning companies or does marketing. Now. ;-)
View more presentations from Bud Caddell. (tags: mass fans)

Simple. To-the-point. True.

Monday, March 09, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

Why I love Jon Stewart

"I'm also on Gruntr" ... Classic.

And sadly, I know I must look this way sometimes.


Note: Thanks John, for pointing out that all the YouTube versions of this have been taken down by the nice folks at Viacom. Having now replaced it, I have stripped out all the crap and links from the Comedy Central player and have now included it above. Idiots.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     2  comments

Skittles, the Twitter turducken

As some of you may have noticed, the Skittles homepage now is an overlay onto Twitter and several other social networking sites. Instead of creating a brand, they're putting their brand out there for others to define and play with.

Great, right? Join the conversation! Get involved! Let your brand be free! Get on the 2.0 bandwagon! Drink the social media Kook-Aid! Well, I must admit I think this one is a bit shit.

The fact that they’re using Twitter means that anyone can say anything, and the comments and links show up on the screen alongside their brand. Unlike, say, Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr which lets you moderate and control a bit better. That's an invitation for people to act like kids (which we all like to do when give the chance, right?) and write whatever comes to mind. Worse still, you can post links to other content which is completely out of their control.

Rubbish strategy. Fail.

Making matters worse,’s concept was absolutely stolen from Modernista!’s work in 2008. Check out this post I wrote in March, 2008 complimenting Modernista! on their work, “Modernista! walks the talk”.

Blatant creative theft and unoriginality. Fail.

And let's remember that was also behind one my all-time favourite embarrassing social media disaster moments: The Subway pitch during which they told the world, "When we roll, we roll big." Normally, I wouldn't bring it up. I'd just let it languish in the archives from 2006. But in this case, given the fact that this is another horrible implementation of a social media strategy by an agency that should know better, I feel compelled to point it out.

AKQA's David Bentley wrote a nice guest piece here on i-boy about that particular viral debacle and mishap. here's what he wrote at the time:
From the broader perspective I am somewhat disheartened that an agency of such profile and repute should make such a viral attempt. It reverts our entire industry back to 1997 where large companies were worried about giving significant business to ‘crazy funky webshops’. In 2006 we are in a different environment where media budgets are shifting rapidly online and now accounting for $10bn globally. We need to be professional and manage this business and to instil confidence – this activity does nothing of the sort. Is it any wonder that some of our finest digital alumni are taking senior jobs with traditional agency brands even though many are derided for not ‘getting it’? They may not ‘get it’ but they are respected and they sure understand client management and building long-term mature business relationships.
I think that's still true today.

It is worth asking the old question, "Is all news good news?" And as Luis Carranza points out, they’ve just tacked their brand on top of it. They haven’t engaged in a conversation. All they’ve done is encourage juvenile behaviour. If that was the brief, bravo. Doubt it was, however. If it wasn’t, FAIL.

I see two outcomes:

1. Skittles pulls the campaign off Twitter because it is too far out of their control, and realizes that they’ve f*cked up yet again.

2. The buzz dies down, and nothing interesting remains.

Here's Wikipedia inside Skittles inside Modernista!, posted on Flickr! Call it a Twitter turducken.

@iboy is on Twitter, btw.

UPDATE 1: Many other posts worth reading on this:

Skittles: A Brands With Balls Or More Copy, Paste?
Sam Ismail

Is Skittles onto something?
Brian Morrissey

Originality then relevancy, in that order
Mark Hadfield

UPDATE 2: See "Outcome 1" above ... The part about Skittles pulling the campaign off Twitter.

Skittles Swaps Homepage from Twitter Search to Facebook Page
As Charlene Li notes in the comments, it’s possible that Skittles plans to rotate the various social media channels on the homepage. Regardless of whether this is true, I still believe it’s important to point out how nasty (insults, racial slurs) things can turn out when you give control of the content on your site to users, some of which can be completely anonymous.

Monday, March 02, 2009   permalink to archived copy   DiggIt     3  comments

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