Archive for May, 2007

Beware: old fart in jeans

old fartAfter much nagging, I have finally opened a profile on Facebook, an experience that succeeded in making me feel thoroughly depressed.
The problem is that, at 41 years old, I feel that I am almost twice the age of the average ad agency executive. The nagging was a response to my epiphany about social networks. Bla bla the future bla bla a place where consumers rule bla bla brands trying to get a look-in.
It was my own fault, really.
The problem lies not in the functionality of Facebook. This isn’t a case of finding a seven year old child to programme the video – it’s a problem with content. After one hour’s study, I conclude that Facebook is childishly simple. Compared to working out the quirks of opening a blog on WordPress, creating a profile on Facebook is easier than sliding on a pair of carpet slippers.
The thing is (and I knew this beforehand), everyone else on the network is so bloody young. Being nagged by a load of twentysomethings to “go on Facebook” rapidly made me feel like being the honorary grandad at a student disco. Having faffed around on it for a short while, I did find a few dozen acquaintances (obviously, there are quite a few people I know on my company Facebook group), but the need to “poke” (the language of Facebook) them in order to get them to acknowledge you as a “friend” feels, like asking that teenager for a dance, so wrong.

Open goal

kickmeIt won’t take a genius to work out which agency I work for when I say that Campaign‘s editor does a stupendous job of sticking the boot in in this week’s editorial. All I’ll say is that she’s obviously been keeping her list of adjectives in reserve until now – now that the senior executives who would have fought the agency’s corner have departed.
And just because nobody’s around to refute them, it doesn’t mean she’s right.

Other people’s money

opmI have worked in oil, banking, consulting and IT, and people within each of those industries have been convinced that their sectors were in decline.
In oil, it was the dwindling of oil stocks (now these companies are investing in new energy sources); banking, it was the threat of London losing its status as a financial capital behind Frankfurt (it never happened); in consulting, it was the realisation amongst clients that they could solve their problems themselves, especially after some high-profile consultancy cock-ups in the 1990s, and in IT there have been crises of confidence over falling prices because of Far-East manufacturing, and of the rise of outsourcing.
Advertising’s current obsession is the spread of channels, as more eyeball time is divvied between zillions of TV stations, online and, coming soon, fast mobile internet. I’ve heard of predictions that the big ad agencies are therefore in terminal decline, but it’s the same story but with a different cover. It’s only the ones who stick doggedly to pushing advertising on TV and traditional print media who will go the way of Danny DeVito’s buggy whip company.
If you work in above the line, then keep up with the technology.

The power of words

This snippet is from today’s Daily Telegraph feature on the Tony Blair years. It’s astounding how a list of words, presented in isolation, can evoke an era more eloquently than any well-crafted sentence.

Blair era words

Embarrassing personal dilemma

pushme1.jpgHaving operated a surprisingly successful blog under a clearly made-up pseudonym (where I can rant and rail and post the loosely ad-related dross that I happen to stumble across in the course of my work), I am now wondering whether I should continue commenting on other blogs using that name.
The dilemma is particularly painful where other bloggers know both weakly thunk and the other blog, and know I am one and the same person. This could lead to me developing a virtual form of schizophrenia, where I could feasibly be commenting under two different names on the same blog. In fact, I have just done that on Neil Perkin’s blog, and I must admit that having two separate comments on his current front page under two different names does make me feel a bit of an idiot.
Ow! I can’t cope!

A geek map of online communities

This terrific map nicked from the boingboing blog would make a fun addition to anyone trying to describe Web 2.0 in a presentation (especially if you’re brave enough to give the ecosystem diagram a spin in front of an audience).
Web2 map
The complete map is a cheeky Dungeons & Dragons-style rendering of the current state of online communities by a popular Internet comic. The size of the “lands” corresponds to the current traffic or membership of the various online brands, and it appears that their location on the map bears some resemblance to the level of interactivity or connections between them.
Needless to say, this being Web 2.0, it won’t take long for the map to be out of date.


Self-important bit

baby
I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.

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