I’ve been watching this on and off for months, and I see something new every time. He MEANS IT, man. I don’t like it in an ironic, ‘isn’t he funny’ way, I love the whole thing.

I think I’m becoming obsessed. Send help.


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Speed Reading

Spritz is a speed reading app launched recently – or ‘reading, reimagined’ as they’ve trademarked on ther. It basically flashes up one word at a time, at faster speeds than you would otherwise read, to enable you to get to 1000 words per minute (wpm). You can try it at the site. I’ll wait.

I’ve tried other speedreading things before – there’s an app called Acceleread which I played with for a while, and got my wpm up to about 550 or so. Your reading is generally slow because you ‘speak’ the words out in your head, one at a time, as you go through them. This slows you down to ‘talking speed’ (kind of) as you read it out to yourself in your head. By flashing the words up on the screen – or by using some more traditional speed reading techniques – you override this, and begin to see the words and recognise them without speaking them out internally.

A few ways of doing this without the app:

  • Follow a pencil along the lines, gradually increasing the speed
  • Quieten the voice in your head which reads the words out as you do – I found that counting in my head helped this
  • Rather than reading one word at a time, grab three or four in one go, chunking a sentence into 3 groups and reading them in three steps, rather than one word at a time.

Whilst I had some success with this technique, I found that it’s not something I enjoy using at all. It’s good for quickly digesting some information at work, for instance, or an article about something. But if you’re reading to enjoy, why speed this process up? The point is to lose yourself in a book, or to learn, reflect, write in the margin, pause and watch the world go by – not to race to the finish as quickly as possible. This makes reading a chore, something which should be got over as soon as possible. What about re-reading a paragraph because the way it was written filled you with joy? The way that sometimes a writer says exactly what you think way better than you ever could, and you get that thrill of recognition of something inside you which someone else has phrased so perfectly, and so you read again and again and savour the construction of the sentences. Pausing to laugh, or think, reflect or feel – is there no time for this any more? When reading non-fiction I often need to re-read, or go back, or underline a sentence, or think further about how I could apply or use what I’ve read. I’m reading a bit of philosophy at the moment, and I can’t imagine speeding through this – quite the opposite.

I think it’s missing the point somewhere.

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The OTC Space


The OTC Space is a site run by Bill Hodgson, providing news, analysis and education about the OTC derivates market (no, I didn’t have a clue either. Read here if you like.)

They had an existing site and brand, but wanted to massively extend the functionality of the site, add in some e-commerce functionality and create an iPad app which links in the e-commerce material with a secure distribution platform.

Bill got in touch, and we’ve worked on the site for around 3 months to get it in the position it’s in today, publishing new releases once or twice a month. You can now create a profile on the site, save and hide articles, filter down to the specific articles you need, save those filters – and more. It’s gone from a blog to a fully functional website, and there are plans to extend further.

Check out the site: The OTC Space.

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March? MARCH?

Genuinely surprised it’s been November since my last post, and it’s now March. A sign of age. The book “Moonwalking with Einstein” says of time:

Life seems to speed up as we get older because life gets less memorable as we get older.


Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next—and disappear. That’s why it’s important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.

So I obviously need to do more varied things. There have been quite a few new sites we’ve worked on over the past few months though, in various different fields; from trainers to record labels; financial sites to bespoke wallpaper, and I’m currently consulting at DigitasLBi for some of their clients, so it’s not all been the same. Having said that, I could do with a holiday. Anybody fancy doing my work for me whilst I go away?

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Social Media Strategy (or not)

We’ve been having a lot of discussions recently with clients about their ‘social media strategy’. It’s an odd one, because, well, really I’m not sure that exists. If you have a ‘social media strategy’, that probably means that you just want to have some accounts on Twitter, Facebook etc, and want someone to post on them for you. Doesn’t really work like that.

For example, would you have a telephone strategy? Employ an agency to answer your phone for you, because that person was a ‘telephone expert’? (I’m aware that large call centres exist which do just that, but that’s a slightly different situation, and don’t be picky, alright? Good.) Social media shouldn’t exist for its own sake – it should be there to support your existing business objectives, whether that be sales, market research, competitor analysis, complaint handling, etc – all these things can accommodate social media easily. You already have objectives for these – see how SM can fit in with these existing objectives rather than seeing it as an end in and of itself.

The problem with it not having objectives and targets tied into social media, is that it’s very hard to justify spending money on it. I’ve been talking to clients this week who want to spend a few hundred quid, and for that they want someone to post on twitter for them a few times a week. All well and good, but what happens when someone replies? When a customer has a question, or a complaint, or wants to talk to you about something? That’s when it falls down, because then all of a sudden they need to spend more money for us to manage that account, and if they’ve nothing tied into it (for example, cutting down on calls into a call centre) then there’s nothing to point to and say ‘this is why you’re spending the money’. So I spend a lot of time pushing back on these, and asking for objectives from them first.

So if you want to talk to someone about how you can use digital, or social media, technologies to help your business – first start to think about which of your objectives are the most important to you, or which could do with a boost right now. Then instead of thinking that you have to pay extra for that, think instead about paying less on the current strategy, and carving a percentage of that out for a different approach. Have targets and measurements, create a strategy and tactics – initiate, test, measure and adjust if necessary. Don’t just set up a twitter account. Please don’t. God kills kittens when you do.

Oh, and if you do want to talk to someone – email me here.

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Hip Hop Friday – 1st November

No *real* posts this week, but we can’t miss Hip Hop Friday can we now? Illustrating that being able to sing shouldn’t be a hindrance to singing on a record, we’ve got Biz Markie this week. I read somewhere that Biz has two houses – one in which he lives, and the other where he stores all his records and shoes. Good work Biz. Have a good weekend.


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Hip Hop Friday – 25th October

FRIDAY.  Did you know that Rebecca Black’s “Friday” tune was downloaded more times on a Friday than any other day? Not that we’re going there, obviously.

This Friday – this is in my ‘classic guest verses of all time’ list. (What’s on yours?) No disrespect to GURU or Lil Dap, but Jeru kills it on this verse, with a perfect beat behind him by Premo. Listen to the whole thing, or skip ahead to about 2:49 for Jeru. Have a good weekend.

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One Copy Song

One Copy Song is a Facebook app that allows only one person to listen to a song at a time before passing it to the next person in line – it was created in order to publicise the Adam Tensta (big in Swedish rap, apparently) track, appropriately titled “Pass it on”.

It worked as a Facebook app – you were placed in line to wait for your turn, then you had a set amount of time in which you could listen to it just once, when it then passed onto the next person in line. You could skip up the line by doing various things which promoted Adam – tweeting about it, Facebook updates, listening to his other music on Spotify. Neat idea, with the viral marketing, or ‘growth hacking’ built into the project right from the start – rather than making something and then going ‘right, how do we get people to tweet about this?’.

It also touches on a few other key points for marketing – it creates scarcity, by its very nature, there’s the social currency of being first in line for his fans (like getting the new iPhone first) and in order to get further up the scale, you publicise him, which creates lots more publicity for him, and keeps the concept public – if other people are doing this, maybe you should too.

And it just makes things a bit more special too, for fans of his. It’s not the future of music marketing, by any means – but it was a great little campaign.

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Hip Hop Friday – 18th October

This Friday it’s going to be a track from ATCQ – Midnight Marauders – one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever from one of the greatest hip-hop groups ever. This is also in a slight tribute to Air Adam’s recent exhibition ‘Manchester Marauders‘, featuring a number of friends of Northern Comfort – not least of whom Treva Whateva. Enjoy.


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Terrible writing = Page views

It’s easy to mock. And in the case of Dave Berry: the 10 albums every man should own, very easy. This morning this article has gone round social media sites faster than you can say Samantha Brick, mainly because it IS a terrible article. If you’re writing an article about the albums every man should own, and you say…

Over my 10-year career I’ve worked on MTV, 4Music, and hosted the V, Homelands, iTunes and Isle of Wight music festivals. I’ve hosted radio shows on XFM and Capital FM, and like to think I have learnt a thing or two about music.

…then recommend a ‘best of ‘ John Lee Hooker LP because:

if I’m honest I don’t know enough about the great John to recommend a specific album

then, well, you’re going to come into some mockery. And the Rocky IV soundtrack is definitely not one of the top ten LP’s of all time. The article has been amended now, but it also got Beth Gibbons’ name wrong, as Beth Orton. Not good Dave, not good.

In any normal world this article wouldn’t have been published. There are no ‘hidden gems’ here, nothing of any real value to anybody reading it – it’s a totally pointless article.

But – it gets page views BECAUSE it’s so rubbish. Because it is easy to mock, and if there’s one thing we like to do on Twitter, it’s mock. So could it be – just possibly – that the article got published because, rather than in spite of, it being so terrible? Page-views mean everything to today’s online publisher. I’ve discussed here before how you can write articles to hit trigger points in order to make things go viral. And if that’s the case – where does it end? If your measurement for success is the number of page-views you get, as that’s what you point at when speaking to advertisers about your site, then this approach is a successful one. But maybe, just maybe, that’s measuring the wrong thing.

Posted in Music, Viral | 2 Comments

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