Blogs

  1. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: How to Achieve Rapid Career Progression: A Digital Marketing Case Study

    At SiteVisibility, we are known for delivering digital growth with ambitious brands and it’s always a great moment when we see our strategies turning into growing revenue streams for our ambitious clients like Fatface, The Goodwood Estate, Vax, Cheapflights, Farrow & Ball, Hotels.com and House of Fraser amongst others.

    As business sectors undergo digital transformation and the competitive forces in their ecosystems evolve, digital success comes to those with the best strategy and in a service industry like ours, that often means the best people or talent strategy.

    Like many businesses, we try to improve and learn from what we do all of the time. Whether that’s about our business workflow, our campaign insights and tactics or the way we harness and develop our talent, we’ve certainly enjoyed our fair share of “learning experiences” over the last 13 years in business. So I thought I’d share an aspect of our talent strategy which we’re passionate about, but which remains work in progress. And if you like what you read and you feel like you want to find out more, I’d love to hear from you – we’re hiring right now.

    I’m pretty confident that “attracting and retaining the best people” ranks highly as a 2015 strategic goal for every marketing agency in the UK. If it’s not, then they probably won’t be around to see 2016.

    I don’t believe that any single talent strategy is enough on its own however, providing an effective learning environment is pretty high on our list. In fact, apart from flexitime, we’re told that the single most valued aspect of work is the opportunity to learn. People want to grow their expertise, to increase their value and to further their career and so long as that’s happening, there’s harmony.

    My favourite talent success story is Kelvin Newman. He started at SiteVisibility as a trainee in 2006 and by working hard and following his passion for SEO,  he managed to persuade me to invest in the BrightonSEO project. Initially a meetup in a room above a pub, it is now a bi-annual SEO conference which attracts the largest audience in Europe. It’s become a successful business of which Kelvin is now Managing Director and both Kelvin and SiteVisibility are shareholders. Kelvin was voted Search Personality of the Year in 2013 and one of the top 5 most influential people in Digital by eConsultancy in the same year, only 7 years after joining SiteVisibility as a trainee.

    SiteVisibility provided the flexibility, culture and finance and Kelvin provided his natural passion for digital marketing, his willingness to take responsibility for his own learning and the confidence and showmanship skills to make it all happen.

    We want to work with people who believe they can reach their potential at SiteVisibility. We have shown that we can make that happen and I’m hoping the next Kelvin Newman is reading this now.

    Now it sounds like Kelvin’s career is over, far from it! From January 2015, Kelvin will be re-joining SiteVisibility as full time Marketing Director where part of his responsibility will be to grow SiteVisibility through BrightonSEO, the Internet Marketing Podcast and other marketing initiatives.

    Achieving talent development success requires a supportive environment and people who want to make it happen. I’m pretty proud of a few industry initiatives that we made happen:

    • As a founder member, we helped fund and set up Wired Sussex which helps over 2300 members do better digital business
    • We financed Brighton SEO which is now the most popular SEO conference in Europe
    • We set up and run the Internet Marketing Podcast which is the most popular marketing podcast in the world as found on iTunes
    • We founded the BrightonBIG project which aims to gives students at BACA careeropportunities amongst the Brighton digital economy

    All of these provide amazing learning opportunities, not only for our team, but also for the wider digital community. It’s real CSR in action and demonstrates our culture.

    Over the last couple of years, SiteVisibility has undergone change in its organisational structure, people and culture. We have adopted new values to reflect our evolved business and the outstanding people we want to work with now and into the future:

    • Be Outstanding
    • Deliver the promise
    • Love working together

    We’re currently hiring for my favourite role of account manager or as we know it, Client Performance Account Manager. That’s the person who delivers the promise for our customers, they own the client strategy and achievement of business objectives by working with a talented multi-disciplinary team. We are looking for ambitious digital marketing folks with strong strategic, numerate, technical and commercial instincts who share our values and want to join us on our mission to deliver digital growth for ambitious brands.

    SiteVisibility has been an Investor in People since 2003.  We pay well and have an active and award winning CSR programme and staff benefits including flexible working, team building fund, healthy workforce holiday bonus, free railcard, Ride to Work scheme, stakeholder pension and free eye test vouchers for all and free private healthcare for more senior grades and free dental care for those with one years service.

    Our people are key to SiteVisibility’s success, so ensuring everyone can flourish and give their best is critical. That’s why we’ll always endeavour to make your time with us interesting, challenging and most of all enjoyable.

    If you love working with professional digital marketing experts, enjoy taking responsibility for client success and are looking to progress your career by being recognised for outstanding work, then take a look at the job spec and contact me on careers@sitevisibility.com with a covering letter and your CV.

    Post from Apple Pie & Custard blog by SiteVisibility - An SEO Agency

    How to Achieve Rapid Career Progression: A Digital Marketing Case Study

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image
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    Posted 28 November 2014, 11:18 am

  2. Favicon NixonMcInnes

    [Blog] NixonMcInnes: Meaning 2014: notes and resources all in one place

    Lots of lovely blog posts, messages and musings have been appearing over the past week. Mostly from participants on the day. So here are the ones we know about, collected into one handy blog post. Enjoy! And if I missed any, sorry – please add them in the comments section.

    Here’s what clever and nimble fingered Adam Tinworth captured on his live blog before he had to disappear to do the school run.

    Mark Stevenson at Meaning 2014: The future and how to survive it.

    Ben Dyson at Meaning 2014: Why we should redesign banks.

    Stefania Druga at Meaning 2014: Saving the world, one play session at a time.

    Bob Doak at Meaning 2014: The Gore cult of money making and having fun.

    Joel & Michelle Levey at Meaning 2014: You can re-write your brain.

    Lauri Feinsod at Meaning 2014: Re-booting your body and your business, with your brain.

    Thanks Adam!

    Some people suffered frustrating travel delays on the way to Brighton. Andy Swann put his extra thinking time to good use. Here’s his post on Delays and diversions in the search for Meaning.

    Doug Shaw shared his experience of the morning session in a post in which he asks What does meaning mean to you?

    Ben Dyson had a big impact. His eye-opening talk about the way our money creation and banking system works hit home for many, including Michelle Parry-Slater who shared her thoughts in this post: Stop the world, I want to get off!

    Thanks to Maria Fonseca from IntelligentHQ for this write-up which includes observations on Charles Davies’ money stories workshop.

    In this reflective musing, Violeta Caragea asks what is The meaning of Meaning?

    And if, like Vicki Hughes, your tolerance limit for soundbites has not yet been reached you should read this: How inspirational quotes CAN make us feel better.

    Keep ‘em coming folks :)

    Other stuff

    For an easy-on-the-eye aggregate of the day’s happenings, check out the StoryStream. Or, if you’re planning on writing something, you can use images from the day by the talented Clive Andrews. Find them via Flickr.

    Tickets

    And last but not least, grab your Meaning 2015 ticket now while the price is low. See you on 12 November 2015?

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 28 November 2014, 10:45 am

  3. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Play Cell Survivor for Wold AIDS Day

    World AIDS Day is coming up on 1st December and we have been working with the brilliant freelance web app developer and fellow FuseBoxer Richard Plastow on an online game commissioned by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Here it is live as of today! ...

    Posted 28 November 2014, 12:00 am

  4. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Play Cell Survivor for World AIDS Day

    World AIDS Day is coming up on 1st December and we have been working with the brilliant freelance web app developer and fellow FuseBoxer Richard Plastow an online game commissioned by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Here it is live as of today! ...

    Posted 28 November 2014, 12:00 am

  5. Writing For SEO

    [Blog] Writing For SEO: 10 More SEO Content Writing Tips (Plus One More Because I’m Feeling Generous)

    A few weeks ago, I looked at six aspects of writing SEO content that make SEO writing more effective. With this post, I’m taking a step back and looking at some content writing tips that will enhance most marketing writing, but are particularly valuable online.

    Use them with your SEO content to make it even better.

    1. Understand your audience

    You must have a clear picture of who you’re writing for. What kind of information are they looking for? Are they likely to respond to humour? Do they want straight-down-the-line facts?

    Are you writing for a business audience? Or a hobbyist one? Are they experts? Do they need to be explained to?

    Write in the way you know they’d want you to. Be on the level. Keep them engaged.

    In many ways, the most challenging audience is the one that doesn’t know too much. One that isn’t too familiar with the topic.

    You need to be on their level but not by sacrificing your expertise or experience. That’s why they’re reading your words – that’s where a good slice of the value is.

    Don’t even dilute what you have to communicate. Your challenge is to simplify the way you communicate, yet still do full justice to the subject.

    2. Make your writing easily digestible

    While you can write using the ideas above, there’s something else you can do. You can help the reader through the structure of your writing – that’s not structure as in its logical flow, but the layout and typographical emphasis.

    Break your copy up with frequent subheads, shorter paragraphs and lists. For most people, this makes for easier reading. Personally, I like to write short paragraphs of just two to four sentences.

    Or maybe just a single sentence if an idea stands on its own, or I want extra emphasis.

    3. Don’t cut corners

    don't cut cornersYour content should be 100% original and great quality. Spend time to research and get it right. And if you feel you want to curate content, gathering together material from several sources and making a post from them, make sure you provide value by writing the great majority of the post from scratch.

    Otherwise, aren’t you just copying content from other places? Do that too much, and fail to add a good dose of your own original contribution to the piece and Google will gleefully identify your content as duplicate and fail to feature it prominently in the SERPS.

    4. Use Evernote for a ‘swipe’ file

    A swipe file is the place where you swipe good ideas to. Was it Picasso who said ‘…great artists steal’? Maybe, but that won’t wash in the Internet age, where duplicate content is A BAD THING. But the point is, if you see a great headline or blog entry, fresh approach or idea, don’t let it pass you by.

    Traditionally, advertising copywriters swiped advertisements and put them in a file when they thought they’d found a great ad, headline, body copy, offer or call-to-action.

    On the web, some people bookmark inspiring pages. Others make PDFs and drop them in a folder on their computer. I capture the page (or section of the page) and file it away in Evernote. I have a Notebook called WFS Ideas that contains ideas that are specific to Writing For SEO.

    But the key thing is to tag each of the records – ‘headline’, ‘approach’ etc – so that you can find them again. When I’m looking for ideas, I either open my WFS Ideas Notebook or filter on an appropriate tag.

    Or, if I have a spare 15 minutes, I have a scan of my swiped examples. They will gently bubble away on the back burner and spring to mind when I need them.

    Evernote was made for this kind of stuff.

    5. Be 100% clear why you’re writing a piece

    This is key.

    DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT write copy as content to fill the gaps on your site and/or your publishing calendar. Copy does more than just occupy space.

    Write your content for your readers. Understand how it provides value; why they’d want – need – to read it. Yet don’t forget to include the key phrases you’re targeting.

    Your content strategy must work for:

    • your readers
    • your company
    • Google

    If the piece doesn’t do all three, you’ve not done your job.

    6. Publish often

    One of the things I’ve noticed this year is that Google seems to be rewarding fresh content more than it did during 2013. On several sites, I’ve seen a definite dip in traffic some two to three weeks after the latest content was published.

    It’s not true for every site, but you should look out for it happening if you’re publishing less than once a week, say. If you’re seeing a pattern like this, try to increase posting frequency.

    7. Publish longLong

    In the old days of SEO Copywriting, we used to say a page needed to have at least 250 words, preferably 300. Posts on Writing for SEO average around 500 or so words.

    I’m now experimenting with longer posts of 1200 words or more because some respected sites have published evidence that Google is preferring long-form content. In particular, I like this post from Neil Patel on the effect of content length.

    If you’re going to try out longer pieces, you should realise that one 1200 word piece can take longer to write than two 600 word pieces because you need to have real depth and quality. You also have the challenge of structuring your writing – the longer the post, the more you have to carefully guide your readers through, ordering your ideas understandably.

    Remember to keep your quality up. Waffling and padding will lose you your audience as your quality fails.

    8. Publish Great English

    Write, read, edit – that’s fix the bad grammar and the unclear writing. Editing is tough, so respect it as a key part of the process. It often takes longer than the initial draft.

    It’s always best if you can get someone else to read your finished draft. That’s simply because it’s so easy to see what you think you’ve written, not what you’ve actually written.

    Consequently, the odd typo finds its way through. As does the occasional rambling sentence. A fresh pair of eyes will see them almost immediately.

    If you’re writing your own blog, get a friend or family member to read it. If you’re writing in a corporate context, get a colleague to review your work.

    And then read it one more time.

    9. Return to the scene of the crime

    Publishing on the web is never the end, so never worry about making changes to published content. If you see a typo you’ve missed, put it right. If you see a better way to express a point, tweak the copy. Your piece will be better appreciated by all your future readers.

    It’s so much easier and cheaper than with printed material, when someone notices a typo after 20,000 glossy brochures have been delivered.

    But, just to reiterate, don’t skimp on editing before you click Publish.

    10. Measure performance and make changes

    PerformanceWith content published, you can measure its performance.

    If the Organic traffic is disappointing, think about reworking the content to be more explicitly about your chosen topic – don’t get caught out throwing loads of key phrases at the page. You’ll only make things worse.

    If you’ve been publicising the post on social media (and if not, why not?), don’t make the mistake of just posting your headline. Try some alternatives, and if you find something that grabs attention on social media, consider replacing the headline on your page with the line that worked on social media. But don’t forget to measure the effect ;-)

    11. Never forget the Call To Action

    In #5, above, I said you should know why you’re writing a piece. One of the questions you should ask yourself is ‘What do I want my reader to do now?’.

    So at the end of your copy, and maybe at intervals throughout, insert a call to action (CTA). I’ve written twice on this blog about CTAs, and they’ve been very popular ever since I published the posts.

    If you haven’t read them before, they’re certainly worth a read:

    Please let me know what you think of my content writing tips by leaving a comment below.

    Thanks to flattop341Orin Zebesthairfreaky long hair and Jesslee Cuizon for making their images available through Creative Commons.

    Have you read these?

    Posted 27 November 2014, 10:46 am

  6. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Flexi Office Space launches in Hove!

    Hove Media Centre has opened its doors to freelances and entrepreneurs, offering office/desk space with likeminded creative, tech and freelance professionals. To celebrate the launch this month, Hove Media Centre are offering a massive 25% discount ...

    Posted 27 November 2014, 12:00 am

  7. Rob Mansfield: writing, telling stories and content strategy

    [Blog] Rob Mansfield: writing, telling stories and content strategy: Why don’t we ask for help more often?

    Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant is a fascinating book that looks at the difference between people who naturally give and those who are natural ‘takers’. He found that the least successful people in business tend to be ‘givers’, as you may suppose. However, Grant also discovered that the most […]
    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 26 November 2014, 6:56 pm

  8. shardcore

    [Blog] shardcore: @algobola II

    Algobola was an experiment investigating social contagion. Using twitter as a propagation channel, I introduced the ‘virus’ into the network, using myself as patient zero. I started the infection at 13:00GMT on 28th October 2014.

    I knew from the start that there was a danger Twitter would close it down, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Ironically, it appears my bot was automatically flagged and restricted by one of Twitter’s own internal bots – my bot was caught by a bot-policeman…

    However, before that happened it managed to expose over 900 people to the virus, each of them being notified via a personalised notice informing them of their changing status as their infection developed.

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    The parameters were modelled on Ebola, but modified to take into account the limited attention span of social media users. Once infected, the subject remained infectious to others for 72 hours. At that point, they either survived or died (30% survival rate). Twitter restricted posting rights of the account after about 70 hours, just before the first subject (me) died.

    However, even though I could no longer inform the victims, I could still simulate the infection and record the way it propagated through the network. Indeed I continued until Twitter completely stopped API access for the account on 4th November. By this point, 5230 users were exposed.

    What emerged is a fascinating chart of social media connections.

    I’ve made a visualisaton of some of the data I collected. Each dot represents a twitter user, and the connections between them indicate the vector of infection. Click ‘start’ to cycle through the first 120 hours of infection, or use the buttons to jump to a specific day. If you hover your mouse over a dot it will give you the name of the twitter user.

    Click here to launch the interactive view.

    Maybe you can find yourself in there.


    nodeanim

    What emerges is a rapidly exploding map of social interactions. It gives a quick visual representation of the different kinds of social media users – those who communicate with a select few, and those with a larger network of contacts. It exposes the interrelatedness of the twitter users – who their friends are, how often they communicate – all derived from a very simple analysis of the ‘metadata’.

    This stuff is sexy to both data scientists and governments. Which government wouldn’t want to harvest this data? As we live our lives on a connected, easily monitored infrastructure, these kinds of data become a convenient shortcut to our identity as individuals. To all intents and purposes we are our data. These kinds of data represent who we are. We are packets of data, flung into the ether, to be collated and analysed by giant server farms in hidden locations.

    Once the data is collated, it is algorithmically analysed. A digital report card is produced, and based on the desires of the enquiring party, ‘persons of interest’ are identified. Sometimes these profiles are produced by marketing companies, like Facebook, hoping to sell ever more granular descriptions of us to entities that wish to advertise to us. Sometimes these profiles are produced by government agencies, hoping to identify individuals as subjects of ‘interest’.

    In both cases, the raw data is the same. The data itself is benign until it is interpreted. It’s the algorithmic questions posed of it that produce the representations that humans actually use to make decisions. This recasting of information is possible because of the computational power available, it is necessary because the human mind is incapable of extracting inference from datasets of this size. An awful lot of trust is being put into this inscrutable algorithmic perception, and the track record in this area is not good.

    The real issue is one of ethics – Do we want our governments to do this? Is there any evidence that it makes us ‘safer’? How does a legal system deal with humans rendered as data? Do you have the same rights over our digital selves? What is the relationship between the data-self and the real-physical self?

    I shall be speaking about these ideas and more in Brighton next week.

    Posted 26 November 2014, 1:40 pm

  9. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Jumpstart Interactive receives Commendation in top national marketing awards

    Horsham-based creative and technology agency Jumpstart Interactive (Jumpstart) has received a Commendation in The Drum Network Awards. Competing against household brand names and major agencies, Jumpstart was runner-up in the highly-competitive category: ...

    Posted 26 November 2014, 12:00 am

  10. Entrepreneurial Geekiness

    [Blog] Entrepreneurial Geekiness: We’re running more Data Science Training in 2015 Q1 in London

    A couple of weeks ago Bart and I ran two very successful training courses in London through my ModelInsight, one introduced data science using pandas and numpy to build a recommender engine, the second taught a two-day course on High Performance Python (and yes, that was somewhat based on my book with a lot of hands-on exercises). Based on feedback from those courses we’re looking to introduce up to 5 courses at the start of next year.

    If you’d like to hear about our London data science training then sign-up to our (very low volume) announce list. I posted an anonymous survey onto the mailing list, if you’d like to give your vote to the courses we should run then jump over here (no sign-up, there’s only 1 question, there’s no commitment).

    If you’d like to talk about these in person then you can find me (probably on-stage) co-running the PyDataLondon meetups.

    Here’s the synopses for each of the proposed courses:

    “Playing with data – pandas and matplotlib” (1 day)

    Aimed at beginner Pythonista data scientists who want to load, manipulate and visualise data
    We’ll use pandas with many practical exercises on different sorts of data (including messy data that needs fixing) to manipulate, visualise and join data. You’ll be able to work with your own data sets after this course, we’ll also look at other visualise tools like Seaborn and Bokeh. This will suit people who haven’t used pandas who want a practical introduction such as data journalists, engineers and semi-technical managers.

    “Building a recommender system with Python” (1 day)

    Aimed at intermediate Pythonistas who want to use pandas and numpy to build a working recommender engine, this covers both using data through to delivering a working data science product. You already know a little linear algebra and you’ve used numpy lightly, you want to see how to deploy a working data science product as a microservice (Flask) that could reliably be put into production.

    “Statistics and Big Data using scikit-learn” (2 days)

    Aimed at beginner/intermediate Pythonistas with some mathematical background and a desire to learn everyday statistics and to start with machine learning
    Day 1 – Probability, distributions, Frequentist and Bayesian approaches, Inference and Regression, Experiment Design – part discussion and part practical
    Day 2 – Applying these approaches with scikit-learn to everyday problems, examples may include (note *examples may change* this just gives a flavour) Bayesian spam detection, predicting political campaigns, quality testing, clustering, weather forecasting, tools will include Statsmodels and matplotlib.

    “Hands on with Scikit-Learn” (5 days)

    Aimed at intermediate Pythonistas who need a practical and comprehensive introduction to machine learning in Python, you’ve already got a basic statistical and linear algebra background
    This course will cover all the terminology and stages that make up the machine learning pipeline and the fundamental skills needed to perform machine learning successfully. Aided by many hands on labs with Python scikit-learn the course will enable you to understand the basic concepts, become confident in applying the tools and techniques, and provide a firm foundation from which to dig deeper and explore more advanced methods.

    “High Performance Python” (2 days)

    Aimed at intermediate Pythonistas whose code is too slow
    Day 1 – Profiling (CPU and RAM), compiling with Cython, using Numba, PyPy and Pythran (all the way through to using OpenMP)
    Day 2 – Going multicore (multiprocessing) and multi-machine (IPython parallel), fitting more into RAM, probabilitistic counting, storage engines, Test Driven Development and several debugging exercises
    A mix of theory and practical exercises, you’ll be able to use the main Python tools to confidently and reliably make your code run faster


    Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

    Posted 25 November 2014, 6:11 pm

  11. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: Interstelling

    Jessica and I entered the basement of The Dukes at Komedia last weekend to listen to Sarah and her band Spacedog provide live musical accompaniment to short sci-fi films from the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth centuries.

    It was part of the Cine City festival, which is still going on here in Brighton—Spacedog will also be accompanying a performance of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos, and there’s going to be a screening of François Truffaut’s brilliant film version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in the atmospheric surroundings of Brighton’s former reference library. I might try to get along to that, although there’s a good chance that I might cry at my favourite scene. Gets me every time.

    Those 100-year old sci-fi shorts featured familiar themes—time travel, monsters, expeditions to space. I was reminded of a recent gathering in San Francisco with some of my nerdiest of nerdy friends, where we discussed which decade might qualify as the golden age of science fiction cinema. The 1980s certainly punched above their weight—1982 and 1985 were particularly good years—but I also said that I think we’re having a bit of a sci-fi cinematic golden age right now. This year alone we’ve had Edge Of Tomorrow, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Interstellar.

    Ah, Interstellar!

    If you haven’t seen it yet, now would be a good time to stop reading. Imagine that I’ve written the word “spoilers” in all-caps, followed by many many line breaks before continuing.

    Ten days before we watched Spacedog accompanying silent black and white movies in a tiny basement theatre, Jessica and I watched Interstellar on the largest screen we could get to. We were in Seattle, which meant we had the pleasure of experiencing the film projected in 70mm IMAX at the Pacific Science Center, right by the space needle.

    I really, really liked it. Or, at least, I’ve now decided that I really, really liked it. I wasn’t sure when I first left the cinema. There were many things that bothered me, and those things battled against the many, many things that I really enjoyed. But having thought about it more—and, boy, does this film encourage thought and discussion—I’ve been able to resolve quite a few of the issues I was having with the film.

    I hate to admit that most of my initial questions were on the science side of things. I wish I could’ve switched off that part of my brain.

    There’s an apocryphal story about an actor asking “Where’s the light coming from?”, and being told “Same place as the music.” I distinctly remember thinking that very same question during Interstellar. The first planetfall of the film lands the actors and the audience on a world in orbit around a black hole. So where’s the light coming from?

    The answer turns out to be that the light is coming from the accretion disk of that black hole.

    But wouldn’t the radiation from the black hole instantly fry any puny humans that approach it? Wouldn’t the planet be ripped apart by the gravitational tides?

    Not if it’s a rapidly-spinning supermassive black hole with a “gentle” singularity.

    These are nit-picky questions that I wish I wasn’t thinking of. But I like the fact that there are answers to those questions. It’s just that I need to seek out those answers outside the context of the movie—I should probably read Kip Thorne’s book. The movie gives hints at resolving those questions—there’s just one mention of the gentle singularity—but it’s got other priorities: narrative, plot, emotion.

    Still, I wish that Interstellar had managed to answer my questions while the film was still happening. This is something that Inception managed brilliantly: for all its twistiness, you always know exactly what’s going on, which is no mean feat. I’m hoping and expecting that Interstellar will reward repeated viewings. I’m certainly really looking forward to seeing it again.

    In the meantime, I’ll content myself with re-watching Inception, which makes a fascinating companion piece to Interstellar. Both films deal with time and gravity as malleable, almost malevolent forces. But whereas Cobb travels as far inward as it is possible for a human to go, Coop travels as far outward as it is possible for our species to go.

    Interstellar is kind of a mess. There’s plenty of sub-par dialogue and strange narrative choices. But I can readily forgive all that because of the sheer ambition and imagination on display. I’m not just talking about the imagination and ambition of the film-makers—I’m talking about the ambition and imagination of the human race.

    That’s at the heart of the film, and it’s a message I can readily get behind.

    Before we even get into space, we’re shown a future that, by any reasonable definition, would be considered a dystopia. The human race has been reduced to a small fraction of its former population, technological knowledge has been lost, and the planet is dying. And yet, where this would normally be the perfect storm required to show roving bands of road warriors pillaging their way across the dusty landscape, here we get an agrarian society with no hint of violence. The nightmare scenario is not that the human race is wiped out through savagery, but that the human race dies out through a lack of ambition and imagination.

    Religion isn’t mentioned once in this future, but Interstellar does feature a deus ex machina in the shape of a wormhole that saves the day for the human race. I really like the fact that this deus ex machina isn’t something that’s revealed at the end of the movie—it’s revealed very early on. The whole plot turns out to be a glorious mash-up of two paradoxes: the bootstrap paradox and the twin paradox.

    The end result feels like a mixture of two different works by Arthur C. Clarke: The Songs Of Distant Earth and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    2001 is the more obvious work to compare it to, and the film readily invites that comparison. Many reviewers have been quite to point out that Interstellar doesn’t reach the same heights as Kubrick’s 2001. That’s a fair point. But then again, I’m not sure that any film can ever reach the bar set by 2001. I honestly think it’s as close to perfect as any film has ever come.

    But I think it’s worth pointing out that when 2001 was released, it was not greeted with universal critical acclaim. Quite the opposite. Many reviewers found it tedious, cold, and baffling. It divided opinion greatly …much like Interstellar is doing now.

    In some ways, Interstellar offers a direct challenge to 2001—what if mankind’s uplifting is not caused by benevolent alien beings, but by the distant descendants of the human race?

    This is revealed as a plot twist, but it was pretty clearly signposted from early in the film. So, not much of a plot twist then, right?

    Well, maybe not. What if Coop’s hypothesis—that the wormhole is the creation of future humans—isn’t entirely correct? He isn’t the only one who crosses the event horizon. He is accompanied by the robot TARS. In the end, the human race is saved by the combination of Coop the human’s connection to his daughter, and the analysis carried out by TARS. Perhaps what we’re witnessing there is a glimpse of the true future for our species; human-machine collaboration. After all, if humanity is going to transcend into a fifth-dimensional species at some future point, it’s unlikely to happen through biology alone. But if you combine the best of the biological—a parent’s love for their child—with the best of technology, then perhaps our post-human future becomes not only plausible, but inevitable.

    Deus ex machina.

    Thinking about the future of the species in this co-operative way helps alleviate the uncomfortable feeling I had that Interstellar was promoting a kind of Manifest Destiny for the human race …although I’m not sure that I’m any more comfortable with that being replaced by a benevolent technological determinism.

    Posted 25 November 2014, 5:22 pm

  12. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: Getting on TV News – Geoff White – Internet Marketing Podcast #272

    In this week’s Internet Marketing Podcast Andy talks to Geoff White, echnology Journalist for Channel 4 News, about the importance of TV news. Geoff first talks about the way the news industry is evolving and the mutual reshuffling between TV, PR and the web. He then discusses the difficulty of getting onto the news and gives some advice for businesses and PR companies to get their stories onto the TV news.

    Post from Apple Pie & Custard blog by SiteVisibility - An SEO Agency

    Getting on TV News – Geoff White – Internet Marketing Podcast #272

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image
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    Posted 25 November 2014, 11:00 am

  13. Favicon Andy Budd::Blogography Articles

    [Blog] Andy Budd::Blogography Articles: Introduction to Value Pricing

    I think most designers would agree that design has a huge amount to offer businesses in terms of differentiating products, solving complex problems and delivering increased value to consumers. I think most designers would also agree that this ability is often ignored or seriously undervalued by those same businesses.

    Value pricing is an attempt to redress the balance by pricing work based on the value it delivers to clients rather than the time it takes to create. The argument goes that the value of a logo, like the Coca-cola logo, is often worth more than the hours that went into its creation. So whether the final creation took a team of branding experts 6-months, or was sketched on the back of a napkin during the first meeting, the value to the client-and hence the cost-should be the same.

    This can be best illustrated by the fable of the plumber, who when asked to fix a boiler, pulls out her hammer, hits the boiler in exactly the right spot to get it working, then asked for £100. When the homeowner questions how she could justify such a high charge for so little work, the plumber responds by saying “that was £10 for me hitting it with the hammer and £90 for knowing where to hit”. The implication of this story is two-fold. First off the plumber wasn’t charging for her time on the job, but for all the years of training that led up to that point, and ultimately the customer wasn’t paying for the time either, bit for a working boiler.

    It’s a great story and one that makes a lot of sense. After all, there are plenty of circumstances where you care more about the output than the time it took you to get there. In fact with time being so precious, getting there quicker can often be worth more. This is one reason why Concord was always more expensive than a 747, and why some people will pay more for an abridged audio book than the full version - because they value their own time over completeness.

    Designers often struggle to price projects based on the value of their work, so typically sell their time instead. As such, the only way to earn more money is to increase their day rate or sell more hours. So when you see news stories of that latest multi-million dollar rebrand, you can’t help but wonder whether all that time was strictly necessary to come up with final logo, or whether it was the agency trying to justify extra revenue through unnecessary focus groups and consultation.

    By contrast, value pricing takes elapsed time out of the equation and tries to focus on outcomes instead. That way it doesn’t matter if it takes one month to solve the problem or six if the problem still gets solved to the clients satisfaction. If you’re good at what you do (read “efficient at solving problems”) you’re able to generate much more profit than simply billing on time alone.

    Value pricing seems to require a little more work up front as you need to spend time understanding what the client values before you can come up with a figure. For instance, are they willing to pay more for the project to start sooner, or for access to specific experts. Are they looking to hit specific revenue targets by a certain date, or are they more interested in developing out the capabilities of their team? Do they need every page designed and built, or would some kind of pattern portfolio deliver more value? Now none of the questions are exclusive to value proving, but you do need to spend more time uncovering these issues when you take this approach.

    Value pricing also seems to imply fixed scope contracts, as you need to define exactly what value you’re proposing to deliver to what price. So there’s an interesting question as to whether value pricing can work alongside agile practices.

    On the whole I think value pricing is a very interesting concept and one that I’ve seen come up more frequently over the past few years. Possibly because designers are feeling ever more squeezed to produce more for clients on less. So I can definitely see why people are attracted by the concept. However I also see a number of challenges with this approach, not least that fact that it’s not how the majority of agencies price their work.

    In my next post on the subject of pricing I’m going to flag up some of the issues I see with value pricing. Then I’m going to look at the more traditional approach of time-based pricing, paying particular attention to agile pricing. Finally I’ll end things up with a short summary and a list of places you can go to find out more information on this subject.

    Posted 25 November 2014, 12:25 am

  14. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Brightwave Senior Learning Designer elected as eLearning Network Board Director

    Brightwave is delighted to learn that Caroline Freeman, Senior Learning Designer has been elected to sit on the eLearning Network Board. The eLearning Network (eLN) is a non-profit organisation with over 3,000 UK and international members. It exists ...

    Posted 24 November 2014, 12:00 am

  15. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Man Bites Dog scoops PR Agency of The Year at the B2B Marketing Awards

    Man Bites Dog, the multi-award winning B2B communications consultancy that specialises in integrated marketing communications, has been awarded PR Agency of the Year at the B2B Marketing Awards. Man Bites Dog was appointed category winner based on ...

    Posted 21 November 2014, 12:00 am

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