September 23rd, 2008

The difference between iCrossing, where I’m freelancing at the moment, and other new media agencies where I’ve worked, is that when someone finds something interesting on the internet they don’t say “that’s cool!”, they say “that’s going to get loads of links!”.

Search is in the blood here, and there’s a lot for me to learn.

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Confirmation bias on the web

September 12th, 2008

There’s such a diversity of opinion on the web that you’ll always be able to find a point of view that matches your own.

Add to this our innate tendency to weight evidence that supports our POV and discount contrary evidence (“confirmation bias”), and I’m left thinking that we are probably innately unable to research objectively on the web. Look long enough and you’ll find ‘evidence’ to back up your preconceptions, whatever they are.

This was highlighted to me in a workshop I ran recently with mothers on social behaviour online. Parenting is an arena of strongly held feelings about what is right personally, as well as deep insecurity on whether parents are doing the ‘right’ thing. Mothers, it turns out, like the fact that they can go online and find people with the same processes and ways of coping because it gives them confidence about their own strategies. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the best strategies for them, it’s just confirmation bias in action.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these aren’t the best strategies either: they could be, but it would be more by luck than judgement. This, perhaps, is no bad thing if we are to follow the gut-feeling rule for making complex decisions. Although even under this rule, mothers could probably save time time by not even bothering with the internet and doing whatever they feel is right.

Large Hadron Collider

September 8th, 2008



August 24th, 2008

<klaxon noise!> There’s a new Neil Stephenson novel out next month: Anathem. Wired has a slightly too long feature. Snip:

Set on a planet called Arbe (pronounced “arb”), Anathem documents a civilization split between two cultures: an indulgent Saecular general population (hooked on casinos, shopping in megastores, trashing the environment—sound familiar?) and the super-educated cohort known as the avaunt, or “auts,” who live a monastic existence defined by intellectual activity and circumscribed rituals.

I’ll definitely be reading it, but I can’t help wondering if he’s stepping rather too firmly on Iain M Banks’ toes with this kind of plot line. All sounds a bit Against a dark background to me. And I can probably do without the rather obvious sci-fi as commentary on modern life that seems to be going on. Still, we will see.

Out September 1st.

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August 23rd, 2008

I have to tell you: today whilst freestyling our way through Richard Scarrys Best Storybook Ever (“Ruby, what can you see?”), Roo pointed at the cute little android on the page and said “Robot!”.

I’m not sure where she picked it up from; certainly not from me. But my circuits were glowing with pride.

That’ll do, Roo.

Reformat the Planet

August 20th, 2008

For one week only, the chiptune documentary Reformat the Planet is available in its entirety at Pitchfork. Terrific, nostalgic stuff. More info here.

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Friends’ sites

August 2nd, 2008

Time to respond to some link requests and spread the robotperson Google butter. Here are some sites by friends of mine that you might find interesting:

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7 links

August 1st, 2008

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July 29th, 2008

This is worth a post in its own: TR2N (that’s Tron 2 – goik!) is on its way. Here’s a tiny, surreptitiously cellphone-cam bootlegged version of the trailer, although it looks more like a single preview sequence to me.

Tron is revered at Robotperson towers as anyone that has been admitted to the inner sanctum (I/O tower?) can tell you, so this is news of the most exciting variety.

What I want to know now is what is Jeff Lebowski doing on the game grid?

Adios Detica

July 24th, 2008

Last Friday I left Detica, the consultancy where, for the past year, I’ve suckled at the corporate teat. Lara has always said that it’s possible to tell whether you’re going to like a job within the first week of being there. If I had trusted that instinct I would have been out a lot sooner.

My decision wasn’t down to any one single factor, but special mention must go to the working environment. It was dull there. Sober and uninspiring. In a private joke that probably says much about my character, my laptop password was Greyscale.

I ask, what kind of agency makes the creatives wear the same shirt and trouser uniform as the management consultants? In my bleakest moments it felt like I was in invasion from the TM Lewin dimension (corporate discount available!).

Truly, honestly, it was the least enjoyable job I’ve ever had. Not actively unpleasant, just bland bland bland. All the more bizarre really, given the individual approachability, intelligence, and all-round affability of just about everyone there. But somehow the pervading vibe about the place was oppressive.

Still, no sour grapes ;-). Thankfully I’m at a point in my career where I know what I want: Interesting projects, responsibility, vibrancy, a bit of stimulation. Surely not too much to ask?

Freelancing now beckons (more on this soon – as well as increased output), so wish me luck. All that remains is for me to thank everyone I’ve worked with there, and I look forward to seeing you all, hopefully, in the near future.

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