Worthwhile links – Mixed bag edition

Hey there

Let’s get stuck in shall we?


“Organisations with little digital experience ask me what the role of digital is. That’s the wrong question. The question should be “how should our organisation operate in the 21st Century”. In the 21st Century digital technologies are an ordinary, everyday part of people’s lives. In this context it’s important to understand what digital is.”

Phil Dearson’s - What is digital?

I find this one of the most useful starting points for a discussion about digital’s place in the overall mix.


Zuckerberg Confirms: A Mobile Payments System Will Come To Facebook Messenger

No, not now, but it’s in the pipeline. With such a large install base on people’s mobile phones, it’s easy to see how Facebook could become a retail transaction giant. A quick update of their app that includes support for platforms like iBeacon and they’re well on their way to bridging into the physical world where they know even more about you, opening a whole new world to retailers and brands.


#DataVisualisationGoodness: NYC Taxis: A Day in the Life

This visualization displays the data for one random NYC yellow taxi on a single day in 2013. See where it operated, how much money it made, and how busy it was over 24 hours.


Can code be creative? I’ve been perplexed about why a debate still rages in the marketing ether around this question, so I’m going to try to set out a simple point of view here and see how it goes.

BBH’s Chief Digital Officer Mel Exon nailing it: The creative value of code is no longer in question – so why the lingering doubts?


The Owner’s Manual for the 21st Century Organization - Bud Caddell

If you work for a large organization, chances are you’re working in an organizational structure designed for the railroad era, not the information age. Silos, umbrella-like structures, layers of middle management, centers of excellence, business units, et al – these were evolutionary bets of an age where geography was the greatest driver of business complexity, and they were bets that for a time paid off. But no longer.

Today, your abilities to test hypotheses, process vast amounts of information, and the speed in which you can truly seize emerging opportunities are everything. In an age of unprecedented uncertainty, with organizations mired in their own complexity, only the responsive will survive.



More organisational theory interestingness from Gigaom:

The Enterprise Architect as Enterprise Ecologist - James Urquhart

Summary: The days of diagrams showing exactly how everyone (and everything) should work together and dictating how information should flow within an organization are, in a real sense, over.


The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect - Wired



The World’s 17 Best Print Campaigns of 2013-14 The Grand Prix and gold Lion winners from Cannes - Tim Nudd


Excellent collection of print ads


How Creative Hobbies Make Us Better At Basically Everything - FastCompany

They’re not just diversions from the daily grind – Creative play can make you better at what you do at work.



Some incredible (and ridiculously crazy) photos of Hong Kong.

During the last one and a half years, we have visited Hong Kong several times. We have been to so many places and now I have to admit that Hong Kong is a place where I would like to live. A year and a half ago, after visiting Singapore, I assumed that it was the real paradise, but I was mistaking.

Hong Kong is an unbelievably beautiful city and it makes you willing to come back. People there are kind and responsive. You feel respected no matter if you are local or a foreigner. Moreover, the main thing for me is that I never get bored there. The rhythm of life is comparable to Moscow. However, unlike Moscow, Hong Kong only retained the best of it.

In this post, you can find photographs from five different trips. Here we have tried to place only the best shots.



That’s it for this week,

Take it easy

Scott (@thescott)



Data visualisation – pros and cons of a fad

Over the last few years there’s been overwhelming interest in the visual display of data – “Infographics”(blue line) took off as a search term in the late 2000s and has been growing in large volumes ever since. It’s no coincidence that “big data” (red line) took off at the same time – we live in a data age, and the implications (and excitement!) of this are reaching people who never considered themselves “number people”, all thanks to the accessible artistry of data visualisation.

History of Data Visulization


Source: Google Web Trends

A good data visualisation is a truthful picture that not only pleases the viewer, but intrigues them, and leads them further into the topic; however the wildfire spread of interest and enthusiasm for data visualisation hasn’t always been good for the field.

A large chunk of the blame lies with graphic designers. For the most part, a portfolio-building graphic designer with little real interest in data will want to exclude messy data – all too often, they become attached to a particular, attractive silhouette, and will exclude those inconvenient data points that spoil the design. Inconvenient text such as axes, labels, scale and data annotations are often ditched for the same reason. These beautiful, over-designed visualisations are usually smoothed and redacted so much that they barely resemble the data they claim to show – they barely resemble the truth.

Designers without data passion will also be guilty of poor citation (if any citation at all). A good data visualisation is supposed to start the data journey, with citations carefully laid out to become “rabbit holes” for the intrigued viewer. Too many beautiful visualisations start and end with just the pretty picture.

And those pretty pictures can get quite weird. Edgy, ground-breaking designs sometimes hold innate contempt for the user – think of a chair that is beautiful, elegant and redefines the very concept of a chair, but is unstable and uncomfortable to sit in. You wouldn’t sit in it, would you? That makes it a pretty useless chair.

Innovation in data visualisation has the same risk – contempt for the user leads to beautiful design objects of no practical use whatsoever.
Anyone designing a visualisation should be testing it on their friends, colleagues and elderly grandparents to iron out misleading design elements. “I can’t tell whether this is good or bad” or “What does that line even mean” are design problems to be addressed, not users to be scoffed at.

Then of course, there are the lazy infographics, long strips of words and texts that are more about typography and colour coordination than useful information. Basically these are the factoids on the back of a cereal box, repackaged for the design generation. Don’t grant them your respect or attention – they don’t deserve it.

infographic data vizulisation

Phil Gyford, 2010

It’s not all bad though! The data visualisation renaissance has been fantastic for ditching old chart tropes, bringing joy of data to a larger group of people and bringing new minds into data communication. A growing body of sharp-minded enthusiasts are collecting infographics as a hobby, and starting to say “I want to do this stuff for a living”.

There are longer-term implications – all these graphics need data to exist – by popularising data visualisation, we are popularising data sources and therefore promoting data access, encouraging universities, governments and global non-profit bodies to make their data freely available. The inspiration doesn’t stop there – web designers and engineers are inventing and testing the limits of entirely new tools like D3, a free JavaScript visualisation library.

But best and most importantly of all, we’re increasing the likelihood of evidence-based decision-making now that data isn’t so distasteful, and that’s good for everyone.


Justin Spratt discusses how Social Media provides opportunities for business in Africa

CNBC Africa invited Justin Spratt, MD of Quirk Africa, to share his thoughts on how Social Media provides opportunities for Business in Africa. You can see the  full interview below.


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