I bought an Amazon Dash button last week. Obviously.
Ordering one is easy enough, it costs £4.99 which gets deducted off your first purchase.
I chose Andrex as that’s the only brand I could us using in this household. We don’t really buy the other brands listed.
Setting it up isn’t as simple as I’d expected. Takes a few goes, lots of bluetooth syncing issues. Many other tech things have this issue, but it felt like a big overhead for some toilet rolls.
You can choose which Andrex product you’d like from a small range. In common with Prime Now and Add Ons and other speedy Amazon services it seems like there’s a minimum spend of around £15. That’s a lot of toilet rolls.
I pressed it late Thursday night and on Saturday morning 45 toilet rolls turned up.
A completely customisable one would be incredible.
Presumably that will come.
It looks awful.
Looks ok in the photos, but it’s bigger than you think and there would be no way I’d want this in my bathroom stuck on the wall. The logos are just too ugly. That’s an odd thing to write when bathrooms are notoriously filled with ugly logos and I could conceivably change my mind with subtler logos. This isn’t just a designer’s comment. It feels weird.
The experience is strangely cold. And I'm an easily excitable early adopter type.
Two points here:
1. I press a button and 24 hours later the thing I want arrives on my door. It knows exactly which one I want, it knows my address and it debits my account. That is an incredible experience.
2. Nothing really happens when you press the button. A little green dot flashes. 24 hours is a long time to wait for something to happen after you’ve pressed a button. It’s all a bit of an anti-climax.
This raises all sorts of awkward questions for brands and “customer experience” people. The worst thing Amazon could do would be to layer on lots of meaningless jokes and ideas. An app you had to fire up that had an animation of Andrex puppy loading a lorry would be an awful idea - for example. But you can imagine the temptation.
The experience is brilliant, really. Maybe the button needs to make a noise. Maybe we’ll just get used to it. I am not advocating more "brand experience". Far from it. Please don't write a think piece claiming I think Amazon needs more "brand experience". I don't.
Maybe it's just feels odd because it's a new behaviour. I could imagine a dozen of these in a garage, or maybe an airing cupboard and on Sunday afternoon you go round pressing them as required.
It feels like it would be more magical if they played with the economics, and there is much more eloquent writing on the economics, innovation and marketing impacts of this from Simon Wardley and Matt Webb. This is a snowflake on an iceberg controlled by Amazon.
And remember, “in the future every product will carry a buy button."
One last thing. Whether you love this or hate this, the point is that Amazon is a company that can make this happen and almost no one else can right now.
I did my first Parkrun on Saturday. 5 sunny kilometres around Dulwich Park.
I loved it. Great atmosphere. Good fun.
Parkrun is a phenomenon there are about 150,000 runners every Saturday all across the globe. There were about 200 people in Dulwich.
This is old news but it’s a real internet enabled, ground up community. It’s free, you can register online and then you get a printed barcode and therefore a time, but you don’t have to, you could just turn up and run. Staffed by volunteers.
The rules or operating principles to setting one up seem to be: Saturday 9am, 5k, in a park. That's pretty simple.
It's a lot less intimidating than joining a running club. A bit like blogging used to be "networking for shy people" you could see how this could be a running club for shy people. It's more diverse than a running club too, a variety of ages and speeds. Not massively diverse, but that might just be the park I was in.
Using the network to good effect. Creating shared online and offline platforms.
One of my highlights of the year is visiting the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This year wasn't great to be honest, but still an enjoyable way to spend a morning.
This is progress. Don't say I didn't warn you, one year and two days ago.
I want my lounge to look like this.
The Hockney exhibition, which you can't take pictures in, was amazing.
I went to see Melvyn King, ex Governor of the Bank of England, interviewed by Will Hutton last week. It was more interesting than I thought. King spoke very calmly and was able to explain complicated concepts with great simplicity. The book would make a good read.
He said many interesting things.
He finds it odd that we had the biggest financial crisis for generations and yet we haven’t changed any of the things that caused it to happen. Similarly he said it was odd that none of the financial stimuli we’ve tried of the last 8 years have worked and yet we still keep using the same methods.
Asked about banks being too big to fail, he said “Too big to fail and too big to sail and too big to jail”. He explained it was very hard to prosecute banks as they operate complex operations across many countries. Too big to sail - even banking CEOs admitted they were too big to run properly.
“Capitalism has gone rogue. People don't trust it anymore." Will Hutton
“…trust is crucial. You don't bring a poison tester to a restaurant, you have to trust them.” Mervyn King
"The idea that it's fun to make money out of people who are less smart than you is corrosive.” MK on investment bankers
“there's a lack of purpose in business” WH
MK asked what it felt like to be in the middle of the crisis “a 0-0 draw can look very exciting on MOTD if you only show 2 minutes of headlines. Mostly it was boring meetings that dragged on and on”
MK on quarterly reporting “the quarterly thing is madness”
Not an optimistic evening.
Earlier Benedict Evans tweeted this.
And I replied.
Finish booking and you get a screen with a nice big booking ref. The number you have to input to collect your tickets. So far so good.
You are offered the option of adding to your calendar. This is useful.
Adds to calendar, looks like this.
The vital booking ref is now buried in the description. Which is obscured when you look at the calendar. This is especially annoying when you're trying to collect your tickets at 7am and you have your phone in one hand and your credit card, needed for verification, in the other.
So I always replace the word train with the booking ref. Instead of saying "Train to Manchester Piccadilly" I put "4CK7JLL2 to Manchester Piccadilly".
Looks like this in my calendar.
Why can't the booking site do that for me?
I have never understood those football diagrams that supposedly tell you what’s happened in a game. How a goal was scored or whatever. And even when I think I’ve understood them I’ve never been sure what the point of them is.
This is a good example. I watched this game, this goal was a free kick that was curled around the wall.
In America they have a programme on NBC that shows live Premier League matches, equivalent to Super Sunday (or something) on Sky in the UK. On NBC the programme is called Extra Time. They display the name of the programme in the top right hand corner of the screen for the duration of the match. This screenshot was taken 71 minutes into the game.
Last year I was interviewed by the Sorrell Foundation for their series on Creative Journeys.
They asked me how I ended up in full time employment as a designer and which subjects I studied at school to enable that. Trust me, it’s a very boring story.
But I know through my work with UAL and speaking to the Sorrell Foundation that not enough kids see a path from enjoying sketching and drawing and stuff to a full time job in design. Which is a shame.
The Sorrell Foundation does fantastic work to try and redress this. It’s National Art & Design Saturday Clubs run over 400 clubs every Saturday for 14-16 year olds. Find out more here and get involved.
The film was shot last year which is why I say I’m Director of Design at GDS. There are other videos with people like Bob and Roberta Smith and Cecilia Weckstrom Global Head of lego.com. She has the best business card.
In a meeting in Mountain View the other day someone said "would it pass Larry's toothbrush test?".
Larry Page likes to judge new products and services by asking this question. It means can you imagine this being used twice a day, all over the world. It's a nice piece of rhetoric.