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.
Went to see Michael Craig-Martin at the Serpentine. Very good. Very short. Exhibitions seem to be getting shorter.
Great colours. I've always been rubbish at colours so for a while now I've been saving pictures and taking photos of good colours and making colour palettes in illustrator when I get the chance.
I went to the Wired Retail conference late last year.
Drones are a huge distraction
Over half the presentations mentioned drones or drone delivery. This feels like a huge distraction to me. We're a long way off from that working in towns and cities (maybe not rural areas). Policy makers are struggling with self-driving cars, which is a much simpler problem set than drone delivery in built up areas.
This is way more interesting anyway.
Everyone referred to real shops as "offline".
Offline and online. That's it. That was the clear view of the new digital businesses.
This is a talent war and resources are scarce
Ocado were very impressive as you'd expect. They have 600 developers and they are recruiting a similar number this year. Likewise Zalando. Zalando? You might not have heard of them. Started in 2008 now has a $3billion turnover. Get hiring now.
Platforms, platforms, platforms
Ocado - our business is a big pipe that gets things to your home
Zalano - ""The platforms in China were so connected," Gentz said. "So they’re already able to deliver consumer experiences that are far beyond what we get in Europe." More here
This was recommended to me over Christmas. The one on the left about English Architecture, not the one on the right about Dulwich. Although the Dulwich Estate have a decent track record when it comes to modernist housing, we'll leave that to another time.
Space, Hope, and Brutalism: English Architecture, 1945-1975 is massive, heavy and fascinating.
I found some history of the Co-op which was relevant to my interests.
Remarkable to think that in the 50's the Co-op Insurance Boss went on architecture tours in the US to seek inspiration.
And fascinating to learn that the furniture and decoration were designed by Design Research Unit.
Here's a bad photo of the back of that building. Must get myself a proper tour.
There is more interesting stuff about a Co-op in Sheffield, but I'll save that for another post.
Design Research Unit, they keep popping up, don't they?
I've spent all Christmas fiddling with my blog layout, which you should never do, to get it to work on a phone. Which it does now.
It just looks rubbish everywhere else.
All I really want is the simplest possible layout with one column, one typeface and one size, one colour and the odd bit of bold. Fully responsive and with decent line lengths on big screens.
But I'm stuck on Typepad and I don't think anyone works at Typepad anymore. But then I don't think anyone reads this anymore just Russell and Famous Rob.
Anyway, this is proper blogging. It's like it's 2008 all over again.
"It usually comes down to a choice between two ways to go: this way or that way.
And all the thinking won’t tell you which is best.
So just pick one, it doesn’t matter which, and go with that."
Have a good 2016 everyone.
On Pinboard I tag a few links with the year in case I get round to blogging about it over the Christmas break.
Looking back through various bits of social media it seems like I had the most fun on Instagram.
So here are some interesting links from the 2015 tag interspersed with random Instagram pictures.
Nick Asbury highlighted the ridiculousness of Andrex trademarking a five-step “Clean Routine” as an example of mission escalation in brands.
There was a fascinating profile of Jony Ive in the New Yorker. Fascinating, like any peek behind the curtain at the world’s largest company, although I’m always aware of how distorting Apple is an example. One of the most startling bits for me was Ive’s love of Josef Frank, the Austrian-Swedish designer of floral fabrics.
Cat Scans of the underground Mail Rail tunnels in London. What’s not to like?
Creative Review wrote a good summary of the controversy Volvo LifePaint caused in Adland. I can see the debate from both sides, but what comes across strongly is how ridiculous the marketing profession looks. As Matt Jones said to me many years ago “you had a brilliant idea like that and you wasted it on advertising?”
Nick Clegg speaking two months before the election and the Lib Dem’s huge defeat. “Westminster is a joke. PMQs is a joke… The fact we’ve got a democratic system that isn’t democratic… Of course it’s ridiculous.”
Elon Musk didn’t like the school his kids were at, so he started his own. Of course he did, he’s a crazy billionaire. But this article is still interesting on teaching in general.
“Let’s say you’re trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying, ‘we’re going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches.’ This is a very difficult way to do it.”
Instead, it makes more sense to give students an engine and then work to disassemble it.
“How are we going to take it apart? You need a screwdriver. That’s what the screwdriver is for,”
Ad blockers made lots of news in Adland. Ad people seem to think the problem is bad ads, when of course the problem is just ads. This is a good example of the snow blindness of that debate.
UsTwo continue to be brilliant, doing interesting things in smart ways. Redefining what a digital design agency can be. Here's one small example launched before anyone else did it. An open source framework for smart watch designs.
Marketing Week begin to realise that “engagement” is bloody annoying. “consumers don’t want brands involved in any of this stuff. They just want a coffee, or a burger, or to be able to use their credit card to buy a pair of shoes.”
I’m not into cars, but I’m a big fan of Tesla as a business. It’s another agile internet business that makes the existing companies look like dinosaurs. The Guardian sums it up well, “I drove the Tesla S last week and it offers such revolutionary solutions to so many of the oily problems that bog most manufacturers down that you wonder what on earth they’ve all been doing.“
Daniel Craig gave some very punchy interviews when the new Bond film came out. This one is good.
“What could we learn from James Bond that would help us in our day-to-day lives?