A month or so ago, W+Kers and visitors to 16 Hanbury St will have noticed a new addition to our reception, in the humble form of a pin board with some bits of card stuck on it. This is the home of Handy Little Thing - an informal way for W+Kers to share their knowledge with others on a topic they're passionate about.
We're keeping it lo-fi with an old school noticeboard system of pens, pins and cards. W+Kers, our friends and our clients who have a skill or interest to share fill out a card for the board, and those who are interested can sign up to learn about it. A talk is then arranged, allowing everyone to share their skills, learn some new ones, have some laughs, and maybe even make new friends in the process.
Handy Little Thing is off to a roaring start, with topics such as UX, flower arranging, promoting personal projects, and Catalan culture on offer so far. Nice.
The inaugural Handy Little Thing talk kicked off yesterday, with Planning Director Theo, who enlighten us on 'how to be a powerpoint ninja'.
It takes someone with great wit, humour and congeniality to make the MS Office Suite sound even remotely interesting, but as his slides were met with laughter, clapping and sharp intakes of excited breath (we're not even kidding), it became very clear that we were in excellent hands. With his focus on personal presenting style, simplicity, and a generous number of easy technical tricks, we couldn't have asked for a better talk to kick off the project.
Watch this space for regular updates on the handy little things we'll be sharing!
Over the past couple of weeks, the average age of the W+K office has dropped sharply, due to a series of educational visits from various corners of the world.
We hosted students from the Universities Oklahoma and Delaware and West Herts College, Watford, who stopped by to check out our offices and get a feel for the ins and outs of adland, thanks to presentations by creative Jason & Joris and Mark & Paddy.
To top it all off, our ECDs Tony and Kim gave a talk for the D&AD New Blood festival, allowing soon-to-be ad grads to lap up a little of what life is like here at W+K.
Students from West Herts with our Vikki and our Guy.
We were delighted to receive a rave review from the University of Watford, who wrote on their ad course blog:
“There were lots of treats at the agency on Friday. Guy Featherstone, self-confessed skate boarding sneaker head and soon to be Head of Design at W&K Portland, treated us all to a talk about his design philosophies. Amazing stuff it was too. Vikki Kottler treated us all to breakfast. […] As always, the W+K experience was truly different, immensely inspiring and hugely enjoyable."
By now, the emotional rollercoaster that is the World Cup feels like it's been going on forever, but boy are we going to miss all the fun after this weekend's final.
Back at the start of the tournament, in the heady days before goalpocalypse (yes, that semi final shocker of a score), we unveiled a thematic window installation titled World Cup Wishes. It features 3000 traditional Brazilian 'Senhor de Bonfim de Bahia' wish ribbons with a sporty twist arrnaged to spell 'football' in Portuguese, with each ribbon carrying the wish of a football fan or a reaction to the latest drama on the pitch.
The window – much like the tournament – is still going strong, with crowds of curious passers by and football fanatics stopping by throughout to grab their own wishes.
We made a video that captures the whole thing. Enjoy!
Don't forget, you can still tweet your wish with the hashtag #WorldCupWishes, and you may find your own message on display in time for the final.
He followed someone into our Wilkes Street office yesterday and was caught on video. One of our laptops was stolen from the desk shown below at exactly the time this man gained entry to the office and, judging from the video footage below, it looks like this gentleman may be able to help the police with enquiries in connection with the theft.
He comes into the building, tailgating someone who has unlocked the door, and sits by the door, apparently to case the joint. First of all he checks out the laptop by the window but that's secured and not easily removable. At around 1.10 he goes over to one of our desks and, concealed by the pillar, seems to put something in his carrier bag. Then he makes a swift exit. When our staffer returned to the same desk a few minutes later, his laptop was missing.
Clearly there are lessons here for us about our security measures, and this just shows how vigilant people need to be in any office open to the street.
This guy may be local and known in the neighbourhood, so if anyone reading this recognises him, in his Nike Airmax T-shirt (how aggravating is that, given that Nike is a client), then we'd love to hear from you. If you have a business in the area you may want to watch out for him.
And, if this is you in the video, and there's an innocent explanation for what you were doing in our office, then please let us know and of course we'll take down the video.
Our office looks surprisingly tidy through the lens of photographer Paul Barbera, who stopped by recently to capture 16 Hanbury St for his project Where They Create, a visual documentation of creative working environments around the world.
For more glimpses of life inside W+K London, click here.
With everyone staring and pointing at the metal and plastic unibrow it's hard not to be self conscious. It being very orange probably didn't help. Not exactly inconspicuous. And it gets hot. Like mega hot if it's doing any sort of processing at all, which also runs the battery down in minutes. And it doesn't really do anything useful just now. And it's madly expensive.
But it's easy to get very excited about how its clunky star trek style, overheating and general lack of utility will disappear in future iterations leaving a slick, smart, and capable device with a number potential uses only limited only by the ingenuity of app creators.
Having tried Glass out I understand how incredible a tool it could be for situations where remote assistance is important. Glass included in a medical kit to enable a specialist to assist a doctor or untrained bystander in an emergency. Like an upside-down 'Mechanical Turk', the device providing smarts (from another person or artificial intelligence) leading a real person who brings the dexterity and understanding of the environment that's so hard to recreate in a robot. Telepresence is a powerful tool with many applications.
And wearing Glass for just a couple of hours I'm now also sure society will quickly become accustomed to devices like this, with understood rules on when it's appropriate to leave them in your pocket, even if just they make the average person initially uncomfortable today.
But trying Glass brought to mind these wider questions about wearables and portable computing that I found super interesting. I don't have answers, so if you've any thoughts please do comment below.
Remembering vs. what actually happened.
The first thing many people asked was if it was recording. Did you see this?
Your experience of an event as it happens and how you remember that same event are different. Really different. Dan Ariely put it well when he said "One of the ways time works in our favour is to help us forget or misremember the past in a way that makes us feel better about ourselves."
Sensors like Glass record everything exactly as it happened. But your memories are the main moments sequenced into a coherent little story. This story might not be quite true, events might not even be in the right order, stuff is missed out, and importance is weighted towards the strongest (happiest, most painful, most exhilarating) moment and how you were feeling at the end.
What happens to someone with fast, easy and 'always-on' access to what actually occurred in its entire unedited, unsympathetic detail? How often is your memory a more pleasing version of the real event? Would sticking with memory instead of the recorded reality leave you more or less happy in life?
Interacting with wearables.
Glass is bit of a contradiction. Very private with a screen only you can see. But Glass has the least private and subtle methods of control as it currently is.
"OK Glass". Everyone in the room knows what you're searching for. Reach up to your head, make twitches and winks or other obvious tics and your friends are bound to see. Using a touchscreen might seem antisocial but it wins hands down for keeping things private.
Iris tracking might make these interactions more private and robust, or some completely different way to interact with the device will solve this problem. But the current ones don't work well in public situations.
(I once had a lunch with one of the Google team that was developing voice recognition and automated speech. He was adamant that the reason people didn't use voice to control devices more was all down to it being imperfect. He suggested that if you made the algorithms accurate then everyone would use it. I didn't agree then, and still don't now. For me the lack of privacy when using voice as a control method is a major issue. But then I am rather shy.)
Flow - the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task - is considered a strong contributor to creativity. I can't think of a better tool to bring yourself out of flow than a set of glasses pushing the latest social media update straight into your eyes.
"Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking of it," wrote Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow. An omnipresent screen is making you consider that information as it arises. With that always going on how can anyone correctly prioritise their focus?
Are devices like this are actually making us more productive in the most valuable way? Sure, it'll help if you've a long stream of little things you have to do. In this case the timely reminders can certainly be useful. But shouldn't computing be helping by doing these small tasks for us, rather than controlling our day to make sure they get done?
This would free all of us up to do what people still do best: creative and conceptual thought, and problem solving. Surely that should be the ambition of technology and innovation, rather than just a more complex way to keep yet another list.
Next Friday afternoon, 16 May, all of us here at W+K London will be logging off, lacing up our Nikes and setting off on a 10 mile walk. It's a chance to spend an afternoon together, get some fresh Spring air and explore our neighbourhood.
But most of all, we're doing this for a very good cause very close to our hearts: we're walking in memory of Cheryl, our beloved friend and treasured colleague, who we lost in January. Cheryl worked with us for over 10 years and pretty much embodied what our agency is about. She was creative, kind, hardworking, tons of fun and an incredible optimist, and we miss her tremendously.
With this walk, we're raising some funds for St Joseph's hospice to help them help others like our dear Cheryl. St Joseph’s is a charity based in Hackney providing a team of specialist doctors, nurses, social workers and volunteers to provide care for anyone with serious and life threatening conditions. We're big supporters of the hospice and everything they do for our community, so if you'd like to help them continue doing the great work they do and put an extra bounce in our stride as we walk, we'll send you a big virtual W+K hug in return for your kindness.
We've made donating to St Joseph's super easy by setting up a W+K London JustGiving page. Any amount is welcome, no matter how big or small. We're just grateful for your support.
Oh and if you see a troupe of us walking around Hackney next Friday, be sure to give us a wave and cheer us on.