Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, August 31, 2007

Editorial: New online abbreviations

David Pogue, personal technology correspondent of the New York Times, has compiled a list of new and emerging online shorthand. Can't say that any of these are familiar, but no doubt they will do so, quite quickly.

* GI -- Google it

* MOP -- Mac or PC?

* FCAO -- five conversations at once

* IIOYT -- is it on YouTube?

* DYFH -- did you Facebook him/her?

* BIOI -- buy it on iTunes

* CMOS -- call me on Skype

* GGNUDP -- gotta go, no unlimited data plan

* WLF -- with the lady friend

* JUOC -- jacked up on caffeine

* 12OF -- twelve-o'clock flasher (refers to someone less than competent with technology, to the extent that every appliance in the house flashes "12:00")

* SML -- send me the link

* RHB -- read his/her blog

* MBLO -- much better-looking online

* KYST -- knew you'd say that

* NBL -- no battery left

* CTTC -- can't talk, teacher's coming

* TWD -- typing while driving

* CMT (CMF, CMM, CMB) -- check my Twitter (Facebook, Myspace, blog)

* CYE (CYF, CYM, CYB)-- check your email (Facebook, Myspace, blog)

For iPhone owners:

* SPLETS -- send pics later; Edge too slow

* CSVUI -- can't send video, using iPhone

* BPWMI -- boss playing with my iPhone

* SIK -- sorry, iPhone keyboard

* OOM -- out of messages (for iPhone users who haven't upgraded their AT&T "200 messages a month" plan)

* WIWYA -- when I was your age

* YKT – you kids today

* CRRE -- conversation required; remove earbuds

* WDO? -- what are you doing online?

* NIWYM -- no idea what you mean

* NCK -- not a chance, kid

* B2W -- back to work

* AYD? -- are you drunk?

* LODH -- log off, do homework

* DYMK? -- does your mother know?

* IGAT -- I've got abbreviations, too


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


1. 26 recommendations for August are here.

2. Open House weekend is rapidly approaching. For those who don't know, the eponymous charity every year manage to persuade over 600 buildings in London to throw open their doors for eager architectural busybodies to have a snoop round places normally inaccessible. This year's event is over the weekend of 15-16 September.

Such building voyeurism is only possible thanks to volunteers to act as stewards and guides, and as ever, there's a need for more people. Bonus is that, once you've done a shift volunteering, you can jump the queue at other buildings. So it's well worth doing. You can sign up here.

This year, should you wish, you'll be able to come and find me at 120 Fleet Street, the old Daily Express building, now one of the homes of Goldman Sachs.

3. The Corley Conspiracy is also rapidly approaching. A new opera by Tim Benjamin of Radius, and directed by Sean Starke, it has been comissioned by the London Design Festival (itself also rapidly approaching...), and is on at the Purcell Room between 19-21 September.

26 (OK, me) are helping out by looking after the programme, which will feature discussions on the themes of privacy and surveillance that the piece touches on. You can get tickets from the Southbank centre now.

4. Adam Murphy, talented animator and much more besides, has a show of his portraits, sketches and street scenes opening in Oxford from this Sunday. It's called 'Character' and is at the Jam Factory. In an added bonus, Adam will be around for a lot of the show to capture visitors' likenesses. Go see.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Capsule: Please be true

The Daily Swarm reports that:

My Bloody Valentine, the legendary sonic sculptors of feedback and tremelo who helped define the shoegaze movement only to disband after releasing just two full length albums, is set to make its first live appearance in more than a decade at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA in April, 2008. According to sources in the United States and the United Kingdom who are familiar with the negotiations, the band is close to signing a deal that will see a reunited My Bloody Valentine headline Coachella, scheduled for April 25–27, before embarking on a world tour sometime later in 2008.

Oh. My. God. This actually sounds credible. Yikes! Yippee! Etc!


Friday, August 24, 2007

Listorama: Addressing abbreviations

As sourced from Monocle, while going through the subscription process:

Apartment: APT
Avenue: AVE
Beach: BCH
Boulevard: BLVD
Building: BLDG
Canyon: CYN
Center: CTR
Circle: CIR
Court: CT
Crescent: CRES
Crossing: XING
Department: DEPT
Drive: DR
Expressway: EXPY
Falls: FLS
Field: FLD
Floor: FL
Fort: FT
Gardens: GDNS
Harbor: HBR
Heights: HTS
Highway: HWY
Hills: HLS
Island: IS
Junction: JCT
Lake: LK
Landing: LDG
Lane: LN
Lodge: LDG
Mount: MT
Mountain: MTN
Office: OFC
Parkway: PKWY
Penthouse: PH
Plaza: PLZ
Point: PT
Post Office Box: P.O. BOX
Road: RD
Room: RM
Route: RTE
Square: SQ
Station: STA
Street: ST
Suite: STE
Terrace: TER
Turnpike: TPKE
Valley: VLY


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Editorial: Tabloid feelings

Another from the occasional department that is, "Those pesky Guardian Unlimited sub-editors taking the michael". This gem was online about 5pm on Monday afternoon.


Monday, August 20, 2007


Some more bits and pieces that have crossed the radar in the last week or so:

- A new gentlemen's style blog, from the owner of the excellent Murdock barbers in Shoreditch

- Travel widgets from STA

- Beautiful, radical watches with impossible interfaces, designed by Sea Hope

- Cheat Neutral, a new and punchier take on carbon offsetting, which hammers home a radical point using a clever juxtaposition

- An 'ideas' generator, which does seem to be more of an excuse to put three words together

- An excellent post by Matt over at Punt about how it possible to trade on Big Brother. You don't have to watch much of it, thankfully.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Listorama: Facebook status updates vol 2

BetaRish is...

wondering whether he really has become a market fundamentalist, without noticing
leaving for Zoo Station
back from Berlin
barely functioning
no longer in The Thick of It
just backward of square
boing boing boom cha
enjoying hugely ‘Indian Summer’, not only for the fine prose style, but also the fact that it’s light enough to carry on the tube
Helvetica Neue
climbing slowly
considering the viability of paramedic kitties
Lost for Words
floating on wings of desire
often wrong
mainlining electricity, thanks to Spiritualized
silenced by tickling
a real bobby dazzler
recovering from dreams
somewhat tarty, when it comes to social networking
unsure of where to take things next
now sticky, thanks to Moo
regretting the run he went on this morning
stuck for something to put here
wondering why Studio 60 got cancelled, as on the evidence of episode 1 it’s fab
up to 7km, with no apparent ill effects
after some magic love pie
trying to find some new words
perhaps perhaps perhaps
trying to work out how to travel through time. It’s harder than it first appears
waffle-y versatile
10% schnapps, 10% whisky, 30% raspberry beer, 5% nurofen, 30% water and 15% a yet to be discovered substance
attempting the glamour chase
signed, sealed and delivered
having ashes for breakfast
enountered, briefly
suprised nobody has picked up on the spelling mistake yet
now talking in his sleep
you know, whatever, really
not quite sure why India didn’t enforce the follow-on
damp, misdirected
wishin’ on the sun
Lazarus Man
star dagger hash
stealing sunshine
up far too early for a Sunday morning


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Capsule: In memoriam - Tony Wilson, 1950-2007

Much has been said about the creativity, influence, intelligence and passion of Anthony H Wilson, who died last week at the age of 57. Amy at Tapeclub makes the wise point that, for many of us, he was one of the people who got us thinking - seriously thinking and thinking seriously - about popular culture: what it means, where it should go, how it is influenced by critical theory, how it is shaped by changing mediums, how it changes lives, cities, industries.

Three observations:

1. They really don't make 'svengalis' (which he really wasn't) like this any more. Oh sure, there are plenty of people hustling and running around doing interesting things, but there appears to be no-one with an overarching scheme or plan to pull the strands together. Or maybe culture is just too fragmented for that to be possible any more?

2. We live in post-Wilson world now, in the sense that we give due prominence and significance to pop culture, but without applying any significant critical intelligence to it. An ever-expanding amount of commentary and coverage does not equate to insight.

3. Would a figure like Wilson be able to put their city or region on the map now, in the way that he did for Manchester? From this vantage point, it is hard to see how we can avoid London being too dominant and over-mighty in our cultural discourse.

Listening to 'Wrote For Luck' this morning, I again was struck by this Ryder couplet:

You use to speak the truth.
But now you're liar.
You use to speak the truth.
But now you're clever.

which in some way sums up the myth and craziness that surrounded Wilson, qualities which will - no doubt - burnish his legend.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Some assorted bits and bobs for your delectation:

1. Action movie cliches - you know've seen, well, yikes, all of them at some point or other. I wonder if anyone can put them all into one single film.

2. John Sadler, in a piece in today's Grauniad lamenting the generally banal state of footballing punditry, has some gems of Ronglish from an earlier age, thanks to managers such as Ivor Powell and Ron Saunders. Favourite here is Powell's:

"Without doubt, one of the secrets of our successful season was the harmonium in the dressing room."

3. The O2 Cocoon is generating soft and post-launch awareness through a targeted blog campaign; that is to say, the phone has been sent to some influential bloggers, including Amelia Torode and PSFK, who are then encouraged to write at the O2 Cocoon blog.

My interest? I wrote the Cocoon's user and quick start guides. Haven't been sent a phone yet though...


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Commercial: The Nut Hut

The Nut Hut. Does what it says on the shell. Sells nuts. And lots of them.

But I am intrigued by The Hut's logo. Intellectually, I know that the squirrel is meant to be holding some form of nut. But emotionally it appears that he (and it has to be a boy squirrel) is wearing a boxing glove.

Why? Are we going to have to fight him to get our fair share? Seems a bit agressive, just for some nuts.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Commercial: Mooooooooo!

We all love MOO. We all love their cards and their stickers. The Guardian loves MOO too. And, after an email from him last week, I love Little MOO lots and lots. If it was not August and colder, I'd dissect the tone of voice properly, but as it is summer and sunny, just wonder as to why more companies can't be as warm and friendly as this:


I'm Little MOO. We've spoken before, I'm the piece of software that
manages your order with MOO.

I've done a Very Bad Thing.

Don't worry - your StickerBook will be fine, but I might've lost the
information that tells the real life people at MOO what colour cover
you ordered for your StickerBook.

I might only be a piece of software but I am embarrassed and I do
feel like a bit of an idiot. If you do get the wrong cover for your
book, please accept my apologies and know that someone has fiddled
with my insides and fixed them, and it won't happen again.

In the meantime, I hope you love the Stickers you ordered.

Very best wishes, and sorry again,

Little MOO.

Yes Little MOO, you are forgiven.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Capsule: Paul Schrader and 'The Walker'

Last week, American writer and director – and possibly the last of the auteurs – Paul Schrader gave a Q&A session at the Ritzy, Brixton, following a screening of his latest film The Walker. The film itself is sinuous, with what surely should be an Oscar-nominated turn from Woody Harrelson, but ultimately lacks some bite. Some of the reasons why became clear in Schrader’s answers. He also had some interesting things to say about the film industry and the nature of writing for the screen in general.

- “The Walker is American Gigolo 25 years on; the services he offers now are social, not sexual – and he’s out of the closet now.”

- “The older the character is that your film focuses on, the harder it us to finance it.”

- "I’m interested in the drifters in society; they are in it, but are not in it. They work in metaphorical professions, and almost always wear a uniform.”

- “From Taxi Driver to American Gigolo to Light Sleeper to The Walker, this character has mellowed with each film. From angry to narcissistic and now superficial.”

- “The film became more political over time as the atmosphere in Washington became more fascistic. There was no way to ignore the vindictive nature of the regime.”

- “A character is always more interesting when there is a contradiction involved. It means that people don’t always act in their interests. So, in The Walker, the question is, ‘Why is this character still in Washington?’. DC and Salt Lake City are the last two places in the USA where sexual hypocrisy is maintained.”

- “The Walker is a character study: nothing happens to him, but around him. There needs to be enough plot to keep a sense of narrative and a sense of resolution… basically, just enough to stop people walking out.”

- “Originally Steve Martin and Julie Christie were to be in the main roles in the film.”

- “The writing starts with a problem, and something that can become a metaphorical centre to the film. As I believe that screenwriting is part of the oral traditional rather than the literary one, I tell the story to people. I tell and retell to people, and try for about 45 minutes. If you have someone’s attention for that long, you’ve got a movie. You can pretty much tell after a half hour.”

- “The script has to be paced. I know what has to happen on every page before I start writing. If I get too particular part too early, a line of dialogue on page 71 rather than 73, then I want to know why.”

- “The twentieth century was the century of movies. But now it’s over, and movies will never have the same importance ever again. Films are now mutating into new audio and visual forms, and everything is fragmenting. We’re heading somewhere new, driven by technology and what the internet is doing to our attention spans.”

- “I don’t think I’d try to be a director if I was 21 now. I’d try to figure out what was ahead of the curve. In a way, movies are just biding their time now.”

A report on Schrader's Q&A at the NFT can be found here.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Linkorama: Marketing and architecture, honesty and 'shit'

Some various bits and bobs for your delectation:

1. Advertising Age has listed the top 150 marketing and advertising blogs - indeed has found well over 300 of the blighters. Is there anyone who will even claim to have a skim of more than a fifth of these?

2. A reminder from Rob Walker at Murketing as to the power of 'honesty' as a marketing angle, and another reminder that the best and most wholehearted critiques of the profession come from within the profession.

3. Annie Choi has penned an open letter to architects, declaring that she is 'sick of their shit'. From Pidgen, a review published by the Princeton School of Architecture, via Tapeclub. Thanks Amy.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Editorial: Self-castrating beavers

The following is, I contend, the funniest paragraph ever printed in the Times Literary Supplement. If you disagree, please provide evidence to the contrary. The article it comes from is here.

It may often seem as if Isidore, like a bad search engine, offers little or no control over all this material. Certainly, much of the “information” he provides is (from a modern perspective) blatantly false, albeit entertaining. For instance, we are assured that “Beavers (castor) are so-called from castrating (castrare). Their testicles are useful for medicines, on account of which, when they anticipate a hunter, they castrate themselves and amputate their own genitals with their teeth”. Isidore lifts this detail of natural history straight from Pliny (backed up, in this case, by a number of other ancient authorities, including Aristotle and Juvenal). As with the internet, written testimony takes on a life of its own – even in cases where you might think it would be better to go out and look at some beavers. That thought seems not to have occurred to anybody for several hundred years: the story of the self-castrating beavers was still current in the seventeenth century, and was mocked by Thomas Browne in his wonderful analysis of ancient errors, the Pseudodoxia Epidemica of 1646.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Commercial: A world without billboards

Originally uploaded by Tony de Marco

David Ogilvy once said:

"As a private person, I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard. Where every prospect pleases, man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard. When I retire from Madison Avenue, I am going to start a secret society of masked vigilantes who will travel around the world on silent motor bicycles, chopping down posters at the dark of the moon. How many juries will convict us when we are caught in these acts of beneficent citizenship?"

Sao Paulo has created a city without posters. It is beautiful.

And then, missing the point, Sky come along and use it as a backdrop for an advert.

That arrogance of thinking is why advertisers are not much liked.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Commercial: Advertising cocks

No, not that. Nor indeed promotions for hens. Instead, Charlie Brooker skewering various preening poltroons in paid-for commercial messages. Enjoy.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Commercial: The Seven Deadly Sins of Digital

As listed by Iain Tait, they are:

1. Tamagotchis
2. Screensavers
3. Interfaces that look like the tops of desks and tables
4. Desktop assistants / characters
5. A virus
6. A 'viral'
7. Starting a list of seven things and not counting how many you've got.

What's your seventh?