Figaro Digital Friday Digest: 10 April 2015

by Jessica Ramesh

This week FigDigEst waddled away from the chocolatey embrace of the Easter break and into a week marked by Twitter tunnels, free beer and emoji controversy

Free beer, probably

Are there any more delightful words in the English language than ‘free beer’? FigDigEst can think only of ‘free beer dispensed right there from a tap in the wall. Look. Here’s a glass.’ This week Carlsberg endeared itself to the bearded and bunned of Shoreditch by erecting a billboard on Brick Lane emblazoned with words ‘Probably the best poster in the world’ and dispensing free lager. Created by Fold7 and Mission Media, the press lapped up the story – and the beer – though drinkers were limited to one glass each and there was a security guard on hand to stop things getting messy. What’s interesting about Carlsberg’s advertising over the years is the extraordinary power it’s managed to invest in the unprepossessing adverb ‘probably’. The brand’s instantly identifiable tagline ‘Probably the best lager in the world’ was coined by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1973 and was originally voiced by Orson Welles. In 2011 the slogan was retired, possibly because ‘probably’ evinces a subtlety alien to the net. FigDigEst is glad to see it back, and wonders idly about the SEO potential of ‘free beer’.

Around the world in 300 emojis

American commercial artist Harvey Ball designed the classic yellow smiley in 1963, which swiftly became linked with the phrase “have a happy day”. The yellow emoji, which is now an essential element of messaging technology, was supposed to represent a “generic (nonhuman)” default, according to an article by The Washington Post. But this week Apple unveiled 300 new emojis for iPhone and iPad users, responding to comments on their lack of diversity. iOS 8.3 now has six different racially diverse skin tones to choose from, which take their classification from the Fitzpatrick Classification scale—a numerical plan for human skin colour. There are also 32 additional national flags, and updated gadgets like the Apple Watch. Journalists and Tweeters alike have been quick to point out the flaws of the new update. The BBC commented, “Where are the brunettes? Or non-white gay couples? They appear to be under-represented in this ‘diverse’ world of technology”. Another popular complaint stemmed from the distinct lack of representation for Mexican food.

Harvey Ball smiley

Apple Watch reviewed

This week’s Apple Watch news is that you can actually buy – or at least pre-order – the device. In a canny bit of product placement, Drake was snapped at Coachella Festival with one prominently wrapped round his wrist. In truth, it’s not the device itself which has generated so much interest in the tech press and beyond, but what it represents. “It wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology,” noted The Verge. “But that ambition robs it of focus.” Here’s the Telegraph’s review of reviews. And here’s our review of the review of reviews: maybe wait for the next one.

Give us a quote

Twitter got a little more flexible this week with the launch of its ‘Retweet with comment’ feature. This lets users embed previously posted Tweets into their own, thereby extending – or at least circumnavigating – the 140 character limit. Commentary on quoted tweets is limited to 116 characters, and we await with interest to see how users respond to the new functionality. On Tuesday the Guardian started digging its way through a labyrinthine network of what it dubbed ‘Twitter tunnels’: “Wormholes of quoted Tweet upon quoted Tweet, like climbing the never ending staircase of an Escher creation.” Or, to put it another way, stories. After all these years, FigDigEst retains a certain ambivalence towards the ruthless brevity of Twitter. Which we’ll take as an excuse to share this infinitely wonderful post by writer Ali Catterall: After years of study and meditation, I’ve finally divined the Meaning of Life, and wish to share it on Twitter. It’s very simply this: “If w

Phone sweet phone

According to a YouGov poll of 2,090 consumers, the average British household now owns 7.4 internet devices. If you think you couldn’t live without the internet or your mobile phone, then this study proves you are not alone. Not being able to control banking and finance remotely was the biggest issue that consumers could see for the non-connected home, with 51 per cent of the adults surveyed highlighting it. Forty-two per cent noted the necessity of keeping up with current events, and 38 per cent said that being able to shop online and via mobile was essential. Thirty-seven per cent mentioned the ease of being able to keep in touch with family and friends. Also interesting to note is the rise of tablets, with four out of 10 households buying one in the last year, and 11 per cent owning three or more.

You can skip this ad in 5

If these words put you in a huff, you might be happy to know that YouTube is planning to launch a subscription service that removes advertising. Bad news for channel owners though, who will have to make their videos “private” if they don’t sign up, making it nigh on impossible for them to be stumbled across. Google-owned YouTube will reportedly make the service available by the end of the year.

Move over, Apple

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi set a Guinness World Record this week, after selling 2.11 million smartphones in just 24 hours as part of a“major flash-sale initiative” on Mi.com. Despite Apple’s alleged sale of 10 million iPhones in one weekend last September, the record for most sales on a “single online platform” stays with Xiaomi. Sorry Apple.

Backlinks

We’ve rounded up some other recent stuff you might have missed from around the web and made it into a list:

Ad Age: There is no more social media – just advertising

Telegraph: The one who spends (wisely) on social media will win the General Election


Social Media Today: beer brewing and inbound marketing: the surprising similarities

Guardian: How can privacy survive in the era of the internet of things?

Compiled by Estelle Hakner and Jon Fortgang.