FigDigEst: 22 May 2015

by Jessica Ramesh

In this week’s round-up of digital things we follow the US President and look forward to the arrival of an emoji for bacon

POTUS posts

History was written, or rather Tweeted, this week when US President Barack Obama opened his own Twitter account: @POTUS (President of the US). ‘Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account’ posted Obama, whose profile describes him as ‘Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States.’ While previous Presidential accounts were maintained by White House staff, this one, it’s promised, will be live and direct from the man himself. There’s already been a cheery exchange between Obama and Bill Clinton, whose wife Hilary is in the running for the next Presidency. ‘Does that username stay with the office?’ Tweeted Bill under the hashtag #askingforafriend.’ ‘The handle comes with the house,’ confirmed Barack, and suggested that Bill might like to use @FLOTUS (First Lady of the US) should Hilary become POTUS. Within five hours of opening, the account had acquired 2.26 million followers, setting a new world record. So far Obama is following 65 accounts – including White House workmates, former Presidents and his team the Chicago Bulls. A Tweet from the account of America’s other president – Francis J Underwood from House of Cards – was slightly less cordial than Clinton’s. “Welcome, @POTUS. You’re late.”
Run programme

Announced this week is the news that Spotify will be adding video, podcasts and more personalised playlists to its offering. No surprises there, you may feel. Potentially more intriguing, however, is a feature designed specifically for runners. Chief Product Officer Gustav Söderström explained that sensors on your phone will be able to detect the speed at which you’re running and then select tracks with a BPM to match. Not only that, but Spotify is working with artists to create new music which responds to your speed and adjusts accordingly. Tech Radar quotes Söderström at Spotify’s New York media event earlier this week: “This isn’t simple beat stretching. The composition itself seems to rearrange to fit your current pace.” Artists involved include Dutch DJ and producer Tiesto. Could we be looking at a future in which personalisation doesn’t just involve tailored playlists and recommendations, but where music, movies, even the plotlines of electronic books, respond and alter according to users’ physical and emotional states?

Skip ad

While we’re on the subject of interactivity, we were impressed this week with an innovative new online ad for Volkswagen, which lets viewers control how much of the commercial they want to watch. Created by AlmpaBBDO to reflect VW’s customised trucks, the ad tells the story of a VW truck driver who describes a meeting with his ex-girlfriend. Viewers can hit the ‘Press to end’ button at any time. The ad comes to a finish and yet the story is structured to make perfect sense. Shot in Buenos Aries and available in an English and Portuguese version, it’s a novel format which cleverly exploits our propensity to skip through video content and showcases some crafty copywriting. Watch it here.

Emoji rising

Emoji, according to research released this week, is the UK’s fastest growing language. Professor Vyv Evans from Bangor University claims the system is evolving faster than ancient visual languages such as hieroglyphics. The study, undertaken with TalkTalk, found that 80 per cent of us use the digital symbols to communicate and four in ten people send messages made up of nothing but emojis. The research follows Domino’s recent announcement that US users can order by Tweeting a pizza slice, and WWF’s move to allow users to donate using emojis. Ikea and Foolocker also have their own emoji sets. The Telegraph reports that 38 new emoji symbols will be launched as part of the Unicode 9.0 update next year. These include bacon, a selfie and a wilted flower. Here’s TalkTalk Mobile’s guide tomastering emoji. And here’s Mashable on why most of us don’t know what we’re doing.

Backlinks: stuff we’re liking

Wired: The Dawn of a New Creative Economy

Vice: Is the Internet Making us Overinspired?

Social Media Today: Negative Comments and Reviews Could Be Good for Your Business

Watch the first trailer for Michael Fassbender’s ‘Steve Jobs’

Peter Dinklage Sings Ode to Dead ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters