BBC crash map

18 December, 2009

Being a sucker for statistics I was taken by the BBC’s presentation of the last 10 years of road accidents based on official statistics released by the Department of Transport. The data presentation, which includes 2008, allows the viewer to select various criteria to see when accidents happen to certain people.

Age, sex, vehicle type, weather, it’s all there and you can enter your postcode to see how the pattern of death on the roads changes year by year. Not by much is the answer, although it is visibly reducing in my area, in spite of the huge increase in traffic over the last 10 years.

Inevitably the overview section covers some of the factors contributing to the improvement in road safety (or the cut in deaths) – “Research shows that 20mph zones can cut injuries by 40%” states one of the captions – oh really? Driving slower cuts fatalities, who knew?

Automotive technology has to make an impact on 2009's statistics.

I wonder if the UK scrapage-scheme’s effect will be noticed in next year’s figures? All these regular people driving round in brand new Euro NCAP 5 super minis where once they had rusty old Astras or Puntos. Technology advances will surely have a measurable effect – all that clever CAD, active safety systems and 21st century materials science must cut fatalities – otherwise technology isn’t serving its purpose and science isn’t being correctly applied.

Anyway my recommendation this Christmas is to be a woman cycling in the snow at about 6am on a motorway – what could possibly go wrong?


Tweet wars

14 December, 2009

Twitter and social media has always been used by the police to keep an eye on the less than intelligent ones who decide to brag about whatever crimes they may have committed , but now it’s been taken to the next step with the news on The Next Web that gangs in New York are using Twitter to arrange fights and generally wind each other up.

One tweet said ““I knoe bi**hes from oyg that would dead mob yah s–t in harlem,”  wrote one girl.

Erm, yes, what she said.

The obvious drawback is that the Police can see who is saying what, despite the profiles being made private, although they’re also trying to confuse the police by using complicated slang which has certainly bewildered me.

I doubt this is the first case where fights or worse have been arranged through Twitter, but it’s the first time that I’ve heard about it, and I’m sure Twitter will follow the lead of Microsoft and Google by giving the Police access to data to help them out.

Photo from

Who is the techie now?

26 November, 2009

My heart leapt this morning at a headline on the front of the DT “Women now ‘better with gadgets than men’”.  At last, recognition that men are not as technologically superior as they think they are.

For some years I have repaired hoovers, programmed set top boxes, sorted out heating timers etc without problems.  However, go into an electrical shop or camera store and I am treated as if I am a moron. I often find I know more about the product than the salesman because I have researched online before going into a store to ask a few more questions, but they still treat me like a two-year-old.

Okay so I don’t use all the features available on my new mobile phone but then I don’t need to. It does what I want so I’m not fretting about what I don’t use.  And maybe that is the difference. Women will be happy when the technology is doing what they want it to but men feel compelled to look into all features available and that is when the “85 per cent of men no longer considering themselves the most competent member of the household.”

Equality, if not superiority, at last.

When PR stunts go wrong

30 October, 2009

There have been some truly memorable PR stunts that will stick in the mind forever and that raised the awareness of a particular campaign or company beyond all expectations. The tourism Queensland advert for the ‘best job in the world‘ being one. However there are some that should never have left the meeting in which they were conceived.

The latest attempt from Latvia falls into the latter category.
A mobile phone operator decided (for no conceivable reason) to hoax a meteorite crash which resulted in the military and emergency services being called out to investigate. The company said that the stunt was intended to ‘distract attention from the country’s economic crisis and give people something ‘creative and exciting’ to talk about.’

Well they’ve certainly done that.

The Latvian Government didn’t see any funny side though and have cut its ties with the company and the police have said they will be launching an investigation that could result in criminal charges.

I’ll admit that in various brainstorms at EML we’ve come up with some pretty daft ideas that we’ve all had a giggle at. But these ideas were just that, daft and instantly filed as such. Instances like this make you wonder just how the idea got all the way through the company and approved by those at the highest level without someone thinking it might just not be such a good idea.

Spark to the imagination

29 October, 2009

A picture may paint a thousand words but what I enjoy are the images that spring to mind from snippets read in a newspaper, and this week I have had two corkers.
The first was a letter in the Telegraph on the subject of what grandparents are called by their children’s children. It was an ongoing chain of letters that only DT readers (and Wogan listeners) could come up with.  However, the one that made me chuckle was the computer literate grandmother who was known as ‘technogranny’ to her nearest and dearest. Robotic granny on speed is the image firmly planted in my brain on this one.

The other was the poor lad in Luton with his 14” TV and wonky aerial booster in his bedroom when he receives a visit from Ofcom. Apparently it went onto a frequency that was blocking communication between planes landing at Luton and air traffic control.  He now has now television but at least he does not have a garden full of Airbuses.

Twitter shows off its artistic side…

16 October, 2009

TweetPhoto, the real-time photo sharing site and branch off from Twitter, today saw inky illustrator Johanna Basford use the photo sharing platform to create one of her distinctive black and white silk drawings with a ‘social networking edge’.

The work was described as ‘documenting the internet’s hive mind’ (Metro). The artist was open to item suggestions from Twitter users to be included in the drawing by simply tweeting any item they’d like to see in the finished picture along with the hashtag #TwitterPicture.

Basford accepted suggestions for two days to be included in #TwitterPicture. The finished illustration can now be found at her TweetPhoto page, it includes all sorts of miscellanea including a sumo wrestler, Marmite and garden shed.

I’m not sure how a rag doll, tap dancer and flying pig represent the social networking frenzy in which we now live, but what a great way to get people involved in your art – even if it is just a lame PR stunt.

It’s great to see art evolving and adapting to the technology available today, not just in terms of how it is created but how it is viewed and shared. Artists and graphic designers can reach viewers globally and without having to pay fees to display in contemporary galleries. Basford’s business initiative is displayed clearly with #TwitterPicture and sets the stage for a new generation of artists within the media.


#TwitterPicture will be made into limited edition silk screen-prints and will be put on sale next week. Along with each signed and edition numbered print, there will be a Twitter Artists’ Certificate, detailing the name and suggestion of every person who contributed to the pieces creation.

Come with me if you want to live!

16 October, 2009

I actually quite like the theory that the large hadron collider is being sabotaged by its own future, as nicely summarised by Dennis Overbye in the New York Times this week.

"God... rather hates Higgs particles and tries to avoid them."

"God.. rather hates Higgs particles and tries to avoid them."

I was actually in Geneva a week or so back at a conference, I was wondering then how long it would be  before they’d found enough clean helium to fire it all up again.  Bad choice of words perhaps, anyway, now we know – ‘soon’.

The theory that the particle they are trying to create in Switzerland is being thwarted by nature itself, in a sort of Terminator go-back-in-time and fix-what’s-broken mode, is brilliant.

I rate this photographer’s images and sounds from within, they are a little old but it puts an interesting 360 degree perspective on the project and you can actually hear the engineers working, nice touch.