What I did in 2015

Like anyone who works in “internet”, it’s easy to become a bit hard-to-define in terms of what you actually do. It gets extra-specially nebulous when you do a bit of writing & talking on the side of your day job that’s sometimes also about the internet but in a different way. Describing what I do as “internet soothsayer” on my Twitter bio probably doesn’t help…

So, to make things a bit more tangible: here’s what I did in 2015

Published writing

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  1. Review of Keller Easterling’s ‘Extrastatecraft‘, ICON (Feb)
  2. The Ghost Grid of California City, Medium (Aug)
  3. Atomic California: A strange desert road trip on the trail of the father of American rocketry, Roads & Kingdoms (Sept)

This year my writing’s circled back to my Masters degree in urban geography (UCL ’08) – “modernity, space and place” was in fact the name of that course at the time, and here I am still writing about infrastructure and failed utopian planning dreams. Themes of haunting and unease also date back to that time.

2015 was also a venture into the personal essay: pieces #2 and #3 are both travel writing, based off a road trip with urban explorer Bradley Garrett and poet-adventurer Wayne Chambliss. This blast through the California desert comprehensively shattered my writer’s block and set off a chain of interest which is likely to be the major part of what I write in 2016, too.

Talks

untitled-19 Unlike the writing, these were all about social media and the impact of network culture. Nos. 1 and 2 were based mostly in my personal thinking and reading  – nos. 3 and 4, I had my work hat on.

  1. ‘Enter The Cybercattle’ round table discussion, Thomas Dane gallery, with Robin McKay (Urbanomic), Benedict Singleton, and Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths). “What dislocations of the subject, what disruptions of the process of individuation are administered by a global system of ‘self-organization’ piloted from blank, inaccessible facilities such as the one modelled in John Gerrard’s Farm?” (March)
  2. Aerials symposium in Toronto, on “Organizational feats of balance, agility and co-ordination in a networked world.” (October)
  3. Five big challenges in commercial social media research, UCL Bartlett (November)
  4. Tomorrowism by the Design Lab, London, talking about how to navigate an increasingly visual social media culture (December)

Other stuff

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  1. Talked with artist Rosemary Kirton about Tumblr culture, especially  as part of her ‘Stacktivism’ residency at the White Building. Read her essay on “Soft Culture” here.
  2. Wrote eleven issues of a Social Data Signals newsletter, with Francesco D’Orazio
  3. Finally really got into Instagram, and started writing extended captions to my photos (deserts, mountains, cities, books). It’s de facto where I’m blogging, now

Other blog posts

Again four out of five are social media related thinking, the last three with my work hat on:

  1. Hunting Rebecca Francis: understanding the practices of one of America’s top big game hunters – the tiny 115lb woman, Rebecca Francis – through anthropological theory and Amerindian perspectivism
  2. How to get into trend forecasting: I’m not strictly speaking a trends bod – my work is more broadly consumer insight and service design research – but this Tumblr how-to post got a bunch of thank-yous from grads
  3. #classy: taste, status and performative hashtags on Instagram: The rules of self-promotional hustle, or how not to look #thirsty on IG.
  4. 23 Things You Never Knew You Could Market With #Llamas: Building a typology of how people and brands engage with flash-in-a-pan Twitter memes
  5. #WhatIsLovein4Words? Investigating how a trending Twitter hashtag spreads, minute by minute

At work

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I’m an Associate Director at research consultancy FACE in London. Key projects this year were:

  1. Exploring gender differences across 1m Twitter conversations in how people think about getting places & use maps, to find ways HERE could better reach a female audience
  2. New product development for Spotify, using social media listening to find hyper-emotional music moments
  3. Analysing the performance of Straight Outta Compton and Fantastic Four in social, for Twitter
  4. Global hair trends for Unilever to shape their haircare innovation pipeline
  5. Profiling the aspirational Millennial customer in digital for Bacardi – with results that rewrote their entire strategy for how to reach this audience
  6. Repositioning FACE through a website redesign and full copy & creds rewrite (facegroup.com)

So that was 2015.
Here’s what I did in the first half of 2014.
What I wrote in 2013

If I now make much more sense to you and you’re interested in potentially working together on a talk / essay / project,  wahey! Contact me at hautepop@gmail.com.

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