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Tattoos - Just musing on Body Art at work

19th November 2018

Working in Audio Visual with all the techies & geeks, the fans of SteamPunk & CyberPunk, with many who have found their career in the AV industry through their love of music, tattoos and piercings, earlobe discs and "interesting"  hair, were subjects for discussion way before the current change in social norms. And, indeed, some of the change has been rapid: it seems only a few years ago that virtually every white-collar man had to wear a suit to work (and it was mostly men, really it was); even after the 1960s many women in the workplace could not be so brazen as to sport pierced ears, (let alone show a diamond hovering over a nostril - the horror!). And where now beards on men are not even worthy of comment, less than 10 years ago they were considered a complete no-no and employers demanded the clean-shaven cheeks of a new-born!

These days it's almost de rigueur to sport at least one tattoo and for many The Sleeve, covering an arm in design, is purely & simply a "personal (and financial!) choice". Hand tattoos are becoming more & more common and although facial adornment seems, for the moment, to have stalled at piercings, it's no-longer unusual to see a butterfly fluttering its (often slightly blurred) wings around the neck and up towards the cheek.

So, how has this affected the workplace?  Has there been a change in perception, a new leniency toward visible body art? 

Interestingly, although there may be some slight changes in individual company perspectives there has been no change in the law and, you may be surprised to hear, there is nothing preventing an employer from not hiring, or even firing, someone solely on the grounds that they have visible tattoos (The only protection remains one of religious intent but I can't for the life of me think of where this might apply anyway!). 

So, perhaps there is still the perception that those in a customer facing role, meeting & greeting, acting in an "ambassadorial capacity" for their employer, should be ink-free, no blemish to the skin be allowed on view, no barbell through the septum glinting cheekily above the now almost mandatory Shorditchian beard.  Will this change? In a few years time, will we not be at all surprised to find acrobats leaping over a Minoan bull emerging from the collar of her uniform, as our potential new Manager walks us into the interview room?

And just in case you don't believe me, I've attached the link to HR24, and their page on Tattoos in the workplace!

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Does length matter? (It's VIDEO again!).

30th March 2018

Advertisers are spending more & more online, trying to get their video seen by as many (or as "targeted") people as possible - we can see with our own eyes the way things are changing: those 'just above eye-level' poster ads on the tube that you look at on the way to & from work, they've changed; the clunky rotating ones at bus stops; even the ads on the telly. We often see different types of products or brands - there's more of that internal "oh!" we note in our brains but rarely mention to anyone else. The once seemingly limitless budgets of big brand marketers is, after all, limited and they are choosing alternatives, chiefly it seems, to put their videos on Facebook, Google and all the behemoths of the of our phones and screens.  And indeed, as the competition for our eyes hots up, so we'll start to see experimentation not just with content but with form: it's become an article of faith, almost doctrinal, that young people these days have very short attention spans and so these clips have been "short & sweet" - but is this necessarily so? Anyway, it isn't only these slightly mythical "young people" who are living their lives with very little distinction between online and offline, we all are!

Kayla Matthews, at MarketingDive, has taken a look at the experimentation going on with the length of these video adverts, both the shorter and longer forms - it'll be interesting to see how this evolves in our sidebars and on our timelines.

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Women & tech. Why the gender divide?

9th March 2018

It's interesting when you look at the statistics from studies in the UK on how and why girls choose the subjects they take for GCSEs, A Levels and Degrees.  It seems that there's still a huge sex disparity when it comes to physics and other STEM subjects, nearly 80% of those who take these subjects are male, only around 20% female - a figure that, it seems, has little changed in 25 years.  Considering the huge proliferation of gadgets and tech that now permeates our lives you'd think the gender stereotyping (if indeed it is) that inhibits girls from taking up these courses would have broken down a bit more, or at least changed a bit!

It really does seem to be a gender thing in the UK. The figures from other countries differ quite markedly in some cases - in India the figure is around 32% of women to 68% of men and in the Middle East, hardly the bastion of women's equality, there is virtual parity, with around 48%-53% of the students being female.  The Arabic countries are on a course to change from an oil based economy - many are seeing a knowledge based economy as the future and this includes all things technical, mechanical and scientific.  Despite many other factors, girls are now actively being encouraged to study the STEM subjects, and being female appears to be little hindrance to being taken seriously when working in engineering - engineering has a much higher social status than generally in the west, so families tend to be proud that their children male and female, work in this area. The gender bias not applying when social cache is in play!

This isn't, of course, the be all and end all of it.  What is perhaps significant for those who say "Well girls just don't like all that mechanical stuff" is that, although women make up only  around 9% of the engineering workforce in the UK (a figure so shameful it was hard to track down) when these women were asked if they enjoyed their work an overwhelming number (upwards of 86%) gave it the highest score possible.  

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The spirit of new technologies needs to find us willing.

28th February 2018

It's interesting, to me at least, that many posts and blogs aimed at or for Marketing, Advertising and related subjects, frame their questions as if "Customers" or "Clients", or even "Users" are something apart.  It's obviously a helpful device but, perhaps, sometimes it's also useful to remember that we ourselves are users, customers & clients and we might do well to aim these same questions at ourselves.  The following article, from Hubspot, is a case in point: which emerging technologies do people want to know more about?  Which do they hanker after to use? And which annoy the hell out of them? Sometimes it's worth making it personal, understanding the reactions of others may come from acknowledging our own likes and dislikes. 

Augmented Reality is, for me, the most exciting of all the promised new tech but there have been false starts already, remember GoogleGlass? This might have been that the tech its self wasn't all that great or could, possibly, have been that the time wasn't right, the Collective Will not yet there. There needs to be a zeitgeist with technology, it needs to "feel right" - it's not just what it looks like, nor even what it can do: we need to feel that we want to do it, that it can be useful or interesting most or all of the time. For a technology to be taken up and become widespread it must be a seamless fit into our everyday, become something we rarely think about even as we use it, forgettable but not forgotten; not just a Christmas toy, delighting us for a day or two and then swiftly tidied away to the back of the drawer, forsaken and ignored.

And the technology that drives me to distraction? Are you old enough to remember the Microsoft Word Paperclip? It popped up uninvited and instantly appealed to my inner caveman, making me want to heft my beautifully weighted flint rock and smash it over & over again into the corner of the screen.  Well, looking at myself as the customer, the same feelings start to brew every time a Chat Bot slides its self up and asks if it can help me. Even when I know that it probably can help me. Even then.

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