FigDigEst: 05 June 2015

by Figaro Digital

In this week’s round-up of digital things we outrank Google, send a text from our jeans and go on the Instagram diet.

Wonky Ranking

It’s a well-known fact that if you type ‘Google’ into Google, the internet will dissolve. You must never, ever do it. (Actually, it just takes you back Google.) Catching our eye this week however, is the story of an Egyptian repairman who accidentally became the most searched-for (or, more accurately, the most found) man in his country. Anyone typing ‘Google’ into the Egyptian version of the search engine was taken to a page belonging to heating technician Saber El-Toony. This was despite the fact that he has no keywords and is in no way connected to Google. This odd blip in the results was spotted by Eyad Nour, a digital marketer from Egypt who wrote about the phenomenon here.

Oliver Ewbank from search engine optimisation firm Koozai told the BBC: “The only explanation Nour could find was that Mr El-Toony had entered a Google search results page for his username “ssabereltony” into the website field on his Google+ page. If that turns out to be the explanation for his number one ranking it suggests all you have to do to outrank Google itself is to change the website URL in your Google+ profile.”

Google, we imagine, will be paying close attention but, until it was pointed out to him, Saber El-Toony was unaware of his dominance in the results, though, according to the Financial Times, he did think he was getting a lot of calls.

#Missingtype

We love the inspired simplicity of NHS Give Blood’s #missingtype campaign currently running on Twitter and elsewhere. To raise awareness of a drop in the number of people giving blood, users are encouraged to delete the letters ‘A’, ‘O’ and ‘B’ from their names – these being the most common blood groups in the UK.

The campaign, which was created by Engine, runs for a week. At the time of writing Waterstones’ Trafalgar Square store has become W terst nes and the Odeon Leicester Square has lost its ‘O’. Other participating brands include Tfl, Green & Black’s and the Daily Mirror, which will be altering its title for the first time ever next week. Spot an opportunity, Asos and 02?

One person’s rubbish

FigDigEst has enjoyed following the search for the mystery recycler of a first-generation Apple I computer this week. According to an employee at the US recycling centre where the computer was discarded, the woman (who was seemingly unaware of the device’s worth) was getting rid of some electronics following her husband’s death. The computer is one of only 200 first-generation Apple devices made in 1976, and is the handiwork of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne. It was sold by the company for £136,000.

In today’s throwaway culture, where we replace our phones on average every 11-18 months and discard 42 million tons of e-waste each year (The Independent), there’s something quite wistful about seeing an Apple product making the news for being disposed of. FigDigEst wonders if the screens shattered quite so easily in those days.

Snackable Content

Fans of posting the odd food snap on Instagram are either going to love or hate this news. Google is currently developing an app, Im2Calorie, which will be able to calculate the number of calories in your perfectly placed piece of food photography. The app works by first identifying the foodstuff, and then working out its size in relation to the rest of the plate and analysing the pixels to gauge the calorie count. FigDigEst is unsure whether this is very exciting or very sad. There’s something quite empowering about lusting over a slab of chocolate cake, without being hindered by the knowledge of all its bad bits. As Josh Barrie at The Telegraph puts it, “Instagram is a way of sliding into something sweet—perhaps admiring the silky edges of a cheesecake, or the naughty curves of a banoffee pie”… We’ll leave you two alone.

Smartclothes

Apple may have dominated the smartwatch conversation for the past six months, but Google have taken jeans. Well, clothes in general actually.

Project Jacquard, the company’s new venture into smart clothing, aims to bring the internet into your everyday wardrobe, centring on the development of a conductive fabric which will, essentially, serve as a connected touchscreen. Imagine being able to turn up the volume of your music with a swipe of your trouser leg, or send a text message from your jacket sleeve.

Sound a bit superfluous? The idea is all part of the drive to make interactions “more natural and more seamless,” says creative technologist João Wilbert. And the concept might arrive in the commercial market quicker than you think, with clothing company Levi Strauss (who’ve partnered with Google for the project) hoping to launch a line of internet-enabled apparel next year. The project was announced at the Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco last Friday.

Just think, you’d never have to worry about forgetting your phone, tablet or Apple Watch again. You will, however, have to remember to wear the right pair of jeans.

School Snitch

The commercial market for drones has grown significantly in the past couple of years, being used for photography, tracking and even (potentially) delivery services. But the newest use is rather amusing, albeit slight unnerving.

Schools in the Chinese province of Luoyang are using drones to catch out pupils who are cheating in exams. Hovering 500 meters above the exam hall, the drones can pick up signals from phones and other devices and feed the information back to a member of staff to pinpoint which pupils are not playing by the rules.

This means that, in the upcoming National College Entrance Exam or “the gaokao”, which has been deemed “the world’s toughest exam”, pupils will have the added pressure of an omnipresent signal-detecting drone pacing above their heads. And we thought the slow clip-clop of the teacher’s heels down the aisles was off-putting.

Down The Tube

London’s Tube map isn’t just a masterclass in clear and functional design. The diagrammatic representation of the city’s 11 lines and 270 stations was created by Harry Beck in 1931 and is now one of the most recognised transit maps in the world. Dozens of cities employ a variation on Beck’s theme, and it’s been appropriated by artists, designers and advertisers. Back in the 1930s though, Underground officials feared the design was just too radical and Beck had a strained relationship with the organisation. Read the full story here.

A new version is now being rolled out by Tfl but according to the Independent a new, unofficial version created by a Hong Kong user known only as ‘Sameboat’ has appeared, and experts say it’s even clearer than the original. Sameboat’s map introduces curves, anticipates future network extensions and shows which stations are close enough to walk between. Redrawing London itself – could Sameboat be responsible for the ultimate in user-generated content?

I Put A Spelling Bee On You

FigDigEst has long held the belief that among Google’s greatest gifts to the world is the fact that most of us can now spell ‘algorithm’. Spelling and grammar remain important indicators of quality content when it comes to search. A study released this week, however, reveals that a third of UK adults would fail to reach the minimum standards of spelling expected of an 11-year-old sitting their SATs. The study, commissioned by King Digital Entertainment, makers of Candy Crush, put participants under exam conditions and asked them to spell 35 words taken from SATs papers of the last three years.

The most commonly misspelt words included ‘phenomenon’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘disappearance’, ‘correspondent’ and ‘synchronised’. ‘Broccoli’ and ‘rhythm’ also proved tricky. “Modern tools like spellcheck and autocorrect encourage us to switch off from learning, leading to complacency or, at worst, indifference,” Susie Dent from Channel 4’s Countdown told The Telegraph.

Because it’s a Friday, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to create bad spelling’s perfect storm. So far, this is the best we’ve come up with: ‘Our correspondent separates the definitely unnecessary phenomenon of synchronised broccoli disappearance.’ Eagle-eyed readers will note that we’ve not found a role there for ‘rhythm.’ Also that it doesn’t really make sense. There’s a small prize* for anyone who comes up with a better sentence incorporating all seven words.

*There is not really a small prize.

Backlinks: things that were quite long this week but we managed to read them anyway

Business Insider: Watch the world’s most relaxing film

Silicon Valley Job Generator (we just got ‘online space watchman’)

The Guardian: Forget the internet of things – we need an internet of people

Forbes: 7 reasons why marketing to baby-boomers is unique

Mashable: People who work in offices should stand for 2 hours a day

Written by Estelle Hakner and Jon Fortgang.