Saturday, 8 February 2014

AOL’s David “Shingy” Shing is trending online today – I’m not surprised: he is comedy gold

AOL’s Digital prophet, David Shing, has been all over the web since delivering a characteristic performance on MSNBC yesterday. If Sochi featured an “Extreme Bullshitting” event, he’d undoubtedly be wearing a gold medal at the end of it. Last year I dissected a lecture delivered by  Shing (here). I’ll admit I was rather cruel, but there’s just something about him that awakens one’s inner troll. For some people it’s the way he looks – but that's not what really annoys me. No, for me, it's the way he commits grievous bodily harm on the English language every time he opens his mouth.

There are plenty of other people duffing up Shingy behind the social media bike-sheds today, but I just couldn't resist the temptation to join in. Here are my favourite quotes from yesterday’s MSNBC panel discussion and from an interview recorded in Cannes in 2011. The masochists among you can find the videos at the bottom of the page:
A lot of what we look at today is just self-quantification. (That'll make you go blind)
If people actually were to say I want multi-quant… (Two packets, please)
If I wear all my wearables today, I look like a tribal leader – no kidding, man. (As it is is you just look like a prat)
I just want to follow the taste-makers, those who are giving me extra value. (If they've made your taste, son, I'd sue)
We [AOL] love to make sure we build these curated places for people. (What, like museums?)
If you’re a brand that helps calm the noise then you’re actually able to get in the middle of that and help somebody become a better human because you’re facilitating their noise for them. (I'm not sure Dave's noise is helping me become a better human)
People seek out brands because it’s not part of an ecosystem. (No - not a frigging clue)
I do think that at the end of the day the connectedness that we have - so all four of us are deeply connected right now if we want – and it’s a soft connection though – we could use technology to facilitate a better connection. (The idea of a soft connection with Dave is making me queasy)
Now I’m like the guy who’s completely got all the information at my disposal because I make sure that my digital day is making me a better conversationalist when we catch up in the human context. (The only thing that would Dave a better conversationalist would be a coma)
I’m all brand all the time. (Actually, you're all CAUC all the time
We spent probably the last 18 months or so getting our shit together… and the reality of that is we’ve done it internally and we’ve built this amazing culture around people and it’s not just about changing our iconography but we really did change the DNA of the business… so internally we’ve already been doing it but it’s time to start trumpeting it externally. (I presume trumpeting is a synonym for breaking wind)
The energy is right. (I'm exhausted)
People can actually get on there and jam about whatever they want to… It’s actually others who are influencers who are jamming on our platform saying this is actually a great platform of communication. (Dave has jam on the brain - which would explain a lot)
I think there’s some very interesting thought leaders coming here [to Cannes] sort of spouting things that are very important for me… Personally I think there’s a number of things we need to hit on  - curation I think is a critical thing at the moment that is kind of left in the dust at the moment (sic) because for me it’s really simple. (I can think of one thing I'd really like to hit on repeatedly right now, and it isn't curation)
The web is really underwhelming. Well, sorry, it’s really overwhelming. (Thanks for clearing that up
The web actually is ugly. It still sucks... The apps are gorgeous – they’re lick-the-screen gorgeous. (As are you, Shingy!)
Post-digital is under-rated. (You read my mind)
So things that were really considered you know old-school techniques are becoming part of the deliciousness of the techniques now. (Using all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order)
Thank goodness we’ve got fat pipes. (I think I'm going to throw up)
It all needs to rally up to conversations… it all comes back to that continuum of storytelling. (Shingy's evidently been fitted with a random word-generator)


  1. Wow.

    You know what? I don't like the way he looks...if he had anything interesting, or coherent, to say he wouldn't need to dress like Edward Scissorhands to get my attention.

    Prancin' around like that.

    1. It's just that what he says is even worse than the way he looks. Like any good conservative, I believe that anyone who isn't a rock star, film star, model or sensationally good-looking should show good manners by dressing to blend into their milieu (the chameleon approach). Unless new media has changed a lot since I retired from it, nobody dresses like this - it really is all nerds in T-shirts or soberly-attired businessmen in dull jackets and business shirts. There is nothing siller than businessmen looking like clowns to create a "brand". A pox on them.

  2. I looked at your tape of "Shingy". He made me ashamed of the fact that I am the bearer of an Australian passport. But then I thought about the messy scene in "Goodfellas" where Joe Pesci put somebody's head in a vice and squeezed his brains out the top of his head and felt better. In Shingy's case there would be a minimum of "matiere grise" on the floor. Oh Dear, what a dreadful human being.

    1. I wouldn't worry about the Australian connection - I'm pretty sure Shingy considers himself a citizen of the digital world.

      Anyway, he has his defenders. Someone just tweeted this about my previous Shing article: "Read ur awful blog post. Ur really the jelly type arent u?"

      I wonder what it means?

  3. I'm pretty sure Shingy considers himself a citizen of the digital world – got it in one. Australia's is just a flag of convenience in this case, Mr Shing could just as easily have chosen to sail under Britannic colours.

    This form of shingles is contagious and there is a little centre of infection in the UK company, Ctrl-Shift Ltd. For only £150 you, too, can attend their London conference on the personal information economy on 20 March 2014 and observe the illness at close quarters.

    It wouldn't matter what eccentric beliefs these people hold if it weren't for the fact that Ctrl-Shift and its sister company Mydex are advising the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) on the midata project. In the year since Scott identified the first outbreak of shingles, BIS have taken statutory powers to make compliance with midata compulsory, see the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Public money is being invested and the plan is for public administration to depend on Mr Shing's insights.

    midata has three objectives – to empower the consumer, to make the economy grow and to help people to improve their lifestyles. The logic is extra-terrestrial, hard for us earthlings to grasp, but it goes something like this:

    (a) Everyone should store all their personal data in a Mydex personal data store (PDS) or inventory or vault and curate it like mad, self-quant, get it just right. This will give us control over our personal data.

    (b) We should all buy apps like mad which use that data over which we have the aforementioned control to make recommendations like "don't eat sugar" or "do watch this film" or "stop smoking the children", thereby empowering us to improve our lifestyles and, because these apps aren't free, causing the economy to grow.

    SDG will instantly recognise the marketing man's dream. Consumers are putting in all the effort themselves to organise their preferences, classify their purchases and provide the raw data for targeted marketing.

    This is not a figment of David Shing's imagination. It is UK government policy. And it's not just the UK. Just take a look at what those Presidential Innovation Fellows are up to in the US, for example. Or MesInfos in France.


    Take another look at those PDSs. What are they? They're digital ID cards. They "prove" that you are who you say you are. Which is why Mydex are not only in on BIS's midata project, they are also appointed UK "identity providers" (IDPs) in the UK government's identity assurance programme (IDA), c.f. the US National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).

    The idea of IDA and NSTIC is to make public administration more efficient and less liable to fraud. All public service transactions would be authenticated via PDSs. Companies and charities and trusts and other organisations can have PDSs, just as much as individuals. That's why the EU loves electronic identities (eIDs). They make government easy. Easy, at least, for the government.

    1. Why do governments get involved in this stuff? Why don't they just let the private sector sort all this cutting edge stuff out all on its own and then, when it's all been tried and tested and proved and up and working and these companies are making huge profits and millions and millions of people are using their products, think about adapting their products for use in the public sector?

      Or am I not understanding something?

  4. I delved deep into Shingspace and it wasn't pretty.

    1. Thanks for the link, Thor - excellent article.

  5. If I wear all my wearables today, I look like a tribal leader – no kidding, man

    Things aren't going very well for Ctrl-Shift's midata predictions. If we all narcissistically curate our PDSs, they said, a sudden access of creative innovation will strike the apps world and the economy will start motoring.

    One out of three. There are over 1 million apps on Google Play already. The economy is spluttering into life but that's nothing to do with apps. And those 1 million apps didn't have to wait for midata, which turns out to be irrelevant.

    Nothing daunted, BIS set up the midata Innovation Lab last year to "fan the flames of innovation" and "kickstart a collective inflection point in business" – mysteriously helped by the BBC – and some months later came up with the prototypes of five apps which display no innovation whatever.

    One of these apps is called MI Relative Calm. It's designed by Mydex, Ctrl-Shift's sister company, to help manage the care of elderly relatives.

    They choose an old lady called Ruby as an example. She lives independently. She's wearing a device that takes her pulse and another one that counts the steps she takes. These devices communicate wirelessly with something that allows her carers and her son John to monitor her.

    They can tell remotely that she still has a pulse and that she's taken 1,500 steps today. They know the temperature in the house and there's something clever in her bed or her nightie or maybe that. too, is strapped to her, that tells her carers how much sleep she's had – you can almost hear her say "I look like a tribal leader – no kidding, man".

    The app is also able to log into her bank account, download the latest transactions and check to see if any are out of the ordinary.

    Now. Test. Imagine that you have discovered thanks to this app that your mother has been mugged. What would you do?

    What John does in the midata app is:

    (a) wait three days
    (b) ask the carer what's going on
    (c) ask the carer to ask the police to go round to Ruby's and give her some advice.

    Vile. Inhuman. Autistic. All one can say is that Ruby obviously knows her son – she doesn't waste any time ringing him just because she's been mugged.

    The tribal leader devices are obviously useless – her pulse doesn't change when she's mugged and she carries on sleeping soundly.

    There is no dial anywhere in the app that can measure her inner turmoil, fear, fury.

    And John stays calm. That's the point of the app. To make people feel good because they're doing the right thing and being caring. This is shingles morality.

    Ctrl-Shift send out a weekly newsletter listing all the latest exciting gizmos available in the "internet of things", as it's called. I love this one, Mimo – "let the Mimo baby monitor help you sleep sounder".

    It involves a sleep suit fitted with monitors that tell you the baby's breathing and how much it slept and how many times it turned over, "no matter where you or your baby might be" – don't you know?

    "With our temperature sensors, you can know for sure that your little one is the perfect temperature with just a quick peek at your app".

    This shingles parenthood is a doddle, isn't it. A mite inhuman, perhaps, but Mimo have thought of that: "You are a great parent", it says in big letters in the copy.

    midata? Mmmm. I can't wait.

    1. No doubt Shingy will be advising the government on its digital strategy by the end of the year.

    2. Worse than that.

      If the last two issues of Private Eye are to be believed, never mind the British government, it sounds as though the Telegraph is now being run by an intellectual brother of Mr Shing's, "Psycho" Seiken. Read it while you can. The end is nigh. Progress.