Schadenfreude squared in the land of Big Tech’s woes

The 17th century French moralist François de La Rochefoucald observed in his Maximes: “In the misfortunes of our dearest friends we always find something not wholly displeasing unto us.”

So there was more than just the tang of sweet Schadenfreude in the air during the recording of the latest episode – 63, no less – of the Small Data Forum podcast.

For some of our dearest friends from the past six years of our data-ish ramblechats put in an appearance, like the cast of a mash-up musical all jostling for attention and approbation in light of their latest misdemeanours.

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The lingering whiff of sulphur in the air

(Please note that this episode was recorded – and these show notes were written – on Thursday 8 September, before the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.)

The first Small Data Forum of the @TrussLiz era sees the podcast team convene IRL on the morning of 8 September for the first time in aeons – and in a professional, West End Studio, to boot.

Nothing to do with the fourth Prime Minister (not to mention fifth Chelski manager) since our ‘umble podcast started crackling over the digital airwaves. More to do with a desire to get together IRL more often post-COVID, as well as a heart-felt yearning to “up” production values, as decent as Zoom may be. Plus an opportunity for a post-pod lunch at our favourite Italian haunt, Olivelli on the Cut.

All trussed up and no place to go

With a new Prime Minister in place, Thomas asks who fancies prognosticating on the latest incumbent of Number 10. Sam leaps in. He’s concerned about the far right, ideologically-driven agenda of Truss et al. While memes in recent days – from #ThickLizzy to #NotMyPM may be variously misogynistic and laser-focused – Sam pinpoints the Truss administration as “continuity Johnson”.

Ironically for a new team replacing de Pfeffel’s hated, ADHD-raddled regime, Sam believes Truss made a profound mis-step with her first two speeches, one to Tory Central, the other to the waiting world. Both at the Gathering of the Tories and outside #10, Truss first name-checked BoJo and all the “amazing” things he achieved, from a bungled Brexshit to “the fastest COVID vaccine rollout” (until – very soon – it wasn’t).

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The old rules don’t apply

For once, it appears, the Small Data Forum three are ahead of the news.

So often in recent months and years, we’ve recorded an episode on a Friday morning and by the Sunday night before publication we’ve had to make rapid edits to the show notes because … a president has been impeached, a special adviser been sacked, or a new lockdown announced.

But today – today feels different. Is it because we were recording first thing on a Monday for next-day publication? Or is it because so much news had happened of late that we had the timing right for once? Time – of course – will tell.

On day 110 of Russia’s war on Ukraine – a topic that doesn’t delay us beyond a heartfelt appeal for the nonsense to stop – Thomas opens proceedings by reflecting on Prime Minister Johnson’s “victory” in his vote of (no) confidence handed to him by his own members of parliament.

Well, 211 MPs (59%) voted for the bloated bloviator, while 148 (41%) wanted to see the back of him. A smaller majority than that recorded by Johnson’s lame duck predecessor, Theresa May (a 63%-37% split), who was history less than six months on.

Indeed, according to fashion and style bible Tatler – a hapax legomenon in the annals of these show notes if ever there was one – it was May who was ‘the real winner’ of the vote, by virtue of turning up to the vote in a ball gown.

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What a terrible shower!

Shoulda been in Spain!

Sporting a gardener’s tan from ongoing travails in his garden in Southern Spain, Thomas welcomes Sam and Neville to the first-ever Saturday recording of the Small Data Forum podcast.

We recorded on 9 April, two years to the day – as Neville points out – from when we were supposed to be on a weekend-long podcast recording sojourn to the self-same spot from which Thomas addresses us.

But then Covid happened. Indeed, were it not for the Covid-spike-enforced crew shortages for easyJet, Sam should have been with Thomas, but as The Guardian pointed out in that day’s paper, the country – and indeed the world – is suffering a semi-paralysis from a variant of Long Covid and is facing “a new pandemic of disruption”.

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Nick Manning interview: Time for brands to take control of their data

The Small Data Forum started its side hustle of interviews with industry experts as an experiment almost exactly a year ago, but already we’re onto our sixth.

SDF co-host Sam Knowles spoke on Friday 4 March to Nick Manning, one of the most important, informed, and trenchant figures in media and marketing over the past 30 years. Nick founded the media agency Manning Gottlieb in the early 1990s.

Sam and Nick worked together at Ebiquity in the mid-twenty-teens in various guises, as Nick – and then CEO Mike Greenlees – bought consultancies to expand the capabilities and geographical footprint of the media investment analysis consultancy. Nick now runs his own consultancy, Encyclomedia, and is a regular columnist for Mediatel.

We spoke at the end of the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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