About christianlturner

Husband, Father to 1, Marketing/Comms Planner, Outdoor Adventurer, Infant Photographer, Travel Dabbler....trying to find more quiet time in this noisy world to think, reflect, be inspired, and grow! And then share some regular ramblings along the way....

How much is your face worth? Nothing apparently… #FaceApp


#FaceApp is everywhere at the moment.  You can’t scroll through a newsfeed in any social platform right now without finding it littered with photos of people who have used the app to age their pretty faces!

The app uses AI (artificial intelligence) to change and distort photos; either making users older, younger or even swapping their genders.  Sounds like a lot of harmless fun, and millions have jumped on the bandwagon.

What are you waiting for?  Now I’m not always one to take a hard stance on privacy, but working in the advertising industry and perhaps being more aware of how companies harvest data and sell it to advertisers, I did take a step back and consider the implications of this.

I haven’t used the app, and I certainly won’t.  In an era that has seen personal security evolve from a password to a thumbprint, to now our beautiful faces that unlock our phones, and now can be used to pay for the subway, we ought to be wary of keeping our mugshot safe.

If we learnt anything from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the quizzes/apps/games they used to harvest our data at face value seemed harmless and just a bit of fun, but it’s what they subsequently did with all the aggregated data of millions of people that we were all outraged about – and the potential and likely impact it had on elections/decisions is startling.

I’m as guilty as the next person for simply ticking the acceptance box without reading detailed terms and conditions – I certainly never do every time I update the software on my iPhone!  But the #FaceApp terms and conditions are alarming to say the least; by uploading that photo of your face you are consenting to:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.” 

It doesn’t end there, the companies privacy policy also states that they are able to collect and store information from your phone, under the guise of advertising and marketing purposes.

With facial recognition technology growing fast; with a multitude of applications, including a pilot being run by the Metropolitan police, the risks and implications of using #FaceApp are probably low right now – just as those Facebook quizzes were at the time for Cambridge Analytica.  But, the longterm impact of someone having complete rights to use an image of your face in any way they see fit is a scary thought.

Call me a buzzkill, but I think I’ll steer clear of #FaceApp for the time being.





Will I become one of those parents that…..?

I’ll often pop out of the office for a few minutes at lunchtime to get some fresh air and exercise; working in the heart of London means there is always a wealth of things to see and observe – especially along the Southbank. Today was especially busy, there were the usual tourists, the lunchtime joggers, fellow office workers, ladies that leisure, dog walkers, and then a plentiful supply of kids and parents with it being half term.

Whilst so many people walk hurriedly along face down, staring at their phones – I love to observe and explore my surroundings. With so many kids running around, and having recently become a parent myself I couldn’t help but notice all the little idiosyncrasies of those exploring the big smoke on their day out. With only a 3 month old and little parenting experience, I found myself questioning whether I would become one of those parents that allowed their kids to behave in a certain way, or demand a certain thing. I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, but more just an observation of behaviour that will no doubt become a reality in the years ahead. Many of which brought a smile to my face 😀

And so whilst out for no more than 10 or 15 minutes, I asked myself will I become one of those parents that:

· Having insisted on bringing their scooter with them and no doubt promising to ride it themselves – yet now being pulled along proudly by parents on their little chariot.

· Push chairs being dutifully pushed along at a snails pace with the seat filled with bags, coats and shopping – a stubborn child determined to walk themselves.

· A parent sat on a bench holding a coat, clearly having lost the battle with her son’s insistence that he isn’t cold; it’s definitely not warm enough to be in just a T-shirt!

· A loud petition for an ice cream for all to hear whilst passing an ice cream van – an initial ‘NO’ turning into a ‘YES’

· A group of youths sat down at a table for lunch, all happily engrossed in their smartphones with no need to look at or communicate with each other.

One day no doubt I’ll be the parent being observed – pulling along the scooter chariot whilst tucking into an ice cream, my kid will be wearing their coat though haha!

“Don’t yell at your kids! Lean in real close and whisper, it’s much scarier.”

What will have a greater and lasting impact?

Will watching a TV advert have a more meaningful impact than someone watching a video on Facebook or seeing a billboard at Piccadilly Circus? Are all impacts equal? The day job that sometimes strays into the night time (9-5 what’s that?) is within the marketing and advertising industry and I’m often asked by clients what will help me achieve the most meaningful interactions with consumers – in other words what will lead to more people buying my products. It’s been almost 100 years since John Wanamaker famously coined the phrase:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

…and now with a far greater number of variables in this digital age we live in, many are still no closer to truly understanding what works or what will contribute to achieving the greatest success. Of course there will be stark contrast depending on the different products and brands being advertised – and no interaction remains isolated (if you’re reading this on your phone, I imagine the TV is on in the background). It’s amazing how effective we’ve become at multi-tasking – well selective multi-tasking anyway. There isn’t a one size fits all approach.

This concept of identifying more meaningful interactions in a cluttered advertising ecosystem got me thinking about the importance of building and maintaining meaningful relationships with friends and family. Just as advertising impacts differ, what will help me achieve more meaningful interactions with those I care about. I’ve recently been caught out on a few occasions trying to have a conversation with my wife, whilst thumb surfing on the iPhone. Needless to say I haven’t yet mastered this art of multi-tasking and nor should I ever want to! We need to ensure that we lay aside the distractions and focus on being in the moment, to build long lasting memories and relationships with those we love. No one ever started a story with “Remember that time we were on our phones…….” Ditch the phone, have daily chats with your other half, read your child a bedtime story from an actual book, go for a walk and admire your surroundings – make lasting memories that will have a greater influence!

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” Stephen R. Covey

Finding those quiet moments of escapism

I’m pleased to report that my take on Dry January continues to be successful; it’s now been just over two weeks.  I haven’t missed it, but I did however miss the announcement of a good friends’ daughter being born – luckily my wife fills me in from time to time on the meaningful.

I’ve been reading about escapism and mindfulness recently and it’s interesting that the former can have negative connotations.  For instance, our attempt at escapism may in fact be us trying to avoid responsibility or reality; often in the form of procrastination.  This will vary for everyone but being immersed in our iPhone or iPad, constant thumbing through social media news feeds, video games, rubbish TV, etc.  Now don’t get me wrong after a tough day at work or a bad night with the baby, these are much needed and essential sometimes!

However, these activities and many others are now our norm and reality.  You only have to walk down the road and realise that 9 out of 10 people are walking head down, looking at their phone.  So escapism and mindfulness is attempting to take time off and away from these activities; rather allowing the mind and our consciousness to expand and not be preoccupied and therefore limited.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”

 Jiddu Krishnamurti

I’m fortunate enough to work in a London office only a stones throw away from the Tate Modern.  Where possible I always try to get away from my desk at lunch time to get some fresh air and I’ll often pop into the Tate for some inspiration (escapism) whilst surrounded by creativity.

Last Friday in fact I popped in for just 15 mins to explore a section and came across: Babel 2001 – a Tower of radios by Cildo Meireles….

A beautiful blend of old and new radios all tuned to different stations and playing to represent the world of information overload we live in. This really resonated with me and it was great to find a piece of artwork so aptly aligned with my recent thoughts.

With the constant battle for our attention, it’s high time to tune out the noise and find those quiet moments of escapism.


A slightly different approach to Dry January


I had every intention of writing this on January 1st – well I’m a few days late, but then I also said this time last year that I was going to write once a week in 2016.  I nailed that with a whopping one post!  So here’s to reaching greater heights in 2017!

A few days into ‘Dry January’ now but not in the traditional sense.  I don’t drink anyway so I decided to take the spirit of this annual movement and apply it to Facebook.

Facebook.  I find myself spending countless time trawling through a newsfeed that no longer provides much of anything really.  Fake news, Brexit debates, US election outrage, advertising galore – oh and the occasional photos from a distant acquaintance.

So on December 31st, i deleted the app from my iPhone, logged out from both work and personal laptops and vowed to go a month without it.  Am I missing it?  I can’t say I am, I don’t feel like there is a huge void or anything.  Having recently become a parent to the most adorable little girl, I am mindful of making sure that family time is prioritised over screen time and saw this as a good step in the right direction.  I think all of us can benefit from an occasional digital detox.

I’m hoping to use the hours this month of reclaimed Facebook time to:

  • Actually take some quiet time out to think and reflect.  This might sound obvious, but ask yourself just how often you do this – it’s few and far between these days I’m sure…
  • Read.  Be it blogs, books, inspirational articles, podcasts, TED talks (sometimes my eyes get tired)
  • Learn how to actually use the Nikon DSLR i just bought and take some amazing photos of my daughter.  Warning – if I do go back to Facebook in February, your newsfeed will be spammed with these photos.

Five days in and still going strong and I’m hopeful that Dry January can establish some ‘better’ habits and set the tone for 2017.




The Privacy vs. Personalisation Conflict

There will be those who firmly sit in either camp, but increasingly perhaps there are those like myself who sit with one foot firmly poised either side of the fence.  Whilst I respect the need for privacy, I also see the opportunity to harness data to serve a personalised user experience; at the right time, in the right place and importantly with the right message.


The press continue to address the subject, such as the recent Guardian article – Shops can track you via your smartphone, privacy watchdog warns.  The article highlights that unbeknown to most of us, data is being harvested from your mobile phone – the web pages your view, the apps you use, the geolocation of where you’ve been and regularly visit – big brother is indeed watching.  The irony here is whilst the journalist is scaremongering you about the data being gathered from your smart phone, at the same time that you are reading this article, the Guardian has allowed data companies to be capturing your data to then sell on to advertisers.  Just take a look – whilst some of these are for internal data capture (Google tools, etc), there are 26 pixels and tags in total on the site capturing who you are, and building a profile of your online behaviour, interests and potential purchase intentions.  Data is courtesy of a clever little chrome plugin Ghostery.


Outrageous I hear you think, I never agreed to this invasion of smartphone privacy – well folks you actually did.  Unbeknown to most of us, we all agreed for our personal data to be mined, whenever we hit that agree button rather than trawling through the 30 pages of terms and conditions at the last software update.  In fact, why not check for yourself (apologies to Android users) but go into the Privacy menu on your iPhone, scroll to the bottom and click on advertising, and the section ‘About Advertising & Privacy’ and you’ll soon realise you’re opted in to giving away your deepest and darkest secrets!


Laying aside the privacy issue for a moment, but in a world where advertising is intrusive and unavoidable – what if it could be personally tailored to you?  Excuse the simpleness of the example, but you’ve decided like a lot of us that you really should start to exercise regularly and have been reading up on how to get into running.  You’ve watched videos on YouTube, read blogs, articles on Runners World and have recently been into local sports stores.  You are now served messages about buying running gear, with introductory offers and rather than the same messages over and over again, there is some sequential differences based on your interactions and further research.

In theory this sounds great, but I will admit that as extensive as data is it often doesn’t know when to stop.  You’ve now bought all your running gear, you’ve been out on those first few painful runs and yet you are still being bombarded with running gear offers and messaging.  There are some advertisers who really need a 101 in frequency capping; leaving a bitter taste in people’s mouths and negating the efforts of those trying to do this well.  I’ll admit it’s far from perfect yet, and the use of multiple devices creates further challenges to be overcome.

The conflict rages on, and with the rise of connected devices and ‘internet of things’ for those of us concerned about protecting our data, the task will only get tougher.  On the flip side, more data, harnessed and organised correctly can only help to fuel the personalisation quest.  If only my budget would stretch to one of those new shiny fridges that orders food for me.