The Miracle Machine: What if you could go all biblical and turn water into wine? That’s the idea behind the device called ‘Miracle Machine’, a daring combination of Silicon Valley tech and Napa Valley wine-making expertise, that would produce great wine with minimal effort in three days.

The video and promise of affordable fine wine was picked up in HuffPo, Time, Mail Online, TelegraphIndependent and many more. In just under two weeks, the video was watched over 200,000 times, nearly 600 media outlets around the world covered the story, 6,000 people tweeted about it, 7,000 people even signed up to help fund the machine.

Sounds too good to be true?

It is.

After three weeks they finally came clean. It wasn’t about turning water into wine, it’s about a not-for-profit organisation called Wine to Water who provide clean water to people in need around the world.

Going by the comments on the video, and also comments on the coverage, the people that had been ‘suckered’ in to believing that you could do a Jesus in the comfort of your own home, don’t enjoy being made to look stupid/gullible and/or guilted in to giving.

Coverage once the reveal leads with the fact that the campaign and device were a hoax. Some outlets took the ‘it was a hoax, and we believed it, but you know, the tech actually exists, so it could totally happen‘ route, others focused on making fun of winos and their now shattered dreams, and of course the ‘we never thought it was true’ angle. Yes, Fox News, I’m sure you didn’t fall for it.

It’s still early days, but it looks like coverage for the ‘reveal’ is not as extensive as the coverage achieved for the machine. The good news is that all the coverage links through to the Wine to Water campaign page (the Water to Wine page now auto directs to the reveal), where you can learn more about the cause and donate.

Turns out that it’s easier to make people believe they can get something valuable for little effort, and a lot harder to make them part with their money for the benefit of somebody else – especially if you’ve conned them into thinking the first scenario is within your grasp (HT @davidjstocks for letting me know about the campaign).

Play to cure: Cancer UK has released a mobile game for iOS and Google Play where as you play, you’re taking part in research to help beat cancer. Called “Play to Cure: Genes In Space“, the game has players take the helm of a spaceship to collect valuable and powerful ‘Element Alpha’ – while you’re cruising through the galaxy, you’re actually analysing significant amounts of genetic data that can then be used to develop new life saving treatments.

More on the science behind the game on the Cancer Research Science Blog (big thanks to Anna for sending this through) and also in the video below. Best use of ramification I’ve seen!

Unorthodox uses of InstagramMarketing departments around the world have come up with a lot of different ways to use Instagram for business, creating feeds full of beautiful photos and short videos touting their wares and services. Almost all are based on a regularly updated stream of images, from existing marketing collateral, events and other things happening around a business. But recently, I’ve come across a handful of rather more unorthodox uses for Instagram and I wanted to share some here:

I wish I was there: The marvellous travel account run by a graphic design student who uses Google Maps to take screenshots of far away places (I’d written about this one before).

Eilat Coral Reserve, Eilat, Israel #eilatcoralreserve #eilat #israel #iwishiwasthere

A post shared by i_wish_i_was_there (@i_wish_i_was_there) on

BBC News Instafax: A short video news service by the BBC, each post consisting of three short clips with a caption, quickly summarising a story. I personally tend to swipe past them in my Instagram feed – the stories tend to be rather depressing – but @CiaranM_ made a good point when he told me: I quite like it actually! Tend to scroll past it during the week (no decent 3G signal on my train route to work) and have a catch up at the weekend on their channel, don’t really watch TV a lot now so it’s a decent way of seeing what’s happening.

Thirteen: A figure steps from the shadows. It’s Coron, the deranged leader of a secretive cult known as ‘The People.’ You thought he was only a myth, but his glinting sword suggests Coron is very real indeed. But this is a busy street. This is your street. Surely he’d never attack here? A van approaches.

Do you: cross the street? Or keep walking?

This only works within the Instagram app, but it’s a clever little multiple choice narrative  to promote the new book by Tom Hoyle (HT @AlexCole71)

Toronto’s Silent Film Festival: Celebrate the Charlie Chaplin Centenary through the first Instagram time machine. This one really doesn’t come across at all on a computer and you’ll have to look at this via the Instagram app and turn your device sideways – which is why they made a video!

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week

A little known Californian clothing company called WREN decided to take a slightly different route to promote their 2014 fall fashion: they asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time, filmed it in black and white, set it to a twee singer/songwriter soundtrack and posted it to Youtube on March 10. Since then ‘First Kiss’ has racked up over 52 million views and the NYT has a great piece on how it came about, how it went viral, and how the Internet turned against the film after it became clear that it was an ad. 

Of course, it’s also spawned a number of parodies (The first fist bump; the entirely NSFW First Handjob; and a Minecraft version) best of which would have to be by Jimmy Fallon who recreated the first kiss with puppies and kittens.

And finally: Whaling (what the hell did you just watch? The Indy has the detail on the new craze that is ‘taking over’ Vine; HT @a_little_wine)

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