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June 2013

Posts from May 2013

This is Water

This is Water.

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life [Kindle Edition] by David Foster Wallace, is one of my all time favorite pieces of writing.

When I first read it, I bought literally dozens of copies and gave them to people for birthdays and leaving gifts and because it seemed like they should read it. 

It was written as a speach. A very unusal commencement speach.

One that profoundly impacted me when I read it, and continues to every time I read it or hear it.

It's lovely to listen to DFW deliver it. His voice is mellifluous, with just enough American twang. 

I feel a sense of wonder at how clearly he thinks, and how clearly he thinks about thinking.

I feel slightly ashamed, and understood, and finally redeemed, slightly, when he says:

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.

and I resolve to try a little harder to remember that This is Water. 

I think of it, in some ways, as a reflection on an aspect of the fundamental attribution error, which is the tendency to overestimate the impact of choice, personality, agency and underestimate situational factors when interpreting the behaviour of others. 

So, for example, when someone is late to a meeting, it's the driver to assume that they are disrespectful or lazy or rude, rather than assume that something happened outside of their control. We tend to correct for this when considering our own lateness, because we know that the train was late. 

So I was delighted to see someone

[someone being The Glossary - also check out their lovely trailer for the Cory Doctorow novella The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.]  

has turned it into a rather beautiful film. 

But it is an edited version, so do go and read the whole thing, or listen to DFW give it here

On the Road

  ADC germany 2


After 5 lovely years in New York, I recently left the city and my job, sold my furniture and my stake in the agency we started, started an innovation practice, got engaged and went out on the road.

It felt like a good time for me to be flexible. 

This year I will mostly be speaking and consulting and teaching and writing and that. Looking to learn some new things and get nicer and hopefully smarter by travelling and letting it open my eyes. After five years habituation stops me seeing, even in cities as amazing as New York.

I've been doing some fun innovation projects for nice clients under my newly minted GeniusSteals banner, that took me to Brazil and Beijing earlier this year. 

I wrote the first chapter of the upcoming book Digital State, published by Kogan Page, due June 2013. 

Below are a few places I will be speaking in the next few weeks and months. We'll be traveling in between. I'm interested in exploring Asia a bit more after visiting China. I feel culturally ignorant of the region that contains more than half the world's population

[I'm also interested in speaking and meeting nice people over in SEAsia before or after the Sydney gig, so do drop me a line if there's something your putting on that you think I'd be a good fit for. Or if you fancy a beer.]

ADC Hamburg, Germany - May 16th and 17th 

I'm delivering the closing keynote on the first day, and then Rosie and I are speaking about collaboration on the 17th.

IAB Croatia Days of Communiction - May 18th

B&T MadWeek Innovation Day Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Australia July 15th 

Do come say hello if you will be at any of them and do shout if you'd like to grab a beer while we're on the road.

I Love Your Work

I love your work tapestry

I remember opening the door to my old apartment, in a converted church building on 16th Street, about 3 years ago and seeing it was Jonathan Harris.

My friend Ela had asked if he could stay, of course, but I wasn't quite sure if it was the one I had heard of. 

She was due to be staying with us, as she often had and subsequently did when she had shoots in NYC.

She is a courteous and charming houseguest and always welcome in our home.
This time, she called and said that an artist was following her around the day of her shoot as part of a project he was working on, and had asked to spend that night at ours with her. The artist would follow a different actress every day, and the producer / director at the top and tail, to capture all ten days of the shoot from every point of view, spreading out in time to cover both before and after. Waking up and going to bed. 

Seemed cool and we happily agreed to host them both. 

We hung out, drank wine, chatted about porn and the internet and media and being watched, had dinner, and every 5 minutes Jonathan would film 10 seconds of footage.

I may have gotten a bit ranty, especially after dinner and in my cups [it's been known to happen] and I was defintely proud of our new Roomba.

You can see all this in the interactive film I Love Your Work, as a very tiny part of a remarkable content experience, explored through a variety of beautiful interfaces. The interactive documentry explores the private lives of nine women who make lesbian porn, but the piece is also exploring points of view, narrative, time and interaction.  The 'tapestry' navigation, seen above, is somewhat reminiscent of the classic Whale Hunt, but updated for film. 

It's the side of porn you never see, real people and their real thoughts and dreams, moments of intense sensuality, moments of boredom. Intimate and occasionally uncomfortable, as art should be, perhaps, and definitively of and for the web.

Do you remember when WeFeelFine came out? 

It was a big deal.

It was beautiful and smart, emotive, dynamic, art based on technology that explored real people expressing feelings online for what seemed like the first time.

This was back in 2006.

There were no social media strategists or ideas or campaigns or reports or anythings at the time. 

There were no social listening tools. Radian6 was in the process of being formed, and I think they were the first. 

Infographics hadn't become annoying, data vizualisation was just becoming a thing on the web.

[In fact it wasn't until 2008 that Noah and I wrote about it in a piece called 'Ways of Seeing' for Contagious.

Talking about WeFeelFine, we quote Jonathan: 

"This is very important to me in the work that I produce: the way something is expressed visually corresponds to the nature of the thing being expressed." and the go on to suggest that "the gap between how something looks and what it means is eroded in the art of visualization", which seems to be something that has been lost in the deluge of infographics that now litter the web.]

That evening I asked Jonathan how he intended to display the piece. He told me, under the condition that I didn't 'steal the idea for a brand'. 

Wondering about the ubiquity of content that was coming, and understanding that value is, usually, a function of scarcity, he was going to charge each online viewer $10 for a ticket to the show [10% of tickets sales is being donated to the sex workers union] and only allow 10 tickets to be issued each day. 

So, go over to ILoveYourWork, and get in line.