As I pointed out at the beginning, I'm not a designer. The other two speakers were and were excellent and thought provoking.
And I'm not from the future - but I do visit it quite a lot. So to speak, or, indeed, so to the talk.
The framing of which - mental time travel - was the foundation for a talk about the internet of things, and sensors, and ideas, featuring bosons, Dr Who, Monkey Island, the IP enabled Fridge [cast as a kind of depressed genius with no useful functions], disjointed brand experiences, privacy and panopticon media, and various other things.
Another cracking #Firestarters Great to see @faris synapses firing off all at once, like an inspirational brain firework it was! #future
The least obvious combinations that still solves the problem is more effective, because it is less obvious, therefore more interesting. More creative, if you will. Our abillity to create associations between seemingly non-related ideas is a fundamental aspect of how brains work.
It's what makes metaphors powerful and why metaphors are so important to how we think, seeing non-obvious similarity in different things.
he greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.
It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others;
it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.
Seenapse is a creative technology start up [DISCLOSURE: Genius Steals is an advisor / investor] that provides a way of leveraging the non-obvious connections that people are great at but software is not.
The beliefs underlying Seenapse are very aligned with how we think at Genius Steals. Humans create associative links, that provide inspiration pathways.
Is an interview I did with the very nice Petar at GapJumpers about my circuitous working life, that for convenience I sometimes confusingly refer to as a 'career', and digital strategy and training and loyalty and penetration and how to pick where to work based on how much you want to wear trainers.
A nice chap called Dimitris who was in a class of students I ranted at in 2011 [and apparently enjoyed it, which is nice] pinged me this interview that I did at the ADC Kongress last year for a magazine called Page, that covers creative stuff.
It's about focusing on the present, why collaboration is key and being nice is important.
And about Genius Steals, our wandering innovation consultancy.
Now, no doubt, there are innumerable challenges to actually creating anything like that - Oculus was originally conceived as a gaming platform.
But what interested me about it is that it could represent not just a new media platform but rather a new kind of medium.
PICK YOUR PLATFORM
What is the most innovative media platform in market today?
That is the question MiC is posing to the industry, with Faris Yakob, co-founder of strategy and innovation consultancy Genius Steals and former chief innovation officer at MDC Partners first up to bat with a response, talking about the potential future for Facebook following last week’s acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR.
By: Faris Yakob
What constitutes a media platform?
A medium, like television, is an assemblage term, meaning a kind of content, a distribution platform, a consumption platform. Digital strips these things apart, so content that was locked onto one platform can now move across others, where they can be embedded and shared. That said, on whatever screen, we’ve been restricted to the formats that have existed for a long time: video, pictures, text, sounds.
With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, we have the potential for a genuinely new kind of medium.
Facebook got pummeled by the market for not adapting to the biggest shift in digital media consumption thus far: the move to mobile. Mobile presents a whole new set of challenges and opportunities – especially if your business model is advertising.
Ads are small, lack impact and are especially unwelcome on mobile devices.
FaceRift is a bet on the next stage of the internet, one long predicted in science fiction – the Metaverse from Snow Crash – a complete, collaborative, virtual environment.
If Facebook turns Oculus into a dominant platform, Zuck has just bought the next generation operating system for humanity, which could replace the protocols we call the world wide web.
How will we navigate, create, socialize and shop in immersive virtual environments?
What role will advertising and brands have? We will probably begin by building stores (just as we did in Second Life, due to a lack of imagination and experience), but if the platform takes off, we will need to rethink the role of the audience/user.
To create experiences that are literally immersive, a whole new set of skills will be needed, just as companies have begun to realize that technology is a strategic, not a support function for every business.
So, while it’s still up to producers and consumers and the vagaries of fate to see what will happen, FaceRift might just become an (or the) innovative next generation media platform.
Or it might be Bird Flight Media – a media company that just launched in Vancouver that ties tiny banners to a variety of birds.
Later, I started thinking about business models, and how content works online in that context, and how advertising fits in, and suggested that shifting money into production, out of media, to make things people want to watch, might be a good idea.
Then it got all real time for a while and suddenly everyone had a newsroom and was a publisher.
[Which isn't a new idea, the brand as publisher bit, I mean. Guiness Book of Records. Michelin Guide. All original programs on television, before spot advertising was invented.]
Which is well and good, if a bit tiring if you try to keep the newsroom up, but my concern is that we just shifted from assuming advertising was the solution to all problems, to assuming content is the solution.
Content is great, doing things that earn attention is a good idea - but opens us up to being in competition for attention with an infinite amount of content, made by everyone, of different qualities, from childish to professional.
The solus funcion of most of this content is to aggregate attention, because this is the only measure of the 'quality' of any quantum of content. Attention is scarcer and scarcer everyday.
And making good, succesful content is super hard, otherwise every big movie and album would be a hit. But they aren't, because nobody knows anything, to quote William Goldman, about what the network will latch on to. There's a huge amount of randomness in the process of popularity.
That's why you have to adopt the portfolio model, make many, assume one out of ten will hit, and back it hard when you work out which one is gaining traction.
Brand content has to navigate all that as well, and then precipitate some commercial impact after.
And maybe it does present a threat to the creative advertising industry, since, well, our other partners, the media companies that we've been buying attention from for all these years, also have a business model problem, and are really good at making content, fast, that is designed to attract attention.
Sometimes, no doubt, that is and should be content, or advertising. It depends on the need, the objectives, the situation.
The internet promised to swallow the costs of reproduction and distribution - so we started thinking like dandelions, squeezing out lots of tiny pieces of content, all the time, to work into the content cadence of real people on these platforms.
But, as Facebook has aptly demonstrated, we remain at the mercy of the algorithm of the stream.
So now we have to buy attention in the stream, just like we did before, except every stream is different.
Again, I'm all for content. This is not about hating content. That's silly.
I've been blogging and that here on TIGS for nearly a decade. It dips and rises, but I keep coming back, and it has, over the long term [and content/social is a long term play], been awesome, intellectually, socially, personally and commercially.
[Remember: brands only care about the commercial bit though.]
I didn't realize I was doing content marketing, or in-bound marketing, but I think I worked out a brand voice and content strategy and that.
I've made friends, met interesting people, got interesting opportunities that have taken me all over the world, scored a couple of jobs, co-wrote a book, and found a lot of like minded people who helped me think I wasn't going crazy, and from whom I have continuted to learn such a lot, for all these years. All, indirectly, or directly, from creating content. [Among other things.]
I just don't think content, or any thing, should be the only thing we consider, when looking to solve problems, or reach people.
And that, sometimes, the most awesome content, is just reportage of some really awesome thing you actually did in the world, like getting a guy to jump out of a satellite, or taking a stand on factory farms.
And, because Iain is smarter than me, he got much further than the content conversation, in one leap, all the way back in 2007, to what Dan Hon and Russell Davies have been talking about more recently: the product is the service is the marketing.
For digital things, the distinction has becomes super blurry, to use an old favorite word of Russell's.
And for non-digital things, marketing should be about making better products, and fixing stupid ecosystems, as well as making stories that stir the heart and get spread, which I believe will still be important, actually, because the collective intelligence of the internet is beyond any specific node's abililty to truly leverage, and anyway we make decisions that are rarely very intelligent, about what we buy.
And i understand, lord do I understand, that often our clients don't have access to the bits of the system that let's them change silly broken things. This is why, I think, we started making digital utilities and sort of products and that for clients, it was both a new way to earn attention, and a kind of workaround.
The true promise of this newly talking, broadcasting, collective of unique individuals that we call consumers, is being felt in the kinds of businesses that are being built in the stream, as it were.
And it is, I believe, entirely possible for legacy structured corporations to do similar things, if they can learn to take themselves a bit less seriously, and listen to people, and try to help their customers, putting customer satisfaction before the demands of the market [as much as possible, we can't be naive, but the business case will out eventually, and growth through cost reduction is ultimately a dead end, eventually], and allocate budgets accordingly, and incentivize staff appropriately, extrinsically and intrinsically, and all that jazz.
Because it feels like the kinds of things we can do, as an industry, with our hunger for beauty and usefulness, with our curiousity and creative tenacity, with our eye on culture and behavior and everything, for and with brands that do make awesome things, and do awesome things in the world, would just be more....awesome.