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Posts from October 2007

Whatever's Current Has Currency

As Murdoch suggests towards the end of the clip, I very much doubt that the radical position Fox seems to take towards global warming - that it's a hoax - is the result of an ideological stand point - Fox's position is designed to make it as appealing as possible to as many people as possible.

This is how traditional media works and it's a business decision. Things that are of the moment have currency and taking a radical view on a polarising topic, especially one that is complex enough to be difficult to understand, can be used lend interest to other things.

In other news, Al Gore, founder of, wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

[Part of Blog Action Day]

Billboards for Billboards


My mate Sam over on Ghost Signs led me to the above. Auckland [New Zealand, but I'm sure you know that] is currently considering following in the Havaiana-steps of Sao Paulo and abolishing billboards.

The industry is lobbying its cause using the tools it understands best, which leads to this billboard demonstrating what the world would like without billboards to support billboards.

I think the issue here all about the balanced value exchange - people realise that there is value in their attention and resent giving it away for free, which is why street furniture is an increasingly popular outdoor vehicle.

Whereas graffiti artists simply resent being prosecuted for beautifying when the corporations are allowed to despoil.

The nature of aesthetics is by definition subjective.

3 Beautiful Things Before Breakfast


[Pic by Seraphimc]

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Red Queen admonishes Alice for giving up without trying:

"Alice laughed:  "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

[Btw - if you've not read it, I highly recommend you do. It's wonderful and pulls apart language like only a mathematician can.]

The insistence that practice is what's required echoes something Gerry Moira, Creative Director of Euro RSCG, said in a talk I saw him give this week.

He was riffing on the idea of living a creative life and challenged the tendency we have in agencies to leave creative questions to the eponymous department, in a manner reminiscent of Jay Chiat's maxim:

"Creative is not a department!"

Rather than some mystical faculty, creative judgment is a skill, one that can be developed by using it, which is why he encourages people to immerse themselves as much as possible, and to read critics, people who analyse creativity professionally.

[31 Songs by Nick Hornby is a rather lovely example he put me on to.]

So I was terribly pleased when I was confronted with 3 creative masterpieces this morning.

First is the picture above - captured at Burning Man - that someone sent me: the line of the horizon, the juxtaposition of the tiny cyclists and the expanse of the playa,  and of course the huge rig smashing into the desert riding a laser-like rainbow fair took my breath away.

[Sidenote: Burning Man is a week long festival in the Nevada Desert. They don't allow any money and you have to take all your own food and everyone makes their own art, music and fun. I went a few years back - it is one of the most incredible spectacles I have ever witnessed - and an excellent place to exercise your creative judgment.]

The second is this awesome website for Arcade Fire that I saw on Paul's blog - it's an interactive music video, taking the form and updating it for the participatory consumer.

And the third is this art piece featuring 99 Wolves, brought to me by Dead Insect, which is just incredibly beautiful, and a comment on the madness, as opposed to wisdom, of crowds.


Want to be a Brand Consultant?


Wolff Ollins is "recognised as the most influential brand consultancy" - it says so on their website - and, if you aren't aware of them, they've worked on developing some of the biggest brands of recent times - Orange and the Olympics being some of their most famous work.

They are looking for a few good people:

WO is growing, so we need to recruit a number of junior/mid level consultants. 

We’re after people who are capable of growing, probably in their second or third job.

We’ll hire talented people no matter what their background – but probably the best fit here would be 5 years or so out of college, good understanding of business, socially adept, open minded.

And of course – very bright, ambition, desire to change the world, optimism, right and left brain, challenging, quirky.

If that sounds like you please give my lovely friend Mel a shout: [email protected]

Buy One, Get One Tree


It's not cool to like Innocent anymore in the brand business.

Having been the poster brand for a back to basics goodness and clear voice, Innocent got used in so many presentations that we all gave to each other that it's now taboo.

It's like using Apple as an example - it implies you haven't really tried hard enough to find something interesting to say.

Well, I'm going to invite scorn anyway because they still do lovely things and it's not their fault that

a] we all overused them


b] so many people have poorly copied what they did and continue to do

Buy  One, Get One Tree is a lovely initiative where they plant a tree for every specially marked pack purchased and there's a virtual forest where you can see your tree and a treeometer to see how many have been planted.

There's even a widget for your blog to show how many you've planted by proxy.

Sustainability is built into Innocent, product and brand [if that distinction makes any sense], but these sort of initiatives shouldn't be the reserve of the few.

Uncork Your Brain

[by noniinnkissa]

If you were down in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago you would have been sure of a big surprise, for that was the day the internet had its Picnic!

Ok that was slightly torturous, but I've just stumbled across the awesome Picnic website and am gutted I didn't hear about it in advance.

[Blogosphere - where were you?]

The Picnic Festival combines many types of events which will allow you to "uncork your brain":

Designed for creatives, entrepreneurs, innovation and technology experts, media professionals, and business people, the conference programme showcases the latest innovative and creative trends relevant to the media and entertainment industries.

Fortunately for laggards such as myself the internet allows us to timeshift real time events - all the talks are up on the video archive.

See Linda "Continuous Partial Attention" Stone on stage with Jyri Engestrom of Jaiku explaining how social networks require social objects to coalesce around - something that's completely obvious, once he explains it.

[Since Google's purchase of Jaiku yesterday he probably looks more like this now.]

See Jonathan Harris present We Feel Fine.

Or see the director of The Simpsons Movie talk about bringing that to life.

There's just too much good stuff here.

The good thing about real time is that you get it all in one hit - because I can view this whenever it's going to be hard to find the time to watch it all, if you see what I mean.

Futures of Entertainment


I've been invited over to MIT to speak at the Futures of Entertainment conference, which is really very exciting indeed.

Spun out of the Comparative Media Studies program and Convergence Culture, FOE brings together academia and industry to discuss the emerging media landscape.

This year they have also put a panel together about the implications for the communication industry, that I'll be attempting to make a useful contribution to:

Migratory audiences and declining channel loyalty are seen as two key challenges convergence culture poses to the advertising industry. At the same time, campaigns that respond by capitalizing on the creativity of audiences prompt questions about the continuing role for creatives. This panel looks at the unfolding role for advertisers within convergence culture, looking at questions about the nature of agencies, transmedia planning and the increasing circulation of advertising as entertainment content.

Registrations have just gone live and space is limited so head on over if you're interested and hopefully I'll see you there.

For those of you who can't make, I'll try to scribble a few notes, although it will probably be captured and cast  - last year's discussions can be seen here.

Eating in the Dark


I has dinner in complete darkness last night.

Dans le Noir is a concept restaurant that launched in Paris and has opened in London where the first bite isn't with the eyes as you can't see anything.

It was an amazing experience. Complete darkness is so odd. You keep waiting for your eyes to adjust and they simply can't - there's no light at all.

Negotiating your food is interesting but perhaps more interesting is the social effect - it's much easier to talk to people you don't know when you all can't see each other.

Dining in the total darkness represents a very unusual social experience. How many times have you ever had the chance to talk to people without any preconception that sight implies?

At Dans le Noir? there is no more pressure of other people’s visual judgment. You talk more freely and spontaneously. The absence of vision changes completely the way you act and react, both emotionally and socially.

That’s why Dans le Noir? is far more than just a restaurant: it offers a social and convivial experience. Dans le Noir? raises some questions such as the role of sight in the way we relate to others.

The waiting staff are all blind and incredibly adept and friendly - part of the idea behind the restaurant is to raise awareness of the challenges facing blind people and raise money for blindness charities.

In an age when brands are trying to find ways to bring people together and to find a socially responsible role in society, there are probably some interesting lessons we can learn from eating in the dark.

Cooking With Booze


The internet's brilliant.

In this morning's exciting dollop of TIGS we were talking about giving content away for free being a viable business model / promotional mechanic for selling books. Then I had a nice chat in the comments with a chap called James and it turns out he's doing just that.

James has written a dipsomaniac cook book under the nom de plume George Harvey Bone. Since he's a geek, he's also released it online under a creative commons license and done a bunch of other neat geek things like a mobile site - so you can check recipes in the shops on your interphone.

Legendary. The book was launched only 4 days ago so pop over to the site and buy a copy, making you the envy of your less well informed friends and proving us creative commons types right at the same time.

Book Sampling


Picked this up this morning whilst waiting for coffee - it's a book sample: the opening chapter of The Battle for Big School, distributed via postcard racks.

Now it hasn't made me want to buy the book [I don't think I'm the target audience - according to the blurb it's a "fab, girlie read"] but it's still a good idea.

If I was a publisher, I'd have the first chapter of every book I sold available for download.

In fact, I think I'm with Cory Doctorow on this - I'd probably have the entire book available for download, for free, like he does here.

Books are currently in an extremely fortuitous position with reference to the internet, which is disrupting other information based businesses like music and that, because although it's the content that we want, it's the combination of content and form that makes books what they are.

So giving the content away for free makes sense - as Cory points out e-books are "social objects":

It wants to be copied from friend to friend, beamed from a Palm device, pasted into a mailing list. It begs to be converted to witty signatures at the bottom of e-mails.

Which gives you massive reach for no cost. And when it hits the right people, the audience that it's right for, they will go and buy it because reading a book doesn't work on screen.

At least not until we get e-paper sorted out.

Then we'll see, Cory, then we'll see.