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Posts from August 2009

Please Vote for South By Awesomeness

Beyond Myspace

Please vote for this panel to be included at next year's South By South West Festival.

Using this URL:

[Full disclosure: it's my girlfriend's panel, and she said I could be on it. However I maintain that my bias does not effect my judgment, and saw her speak to the theme at the NY Music Tech meet up, think it will be awesome, and the other speakers will be brilliant.] 

Please also vote for this one, even though I won't be on it:

What do women want in bed? With their laptops, of course. Why are some entertainment platforms better suited for females? We'll explore what women are using and why, providing perspectives for the marketers and brands while providing opportunities for sexy and sophisticated women looking to explore new digital trends.

Because I want the answer to 'technology for women' to no longer be 'make a pink one'.

Voting is open for all the panels until Friday. It will take you literally less than one minute to register. And then SXSW will be more awesome, thanks to you, and I will be very grateful.


Brands as Modern Myths

Myth making is doomed
[From here]

Products are less important than stories
[From here]

Over the course of the last week, 3 separate conversations have led me back to the first paper I ever wrote about brands, which essentially posits that brands have replaced myths in our culture.

One of these conversations was with Doug Holt, author of How Brands Become Icons, which explores similar territory from a slightly different point of view.

So I thought I'd post it here and see what you all thought. 

It seems like the kind of idea that comes back into view every now and again.

The quotes above highlight an interesting dialectic concerning the idea.

Toby [who is lovely and very smart] suggests in the first quote that because the internets allow people unfettered access to the truth, and enable them to tell their own stories, that myth-making is doomed.

However, he is conflating myths here with lies, and he knows it - because later on in the article it comes from he says:

'this isn't to say stories aren't important' and 'it's still storytelling - just done differently'.

[If anything, myths are stories that contain truths, not the other way around]

Fragments of it have appeared here before no doubt, and elsewhere in stuff I have written. It was the first time I sat down and had a proper think about what I thought about brands and that.

The second quote suggests that the stories are more important than the products, and part of me agrees in the sense that the stories around the product, or provenance and corporate behaviour and cultural impact, have never been so consciously part of the decision making process, in essence because of the access to information that the internet allows.

But the product is part of the story, which we mustn't forget.

Anyway, having opposing viewpoints is good and healthy - and also plays into my model of brands as myths, as the function of myth, according to Levi-Strauss is "provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction" found in culture.

A few random quotes to sample the flavour:

We are “meaning-seeking creatures”.

Duckworth points out, “brands enable us to make sense and create meanings for ourselves in the socia world of consumption in which we participate.”
Grant has suggested, brands are “ideas to live by” that we look for due to our “tradition hunger”.

The emergence of brands as myths has been triggered by the decline of standard myths in western culture.

Western modernity is “the child of logos” [the opposite of mythos in the Hellenistic tradition, it represents science and facts]. Science became the dominant paradigm for understanding the world. But logos alone is unable to give us a sense of significance – it was myth that gave life meaning and context. Thus society unconsciously cried out for and ultimately created its own myths around the newly dominant force of consumerism. Logos led us to logos.

Myths are inherently complex and polysemous; they can be interpreted in a number of equally valid ways.

Levi Strauss posited that “it is likely that languages exist in which an entire myth can be expressed in a single word”. There is – it is the language of brand. 

You can read the whole paper below if you want.

I don't think the brand/myth is the only story we tell ourselves about ourselves, but it's definitely the dominant one of modern times, perhaps even more so today than when I wrote this a few years back, as every young person online begins to realise that when broadcasting your life through media fragments, you are creating an impression of who you are that is distinct from, but inextricably linked to, who you are, that is increasingly being referred to as a personal brand.

Download Logocentrism - Brands as Modern Myths - Faris Yakob


Neurosonics Audiomedical Labs Inc. from Chris Cairns on Vimeo.

My mate Chris just made this.

Get more details from Neurosonics Audiomedical - the film features turntablist legends The Scratch Perverts and multi-mike beatbox genius Shlomo [as the drums].

Kingdom of the unreal but also a higher state of being, ultimately free of the limitations of the material world through the agency of science, technology, and imagination.

I may be biased but I still guarantee it is the *MOST AWESOME* thing you will see today.

[Possibly tomorrow also. Maybe even all week, but the internet is a big {metaphorical} place, and things move fast nowadays, speaking of which...]

People and technology are blurring in both directions.

You have the idea of cybernetic enhancement, the addition of technology to people, from invisible tools all the way to the cognitive amplification that Ray Kurzweil claims will be necessary just to keep up with the increased rate of technology wrought cultural change in a couple of decades time [see the upcoming Transcendent Man for more on his particular flavour post singularity thinking] [Thanks Stephanie for the tip]. 

And you have technology getting humanised, until it plunges into the uncanny valley, that scary place where robots get so close to peopleness they freak you out, until it emerges as something more Roomba-like, [because pet robots are much less scary than people robots.]

[I think the uncanny valley equally applies to any technology that mimics or attempts to mimic humanlike functions, which is why behavioural targeting can seem sinister if it's heavy handed, and also why that paperclip in MS Office was so annoying.]

I'm thinking a lot about 'technology' as an idea at the moment for some upcoming talks - if you come across any really awesome old technology / old technology prediction stuff on the youtube I'd love to see it - thanks.

If You Can't See The Angles No More

To promote their new cameras with screens on the front so you can take pictures of yourself more easily, Samsung and the 'Viral Factory' [an unfortunate name in my opinion but let's not start on that again], have created some interactive youtube videos that show you how to capture your best side for your social media profile, which is especially useful if you are a hideous monster. 

The Mediation Generation has found its autocamera, bringing with it reminder that what we choose to mediate is usually a specific side of ourselves.

As Carltio pointed out, "if you can't see the angles no more, you're in trouble".

Teenage Wasteland

Whilst the creation of the teenager as a distinct lifestage and identity framework is usually ascribed to extended lifespans, a newly commercial culture seeking lifetime customers and the availability of cars [that provided them a third space to explore each other away from the prying eyes of THE MAN], those of us that grew up in the 80s know better.

John Hughes invented the teen movie and in doing so invented a reflexive idea of teen that all of us internalised, idolised and empathised with.

The Breakfast Club re-imagined Jungian archetypes for high school kids, whilst reminding us that we all contain elements of every segment.

Ferris Bueller was the most important teenage protagonist since James Dean [I realise Dean was real, but he was quickly absorbed into myth after his death].

His universal appeal; his ability to talk directly to the audience, to all of US; his uncertainty about the world he was being asked to join; his desire to take a DAY OFF and do awesome stuff that you will remember when you are old; his loyalty; his hot girfriend; his fearlessness in the face of danger; his ability to use technology to outsmart grown ups; his belief that he could be the Walrus; his rendition of Twist and Shout; these are all benchmarks against which we children of the 80s measure ourselves and our lives.

And if they aren't they should be.

I like to imagine John Hughes has retired to Shermer, Illionois, the fictional Chicago suburb most of his movies were set in and hope that we all remember that life moves pretty fast, so if we don't stop and look around once in a while, we might just miss it.

Post Digital Marketing

View more documents from Helge Tennø.

Helge's lovely deck above has lots of interesting, provocative and beautifully expressed thinking in it - have a read.

Increasingly I'm finding the work 'digital' more of a hindrance than a help. It's too broad to mean anything.

Sometimes its used to mean stuff on the web, but it really applies to everything.

'Digitisation' changes, has changed, the ecosystem of media, and all other channels are changed in relation to interactive communication technologies.

It doesn't just open up a new channel: it changes how all the other channels work as well.

But, when everything is digital, using the word won't make any sense.

As Helge point outs, it's not about finding new places to advertise, it's about the entirely restructuring the relationship between companies and their customers.