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Posts from October 2009

Every Vote Counts (So Please Vote for Me)


A nice chap called Alistair just emailed me to let me know that TIGS has been selected [by public vote] as a finalist in the British Interactive Media Association Awards for Best Blog.

Gosh. Since I'm guessing you probably read this if you nominated me - THANK YOU!

I really appreciate it. It's awesome to be a finalist.

But it would be even more awesome to win so if I could beg your indulgence again - the finalists are being put to a public

Could you click over to their website and vote

By the way - I love you. And I think you are very attractive. I've always thought that, I just haven't said anything because I'm shy.


This Place

This place

The world isn't simple.

It really isn't. At all. It's massively complex, or complicated, or whatever.

There aren't just two sides to every story, there's an infinite number of sides, and an infinite number of permutations of at least 7 different stories.

There aren't any right answers - we need to put that idea down right now - it's not like this country is right and the other is wrong, in, say, some conflict.

In fact, we don't even know what right and wrong might really mean, not just in that moral relativism way that different cultures have different value systems and that, but also because usually situations are so confused that idea of there being a right and wrong doesn't really make sense.

Beliefs simplify the complex - they reify 'right' and 'wrong', they demark actions into a specific contextual classes.

But even with such things place, stuff can still be really confusing.

Pretty much people agree that killing people is bad, except under certain conditions, when its not.

And that's with killing people, which is pretty black and white.

With climate change - hoo boy is that complex [or complicated, or whatever]

This Place 09 is a side project from a couple of nice plannery people in the UK.

They want to delegates at the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference that, while the issue is complex, people feel very strongly that something needs to be DONE, and that their voices should be heard.

So they are compiling tweets on the topic into a book for the delegates. People nominate places that are or will be effected by the changing climate, to remind the delegates that this is about real places, and real people.

The issue will remain complex, but the twitter format will at least keep things short.

Tankard Tales

Lauren tankard

I met the legend that is Paul Coleman on the 20th July 2006 - we both went to a talk Russell gave at W&K, and I went for a beer with him after.

I know the specifics of this meeting because he blogged about it [don't you love the internet?].

Paul now works at W&K - perhaps the seeds were sown that very day, who knows - and his wonderful blog is about, well, mostly about his understated but mind blowing observations on life [not about planning or ads and that] - which is why he is a founding and lifetime member of the plannersphere.

Paul sent his ceramic tankard around the world, using that self same blogging planning nice peopleing community.

I received it from Age, who got it from Lauren, and it traveled all the way from Australia to New York.

I had it for a while.

Better Tankard Mistakes

Then I took it to Toronto, where we gave a speech together.

Conference tankard

Then I took it to dinner, where Dino had if for a bit.

Dino tankard

And finally I handed it over to Jason.

The handover tankard

Who took to it well...

Eye see you

- and then passed it on to Gareth in SF...where the story continues...

Projected Identities


In a flash of glorious digital juxtaposition, a coincidence that became meaningful, this morning I saw three films in different places, all promoting the Nikon Coolpix S1000PJ - the first compact camera in the world with a projector built in [which seems pretty awesome].

The one above comes from Japan, the ones below come from Europe and the 1980s, respectively.

Two have had about the same number of views on the tube. What I like about this, in totality, is that you will probably like one of them.

Or maybe not, but I certainly did.


And maybe that's the point - more different stuff, more chances people will like something, more hooks for the network. 

The awesome Cory Doctorow calls this ' thinking like a dandelion':

Take the dandelion: a single dandelion may produce 2,000 seeds per year, indiscriminately firing them off into the sky at the slightest breeze, without any care for where the seeds are heading and whether they'll get an hospitable reception when they touch down.

The dandelion just wants to be sure that every single opportunity for reproduction is exploited! 

Dandelions and artists have a lot in common in the age of the Internet.

This is, of course, the age of unlimited, zero-marginal-cost copying.

If you blow your works into the net like a dandelion clock on the breeze, the net itself will take care of the copying costs.

My bet is that Western cool kids will love the Japanese Helicopter Boys, but conservative Japanese grown ups will love the infomercial. But who knows!

Put them out there and see what happens.

Exciting isn't it?

Divided By Infinity

View more documents from Jason Oke.

One of the things I was talking about at the AToMIC conference was the end of media scarcity.

This is an inevitable result of the technology drivers that are changing our world, the laws of Moore, Kryder and Gilder.

[I'm not going to go into detail - I'll post the deck when it's ready. It's not yet.]

When storage, processing and bandwidth are free, then, as a direct corollary, the amount of possible media channels becomes [virtually] infinite. 

It already is [virtually] infinite online - at least there's far more content and context than any person can really comprehend.

This presents a challenge, assuming the other networks like TV, Cable and Mobile finally accept IP as their protocol of choice - closed networks can manufacture scarcity.

[I'm thinking on a very long term horizon here - but keep in mind that the goal of 4G networks is to provide a comprehensive and secure IP based solution, alongside more bandwidth.]

Because anything divided by infinity is zero -

[OK actually it's not because infinity isn't a number, but you could say something like the limit of 1/n as n approaches infinity is zero, whatever that means.]

- no matter how much stuff you push out, it equals zero, unless people choose to spend time with it - certain pieces of content will always aggregate attention, regardless of where they are consumed.

So the idea of planning which channels to put things in seems kind of pointless. 

[I'm talking specifically about using 'channels' to distribute 'content' - not looking at all the operations of a company and working out which levers need moving, which is what I think constitutes true communications planning.]

You can only plan the kinds of content you intend to create, put it in as many places as is possble, and look for ways to help that content to spread, by perhaps bringing it to the attention of people who might find it interesting, and letting those people find it when they want it.

All of which leads me to these explorations of those arts.

Above, Gareth and Jason - two of my favourite industry minds and people

[although I've never met Gareth in real life, despite trying a million times, which makes me think that if I do the world may end or something.]

- suggest that maybe the media we should be planning for are time, space, depth and technology.

Below, David [who is also lovely and drew red glasses on me in his deck, which is awesome] has put together some lovely thoughts about intention planning and the future being the fusion of data + meaning to help people tell their own stories.

View more documents from David Gillespie.

As the emerald tablet of Hermes Trismegistus says:

As below, so above; and as above so below

Meaningful Coincidences

I've just spent 50 minutes of jetlagged insomnia in a hotel room in Madrid watching a 'fantasy documentary' made by the BBC in 1990.

I found the documentary, hosted in full on Google Video, via a tweet by @eskimon, which led me to a post on Russell's blog called Hyperland, which is also the name of the documentary. 

Hyperland is a documentary film written by Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [but you knew that] and one of the great futurologists of our time [he is greatly missed]. He saw the future clearly, as though it was obvious, as though it had to happen.

The show starts with Adams' frustration with the passive, linear nature of television and, upon disposing of his set, he is approached by an intelligent software agent represented by Tom Baker [who was the second best Doctor Who].

The agent explains that he is an application, able to source information from anywhere and anywhen and then follow the hypertextual connections of every datum outwards to all the data in the world.

It's too brilliant for me to keep describing - it's a waste of time. Set aside 50 minutes and watch it.

And keep reminding yourself it was written 20 years ago - before the first web browser.

One of the bits I really loved was an exploration of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

“The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.”

The shape of society's stories right now could well be logos, but let's not get into that right now.

[Another bit I love is how much Adams hates the idea of talking fridges - the IP fridge is the great technological white elephant of pervasive computing.] 

It covers World of Warcraft too, artificial realities, and points out that truly immersive interactive environments have an inevitable tendency to pull you out of the 'real world'

[at least until the one can be overlaid on the other - see Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge for a idea of what that looks like, a book I found out about because of a comment from my mate Wilsh].

As I'm sure is clear, the vision that Adams painted before any of you who aren't old enough to drink in the UK were born, is, well, here and right now. 

The very context of my watching it is an example of what it's about.

The agent points out that intelligent hypertextuality likes to arrange meaningful coincidences, which is pretty much how I found out about it, and most other things, thanks to the human/computer hypertextual network I'm very fortunate to have found myself part of. 

Coincidentally, I'm in Madrid to give a presentation about the disruption to linear passive content and communication that technology represents, and my speech opens with a quote by Douglas Adams. 

I wonder if that's meaningful.

The Economics Of Media

Economics of media

[The value you as an average American TV consumer represent - from the posts mentioned below]

Advergirl has written a series of short, provocative posts about Media in Crisis that I think you should probably go and read.

She's nailing something that we all know but perhaps like to ignore - the economic model that underlies the media industry is, to put it kindly, in flux.

As I pointed out in Content Republic, the binary opposition model of content monetization, ad supported or paid for, probably doesn't cover the entire possible gamut of commercially motivating models for the creation of content, but that said, most existing media owners have yet to truly explore significant alternatives.

This is possibly in part legacy thinking - content on broadcast commercial media was originally created by advertisers for the sole purpose of aggregating the right audiences to sell certain products to.

Content and commerce divided, for economics reasons, and since then the content creators and media channel owners have aggregated attention and then sold that on to advertisers.

A model which is clearly breaking down, for lots of reasons I've been talking about recently, to do with the end of media and content scarcity, the competition for attention that personal content from your friends constitutes, who are mostly creating stuff for 'free', and other drivers brought about by that thing we like to call 'digital'.

I was talking about this kind of thing at the Atomic Conference in Toronto last week and there were clearly two kinds of reactions to this change.

Those that accept change as already evident and embrace it, and those that said, well, 'digital' is just another channel to pump brands through and things are basically the same really, aren't they.

No, it isn't, and no, they're not.

Although change is neither as fast nor as slow as either group want to believe, I suspect.

Remarkably, this was on the very day that Canada's largest media conglomerate, Canwest, declared bankruptcy - if that isn't an indicator that media economics might need re-thinking I'm not sure what it.

Advergirl's excellent posts are below:

The Media Crisis: Part 1, Overview of an Implosion

The Media Crisis, Part 2: Publishers and Creators (working for scratch)

The Media Crisis, Part 3: Advertisers (looking for their lost sheep)

The Media Crisis, Part 4: Consumers (will people buy their eyeballs back?)

What Do You Do Exactly?

Me desk what

There's an article in the current Boards magazine which looks at people with weird job titles in the industry, which very kindly includes me.

{I quite fancy both Alchemist and Resident Theorist as jobs - then maybe people wouldn't confuse me with the CTO and try to sell me enterprise software. Or ask me to help when they can't plug their laptops into the projectors.}

As I said in this Fast Company piece, all these new job titles are indications that the system is trying to assimilate the rapid change in cultural context, driven by technology's increasingly pervasive role in all communication.

Perhaps the divisions of the past, the departments and roles, the linear production processes, aren't the only, or the best way, to create communications products, to help companies use creativity to solve the business challenges [and take advantage of the opportunities] that this changing context create.

When I was judging the London International Awards last week, I was being interviewed and was asked why there were no 'creative people' on my jury.

I said that I strongly disagreed with that - there just weren't any traditional 'creatives'.

But Ben, Frank, Kevin and Noah are some of the most creative people in the business - they also happen to be incredibly smart, which I guess makes them 'strategists'.

One is even one of the most creative people in business, according to FastCompany.

Like entries into the NEW category itself, they just don't fit conveniently into the industry's old boxes.

UPDATE: The lovely Fitz just sent me this article that asks will planners be the creative directors of the future? I see 'planners' as the architects of the system of engagement myself.



Tomorrow [OCT 7th] I'm speaking at the AToMIC conference in Toronto.

They think I'm speaking about transmedia planning - and I'll touch on it but I've got a bunch of new ideas I want to try out. I hope they don't mind. Shhh don't tell.

There's an interview I did for the magazine behind it - Media in Canada, should you like to read it.

If you are going to be there, and are reading this, why not come say hi tomorrow.

Brand Patronage

And now a word

I wrote this piece a while ago for this book called Defining Sponsorship - you can buy it off Amazon.

It was put together by an agency called Red Mandarin - they are, as the sharpest among you will have already guessed, a sponsorship agency.

My piece was called: And now a word from our patrons...

Because I think knowing the history of advertising [or whatever you do] is important, it starts with the fact that back in the day all advertising was sponsorship, and that even further back in an earlier day, we called that patronage.

Ancient Athenians would put up the funding for cultural and sporting events to make them accessible to the common man. In return they would get their name in stone. The tradition of patronage transcends culture and time; it has operated throughout history as the primary mechanism by which culture has been supported. 

Royalty and aristocracy would provide patronage, for a combination of altruistic and image reasons, that allowed art to be created and events for the masses to happen. The nature of this commercial relationship was culturally defined – it was never a simple commercial transaction – and the impact a patron had on the work or event was equally prescribed by convention.

It was, for want of a better word, subtler than simply sticking your name on something. A patron’s taste and sophistication and grace were being reflected in how the patronage would manifest, not just their money.

Today, brands provide patronage, but often forget that it’s not just their money that should be evident.

You can read the rest of it here:

Download Defining Sponsorship Brand Patronage - Faris Yakob

More recently though, my mate Jared wrote a post on sponsorship which I think addresses some of the same points but is more useful and less historical, so perhaps go and read that instead.