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Posts from June 2010

Digital Changing the Real

Analog vs digital

[From Geekologie

My latest piece for The Marketing Society [UK] has gone up. 

It's about how all those things I put in that video of COOL THINGS for the CLIOs seem [in retrospect] to have something in common - they are digital things that effect changes in the real world.

It starts like this:

Originally, media was all about recording the world. 

We wanted to capture what we saw, freeze it in time and space, show other people.

Analogue media forms are an attempt to recreate the world faithfully, transposing variations in amplitude and frequency to recreate the impact on our senses. It takes a property of a medium and modulates it to transmit information.

In analogue sound recording fluctuations in air pressure [that we hear as sounds] strike the diaphragm of a microphone, which induces corresponding fluctuations in the current produced by the [electromagnetic] microphone. That current is therefore an ‘analog’ of the sound.

The digital revolution transmits data in a different way, representing everything as numbers, and rendering them into binary: discrete on and off states that computers recompile back into representations of the sensorial world.

Eventually though, it became apparent that the relationship between media and the real world, reality and simulacrum, was not one-way.


Emotional Technology / Awe Spreads

In what appears to have become a series of talking head videos of me talking about stuff, here is some stuff I was talking about at the CaT conference.

I have, of late, been giving a talk about the nature of what we mean by technology, that some of this riffs off. I should probably post it.

In the meantime, the above seems to still make some sense in the very warm light of day, despite the unfortunate midframe grab. 

We do have a liberal arts bias, which means we tend to think of technology as something 'other'. 

The word technology is grown from the Greek tecknologia, which can be broken down into teckno - which means craft, or art - and logia, which means system, but stems itself from the same root as logos, which means word, speech act. 

So it's the system of craft, but it comes from saying things through craft. 

The way we currently use it was only coined in about 1830, which is crucial to know when understanding what it culturally means. It was only when technology began to move much faster than culture that it became an 'other' - something we didn't understand as everyday.

This is why we don't tend to think of writing as a technology - but of course it is. 

It's the MOST important technology - the only one we use INSIDE OUR OWN MINDS, to help us think. 

[At least until we get some decent wetware interfaces.] 

I think it's important that we remember that technology expands the palette beyond words and pictures. 

And that technology isn't just about utility

It can be about emotion - especially awe. 

As I allude to above, the NYTimes has done a study of the most shared articles on their website and they all trigger awe - which makes sense because 


Which is why it incumbent upon us to always be looking for the awesome. 


The Myth of Originality

Here's a brief excerpt from my brief talk at the Wired Business Conference last week, where I attempt to dismantle the Romantic notion of originality as "something that comes from nothing" and point out that no idea comes from nowhere, ideas are new combinations, culture and technology are inherently accretive, and, well, genius steals

Some of this thinking may be familiar to regular readers of TIGS. [WINK] 

There is also a gag [that goes down without a giggle] about exposing yourself.

This mostly not very funny mode of humor may also be familiar to regular readers. [WINK]  

Strategy is...How Do We Make Money

There's a nice write up of the CaT conference by Kunur over on Creativity and also on Adage that pulls out some of themes that percolated up.

They posted a video featuring me delivering a micro-rant about what strategy is. 

The word strategy comes from the Greek strategos which translates roughly as general, and then came to mean the art of the general.

This is why MBA business types often used to read the Art of War by Sun Tzu. Or pretend to. 

In essence, strategy is very simple. 

You have a goal you wish to achieve. You have finite resources that can be deployed in achieving them.

Strategy is simply how. 

In my first professional life I was a management consultant. 

Whilst I wasn't a huge fan of the dress code I did like the grounding it gave me in strategy - I started out as an analyst and then moved into the strategy practice, where I became very familiar the BCG matrix, Porter's Five Forces model and the tenets of business strategy as espoused by Harvard Business School and those that follow its teaching. 

And, again, its really simple. 

Business exist solely to create value - to make money. 

Therefore, business strategy is simply how you intend to go about doing that, using whatever assets you have available. 

Everything else, brand strategy [what the brand should represent to whom because of what] and creative strategy [what's the proposition], exists only in service of that.

The reason, I suspect, that planning is once again coming under the microscope 

[apart from the endlessly introspective nature of planners, natch] 

and there is a sense that it needs updating, is that it is designed to translate strategy into inspiration for creative minds, leveraging the strategic currency of insights. 

But, by definition, creative strategy concerns itself with the content tone and messaging of advertising, which may not be very useful for creating ideas that do, which has led some smart people to suggest that planners need to get their hands dirty and 'just effin do'.

My superawesome brother has some interesting thoughts about arbitrage as the driver of value over on his blog, and he links to the art project Bud has been running where he makes visualizations of people's definitions of strategy

They all look lovely but I think the variety of suggestions in the comments simply reflects how far from understanding business we can sometimes be as an industry, or that fact that how we use the word strategy is probably very different from what a client understands by it. 

Creative Techno

Cat conf

Despite the post title this is not anything to do with Richie Hawtin or Jeff Mills - it is rather a quick note to say that I'm doing a couple of things at the CaT conference tomorrow and very much looking forward to it.

So if you are going to be there do come say hi and get involved in our attempt to 'crowdsource' or collaboratively generate or something 10 rules of what NOT to do when transitioning your 'traditional' agency to a 'digital' way of living.  

Or something. 

#LastMinuteMicroBeerSphere (San Francisco)

Beersphere SF
Oh wait this isn't Twitter. 


[Oh I can't help myself. I thought I could but I can't. I'm writing this on the plane to SF right now. 

And yes it is still exciting to be online and up in the sky. Like all delicacies this delight will fade as soon as it becomes commonplace but for now I'm just going to enjoy it.]

But still - in the twitterish spirit of real time impulsive outbursts and spontaneous congregation [and drinking] facilitated by these our very INTER of webs, I'm suggesting that, since I'm going to be in SF today [Friday June 4th Year 2000 and 10] and that I'm [probably] meeting the ever elusive Gareth Kay, that I would invite you as well, if you were about and fancied a beer.

The reason I say [probably] is that it has been predicted [by me in this post, due to his ever-elusiveness] that if I actually meet Gareth the universe will explode. 

So consider yourself warned [although, due to the nature of the universe being, well, everything, it won't matter where you are and so you might as well come for a beer]. 

All of which is pointless preamble to some time, space and beer coordinates I shall now dispense:

Friday June 4th 2010 oh say from 5.30ish. [Happy hour is until 7.30 apparently. Let's hope the emotions are more faithful than the timekeeping] 

Bar 15 Romolo

San Francisco.

See you there, should you come.

Drugs Should Be Legalized (Where do you stand?)

Drugs should be legalised - economist

The Economist is launching a new poster campaign that takes their editorial to the street. 

As I commented previously The White Out of Red poster campaign is pretty much the definition of big shoes to fill. 

[I also said I felt oddly compelled to post that work because Scamp was no longer blogging - but he's back now promoting his new book.] 

This seems smart to me - using advertising to sample content is a good idea. 

I also like the fact the posters are 'launching' on Facebook - where you can go and discuss your stance on this issues being highlighted, I imagine - makes a campaign specific page make sense since it is, by its very nature, discursive and conversational. 

In fact, it's a crucial element - otherwise the Where Do You Stand? line is simply a line, not an invitation to reflect and comment.  

Soka Afrika

Soka Afrika - Trailer 1 from Masnomis on Vimeo.

My mate Sam [and some other people - it takes a village to make a film,no doubt] has made a film about football [the one that's also known as soccer and that is having a World Cup soon] in Africa [where I'm told the World Cup is going to be held]. 

And, frankly, it looks awesome, even to me and I have absolutely no interest in football. 

But it's about more than that - it's about hope, and exploitation, and fame, and Africa, and lots of juicy human stuff:

Soka Afrika is a feature length documentary film celebrating African football in the run up to World Cup 2010. Following the different paths of aspiring young African players from South Africa, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Cameroon, Soka Afrika explores the power of football to influence Africa for better or worse. 

The trailer is above - you can watch a longer edit on the website.

Because it is a thoroughly modern movie making enterprise, you can follow it on twitter and tumblr and facebook - the final film will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Whilst I don't care about football [I know I should - it's culturally very important, and culture is important, and so on - but I'm not] I am fascinated by the passion it engenders, which this movie seems to tap into, bringing together some very personal stories into a picture of how culture can shape, and be shaped, by context and conquest.