Previous month:
October 2010
Next month:
December 2010

Posts from November 2010

Making Digital Work / BDW NYC

Making digital work

At the end of next week [Dec2-3] BDW is hosting a workshop on Making Digital Work, where some of our preeminent philosopher-practioners will share thoughts, observations and tips on navigating the world, and the work, made of ones and zeroes. 

It looks awesome.

I'm also going to be there, alongside the much smarter people, and have been asked to lay down some 'inspiring' thoughts about how strategy might need to evolve in a 'Post Digital Age'.  

This is a slightly dangerous title, considering Iain's recent tirade against the terminology 'post-digital', but regardless I shall attempt to be entertaining or useful.

And not spend TOO much time dissecting terminology.

I've written a few times about how I think strategy needs to formulate itself, pulling business back into the industry, healing the split between media and creative, looking beyond passive audiences and messaging and a reliance on ideas that are, moving towards solution and system architecture, and perhaps ideas that create content.

So I'll probably talk about that sort of thing.

But - if you have any burning desires you'd like me to think about - feel free to drop a thought in the comments.

Zambian Branding

Toyota bike  kide

Whatever is ineffable about brands, whatever turns slogans into turns of phrase, whatever transforms logos into totems, is somehow reflected in this photo. 

I think.

It's not about paying a price premium, it's not simply about trust, it's not just about selling things, even though that is why they exist.

It's because we are meaning seeking creatures and append meaning to symbols and symbols to ourselves, in order to help create ourselves, and our things, and our stories.  

He thought it would make his bike more awesome, in some vague, hard to describe way.

Perhaps because of language hurdles between us.

Perhaps because symbols, by their very nature, are polysemous.

Open to interpretation.

To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I can really only think of symbolism in a vague way. 

I can't tell you what the Lighthouse represents.

And you can't tell me.

Because its meaning isn't fixed - it's created at the intersection of signifier and signified, of creator and consumer and culture. 

Or something.

At the other end of the spectrum...

Whatever is most prosaic about brands, stripped down, locked up, emotional lepidoptery, pinning it down killing it in the process, is well expressed by the ad below.

Brand autopsy as execution. 

Collapsing its potentialities of meaning in the consequence, rendering the symbols flat, reduced to the recommended reading.

Access Bank Brand Strategy

Colors represent...

Brand Colors

Fast forward arrows denote.

Fast Fwd arrows

And yet.

There's something so guileless about this, so transparent, so removed from the nonsense that links brand identity to the movement of the planets and the building of the pyramids, it's, well, quite refreshing. 

This Is Signified

This is Signified

I heart signs.

I suspect because I love words.

[I also enjoy a good rebus].

Words are pictures of sounds.

Images indelibly embedded with meaning.

[You can't NOT 'read' a word if you 'see' it, if you understand the language and the meaning.] 

And signs are pictures of words. 

If you see what I mean. 

But words are also signs, in a different sense.

Signifiers. Of Signifieds.

I'm doing a little project where I post one interesting or weird or whatever I feel like sign every day for a year.

You can follow it over on This Is Signified on Tumblr

Or follow @thisissignified on Twitter and have one sign tweeted to your preferred client every day. 

And if you see a sign you think is awesome - you can submit it to the project on Tumblr

Zambian Independence Day

We were lucky enough to be in Zambia during their Independence Day - and even luckier that we were able to visit a school during their celebrations, thanks to the Bushcamp Company.

Chiwawatala Basic School is on the main road between the National Park and Mfuwe airport - cutting through the village itself. 

It's run by head-teacher Charles Zulu - who looks like Morgan Freeman.

Charles Zulu

It has about 600 pupils, in 8 grades. 

School kids

146 of them are orphans.

The Bushcamp Company supports the school in lots of different ways: buying stationary and uniforms, paying for 50 kids to attend using donations from guests, paying for 5 of the teachers.

The school has a small garden and sells vegetables and herbs that The Bushcamp Company buys. 

And once a year they take the children on rides through the national park and guide them through the wildlife.

Despite living on the edge of South Luangwa national park, many of them would otherwise never get to go inside. 

The Safari parks in Zambia that bring in tourists from all over the world are the primary driver of the economy.

They are the only employers in the area - the country has 60% unemployment - and they are intimately bound into the local communities around them. 

Celebrations for Independence Day included a dance contest.

And an eating contest.

Eating Contest

And a drinking contest.

Drinking Contest

My mate Oli works in a couple of camps in various countries in Africa. 

He wanted to do something personally for the people he encountered.

So he set up a microcharity to fund education in the schools that he has relationships with, like Chiwawatala in Zambia.

It raises funds like any charity and he works with the schools to sponsor kids through their education.

It's not a big , standalone organisation - it's something he does because he personally is able to connect us over here with money, with the children around at schools in Africa where he works.

If you want to sponsor a child or donate to The Dreike Scholarship Fund - details are on their website.

These are the children they currently sponsor at Chiwawatala.

Drieke Children Chiwawatala
Limbikani ZuluJulius PhiriLida MakazweDyna Zulu


Inner Dali

While I'm polishing up some more Zambia posts, whatever constitutes regular blogramming may intermittently continue.

In the vein of which, GS&P have put together a project for their local Dali museum that warrants your attention, and thus I duly bring it to it.

As I've mentioned before, I think it behoves us to strike up friendships and partnerships with technology companies just as we historically have with media companies. 

And that's what they did.

The idea was what if an iPhone app could apply a surreal filter to your images and thus unleash your inner Dali. 

So they partnered with Hipstamatic - who liked the idea so much they created a lens and film pak for the app and did it for free, so all proceeds go to the museum. 

The museum is running a contest for photos taken with the app - with the winner flown out to California. So go have a look.  

I'm a big fan of Dali from way back when his Dream Caused by the Flight of A Bee around a Pomegranate A Second Before Awakening adorned my bedroom wall as a kid. 

I always loved his particular blend of realistically or graphically rendered icons and objects and surreal situations...photosurrealism, if you will.

A Net's Tale - Part One

Rosie and I were heading to Zambia

Malarianomore asked if we would take over a bail of mosquito nets, and document their journey.

So we did.

Malarianomore would provide the nets, our friends at The Bushcamp Company [where we were heading] would connect us to the local community.

We became net mules.

[Obviously this isn't the usual way nets are distributed - just a felicitous opportunity.] 

Zambia is in Southern Africa.

Its name is derived from the Zambezi River that flows through it.

Map of Southern Africa

Approximately 15% of the adult population are HIV positive and over half the country lives on less than $2 a day.

HIV is everywhereT

The whole country is at high risk of malaria. 

Malaria in zambia

We checked our bail of nets as regular luggage. 

Luggage Nets  

And then flew via Johannesburg to Lusaka [capital of Zambia] and then on to Mfuwe on a 14 seater ProFlight plane.

[The BushcampCompany kindly asked ProFlight to allow us to board the nets - usually they have a strict weight restriction because the plane is small.] 

Rosie and the Plane

Mfuwe is an International Airport, despite being very small [it flies to Malawi]. 

Mfuwe International Airport

And then we were driven across the countryside...


to Mfuwe Lodge, where we were staying and there the nets rested that night.

End of Part One - Net's Tale 

[End of Part One]

How You Act in the World

The nice people from YMM filmed this mico interview with me rambling on about some stuff that came up after a recent talk I gave at the Carlson School of Management, like how brands are not fixed things to be locked up in temples but rather how you act in the world. 

And that B2B communication is still engaging with people and therefore emotions and social stuff are probably still relevant.

Social might be especially relevant, since enterprise level B2B has always been handled through individual relationships. 

And how games are cool because they hack your brain.

All that sort of thing.

I've been away for a week.

[I see I have a bunch of comments to reply to so I will get on that.]

And then, in what some might consider a break from our regularly scheduled blogramming [or perhaps not] I thought I'd share some of the stuff I saw and was up to in Zambia, with the help of MalariaNoMore and The BushCamp Company