Previous month:
January 2011
Next month:
March 2011

Posts from February 2011

Stop Worrying and Love the Future

The final episode in the BMW Doc is now available for your delectation.

You can comment and see the additional content clips, including more of the interview with Chris Anderson, over on the BMWActivate the Future site.

I screened it at NY Viral Meetup last night and people seemed to like it. 

I gave my first talk without slides.

It was a whole year ago, watching Clay Shirky at SXSW, that I decided I wanted to be able to give presentations with visual aides. 

Don't get me wrong - I love beautiful Keynote slides. 

But there is a power to being able to talk for a while without them. 

I spoke about 4 things:

1. Viral is a Metaphor

the fact that viral is a metaphor and we should be careful how we use it [you know this] 

2. What We Mean by an Audience

Audience is also a metaphor.

In advertising, the metaphor leads us to think of them people out there as anxiously waiting to watch our performance.

But they are not. 

Like Victorian children, they are seen and not heard.

But now they have voices.

[You know this.] 

The magic of viral was to invert the audience flow - the audience finds and shares the content, instead of us taking it to them.

The implication being that they are out still there somewhere, waiting.

3. Lady Gaga And the Little Monsters

I went to see Lady Gaga night before. She was very impressive.

[She reminds me of Mr Brainwash. In a good way.

They both help themselves, joyously, to handfuls of culture, from within their own mileu and outside it.

Lady Gaga couldn't be more like Madonna and Michael Jackson, in the 80s complete with cone bras, religious iconography, and a thriller like ghoul set. Works brilliantly - in some ways perhaps because she reaches across generations that way.]

She spoke directly to the audience a lot. She calls them Little Monsters. 

She offered encouragement and solace to the disaffected and disposesed. She embraced the outsider in everyone - told stories of being bullied at school.

And told every person there they could be her, could be a stage, would be a superstar. 

And they LOVE her for it. 

Across an incredible spectrum of demographics, ages, genders and sexual orientations, people were dressed up, GAGA'd up, in what would mostly pass as 80s costumes, singing their hearts out to every single word.

And this made me think.

I don't think this audience [not a metaphor] was just there to be found.

I think that Gaga, and the content she creates, and the way she performs her life, created it.

I think perhaps that's what happens. 

Great content, great idea, don't find an audience.

They create them. 

In the dynamic interplay between content and person, something changes. 

And, like fans of a band, or a film, or any fan who incorporates liking something into their idea of who they are, they are made different, and identify with others who feel similarly. 

4. BMW Documentaries

I'm obviously not going to compare the cultural impact of Gaga to the BMW Documentaries.

But, especially in this last film, I hope that the kind of audience, community, mindset, we hoped to help germinate into existence, comes through. 

Networked Mobility

This week's exciting installment of "Wherever You Want To Go" looks more closely at our contributors thoughts about the how we will get ourselves around in the future. 

At the heart of some of the discussions is an aspect of one of the great tensions in human existence - between individuality and the collective - that drives so much of our behavior and, hence, marketing.

The desire to define oneself in the context of a group, to act individually but to get the benefit of organisation, to rebel and belong at the same time, is a powerful instinctive driver of us HERD creatures. 

"The young always have the same problem - how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another." - Quentin Crisp

The vision of an Internet of Mobility - a car network that manages flock and flow and parks your car for you - lies in counterpoint to the need to feel our own agency in the world, to control our own destinies. 

This episode also features the first appearance by Naveen, co-founder of Foursquare, with his own section in the associated clips. [Thanks Naveen!] 

Having discussed at length the impact of emotions of decision making here and there, I was especially pleased with Professor Wai Cheng's comment:

"Buying a car is not a rational decision - it's an emotional decision."

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Prospection: the act of looking forwards in time, is a quintessentially human endeavor.

In fact, some even consider it THE quintessential human endeavor:

“The human being is the only animal that thinks about the future.” - Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

Daniel Dennett has noted that “the fundamental purpose of brains is to produce future... brains are, in es- sence, anticipation machines.”

We spend much of our time projecting ourselves forward.

We do this to motivate ourselves to reach towards our desired future, using the lens of that future as a way to understand what we should be doing now.

I'm fascinated by old predictions.

When we started thinking about the future of mobility for the BMW Documentaries, we realized there is a lot to learn from how we thought about it in the past.

Predications show us a great deal about the concerns of the time - they encode the hopes and fears of the present.

Electric vehicles aren't the first exploration of alternative fuel concepts for cars.

In the 1950s Ford unveiled a concept car called the Ford Nucleon - a car powered by a small nuclear reactor - because in the 1950s nuclear was the great new technological hope. 

Sometimes, science imitates science fiction - Google Earth and Second Life were both inspired by the novel Snow Crash

This is why I love what Syd Mead says in Episode Two of the BMW Documentaries above:

'My particular bent is to render an optimistic future because we're rehearsing for our own future.

Why not do it as pleasantly as possible?'

Head over to the site to discuss the future of the past, and the future of the present.

BMW Docs: The New City

The first episode of BMW Documentaries: Wherever You Want To Go launches today.

I'm excited.

It has Buzz Aldrin in it. He's completely awesome.

For the last 100 years, cities have been designed around cars.

In 1800, only 3% of people lived in cities.

In 2008, we became a primarily urban species for the first time - more of us now live in cities than in rural areas.

Soon, many of us will live in megacities [cities with more than 10 million people] and living at this level of human density will represent a shift of similar magnitude. 

So, when BMW wanted to explore the future of mobility, we started with The New City

When we developed the concept, we wanted to create a documentary that was of and for the web.

Content that reflected how content is viewed, discussed, and propagated online. 

So, while the films are available at all good videosharingsites, the website provides an enhanced viewing experience.

The films are designed to be non-linear, hypertextual. So you can explore additional pieces of content around the primary narrative, in real time, inside the video player, and then jump straight back into the primary narrative.

The films are designed to precipitate discussion from different points of view, so, by logging in with Facebook, you can comment on specific moments, creating conversations around them.

[There's also a forum for longer form discussions to take place].

Would love to know what you think.