Mind Tonic


I wrote this article for the first issue of Mind Tonic ["a light-hearted creative industry lifestyle supplement intended to inspire"].

It's about the Mediation Generation that I spoke about in a previous post, which makes the point that this generation is the first to define itself by the media it creates, rather than the media it consumes and that there are going to be some weird effects of endlessly [re]creating ourselves.

You can read the whole thing here:

Download Mediation Generation - Faris - Mindtonic

The publishers are looking for contributors to the next issue from:

smart, interesting, fun, creative people from the world of advertising, creativity and beyond.

in the form of:

they can basically write about whatever they fancy - or they can submit artwork, jokes, poetry, photography... the list is endless!

So it's an open brief - go nuts and email whatever media you create [to [re]create yourself] to

Blog Fast, With Company

Fastcompany guest blogging
So I managed to get 4 pieces out for Fast Company before falling ill and running out of steam - I still owe them one but they've kindly said I can submit something at a later date.

Here are the links to the things I wrote Fast, with Company:

Lions and Language and Geeks [Oh My]

Cultural Latency

Social Begins at Home

The Internet Makes Work for Idle Hands

I was pretty happy with them - I'd love to know what you thought.

The Content Republic

Content Republic

I wrote this piece for the most recent issue [number 19] of the always wonderful Contagious Magazine.

[It's good - they kindly sent me a copy - and has a scary clown on the cover.]

It kind of grew out of my annoyance of people, including myself, saying Content is King too much, as thought it explained stuff:

Since the earliest days of what we used to call the information superhighway, a refrain has echoed across industries. A mantra, a koan, an aphorism of our age, that guides development and business models, that shows us all how to proceed, chanted regularly, religiously, by traditional media companies especially, and increasingly by technology companies.

Sing it with me:

‘Content is King!’

[Alliterative aphorisms are the second best kind, after those that (almost) rhyme.]

It's mostly about the fact that there are lots of business models that can support and monetise content, not just the two obvious ones [pay for it, or get ads around it].

In fact, I think what we mostly pay for is a way to make content more useful to us, either via storage medium, or timing, or context.

You can read The Content Republic here, and do let me know what you think, but the theme runs throughout the issue so get that for the full effect.

[This has been an unsolicited endorsement.]

I actually wrote it before Murdoch came out with his recidivist statements about charging for content online:

"The inchoate days of the internet will soon be over," Murdoch pronounced, citing an "epochal" debate in the industry. Having flirted with the idea of turning the Wall Street Journal website free before realising he had bought one of the world's few newspaper sites that makes money, Murdoch has come down in favour of online charging.

Now, whilst I love the fact he uses the word inchoate, he appears to have decided that the only business models that brand new exciting world of digital content can support are ones he already understands, which seems a little, well, shortsighted.

I think there will probably be room for lots of different models [like at a catwalk show] and that we don't probably know what they all are yet, but that there is probably something in making content more useful for people.

Most people can't really be bothered to steal stuff, if it's easier not to, within certain price elasticities, I imagine. In fact, I reckon there will be room for free, ad supported and paid for versions of the same content to mutually co-exist, based on context.

Of course, for advertising, one of the things to think about is that the internet is a great disintermediator, which means if we want we can connect consumers to brands without using the aggregated attention of paid for media.

But, as the media industry will tell you, it's a petrifying business where no one knows what is going to work and you have to invest in ten things in the hope that one will work.

But then, maybe that's not a bad model for us either.

Be Nice Or Leave (Slight Refrain)

View more presentations from farisyakob.

This is the talk I gave in Vegas a few weeks back, and again last week, on social media and that.

It's called Be Nice Or Leave.

When I made it into a slidescast [so you can hear my disembodied voice as the slides fly by] I didn't know you couldn't also embed youtube videos into a slidecast.

So here are the relevant video links, should you want the complete experience.

[Actually, I guess, if you want the complete, complete experience, you could watch the video, which will be up in a couple of weeks I think.]

Slide 13: 2010 Video

Slide 24: Ford's Approach to Social Media Part One

Slide 43: Faint Starlite - I Did It!

Slide 50: Nikon PictureTown

Slide 68: Ford's Approach to Social Media Part Two

I'd love to know what you think.

[Disclaimer: As with everything, everything is stolen, recombined, remixed, and passed along. Thank you if I stole something from you. Sorry if I didn't shout you out.]

[First Uncredited Steal Credit: The picture of me is by my lovely and very talented friend Camilla.] 

[UPDATE: Be Nice or Leave is being featured on the Slideshare homepage under 'Top Presentations of the Day' - which is nice.]

Listening to Chatter

Forbes listen

I wrote this thing for Forbes.com about listening to the web - stage one of my very simple approach to social media.

I'm going to write a column for them regularly about such things for their newly launched CMO network.

The version you can read there is a bit different from what I originally wrote. I originally wrote this relatively grandiose thing called Such People In't - a reference to the newly active role of 'the audience' in our endeavours, which was pretty theoretical, as is my bent.

I changed it to suite the needs of the environment and audience and am pretty happy with how it turned out.

But there was stuff in my original that I really liked, so I'm going to post some fragments here:

Up until very recently indeed, cultural production was an industrial process. The means of production and distribution – the printing presses, the production studios, the satellite and cable stations – were only available to large corporations. The audience remained silent.

Advertising grew up in the golden age of mass media, creating discrete units of commercial culture – advertisements – that were delineated by the nature and relative scarcity of the transmission vector, or distribution platform. Television is a filmic medium and airtime is expensive, so 30-second slices of film became television commercials. The audience was functionally passive in its reception of advertising--like Victorian children, it was seen and not heard.

Thus we began to think of it as a target audience: a location that advertisers wished to bombard with persuasion (appropriating the language and strategies of war), an object to be acted upon, passive and attentive.


Your brand is but one voice among a polyphony, hopefully providing the stimulus for conversations, but unable to dominate them: a brand’s share of voice is now to be measured against all the conversations of the web.

[This reminds me of Bud's chart]


Brands are the cultural, psychological and corporate face of the products or services you sell. People want relationships with some, responses from others: they want to be involved, to be listened to. If you ignore them, they may start to ignore you. 


The lines have blurred like the modalities of media – those that consume can also produce, those that receive can also broadcast and it is within this new context that marketing exists, connecting consumers to businesses in a way never before possible.

Welcome to this brave new world, that has such people in’t.

Grown Up Digital

Grown up digital

My brother grew up digitally.

In fact, it was verily he that led me to start thinking about how generations are rolling over faster, driven by the rate of technology change, that I was talking about in the last post.

So it seems appropriate that he wrote a review of the new Don Tapscott book Grown Up Digital.

You should go read it. He points out an interesting paradox of technology engagement - those who most need to read such things are the least likely to do so.

I've pointed out before that the idea of being online, or spending time online, is starting to make less and less sense.

Data will increasingly leap from the screen into the world, augmenting reality in useful ways.

Ultimately, even when you aren't consciously focusing attention 'online' -

[I'm reducing the word to something we say in inverted commas, possibly while doing that finger quote thing to show our derision],

- you will have intelligent agents scouring the datasphere on your behalf - pieces of software that understand a certain area of interest and constantly monitor the interwebs and then react for you within certain parameters - like a cross between a robot and Google Alerts.

Anyway, my brother says it better:

"There is no real life; you're either online, or AFK"

Idea Breeders: A Recombinant Hyperpoem

Idea breeders
[thanks to Casanova in California for the title/image]

If it doesn't spread, it's dead!

Henry said. Henry spread.

Viral is Dead! Long Live the Spread!

Stole I / I spread.

Behavior is copied and driven by herds.

Mark said. Mark spread.

Behavioral engineering creates copied actions and words.

Stole I / I spread.

We spread information to create minds like ours.

Dennet said. Dennet spread.

There is safety in numbers.

Stole I / I spread. 

We spread to pass on warnings and because of social proof.

You are what you link.

We are what we share.

Sometimes we do it just to show that we care.

The Natural Selection of Interesting

Would like to thank you for participating.

That remix you dreamt of

Is why we are waiting.

Bookmark and Share

Digital Aphorisms


I wrote this thing for AdAge with 9 digital marketing aphorisms for 09 - half trends / half recommendations based on some of the things I've been seeing and thinking about recently.

I like aphorisms - so do Misentropy and Richard.

They function like dense generative metaphors - simple expressions of complex ideas that you can unpack at length and that guide behaviour.

A bit like brand propositions.



I did this roundtable thing for Boards Magazine with David Pescovitz from Boing Boing and Rishad Tobaccowala of Denuo, discussing some the interesting things we thought would be happening in 2009. [They were both awesome...but I was way excited to talk to David from Boing Boing - geeked out!]

I riffed off some of the things I've been thinking about recently: geotility, the socialisation of media, spreadable media; David had really interesting things to say about how he likes to work with brands and Rishad discussed the crumbing division between on and offline, among lots of other things.

You can read the rest here - this is a content sample:

With a recession at hand, spending for digital threatening to overtake TV, and new media and technology platforms changing consumer interactions with brands, Yakob's explanation of his role neatly sums up the task that the industry's thought-leaders are currently faced with:

 "I'm trying to work out what the role for an advertising agency is in a digital world and how to best help clients embrace emerging platforms in a way that makes sense for them."

A Preface to Convergence

Henry Jenkins - Cultura Da Convergencia

Thanks to my mate Mauricio, I got to write the preface to the Brazilian Edition of Convergence Culture, which was pretty awesome.

It's a bit long for a blog post so I've turned into a paper thing with pictures and everything.

It begins thus [with a quote I probably won't get away with using ever again]:

"The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed" - William Gibson

When the world changed slowly, looking into the future was a mystic art, shrouded in secrecy, extracted from entrails, and almost always erroneous.

But today the world is changing very fast indeed. As William Gibson has observed many times, to see how the world will be soon we need only look at those who have already embraced the future: the early adopters.

No one understands the early adopters of convergence culture better than Henry Jenkins.

And it goes on from there. You can download the whole thing here.

[Mini Update: Someone has put it up on Scribd too.]

There is one other bit I thought I would pull out for those of you who don't read long form anymore - it comes up in reference to the fact that Henry found me because I had been blogging about him - that seems to increasingly describe how conversations begin online:

On the Internet, conversations about you eventually find their way to you.