Preface to a Preface

Smart splurges

And we're back.

Since last we met it seems TIGS has popped its ugly head into Scamp's Global Top 25 Ad blogs list [at number 25], which is delightful, and has moved into the number 4 position on the Misentropy Global Planning blogs list, which is also delightful.

The lists are great ways to find some nice people saying useful stuff about advertising and that, so you should go and have a look if you like that sort of thing.

And then just today [ish] Neil has nominated the post I wrote about spreadable media as one of his posts of the month [which feels a bit cheeky since I stole the idea but, well, you know] - you can nominate others and vote and that on Only Dead Fish.

So that's quite a lot of blog love during a period of silent blogging.

So tomorrow I'll post something chunky to make up for it, and to pay my dues to Henry Jenkins, from whom I stole the spreadable media post.

Off Road

I've been double-memed - both of which want me to expose myself.

Embarrassing as this virtual flashing may be, I feel like I should do it because, well, I've been tagged by mates and, you know, you do what your friends ask.

["If your friends jump off a cliff, would you?" "Well, no - but if they asked me to I'd have to think about it...."]

So I'll tackle the first one first - it's a 4x4 meme [do you see what I did there with the title of this post? I should be a copywriter.]

So here are four answers to four questions about stuff I've done or like:

4 jobs I've had:

Golf ball collector: Ok so this wasn't actually a job but when I was a kid I'd go and pick up golf balls from the rough ground and sell them back to the pro shop. 50p a pop - it was good money.

Management Consultant: the first job I had out of university was at a strategy consultancy that sprang up on the wave of the first dot com boom - building digital businesses was our thing - I got a stack of share options that were supposed to make me a millionaire. That didn't happen.

Freelance writer: After wearing a suit for a couple of years I realised I couldn't do that anymore and tried to earn a crust doing something I love - writing. So I interned at a few places and ended up writing words for Maxim magazine for actual money, which was really exciting. It was a very small amount of money. I try to keep my hand in.

Media Planner: I was ushered into the world of communications via media planning 101. I learnt about coverage and frequency. I don't really use that part much anymore, but the foundation was crucial.

4 TV shows I would personally digitally video record, if I had such things. Or, shows I download dot com:

Boston Legal: my favourite of the moment. I love Spader and Shatner. I also love that David Kelly, he of LA LAW, waited a decade or two and then put another idea into development - so it's like LA Law - but - it's in BOSTON. With Capt. Kirk and the guy from Sex Lies and Videotape. Trust me. And he was spot on.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The most genuinely surreal show I've ever seen. A band of superhero investigators, made up of a a milkshake, some fries and a wad of meat [called Meatwad], investigate nothing and - well, just go and watch it. They aren't teens and there's no water.

Scrubs: Because it knows exactly how to wring drops of melodramatic emotion out of my cynical heart. Make 'em laugh and then twist.

South Park/Simpsons/Family Guy/: you get the idea.

4 places I've been:

Tuscany: My mate has a place out there - it's just staggeringly beautiful.

Sydney: I worked out there for a while - in fact it's where TIGS was born, 2 years ago this month.

South Africa: Lovely amazing place, with giraffes and fantastic people and that - leaves a slightly weird taste in the mouth when you drive past the townships though.

Boston: I wanted to check out MIT ever since seeing Real Genius with Val Kilmer in the 80s.  It was awesome. So was MIT. Boston was very pretty.

4 music artists I'm listening to right now:

I love jungle. Broken beats are what I have inside my head. Pendulum are an Oz outfit that pulled together some tunes that sound like classic Ram Records from the mid to late 90s, which is how I like it.

Mark Ronson: Here comes the fuzz is just brilliant.

Yelle: crazy French electropopstress I saw play last week

Fratellis: Cheery guitarness

Tag you are it.

Deep Thought

[Image from here]

Deep Thought took millions of years to boil down life, the universe and everything into 42 - a wonderful feat of reductionism.

Thinking is one of the great frontiers of modern science. Marvin Minsky, the father of modern AI, proposed his Society of Mind theory in the 80s, which suggests that a mind is not a single thing but rather an emergent property of lots of dumb modules.

This led to Pinker [whose hair I admire greatly] and the evolutionary psychologists that attempt to explain different higher cognitive functions in terms of the evolutionary role of different modules.

The early benchmark of thinking was of course the Turing test - if a program can have a conversation with a person and fools them into thinking it is another person, it should be considered intelligent.

This is essentially the same argument as "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - it's a duck", which on the surface seems sensible but falls down when looking at the concept of consciousness, because it is by definition a subjective property.

The Chinese Room Argument is one attempt to refute this definition of strong AI - just because software can answer questions in Chinese it doesn't mean it can understand Chinese - understanding requires a grasp of both syntax and semantics - software need only grapple with a massive set of symbol strings to answers questions without understanding.

So instead of trying to replicate behaviours at the emergent level, science is now trying to replicate the functions of the brain down to the lowest level. IBM's Blue Brain project is exactly that - an attempt to simulate a human brain down to the molecular level using a 23 teraflop super computer.

The model of brains that this uses is that of parallel processors, themselves essentially dumb binary logic gates, that, when sufficiently numerous, interconnected and able to dynamically reroute themselves to form fixed pathways, somehow achieve an emergent property we consider consciousness that allows self awareness and the ability to ratiocinate.

Of course, there is another network system made up of billions of interconnected nodes being dynamically routed. Your connected to it right now and its growing in complexity at an exponential rate.

Just a thought.

All of which thinking about thinking leads me to the Thinking Blogger Awards meme, which I've been very kindly tagged with again. It suggests I tag five other bloggers that juice my grey matter and then link it all back to the beginning

So here are five digital neurons to boost your brain:

Tantramar: the thoughts of freelance digital creative and all round excellent bloke Charlie Gower.

Digital Prolixity: passionate bites of brilliance from digital native and my very own brother Ramzi.

From the Mind of Zeus Jones: an agency looking to make marketing a service.

Life moves pretty fast: Amelia heads up digital at VCCP and is worth listening to. Plus it's a quote from Ferris Bueller.

And finally Iain's Crackunit: you won't find a better blog read.


South African Wisdom


I was down in South Africa last week, speaking at a conference called Brands in the Digital World. It was great fun and I got to ride an elephant [not at the conference].

I met some really interesting people down there.

Mike spoke passionately about blogging.

Patrick pulled out some really interesting thoughts about virtual worlds.

Allan - who is creative head at Saatchi's AtPlay interactive division [anyone know if it exists anywhere else? Seems really cool - proper creative technologists - although I can't find their website] - spoke about how to get people involved and what viral really is.

And Eric tried to explain the dark arts of search.

It made me realise how Americentric [there must be a better way to say that but I can't work out what it is] the English speaking blogosphere is.

South Africa even has its own version of technorati, Afrigator, to help redress the balance.

I wonder what will happen when the English is no longer the primary language online and the world refocuses on Asia.

Can't be long now. [Thanks to Jess for the head's up]

Actually, the above link is much more important than a footnote. Once virtual worlds stop being game environments and become feasible ways to manipulate data, transact and deliver telepresence for businesses, it will change everything.



Gareth and Charles have suggested via a blog link meme that TIGS makes them think, which is groovy of them.

So now I have to nominate five other blogs that make me think. But the meme doesn't stipulate what they should make you think about so, whilst there are tons of fantastic planning blogs out there, let's see if we can't push things a litte bit further...

Let's start close to home with Planning for Fun.

Then move slightly out, into South America, with Everything Communicates.

Then move laterally, to the very useful pen portraits of Ruby Pseudo Wants a Word.

Then jump all the way out of the park into The Virginity Project.

And finally land in the genuinely salacious, with Sleeping Around, that inspires entirely different kinds of thoughts.


And, as my taggers cheated on numbers, I'm going to as well. I'm a strong believer in William Gibson's now famous aphorism:

"The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed."

The digital generation can show us the way things are going to be for everyone in the future. So thoughts like those on Digital Rain are worth thinking about.

Post of the Month - Nomination


Hello! I've been nominated for Post of the Month for February for a piece I wrote about Pseudo-Modern Communication, which is lovely.

It's all about how pseudo-modern texts only exist due to the interaction of readers. So Big Brother, for example, is a pseudo-modern text, as it only works if people vote. So all UGC brand communication is pseudo-modern, in that it recognises that:

We can offer people the sense [or illusion] that they are in control of their interaction with the brand and that their interaction is a requisite condition for its existence.

Because they are and it is.

This is quite neat since the Post of the Month idea is also a pseudo-modern text and it requires your input.

So please go and become part of it here and vote with your finger.

Bottom of the Pops


Scamp has revived the Top Ad Blogs list that Beyond Madison Avenue used to do.

I sneak in at number 10 on the UK list, which is neat. At least until Paul becomes a planner and knocks me off the bottom.

Do you remember when Nirvana were on Top of the Pops and they refused to mime properly?  That was awesome. You can watch it here and recapture, for a brief moment, the awkward, glorious rebelliousness you felt when you used to Smell like Teen Spirit.