July 2, 2008
Last month I decide to quit my job and have a huge rethink about what I wanted to do with my time.
Much of the reasoning to leave the role was based upon wanting to do something very different with technology, editorial and brands. There is very little value in using digital as a promotional tool compared to using the aesthetics of networks, manufacturing and communications for devising new markets. I’m particularly interested in temporary markets as the frailness of this form of economics creates a stronger network of merchants, which in turn pushes invention, rather than innovation. This is what sustainability demands – frailness.
The Joneses project was my thesis of a business model for production and consumption of media that enabled a manufacturer to find new markets and understand the role of their prospect’s communities through the co-creation of entertainment.
For this to function, Creative Commons licencing was fundamental, in fact the format of the business model was built around the opportunities that the Attribution – ShareAlike model afforded.
To which, Frances Pinter, heard about the work and invited me to the London School of Economics to talk it through with regards to her current research for the Education Publishing business for Developing Countries.
So on Tuesday we met, along with her colleagues Eve Gray and Steve Kromberg of Creative R&D, and Batambuze Charles of the National Book Trust of Uganda, and went through how a brand funded a marketing programme that led to open publishing and how this could be applied to the infrastructure of developing nations, specifically Africa. Their project ‘PALM’ : Publishing using Alternative Licensing Models, looks to answer the question:
Can the adoption of more flexible licensing regimes contribute to improved publishing and better access to learning materials in Africa today?
It was really interesting valuable to talk to non-brand-oriented marketing people about the Joneses Project; firstly they asked the same questions as any business strategist would, (legal negotiations, rights), and touched on many that comms strategists have asked me (ROI, reach, production), but more importantly, they could see the potential in how the model applies to manufacturing as much as it does to marketing.
And this went straight into the big question for me; how do brands integrate into the infrastructure of society and bring huge social value to prospects rather than waste time and money in promoting their own values. This begins to address the futility of an ‘author’ in digital and the importance of learning the ingredients of data (the factors that produce data) – which leads us to the social understanding of how data can be used to create new entities that have nothing to do with the original data sets. Otherwise we end up with condensation trapped within rather than utilised outside the businesses engagement.
(Hans Haacke, Kondensationswürfel, 1963)
This may seem like a quantum jump for clients and agencies to even consider developing, but with projects such as Planning For Good and John’s Green Manifesto, the conversation has started. Droga5‘s Tap Project for UNICEF is at the crossroads of service and advertising. It doesn’t reach into designing a solution to the crisis, but it does take communication design to the areas of life that really need it. Charity is a symptom of a sick society; it is not a business case to solve.
The root of such concerns reside in a broader issue of how society understands itself. The Tap project is a Campaign because a Charity is a campaign. And I’m sure it saved lives.
Here’s another great video from this years Cannes Festival, with UNICEF giving some of the projects background.
For me it highlights the grave concern of the understanding of sustainability. Sustainability requires frailness; sustainability is a network concept and the best networks, are the most frail,
After the past couple of years looking hard at the way Brands manage their business communications, preferring advertising (“the tax for poor products”~Anomaly) to marketing (“listening to what prospects want from life”~Google), preferring media centric campaigns instead of growing digital platforms; ignores the value in human interactions that can be enhanced by a brands facilitation of services.
It’s massively rewarding that a brand’s marketing model can inform other markets far outside the the intended demographic, never mind a completely different sector, or Continent. It demonstrates the power of adoption and sharing within open business models. It’s how good ideas spread and has nothing to do with being ‘viral’, it’s about finding new markets through collaborative design over time. This is where Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics (written 4 years before the ClueTrain Manifesto) becomes really interesting in terms of service design and content creation.
If I get asked once again,and I’m sure I will, what the ROI of the Joneses project was, I’ll say it’s helping the future of design, production and distribution of developing countries, specifically around technology that are shared globally. It’s hardly philanthropy, but it does demonstrate that a marketing programme can ensure the client is part of a much wider, deeper conversation about how the world’s societies are operating, and to a degree, lead the debate. I think this is what Russell means by being polyphony. Metrics are single dimensional understandings.
Leaving these opportunities to ‘governing’ bodies will eventually erode a clients freedom of speech; as Richard suggests, privileges of a corporation’s use of marketing, and advertising, can be withdrawn; such restrictions on freedom of expression (corporations have the same rights as people in terms of possession and thus expression) will lead to more and more propriety models, may they be business design or communication / information systems. That’s not good for any one.
How long can you go for without a great ‘brand’ experience. What is that space between advocacy and addiction?
Perhaps we’ll see this happen with AnalogFolk. “Communications Products”, like Branded-Utility-ala-Social-Objects, may end up be defining workflows as products. After all, it’s the ‘brand experience’ that is the product; but fundamentally, its what the ‘reader’ (audiences) brings to the experience that defines the activity.
And I think this plays havoc with ‘planning’, strategy and insight. To be adaptive, agile business models are a must, may this be the institute that you work within and the work that you do for others. The thinking behind executions has to be holistic, not local, so that local adaptation is possible by the ‘locals’ themselves. In return, local adaption must freely be influential to the holistic model. This is conversation. This is business dialogue and it’s how design is used in the most effective way.
Design is brilliant for problem finding; it’s not purely the domain of making things look good. Design used to problem finding, will remain open. A closed design is a fixed message, and that denies sharing and adaptation.
This is why, promotional design work (advertising) has little impact on business – design needs to be used to change a business’s social interactions, not merely change it’s ‘face’.
The full gamut of digital technology, aka ‘software’, isn’t changing the business of marketing; it’s changing the whole reason for business. And I think that’s what I was explaining to the the LSE, that publishing, essentially an author’s marketing business, has finally realised that by giving away the product, you will learn more about an audience, who will show you new markets through their consumption habits. Publishing is a value-added communications channel, and the role of this when brands are trying to engage with society is to fund the needed productions.
Need is driven by an audience’s desire for their own amplification. Interactive publishing is a design tool for collating rare data. Twitter collects rare data – it’s data that no one else has (well, twitter gets it first, then passes it onto any ole aggregater) – but it’s the live semantic web using the audience to live through meaning, instead of technology systems ‘learning’ and storing. The Wisdom of the Crowds has superseded the expectations of Artificial Intelligence because collective design ensures emotional engagement.
Publishing is not a destination; publishing is the most powerful of all conduit systems humans have. It’s why marketing depends on it and why publishers need to collaborate with a broader range of commercial models than it’s supply ‘n’ demand legacy. Any future of a publishing relevancy must be based upon currency being extractable from any ‘object’ in any way you imagine. Invention exists only when ‘borrowing’ can occur. This is why you must understand the creativity within licenses to get the best out of the use of technology – it’s the artistic licence, if you will…
This is the social network that will communicate what to manufacture. If there really is more value in the Long Tail businesses, then bespoke manufacturing is the holy grail – essentially, taking what prospects what ‘now’ and delivering with exclusivity. As Gaping Void would testify. It was the basis for Adidas. It’s the index of the Internet. It’s the basis to identity.
So for me, these are all strong indicators of where I should be paying attention, and my meddling, in service design, open business models and creative use of technology.
June 10, 2008
Reactavision, in action, can be seen here, rocking out with Bjork, no less.
You see the blocks they are using on the table? The underside has an image, which is a key, which connects to other objects in predefined ways – programmed as the image.
But the images,they’re great fun, just as images. They all have a MutantTeddyBearNess to them.
I couldn’t …resists…meddling.
Bit of context with warm sunny light.
Mocking something up on a side of something, gives context of sorts.
Viscousy and silk-screening; tacky pop.
TV themed, in a poltergeist kind of way.
And something you’d find on a techno album cover.
They kinda got darker as I went along, into the night, Gimping. I sucjk at photoshop.
Now, as they (the images) are ‘keys’, and he says they need only be binary (black and white), so colour has no impact on their function (their geometry gives the uniqueness, thus there can be maaaaaaany of them.), therefore, I guess they will still work, even if hacked with some poor ‘photoshopping‘ gimping.
Exploring the idea of keys having personalities, to the point where you don’t need the physical ‘key’.
Kind of like the ‘book people’ in Fahrenheit 451.
QR codes don’t really do it for me. They need to have more ‘personality’. Though I do like the term paper storage. Did you know you could get video encoded into coloured QR codes? You can, you know. Not available yet though.
As much as I liked pixelated animations, it takes some extremes to work in a (full functioning) QR code.
Here’s some photos.
What a wonderworld that must be, if they could all live in a Truman show kind of thing.
Clear characters, with purpose in life, looking for friends, happy to help and eternally young.
It could be a world where brands could bred freely.
Could a multi-branded version of Spore, the new eagerly awaited game from EA, be educational or really annoying? (<- use this link if the video below has given up the game.)
See, a platform like reactivision, affords many, many, maaaaaaaaaany clear characters to exist, with purpose in life, looking for friends, happy to help and eternally young.
Platforms inspire a million characters, if they have a clear purpose within the context.
But, these characters are roles, if they have purpose. Roles are agents conspiring to bring conformation through differentiation; the fiducial teddy bears are the affordance of the platform; conformed in geometry logic, diversified through irrationalities.
The benefit to this: transmission.
Finding friction free, high capacity storage ‘objects’, needs for one thing – be able to transmit.
Technology is a real time story, looking to make objects that transmit.
Objects, that receive is not a request of technology, or any facate of craft, but a burden of language.
Language doesn’t learn to be better, users adjust it to work within changing frameworks.
To store changes, we have to extend language to work as containers, to which we can place ‘understandings’.
We create languages to store objects that relate; sub-languages such as slang, is used within peer groups, who want to describe ‘understandings’ in their social-economic contexts.
The relationship between language and object, is technology – the crafting – the act of transmission is a scribe within the objects construct. Technology gives us a timestamp to decode the relationships between objects, but cant itself create languages. Technology may give us daily, monthly, yearly, new parameters for ‘creating’, but the ability to create ‘storage’ objects comes from the limitations of expression within time.
Could it be possible to make zillions of boxes, and automate the storage of things as they ‘appear’ to us?
Without an understanding of surface, a complete understanding or the properties of the perception plane, the answer is no. The translation of ‘insight’ to the ‘physical’ requires a mapping of time to material – unless we can find ways of making things outside a linear production model. Open Source, which you may not consider a linear production model, is just that. Although all the tributaries flowing into a single build, the linearity occurs at the ‘gateway’.
It’s because things are not divisible by things. Everything is estimate; precision lies.
Although storage is amenable to the most awkward items, it handle infinite variants very well.
As soon as a wrapper is applied to an object, the immediate context changes and thus invokes the story of the relationship between the storage and the contents.
This relationship is the root of the factoid, the point where fabrication and digestion of the narrative’s objects commences, unleashing it’s trivium. Because you apply a language to something, you are creating the relationship.
Another Thomas Ruff.
Note the jaggy jpg compression tearing (the pixelation), that’s intended. These are huge digital prints, made up of recursive colouring of the pixels. Here’s some more, so you get the idea. (I saw these in NYC last November, and feeling blown away by them.)
Both these artists studied under the Bechers , who did lots of this:-
It’s why this campaign is more than an advert. It’s demonstrating personalised recursive storage. The creative multiples the storage of the media space. Spaces within spaces within spaces, all ‘humanised’.
Check out the London underground carriage posters – they all have 3 ‘hidden’ smiles. Brilliant recursive design.
Using anthropomorphic storage platforms enables us to see ‘things’ as people and relationships.
We can engage in these relationships as we would people – on our own terms, our own language systems, our own arguments attended to.
A world of relationships, seen not as things.
A technology of stateless storage, recursively designing, producing and distributing relationships, for personal gain.
Which takes us into the uncanny valley.
An anthropomorphic system that responds with authenticity, requires a depth of experience that equates, not betters, the human relationship. Importantly, feedback time is critical to authenticity. The space of time that something is not doing something indicates factors of the transmissions.
The pauses between our spoke words are just as important as the words themselves.
This is a form of error handling for the transmission. Packets of data are sequenced with silence. Like music…
Scripting Artificial Intelligence will lend itself to one benefit: building a system to judge and attempt- it’s why they are so popular in gaming systems – A good AI is judged on the array of faults you can exploit, not the definition of it’s persona. In fact, the array of faults constructs the personality based upon your Factoid Trivium. Any faults in comprehension remains in the design of the key properties.
So where can character driven arrays take us if sequencing is initiated by investigation?
More likely to be this…
May 13, 2008
It doesn’t have to be that good to become poetry.
Get your Goat.
If you have size, you have proportion.
Rauschenberg interview starts at 29m30s.
The process — an improvisatory, counterintuitive way of doing things — was always what mattered most to him. “Screwing things up is a virtue,” he said when he was 74. “Being correct is never the point. I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she re-spells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can’t read what I wrote. Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.” [link]
Robert Rauschenberg, multimedia artist, October 22, 1925 – May 12, 2008
April 24, 2008
Let’s play a game to demonstrate that the future of movies is dead.
First, pick you favourite movie.
I’ll wait… I know it’s a tricky question
OK, Good choice.
Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
Ok, What’s you second favourite Movie?
Ah! Crafty one.
Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
Right, third (and final) favourite movie choice.
Heh, ok.. I see what you did there.
Ok, you know the score, Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
You now have three movie files on your laptop, all 5Gb in size.
We wont mention this to the copyright authorities. It’s between you and me.
The thing is, you only need the one file for all three movies. The data for each movie has been conformed to the same size, it’s the sequence of the data that enables the viewing of the movie – through the player that understands the codec.
You see, any movie that has ever been made also exists within the single 5Gb file.
Still with me?
The data file is just noise, it’s how you tune out the movie you want is the trick.
But the fact that every movie that has ever been made is held within that data file also means that every film that will ever be made is within that file.
[Pause for thought - I know you're thinking at this point.]
Think of it like radio, you have to tune to the right sequence of the data to get the movie you want or the movie you can imagine you would like to see.
Now, for the technical reader, I know you’re snarling at this – yes – it’s a question of retrieval and we don’t have the technology nor the methodology to tackle this puzzle.
But it does indicate a finite number of movies that can be made. It’s a huge number – but it’s finite.
Look at it from an single image perspective.
If you have a jpg file, 800pixels x 600pixels, the limitation of the dimensions, that is, the number of pixels multiplied by the colour depth is the limitation of the format of the image.
As screen/image performance ‘increases’, the colour depth improves and thus more variation can occur, but there is a limit somewhere. 32bit colour depth is probably what you have your monitor set to. Hi Def Tv blows this away, but the visual plane of us creatures is limited to a spectrum. We can only see so deep.
But back to the movie puzzle.
Schrödinger set a thought puzzle back in 1935,
He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, where the cat’s life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.
You can read the whole cat debacle on Wikipedia.
If you have a 5Gb of data, the movie you want is in there if you can perceive it.
Now, there’s an alternative view of this puzzle from proposed in 1987 by Hans Moravec and in 1988 by Bruno Marchal. Their experiment essentially involves looking at the Schrödinger’s cat experiment from the point of view of the cat. It’s called the Quantum Suicide.
Which makes me think what will power does a movie that has never been made have, to fight it’s way out of the 5Gb of noise, sitting on your desktop?
What ‘will power’ do characters and scenes of movies that, don’t exist, have?
This question shows how our minds project emotive responses towards fictions, how we project our own sensibilities onto formats of existence. Narratives act as vehicles for our own perceptions, but do they have a magnetism to the needs of conversation between ourselves?
It makes no sense to reference movies that don’t exist because they are not a shared point of understanding – we tend to use the past as a reference, not the future. But as the sum total of all possibilities of movies can be formulated if we understand how language informs communication, then reference points remove any notion of authored time – that is, what will be and what has has no hierarchy – that is, the past is no more informative than the future.
But I digress.
If every movie can exist within 1 file, have a look at Amazon, Blockbusters, netflix and youtube. That’s a lot of duplication, a lot of technology used to propel unit sales where instead we should be looking at the solution of movie automata – growing movies – so that we are freed up, to move on to something else.
If you’re in marketing, especially planning, and tuned into the digital storytelling scene (ahem), you’ll know about Faris’s Transmedia Planning essay. You’ll probably know that it comes from Henry Jenkins notions of Convergence Culture, and you might know that he took it from Nicholas Negroponte, Director of MIT, book called Being Digital, where he talks about Bit Streaming. Bitstreaming is where the point of production which becomes the point of consumption (basically – think about Lifestreaming, User Generated Content and Conversation On-line). Your doing is the act of consumption. To use is to learn.
BitSteaming is not Transmedia, something has got lost along the way here. We have to stop thinking in terms of making media; production and distributions are side effects of design, they are not a means to an end.
Design, as an act, infers solution. Design is much better at finding problems than having to abuse creativity to produced polished productions for consumption.
Brilliant things are the messes we are fixated upon. Headlines in the press attract attention, not for the morbid cultural events but for the persuit of reason. A mess is a loose space that we can occupy mentally. There is peace in the eye of the storm. Time stands still in this space.
There has been so much written about this area within marketing, and I think Marcus bagged the best review so far, but it all amounts to avoiding the subject that authorship does not matter. It matters not for an audience nor for the producer, authorship is a channel for communication. Communication, does not need a singular writer to produce media. Films may have a director, but there is almost a countless cast of assistants required to design, produce and distribute.
There’s is also the notion of copyright and licence. That was demonstrated in Where are the Joneses?
You may want to look at Roland Barthes ‘Death of an Author’ or Walter Benjamin’s ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.’ Both have indicated the moral and virtues decline in the notions of authorship. It can be argued that authorship maintains our identity as humans. Crosbie and Doc Searles may debate that synthesis of human authorship is almost upon us. Though Andrea may not agree.
Digtal methodologies, as we have seen within all forms of publishing, does not honour the author as a predicate for future productions. From Markov chains to Bayesian search theory, pattern matching of semantics is beginining to be taken seriously as the direction of technology which will author our future. BookLamp is doing something interesting in this area (Thanks to Ben for the link). We will be experiencing the automaton of narrative far beyond the postmodernism of Baudrillard’s Simulations and Simulacra as seen in those Matrix Movies.
This is why Hollywood is dead wood, tinsletown will burn to the ground.
We’ll be left with an ever present of change, a shifting sifting of values that look more like noise than logic.
The Semantic hope of web3.0, where stuff talks to each other, means that we are the participating audience of a story that we all know even though it has not been written, and constantly trying to escape by retuning the aesthetics back to what makes us feel comfortable. It’s going to harder to be feel secure in the thought that you have a fate, destiny or an objective future when the principles of subjectivity are iterations of a systematic upgrade of general consensus – you belong to your peer’s perceptions.
Narrative may well collapse into pace determined by a rhythm of participation. The story and melody could be perceptive instead of prescriptive.
From storytelling to synthesis, we see performance and identity central to the act of engagement. The human centrality is the primary node within a creation plane, which is pure transaction – an act. It’s how you map the individual the execution of transaction that will make the semantic web, not the alignment of meanings within language. An act is a meaning – a word is a symbol. Signs are conduits between the two.
Life will become a pure dress rehersal because the movie will never be made. Maybe this is the constant betaness. Maybe this is how we should never to be afraid of making mistakes. This sense of ‘incomplete’ or ‘disconectivity’ makes us relate more to each other.
Our patience for this consistant change will be subject to invariants. Just as the notion of interestingness is based upon anomalies; configurations, standards and useful protocols that provide moments of clarity, will become the Greek island oasis that defines peace – and maybe peace of mind. While Advertising hates this, marketing loves this. Disruptions in perception are only useful when you want someone to believe that they are in control – isn’t that so tiger?
But I digress, again.
I’ve no idea on how to retrieve the finite collection of movies within the 5Gb of data, but I’ve started using Twine to collate the ideas and references that made me thinking of this problem called Schrödinger’s Movie . If you’re using Twine, do pop by and have a look, help out, or comment.
Either way – the song remains the same. Open up.
Update [27-04-08] There is now a really interesting thread on Yahoo!Groups about this post.
Now open up
You changed the stakes
Magnet toss that pie in the sky
Unrehearsed let the bubbles burst
All in all a three-ring circus
Of unity with parody tragedy or comedy
Make room for me
Now open up
Make room for me
Lose myself inside your schemes
Go for the money, honey
Not the screen
Be a movie star Blah, blah, blah
Go the whole hog
Be bigger than God
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Taking down Tinsel Town
Burn Hollywood, burn
Burn down into the ground
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Take down Tinsel Town
Burn down to the ground
Down into the ground
P.s. Ask me sometime how I know Peter Andre is responsible for LeftField’s first 2 albums.
April 20, 2008
Designers should always have a have a plant not a bird.
Work, talk less.
Pull off something at the table.
Last November I was approached by the Open Rights Group about the business model of Where are the Joneses? that Imagination constructed for Ford of Europe. Lured by my use of the Creative Commons BY-SA licence – meaning that there were no commercial restrictions of the use of the media assets produced during the course of the project – ORG recognised that this was as break through for copyright, agencies, brands and media producers alike.
ORG superhero, Michael Holloway (above), who I met a year before at the ORG’s Drunken Brunch meeting of like minded open licence people (I recall meeting Dan Lockton there), interviewed me in November in preparation for a couple of talks I gave last week.
Michael, with Suw Charman-Anderson (in the red top), have been working with the interview to produce a case study for everyone to review and hopefully, use, as a framework for other commercial open media projects/companies/initiatives.
On Monday, Rob Myers (pictured above right), joined me to talk about the use of Creative Commons and it’s relationship to Intellectual Property. Rob and I have been friends since 1992, meeting at art college, and since have discussed how the economics of media production, the downstream of culture, as we learnt at college, is the building blocks for anything today and tomorrow.
The framework of the Joneses project – not the storyline, nor the commercial relationships with Ford of Europe, owes a lot to many many many conversations Rob and I have had over the past 16 years. It’s a very special model that could never have been worked out within the confines of a job, or a hobby, or as artists. The relationship between producers and the audience at large, the communities within communities that wrapped themselves around sections of the Joneses – both agency and public attention – was a mix of perverse curiosity of what this model was and anticipation to see the comedy, the editorial, failing.
The heritage of such a project also owes much to the work of XPT - and in particular, Tim Wright. XPT’s Online Caroline and Tim’s own Oldton project are very close to my heart as a technologist and as a creative. Those who lived with the projects when they we’re alive and kicking have extremely fond memories of the productions – an emotion far removed from serial broadcasting – because the audience made the memories between themselves.
But what inspired the use of Creative Commons as the turnkey solution for the Joneses (it could never have been done under normal copyright models) is that Free Culture is the basis to facilitating a conversation – it’s a giving host, not a prescribing guardian. For the ethos that I wanted Ford of Europe to understand and it’s relationship to its shifting understanding of marketing, the non-30sec-spot 360-channel matching-luggage-prescription that a large network agency uses to manage a global communications campaign erodes the relationship with the intended audience and the client. The care and attention that goes into grading, editing and placing adverts is very agency/brand focused – it’s self gratifying and loses the attention of amplifying an audience who wants to be considered important.
It’s why Imagination was a great place to make WRTJ, we are small and nimble yet large enough to speak our mind about invention instead of waffling on about innovation. Case in example is Ford of Britian’s follow up to the Joneses by Mindshare and Ogilvy – Bite. Big ready made audience from Yahoo and Channel 4, low emotional resonance.
The same applies to Kate Modern, a show used to drop in product placement, focused on young impressionable Bebo minds. And possibly a smart move to enable a lumbering AOL to regain some value. I’ll leave this for another post about my anti-hero Carl Icahn.
An audience without participation, nor the right to control the editorial, is being treated like a herd. Such mentality is why the commissioning model of media results in the pursuit of conversation.
ORG are not a marketing focused organisation in so far as their interest does not cover the interest that brands or advertising are efficient, measurable or actually gain a sale. With the Joneses, ORG, a government backed organisation, has become acutely aware of the damage advertising has on culture – advertising agencies produce more copyright material into the world than any other producer – as a rage to conquer all human attention, especially if we are hitting the peak, a social concern of not just urban/social spam comes into consideration, as we saw in Brazil, but also of the moral consequences of making a world full of unreusable communications, unreusable under legal frameworks that benefit neither audience nor client nor even agency.
Suw is currently pulling together the report and will shortly be available for everyone to review here. I’ll post when it’s ready.
For me the Joneses has been lingering around for months but I’ve enjoyed watching the amount of commentary about the project. There is much behind the scenes about how it was managed and the micro conversations between users that I was privileged to participate in.
I will compete a longer essay about the project when time becomes available. In the meanwhile, it’s lovely to spend time doing Questions and Answers about the project – especially to new audiences such as the one ORG arranged.
Again, many thanks to Suw and Michael (and Becky Hogge) for acknowledging the project.
Photo credits to Marc Hankins, who released the session photos under CC-BY-SA.
January 9, 2008
You may have noticed Hash Tags appear on Twitter recently, promoted by Chris from Citizen Agency. You need to read this post and this one too, to follow this idea. Oh, and have a look at the Twitter Wiki HashTag page for a comprehensive oveview.
HashTags are a way to tag Tweets so that Followers can keep track of a story/theme/place/activity. Like a Channel or a Group.
I think they are missing the affordance values of Twitter. (OoOooOooooh, can I really say Twitter should NOT be used for something?)
HashTags are an inline denotation of meaning within the Tweet; I think this is self referential and perhaps there is a better way of using the system for tracking activities that followers want to relate to.
As with Social Objects, a story/theme/place/activity can be defined as a Class – an object that contains actions, or Methods. By trying to turn a single Tweet into an object, defies the value in using Tweets as Methods – Considering Twitters call to action “What are you doing?” the 140char space is perfect for Methods, not Objects.
Now, there are various Twitter aggregators around – HashTag.org being the most relevent to this situation. Snitter (which I use and love) also allows HashTag aggregation. This is fine, I can gather all the the relevant posts according to a HashTag instantly.
But, here’s the rub, Twitter’s within the range of a HashTag subject bring value and are excluded from the aggregation. Twitter Vision style aggregation can help see within a geographical aggregation, but for broader value aggregation, and by the way that language works, there is not an ontology that can scale to capture a deep rich picture of the subject.
Unless we use Twitter as a Command Line to activate 3rd party services to produce a Media Cloud. A Media cloud is a semantically collected set of web services based around a story/theme/place/activity. Like Where are the Joneses?
Ordinarily, a user has to go to all these web services, set up an account and then link them all together. I propose this can all be done via Twitter through a recognisable command, which I’m calling a Twoot (ref: W00t). Here’s a rough UML Activity Diagram to explain how this could work.
Now, there’s an upcoming suite of API enabling concepts rising up that can really pull this together. OAUTH, Open ID and Microformats (Now on Twitter)are all useful for transferring, connecting and evolving the Media Cloud, not to mention the blogosphere grokking via Technorati, Friendfeed and of course Google and it’s merry band of services. AMPL is really close to this too.
Social Nets are also handy, why cant FaceBook applications be libraries ready for deployment upon a Twitter Command (a Twoot), thus attaching the HashCloud to the daily FB addictions. OpenSocial - very handy for attaching the broad range of webservices. I think Ning could be a major service in this operation. Flickr would be essential.
Depending on the string sent from Twitter, the array of services can be controlled – look at the range of webservices as an à la carte menu. A set of parameters could be sent requesting which services, or providers, require activation.
Now all this could be the start of spam hell, what would be stopping anyone setting up Media Clouds through a HashCloud command? Equally, think of the number of Brands establishing Media Clouds for any eventuality. Splogs are bad enough but Google does a tidy job of keeping them out of searches.
But an active MediaCloud would be judged by the vortex it would create around the story/theme/place/activity. The MediaCloud would transform to a MediaVortex if there was genuine activity, SpamClouds would just float away, dissolve, vanish. A MediaVortex would root itself at the focus of attention.
January 7, 2008
Brand naming was legally born out of removing the proprietors name from the trading name, enabling franchising. Because of this, creativity took the ability to be fictitious, enabling narratives to enter the sales pitch. Using a logo as the emblem of the narrative, we seen the legal entity move from icon to verb. Marketeers Just Did It, so you can Just Do It – whatever they wanted you to desire.
Imagine that. One single bit of business legality gives birth to what we know as Marketing.
The problem is, no one really believes the stories marketing peddles, especially when the narratives are masking the reality of the Business Trading As. Naked Conversations maybe trying to resolve the fact that All Marketeers are Liars, but this amounts to tinkering with the logo, the identity by enhancing the ‘gestures’ of the companies operations. Brand as a Narrative prevents the Brand existing as Embodiment. Brands need to live within the architecture of life, not on the perception plane. Trying to get a purchasing audience to care about a Brand is costly compared to using your Brands affordances to improve the infrastructure of life. In this case giving is cheaper than advertising.
Branded Utilities, Branded Content and Brand Experiences are all ways of reshuffling the first order objects of the audiences relationship to a commercial service, but frankly, it doesn’t matter which part of the pizza you eat first, you’re participating in a fiction that delivers the need you wanted in the first place, but you have to go through the speed dating of a brand to get the money shot.
This maybe partially necessary, not for selling you the service/goods/lifestyle in the first place, but actually easing the guilt of the transaction. Consumerism has an after taste, and like a bottle of booze, it’s an acquired taste which comes through education. And guess who’s teaching you about after taste. Consumerism is not consumption in the personal sense – it’s a cultural activity. We share consumerism, we never personally experience it.
One of my persistent thoughts is how to get clients, brands, company operations into the infrastructure of life – - fundamentally, getting under the skin, or label, of society and ensuring the brand is doing something useful.
We’ve been repetitively told, we first we have to pass through Permission Marketing to get an audience to accept the narrative of a brand. It’s no more than the first question you ask a potential customer on the shop floor: “How can I help you?”. So much for big insights, Seth.
Take a look at this.
Tide, A P&G brand, rolled in to New Orleans, with the help of The Gigunda Group, during the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster with a truck stacked with washing machines capable of doing 300 loads of washing a day. Food, water, security and other key essentials where being laughably delivered by the US official task forces. What people needed, to get them back on their feet so that they could move forward with rebuilding their day, not their city, was clean clothes – an incredibly soft touch to a horrific disaster, but one that got people motivated. Need alone does not inspire people – desire/inspiration/care activates the cognitive value of meaning in people.
Once rationality is operating, construction ensues.
Once New Orleans stabilised, to the point of mild sanity (and sanitation) P&G pulled back the trucks but did drop in other initiatives – such as concert as a fund raiser and handyman around New Orleans – with R&B star and product placement God send, John Legend.
But I think P&G missed a trick here or it shows that marketing teams really don’t have any real business power inside the corporation – nor does Corporate Social Responsibility.
Tide’s, Clean Start, tactical Branded Experience may have put the heart back into people – but in times of catastrophe – natural disasters and war – aka Acts of God – it’s a sweet spot for a brand to step in a GIVE support. Now, most Acts of God, are the moment the military and corporations rub their hands and expect a spurge in profits – real needs equals real profits. This is essentially tactical thinking.
What is up for grabs is to get into the new infrastructure before it’s gets rebuilt under Government controls.
Now, most corporations will go after the bid for Government contracts – the legal framework to make dollar from crisis.
What if the corporation showed that it wasn’t making money from the short term tactical play upon the catastrophe?
BlackWater is a government commissioned mercenary enterprise. They tend to acquire No Bid Contracts, that is, they are GIVEN the contracts to do ‘stealth’ operations. Like the A-Team, without the humour, and people die. Quite a lot of them, actually.
Government contracts for Iraq are the lucrative. Massive risk, but lucrative. And owned by the participating governments, owned in the sense that Taxes are set.
Now, before we panic and thinking, heck no, we don’t want Coke and Mcdonalds being in the infrastructure of a societal rebuild, think what you the consumer are paying in taxes to the government for BlackWaters ‘unregulated’ services.
Consumer infrastructure services tend, on the whole, not to have a mandate, nor licence, to kill people. It is in their interest to make their lives more profitable, so that they can acquire more products and services.
ENRON, went for Infrastructure, just as Google is now. It’s the Accountability of the Transactions that will make the dfference if Brands engage with building cultural infrastructure.
Think about the long term play on this. It’s not about Brands ensuring their product is on display in the right stores, it’s not about the talkability of the Brands Ideals, it’s not about LoveMarks – these are all lowering purchase considerations.
Brands within the infrastructure of the cultural mechanism, are the verbs of life, they are not about trying to facilitate the consumers interests – it’s deeper, more transparent, more beneficial – it’s about the organisation working towards a common goal – and that is – mutuality.
A brand that is part of the daily exchange mechanism of language – not a parody of Just Doin’ It – but actually generating value in an individuals actions, is part of the fabric of reasoning, not a point of difference.
If Brands think that their role is to rise above ‘acceptability’, then they are going the wrong direction. Brands, if they want to be the life of the consumer, must be the reasoning of the consumer.
The way in, as above, is to GIVE operational support to the community; mesh your CSR into the habits of the communities – not fundraisers, not sponsorship nor charity, but become of institutional use. If your organisation is malfunctioning – “Nobody talks to anyone” mentality, then you’ll fail instantly. But maybe, if you start to get your organisations logistics closer to the communities, this could start internal/external conversations. Keep it at a personal level. “Brand talks to Man on the Street” is nonsense. “Man who works for Big Corporation talks to Man on Street” is good.
But think also about how this has to work on the web. Brands that help build the infrastructure of Communications, Manufacturing and Networks remain in the daily existence of the audience without the hoopla of permission marketing. Look how Web2.0 services that do small simple things reside in the daily activities of communication. Look at the first round VC money – it’s within any Global Corporations budget to invest, create and experiment within. You have to think functions, not applications. That’s what Google’s 20% rule is all about.
But before we all start thinking this is Corporate Social Responsibility extremity, focus the attention towards the largest global religion - Finance – because beliefs, although mailable, are the Social Object’s force in cultural frailness. And Frail Nets are Good. It is the Methods within the Financial-Social Object that require crafting.
January 6, 2008
People are interested in what other people are doing, not what you have made for them.
Communities are formed to share an interest, not to service the needs of a third party.
Audiences are a construct that paid-for producers are supposed to be addressing.
Spectators are those who are gripped by the design ability of the author who is besotted with a problem. Spectators are dreamers; when their aspiration is being played out in front of them, they become transfixed. It is the Society of the Spectacle that persuades against dialogue.
If you set out to design for an audience, you design for nobody. If you set out to design for yourself, the audience will be intrigued. If you perform, the authenticity of your craft becomes questioned; if you break the Forth Wall, you may just find the mutuality that the audience respects.
Across all creative practices (science, art, business) everyone is in search of the ‘social’. Designing for Society will ultimately lead to a fascism – a belief in doing something for the ‘greater’ good. Unfortunately, the ‘greater’ lofty aspirations are a Faux Cult [sic], a society that doesn’t exist, a society that has needs beyond what we require. Our aspirations need to be rooted in personal achievements – only then can we work together through mutual interest. Narratives require an aesthetic that transfers its own space-time to your space-time without displacing your own journey through space-time. This conduit is Stateless, not Social. Antidotes and morals are not rewards for engagement, they are taxes – which is the storytellers goal.
Goals are for a player in a game that doesn’t want you interfering.
Here’s the video of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. Worth a watch. Play the ‘Fantastic 4 Rise of the Silver Surfer’ soundtrack in the background and read the subtitles…
And thus the problems with Social Objects; they are spectacles, deeply personal but utterly banal. Not because of the collective Methods the participants create, but for the need to identify cause, reason and outcome. Relational Aesthetics sought to escape the Object mentality; utilising institutional spaces for social engagement, to open the modality of definitions to see what is beyond a construct.
As Debord states in the video [38m10s]
“In this moving game-space, and from the freely chosen variations of the rules of the game, autonomy of place may be rediscovered, without reintroducing exclusive reattachment to the land, and thus bring back the reality of the journey, and life understood as a journey and having it’s entire meaning within itself.”
I’m spending time thinking about Stateless Objects – objects that have reception to mean anything the audience wish to attach to it, they are persistant because they have no value to dissolve, they are Useful and as Beautiful as the Engaged User wishes them to be. Stateless Objects are acountable, designed and measured through the transactional success within the object, the Usefulness of the Methods (peoples micro and macro actions). To design transactions, you need to understand the relationship between design, production and distribution and the Four Humble Demands. That’s what I’m using the Creation Plane for.
Audiences are without goals and thus only exist in the minds with goals. Here are some good speeches about this with a virtual audience within a simulacra of a spectacle.