My Factoid Trivium

June 10, 2008

Toxi published some images from his fiducial generator project; making keys for a reactivision setup (I guess…)

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.

I picked up a book called Meet Mr.Product whilst in Dusseldorf, visiting the exhibition Tim Keil suggested over the twitterwaves.

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.

Gursky

Another Gursky.

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.

Thomas Ruff.

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:-

Classic.

Comic.

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…

Designing for sustainability is a huge desire when considering ROI models for a project. As a client solution from an agency, digital media demands a mindset that seeks productions that persist through reuse: in short, digital should always be aggregating value. Digital should never have a half life. Digital is not for campaigns.

We’re living in a time where beta and ‘release early’ is a mantra, waiting for an audience to pick up on your communications is a requisite, and creating a ‘buzz’ about what you do is consider ham-fisted. Digital, being the youngest of offerings from communication agencies, is picking up bad habits from the elder modes of media, namely broadcast formats of print and TV.

It aways make me chuckle/snarl when a new website is marketed with other marketing. This is missing the point of being digital.

I want to discuss how digital is badly treated when consider an ‘execution’. Digital is business interface that needs caressing and attention – because as a medium, it’s going to change the fundamentals of how you maintain a service orient business (products are part of a service – in case you needed reminding).

Polemics of creative productions, driven by a business case (e.g. something has fucked up | market has changed | you’ve got a new invention you want to sell), clash horribly with expectations of virtue. This is true for all commissions, but for digital, the application of code requires fullfillment not appreciation. Working with a broad range of T-shaped creatives at Imagination, many who are very fuzzy, reveals a huge amount of possibilities and closures about how people should work together.

Now, every agency I’ve spoken with, regardless of their forward thinking team dynamics, billing philosophy or Raison d’être, all rely on people roles to coordinate, organise and deliver the client solutions as a job.

Account handlers, Planners, Creative Directors, Human Resources, Traffic, all have a similar practice where ever you go. Media law, recruitment law, pension schemes and personal assistants all rein in the affordance of the individuals freedom to perform. The context of production is the architecture of society not the business model of the agency owner/stakeholders/banker.

As digital storms through the traditional billings of broadcast media (TV, print and performance – well, anything that doesn’t base itself on audience dialogue), the agency’s role is to convert business requirements to something quite fabulous with a hook to sell, promote or defer the competition collapses around the moment when the teams realise that the story of the construct requires huge amount of faith, believability and patience of an audience.

Brand-as-a-narrative has served Market Communications for hundreds of years, today, we see/hear/look at platforms for the facilitation of conversation – the emperors new banter – with only a thread of brand DNA to hide the hook’s modesty.

Building us towards freeconomics, friend following and DRM free productions, is a belief that there is an audience that is intentionally rebelling against the Market Communications from your clients. The slogan “You don’t own your brand, the audience does” has been dragged through the blogosphere to the point where it realises that it’s being pushed by consultants eager to recount stable reads such as Naked Conversations, Cluetrain and Here Comes Everybody as billable insights. We’ve all done it, haven’t we?

Solutions to business problems, by sucking on the business cases, has been the stock process for devising, designing and executing since someone thought about thinking about solutions. Arguably, the mutha of all invention is bare necessities, and I say arguably, because the agency model, networked or a team of 2, will always be at odds with a guarantee of success. That’s why you must embrace failure.

Indexing with ROI for KPIs are all indicators of reasoning within myths. The belief that x will happen is y and z interact, belongs to the clinical abstraction of calculus, a language non-compatible with myth, but as said, within myth. (Planners – take note)

And here lays the problems with any notion of integration – that is – blending the channels of 360 marketing with that of transmedia narratives. The belief that participation is desirable is at odds with commuication being logical. You don’t ever get what you expect – comprismise is latent in every reception, awoken only by distraction. Choice has begun to chew at the hand that invited consumers to be free.

If we look at the success of software, where scalabity, features and transparency have lowered the access points to diverse interpretation of engagement, the learning curve of use has been inversed by the audience who, when confronted with personal affordances of simple applications (think twitter, friendfeed, yahoo pipes), the question mechanic that always appears is “What is this for?” not “When do I need this?”.

And the answer is always defered by the retort, “you get out of it what you put into it.”

I think I’ve written about roles in system design before, UML using the term Actor, to define the types of users within a system, human or not. What we are seeing today is technology being rolled out freely, inducing individual’s performances confiscating demographic averages whilst establishing Social Graphs (plural) upon reputation and attention not perception of desire.

This freedom of role undermines the need for defining what the experience of your client’s communication solution business solutions is. Rolling in branded utility motifs may save you from having to induce accents of need in presentations, but the role that an agency plays in the progressive design of effectiveness becomes reduced to translator of what the client thinks might happen within a market.

Agencies are bookies if they are left to define client requirements without a framework of the social ecosystem that is defined by freedoms of engagement induced by open-use software. An agency that isn’t gambling on an outcome is playing safe to the point that they wont impregnate the audience with seeds of joy.

This is very different to thinking about how an agency has a ‘digital’ division – normally, they would ‘use’ the digital channel to get at the ‘difficult’ consumer – them the ones not watching the TV. Hmmm, brilliant.

Digital is not a channel, it’s the business interface that can be amended, grown, shrunk, adapted, designed to be adaptive and fundamentally, in the possession of the customer. Emotion is the only channel left in the world of 360 planning, digital is the gateway – either via production, distribution or design.

Twitter is wonderful for all kinds of social discourse, but under the hood, the genius is in the API model. Talk though Twitter any way you want – use a phone, a desktop client or the web.

Imagining buy anything you want through any form of transaction you want. Not just trade (“I’ll give you three horses for that cow.”) but trade through proxy – where currency is not of issue, but affordance of you’re gesture is valued because it’s reusable by the vendor.

Stay with me, there’s a money shot here, somewhere.

Compare Google, a wealth of functions backed up with some outlandish brute force technology, with the late ‘n’ great Jackson Pollock, a wealth of gestures with a brutal temper.

The value in discourse between an individual and a system is retrieval: recalling what options have been preferable may induce you to think along the lines of AI, or training a system, but what really is becoming, for an agency model, is stimulation of creativity for a client so that it’s a recursive feedback loop. This is in fact intercourse for reproductive, relational, and recreational needs.

Ok, let me come at this at another angle.

You know when you look at a image, that you find appealing, you can say, “It hangs together”. The aesthetics is being converted to a value only you appreciate. Ignoring all the talk from peers and critics, it’s your experience that underwrites the value of the image.

Converting that to currency, or better, to business, is where an agency can get to grips with media integration and client gratification.

The joy of a fine production, is unfortunately in the ego of the producer. An audience does not give a monkeys moment to the joy of the producer. If you ever read about Da Vinci’s Last Supper, you see that the artist will always have the last laugh at the cost of the commissioner and the audience. (Da Vinci knew the painting would collapse if he used Tempera.)

Agencies need to work for the audience, not the client.

There, I’ve said it.

This is not to be confused with how a TV broadcaster seems to pander to an audiences desire for programmes, in the process, shafting the advertising industry, forcing them in to 30sec spots/branded evenings / programmes or events.

An agency must develop relationship working processes with the non-client business market, by doing so, gratification comes from reflecting the ego of the audience whilst delivering work that is loved, respected and enjoyed – an agency that gives to an audience, receives attention from a client.

Now, this may start sounding like Agencies need to be rock/pop/hip-hop stars ‘n’ bands. It’s intentional. The problem is, bands are volatile (Spinal Tap). Agency’s tend to have a turn over of staff (The Fall). Client’s objectives change with the Chairman’s wife taste in soft furnishings…

But that’s all good. Because the audiences kind of interested in who is messing with the band’s soft furnishings or if there is a pillow fight kicking off somewhere.

Agencies, on the whole, are not public facing entities, they’re private clubs for clients ‘steaked’ out in cool venues in hip cities. Night clubs for the day time, refreshments and air conditioning on tap, possibly some designer furniture to ease the pain of spending money on myth making.

Now, before that thought of your agency becoming Radiohead (and buy – you want that I know), let’s have a think about your band members, who’s on drums, bass, lead, rhythm… woah! STOP.

Radiohead are a buch of guys who can play. Just play. They are T-Shaped and they are fuzzy. One prefers drums, the another bass. But they swap when they can sense an oppotunity to try something – so to invent. (Go back up and see the fuzzy link if you’re confused..)

Hands up who would like to see the Head of Client Services to the banner adverts tomorrow?

Hands up who wants to do the book keeping?

Hmm.. see. Tricky.

Multidisciplinary teams are visioned as agency roles – planner, account, designer, producer yadda yadda.. making these roles fuzzy (a designer who can do 3D, motion and loves paper stock) is one thing, but find me a designer who is willing to do / try / be interested in co-ordinating travel logistics and (actually – I’d book that person), I’ll be impressed. Find me 10 and I’ll set up a specialist agency tomorrow…

My point is, diversity of teams can help integration if there is a keeness to trade time with other roles, not faking it, but genuinely migrate skills and interests so that the organisation is well, more like an organism. It’s a way of learning. Like jamming in a band.

Now, client side employees already work like this, it’s how the business gains a richer understanding of it’s abilities = staff are encouraged to take a path through the company – it’s good way to retain value as an employer. Agency side, account handlers may move to planning, planners may move into design, sometimes. This is all good. But an audience will only see the benifit when the organisation begins to create with them in this manner. If you become diverse, you will become more open. If you don’t then you’ve misunderstood why you’re in a creative environment.

An audience wants to relate to people, not roles (Britney, Madonna, Vanilla Ice, George Bush) – people who demonstrate a love in being a part of something that evolves. Something substainable so that they can invest their time | attention | money into.

Just as you may read Campaign or Advertising Age, the movers and shakers that move from agency to agency – this is you investing time into your industry. You are building an industry out of attention, not work.

Gratification scales too, it’s a system that you can keep adding to; sometimes bit’s fall off, but it scales. Integration is something that requires no attention when it works – the desire for intergration is the warning call of systems failing to scale.

As advertising disintegrates into marketing which is in turn poisoned and/or digested by culture, we will see the job dissatisfaction of producing for what seems like an ungrateful audience evolve into the stasis of performance – a mode of practitioning that works neither from script nor from rehearsal, improv nor applause, but necessity of creation.

Whilst we live through this open-use software induced transition of production, look around at how your colleagues interact with each other, how the communication of daily agency life is centric to, and it really should be this order, else you’re nuts: the work, the client relationships, the team.

We’re facing a transition towards : the audience, the client relationship, the work.

What happened to loving the team? Who said they were keepers? Teams need to wander from shop to shop. The role of agency is to be part of the audience, not part of the client’s team. It’s access to the audience that you will be charging for, not the productions.

So you see, the team, the people around you, need to be polyworkers, not just for their sanity, but for the relationship with the audience to become rich and meaningful.

As client-side has more and more taken over the business of market insight, looking and crunching the numbers, reviewing ‘segmentation’, the role of agency is to perform to these numbers – but in the persuit of client love the agency model has begun to drift away from the audience – and the work in hand.

Does this help the role of ‘commercial’ communications? Does this help bring “Brand and Consumer Together?” Does this help the audience?

The work is relationships with an audience; making stuff for them is just the easy way to do this.

And so on to the punch line.

The business models of supply and demand are influenced by the same mechanisms the agency uses to convey, construct and cash in on.

Digitalness is meddling with the notion that product is the transactional inducer for profit.

Microsoft don’t make product, they assemble code. As does Google, as does Proctor and Gamble as does any corporation, SME and individual. As this becomes more and more loosely coupled, we’ll see the shibboleth materialise as a currency devoid of form. Data is without form. Data is open for connectivity.

We’ve watched the collapse of the publishing businesses with no great surprises other than the likes of Radiohead, Prince, Madonna and those guys teaming up with Bacardi, invent what is for sale. Exposure. Ambient Exposure. Voyeurism. It’s a game of two halves.

Rock stars acting like an agency for brands to connect with consumers.

They’re just doing their thing without the brand sponsor making minute by minute demands. Owning an artist is a frightening business – ask Sony BMG about George Michael – so brand sponsorship is handled, not with radioactive gloves, but an understanding that the messy business of making creativity is best left to those who love their art.

But the product is not important in any of this. Data supporting the business model, more precisely, the ingredients of data, are the valuable assets within this equation.

CRM is a toe curling concept – not that it is about harvesting email addresses (with permission) but that the concept of data is so poor. Of course a marketing department wants to know as much about you as possible, but CRM will always give a poor approximation – no one hands over habitual data without cringing. Even Nectar card holders.

But, ask the audience(s) if they would like free goods in exchange for their social graph data, and the game becomes interesting. At present you see Facebook, crunching your social graph data as you use it’s people management applications – sucking out all the little nuances about you life as it’s defined by context of your ‘friends’. Imagine a manufacturer doing this. Can you imagine a product developer migrating their business from product to data?

Any organisation, with trust, that has the richest data and uses it to create new, disposable, fragile markets will dominate the consumer/producer lifestyle. Choice within choice becomes infinitely possible when audience participation of product (the transaction receipt – not the economic shibboleth) is the conversation.

Digital is about grooming data – sifting, expanding, performing and refining, the relationships between things in abstractions that defy the premise of spoken/written languages. Invention is within the patterns of existing human activity, the market is the catalyst induced by the audiences request for bespoke productions.

It’s an investment in ego. The participants ego. The sponsor must be modest to be loved.

This leaves the (digital) agency in a curious position – are they to be production centric or performers – their attantion spent on creating or extracting value from audience engagement?

When publishing was backed by advertsing, strict controls were placed to prevent distribution of exclusivity. When the publisher model is replaced by a brand, the business of piracy is the finest way to spread the message.

Excitement must be fluid. Mess is Lore.

If anything, it confirms the notion of integration within the agency context as not a skill based concern, but as a audience based concern – how does an agency operate like a ‘new media’ platform?

Look at Mahalo as a model of this. Pure Splogging mind you, but beautifully riding the Google engines.

Look at the Human Genome Project. Every breath you take, we’ll be watching you.

Look at Top Up Travel Cards. It’s a loan system for the city plus you hand over your travel data – for free!

Agency, will be creative for the remit of a sponsor. Agency, will be loved by an audience. Agency, will be staffed by those who insist on the last word on creativity. Agency will be the gratification of disintegration.

Integration is the speed bump of social realism in the transition from producers to artists.

Ask a Rockstar. Or better, just play with them.

Update. Just spotted this article via Digg. [Link to original article]

When “Grand Theft Auto IV” launches April 29, it’s expected to gross a record-breaking $400 million worldwide in its first week. That’s good news for the game biz, but daunting for execs in other sectors of the media industry.

Last summer, “Pirates of the Caribbean 3″ broke all box office records, with a $404 million worldwide haul in its first six days, roughly the same amount expected for “GTA IV.”

Image Credits

Hot Coffee Mod for GrandTheftAuto: San Andreas

http://patrickw.gtagames.nl/

Video of the Mod in action

http://www.gtasanandreas.net/news/single.php?id=1469

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.

Do check out the ORG wiki, especially the other case studies presented alongside the WRTJ – namely Tom Reynolds: Blood, Sweat and Tea and John Buckman: Magnatune.

Photo credits to Marc Hankins, who released the session photos under CC-BY-SA.

aoc2.gif

Second albums are always the hardest, so I was thrilled to be called into help Gavin and Drew make the Age of Conversation sequel even better. I’ll be nestled in amongst 275 other meddlers of marketing, adding a little salt with an article on how to give away your intellectual property and profit/win an audience/make better products/sleep well at night.

The book will be themed ‘Why don’t they get it?’ – alluding to clients who either refuse to accept that the audiences are in control of commercial communications (in design, distribution and production) or who believe that all this web2.0 malarkey will just go away some day…

So in true collaboration style, Gavin and Drew handed out 7 topics for us to pick from and write under.

They are : -

  • Conversation to Action
  • Manifesto
  • My Marketing Tragedy
  • Business Models
  • Keeping Secrets
  • Life in the Conversation Lane
  • A New Brand of Creative

You can see who’s writing about which topic here.

I’ll be sketching out my article on my wiki, here.

To be honest, I haven’t a foggest who most of my fellow writers/bloggers/evangelists are, so I’m going to have spend some time going through this lot :-

Adam Crowe
Adrian Ho
Aki Spicer
Alex Henault
Amy Jussel
Andrew Odom
Andy Nulman
Andy Sernovitz
Andy Whitlock
Angela Maiers
Ann Handley
Anna Farmery
Armando Alves
Arun Rajagopal
Asi Sharabi
Becky Carroll
Becky McCray
Bernie Scheffler
Bill Gammell
Bob Carlton
Bob LeDrew
Brad Shorr
Bradley Spitzer
Brandon Murphy
Branislav Peric
Brent Dixon
Brett Macfarlane
Brian Reich
C.C. Chapman
Cam Beck
Casper Willer
Cathleen Rittereiser
Cathryn Hrudicka
Cedric Giorgi
Charles Sipe
Chris Kieff
Chris Cree
Chris Wilson
Christina Kerley
C.B. Whittemore
Clay Parker Jones
Chris Brown
Colin McKay
Connie Bensen
Connie Reece
Cord Silverstein
Corentin Monot
Craig Wilson
Daniel Honigman
Dan Goldstein
Dan Schawbel
Dana VanDen Heuvel
Dan Sitter
Daria Radota Rasmussen
Darren Herman
Darryl Patterson
Dave Davison
Dave Origano
David Armano
David Bausola
David Berkowitz
David Brazeal
David Koopmans
David Meerman Scott
David Petherick
David Reich
David Weinfeld
David Zinger
Deanna Gernert
Deborah Brown
Dennis Price
Derrick Kwa
Dino Demopoulos
Doug Haslam
Doug Meacham
Doug Mitchell
Douglas Hanna
Douglas Karr
Drew McLellan
Duane Brown
Dustin Jacobsen
Dylan Viner
Ed Brenegar
Ed Cotton
Efrain Mendicuti
Ellen Weber
Emily Reed
Eric Peterson
Eric Nehrlich
Ernie Mosteller
Faris Yakob
Fernanda Romano
Francis Anderson
G. Kofi Annan
Gareth Kay
Gary Cohen
Gaurav Mishra
Gavin Heaton
Geert Desager
George Jenkins
G.L. Hoffman
Gianandrea Facchini
Gordon Whitehead
Graham Hill
Greg Verdino
Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming
Hillel Cooperman
Hugh Weber
J. Erik Potter
J.C. Hutchins
James Gordon-Macintosh
Jamey Shiels
Jasmin Tragas
Jason Oke
Jay Ehret
Jeanne Dininni
Jeff De Cagna
Jeff Gwynne
Jeff Noble
Jeff Wallace
Jennifer Warwick
Jenny Meade
Jeremy Fuksa
Jeremy Heilpern
Jeremy Middleton
Jeroen Verkroost
Jessica Hagy
Joanna Young
Joe Pulizzi
Joe Talbott
John Herrington
John Jantsch
John Moore
John Rosen
John Todor
Jon Burg
Jon Swanson
Jonathan Trenn
Jordan Behan
Julie Fleischer
Justin Flowers
Justin Foster
Karl Turley
Kate Trgovac
Katie Chatfield
Katie Konrath
Kenny Lauer
Keri Willenborg
Kevin Jessop
Kris Hoet
Krishna De
Kristin Gorski
Laura Fitton
Laurence Helene Borei
Lewis Green
Lois Kelly
Lori Magno
Louise Barnes-Johnston
Louise Mangan
Louise Manning
Luc Debaisieux
Marcus Brown
Mario Vellandi
Mark Blair
Mark Earls
Mark Goren
Mark Hancock
Mark Lewis
Mark McGuinness
Mark McSpadden
Matt Dickman
Matt J. McDonald
Matt Moore
Michael Hawkins
Michael Karnjanaprakorn
Michelle Lamar
Mike Arauz
Mike McAllen
Mike Sansone
Mitch Joel
Monica Wright
Nathan Gilliatt
Nathan Snell
Neil Perkin
Nettie Hartsock
Nick Rice
Oleksandr Skorokhod
Ozgur Alaz
Paul Chaney
Paul Hebert
Paul Isakson
Paul Marobella
Paul McEnany
Paul Tedesco
Paul Williams
Pet Campbell
Pete Deutschman
Peter Corbett
Phil Gerbyshak
Phil Lewis
Phil Soden
Piet Wulleman
Rachel Steiner
Sreeraj Menon
Reginald Adkins
Richard Huntington
Rishi Desai
R.J. Northam
Rob Mortimer
Robert Hruzek
Roberta Rosenberg
Robyn McMaster
Roger von Oech
Rohit Bhargava
Ron Shevlin
Ryan Barrett
Ryan Karpeles
Ryan Rasmussen
Sam Huleatt
Sandy Renshaw
Scott Goodson
Scott Monty
Scott Townsend
Scott White
Sean Howard
Sean Scott
Seni Thomas
Seth Gaffney
Shama Hyder
Sheila Scarborough
Sheryl Steadman
Simon Payn
Sonia Simone
Spike Jones
Stanley Johnson
Stephen Collins
Stephen Cribbett
Stephen Landau
Stephen Smith
Steve Bannister
Steve Hardy
Steve Portigal
Steve Roesler
Steven Verbruggen
Steve Woodruff
Sue Edworthy
Susan Bird
Susan Gunelius
Susan Heywood
Tammy Lenski
Terrell Meek
Thomas Clifford
Thomas Knoll
Tiffany Kenyon
Tim Brunelle
Tim Buesing
Tim Connor
Tim Jackson
Tim Longhurst
Tim Mannveille
Tim Tyler
Timothy Johnson
Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Toby Bloomberg
Todd Andrlik
Troy Rutter
Troy Worman
Uwe Hook
Valeria Maltoni
Vandana Ahuja
Vanessa DiMauro
Veronique Rabuteau
Wayne Buckhanan
William Azaroff
Yves Van Landeghem

And if you haven’t picked yourself up a copy of the original book, there’s a ‘crowdsource-mega-bum-rush’ on the 29th March – details here. Go on – join the conversation…

The Failure of Space

January 13, 2008

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Objects pay a central role in language which have become the black hole of the imagination.

Object absorb methods of interactivity, they hold the relationship between verb and noun.

Objects retain activity because of a latent belief that to be human is to engage with existence as a container.

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It’s the belief that ourselves, as communicators occupy a particular space. In consideration, what is it that we think we own through ‘being’ ? Whether it’s My Space or My Face, there is a problem in wanting personal identification being incorruptible because property defines a relationship between the ‘individual’ and an ‘activity’ and thus, “I think therefore I am” reduces language to a proposition that negates space, rendering it it as a void not as energy.

Ownership, as currency, renders the individual as a shibboleth, not as a conduit. Ownership values you, not the otherway around.

Acting is a way to shift the individual from person to persona; the surface as text enables a metamorphosis to occur but yet legibility restricts affordances of the performance. By designing a character, you are stripping away values that you do not want to transfer.

Narratives, on the whole, are object centric. Stories, on the whole, are character or location centric, even if the role of the tale is morale of antidote. This is how we deal with space; we erase relationships between objects in order to expose relationships between objects that we deem valuable. The legibility of the value enhanced objects are defined using logic, itself a system based upon declaration.

And it’s this declaration that needs to be replaced with recursive activities. To recall a story is simply a validation of the initial story’s object values. The Chinese Whisper recursive activity opens the affordance for personal valuations, in turn, creating a new value chain debased from an individual’s possession model.

Use Values are the currency that currency values, commercial restrictions on transference increase friction and erodes affordances. Use value devalues Image Values. Knowledge transfer is part of the process, but unless you can reuse the knowledge in anyway you wish, the currency of knowledge degrades.

Now, exploitation of knowledge requires attribution, itself is a shibboleth token that is derived from an individual (corporate entity or individual). Attribution, being the lowest level of rights (as expressed through the Creative Commons licence scheme), is still a barrier for reuse. It maintains the network of information transference, but retains a channel for first object values to influence the acceptance of the shibboleth model.

How can transference be utilised without incarceration of influences when transference is a space based activity?

Network constructs exist within time, not space. Transference exists within space not time.

Is a knowledge object a particle or a wave?

Therefore we have a problem identifying value when networks and manufacturing argue the ownership of the concept of initial value. Language has no root for originality – it’s primary role is transference through duplication and distortion. Meaning’s needs are erosion and decay.

‘Constructing a sentance’ is to destroy other values from perception.

‘Manufacturing’, as a concept, can not contain ‘Networks’ and vice versa. What permits the entanglement is Communication.

(Note the sweet irony of the licence at the end of this video.)

If the Uncertainity Principle is correct, all values are approximations, and therefore there is nothing that can be awarded a value; at best objects have properties that fluctuate with values – a range of values.

(Above: “Portraits of My Father’s Imagination” by Jennifer Cohen.)

A construct of value ranges are the ingredients; the intersection of the range of values can equate to a value. When constructed in this way, the approximation delivers precision that can be tracked but never predicted. Choosing which intersection of values (ingredients) is a decision method based upon prior knowledge, in essense, you make myths through reuse of retained values.

If this is so, an individuals choice is a myth; being able to predict within a value range deludes any sense of freedom – an this is the fear of freedom.

(Above: Victor Burgin Office at Night, 1986 (one of seven sections))

Robert Morris had said that he wanted his sculptures to be no more or less important than any other of the ‘terms’ in the room in which they were situated. But I had asked him the question: if his sculpture was to be considered no more worthy of attention than the doors, the floor, the windows, and so on… then why not dispense with the art object altogether? Judd had said that a form that was neither geometric nor organic would be a great discovery. It seemed to me that such a form did not exist in the material world but could only be found in the mental realm. By the time I left Yale I was trying to find a way of dispensing with the material object, a way of leaving the room empty.

The above quote is taken from Victor Burgin’s presentation titled ‘The Separateness of Things’, which you can read here.

The Failure of Space is it’s existence as physical. The attempts of establishing neutrality within a language construct is something Wikipedia has gone to great lengths to achieve. It is the greatest phenomenon – above the sheer scale of the production – and is reflected in the concept of Net Neutrality.

Pure Construction, as favoured by the early conceptualist and minimalists (such as Robert Morris) claims a use of space beyond the appreciation of freedoms.

Above: Robert Rauschenberg
Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953)

Rauschenberg’s moves in white are part of the grand gesture that his early work strove for and often achieved. His colleague John Cage recognised this when he wrote: “The white paintings were airports for the lights, shadows and particles.” Rauschenberg was able to make nothing the subject of a painting in a way that Cage would, after him, make nothing the subject of a piece of music. Then everything could enter in. “Having made the empty canvases (a canvas is never empty), Rauschenberg became the giver of gifts. “The timing of these acts was crucial; it was a different response to the Second World War and the atom bomb. Unlike the existentialism of Giacometti, which depicted man alone in the universe, Rauschenberg’s emptiness has a positive tonality, and although he in part rejected the serious themes of his Abstract Expressionist predecessors, his White Paintings have nothing of the humour of the Surrealists.

Weiner’s schema tackles the production and distribution of art through the direct conflict between object and language, and remains today the keystone to artists decoding the construct of space.

1. The artist may construct the piece
2.The piece may be fabricated
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the the occasion of the receivership.

Lawrence Weiner – As Long As It Lasts, 1994
Carving in Renaissance Society wall

Between language and object, the range of values assimilate situations of debate. A debate as a construct finds itself smothered by language unless you can keep the space from collapsing through definition.

Above: Haim Steinbach – supremely black, 1985

Steinbach, a contemporary of Koons, produces a shelving modality to enable presentations of value ranges. The exhibit is itself an execution of the question behind design, production and distribution of the ‘object’. The work is complete with installation instructions and is shipped from exhibition to exhibition. Position within the space is the arbitrary decision of the curator. The artist’s role is to negate the closure of space through neutral syntax – a language that the viewer can neither state as true or false, a language that negates and confirms the value range, a language that is neither useful or useless. Here, aesthetics deliver the failure of space. It is not the connectivity between objects but the juxtaposition of values within values recursively that denote a space that become accessible only through negating a language construct.

Within such an infinate duration of causality, space collapses. Time becomes a multi-dimensional construct connected through a range of values that assert their relationship through the viewer. The viewers act of possession in this state is of value to no one else as navigation of recursive space alludes to no meaning, no value, no use. Alone with a infinite array of value ranges, the viewer controls the matter of space through an erosion of time. The fear of freedom becomes the liberation of value. Space fails us when it fails to negate time – it leaves us a mere container instead of a part of it’s whole.

With time and space existing as linguistic containers, the role of the viewer is to collapse the meaning of either states, thus transferring a network of values from one to another. This sifting enables a non linguistic ontology freeing the affordances of both containers. The tools for such activities reside in the intersect of value ranges, and it would seem that emotive approaches that avoid the individuals verb-noun exchange are extremely effective in producing affective recursive communications.

If communication is to effectively design the prototypes of manufacturing and protocols of networks, then we may find that the Theory of Everything alluding to the simplistic notion that language is preventive, non enabling and that objects and their methods assert symmetrical values – an ordered beauty that prevents the human release of reasoning into lone navigation.

Perception, the foundation to navigation, is a surface reliant ontology. We can only ever see surface – all meaning is generated based upon the viewers value ranges.

Non-orientable objects, such as the Klein bottle (above) and the Mobius strip exist within their own surface, that is, they are one continuous surface. The Klein bottle model exists in the 3rd dimension, whereas the Mobius strip is in within the 2nd dimension. Being singular, the Klein bottle’s affordance is that is you pour into the bottle, the bottle will instantly pour out from the same point.

The significance of the singular surface, non-orientable object, is that space can be defined, modelled and handled as matter, not as a representation of matter. The recently, fought over, affirmation Poincaré conjecture, allows us to believe that surface is a finite space, and thus utterly orientable. The domain of space can be cut using the Ricci Flow with Surgery method and with finite time, it is possible to show that space remains a singularity, if if the Ricci Flow has to be applied to singularities that form from the cutting.

In essence, the limitations of space-time confer that existence within language is restricted to the modeling of matter. Language can not explain anything OUTSIDE the surface of matter, thus we can not use language to explore dimensions that are devoid of space-time, but the existence of an exterior of space-time can be confirmed through seeing the limitations of activity-place.

Being devoid of space-time, creation should be able to construct fiction that becomes true, as the assertion can be percevied after the fact due to surface being the mailable construct unaffected by space-time; in space-time, fiction comes after prior knowledge because space-time controls the object.

As digital communications aspires towards production at the point of consumption (Transmedia, UGC, bitstreaming and crowdsourcing), we are slowly adopting an existence without space-time yet trying to apply space-time modalities of fiction.

You may ask why you would want to know the film before you watch it, or listen to a gag if you knew the punchline – this would be misunderstanding the role of non-oriented objects within a non-space, non-time existence.

The role of communications within the surface plane of non-space-time is to experience your own construct not one constructed for you. We may have a Death of an Author paradox here, if we are already have removed the author of the text and replaced it with the reader. The point is, authorship should come after the collective experience of existence, not a singular denotation of space-time. What should be of interest within this plane is the ability to formalise reality upon the construct of the imagination, collectively and individually.

The networks that people build today, may these be technological or social, are becoming the surface plane of a reality construct that create fictions which in turn create opinions within the minds of the participants. Fears of assimilation and identity are fluid, that is, epidemic in the communities that produce the network. I believe this is the transitional phase between space-time and a singularity that restates the relationship between communication and manufacturing. Ideas, concepts and thoughts will materialise through a network effect, but the consequences will be that little choice will be maintained over what is made. Manufacturing will become enslaved to the Network; Communication will be caught in between the two.

Freedom will still remain the illusion between a physicality and the organisation of that reality, unless language escapes the object ontology. Scripts, routines and procedures maintain a use value that people define as methods; again, a value construct between noun and verb needs to be dissolved for the benefits of experience to liberate us from expectations.

Steal This Film too

January 10, 2008

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An old sparing partner of mine has released the next installment of Steal This Film.

Jamie (aka Vague Blur) has spent the last year, along with the public donations, producing a surprisingly good documentary about piracy. It offers some tales and insights into the intrinsic need for sharing/copying in a networked world. Unfortunately, it’s very anti-media industries and thus it falls down on being a balanced understanding on the impact of piracy for the future of production.

This approach to debate on how we all use duplication and derivatives in communication prevents a resolution for artists and brands developing a workable relationship; the constant baiting against the entertainment industry alludes to a belief that they are no longer needed, referring to the London Grime scene as an exemplar in production. Grime is a true grass roots movement, but like every home producer knows, you still need professional production values to make the craft shine. There’s a big difference between ‘home recordings’ where you’re ripping a DVD for sharing via bittorrent and ‘home recording’ where you’re making something from existing culture, something with a new construct, architecture, aesthetic or utilitarian purpose.

Jamie’s posted some thoughts about the transitions of the economic model that piracy brings, notable how donations/pre payment are a potential source of revenue for P2P productions. Like Radio Heads ‘Rainbows’, these experiments in marketing are not the same as building a value base for an audience, if the audience have no say in the production. This is where I wish Jamie would spend more activity on – building an dialogue between participants on the project in public. They still have a wiki, but it’s not been used, instead they’ve opted for a ‘broadcast’ model website to tell people what they are doing. As I demonstrated in the Joneses, it’s the audiences engagement that makes the business model work for brands to finance what the audience really want. Regardless of audience size, you need to know if you are delivering the value that is expected. Download metrics, page impressions are broadcasts grasp at Accountable Transactions. Where is the feedback mechanism for Steal This Film? The donation amount? I suppose anything is better than nothing, but the displacement of what should be happening versus what is happening is unaccounted for. Perhaps that’s the message of the movie.

But Steal this Film 2 is a great production, it’s very watchable compared to the previous version. Here it is in 5 parts on youtube. Visit www.stealthisfilm.com for the downloadable versions and the opportunity to donate towards the next production “THE OIL OF THE 21ST CENTURY”.

Nice work Jamie. Looking forward to the next installment.

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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.

Click to see readable version

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.

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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.

Design for mobility, not for Mobiles.

Design is Everything divided by Something.

Design by blending, not by positioning.

A Cup of Bricks

January 4, 2008

If you haven’t watch ‘2 girls and a cup’, then don’t.

If you have, you know you wish you hadn’t.

There’s a whole series of video responses to that video and they show something really good. Media lubricates conversation; it produces a shared moment. We love to spectate another persons response to the unpalatable because a truth reveals itself in the moment of realisation. And these are rare moments.

We used have the water cooler moment when TV was great. Now there is Facebook trying to make every moment a water cooler moment. But it doesn’t. The noise to value ratio is far far too low to retain attention. And why didn’t the applications retain interest? Because they lack depth of affordance due to the paltry information that all users supply about themselves. FB came out of closed beta status far too early to ensure longevity.

Media, episodes, any motion graphics need not be series based now that TV has lost a temporal audience. Timeshifting has broken the habit of watching without intent. Media producers have lost the confidence to make a point; instead aesthetics (post production) is the cliff hanger than destroys the reason for a narrative.

Allegory fell out of art when the minimalists explored formalism; audiences, mass audiences, still stare at Carl Andres ‘Equivalent VIII‘ with horror, in so much that they fail to realise that meaning is something that has been so tightly spun as a moral.

Equally, audiences appreciation of mastery, comes of concern to any media producer. From film to software, what has come of the mastery of manufacturing?

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I watched American Gangster the other evening – a production of the highest values as one would expect from Ridley Scott, but the story? Based upon the ‘true strory’ of Frank Lucas, we follow 2 narratives obviously needing to collide. The tale of the honest, but domestically troubled detective and the tale of Lucas, his rise in wealth, capture and ultimately grass on every bent copper in the NYC drugs divisions.

Both come out heroes and the moral vanishes into a plume of heroin smoke.

The first weekend’s box office takings were around $46m. Lucas was reported making $1m a day from ‘Blue Magic’ back in 1970. The profits from moral-less activities go undetected when the lure of aesthetics is promised but without the gloss an audience demand meaning.

Why is this so?

I think it’s because we don’t know the ‘form of truth’, because the values of truth are always migrating away from experience. No one can handle the truth because we want the truth to belong to a notion of ‘Other‘, located across the way in a greener field.

Religion has used the notion of truth to gain a following; centering belief structures within folk allegories. Unfortunately, this power has been duplicated in mass communications. Truth and Sex are equivalents when stripped of any aesthetics – and so our psychological drugs need dressing to bring acceptability to our morals.

Like ‘Blue Magic’, we rate purity higher than a hybrid cocktail. Just like in the movie, Lucas bitches about one of his dealers cutting his ‘pure’ brand with impurities, comparing it to Trademark infringement. You can catch part of the scene at the end of Jay-Z’s inspired track..

You may have spotted the Hirst spin painting behind da man. It’s of no surprise – Hirst’s life’s work celebrates this connection between man’s beliefs and ultimate reality. His aestheticisation of aesthetics, making the palatable digestible; when parodied, it becomes a numbing truth.

I still cant find the answer to why the gloss of aesthetics is so needed; why do we as creatures of such diverse communications require stimulants? As creatures of activity, they make even less sense. Perhaps we cant consume, use or value without pedagogical fears. What could be worse than that?

Most Contagious Joneses

January 3, 2008

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Industry reviews of the Joneses project for Ford of Europe, on the whole, were a bit rubbish, especially the ‘experts’ at NMA. They made me reminded me how lazy the press can be (“awwwwwww, we want a press release weeks in advance and be the first to know.” “What’s a Wiki? Does it have banner adverts?” “So, like, it’s a TV show?” “Twitter, wassat?” “Nah, I don’t think our readers would be interested in the Creative Commons thingy. No one understands media rights, right?”). Sigh.

It was rare to read intelligent responses from people who were aware of the changes in media production and commissioning. Bloggers were the most fun, check out the Technorati Blog reactions or my del.licio.us collection.

When Contagious called to do an interview, they took their time to try and understand what I was playing with and it showed in their write up. The creative industries need producers like this. The industry needs clients like the ones I have a Ford of Europe. Most of all, the industries need to talk to the production communities, such as BabyCow, if invention is going to happen in ‘Branded Utility Entertainment’.

They’ve just launched the ‘best of 2007′ and I chuffed to see Where are the Joneses? get a decent mention alongside comparable projects: KateModern from Bebo, HoneyShed by the most excellent Droga5, GlamourReel Movies (notably cutting out the role of the Ad Agency) and QuarterLife – the later I’m keeping my eye on, especially with the WGA still on strike. Here’s what they said.

contagious-joneses.gif

You can download their 2007 round up, Most Contagious, here. Do it. It was a fascinating year.

Art is code. So when Nick compiled a list of his top 10 programmers, mainly based around game deveopment, he raised the issue about why great coders are aspiring.

For me, a good coder is like an artists who aspires towards a career in art. The paycheck for ‘production’ becomes their foundation. They shift cliched objects around a virtual space, solving problems based on to them – may they be client change requests, a project managers fuckwit shortcut to deliver or another lazy attempt to entertain the user.

For me, Ward Cunningham, is possible one of the most valuable coding minds we have seen. Ward infamously invented the Wiki model back in 1995 through a need to be self organised but (being lazy) without wishing to do the heavy lifting himself – instead he ‘saw’ the ability of a community to do they organising – aka Crowdsourcing.

This pulls him in-line with Paul Graham, author of Hackers and Painters.

Ward, like Paul, are artists who play with Language. Like, my hero, Lawrence Weiner. Here we are at the opening of his first Retrospective: As Far as the Eye Can See at the Whitney in November this year.

Lawrence’s ‘art’ defined the opening of conceptual art. Alongside Daniel Buren, they helped creativity manifest itself as the play within language; a play that sought to overcome the burden of meaning – eroding time into an object, usable to dissolve language’s grasp of context.

Here’s a nice statement from Lawrence, that I swiped from http://www.personalstructures.org, here.

When we speak of time, especially since so much art since, I can almost say, since Mondrian, is involved with the passage of time – not the reflection of time, but the passage of time, reflections of times or nostalgia at present. And that’s all we have in our lives. Time is relative to expectations, and it’s based upon the real-time needs to fulfill those expectations. We have no other means of judging the value of time. Essentially, to be really vulgar, it can’t be about lifetime, it can’t be about lifespan. It’s the same problem that all artists have. We all make movies, and yet, a movie is the great imposition on another human being, because it asks them to give up their real time. Your real time is making a movie. I don’t know if their real time is watching a movie, because it’s an imposition of time.

Necessity may have been the mother of invention for many, but the harsh reality is that it is idle meddling that attempts to make a problem out of nothing which leads to invention, understanding and ultimately language regression.

This meddling leaves seeds of curiosity for us all to pick over, accidental hybrid, trade and profit from. Stuff is built not by design, but by constructing problems that arrest us.

Haacke is for me, is the artist that has taken the operations of ‘conceptual art’ and successfully hacked the MarComms businesses, politically and aesthetically. His installation at Der Bevoelkerung stands testament to this. (If someone knows an English transaltion to this project online – please let me know.)

This is why I think the consensus of architecture is flawed. Design-to-build removes the participation of creation that is essential to the constructs future affordances. Imperial casts of iconic skyline buildings shadow the genius of ‘squatting‘.

The best programmers, like artists, seek to unlearn. That’s how they build inventions. Innovation is something we can live without, it has no use value. Only the doing of thinking constructs. The Thinking of Doing collapses the use value.

Why I’m still in awe of Ward Cunningham, well, he’s still playing. Last year, the Graffiti Research Lab drop kicked in the LED Throwie. Ward has hacked this concept with the Talkie Throwie. By programming the LED with Morse Messages, the Throwies now talk. In turn, the race is on to build video recognition applications that LISTEN to the messages.

Forget HD TV, forget AI, forget meaning. Let objects ‘talk, listen and build.’ They ‘mean’ nothing to each other, yet inspire us to react, redo and rediscover. Language is a stepping stone, not a destination. Have a look at “Les Deux Plateaux” by Buren, for example.

Working for a design company, my comments about using design to find the problem are usually met with a sharp in take of breath, at best. Designers, on the whole, have a fixation with makig stuff look and act great, nah, brilliant-fantastic-charming-clear.

BUT, we live in a world where design has to be used to enclose the audience, to help them find a space to occupy, NOT try to satisfy them with aesthetics du jour.

Apple, a design company that uses technology well, is possibly the biggest culprit in closing down progression in the use of aesthetics. Sure the products have charm, I picked up an iTouch recently – it’s a genius product, but it doesn’t need the Appleness for it do it’s job. If anything Aqua and Web2.0 screen furniture are failed languages, they’ve prevented a evolution where Useful (User) Experiences should have diversified and spawned languages; instead we are left with cliches. Interface design should not suffer the same inadequacies of architecture that induce the Stenna chairlift need.

Ben and Karsten are the smart practioners of design. Ben’s Hackable Aesthetics for Interesting2007 are about reuse values within existing cultures as a platform for innovation.

Whilst Karsten is playing between software (Processing) and hardware (Arduino). As a designer, the tool set is never essential, it’s the consideration is expanded when your tools have a broad affordance.

But for both to operate like this, the Ingredients of Data, have to be understood. Artists have always understood their material, from marble (Michangelo) to language (Weiner); today, in the realm of Being Digital, understanding how data is constructed has to be the basis to any designer/artist/creative.

It may seem dull, but understanding how a carrot grows is essential to a farmer. Understanding how Photoshop works is not necessary to use it, but to get the best from the system-as-application, knowing more about the under lying code is more important than understanding complementary colours. That’s why Rob’s Minara is such a smart way to think about the relationship between design and software.

But non of this is of any value unless you wrap in the role of the user/audience/participator. The viewer has a role in a designers work – they are the interpreter – regardless of what ‘message’ you are trying to send. The User centricity of User Experience, covered in length by Armano, has resulted in some pretty lame executions – any web2.0 application that claims to do one thing well, has sucked in 37signals ‘Getting Real’ manifesto. The reality is that no one wants a singular experience, like Photoshop or Illustrator. The ‘I Want to Be Alone’ singualrity of the creative is way past being useful – like Twitter, designers must have Peer Appreciation. By this I mean that conversation between likeminded, non-likeminded and the resulting audience must be in the pre-production, production and the execution.

As soon as designers can get out of the Ivory Tower and get with the participation that has made their technology based tools possible, then we might just get an industry that is more interested in find the real problems for creativity- and I think it’s based in Error Handling.

Ward Cunningham’s thinking evolved Pattern Language.

A pattern language is a structured method of describing good design practices within a field of expertise. It is characterized by

  1. Noticing and naming the common problems in a field of interest,
  2. Describing the key characteristics of effective solutions for meeting some stated goal,
  3. Helping the designer move from problem to problem in a logical way, and
  4. Allowing for many different paths through the design process.

Think about his Throwie Talkies, think about the mentality of design that encourages Stateless Communications, and then remember the Gorilla Advert. Think how utility can become fun – fun as in learning – education through creation.

None of these modal approaches to design were borne out of necessity – they were evolutions from seeds of boredom. Programmers, like artists, like some designers, hate the thought and practice of spending their time producing the mundane. If they don’t mind – you should question the people on your team – and juniors who do the ‘grunt’ work should consider getting the hell out of there.

Laziness is the vision of the apathetic creative upon the inventions that are being played out by the beleaguered designer.

Architecting, designing, creating, erm, even planning, needs to be used to find problems, not solve them. In return the final product will be as interesting to the audience as it was to you.

I think I’m trying to nudge over Johnny’s Branded Utility concept, as Russell notes, It’s just Utility, and that’s agreeable a bit dull. Schutz and Webb are having a good play around with this too. But for me, as soon as the object-as-utility is defined by it’s use, it’s polydimensionality collapses and so does it’s longevity. Equally, the age old question ofwhat is ‘Brand Experience’, which for me is a simulation of a Brand, and really needs to step up to accountable transactions to be allowed to have the word Brand anywhere near any notion of Experience.

And it’s a bit too easy to point at Twitter and state it’s the way forward. It does have a superb mentality towards poly-dimensionality, but what makes it so? Evan and Biz knew, after Blogger, that the audiences interests were the operating system, and the technology just has to do the heavy lifting between them. It’s the Solow rule of ecconomics. What needs to be examined is the process of design for problem excalvation that’s benificial to the participants.

So, I want to recap on what I think the ‘user pathway’ translates to as a design, production and delivery process.

Previously, I explained that I see a user experience in 4 stages:-

1. Inspiration: Attract the User
2. Aspiration: Get the user to ask what they want
3. Insight: Deliever the request
4. Acquisition: Participate in a trade for the request

Mapping on some of the ideas above, I think the process for the ‘producers’ looks like this:-

1. Inspiration : Peer Appreciation
2. Aspiration: Hackable Aesthetics
3. Insight: Ingredients of Data
4. Acquistion: Useful Experiences

I’m still thinking this through; it’s being written on the wiki, so when I have a better idea about all this, I’ll update in another post.

If I can get this right, I think it’s the key to defining a model for Accountable Transactions for Engagement.

Flippin’ Girls

September 24, 2007

In the words of Paris Hilton: “This is hot.”

New York based 3iying, who I wrote about last year, has unleashed over 150 videos of girls critiquing adverts. And they are addictive to watch. This is not girls bitchin’, but smart ladies explaining why sales media is making them depressed – this is what they call a ‘Flip'; they are explaining what they want. And if the industry cant make what they want – they will come and help you do it.

How smart is this? Very. No CMO, Creative Director, Head of Planning/Consumer Insights/Media Planning can afford to ignore these videos. These are not focus groups findings, this is personal, direct, honest pleas from the people formally known as consumers. And before your say “Erm, isn’t this just Girl Power?” go and watch the videos. All of them. These are ‘Social Functions as Media Commerce’ – not a padded Lyrica stage show.

The girls have a new site up and running too: www.3iying.tv

There are the videos, Flickr stream of the girls with their insights – yes insights – not comments. And there is even a Youtube group for other girls to record ‘n’ upload their ‘Flips’. MySpace is covered. I expect the Facebook group to follow…

I’ve been talking to 3iying founder, Heidi Dangelmaier, since I first wrote about 3iying – I’ve seen how the 3iying ideology has formed over the past 18 months, met some of the girls, see previews of these videos and talked at length about the voice of ‘girl’. This has been about using design to find the problems, not create solutions. This work has been born from conversations not planning. This work is not a prescription but social surgery. This work is about making media work.

Not only is there the passion and belief that there is something fundamentally important in this work – raising an awareness of what makes the marketing the crass media creation that dominates mainstream culture – 3iying is enabling the audience to craft their commentary about why so much ‘product media’ leaves us all so vacuous – this makes this agency CULTURALLY RELEVANT.

3iying is not another PR/Marketing/Design agency – it’s an opportunity to make life better – for everyone.

Just like Anamoly and Antidote, 3iying is the ‘agency’ model that is beginning to phoenix – they’re brave, independent and considerate. But most importantly – they are doin’ it. Now.

Twitter launched Twitter Blocks this week. And it’s sponsored by Motorola. And I think this is great.

twitter-blocks2.jpg

Twitter is a platform of massive potential because it’s unfolding in ways that makes no sense. TwitterVision is a spectacle, but it’s not a daily use. Blocks is the same. But over time both will become morphed, tweaked, revised and invigorated with the contemporary users.

And that’s the power of the platform. Think about the mobile phone – we presume it’s a natural evolution of the landline. It isn’t. It’s a very different media channel. The video phone, or Skype, is the natural evolution of the landline. Mobile is also confused by it’s portability and ability to geo-locate the user. That’s true, but the demand is under whelming. The mobile phone is an interruptive technology with the baggage of the land line culture. It’s a less of a ideal of a phone, more an ‘ideal’ of selling airtime. Then SMS arrived and then the brick came alive.

And this is why Twitter is brilliant. It may have some of the IRC mentality, but the resistance of it’s messaging peers (Pownce and Jaiku) to incorporate their features demonstrates the value is in the affordance that anyone but the crew behind Twitter require. Development at Twitter is about scaling – just like the telecom industry. It’s polar to Apple and the fetishistic iPhone (which is really an ultra portable Mac with a lease to AT&T – which seems to becoming to an end – which Apple don’t need to worry about – in fact it’s in their favour – and they know it.)

There has been some good thinking about how to diversify the affordance of a Tweet. Chris Messina has been trying to the the #channel or #group thinking up and running. I’m not convinced, but there is something in the thinking that the strings of texts we send to Twitter do contain more than we say. It’s the Object Oriented thinking within media (video, audio, images, text) that I’ve been privately obsessing about for the past couple of years. If anything, the tweets need to be compressed more, not littered with signposts.

twitter-blocks1.jpg

So Twitter Blocks. Being able to visualise (and inspire better visualisation) of the fabric of the one liners is something you can only do by being close to the Twitter developers and Motorola have bought their way in. Using one of the best engineering teams to work on the visualisation, Stamen, and pushed out the project within a month. Now that’s shifting code, getting it out there and watch the playing, comments and ad revenue arrive without months of planning, metrics, management or committees.

I’d like to think there is something inherent in Blocks that is of interest to Motorola, if anything, Connecting People seems like a Nokia type of project. Maybe they we’re offered the idea first. But what excites me is brands willing to pay for play – engaging their staff and their thinking with existing platforms that people use. Twitter is open for any commercial operation to play with – and with all the conversations about dialogue you see via marketing blogs, press and conferences, it’s not hard to think that it wont be long before we see Brand Interfacing of Social Media (BISMs). This is not about portals, maybe it’s closer to branded utility, but what it really could mean is funding of social services that civic administrators cant grasp.

This isn’t any great revelation. Think Tesco and Computers for Schools. I think it was Richard Huntington on a podcast with Paul Coleman (Or Russell Davies) that the discussion turned towards, “Tesco’s should sort out the quality of their ready meals before they worried about the local schools IT department”, but with Twitter, the focus of concern hasn’t been shifted by the introduction of brand funded development on top of a public platform.

And should I object that Motorola is profiting from my Tweets? Well, Blocks wont make me switch to Motorola from my current supplier. Nor will I check out any of their phones because of this effort. But what does stick is that they within my vision, they are playing with the same tools as me, and they are not getting in the way – in fact they are helping me see connections in my postings (albeit minor) that I wouldn’t have spotted before. Should I concern myself about ‘permission marketing’? Nope, I went to them, they didn’t knock on my door – BUT, the lead through from Twitter’s pages doesn’t show the sponsor until the reveal – that is the Blocks interface page.

The ROI model is bound to be the click-through to the sponsors website. The advert is managed by DoubleClick, so the metrics are running alongside other client banner placements. These measurables are massive red herrings compared to the fact that the Sponsors name becomes associated to something that frequents my life.

I’ve been asked a lot (I mean A LOT) about the ROI on “Where are the Joneses?” so it’s no wonder that I find Blocks seductive as a commercially sponsored ‘art’ project that’s built on ‘social’ services. I’d like to know who indicated the project (Twitter, Motorola or Stamen) because there is kudos up for grabs, because that’s where the ROI model would be borne from. Who is getting the most attention from Blocks? Probably Stamen, just like BabyCow have from the “Where are the Joneses?” – which is how it should be.

Producers that make the stuff that we enjoy need the kudos’ because without them, the ideas would never leap from the page. And if Brands want the best talent, it’s not just the payola, but the kudos that attracts and retains quality producers.

But, there is something really missing from Blocks and that is the source code. Tom Carden, a developer on the Blocks is a developer with OpenGL and Processing knowledge. Blocks would have been stunning if Processing rather than Flash had been chosen; with the source code released and the data calls exposed, you would have seen a community of hacks build upon this work – richening it and so, taking Twitter into new ideas. If Motorola are sitting on the code for no reason, then that’s a shame…

The Twitter Wiki seems to be low on contribution to spawning out the platform. Chris Messina does nibble away at it, but the focus is on the mashup, not the value added; that is the extention use of the platform or at least the evolution of messaging. Something marketing should be fixated by.

Would the grass root community within the Twitter wiki be outraged if planners, creatives and technologists within agencies and brands started requesting features and interface suggestions? I doubt it. And there’s only one way to find out.

So never stop playing. Never stop learning. And never fear the future.

Further recommended reading:-

Stamen’s Mike Migurski’s notes on Blocks and ‘Uselessness’.

Tom Carden’s responses to the criticisms of Blocks

Free Gift Wrapping Paper

August 5, 2007

gpl3_wrapping-paper.png

gplv3-127x511.png

Rob and Crosbie have been kicking off about the idea and use of Gift Economy in the comments section here – which has led to the idea of some lovely GPLv3 wrapping paper, which I’d love to hand over under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence – but then I realised it’s probably just easier to make some Creative Commons wrapping paper, which is tempting to licence under GPLv3, well, the source file. But you can get the logos yourself and a copy of Gimp and you’ll be done in 5minutes anyway.

cc-giftpaper2.png
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here’s a video of Richard Stallman explaining the GPLv3

And as I’m at it, here’s a classy sheet of GNU gift wrap.

Remember, free software is for life, not religious ceremonies, like Festivus .

gnu-girftwrap2.png

Bloody hell, there really is a company that makes Festivus Poles. Viva free culture!

Seriously – watch this. And again if you’ve no idea what I’m on about watch this video.

Here’s the best of Festivus. Enjoy

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