April 24, 2008
Let’s play a game to demonstrate that the future of movies is dead.
First, pick you favourite movie.
I’ll wait… I know it’s a tricky question
OK, Good choice.
Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
Ok, What’s you second favourite Movie?
Ah! Crafty one.
Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
Right, third (and final) favourite movie choice.
Heh, ok.. I see what you did there.
Ok, you know the score, Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.
You now have three movie files on your laptop, all 5Gb in size.
We wont mention this to the copyright authorities. It’s between you and me.
The thing is, you only need the one file for all three movies. The data for each movie has been conformed to the same size, it’s the sequence of the data that enables the viewing of the movie – through the player that understands the codec.
You see, any movie that has ever been made also exists within the single 5Gb file.
Still with me?
The data file is just noise, it’s how you tune out the movie you want is the trick.
But the fact that every movie that has ever been made is held within that data file also means that every film that will ever be made is within that file.
[Pause for thought - I know you're thinking at this point.]
Think of it like radio, you have to tune to the right sequence of the data to get the movie you want or the movie you can imagine you would like to see.
Now, for the technical reader, I know you’re snarling at this – yes – it’s a question of retrieval and we don’t have the technology nor the methodology to tackle this puzzle.
But it does indicate a finite number of movies that can be made. It’s a huge number – but it’s finite.
Look at it from an single image perspective.
If you have a jpg file, 800pixels x 600pixels, the limitation of the dimensions, that is, the number of pixels multiplied by the colour depth is the limitation of the format of the image.
As screen/image performance ‘increases’, the colour depth improves and thus more variation can occur, but there is a limit somewhere. 32bit colour depth is probably what you have your monitor set to. Hi Def Tv blows this away, but the visual plane of us creatures is limited to a spectrum. We can only see so deep.
But back to the movie puzzle.
Schrödinger set a thought puzzle back in 1935,
He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, where the cat’s life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.
You can read the whole cat debacle on Wikipedia.
If you have a 5Gb of data, the movie you want is in there if you can perceive it.
Now, there’s an alternative view of this puzzle from proposed in 1987 by Hans Moravec and in 1988 by Bruno Marchal. Their experiment essentially involves looking at the Schrödinger’s cat experiment from the point of view of the cat. It’s called the Quantum Suicide.
Which makes me think what will power does a movie that has never been made have, to fight it’s way out of the 5Gb of noise, sitting on your desktop?
What ‘will power’ do characters and scenes of movies that, don’t exist, have?
This question shows how our minds project emotive responses towards fictions, how we project our own sensibilities onto formats of existence. Narratives act as vehicles for our own perceptions, but do they have a magnetism to the needs of conversation between ourselves?
It makes no sense to reference movies that don’t exist because they are not a shared point of understanding – we tend to use the past as a reference, not the future. But as the sum total of all possibilities of movies can be formulated if we understand how language informs communication, then reference points remove any notion of authored time – that is, what will be and what has has no hierarchy – that is, the past is no more informative than the future.
But I digress.
If every movie can exist within 1 file, have a look at Amazon, Blockbusters, netflix and youtube. That’s a lot of duplication, a lot of technology used to propel unit sales where instead we should be looking at the solution of movie automata – growing movies – so that we are freed up, to move on to something else.
If you’re in marketing, especially planning, and tuned into the digital storytelling scene (ahem), you’ll know about Faris’s Transmedia Planning essay. You’ll probably know that it comes from Henry Jenkins notions of Convergence Culture, and you might know that he took it from Nicholas Negroponte, Director of MIT, book called Being Digital, where he talks about Bit Streaming. Bitstreaming is where the point of production which becomes the point of consumption (basically – think about Lifestreaming, User Generated Content and Conversation On-line). Your doing is the act of consumption. To use is to learn.
BitSteaming is not Transmedia, something has got lost along the way here. We have to stop thinking in terms of making media; production and distributions are side effects of design, they are not a means to an end.
Design, as an act, infers solution. Design is much better at finding problems than having to abuse creativity to produced polished productions for consumption.
Brilliant things are the messes we are fixated upon. Headlines in the press attract attention, not for the morbid cultural events but for the persuit of reason. A mess is a loose space that we can occupy mentally. There is peace in the eye of the storm. Time stands still in this space.
There has been so much written about this area within marketing, and I think Marcus bagged the best review so far, but it all amounts to avoiding the subject that authorship does not matter. It matters not for an audience nor for the producer, authorship is a channel for communication. Communication, does not need a singular writer to produce media. Films may have a director, but there is almost a countless cast of assistants required to design, produce and distribute.
There’s is also the notion of copyright and licence. That was demonstrated in Where are the Joneses?
You may want to look at Roland Barthes ‘Death of an Author’ or Walter Benjamin’s ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.’ Both have indicated the moral and virtues decline in the notions of authorship. It can be argued that authorship maintains our identity as humans. Crosbie and Doc Searles may debate that synthesis of human authorship is almost upon us. Though Andrea may not agree.
Digtal methodologies, as we have seen within all forms of publishing, does not honour the author as a predicate for future productions. From Markov chains to Bayesian search theory, pattern matching of semantics is beginining to be taken seriously as the direction of technology which will author our future. BookLamp is doing something interesting in this area (Thanks to Ben for the link). We will be experiencing the automaton of narrative far beyond the postmodernism of Baudrillard’s Simulations and Simulacra as seen in those Matrix Movies.
This is why Hollywood is dead wood, tinsletown will burn to the ground.
We’ll be left with an ever present of change, a shifting sifting of values that look more like noise than logic.
The Semantic hope of web3.0, where stuff talks to each other, means that we are the participating audience of a story that we all know even though it has not been written, and constantly trying to escape by retuning the aesthetics back to what makes us feel comfortable. It’s going to harder to be feel secure in the thought that you have a fate, destiny or an objective future when the principles of subjectivity are iterations of a systematic upgrade of general consensus – you belong to your peer’s perceptions.
Narrative may well collapse into pace determined by a rhythm of participation. The story and melody could be perceptive instead of prescriptive.
From storytelling to synthesis, we see performance and identity central to the act of engagement. The human centrality is the primary node within a creation plane, which is pure transaction – an act. It’s how you map the individual the execution of transaction that will make the semantic web, not the alignment of meanings within language. An act is a meaning – a word is a symbol. Signs are conduits between the two.
Life will become a pure dress rehersal because the movie will never be made. Maybe this is the constant betaness. Maybe this is how we should never to be afraid of making mistakes. This sense of ‘incomplete’ or ‘disconectivity’ makes us relate more to each other.
Our patience for this consistant change will be subject to invariants. Just as the notion of interestingness is based upon anomalies; configurations, standards and useful protocols that provide moments of clarity, will become the Greek island oasis that defines peace – and maybe peace of mind. While Advertising hates this, marketing loves this. Disruptions in perception are only useful when you want someone to believe that they are in control – isn’t that so tiger?
But I digress, again.
I’ve no idea on how to retrieve the finite collection of movies within the 5Gb of data, but I’ve started using Twine to collate the ideas and references that made me thinking of this problem called Schrödinger’s Movie . If you’re using Twine, do pop by and have a look, help out, or comment.
Either way – the song remains the same. Open up.
Update [27-04-08] There is now a really interesting thread on Yahoo!Groups about this post.
Now open up
You changed the stakes
Magnet toss that pie in the sky
Unrehearsed let the bubbles burst
All in all a three-ring circus
Of unity with parody tragedy or comedy
Make room for me
Now open up
Make room for me
Lose myself inside your schemes
Go for the money, honey
Not the screen
Be a movie star Blah, blah, blah
Go the whole hog
Be bigger than God
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Taking down Tinsel Town
Burn Hollywood, burn
Burn down into the ground
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Take down Tinsel Town
Burn down to the ground
Down into the ground
P.s. Ask me sometime how I know Peter Andre is responsible for LeftField’s first 2 albums.
April 20, 2008
You can argue there is a right time for everything; you could say that the unexpected is always a jolt to your perception.
Either way, there must be a correlation between usefulness and uselessness and the sweet spot must be a time based ideology.
Now, if time has curves to it, then the act of serendipity acts like a magnet to possibilities, and possibilities are either useful or useless, depending on what you think you are looking for.
Being in a state between passive and alert, shall we say ‘open’, at what point in the cycle of interaction of stuff do we identify possibility?
Basing this upon the 4 Humble Demands, and mapping on LongTailness (Green line in the diagram above) [via Chris Anderson] and The Dip (Blue Line in the diagram, above) [via Seth Godin], with an understanding that inventions are either pushed onto audiences (Advertising) or pulled into markets (Marketing), we can see two points of attraction/repulsion that seem to occur in society debate: Criticism and Appropriation.
Godin’s point about the Dip is one of persisitance and quitting – identifying what you are expert at and disgrading the rest of your work – as ever – the persuit of the remarkable.
Andersons, well discussed, model of markets as a Long Tail, where there is more possibilities in the tail, than in the head of market releases, that is, your back catalogue is of more value (if not the same) than your new inventions.
I’ve nudged Andersons long tail model to have a bump, so to reflect the point of interest in a back catalogue. Let me expand upon this.
When a new movie comes out (normally pushed) it will pass through criticism and drop to a level of the market, after which referals to the movie will be peer or algorhythm based (Amazon/Netflicks) after which the title will fade to obscurity (either being watched lends itself to being shelved or that the referal wasn’t adequete).
Therefore the bump in interest is the secondary market moment.
Now, as with the Dip model, a market that examines your efforts (criticism) increases your desire to succeed until you find a moment of self doubt, which makes you rexamine your interest in what you are going. It’s during this Dip that you look around for something that will help you understand and refine your offering, and if you get out of the Dip, you know you’ve found something useful.
It’s the point at which The Dip and the secondary Market meet each other that is of interest to me. It’s where a connection is made that either enables the Longtail model to revive a market or an inventor to disolve an interest. It’s a point of grave decision on what to do next.
Let’s look at the time factor, between the Slow and the Fast.
Releasing an invention (book, film, lawnmower) is a done with some form of promotion: with (creative) agency engaged, the clock starts to tick because the billings have kicked in. You have stock in the warehouse and you have to shift the glorious invention. Time is money at this moment. Costs are driven by a demanding ROI.
Equally, those who invent in public (always in beta) are looking for feedback – the faster it comes, the faster the product can be refined.
In both states, adrenaline is pumping – it’s exciting to be involved with inventions. It’s a birth thing…
But the thing about enthusiasm, it wains, and even if you artificially pump the enthusiasm with buzz and PR, unless the invention finds a residency in usefulness, the interest levels drop to what a market will find acceptable. The pace of conversation around your invention will naturally succumb to banality, because there is always something else that is being invented, released and hopefully criticised.
On the other end of the spectrum of pace, is the slow time, the pace of acceptance and controllability. This the audiences control over the objects in circulation. It’s the pace at which a decision (acquisition) happens.
The 4 Humble demands (Inspiration, aspiration, insight and acquisition) are charted as volumes of time, not spped of time. I have a base line ratio of these 4 psychological phases, there are:
Inspiration – 30%
Aspiration – 20%
Insight – 40%
Acquisition – 10%
So as acquisition takes up the smallest amount of time (this is the actual transaction) it also happens with a pace of consideration. Insight on the other hand, has more energy and more depth to the action. Insight and Aspiration, although have a greater degree of excitement, the attention or dwell time is less significant.
So you get the idea.
Now, back to the point of this, finding the point at which invention becomes a useful, or why inventions don’t become useful.
There are two significant moments of in the diagram that influence the outcome of invention. First is initial criticism, which either way creates buzz for you (No PR is bad PR) and the second is the point of the invention being picked up for REUSE. Now this is likely to be of renewed interest based upon a contextualisation of circumstances, or that there is a detail in the invention that is applicable to something unrelated; regardless, the Appropriate Moment is activated when retrieval and doubt meet.
Uniting the sought and the lost which make a connection happens pace begins to slow down; the attributes of the seeker and the object are identified, connected and revived because of time resisting to be used as a catalyst.
This point in the curvature in time can make a journey become fascinating; renewed understanding of the relationship of things can not happen when an accelerated conversation is happening, nor when the audience is asking what, why, where, when or how (Aspiration phase).
The implications of this are curious – the mid paced ethos of curating has more value to society than the release of new inventions – it’s the recycling of the existing which hold the value of markets.
I think we know this deep down.
Equally, the Dip is nothing more than an opportunity to explore markets for cross-selling and product development.
Now, I could go off on a tangent to mark that commercial appropriation only really works with a Creative Commons BY-SA licence, though many IP lawyers will point out that the largest market for them is the abundance of patents their clients own make them the most money – and of course these are activated financially at the Appropriate Moment.
But I wont.
Instead, the lesson from this is that the channels of pace are widely overlooked in terms of marketing.
Instead of the heady pace of releasing the new (and The Shock of the New is worth a read to understand when an art market goes nuts the quality of production’s interestingness plummet), the area to focus on is around the Appropriate Moment, the space where the audience can gather, create and refine their interests.
It’s some time after the time where they ask questions (“Do you have these in a Blue?”) but before they make a purchase decision. Hmm, that’s a bit obvious isn’t it.
Ok, the Appropriate Moment is when the audience / prospect is beginning to considering.
You know that moment when you get cold called and the smart ass broker is yakking and yakking, you said yes to a couple of meaningless questions and then they drop the line on you and you pause to think…
That’s the moment.
It’s the moment that useful and useless collide and all you can see is possibilities.
That’s the invention of use.
Use does not come from invention but a grasping of the affordances of oppotunity.
An invention is just a configuration of what already exists because the inventor found an Appropiate Moment.
January 13, 2008
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.
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.
January 7, 2008
Brand naming was legally born out of removing the proprietors name from the trading name, enabling franchising. Because of this, creativity took the ability to be fictitious, enabling narratives to enter the sales pitch. Using a logo as the emblem of the narrative, we seen the legal entity move from icon to verb. Marketeers Just Did It, so you can Just Do It – whatever they wanted you to desire.
Imagine that. One single bit of business legality gives birth to what we know as Marketing.
The problem is, no one really believes the stories marketing peddles, especially when the narratives are masking the reality of the Business Trading As. Naked Conversations maybe trying to resolve the fact that All Marketeers are Liars, but this amounts to tinkering with the logo, the identity by enhancing the ‘gestures’ of the companies operations. Brand as a Narrative prevents the Brand existing as Embodiment. Brands need to live within the architecture of life, not on the perception plane. Trying to get a purchasing audience to care about a Brand is costly compared to using your Brands affordances to improve the infrastructure of life. In this case giving is cheaper than advertising.
Branded Utilities, Branded Content and Brand Experiences are all ways of reshuffling the first order objects of the audiences relationship to a commercial service, but frankly, it doesn’t matter which part of the pizza you eat first, you’re participating in a fiction that delivers the need you wanted in the first place, but you have to go through the speed dating of a brand to get the money shot.
This maybe partially necessary, not for selling you the service/goods/lifestyle in the first place, but actually easing the guilt of the transaction. Consumerism has an after taste, and like a bottle of booze, it’s an acquired taste which comes through education. And guess who’s teaching you about after taste. Consumerism is not consumption in the personal sense – it’s a cultural activity. We share consumerism, we never personally experience it.
One of my persistent thoughts is how to get clients, brands, company operations into the infrastructure of life – - fundamentally, getting under the skin, or label, of society and ensuring the brand is doing something useful.
We’ve been repetitively told, we first we have to pass through Permission Marketing to get an audience to accept the narrative of a brand. It’s no more than the first question you ask a potential customer on the shop floor: “How can I help you?”. So much for big insights, Seth.
Take a look at this.
Tide, A P&G brand, rolled in to New Orleans, with the help of The Gigunda Group, during the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster with a truck stacked with washing machines capable of doing 300 loads of washing a day. Food, water, security and other key essentials where being laughably delivered by the US official task forces. What people needed, to get them back on their feet so that they could move forward with rebuilding their day, not their city, was clean clothes – an incredibly soft touch to a horrific disaster, but one that got people motivated. Need alone does not inspire people – desire/inspiration/care activates the cognitive value of meaning in people.
Once rationality is operating, construction ensues.
Once New Orleans stabilised, to the point of mild sanity (and sanitation) P&G pulled back the trucks but did drop in other initiatives – such as concert as a fund raiser and handyman around New Orleans – with R&B star and product placement God send, John Legend.
But I think P&G missed a trick here or it shows that marketing teams really don’t have any real business power inside the corporation – nor does Corporate Social Responsibility.
Tide’s, Clean Start, tactical Branded Experience may have put the heart back into people – but in times of catastrophe – natural disasters and war – aka Acts of God – it’s a sweet spot for a brand to step in a GIVE support. Now, most Acts of God, are the moment the military and corporations rub their hands and expect a spurge in profits – real needs equals real profits. This is essentially tactical thinking.
What is up for grabs is to get into the new infrastructure before it’s gets rebuilt under Government controls.
Now, most corporations will go after the bid for Government contracts – the legal framework to make dollar from crisis.
What if the corporation showed that it wasn’t making money from the short term tactical play upon the catastrophe?
BlackWater is a government commissioned mercenary enterprise. They tend to acquire No Bid Contracts, that is, they are GIVEN the contracts to do ‘stealth’ operations. Like the A-Team, without the humour, and people die. Quite a lot of them, actually.
Government contracts for Iraq are the lucrative. Massive risk, but lucrative. And owned by the participating governments, owned in the sense that Taxes are set.
Now, before we panic and thinking, heck no, we don’t want Coke and Mcdonalds being in the infrastructure of a societal rebuild, think what you the consumer are paying in taxes to the government for BlackWaters ‘unregulated’ services.
Consumer infrastructure services tend, on the whole, not to have a mandate, nor licence, to kill people. It is in their interest to make their lives more profitable, so that they can acquire more products and services.
ENRON, went for Infrastructure, just as Google is now. It’s the Accountability of the Transactions that will make the dfference if Brands engage with building cultural infrastructure.
Think about the long term play on this. It’s not about Brands ensuring their product is on display in the right stores, it’s not about the talkability of the Brands Ideals, it’s not about LoveMarks – these are all lowering purchase considerations.
Brands within the infrastructure of the cultural mechanism, are the verbs of life, they are not about trying to facilitate the consumers interests – it’s deeper, more transparent, more beneficial – it’s about the organisation working towards a common goal – and that is – mutuality.
A brand that is part of the daily exchange mechanism of language – not a parody of Just Doin’ It – but actually generating value in an individuals actions, is part of the fabric of reasoning, not a point of difference.
If Brands think that their role is to rise above ‘acceptability’, then they are going the wrong direction. Brands, if they want to be the life of the consumer, must be the reasoning of the consumer.
The way in, as above, is to GIVE operational support to the community; mesh your CSR into the habits of the communities – not fundraisers, not sponsorship nor charity, but become of institutional use. If your organisation is malfunctioning – “Nobody talks to anyone” mentality, then you’ll fail instantly. But maybe, if you start to get your organisations logistics closer to the communities, this could start internal/external conversations. Keep it at a personal level. “Brand talks to Man on the Street” is nonsense. “Man who works for Big Corporation talks to Man on Street” is good.
But think also about how this has to work on the web. Brands that help build the infrastructure of Communications, Manufacturing and Networks remain in the daily existence of the audience without the hoopla of permission marketing. Look how Web2.0 services that do small simple things reside in the daily activities of communication. Look at the first round VC money – it’s within any Global Corporations budget to invest, create and experiment within. You have to think functions, not applications. That’s what Google’s 20% rule is all about.
But before we all start thinking this is Corporate Social Responsibility extremity, focus the attention towards the largest global religion - Finance – because beliefs, although mailable, are the Social Object’s force in cultural frailness. And Frail Nets are Good. It is the Methods within the Financial-Social Object that require crafting.