Wake up your sausage

June 11, 2008

Neil’s produced a cracking presentation about all things around communities and marketing. There are loads of them around, but this is fine piece of storytelling that will make any smart client sign up for experimenting with the live interwebs.

I’m overly humbled to see Where are the Joneses? used as a case study. For good or worst example of doing a project like this.

And if you like, that’s what Neil is pointing at; “getting on and doing it” – and do it well by learning from each part of the project. And that means working with the client team in a different way. Without a strong sponsor / champion on the client’s team, you wont get it out the door. It’s because there is so much detail in the legal framework from licences to contract with a project like the Joneses? it can be a test of patience. There’s also a massive shortage of lawyers who understand the 2.0ness of all this stuff, never mind advice on best commercial practice within open source productions.

Opening up to audience participation has not yet begun to worry legal teams in a way it’s shaken marketing.

As a Disney Board Co Chair recently said:

“We understand now that piracy is a business model,” said Sweeney, twice voted Hollywood’s most powerful woman by the Hollywood Reporter. “It exists to serve a need in the market for consumers who want TV content on demand. Pirates compete the same way we do – through quality, price and availability. We we don’t like the model but we realise it’s competitive enough to make it a major competitor going forward.”

I wrote the Joneses model as a format; like Big Brother or WifeSwap, so that it could be reused by different brands and production companys; the overall mechanics of using a central ideal (the branded kernal of the narratives platform’s operating system ) and then expecting the site to grow outwards through social utilities, by always referring back to the kernal’s logic.

The legal framework had to be ‘elastic’ and for me, writing the rules to engagement for the lawyers to approve, was the one of the most fun parts of the project. Sitting in a room of media legals,listening with horror and fear as the project was explained to them and then smiling as they balk at the simplicity of the solutions. I have the Channel4 legals to thank for that – they made me understand every ‘no’ in the book when worked there.

Neil – a slide on legals, especially Creative Commons would have been useful, I think. It’s the device that enables the legalities of sharing within and out of communities.

The aesthetics of the narrative also meant that the operating system (the Joneses’ media cloud == all the objects/pages that connected to the project together) gave the real time production maximum freedom – a massive need if the daily output had to happen. A bit like the daily news, the ‘look and feel’ was synthesised into the tone of the project – Where are the Joneses as an identity had to work with every service that the team wanted to use.

This goes against much of the consenus of how a brand needs to apply itself to content, especially as the project is USER centric.

So where is the brand in all this?

First, does it matter?

If it does, the brand needs to take its place in the sidelines, encouraging, cheering on users – their prospects.

The brand’s ‘essence’ can be woven into the production, through functions, through tone. But a brand ‘essence’ is such a wanky term.

A brand has a story, with lots of tales interwined. A story is an abstract of the company’s values, That abstraction can be performed in many ways – you just need to know the material you’re working with to get the best out of ot; like a stone masion or an enthusiastic knitter would.

I remember speaking to John Griffith‘s about Brand Stories, (I believe he invented them), and how he got clients (agencies) to play out brands – you know, like actors would.

One person is CocaCola, another is Marlboro, another is Sainsburys – and then you watch how they interact in these new roles.

But anyway, most of this is in the production itself.

How to create a spectacle.

How to create meaning.

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…

Using Twitter as a command line (Tw00ts) is something that I’m keen on exploring- there’s a bunch of ideas in notebooks just waiting to be pulled into prototypes – but in the meanwhile here’s an example that I just threw together a couple of weeks ago.

Now, as a command line it’s syntax is pretty complex.

Let’s break it down.

First, it’s a mix of English, with bad grammar, mixed in with machine code, and using a currency which is timestamped.

Second, no license used. Attribution in username

Third, the arguments and methods:-

1. ‘Why’

Initiating the command by invoking a question. This pulls in the attention of the user base, acting as a single central processor funnel, thus maximizing on chances of a responding message.

2. Dont

Spelling mistake, but dropping the unnecessary characters acts as data compression.

start argument with a negative, to a tune to early adopters curiosity

3. we all

Maximise audience

4. just

this is not going to steal loads of time

5. Twitter

no need for www or .com

6. $2

respect to the location of the company

small amount, minor tip, about £1

major currency, easy to convert with twitter timestamp

7. to just

any improvement would be good

8. stable

Stabilizing is the preferred task, we would all guess

9 http://tinyurl.com/5vwnxt

URI, data compressed

Now, using twitter as a command line with such soft parameters, the service would have to be a complex system, superior AI, and capable of setting off a bunch of processes.

Fortunately, Chris Reed picked up the message and processed the command line, in a way pretty much as expected from the syntax. Though in hindsight, I should have appended the command with some extra parameters. More on that in a mo, for now, have a look at the response message.

It’s pretty clear to read, so I can judge that something is about to happen.

And the solution looks simple.

Twitterfund, the actualization of the command line I sent into Twitter, is in itself a curious project. I think it raises so interesting questions.

1. what happens when the community raises money, with or witout strings attached, to better a service and become more attractive then Venture Capitalist’s funds?

2. when running a campaign like this, who should be it’s Guardian’s, or do we really need them if we are all visible on teh interwebs.

3. What if Twitter doesn’t take the money: what do we do with the shared fund? Is it worth using it elsewhere?

4. Will people use the fund?

Chris and I had a couple of emails back and forth before all this was set up. I was keen on TweetCharity as a domain name so that we could use this piece of media.

But using the word Charity opens a another bag of worms.

So TwitterFund was selected.

Next, who owns the paypal account. You know, it’s like who has the ‘God like’ system admin password. I was keen on the hunt of for the most trusted twitter user, suppose it would have ended up with someone like Scobe. But at present Chris is holding the fort on this.

The additional parameters I need to think about compressing into Tw00ts are about tone. What happens when a project using a suite of online tools come together? Chris has Twitter, a blog, a domain name, a paypal account all sync’d. Sweet. Making the components come together, making them sing is another thing. This is now about art direction in 140 characters.

Anyway, let’s see what happens with the fund.

Follow the project’s Twitter feed and send what you think of the project to @fund.

Schrödinger’s Movie

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.

Open up
Now open up
You lied
You faked
You cheated
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
Probably publicity

Open up
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
Burn

P.s. Ask me sometime how I know Peter Andre is responsible for LeftField’s first 2 albums.

Click for a larger version of the diagram

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.

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

Doesdays Enlist Adlads

April 15, 2008

It’s almost a year that I started the Doesday philosophy and every Tuesday I still dodge meetings. It’s far the most productive day of the week AND I look forward to them.

The work diary is blocked on Tuesday with the simple message – “Doesday – Don’t even think about booking a meeting.” and on the whole, the good teams at Imagination oblige my ‘whim’. They all know Tuesdays is for Doing.

After pointing out to fellow Doesdaian, Strategist, blogger, twitterer and fellow of TBWA empire, that tomorrow I’m facing a do-a-thon, he promptly agreed to be the first, yes unbelievably, the first ever guest blogger over on the Doesday blog. This means Doesdays is now powered by AdLads. Awesome.

Give it up folks to Sam Ismail, liberating all our meetings from Tuesday on this very special Tuesday Doesday.

Doesday blog, as if you didn’t know, is here:-

http://doesday.wordpress.com/

Update: Sam’s post: Read, learn and do as he says.

http://doesday.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/how-one-sam-does/

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.

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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…

Steal This Film too

January 10, 2008

stflogo.png

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.

twitter-hashclouds.jpg

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.

hurricane.jpg

I’ve never had a great experience that I could measure.

Great experiences are without comparison. Great experiences don’t represent anything. They are Stateless.

Stateless means that you can connect everything to the experience, but it doesn’t mean it’s a Social Object. I think Social Objects, as a Class, are filled with Social Methods. Social Methods are people’s activities, like a Tweet.

Social Objects, therefore, are constructed from Algorithmic patterns; measurable though the use of Pattern Languages. Social Objects have a temporal value and therefore be disposable. I think that’s one of their key values.

The difference between Stateless Objects and Social Objects is that Stateless Objects can and will be reused, they have no shelf life as they have no inclining nor declining values scales.

Stateless is Useful, because it’s persistent without being obtrusive. It records no information, it exists as a connector to other objects. Being Stateless is being Universal. Being Social is being Cultural.

Invest in the non-valued instead of the temporal-valued system objects and you’ll feel the measurement like you feel your arm: A connected presence is not a readable object. A disconnected experience causes concern because the absence requires a substitute.

Virtualness, or simulations, bridge the perceived loss of expectations. Networks, by nature of their construct, compensate when damaged; this can result in malformed calculations, rectifiable through optimisation, which requires a ‘reading’ to identify conjuncture. Once loss has been mentality established, we use mesaurement to return to a sensation that distracts from absence.

If you need to calculate, as first why something is missing, because the realisation has not yet been understood through experience. Absence can too be the goal, if there is experience that does not make completion; again calculation defines the distance between insight and acquisition – the value can sometimes equate presence instead of loss. It’s matter of sensation instead of comprehension.

Experience is a relationship with faith and ultimately trust. Disillusion only comes when ‘value approximation’ is realised; you can calculate loss through compensation but you cant value a relationship based upon trust.

You can only experience ‘it’; the reverse is only perception, legible or not. ‘It’ remains Stateless.

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.

People are interested in what other people are doing, not what you have made for them.

Communities are formed to share an interest, not to service the needs of a third party.

Audiences are a construct that paid-for producers are supposed to be addressing.

Audiences are a cheap Catholic bi-product. The Beatles are still “More Popular Than Jesus.”

Spectators are those who are gripped by the design ability of the author who is besotted with a problem. Spectators are dreamers; when their aspiration is being played out in front of them, they become transfixed. It is the Society of the Spectacle that persuades against dialogue.

If you set out to design for an audience, you design for nobody. If you set out to design for yourself, the audience will be intrigued. If you perform, the authenticity of your craft becomes questioned; if you break the Forth Wall, you may just find the mutuality that the audience respects.

Across all creative practices (science, art, business) everyone is in search of the ‘social’. Designing for Society will ultimately lead to a fascism – a belief in doing something for the ‘greater’ good. Unfortunately, the ‘greater’ lofty aspirations are a Faux Cult [sic], a society that doesn’t exist, a society that has needs beyond what we require. Our aspirations need to be rooted in personal achievements – only then can we work together through mutual interest. Narratives require an aesthetic that transfers its own space-time to your space-time without displacing your own journey through space-time. This conduit is Stateless, not Social. Antidotes and morals are not rewards for engagement, they are taxes – which is the storytellers goal.

Goals are for a player in a game that doesn’t want you interfering.

fantastic-four.jpg

If you want to keep designing for an audience, here’s your soundtrack. Good luck.
[via John Ottman's website]

Here’s the video of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. Worth a watch. Play the ‘Fantastic 4 Rise of the Silver Surfer’ soundtrack in the background and read the subtitles…

And thus the problems with Social Objects; they are spectacles, deeply personal but utterly banal. Not because of the collective Methods the participants create, but for the need to identify cause, reason and outcome. Relational Aesthetics sought to escape the Object mentality; utilising institutional spaces for social engagement, to open the modality of definitions to see what is beyond a construct.

As Debord states in the video [38m10s]

“In this moving game-space, and from the freely chosen variations of the rules of the game, autonomy of place may be rediscovered, without reintroducing exclusive reattachment to the land, and thus bring back the reality of the journey, and life understood as a journey and having it’s entire meaning within itself.”

I’m spending time thinking about Stateless Objects – objects that have reception to mean anything the audience wish to attach to it, they are persistant because they have no value to dissolve, they are Useful and as Beautiful as the Engaged User wishes them to be. Stateless Objects are acountable, designed and measured through the transactional success within the object, the Usefulness of the Methods (peoples micro and macro actions). To design transactions, you need to understand the relationship between design, production and distribution and the Four Humble Demands. That’s what I’m using the Creation Plane for.

Audiences are without goals and thus only exist in the minds with goals. Here are some good speeches about this with a virtual audience within a simulacra of a spectacle.

If it Doesn’t Kill Ya

January 5, 2008

Adbusters have always had this problem. Brands love criticism – all publicity is good publicity – and parody is the highest form of flattery.

Artist, Steve Lambert, teamed up with EyeBeam in NYC, to hijack and close all 85 of the Manhatten McDonalds restaurants – See above. There’s a video of the performance below.

The project ‘Ronald’s Crisis’ is lovely example on how to hack social concerns, but the target needs to be understood. Brands are not people – people have feelings.

Steve has a great ‘artists’ statement on his website:-

For me, art is a bridge that connects uncommon, idealistic, or even radical ideas with everyday life. I carefully craft various conditions where I can discuss these ideas with people and have a mutually meaningful exchange. Often this means working collaboratively with the audience, bringing them into the process or even having them physically complete the work.

Spoken like a true marketing man.

The thing is that McDonalds Restaurants are franchises – someone has to pay to run a McDonalds store. If you want to influence the Brand, appeal to the guy who is trying to make a living from being part of a chain. Attacking a franchise means that some guy/gal is having his income damaged – and that get’s personal – really personal – we all have bills.

This guy/gal is also in no position to change the menu, they have less influence than the customers. If anything the store owner is going tobe more resilient to negative feedback, it’ll make him/her stronger – more wary, more defensive.

Sarah Nelson Wright has done a smart write up here.

Because the project is in the street, in the environment we live in, and it transforms that environment, it impacts us differently than, say, reading an article that tells me McDonald’s is bad (which, according to Steve, we all already know). It intervenes at the moment of the behavior, collapsing the distance between our theoretical lives and the lives we actually live. Because the story is so dynamic and unusual, it lingers in our thoughts: it visits me as I shop at another corporate outlet; I tell the story to people I like to amuse. Interestingly, Steve said that his biggest audience is not the people in the street; it’s the people who read about the event on the internet.

I think this is really interesting – how you can use point-of-sale as experiencial that is worth sharing through correspondance, blogs, etc. The media from the performance is the catalyst for awareness; repackage the age old message (junk food is bad for your daily diet) with a thread of the brand’s DNA and see what can be spawned. If you’re going to hack a brand, then you need to create siblings that will grow. Don’t be the Dr. Frankenstein, be Chance the Gardener.

But the efforts of the project could have been better used if the activist participants consider sending the franachise owners a list of alternative, more profitable, careers. Do we expect McDonalds to revise their entire supply chain and thus business and ultimately Brand, to deliver something else? It’s easier to start a new enterprise rather than rework the values of an existing chain business.

At least, give advice to the staff that run the counters and fryers. If McDondalds cant staff the restaurant because there are better things to do, then they cant operate the store…

Or make the last day of the month “McDonalds Day”; give everyone the focus to go to MacDonald’s on a specific day of the month, leaving them to choose something else for the other 30 days of the month. Super Sizing the issue doesn’t give people the mental space to block out the problem, instead, it raises awareness that ‘treat-yourself food’ is available all the time. Think about how this would effect the price and supply chain of a fast-food franchise business..

To hack Friedrich Nietzsche warning,

Battle not with clown,
lest ye become a clown,
and if you gaze into the makeup,
the makeup gazes into you.

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