Remarkable is nothing.

Viral ideals divide.

You are what you left.

Private Snaufu was a collaboration between Frank “It’s A Wonderful Life” Capra, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Directors such as Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, and Mel “Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Barney Rubble, Mr. Cosmo “You’re Fired!” Spacely” Blanc and the genius Frank “funny bone” Tashlin.

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…

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.

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.

Design for mobility, not for Mobiles.

Design is Everything divided by Something.

Design by blending, not by positioning.

Most Contagious Joneses

January 3, 2008

contagious-joneses.jpg

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

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

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

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

contagious-joneses.gif

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

Flippin’ Girls

September 24, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, we have no bananas.

September 4, 2007

No message. It just makes you smile as if you were eating a bar of sugar chocolate.

For some (accessibility?) reason, they published the transcript. So I added a line. It makes it feel more like Phil had some involvement in the ethos of the project.

We open on purple recording studio wall.
A title appears: A Glass and a Half Full Production.
We start listening to the first sounds of ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins.

The camera slowly pans down as we hear the keyboard’s atmospheric intro. When we start listening to the first lyrics we spot a hairy thing in the edge of the frame. As the camera keeps panning, the mysterious figure gets revealed.

We realize that in front of us is a gorilla.It looks calmly to camera. Phil continues singing: ‘I can feel it coming in the air tonight.’

The massive Gorilla stares at us – concentrated.
We are almost sure that he knows we are filming him, but his eyes look through and beyond the lens. ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment for all of my life.’

The gorilla focuses back on the camera. All we see is neck and head . And hair. A fax machine delivers the message “Yes, we have no bananas.”

The camera gently zooms out revealing the Gorilla’s surroundings. We see more of the studio.
And we discover a series of metallic things around him.

We realize that the Gorilla is sitting in front of a massive drum kit. One of those Eighties big kits with loads of things to hit. Loads of tom-toms, hi-hats, double bass drum, etc.

We know that the best drum solo in the whole history of rock – ever – is coming. The Gorilla knows it too.

The Gorilla hits the drums with passion and vigour. Elegance meets power. He’s phenomenal on the drums – feeling every beat.
The camera leaves the ape and his drum kit in the studio.
The screen fades to purple. We see a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar of chocolate appear above the words ‘A Glass and a half full of Joy’

Did you spot it? Did you get the facts?

If Cadburys say: ‘Well it just seemed like the right thing to do. There’s no clever science behind it – it’s just an effort to make you smile, in exactly the same way Cadbury Dairy Milk does.’ then I couldn’t possibly recall my own facts about Phil the Drummer, could I? Nor could I remember Tarzan or any other jungle inhabitants. But they seems to be promising more of the same ‘association’ promos.

I’m evidently thinking about this too much, but I like the desire to make media that fills curiosity time. And curious time is about connecting facts together.

UPDATE (07-Oct-07): I’ve just seen the 5sec version in the Channel4 adbreak of Alien (Movie). 5sec! Ok, this is clear media spend.

Like W+K’s ‘Happiness factory’ work for Coca Cola. (Full respect to team Psyop too. Check out their anthem.)

But there’s something better. This..

But then, as I write this, I spot this…

Oh dear.

The opportunity in advertising, perhaps it’s saviour, is semantic binding. Loose associations that couple with other miscellaneous facts. I’ve been calling this ‘Stateless Marketing’, based upon RESTful services.

Much of my thinking on this, which I might get around to writing about here, is based upon ‘media as a platform’, the relationship between emotions and (social/software) functions and being able to model them for reuse. When you do this, the value is in the act of connectivity, not it’s duration, recall (memory state), proposition, knowledge transfer. If anything, a ROI model becomes the ‘frequency of the connectivity’. Wikipedia does over approximately 1m page serves a minute. Put that in your CPM pipe and smoke it.

When I see (superb) adverts such as Gorilla and Happiness Factory, I see the dynamics of ‘meaning’ dissolve in favour of connectivity that serves a moment of pleasure. Sequencing these, or rather, enabling the viewer-person-user-actor-punter to sequence them together would be ultimately orgasmic.

Media, participatory or not, has to be designed to fit into the overall seduction of the public. It’s a big audience, and you cant please all the people all of the time, but happiness is infectious and envy is a meal best served as humour.

I think there is a lot to be said for inappropiate behaviour. Yeah, the blog post is coming…

Talking about the Joneses

September 2, 2007

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Back in June, when we launched “Where are the Joneses?” I was actually in Bradford presenting the project at Btween07 to an audience of broadcasters, producers, software developers and very few marketing folk.

Btween is an event showcasing and discussing innovation that sits between broadcasting and technology. The curious thing was the majority of conversations were based around the migration of ‘TV’ to the web and how production companies were to trying to find the business models.

I was presenting with Patrick Crowe of Xenophile Media; our theme was ‘Freedoms of Engagement’. Xenophile Media are famed for their cross platform TV shows mixing online and broadcast for clients such as Disney.

Amid technical problems they did manage to film Patrick and I in conversation about “Where are the Joneses?” and just last week they uploaded the 3 parts via YouTube (Part 1 is the tail end of my presentation and the first 2 episodes of the Joneses). The presentation deck I used is below the videos and I guess wont make any sense at all by itself, but you might like to see some points of reference to the thinking behind the Joneses project.

If you’re wondering about what Frankie is doing here – it’s something to do with comedy and the semantic web… (Thanks JP)

If you’re not sick of me talking about this project, Btween in collaboration with Channel 4 Talent asked me to do a podcast about the project. It was supposed to be released under CC-BY_SA (Like the last one), but I guess the paperwork went missing. Here it is…

http://www.channel4.com/4talent/feature.jsp?id=5707

Definitely the most significant reappraisal of image creation value has arrived. Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir have published this paper describing a process to ‘retarget’ images for viewing contexts. But, by doing this, they’ve uncovered something about the properties of an image that has never been seen: Seams of Meaningless.

By filtering the image to see energy maps, the software ‘optimises’ the ‘content’ to remove or expand apon intent. This approach was conceived as a way to avoid the scale/crop approach to remove unnecessary information in an image.

Watch the above Youtube video for full details and application examples.

If this ever gets released, our perception of images will never be the same again. For a start, the shared experience of an image vanishes outside perfectly mapped geo-temporal contexts. Further, our semantic relationship to information exponentially expands – every image becomes a catalyst of singularities – a far cry from any notion that an image ‘can be read’.

This Seam Carving brings not a new dimension to image making, but a distinction of re-co-ordinating information – Polyphonic Targeting. Compositions will be considered inspiring for manipulation not a destination for knowledge transfer. Editing will be acute to use. Publishing will be Rejection because the release of information will be accepted as a juncture of simulacra not simulation. Meaning becomes Indifference.

And it’ll play havoc with Photosynth. Mwahaah!

We should consider how this innovation could be received commercial. Betting that patients are being written; what we have here is an approach – a grammar in information design. The principles are in the open – these cant be guarded of with IP laws. Absurd as this sounds, the future looks more Open and Meaningless than ever before.

More details about ‘Seam Carving for Content-Aware Image Resizing’ here: http://www.faculty.idc.ac.il/arik/

The Joneses ‘family’ is growing within it’s audience.

Free Gift Wrapping Paper

August 5, 2007

gpl3_wrapping-paper.png

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

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

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

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

gnu-girftwrap2.png

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

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

Here’s the best of Festivus. Enjoy

Crazy

June 24, 2007

Sheer brilliant productions are inspired, inspired by the brilliance of technique and collaboration, in turn creating insight into design. When Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green collaborated as Gnarls Barkley and released Crazy in 2006 we all stopped to listen and watch the video directed by Robert Hales.

Watch the original here, as Youtube/Gnarls and Co. have stopped embedded sharing for this video.

Laughing Squid posted Randy George of The Ether and Aether Experiment cover of Crazy, highlighting the mastery of the Theremin – an instrument with complete hands off approach to performing music. Here, watch in awe.

The Gnarls Barkley collaboration, the ‘touchlessness’ of Randy’s performance and the many many inspired productions based upon Crazy show the real values in design, production and distribution – that being the ability to learn and build upon what inspires and challenges you.

When I was playing around with Flitter (in the same way as Karsten and Tim had. Do check out their uber mashup screensaver Fotzam) , I was interested in the video synthesis possibilities that were built upon RSS based services.

I wondered if I could take the Flitter experiment and reference the ‘culture of Crazy‘ – so this is what I did: -

First, Googled for the lyrics of Crazy. Not so hard. [Link]

Copied the lyrics into a Google spreadsheet and generated an RSS feed from that. [Link]

Used Feedburner to stablise the RSS feed [Link]

Added the new stable RSS to a cloned Flitter application on Yahoo!Pipes so that I could call Flickr images relating to the lyrics from Crazy. [Link]

Took the Yahoo!Pipes output RSS feed to the VVVV Flitter application and hacked it so that I could get the mirror image/Rorschach effect. Mixed in the elements of this crazy patch to get a sense of space.

Record 5 minutes of live RSS video mixing straight out of VVVV and then using the Microsoft Movie Maker, mixed in the Randy George cover by using DownloadHelper Firefox extension to aquire the Youtube video and then ripping the audio using FLV Extract.

And this is what you get.

No where in the same league as any of the above productions, athough it’s seductive to watch the endlessness of the locally running VVVV client. The client app grabs fresh images in batches of 50 just like Twittervision grabs tweets.

Now, I know using the lyrics and ripping the audio is technically ‘fair use’ as what I’m trying to demonstrate is the possibilities of design, production and distribution that can be achieved through web services by using media that itself is based upon free access. Through association, it’s Semantic Broadcasting. But, as described in the whole process of making my version of Crazy, it’s not straight forward nor is it generally accepted to build upon peoples work. I’m just exploring the possibilities of design, production and distribution. Is that so crazy?

From the ever correct Wikipedia:-

The song’s lyrics, written by Cee-Lo, were inspired by a conversation he and Danger Mouse had in the studio with the instrumental playing on repeat: Danger Mouse was “caught up in thinking that people have to believe you’re crazy to think you’re an artist. After the conversation, Cee-Lo recorded the vocals for the song in just one take.” [Link]

That’s real time improvisation over a foundation of production delivering authentic media. Sweet.

If anyone wants the VVVV patch, leave a message below.

Update: You can grab the patch from here. [Link] . Enjoy.

Where are the Joneses?

June 17, 2007

wherearethejoneses.png

Quietly on Thursday the first audience participation sitcom to use an open licence went live. It’s called “Where are the Joneses?

The synopsis is that Dawn (left) has found out that she is the child of sperm donor and she now has the list of the other 27 siblings who are scattered across Europe. After contacting her new found brother Ian (Right) they begin the search with Jonti, the director filming their journey.

The basis to the project is that it’s a marketing experiment for the Ford Motor Company. Together we have been developing the project for 6 months. Seeing this live is undoubtedly my proudest moment as it’s the form of communication that I left Channel 4 TV to pursue.

The experiment is to embrace the value of networks by using an architecture of audience participation to generate semantic broadcasting. As the actors and their roving production team of 3 explore Europe, they will be posting approx 5 minutes of video daily along with various tweets, image and text posts.

To do this several significant changes to the traditional method of media manufacturing had to occur. First, the use licence had to be correct so that any participation could be freely shared with collaborating communities – so we applied Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0. (For those who follow the Creative Commons project, I bet you’re a little surprised to find Ford being the first global brand to use the licence on a commercial media project. Personally, I’m delighted.)

Second, the project had to be built upon existing web(2.0) services so that we could take the project to an audience rather than drag people into the project. Youtube is being used for video delivery, Flickr for photos, WordPress for the Blog (where the comedy is ‘played out’) and wikidot (where the audience can collaborate with each other, the actors and their production team). Dapper, Yahoo!Pipes, Facebook, various Google Apps, Twitter etc etc are also used to manage data flow and generate material for the actors to work from. If you like, it’s a UGC authentic media comedy based upon RSS feeds generating free open media.

Such factors begins to blur the answer to ‘what is content?’ We invited BabyCow to work with us on this because of their ability to produce the highest quality comedy and evolve characters. Their team is headed up by Henry Normal (Steve Coogan’s writer and business partner) and Ali MacPhail (Who was the exec producer on productions such as Nighty Night and The Mighty Boosh). They have helped significantly in demonstrating that media can be produced for both entertainment and marketing, outside the normal broadcasting channels and platforms.

By working with a classic TV production company to create marketing that is based upon the audiences input is the opportunity to give the audience the entertainment they ask for. We are encouraging the audience to take part in the project in any way they wish to. Write scripts, design characters, recommend locations across Europe and if you want to, you can be in the production as a character – you may wish to become a Jones yourself. You can also take the media and ideas and use them for you own benifit.

I will post more about this remarkable project over the next few week as we watch it mutate. For now, I really want to praise my employer Imagination and the inhouse team for getting their head around this production, Rob Myers for the original conversation back in Nov 2005 and the continuous remarkable insights into new forms of media production, Loca Records for the music (licenced under BY-SA too) and of course Claire and Richard from Ford of Europe who championed The Joneses from day zero. In my book they are currently the most pioneering clients in marketing today.

I’ll leave you with the first episode of the project. (Don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed off the blog). I hope you enjoy the forthcoming 12 weeks of this project – lets see if it goes further than that.

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