The Open Rights Group make a case study of Where are the Joneses?
March 26, 2008
Last November I was approached by the Open Rights Group about the business model of Where are the Joneses? that Imagination constructed for Ford of Europe. Lured by my use of the Creative Commons BY-SA licence – meaning that there were no commercial restrictions of the use of the media assets produced during the course of the project – ORG recognised that this was as break through for copyright, agencies, brands and media producers alike.
ORG superhero, Michael Holloway (above), who I met a year before at the ORG’s Drunken Brunch meeting of like minded open licence people (I recall meeting Dan Lockton there), interviewed me in November in preparation for a couple of talks I gave last week.
Michael, with Suw Charman-Anderson (in the red top), have been working with the interview to produce a case study for everyone to review and hopefully, use, as a framework for other commercial open media projects/companies/initiatives.
On Monday, Rob Myers (pictured above right), joined me to talk about the use of Creative Commons and it’s relationship to Intellectual Property. Rob and I have been friends since 1992, meeting at art college, and since have discussed how the economics of media production, the downstream of culture, as we learnt at college, is the building blocks for anything today and tomorrow.
The framework of the Joneses project – not the storyline, nor the commercial relationships with Ford of Europe, owes a lot to many many many conversations Rob and I have had over the past 16 years. It’s a very special model that could never have been worked out within the confines of a job, or a hobby, or as artists. The relationship between producers and the audience at large, the communities within communities that wrapped themselves around sections of the Joneses – both agency and public attention – was a mix of perverse curiosity of what this model was and anticipation to see the comedy, the editorial, failing.
The heritage of such a project also owes much to the work of XPT – and in particular, Tim Wright. XPT’s Online Caroline and Tim’s own Oldton project are very close to my heart as a technologist and as a creative. Those who lived with the projects when they we’re alive and kicking have extremely fond memories of the productions – an emotion far removed from serial broadcasting – because the audience made the memories between themselves.
But what inspired the use of Creative Commons as the turnkey solution for the Joneses (it could never have been done under normal copyright models) is that Free Culture is the basis to facilitating a conversation – it’s a giving host, not a prescribing guardian. For the ethos that I wanted Ford of Europe to understand and it’s relationship to its shifting understanding of marketing, the non-30sec-spot 360-channel matching-luggage-prescription that a large network agency uses to manage a global communications campaign erodes the relationship with the intended audience and the client. The care and attention that goes into grading, editing and placing adverts is very agency/brand focused – it’s self gratifying and loses the attention of amplifying an audience who wants to be considered important.
It’s why Imagination was a great place to make WRTJ, we are small and nimble yet large enough to speak our mind about invention instead of waffling on about innovation. Case in example is Ford of Britian’s follow up to the Joneses by Mindshare and Ogilvy – Bite. Big ready made audience from Yahoo and Channel 4, low emotional resonance.
The same applies to Kate Modern, a show used to drop in product placement, focused on young impressionable Bebo minds. And possibly a smart move to enable a lumbering AOL to regain some value. I’ll leave this for another post about my anti-hero Carl Icahn.
An audience without participation, nor the right to control the editorial, is being treated like a herd. Such mentality is why the commissioning model of media results in the pursuit of conversation.
ORG are not a marketing focused organisation in so far as their interest does not cover the interest that brands or advertising are efficient, measurable or actually gain a sale. With the Joneses, ORG, a government backed organisation, has become acutely aware of the damage advertising has on culture – advertising agencies produce more copyright material into the world than any other producer – as a rage to conquer all human attention, especially if we are hitting the peak, a social concern of not just urban/social spam comes into consideration, as we saw in Brazil, but also of the moral consequences of making a world full of unreusable communications, unreusable under legal frameworks that benefit neither audience nor client nor even agency.
Suw is currently pulling together the report and will shortly be available for everyone to review here. I’ll post when it’s ready.
For me the Joneses has been lingering around for months but I’ve enjoyed watching the amount of commentary about the project. There is much behind the scenes about how it was managed and the micro conversations between users that I was privileged to participate in.
I will compete a longer essay about the project when time becomes available. In the meanwhile, it’s lovely to spend time doing Questions and Answers about the project – especially to new audiences such as the one ORG arranged.
Again, many thanks to Suw and Michael (and Becky Hogge) for acknowledging the project.
Photo credits to Marc Hankins, who released the session photos under CC-BY-SA.