Get Shouty


how do you value culture?
January 9, 2014, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Get Friendly, Great Stuff, passion, Zeitgeist

art-culture_metricv5

It’s Festival time in Sydney. While I’m super excited about taking my inner child by the hand and having a bit of a frolic on Sacrilege, the true sized inflatable bouncy castle Stonehenge in Hyde Park’s Festival Village, I was interested to read this in The Australian

FESTIVAL organizers measure success in terms of ticket sales and economic impact, but a new cultural metric may be tweets and pictures on social media. Last year, an enormous yellow duck was a hit of the Sydney Festival, where 1.7 million people could not have missed seeing it at Darling Harbour. Some 14,000 images were posted on Instagram using festival hashtags.

Mmmm. ‘Cultural Metric’. Good notion. Loads of tension in it:

  • What is culture?
  • How might culture be measured?
  • How do we value it?

The NSW Government is investing more than $5 million to ensure the success of the 2014 Festival,

“Last year the Sydney Festival attracted more than 500,000 people with more than 120,000 tickets sold to paid events, including more than 33,000 people who attended events in Western Sydney. In 2012, it injected almost $57 million into our economy

From that perspective an arts investment looks like a pretty good return to the taxpayers hereabouts. I wonder how they’d value those tweets.

Early last year MoMA curator of Architecture and Design Paola Antonelli led a discussion about Culture and Metrics, (which I’ve entirely re cut below):

  • why bother?
    • the reality is that cultures come and go over time. If we don’t know what’s valuable about a particular culture, we run the risk of losing it forever.
    • not all art is concerned with culture, and not all culture is arts-based
    • it’s the best way to create a future that human beings want to inhabit.
    • MoMA has been one of the most important cathedrals of the imagination in my life since childhood, and envisioning it as a driver of R&D across society at large is extremely exciting.
  • measurement
    • Kate Levin, the Commissioner of The Department of Cultural Affairs for New York City: measuring culture, is mostly about objectives and outcomes. She used The Gates as an example of a valuable, measurable project funded by the Department for Cultural Affairs. Four million visitors to this 16-day installation created $254 million in revenue for NYC.
    • Measuring culture will require us to think of new ways to measure and share the story of a project’s insights and impact.
  • culture and value
    • “For me, The Gates was never about whether the saffron curtains and plastic frames were art. Some people argued that it was a hideous monstrosity while others loved it. Instead, I just felt lucky to be part of the flow of conversation and people as we passed together through The Gates on a beautiful blue and gold day. I felt lucky to be a New Yorker. And that’s the point of culture. It gives us a sense of place while at the same time evoking a deeply personal experience of the universal. “

As Rita observed, and who was at the MoMA talk, it brings to life one of Andy Warhol’s statements:

  • “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.”

Creating a deeply personal experience of an enterprise, creating a real and vibrant culture, feels like a bit of an art, and has the same kind of challenge:

But, how do you measure that?

Answer: With great difficulty.

Then again…. people are the only metric that really counts.

It’s hard. Really hard. Most companies can’t do it. The ones that can, make a fortune. Life is unfair.



sweeping statements
September 6, 2012, 11:40 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Great Stuff

I love it when you come across a sweeping statement that just takes your breath away.

In Australia there’s been a doozy this week- which you can follow here, particularly if you think that humor is a good way of addressing misogyny….

Anyhoo…and before I get well distracted….

I came across a notion that UX didn’t exist before digital – that the spirit utility, interaction and participation was ‘invented’ by introducing digital to brands.

A-hem.

It might be surprising that the discipline of mapping out optimal interactions between humans, machines and contexts has been around since the 1940′s. Participatory design’s been around since the ’60s.

I can’t help but agree with Jon Steel’s refutation of the statement

…these days everything has changed, planning has to change because advertising has changed, nothing is the way it used to be, everything is digital now and if you propose anything other than digital solutions then you’re old-fashioned and generally hopeless…you should drag your sorry old ass out of the business and work somewhere else.

I believe that’s completely wrong, because in the end in an analogue world, in a digital world the key to success is understanding the basics of human communication.

In order to most effectively influence a group of people “you don’t target them you engage them as willing accomplices”

I think the best brands have always inspired individuals to become willing accomplices…

Mr Steel also mentions the amazing work of Howard Gossage in the 1950s.

In short the example of Gossage has never been more possible to follow and more needed, particularly as dreary advertising drifts from our televisions to the places we spend time online, his idea that you should never confuse the product and the message becomes even more powerful. Howard would build his messages around something he thought would interest people and then weave the product into this story – the first international paper airplane competition for Scientific American being a brilliant example.

If you haven’t the slightest clue what all the fuss is about ….it would not be an exaggeration to say that Howard Gossage:

1) Invented interactive advertising (as opposed to direct response advertising) in which the audience is invited to get involved with the brand’s life and participate in its activities
2) Invented the idea of creating communities of interest around topics and then galvanizing those people into action through advertising
3) Invented the PR stunt as a marketing tool using advertising to catalyse and popularise the activity
4) Created the fee based remuneration model in place of the widely used but utterly discredited commission system
5) Invented the independent media planning agency with the Kick Back agency
6) Discovered Marshall McLuan and made him a household name in ‘60s America, a man who predicted the rise of the connected global village that we all live in today
7) Saved the Grand Canyon from flooding with advertising that changed the way that environmental campaigning forever
8) Helped create the modern environmental organisation and both named and housed the Friends of the Earth
9)Helped start the anti-globalisation movement
10) And almost won independence for Anguilla

And so to wrap up this rather long rant:

  • If a brand wants want people to play with (and they do)
  • Think
    • What do we need people to do?
    • Why would they do it?
    • What are we going to make or do that will enable them to do it?



loopy
June 19, 2012, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

I renewed my complete crush on Jay Smooth’s smart styling hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine today, which started for me waaaaay back in 2008 when I asked

Is he talking about politics, rap or the nature of masculinity? Or all three?

and today I saw this piece about Sexist Gamer Dudes passed around by blokes I like, respect and admire.

It reminded me what a talent Jay is- and kicking around his ‘allow me to reintroduce myself‘ section he demonstrated over and over again that we’re not alone:

and then I remembered:

procrastination is a lot like masturbation a lot of fun until the moment you realize you’re just fucking yourself

and got back to work.



We see the stars, and we want them
June 7, 2012, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff, Zeitgeist

Milky Way

We were put here as witnesses to the miracle of life. We see the stars, and we want them. We are beholden to give back to the universe…. If we make landfall on another star system, we become immortal. Ray Bradbury Speech to National School Board Association (1995)

Ray Bradbury died today. I love his work: his defense of books, his fight against censorship,  and above all the notions of the miraculous future that would unfold before my eyes as I grew. He was one of the writers that made me excited about the future, made me more conscious of the dark dehumanizing side of technology, one of the architects of the “What Ifs” that still guide my daily  creative explorations and the provider of some of the more accessible componentry of my moral compass.

Here’s one of my favourites, I posted this to David Gillespie just the other day: Doing is Being

Doing is being.
To have done’s not enough.
To stuff yourself with doing — that’s the game.
To name yourself each hour by what’s done,
To tabulate your time at sunset’s gun
And find yourself in acts
You could not know before the facts
You wooed from secret self, which much needs wooing,
So doing brings it out,
Kills doubt by simply jumping, rushing, running
Forth to be
The new-discovered me.
To not do is to die,
Or lie about and lie about the things
You just might do some day.
Away with that!
Tomorrow empty stays
If no man plays it into being
With his motioned way of seeing.
Let your body lead your mind –
Blood the guide dog to the blind;
So then practice and rehearse
To find heart-soul’s universe,
Knowing that by moving/seeing
Proves for all time: Doing’s being!



Challenging Leadership/ Leadership challenges
April 24, 2012, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Experience, Great Stuff, The Rules

Over on Seth’s blog today was this morsel

A good employee says, “I know that this is a serious problem, it’s hurting our customers and we can do better, but I can’t do a thing about it because it’s run by a different department.”

A version of this might conclude with, “And I don’t even know the name of the person who’s responsible.”

This is a sure sign of systemic failure as well as a CEO who is not doing the job she should be. When smart people who care get frustrated, something is wrong.

There’s an intesection here and a paper that Deloitte relased yesterday:

Based on a global study of investment bankers, private equity companies, and financial analysts, the paper, The Leadership Premium: How companies win the confidence of investors, puts a hard metric on the “intangible asset” of leadership, revealing that, in some sectors, good leaders can account for more than one-fifth of equity value.

The gap between the value of an effectively-led and ineffectively-led company could, says the paper, be as much as 35.5 percent.

It’s a pretty good read, and one that full of steal able insights about the core components of value building leadership and the importance of leaders taking their teams along for the ride:

“All employees should have the same goal and process in mind… the same direction”

Investment analyst, US

Here are my notes:

Many major corporations have found that orthodox management practices and organizational principles are not well suited to the modern era. Our view is that current conditions don’t demand a revolution so much as a renewed focus on the fundamentals of leadership

Three value delivering components

  • Strategic Clarity
  • Successful execution
  • A culture of innovation

Strategic Clarity

Organizations need to decide on where and on what basis they will compete. e.g

  • Virgin Media’s decision to focus on it’s network as its core strategic asset was the beginning of an impressive corporate turnaround
  • Southwest Airlines’ early use of the internet and online booking and check-ins has helped consolidate its positions as a low cost, low fares carrier.
  • Apple’s relentless focus on ‘insanely great’ products allowed it to transform consumer electronics
  • FedEx Ground’s emphasis on service and its early use of tracking systems (as RPS in the 1980s) enabled it to challenge UPS

Strategic clarity involves delivering a vision of what the organization needs to achieve

  • and a framework that leaves enough room for people to create the future
  • with consistency and commitment

Successful Execution

Common to organisations is the belief that the only long term differentiator they have is their people. The priority for an organisation has to be getting the best out of its people by ensuring that they are willing and able to fulfil its aims

  • Believe: compelling reasons, communication and bulid commitment
  • Belong: leaders need to articulate a long term purpose beyond just making money
  • Behave: adaptive, value driven, team building, respectful,
  • Able: capabilities, resources infrastructure

A Culture of Innovation

Great ideas are generated and developed through interaction.

  • Commitment to enterprise; an environment for ideas
  • Collaboration culture
  • The freedom to experiment (and fail)
  • It’s not about hiring new radical thinkers
    • It’s about realizing the potential of the thinkers you’ve got

I liked this check list:

Effective leadership characteristics

  • Capabilities
    • Driving competitiveness and innovation
    • Providing direction and purpose
    • Making effective decisions
    • Inspiring others to act
    • Developing people
    • Building high performing teams
    • Personal qualities
      • Integrity, probity and humility
      • Moral courage


freedom and the sea
August 12, 2011, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell;
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
a great fragment of thunder sets in motion
the rumble of the planet and the foam.

… freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

– from “The Poet’s Obligation” Pablo Neruda



sounds like rain
May 11, 2011, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

The sound sculptures and installations of Zimoun are graceful, mechanized works of playful poetry, an interplay between the artificial and the organic. This piece is a study of complex behaviors in sound and motion, examining the creation and degeneration of patterns.

I love that it’s cardboard and dime store electronics. I love the shadows. I like that you can walk around it, get inside it and that the sound changes depending on where you stand. It’s remarkably simple but it gives you a contemplation of complexity.

And it sounds like rain.



Friday distractions
May 6, 2011, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

The best video you will watch all day, no doubt.
And if that’s not diverting enough there’s hours of awesomness to be had on Flickr with Lunchbreath



Delight
March 18, 2011, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

British designer Samuel Wilkinson and product design company Hulger, have won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2011 for their stunning redesign of the low energy light bulb.

Low-energy light bulbs have never been regarded as a stylish product but the Plumen addresses this by creating an aesthetic bulb which works just like any low-energy bulb. Announced yesterday at the Design Museum, Stephen Bayley, the 2011 Jury Chair said of the winning entry ‘The Plumen light bulb is a good example of the ordinary thing done extraordinarily well, bringing a small measure of delight to an everyday product.’

Hell yeah- that’s a mantra:

Do an ordinary thing done extraordinarily well,

Bring a small measure of delight the everyday

 




positivity and humor, hard work and kindness
March 15, 2011, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

This Kinetic Typography project was created by Jacob Gilbreath from the dialogue of Conan O’Brien’s final episode of The Tonight Show on NBC. In this farewell address, he describes his feelings towards the situation at hand, promoting positivity and humor, hard work and kindness.

 



Gonna make it better
January 14, 2011, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

Lovely message, relevant to us all from Sebastián Baptista

We are starting the new year with some new projects, new goals and new challenges.
Whatever you do, always try to be the best you can be. Spread the word.

Good luck!



growing is forever
January 10, 2011, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

It’s funny how we can only associate growing with pain. Take a couple of minutes to watch Jesse Rosten‘s lovely piece above. Maybe if we all took things a little more slowly…..

Philosophy helps. From Thinking Aloud:

Philosophy, as the great American philosopher Stanley Cavell puts it, is the education of grownups.

It is my view that philosophy must form part of the life of a culture. It must engage the public and influence how a culture converses with itself, understands itself, talks to other cultures and seeks to understand them. It has been enormously gratifying to see this pursuit flourishing in today’s agora — the virtual one — confronting, engaging and even embracing the fluid, ambiguous and frenetic nature of the electronic public realm.

But more importantly, this paragraph reminds me of meals around my family table growing up:

… philosophy is a shared activity, it is dialogue. And dialogue is not the simple exchange of opinions, where I have my faith, my politics and my God and you have yours. That is parallel monologue. One of the goals of dialogue is to have our opinions rationally challenged in such a way that we might change our minds. True dialogue is changing one’s mind.

And growing.



an Australian Christmas
December 25, 2010, 8:53 am
Filed under: Great Stuff

I hope you’re sharing something lovely with people you care about today.



not apologising for philosophising
December 23, 2010, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

Tim Minchin’s stunning performance of his beat poem ‘Storm’ Eloquently and wittily honouring reason, science and life appreciation and debunking homeopathy, psychics, alternative medicine, religion etc.

Love Tim Minchin. Love.



the eternal struggle
December 3, 2010, 10:23 am
Filed under: Great Stuff



struck by lightening
November 4, 2010, 10:33 am
Filed under: Great Stuff

Sometimes questions are better than facts:

“The most important maxim for data analysis to heed, and one which many statisticians seem to have shunned, is this: Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise”
Tukey

 

 



the eye of the beholder
September 27, 2010, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff

So apparently, our psychological state allows us to see only what we want/need/feel to see at a particular time.

I’ve checked this out...

On Friday I saw: naked, lust, crush,

Today I see : secrets, malice, rage, deed

What do you see?



happy sails to you
September 22, 2010, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff, passion

Click Here to View The Video Titled: The Unseen Sea
Click the image to watch The Unseen Sea by Simon Christen- it’s intensely beautiful.

This collection of time lapses taken around the San Francisco Bay Area was  roughly shot over the period of one year. It got me thinking about ebb and flow. About our own unseen seas. (thanks Stig)

I’m fascinated by people choosing to live their lives with passion, truth and rigour. Setting sail on uncharted waters but with an internal lodestone and a clear eye on the imagined destination. Charting by the stars.  People who take the time to know themselves and have the courage to be themselves.

Mark shared a link to this wonderful story of the journey that TK recently went through to reduce the gap between his desired and current realities the process of making a principled and conscious life decision:

If you squint at the picture, you’ll see the rough process that he followed:

  • Starting by answering “What are my values?”
  • Based on my values, then “What do I want my life to be about?”
  • Thinking hard about what the first two columns meant and elaborating on the things that had the likelihood of being buzz-wordy, undefined, or just plain untrue.

Image 001 Copy

  • You can’t see this part in the picture, but I then thought through where I am now in my life and reconciled the differences between what I want and where I am today.
  • Finally, I formulated a plan that would allow me to make the changes I need to make to my life to get to what I want in and out of my life.

Happy sailing my friend.



seeking tasty treats
September 15, 2010, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Great Stuff

Was reading William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter over at Wired and loved this…

Gibson: Well, I discovered Twitter while I was writing the novel, and I immediately saw its odd potential for being a tiny, private darknet that no one else can access. I’m always interested in the spooky repurposing of everyday things. After a few days on Twitter, what was most evident to me is that, if you set it up right, it’s probably the most powerful novelty aggregator that has ever existed. Magazines have always been novelty aggregators, and people who work for them find and assemble new and interesting stuff, and people like me buy them. Or used to buy them, when magazines were the most efficient way to find novel things.

But now with Twitter, after following people who have proven themselves to be extremely adroit and active novelty aggregators, I get more random novelty every day that I can actually use. A lot of it just slides by, but a lot of it is stuff that I used to have to go through considerable trouble to find. And a lot of it is so beyond the stuff I used to be able to find, which is good.

I love that! Novelty aggregators (and prehaps aggravators)……
And over at Bobulates -The curse of reason, or beware of confabulation

Jonah Lehrer reports why thinking too much causes us to focus on variables that don’t matter:

When it comes to judging jam [the focus of the studies], we are all natural experts. We can automatically pick out the products that provide us with the most pleasure.

When researchers added extra analysis to the study, asking participants to explain the why of their jam preference and justify their decisions, the “extra analysis seriously warped their jam judgment:”

“[T]hinking too much” about strawberry jam causes us to focus on all sorts of variables that don’t actually matter. Instead of just listening to our instinctive preferences, we start searching for reasons to prefer one jam over another.

And it’s not just jam:The new science of morality

[The researchers] have since demonstrated that the same effect can interfere with our choice of posters, jelly beans, cars, IKEA couches and apartments. We assume that more rational analysis leads to better choices but, in many instances, that assumption is exactly backwards.

The larger moral:

[O]ur metaphors for reasoning are all wrong. We like to believe that the gift of human reason lets us think like scientists, so that our conscious thoughts lead us closer to the truth. But here’s the paradox: all that reasoning and confabulation can often lead us astray, so that we end up knowing less about what jams/cars/jelly beans we actually prefer. So here’s my new metaphor for human reason: our rational faculty isn’t a scientist — it’s a talk radio host.

As Howard Moskowitz, expert researcher on Prego spaghetti sauce and other foodstuffs once declared, “The mind knows not what the tongue wants.”

I’m liking the space in between novelty aggregator and “extra analysis seriously warped their jam judgment”. We don’t know why we like what we do, or even what we’ll like but tasty new stuff is what we’re after….



mass and marketing
September 8, 2010, 11:39 am
Filed under: Great Stuff

Dan Cobley is a Marketing Director at Google, who found his first love in physics. He recently spoke at TED about how some of the key principles of physics also offer insights and lessons to the less scientific discipline of marketing:

  • Newton’s Law states that force = mass x acceleration. In layman’s terms, a large item requires a larger force in order to change direction. Similarly, in the realm of brands, it’s generally safe to say that the larger a brand, the more difficult it is to reposition it. This is why a company like Arthur Andersen needed to spin off Accenture, or why L’Oreal might need both L’Oreal and Lancome, or why Coca-Cola may need Nestea and Gold Peak. A larger company may need smaller brands within its portfolio in order to allow them to act ’smaller’ – even if they’re owned by a corporate behemoth.
  • Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle says that it’s impossible, by definition, to measure exactly the state (i.e., the position and the momentum) of a particle because the act of measuring it changes it. In the marketing realm, the same can be said of consumers – the act of observing them changes their behavior. Anyone that has been involved with marketing research – and the ubiquitous focus group – will recognize that there is oftentimes a wide gap between stated intent and actual behavior. For example, participants in an ethnography or focus group may overstate their healthy dining choices. Yet the continually high sales of fast-food restaurants proves this is not always the case.
  • The scientific method states that you cannot prove a hypothesis through observation; you can only disprove it. You may be able to gather more data that will strengthen your hypothesis, but you cannot unequivocally prove it. However, it can only take one observation to disprove a theory. The parallel to marketing is that one incident – like an oil spill, a recall, or public relations snafu – can undermine your brand indefinitely, even after years or decades of investment in building and maintaining that brand image. The lesson? Avoid these ‘accidents’ and take actions that are true to the image you’ve fostered.
  • The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy – a measure of disorder of a system – will always increase. The same is true of marketing. In the not-s0-distant past, one message controlled by one marketing manager could define a brand. Today, the increasingly fragmented media landscape – and particularly digital media – has facilitated a brand becoming dispersed, and sometimes even chaotic. Consumers can actually take a stake in your brand message, make it their own and change or build upon it (sometimes for better – others, for worse). This distribution of energy from a single source to many ultimately democratizes your brand, putting it closer to consumers. The lesson? Your brand cannot be controlled – it can be built, shared and supported – but it cannot be fully controlled if you want to involve consumers in the exchange, and become part of their culture.

Looking outside of one’s own discipline can provide fresh perspective to a challenge, or inspiration for a more creative approach and solution. The combination of physics and marketing certainly sounds more relevant than we’d initially think.

via PSFK

TED Blog: “What physics taught me about marketing: Dan Cobley on TED.com”




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