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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.



how long is the truth?
January 7, 2014, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, The Rules, triangulation, Zeitgeist

triangulating favourite things

Had an interesting question about the triangulation exercise- how long should it be?

In a true form I’d have to say: How long is the truth?

I’ve put the challenge forward with ‘manifest the outcome how you like…’

I do know that the blank page is the hardest to start with and the that structure is a fine tool to get the ball rolling….

So to help actually answer the question I can put forward some options on process and practice:

  • I’m a big fan of visual thinking as a tool to explore intersection- to mine where commonality lies and to use it to find a singular point of truth
    • the above was a bit of a joke for a mate (if you’re not a Top Gun fan- it means that the absolute truth between his three favourite things is that they FVROOM/ Doppler effect/or can disappear out of sight in a second)
      • this was a while ago- today I’d say that the intersection could be brought to life by Archer
      • this might mean that you could structure a deck like this:
        • Demonstrate key learnings/ Identify themes: one chart each on the major themes of each of the articles
        • Explore intersections: commonalities between each article
        • The absolute truth- your key out take/ observation/ pov
  •  When I started doing these exercises myself as blog posts I tried to keep them around 300 words

I’d love to see a podcast, an interpretive dance, a cartoon if that can take us on a journey of your thinking.

I’m as interested in what you see along the way as the destination of your journey.

Anyhoo- good luck, and thanks for asking.



triangulation and the apparent truth
January 6, 2014, 12:36 pm
Filed under: triangulation

triangulation-method

In social science triangulation is defined as the mixing of data or methods so that diverse viewpoints or standpoints cast light about a topic.

You can use it to unpick bias in news reporting, and  in design you’d use it to find ‘apparent truth’.

I like that term. Apparent truth. It feels like chocolate.

If you want a bit of substantiation here’s a paper full of fruit cake dense notions like ‘epistemological chasms’, ‘empiricist view points’ and ‘hypothetico- deductive methods’.

I’ve written about personal taxonomies, my Bowerbird ways, and general bricolage and pirate treasure pursuits for collecting stimulus. What I’m looking forward to exploring (with my team and you if you like) is how stimulus can used to grow perspective: both and the practice of developing perspective and the articulation of your thoughts.

 Wassa?

So what’s going to happen here is a weekly challenge to triangulate three ‘cultural objects’.

 How?

Randomly selected by me with the only selection criteria that I found it recently and I think there’s something interesting in the intersection.

 Why?

  • A group practice in order to generate a dialectic of learning
    • Examine the contrasts between what seems self-evident, what seems to underlie the lay  discourses, what appears to be generally true and what differences arise when comparing all these with ‘official’ interpretations.
    • Build interpretation skills
      • Move away from the fetishism of quantative research methods (ooo!)
    • Deepen and widen your understanding of culture

So here’s the challenge

Read and form a perspective on what these three things say about ‘culture’:

Join in! Manifest it how you like- I’ll get back to you on the conversation this prompts at the end of the week and whatever objects are created…

 



getting into the swing of things
November 26, 2013, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience

Trying out the lovely Haiku deck….

These are my notes from a breakfast meeting with the lovely Megan Brownlow from PwC.

She spoke about their interesting report: PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study, Millennial Workers Want Greater Flexibility, Work/Life Balance, Global Opportunities

This comprehensive and global generational study conducted by PwC, the University of Southern California and the London Business School looks into the aspirations, work styles and values of “Millennial”/”Generation Y” employees (those born between 1980 and 1995).

The study, which included more than 40,000 responses from Millennials and non-Millennials alike, captures the various forces at play that are influencing the experience of Millennials. These include: workplace culture, communication and work styles, compensation and career structure, career development and opportunities and work/life balance.

I followed with these notes on how the existing behaviors and first language of millennial employees can be harnessed to meet both their needs and that of their employers.



Since. Sometimes. Say it.
January 14, 2013, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Experience, Zeitgeist

lifeisshortthereisnotimetoleaveimportantwordsunsaid

Life just bites you on the ass sometimes.

I’ve been trying to write this for ages: since receiving the phone call a couple of days before Christmas; since working on releasing the shock and pain and disbelief at the news; since writing that first condolence card; since the first time I could get together with my oldest friends face-to-face to share the wtf-ness; since standing blacked up and bare faced nursing a whiskey and hearing his Dad desperate for some insight, any scrap, at the wake, as to why.

Since, since, since.

I lived my 20′s in a little run down terrace in what is now SOGO, but was then the cheapest place we could find. It was dark, falling to pieces and smelled in the damp, but filled with what became a chosen family, and for me, a true home.

None of us had money, but we were all working doing stuff we loved- art, music, architecture, design. We all were good at creating something out of nothing: the kitchen transformed from a peeling crack lab into a place where mermaids played; a bare wall turned into an ever moving pop gallery of avant cards; a back yard that hosted now famous ‘drinks by the pool’ parties where the blow up wader was just an excuse for ridiculous cocktails and costumes.

There was dancing. Cooking. A million late night conversations. A million bottles of red wine. One very scrappy cat. Sometimes the dishes didn’t get done. People peeled out as they met their partners, or their career took them off to different horizons and eventually the place got sold and we moved on.

That was sometime ago. It lasted about 7 years and felt like forever.

I thought everyone had grown up since then. Not me, obviously, but other people had mortgages and businesses and children and partners. Eventually I only saw some in back yards, with tired eyes and gentle, humorous self deprecating stories of the domestic hurdy-gurdy their lives had become.  Tucked in, I thought. Safe, I believed. Happy, I dreamed.

I can’t remember the last time I told my friend I loved him. That he was important to me. That knowing him has made my life better every day since I met him. That his take on silly and serious and determined and disciplined was a benchmark for me. That I respected his work, was totally crazy about his choice of partner and his children, in awe of his practice and held deep affection for the past we shared and held a desire to co-create memories for the rest of our lives.

Now I won’t get that chance. He is gone. He took himself off the merry-go-round. I don’t know why. No one seems to. I will never understand. I’m trying to come to terms with that. I’m not looking for a silver lining. It’s just crap.

Sometimes we let go of the gold in our lives, the people that we love, to pan for shiny trash. Sometimes the people that we think we know are very very good at hiding their pain. Sometimes the things we don’t say haunt us.

Since. Sometimes. Say it.



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?



the lucky ones
September 4, 2012, 12:59 pm
Filed under: The Rules

It is a planner/ creative strategist/ maker-upperer-with-rigor’s job to introduce people to things they don’t know.

One of your goals might be to create those moments and to make it safe (and fun!) for people to say ‘Hey, I didn’t know that’.

Try not to be a douche about having more knowledge than others. Strength requires responsibility and using your smarts to punch people in the face makes you a bully.

Celebrate and contribute to growth instead.




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