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SXSW Screenprinting

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Contagious will be representing next week in Austin for SXSW Interactive and we decided to print up some T-shirts to give out to friends and allies.

We thought about just sending our logo and specs off to a printer, but what about making our own awesome shirts? And checking on colors and things? My awesome girlfriend gifted me time in a screenprinting workshop last year, so I already knew a thing or two about making your own shirts. So how about hire a studio and try to do it ourselves? Turns out that was much easier (and more fun) than we thought. We got in touch with Peter from Polluted Eyeball and arranged to visit him in his studio, in a loft building of artists’ studios, in Bushwick. We set up an evening session, so after work on Friday we could roll up and do some printing.

There’s a populist connoisseurship in T-shirts. Fine fit, fabric and a nice design can make a cheap item into a lifelong favorite. So we wanted to do these right. We stopped off on the way at Uniqlo to pick up around 70 of their Dry Pack Men’s T’s. I think they’re among the best going.

Once Peter had taken us through the process (and burned an extra screen for a white ink layer to sit below the fluorescent pink) we got to work, a three-person team, fitting the blank shirts on the platens, then rotating them to the white and pink screens, through each ink phase, then under a heater, then off to be rolled and taped and sorted by size.

By the time we’d gotten our process right and picked up steam, we were out of blanks and had a whole load of handmade T-shirts to give away. Take a look at the photos below, and if you’re going to be in Austin, track down either me or Noelle for a shirt. Thanks again to Peter at Polluted Eyeball for all his expert guidance.

Written by Nick

March 6th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

#sxsw: The Tweets Cometh

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Many are painting this as the year Twitter reached mass acceptance, but for the crowd of internet types who headed to Austin last weekend for South by Southwest the service was already almost two years old.

I went down to Texas, and saw some great stuff, met interesting people and had a wonderful time, as usual and want to pass things along to you, dear reader. But in an effort to keep my fresh-faced Twitter followers who weren’t in Texas from fomenting a rebellion at rapid-fire updates I decided to collect everything I would have put into 140-character updates and leave them here. Old school! Hopefully you’ll enjoy, and, if not, dismiss with the speed with which you surely ignore many unwanted messages daily.

Day 1, Saturday, March 14

4:34 am: Awake from what cld pass 4 sleep w/ dog fidgeting all night between my sprawled legs. Dogsitting makes for strange bedfellows.

5:44 am: At LaGuardia, security line reaches around longer than I’ve ever seen. Involuntarily say Fuck when the functionary motions to the end.

5:46 am: Oh, it’s spring break.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nick

March 22nd, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Technology,Travel

Austin, again and again

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I was in Austin for SXSW Interactive for the fourth time this year (see previous japes). I guess that’s enough to be considered worthy of telling others what to do. So Emily and I did. I cribbed tips liberally from Rick and Marcelino. I don’t normally traffic in superlatives, but the best panel I went to this year was on The New Aesthetic.

Written by Nick

March 17th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

JWT Interview

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The fine people of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, who recently hosted a week of panels and presentations for Social Media Week, asked me a few questions in anticipation of a chat we did about social games on Monday. Here they are; there’s more from others over at their AdGeek blog. That penultimate answer is a little tongue-in-cheek, but there’s something weird in the air I haven’t quite figured out yet.

What was your social media eureka moment?
I think everyone has a path of social media eureka moments which revolve around making real connections with other people. Everyone feels the magic when they meet someone in real life that they’ve come to know over the internet, and compares their concept of that person and their actions online with the living breathing talking version. That can be online dating or buying a dresser on Craigslist. Same goes with arguments; the first time you get into a blood-boiling argument on the Internet you pass a sort of barrier. To me, those are the most interesting bits, coming to understand the powerful connections we can create with people who share our interests and goals.

What do you use on a daily basis and how?
Whew, big question…currently running applications include: Mail, Chrome, Firefox, DevonThink, Pomodoro, Dropbox, Spaces, ManyCam, Skype, iChat, Word, TextEdit, Tweetdeck. Frequently accessed webservices/social bits/communities include Facebook (begrudgingly) & Twitter and Google’s suite of stuff, without which I’d be truly lost. Metafilter and Reddit are my favorite community sites. Google Reader tells me ‘from your 300 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 9,359 items, clicked 33 items, starred 10 items, shared 0 items, and emailed 61 items.’ I’ve developed an arcane and possibly foolish system to basically archive anything I touch on Twitter to a bookmarking site, and I spend a lot of time watching Contagious’ output and cataloging all that stuff for further analysis.

What is hot and what is just hype?
I think this question is becoming less and less relevant, but I can’t quite explain why. I’ll try, though. In the last year or so we’ve seen enterprising groups take things that are in the hype cycle’s trough and make fun new things out of them. I hope the cycles created by our anemic attention span and relentless economic machine continue to pump up and churn through emerging technologies—it leaves more room for the inquisitive tinkerers to come through and say ‘oh, what’s this, how does this work.’ It’s like the kid who always had the most fun, newest toys—you knew a few days later their attention would be elsewhere, but that fun toy probably still had some life in it for something. I’m currently obsessed with the Kinect, Minecraft, quadcopters and autonomous flight sequences, Mechanical Turk and whatever a rotating cadre of members of the present-day Invisible College of technology is doing.

What do you see as being the next big thing at next year’s conference?

Definitely jetpacks. Seriously though—with the speed at which companies seem to be earning venture capital money, I would look for topic ideas from this article on SXSW 2001: “Is there still an Internet economy?”, “Internet Industry Trends 2001: Is Anyone Making Money?”, How to Survive Takeovers, Acquisitions, Layoffs, Mergers and Other Supposed Career Setbacks”. Etc. Mad-Libs the blanks where appropriate, change “million” to “billion”, there you go.

What is the one takeaway you hope everyone gets from your panel?

I hope people leave the panel understanding the difficult lines games makers have to walk, between manipulating game mechanics to maximize profit and making genuinely fun games people want to play.

Written by Nick

February 12th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Dropping in to the 99% Conference

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99% Conference Sneak Peek!, originally uploaded by jeffreyk.

I peeled myself out of the office briefly Thursday to stop over at Behance’s 99% Conference (“It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen”) at the Times Center.

I was only able to see a few speakers, but I picked a good time to drop by. First, Seth Godin talked about squashing your lizard brain, the fearful primitive part of consciousness that’s forever impeding progress and preventing us from actually finishing projects with thoughts of fear.

After that, it was Jake Nickell and Jeff Kalmikoff from Threadless, who talked about implementation of ideas at various stages in their business (the slide above is one of their credos). Another laffer was a picture of a desktop PC set up in front of a door, monitor stacked on CPU with a desk chair in front. That was apparently Nickell’s setup to prevent himself from leaving the house in the early days of the site.

I especially enjoyed Scott Belsky of Behance, who spoke just before lunch. Belsky touched on the different types of creative personalities, how we can pair people to max our their effectiveness by combining traits, how competition and conflict can spur things, etc. It was interesting, in part because it was similar to Hyper Island’s philosophies of group dynamics, which they illustrated last month at South by Southwest.

I ran into a chum of mine, Jocelyn Glei, who informed me she’s working with Belsky on a book-length exposition of his findings, which will certainly provide a grounds for greater comparison of the two groups.

Written by Nick

April 17th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Advertising,Design,NYC

Foursquare to make drinking more playful

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Dodgeball’s reincarnated as Foursquare! Hit up the right nightspots and become the king of the town (at least as far as Internet cool points are concerned).

I’m reminded of Bright Lights, Big City:

… How did you get here? It was your friend, Tad Allagash, who powered you in here. You started out on the Upper East Side with champagne and unlimited prospects, strictly observing the Allagash rule of perpetual motion: one drink per stop. Tad’s mission in life is to have more fun than anyone else in New York City, and this involves a lot of moving around, since there is always the likelihood that where you aren’t is more fun than where you are.

Hopefully this’ll be available to test out while Austin-hopping at SXSW this year.

I’m also hoping there’s an “achievement” called Alcoholic Loser for those who spend 4+ hours a day in only one bar, or “Cheapskate” for those who only get blotto at work-related gratis cocktail functions or “Fearless” for someone who drinks exclusively at bars in areas with really, really low average income and/or high crime rates. Perhaps integration with the iPhone breathalyzer to crown the real King Drunk?

Written by Nick

March 11th, 2009 at 11:47 am

Posted in NYC,Technology

About me – Contact Nick

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Hi! I’m a writer and editor, culturally a Michigander, geographically a Portlander (OR). Should you wish to contact me, or learn about stuff I’ve worked on, you’re in the right place.

Most of my day-to-day work revolves around thinking and writing about how technology impacts culture and the systems we humans build to encourage creative stuff to happen.

I’m interested in design, specifically how systems impact how our culture exists and tells stories about itself. A lot of my work also has had to do with how people who’re communicating on behalf of brands or companies approach creative projects, emerging platforms, new audiences, and, generally, how they can do things with their influence that encourage and glorify human intelligence and creativity.

nickparish.net (since 2005!) is where you can find short observations, links to my work, and small, shiny things that have distracted me. I maintain a much-less-frequently-updated blog about fly fishing at Current Flow State.

If you’re looking for a simple way to stay in touch I periodically send out notices of Parishable Content™ in the form of an email newsletter. Sign up on the right side of the page.

Or you could just send me an email.


Selected Publications

I’ve had my work published in New York magazine, the New York PostAdvertising Age, CreativityComstock’sSlam, Flaunt and many more, and wrote a short ebook in 2014.

I’ve been an expert and source in stories for other media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Headline News, Inc., Bloomberg NewsMercado (Argentina), Canadian BusinessMaclean’s, and others. Here are a few of my favorite stories and appearances.





  • Contagious 46, part two on writing briefs for creative teams around innovation: “What’s In a Brief?









Talks, appearances, juries, and events

Over the last decade or so I’ve spoken regularly at public and private events and am happy to share my perspective.

Due to other commitments at present I’m limiting my appearances to once a quarter, with several standing events taking precedence.

I’m also committed to only accepting invitations to appear at events that have an equal gender representation on stage and a clearly communicated set of behavior standards for participants.





The Monocle Daily, June, phoning in live from the Cannes Lions (about 39 minutes in)

Contagious Now / Next / Why, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, May & June
Worldwide Partners Global Meeting,
What’s Contagious Now? Cartagena, Colombia, April
U. of Montana
BMGT 403: Principles of Entertainment Management II guest lecture, Missoula, April
SXSW Interactive:
Brands: The Connective Tissue Between People and Technology, March
Brightworks Innovation DayMarch
University of Oregon, J408 Design & Tech, guest lecture, Eugene, January


Most Contagious, London, December
Inter-American Development Bank Demand Solutions, Washington D.C., November
Portland State University, Marketing 435/535 CPG Strategy, guest lecture, Portland, November
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Cannes, June
Boomerang Montreal, May
The Big Shopping Shakeup, “Creating Cults” panel, April
University of Montana, BMGT 403: Principles of Entertainment Management II guest lecture, Missoula, March
NYAMA / Jack Morton, “Marketing in the Age of Experience,” February
Brightworks Innovation Day, February
IAB West speaker series, Vancouver, February
NRF Big Show, “Think Fast: Creating Opportunities for Breakthrough Ideas,” January

Brightworks Innovation Day
, February
ADC Festival, “The Invisible Metric: Finding Beauty in Simple Interaction,” April
BCON Expo, “The Innovators” panel, October
PromaxBDA Sports Media Marketing Summit, “7 Minute Masterclass: Driving Brand Innovation,” November
Most Contagious, December

Brightworks Innovation Day
, March
Judge, One Show Interactive, March
Horn Group, “The Convergence of Social Marketing and Social Business,” April
4A’s PR Conference panel, “The Creative Conversation,” (audio) April
Institute of Communications Agencies, trend presentation, May
Panel moderator, Barbarian Group / Adv. Week, “Products, Process and Progress,” October
Panel, Adv. Week, “Give to Get: Building Brand through Service Innovation,” October
Contagious Now / Next / Why, October
TBWA, “Dragon Bytes” web series, October
Most Contagious, December

Panel moderator, JWT / Adv. Week, “How Social Dynamics Are Reshaping Games” February
The Hershey Company, Global Marketing Conference, March
SXSW Interactive panel, “Client Knows Best: How To Sell Unsolicited Ideas,” March
ICA, “Engagement in the Social Entertainment Age,” May
Quoted in The Daily Beast’s “Is Osama bin Laden Bad for Business,” May

Cannes Lions seminar with Hewlett-Packard, “The Return of the Physical,” June
Jury member, Yahoo Create for a Cause competition, September
Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide, trends presentation, October


Other stuff
100 Slaps (2006)
Manhattan steam explosion (which got me on the phone with none other than Anderson Cooper in 2007)
Letter from Brooklyn (2009)


Wall of Fame

AlexanderBerners, Chouinard, DrummondJosaitisMathewsMcGoohan, Scully, Wilson

Written by Nick

May 28th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Posted in