Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Meets a Google-y Glass

samsungglassgear

I like Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear stuff—it’s direct, and right out of the hardware launch playbook Apple wrote for the iPhone.1 And we might, on first glance, think that’s where Samsung’s big competition for the watch lies.

This near-final frame though, the two seconds it the camera lingers on Jamie, and what are we left with? An Android UI, telling us Ms. Glass is calling? That’s a brilliant bit of priming to link the Samsung gadget with its the real competitor in wearables. These categories don’t invent themselves, people.

 

 

  1. The work is also everywhere right now, with tons of media spend behind the launch. []

Serendipity, Memory and Technology: Ted Chiang, Jack London and me

One of the benefits of living in my part of Brooklyn is you can essentially pick up a graduate-level humanities education in books your neighbors discard on their stoops. I’ve been working my way through a stoop find, the collected stories of Jack London, and was earlier this week on “The League of the Old Men,” about Imber, a tribesman from the north who confesses to slaying dozens of pioneering whites to stem their corrosive effect on his culture.

Imber goes to town to present the white authority with his list of crimes, and finds that Howkan, a younger member of his tribe, is the chosen translator. The way Imber comes to understand Howkan’s literacy is exceptional; he relates it to the signals he reads from the land.

Howkan shook his head with impatience. “Have I not told thee it be there in the paper, O fool?”

Imber stared hard at the ink-scrawled surface. “As the hunter looks upon the snow and says, Here but yesterday there passed a rabbit; and here by the willow scrub it stood and listened and heard, and was afraid; and here it went with great swiftness, leaping wide; and here, with great swiftness and wider leapings, came a lynx; and here, where the claws cut deep into the snow, the lynx made a very great leap; and here it struck, with the rabbit under and rolling belly up; and here leads off the trail of the lynx alone, and there is no more rabbit,—as the hunter looks upon the markings of the snow and says thus and so and here, dost thou, too, look upon the paper and say thus and so and here be the things old Imber hath done?”

Meanwhile, I live for Ted Chiang’s work. His sense of how to mesh the prosaic of the everyday with the fantastic elements derived from possible futures is always totally enthralling. And, on the train yesterday, I dove into his newest, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” published here.

There are some thematic similarities in the two stories: memory, cultural dominance and the inevitable march of technology. Chiang’s is more about augmenting memories, and the possibility that technology will remember it for you, wholesale (couldn’t resist). It’s not quite virgin territory1, but Chiang covers it with the mastery he usually displays. But largely what jumped out at me was this description of literacy. Jijingi, from a tribe that’s without literacy, is learning from the missionary, Moseby, how to read. But first he must understand written language.

The missionary spoke as if his tongue were too large for his mouth, but Jijingi could tell what he was saying. “Yes, I understand.”

Moseby smiled, and pointed at the paper. “This paper tells the story of Adam.”

“How can paper tell a story?”

“It is an art that we Europeans know. When a man speaks, we make marks on the paper. When another man looks at the paper later, he sees the marks and knows what sounds the first man made. In that way the second man can hear what the first man said.”

Jijingi remembered something his father had told him about old Gbegba, who was the most skilled in bushcraft. “Where you or I would see nothing but some disturbed grass, he can see that a leopard had killed a cane rat at that spot and carried it off,” his father said. Gbegba was able to look at the ground and know what had happened even though he had not been present. This art of the Europeans must be similar: those who were skilled in interpreting the marks could hear a story even if they hadn’t been there when it was told.

The coincidence struck me as a bit ironic. No doubt I’ve read and forgotten other connections, other expressions of writing described to the illiterate. And no doubt, if I couldn’t forget, it would have only further lessened the impact of Chiang’s story, as I would have been constantly comparing variations on the same theme, a bizarre mental loop. Sometimes, like both authors contend, it’s better not to know.

Go read the Chiang story2 and tell me what you think.

  1. Charlie Brooker trod similar ground with “The Entire History of You” in Black Mirror’s first set of sketches []
  2. And all of his stuff, really. This Metafilter post is a great start. []

Gigs & Appearances: Advertising Week 2012 and Now / Next / Why New York

Ahh, Advertising Week. Because the day-to-day celebration of ad culture just isn’t enough.

I’m going to be speaking on two panels. I will plug them thusly:

 

GIVE TO GET: BUILDING BRAND THROUGH SERVICE INNOVATION

Mon Oct 1 2012 – 9:00 AM
B.B. King Blues Club

Putting service at the center of your brand may be the next evolution of your marketing; innovation through service design is what will attract customers, turn them into advocates, create buzz about your product, and save customers with whom you #fail.

 
PRODUCTS, PROCESS AND PROGRESS

Tue Oct 2 2012 – 12:30 PM
B.B. King Blues Club

“Brand-led development”, it’s a subject that’s currently on the tip of every marketer’s tongue. This lively discussion, hosted by The Barbarian Group’s President, Sophie Kelly, will explore the new imperatives that larger brand marketers need to adapt in order to effectively build, refine and optimize longstanding products.

 

Of course, if you’re in NYC October 9, you should be at Contagious’ bi-annual look at what’s important, Now / Next / Why. I’m heading over to London next week to speak at that installment, then back again to talk at the Stateside version. My topic? Sponsorship Activation & Amplified Live.

Sponsorship Activation & Amplified Live /
The time we spend interacting with entertainment is often precious and pure. Distractions are not necessary, nor appreciated. Finally, a new generation of brands is beginning to reimagine the art of sponsorship activation, justifying their ticket to the game not just with a bulging wallet, but with a genuine offering to enhance, improve and augment the experiences for fans.
Contagious will showcase how and why brands are adding value for fans, not noise. From Coca-Cola turning an exclusive corporate box at a football ground into a dormitory for cash-strapped fans, to Kopparberg’s music festival playlist app on Facebook, brands are making their sponsorship dollars work harder to become an indispensable part of the events they support.

We’re also debuting our take on Marketing as Service Design, something we haven’t talked about yet over here. Some of the elements we’ll be discussing at Now / Next / Why in New York on October 9 will come into play during the panels.

We do a special edition publication for Now Next Why, and we just put that to bed last week. It’s looking great. Give me a shout if you can come out, so we can say hi.

Coming Home to a Company Town

I recently had the chance to head home on the dime of the Ford Motor Company, the great dynamo and historical symbol of prestige in the Motor City, or at very least its suburban birthplace in Dearborn. I got invited, I imagined, because we’ve covered the company’s efforts in the past. But now I found myself on a press trip home, to get sold on the innovation I grew up around, for Fordʼs North American Auto Show & Innovation and Design Fantasy Camp. If that’s not enough of a mouthful, here’s a rambling travelogue of what we got up to.

 

I took a car from the airport, and what can typically be a terse ride wound up moving quickly. One of the best things about talking cars with a Detroiter is that if you do it on the road, you have a constant source of conversation. My driver, an arabic guy in his mid-50s, was eager to chat. We talked about the driver’s Lincoln Town Car, a car that’s come to equal classy luxury transportation. We talked about what might replace it, now that Ford’s shut down the Canadian plants that produced it along with the Crown Victoria, cop car par excellence.1

We moved to the Chevy Volt (he’s never seen one around) the Prius (he’s seen plenty and likes ’em) and the changing American automobile appetite. I went to mention the new Fiat, and lo and behold we were passing one. “Italian design, it looks nice. Good for single people, maybe?” Then, the Dodge Charger. “It’s taken away a little from those guys,” he said, pointing to a Mustang. (See? It’s fun, it’s like I Spy crossed with the game where you move through the alphabet and say a different celebrity, or movie star, for every letter.) Toyota’s Avalon swung in front of us, and he remarked on its quality, being a former owner. He said the auto show, this year, would be a more positive affair, with the Big Three stronger than in previous years, a leaner and meaner American auto industry.

Continue reading “Coming Home to a Company Town”

  1. The Town Car remains a weathered peak of luxury transportation for many, despite the changes in driver preference and civic fuel consumption standards Ford cited as its reasons for termination. I love the Town Car. Since the late ’90s, it’s been the longest car produced in the Western Hemisphere. My dad once told me it was designed to be able to carry four golf bags in its trunk, ferrying a foursome of chums to the links, where some real business can get done. []

Towards a Shining Volunteer Facebook Botnet of Truth and Victory

Facebook’s latest influence study is out, and the conclusions are not terribly surprising. You share information that your close friends share, but also things your not-so-close friends (or, your ‘distant contacts’, or ‘weak ties’, in network theory parlance) post. Thus, summaries of the study conclude, disproving the claim Facebook is an ‘echo chamber’, a set of behaviors many have insinuated is eroding our society, ingraining us in our ways and making life poorer through depriving us of tough choices about what we believe.

This is already leaving aside a glaringly obvious element. People wouldn’t be friends, even on Facebook, with people they don’t already share large swathes of cultural and economic common ground with. I am not issued a standard set of normative friends upon arrival, that’s rebalanced periodically to ensure all global viewpoints are represented. Reasonably, if Facebook is my only touchpoint with weak tie Jane Connection, it doesn’t mean she’s at the complete opposite end of the social and ideological spectrum to me. Some commonality brought us together, and I’d argue that’s strong enough to lend a coloration to the information he shares and makes me already predisposed to accepting it.

But, I can’t enter into a lengthy analysis of the paper until I actually read it. For now, more interesting matters.

The brilliant and able data scientists at Facebook have an unique porthole into some of the most amazing and interesting behaviors in human history. They’re able to observe major elements in how we fall in love, how we break up, how we celebrate birth and how we mourn death. They are able to judge very interesting things about human nature from these things. But, one must assume, their aspects of inquiry into the human condition are tempered by the desire of its executives to prove out Facebook’s advertising model, and the ability of Facebook to further monetize these events (or, the more prosaic ones, like when we mention our love for Starbucks or a positive experience at Hertz Rent-a-Car). Facebook actively works with advertising analysts to refine the products it sells marketers, so it should likely continue to do so more intensely as it grows.

Facebook is also constantly changing features in its service. Its EdgeRank algorithm, which determines what you see in your News Feed, is similar to Google’s PageRank, and a coveted position for marketers. If you’re a brand, even if millions of people have clicked ‘Like’, your content, which you may have spent millions of dollars to produce, won’t be seen by any of those millions unless someone engages with it, by Liking or commenting. If it’s not interesting, it won’t be seen. The more it’s interesting, the more it’s seen.

Trouble is, EdgeRank is largely a black box. Facebook’s Preferred Developers presumably have an inside edge, or at least a cobbled-together set of metrics with which they can determine how quickly something will take off.

But again, I’m straying from the point. The point is this: Facebook’s data studies should be assumed to be fundamentally serving Facebook’s interests. If it came to conclusions otherwise, why would it be released? Further, many of the statistics around behaviors on the web are commissioned and carried out by companies with vested interests in promoting the data. Security companies publish data on teenage hackers, for instance, or online persona management companies publish data on the proliferation of online personas. ‘These behaviors exists, so should we’ is communicated.

This is why I propose the Shining Volunteer Facebook Botnet of Truth and Victory to lead the way to transparent algorithm documentation.

It’s as simple as this: you sign away access to a moderately omnibenificient force that can monitor your news feed and occasionally post test elements, monitored by others in neighboring networks. Presumably it wouldn’t take more than a small percentage of groups to be able to make meaningful conclusions about the way EdgeRank works. Major changes would provoke an algorithm report to show what’s different. Maybe it would show that Coca-Cola’s content is altogether 10 times more important than Tiny Brand X’s content.1

This is a similar proposition to the idea of counter-algos in the high-frequency trading world, algorithms that try to out-act their counterparts. But this one acts on behalf of users of a system rather than its owners. The analogy that comes to my mind is that of a river and a dam. A dam may be owned and operated by a power company, used to generate power. But the water and the river are public property, and the department of the interior monitors the water level, and the releases from the dam, constantly, keeping track of flows and temperatures for recreation and the health of aquatic life. In the case of monitoring the health of our information flow, though, we need to actively allow some force to pretend to be us for a few moments to stick its toe in the water.

  1. I’m not a conspiracy theorist when I imagine brands that spend $10x more than others have some sort of advantage in EdgeRank. This would make good business sense for Facebook, rewarding those that buy comprehensive display packages with a leg up on those that can only afford to create compelling content. []

Squeezing the fountain: How General Motors became Admiral Motors

The history of fountain sponsorship at Comerica Park in Detroit is spotty, given the turbulence the auto industry has dealt with in the decade or so since it was built.

So sayeth Wikipedia:

A giant fountain behind center field is set off whenever the Tigers score, and also between innings, with bursts of water also referred to as Liquid Fireworks. The water show is also played pregame and postgame, and can be set to music. General Motors sponsored the fountain and held the naming rights from 2000-2008. Two GM vehicles were placed atop the fountain during that time. For the 2009 season, the fountain sponsorship was dropped by GM, due to their financial trouble. The Tigers decided to keep the General Motors logo on the fountain however, and also added the logos of Chrysler and Ford, with the statement “The Detroit Tigers Support Our Automakers”. In 2010, GM again sponsored the fountain, renaming it the Chevrolet Fountain.

Which is why, while watching copious amounts of baseball on MLB’s various iPad and web products I get a kick out of this every time:

The Admiral Motors fountain! MLB Advanced Media certainly doesn’t want to give General Motors any free branding on its apps. And GM probably didn’t want to do a deal. So, we reach an impasse, and Admiral Motors is born. Our national pasttime, putting an ad on every possible surface, meets our national automaker, not spending much money on marketing.

But what about all the other fields? Well, of the nine hosting games this afternoon, Wrigley Field, O.co Coliseum, Busch Stadium, Fenway Park, Tropicana Field, Minute Maid Park, Nationals Park, Kauffman Stadium and Sun Life Stadium, only Busch and Minute Maid have any branding for anything other than the generic team name or Major League Baseball, MLB.com products (like “MLB 11 The Show” videogame). Minute Maid has a nice big logo where it presumably appears at the stadium, and Busch has a big fat ‘Cola’ sign where a Budweiser billboard would be. Certainly a case for Gladys at Product Displacement.

I can’t really fault MLB.com for trying to monetize it all–I’d rather blame them for the crappy display inventory that’s rusting their brand like sea air, or the auto-renewal of the MLB.tv package, a $100-something charge that hits your bill every February, or the fact that even once you’ve bought MLB.tv you have to pay more to watch on your phone, or your iPad, or the lame-ass Saturday blackout rule that has me listening to the Tigers and missing my beloved Mario and Rod while Boston and Texas go at it in the national broadcast on Fox. But Admiral Motors, really? If I ever run into Bob Bowman again, and he’s back on the trail to become the governor of Michigan, there are going to be some questions.

Applause: RDTN.ORG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In times of crisis like the world has been watching for the last week or so in Japan, our contributions to alleviate suffering will not entirely be counted in dollars. More and more the tools we build to help those afflicted return to a peaceful existence will be measured as essential.

I’m proud of some friends that joined together to build a hub for measuring the radiation levels in Japan, and hope their effort will bring calm to a few of the many lives changed by the crisis.

The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan has highlighted our collective reliance on trusted sources. With conflicting reports of radiation levels in affected areas, Portland-based Uncorked Studios has built a way to report and see data in an unbiased format. Inspired by talking heads on news programs who could at best speculate about the nuclear crisis based on the dearth of data, Uncorked decided to create a platform that will crowd-source data to individuals, volunteers, and experts.

Introducing rdtn.org, a website that aggregates radioactivity data from throughout the world in order to provide real-time hyper-local information about the status of the Japanese nuclear crisis. The site is not meant as a replacement for government nor nuclear agencies. Our hope is that clear data will provide additional context to the official word in these rapidly changing events. While the site will focus primarily on readings from Japan, it will also incorporate data from the West Coast of the United States, hoping perhaps to quell the fires of paranoia that stem from a lack of credible information about radiation, the jet stream and its potential effect on US citizens.

We welcome users’ thoughts on how to improve the site/functionality, and appreciate any insight or feedback that will provide a richer understanding of this crisis. We will continue to implement improvements and functionality as soon as possible.

If you are interested in contributing in an official capacity, either as a scientist, journalist, or member of a government agency, please contact us at info@rdtn.org.

RDTN.ORG.

JWT Interview

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.1 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.

  1. I actually moderated a pair of panels, on social gaming on Monday and storytelling on Thursday. They’re archived here (after 16m of David Eastman) and here if you’re interested. []

Linkedin’s got your back.

In the wake of Gawker’s snafu (which has been a major disappointment, a decidedly dinosaur mistake from what I, and many others, had considered a nimble and smart company) I was pleased to get an email from Linkedin saying this:

Dear Nick,

We recently sent you a message stating that your LinkedIn password had been disabled for security reasons. (Note: If you have more than one email registered with us, you will receive more than one password reset message. You only need to act on one of them.)

This was in response to a security breach on a different site, Gawker.com, where a number of usernames and passwords were exposed. We want to make sure those leaked emails and passwords were not being used to attack any LinkedIn members.

There is no indication that your LinkedIn account has been affected, but since it shares an email with the compromised Gawker accounts, we decided to ensure its safety by asking you to reset its password.

If you haven’t done that already, now is a good time to follow these steps:

1. Go to the LinkedIn website.
2. Click on “Sign In”.
3. Click on “Forgot Password?” and follow the directions on the website.

Please keep in mind that the best defense against these types of attacks is to have unique passwords for each site you use. You can always search our support site and our blog for more security tips.

We apologize for the inconvenience, but we feel this action is in your best interest. Thanks for your immediate attention to our request.

Sincerely,

LinkedIn Privacy Team

Way to get your users’ backs. And rub it in to the other guys.

Continue reading “Linkedin’s got your back.”

We’re coming through the window: Most Contagious 2010

Most Contagious 2010.

Hello and welcome to Most Contagious 2010: a free round-up of the biggest global trends, technologies, and campaigns of the year, pulled together by Contagious Magazine, the advertising industry’s monitor of creativity and innovation. This year’s Most Contagious is supported by our friends at Yahoo!
A round-up of the global trends, technologies, and campaigns of the year from Contagious Magazine, an early warning system for the advertising industry. This year’s Most Contagious
is supported by Yahoo!

Please enjoy; it’s a true labor of love. Thanks to all of you for supporting us this year, and every year, to make Contagious as successful (and fun) as it has been. More end-of-year stuff to come, provided I complete a big stack of work.

Theo Watson: XBox Kinect running on OSX

There are a lot of reasons to love this, and the rest of the Kinect-hacking going on by a bunch of awesome like-minded types (@openkinect is doing a great job of aggregating) around the world. It’s open-source software iteration at the speed of human resourcefulness. I’d reckon the Microsoft engineers that built Kinect are chuckling to themselves at how quickly people are solving problems they had themselves.

But the reason I love it most is it feels like only a matter of days before someone puts together a fairly accurate motion-tracking airsoft turret to keep the cats off the couch.

(Also watch Theo & Emily’s Interactive Puppet Prototype.)

XBox Kinect running on OS X with source code on Vimeo on Vimeo

Representing at this year’s Eurobest awards

Boss Paul sez:

Contagious devotes a lot of attention to the intersection of brands and technology, so we’re extremely excited to be curating The Hive at Eurobest. Our aim is to create a dynamic, experiential space where delegates get to play with the latest gadgets and gizmos as well as learning how technological innovation will shape the marketing campaigns of the future. Paul Kemp-Robertson, Editorial Director, Co-Founder, Contagious

In 2010, Eurobest has teamed up with Contagious to gather together the most exciting technological innovations and innovators to engage, entertain and stimulate visitors to the Festival in The Hive. Discover a whole range of technology from interactive art works, to apps, robots and augmented reality. Companies already involved include Dentsu London, Prime & Strip Digital, metaio, and Total Immersion. Plus Google Creative Lab and Freestate

If you are interested in showcasing your product in The Hive, please get in touch.

via Eurobest – Europe’s Creative Advertising Festival and Awards.

A Resurrection From Cannes

Phew, it’s been too long. I’ve been busy. I’ll catch you up as we go along. But expect more here. The organizers of Cannes’ Lions Daily newsmagazine were looking for the U.S. perspective for this year’s festival in June, so here’s an article I did for them. It hasn’t aged too poorly. Enjoy.

cannes lions daily

‘Everything is clean and shiny but oddly threatening’. / J.G. Ballard, 1999

Although J.G. Ballard was actually talking about technology, this late, great chronicler of Cannes-based mischief came pretty close to explaining what’s happened in the United States and Canada since its ad folk last convened on the Riviera.

Budgets and spending are beginning to come back, but there’s the sense things won’t be the way they were before last year’s slump, both in outlay and style of communications and messaging. Optimism is returning, but how to connect with the NEW new media is still baffling to many. Why should my home plumbing fixture brand be on Facebook? What’s the value of creating a badge on Foursquare for a paper goods company?

The realignment currently taking place is forcing us to reconsider the fabric of our communications landscape, and it’s taking very interesting forms.

FINELY FORMED PLATFORMS /

The first of those is platform-building, the digital terraforming smart marketers are engaging in. This is an evolution from the act of adapting content to work on the web to creating or steering content that works within the Internet’s connective tissue.

Electronic retailer Best Buy has seen its Twelpforce program, which encourages employees to help customers on Twitter, service a massive amount of people. But, all that data it’s pumping into Twitter ultimately belongs to Twitter. And it’s finite, given Twitter’s propensity to hide tweets from search after 1.5 weeks. So what did Best Buy do? It built BBY Feed, a site that scrapes all the interactions from the Blueshirts, threads them into easy-to-read interactions and tags them for search engine optimization. If a month from now, I can’t remember how Best Buy’s folks told me to put the SD card in my camera, when I search for the answer it’ll show up on BBY Feed.

Meanwhile, brand communications platforms are growing up and evolving. Gatorade’s fantastic ‘Replay’ effort through TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles was initially shot as episodic online content by an advertising production company. The conceit was simple, and on-brand: any athlete’s performance can be enhanced by Gatorade, so why not convene and re-play crucial games that ended in ties, or were called because of injury, ten or fifteen years later? The idea of older athletes getting back in shape appealed to many, interest in the property grew, and Gatorade partnered with Fox Sports Net for the second round, with the cable sports network producing it just like it would a big-league game, and simulcasting it on the web.

Parallel to platform-building, disruptive hacker behaviours have begun influencing marketers looking to place content not only on their own platforms, but in unexpected and intriguing places as well. A great example is the ‘Lost’ flight on Kayak.com. The travel search engine listed Oceanic 815, the flight around which the TV series centred, in its search database. Word spread among Losties, and thousands looked up the flight on Kayak, performing all the behaviours of any other user, an introduction to the brand’s great interface through the thrill of finding the ‘Easter Egg’ of content—the actual flight listing for the mythic Lost flight. Great content, presented in its natural environment, is set to spread, and to maximize PR value.

Similarly, Burger King put a message on Digg’s failed search page, which is served over 600,000 times per month. When you look something up that isn’t there, you get a message from Digg and BK playing on the humorous ‘Tiny Hands’ campaign for the company’s double cheeseburger: ‘Looks like your search had a typo. Maybe you’ve got tiny hands?’

MAKER CULTURE & LASHED-TOGETHER TECH /

This maker culture, along with the rise of electronic hobbyists building projects to interact with the universe, places emphasis on solutions and speed, in the classic Bernbachian sense of ‘It’s ugly, but it gets you there’.

In fact, just over forty years after the moon landing and that classic piece of Volkswagen print, Nike and the Livestrong Foundation’s Chalkbot, from Wieden + Kennedy and the robot-making punk rockers at Pittsburgh’s Deeplocal, fits the tagline–the trailer-pulled robot sets a standard for the post-digital transition in its employment of ‘guttertech’–using the lowest available technology to solve the problem. The robot, towed along the route of the Tour de France, sprays messages of cancer support and memoriam people have tweeted onto the course. The system then takes a photo, geotags it, and sends it back to the participant on the other end of the connection. Chalkbot’s no-frills, simple-yet-elegant setup and movement through digital and physical elements nimbly skitters like Wall-E around a landscape where tech bandwagon-jumping is in danger of creating a proliferation of clutter and junk.

The sensor array in our smartphones is currently the fastest track to bringing about the ‘internet of things’ – the practice of integrating digital capabilities to the most ordinary of objects. Ranchers are using RFID to track beef from pasture to abattoir and researchers at the Asthmapolis project are using GPS-triggering asthma inhalers to learn more about pollutants, and all are contributing to the proliferation of data. The objects around us are becoming networked, either through built-in communication hardware or software elements fitted on top.

MASSAGING THE DATALAYER /

A company called Stickybits, which had its coming out party this year at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, allows you to add content–a video, a comment, a photo–to any barcode scanned with its app. Essentially the company has turned every barcode-carrying product into a media node.

Keep an eye peeled this week for Contagious’ special Stickybits treasure hunt, centered on our Issue 23 cover (which you can scan from the illustration here), and has Euro RSCG London’s new Dulux spot attached to it. Find the pink bits around town this week, scan them with your Stickybits app, and win Contagious prizes.

While our Stickybit challenge is but a small example, building games is, to me, the most exciting element of future-facing marketing efforts.

Think of the devotion a good videogame commands: players often log days at quests, or facing rivals online. And unlike a film, or a magazine, the hefty price you pay for a console game doesn’t even guarantee you get to experience all the content–you have to be patient, persist, and earn the ending.

THE POINTS ECOLOGY /

Location-based services like Gowalla and Loopt and Foursquare represent a simple employment of game motivations using the sensors we carry. Get the most points. Be seen the best places. Unlock achievements.

Ultimately, brands are developing new ways to register loyalty and reward people choosing them, while enticing possible conversions from nearby consumers–nearby both in physical location and adjoining mental space (think of a hairdresser who promotes on check-ins at the beauty supply store).

Will location-based service companies wind up being overgrown, social-enabled supermarket points schemes? No one can tell yet. But as the unique user behaviour, the check-in, the acknowledgement of presence in a space-time-byte matrix, spreads and becomes more familiar, and our sensor-augmented actions begin to throw off more and more data, the smartest marketers will be engineering access to it, and in turn creating experiences and narratives all the more relevant.

Returning to Mr. Ballard’s quote, there’s good reason for these shiny things to feel threatening. The firmaments of this business are shifting, and we can’t see where they’ll settle yet. But without threat, we drift to complacency. Now is the time, more than ever, to re-examine what is useful, relevant and entertaining as the world keeps turning.

Spimes and the evolution of the Missed Connection

sophie blackall

Spime. Spimey spimey spime.

Spime is a portmanteau of ‘space’ and ‘time’ coined by Bruce Sterling, who envisions a world full of spimes. It’s fun to say, and important to think about. A scenario just crossed my mind that might help.

A spime, as he defines it, is a “location-aware, environment-aware, self-logging, self-documenting, uniquely identified object that flings off data about itself and its environment in great quantities.”

We’re seeing stuff that’s spimier every day. Your smart phone is a pretty good example. While I was looking at Sophie Blackall’s fun illustrations of Craigslist Missed Connections it seemed like a pretty interesting way to think about spimes.

Thousands of people have potential Missed Connections every day in big cities. (Essentially, if you’re not clear on how the Craigslist section works, say the cute dude walking his dog makes eyes at you, and you reciprocate; if one of you gets up the guts and wants to make contact you post about the encounter on the board.)

Continue reading “Spimes and the evolution of the Missed Connection”

More efficient than efficient, or, how crowdsourcing agencies can prove themselves

More efficient than efficient, or, how crowdsourcing agencies can prove themselves
This week saw the auspicious launch of a new agency called Victors and Spoils, made up of two former Crispin Porter + Bogusky folks, Evan Fry and John Winsor (who specializes in cognitive science and is a nice guy) and Claudia Batten, a former VP at Microsoft-owned in-game advertising facilitator Massive.
Fry, in the Times piece, makes an impressive statement:
“Crowdsourcing is looked at as a trend du jour,” Mr. Fry said. “We want to be the first agency that gets it right.”
I want them to as well. But perhaps in a different way than they do.
Advertising execs have been in love with Clay Shirkey’s ur-crowdsourcing text “Here Comes Everybody” since it made its debut last year, but they haven’t been able to get it right.
There’s a reason why; marketers have focused on using executions from the crowd (eg Doritos’ tone-deaf Super Bowl spots) to replace things they’d usually pay specialists lots of money for, like logos and commercial scripts, instead of the simplified tasks crowdsourcing excels at, like being able to draw a rough sheep (as in Aaron Koblin’s Sheep Market) or retype a blurry word (as in Luis von Ahn’s CAPTCHA).
So, to succeed, Victors and Spoils has to find the middle ground.
And, by the power of the crowd vested in this tiny node in a remote corner of the internet, I have it for them. Here’s your assignment, guys.
Build a community around the DARPA network challenge and one of the “household-name brands” you allude to pitching for in the Times, win the challenge, and donate the $40,000 to charity in the name of the brand.
Hire a mathmetician to figure out the best way to allocate your immense human resources and flex them to comb the country for the eight balloons. Issue incentives to players, keep them honest, allow the whole thing to develop near-realtime with streaming content and all sorts of extra goodies.
It’ll be tough, because you’ll be competing against ultra-efficient networks, the likes of 4chan, which is unfortunately the closest thing we have now to an effective megalith of distributed energy. But what they boast in adolescent drive they don’t necessarily hold in technical expertise.
In as much as advertising has become a highly-efficient substrate for many of our emotional responses, so too will you have to be the surface underlying the network, giving it nutrients and making it robust.

balloon

This week saw the auspicious launch of a new agency called Victors and Spoils, founded by former Crispin Porter + Bogusky folks, Evan Fry and John Winsor as well as Claudia Batten, a former VP at Microsoft-owned in-game advertising facilitator Massive.

Fry, in the Times piece, makes an impressive statement:

“Crowdsourcing is looked at as a trend du jour,” Mr. Fry said. “We want to be the first agency that gets it right.”

I want them to as well. But perhaps in a different way than they do.

Advertising execs have been in love with Clay Shirky’s ur-crowdsourcing text “Here Comes Everybody” since it made its debut last year, but they haven’t been able to get it right.

There’s a reason why; marketers have focused on using executions from the crowd (eg Doritos’ tone-deaf Super Bowl spots) to replace things they’d usually pay specialists lots of money for, like logos and commercial scripts, instead of the easy tasks everyone can complete, like drawing a sheep (as in Aaron Koblin’s Sheep Market) or retyping a blurry word (as in Luis von Ahn’s CAPTCHA).

So, to succeed, Victors and Spoils has to find the middle ground.

And, by the power of the crowd vested in this tiny node in a remote corner of the internet, I have it for them. Here’s your assignment, guys.

Build a community around the DARPA network challenge and one of the “household-name brands” you allude to pitching for in the Times, win the challenge by finding the eight balloons first, and donate the $40,000 in prize money to charity in the name of the brand.

I’d hire a mathmetician to figure out the best way to allocate your immense brain wattage and flex it to comb the country for the eight balloons. Issue incentives to players, keep them honest, allow the whole thing to develop near-realtime with streaming content and all sorts of extra goodies.

It’ll be tough, because you’ll be competing against ultra-efficient networks, the likes of 4chan, which is unfortunately the closest thing we have now to an effective megalith of distributed energy that has the get-up-and-go to mobilize quickly. But what they boast in adolescent drive they don’t necessarily hold in technical expertise.

In as much as advertising has become a highly-efficient substrate for many of our emotional responses, so too will you have to be the surface underlying the network, giving it nutrients and making it robust.

A public service announcement from nickparish.net

A public service announcement from nickparish.net

“Nothing like the Apollo missions has been seen since, and some believe nothing ever will be.

Leading spacecraft expert Professor Andre Balogh, from Imperial College London, argues that the level of commitment and risk required to get astronauts to the Moon and back in 1969 would simply not be possible today.

He told the Press Association: ‘It was carried out in a technically brilliant way with risks taken … that would be inconceivable in the risk-averse world of today.

‘The Apollo programme is arguably the greatest technical achievement of mankind to date. And it was carried out successfully, against the backdrop of a difficult political situation in the USA, caused in large part by the worsening of the human and financial cost of the Vietnam war.'”

HeSays-SheSays

UPDATE: Last night’s meeting went great. I schlepped on about becoming a better geek, Matt from McCann introduced some tools to make anyone into a rabid Twitter fiend and James from Saatchi poked the crabby bear that is the age-old debate on advertising’s merits as art and the ethics of creative borrowing. Good times. Hopefully the ladies enjoyed as much as we did.

Continue reading “HeSays-SheSays”

Augmented Reality: More than a Fad

As we approached our CaT: Creativity and Technology event last week (which went swimmingly, thanks for asking) I began to think more and more about the prevalance of augmented reality in the panels and presentations that we were putting on. AR, along with data visualization, was one of the day’s most discussed topics; at least four of the presenters on the agenda spoke of the technique.

We had a few practitioners together, so I wanted to ask them what I’m sure many attendees were thinking: Is this a fad, or what? I’ve seen the rumblings and mutterings to the same effect, and a post today by Iain at Crackunit is prompting even more debate.

While I’m in general tilting toward the cynical side when I see a tool get hyped quickly, I’m pretty confident as we extend the size and strength of mobile data networks, get larger screens at home and become more comfortable interacting with webcams that we’ll see applications of Augmented Reality move away from cool visuals and into a realm of great utility. Already, mobile apps like Wikitude are making use of the technology but once data streams there get larger expect even better stuff. (Tangentially, I talked with the creators of a bunch of apps for a recent Creativity story.)

Obviously, as in everything, advertising professionals stand a good chance of ravaging the practice, but I don’t think that’ll matter. Even if they do, useful, interesting applications stand stock apart from tawdry gags. The USPS box simulator Tait mentions from AKQA is a good example of this and the Ikea example below it is great and traditional as well.

My.IKEA from Robin Westergren on Vimeo.

But what are they keys to deeply significant AR projects, other than a growing infrastructure of fast mobile connectivity, increase in display size and webcam adoption?

  • Coordination with product/package design across multiple areas to create unique activators: Consider being able to pullall the Kraft products from your cupboard, place them with their tags facing the webcam and then seeing the different hot meals you could combine them to make. The sort of heavy interplay across multiple product lines that’s necessary for this to be good won’t come from a one-off project, though.
  • Dynamic, rapid interplay with other backend parts on the visualization tip: Wieden + Kennedy did a virtual Easter Egg hunt in its office with Photosynth and Google Street View’s just introduced Smart Navigation. Both services are good at imitating 3D-like experiences from flat images. I can’t imagine we’re far from finding a bridge. Imagine going to Disneyland or a National Park and being able to bring your trail map to a viewer location and pop out an AR map to note landmarks and see what you’re in for. This won’t work, though, unless the stuff in back comes together seamlessly.
  • Useful and compelling content and interactions: This last one may be the most obvious but it’s also the most important. Any Crystal Pepsi/Pet Rock scenario begins with people thinking of the AR applications as tired and a waste of time, developing a resistance to the technology and ignoring it. There are already a few barriers to engagement, namely the amount of time and technology it takes to fire up the interaction. As those come down, you’ve got to make sure what’s on the other end counts.

Wikipedia has an exciting list of potential AR stuff (such as, when projectors get really cheap, you can do cool stuff like this: “Any physical device currently produced to assist in data-oriented tasks (such as the clock, radio, PC, arrival/departure board at an airport, stock ticker, PDA, PMP, informational posters/fliers/billboards, in-car navigation systems, etc. could be replaced by virtual devices that cost nothing to produce aside from the cost of writing the software.”)

Thinking AR stuff will quickly go away or decline in quality is a normal cynical reaction (and one I had at first), but it doesn’t seem like, in this case, it will. Advertisers will certainly make thorough use of the novelty and entertainment aspects, but the rate of innovation inside the AR community will allow more and more meaningful interactions should brands choose to dedicate resources to well-thought-out projects.

Whose Umbrella Matters?

I was a little surprised this morning to see one of my favorite blogs reference Do I Need an Umbrella, a site that, conveniently enough, answers the question Do I Need an Umbrella?

Turns out, Do I Need an Umbrella? (left) is a downmarket version of Umbrella Today?. Perhaps the most popular single-serving site out there. Umbrella Today? does the exact same thing (and more), was established earlier and has since become immensely popular. In the case of Umbrella Today? versus Do I Need an Umbrella? the former’s brevity of initial query and the quality it suggests shines through in all aspects, making the site, in every way possible, better than its more literal stepchild.

But, despite Do I Need an Umbrella? appearing to be a knock-off, it made me think. A few weeks ago, someone I know wrote something like “I didn’t like the weather report, so I just kept looking at other places until I found one that was suitable.”

So why not check and see if they agreed, and if not, which one was correct? I was after all, in the mood for something to tell me whether to bring an umbrella.

They didn’t agree. One told me I needed an umbrella, the other said I didn’t. So who do I trust?

I didn’t want to just toss it up between those two, so I hit my F12 and checked the old standby, the easiest weather report, the one I check nearly every day. My dashboard widget showed a thundercloud; the only icon for the day was rain. It’d have to be an umbrella day.

I hedged one more time–Weather Underground. My old standby said I could get away with not carrying an umbrella until 5pm, when the storms rolled in. (All these tests were done by inputting my zip code within a span of five minutes.)

Done, right? The binary yes/no nature of the Umbrella sites was conflicting, and Apple’s weather widget wasn’t detailed enough. With a better forecast I could make the decision.

But it’s interesting that the uniquely internet phenomenon by which we tend to select our news and choose only sources that are similar to our bias, say electing to receive only news that’s been run through a liberal filter, has extended to something that should be mildly scientific. I don’t want to carry an umbrella on a Saturday, so I’ll look around until I find evidence to support my position.

Meteorology is by no means an exact science, but we can now ask dozens whether it’s going to rain and get different answers. That sort of thing never happened down on the farm.

So, to that end, wrapping up this non-item item (really, blogging about the weather is about as prosaic and time-filling than talking about it) someone needs to develop an optimist’s Umbrella Today?, which will only ever answer with an emphatic “No” and indeed, additionally, let us know it’s going to be a beautiful day where we’ll get closer to our dreams then we ever imagined.

And we can curse the weatherman on the odd days it’s not correct, unless of course we want a spectacular summer storm and wind up getting one. I’ve been hoping for thunder and lightening from 5pm onwards today and Weather Underground has yet to deliver.

UPDATE: Never content to let an idea easily executed languish on the Internet unfulfilled, Noah Brier slapped up doineedanumbrellatoday.com, your one-stop shop for permanently sunny weather news. Another version of this whole affair came up recently when I was reading James Wood’s How Fiction Works. Speaking about the protagonist, Ricardo Reis, in Saramago’s The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Wood writes “He reflects fondly on the story of the ninety-seven-year-old John D. Rockefeller, who has a speciall doctored version of The New York Tmes delivered every day, altered to contain only good news. ‘The world’s threats are universal, like the sun, but Ricard Reis takes shelter under his own shadow.'”

Kickstart My ♡

I ran into an old pal of mine from Flavorpill, Yancey Strickler, last year at an entrepreneurs meetup. I was there researching a story but he had was looking for practical intel for a new venture. We caught up later and he told me about the site he and his partner were working on; It sounded promising then, and I’m pleased to say it launched last week: it’s called Kickstarter, and has a noble aim.

The site is modeled around people outlining creative projects, setting funding goals, and then soliciting pledges from fans to help them create. As the process evolves, fundees give their fans exclusive content in the form of updates, behind-the-scenes peeks and general bonus bits. When the project reaches its funding goal in the allotted time, then fans have to pony up what they promised. The site’s got some great backers, smarts coming from the likes of Waxy.org’s Andy Baio, and an Internet full of folks yearning to make things and help others in the process.

When I initially grabbed beers with Yancey and his partner Perry Chen I dug the idea; I’d just read Kevin Kelly’s Long Tail-informed essay “1,000 True Fans” and realized creators have lots of latitude to reach myriad potential enthusiasts on the web to sustain their efforts. Kickstarter seemed like it’d not only create a platform for those ideas, but also serve as the carrot to keep people focused on their creative goals. (After all, knowing someone you’ve never met in Phoenix pledged $20 and wants to read stuff you cut from your screenplay or video updates on how your harmonica practice is going is a pretty good carrot to keep you from drifting to another thing.)

So far, there are some interesting projects going, from indie games to an amazing-sounding, massive crossword puzzle.

Yancey’s got invites if you’ve got something brewing and like their infrastructure. I’m sure if you ask nicely on Twitter he’ll help you take the first step to working up the wherewithall to making your pet project a reality.

#sxsw: The Tweets Cometh

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 usual1 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.

Continue reading “#sxsw: The Tweets Cometh”

  1. I’m not really an old hand at this; last year was my first time down. But it’s been educational enough to stay in my calendar for a few years []

Foursquare to make drinking more playful

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.1

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?

  1. I’ll be down from Saturday-Wednesday and may update here if anything wild happens. []

VidPik! Compression-wacky pop!

Here’s the daily jam, and it’s not even noon!

Chairlift “Evident Utensil”

You should definitely click through and watch this in HD. Datamoshing!

Here’s how it works (according to teraflop on the MeFi thread): “video codecs like MPEG-4 use motion compensation to cut down on the bit rate. Only a few keyframes of the video are encoded in full, about one every few seconds; the rest (“predicted” frames) store a rough estimate of how much each block of pixels has shifted since the previous frame, along with just enough actual pixels to make up the difference between the estimate and the real picture. So if there’s a single moving object on a static background, all that needs to be stored is the area of the background that’s been uncovered since the previous frame.

In this case, what I suspect they did is encode their raw video clips with no keyframes (except the very first one), then spliced them together, so the decoder applies the motion vectors to the wrong original image. It looks like they also duplicated the same frame several times in some places, to get those swirls of color.”

The vid was directed by Ray Tintori of the amazing “Electric Feel” interactive video for MGMT. Tintori’s doing some really exciting stuff lately.

Highlights from the Creativity 50

A few avid readers of both Creativity as well as this thing may not need the spur, but we’ve just posted our annual list of 50 interesting people and groups in the innovation game.

The Creativity 50 has changed a bit in the three years I’ve been involved, and I’m glad to say this year we have a great balance of both interesting and inspiring people in the world at large and the world of marketing. The latter can be myopic to a fault at times and one of the parts of the magazine I’m gladdest to bolster is introducing new viewpoints to our readership.

So, to that end, I was really excited to get to talk to some interesting people for this edition, above and beyond exciting achievers in advertising. Jason Fried is the CEO of 37Signals, and knows a thing or two about productivity and development. Aaron Koblin has an exciting worldview and is one of the few who’ve been able to wrap samples of our world’s data in elegant cloaks. Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid, is part of a group of game developers pushing to make things that are much more intellectually and emotionally stimulating than the standard entertainment offerings. I had an in-depth and highly informative conversation with Blow, but that’s still under wraps until April.

Lastly, I got a chance to talk with the ever-interesting Dean Kamen, a guy I consider a real pioneer. The full Q&A is on our site now, and I urge you to check it out. Kamen has some very exciting opinions about growing up in our era and how our future innovations will come about.

Browse through this year’s list of honorees; you may come across a nugget of wisdom or two. Special thanks to Von for the kickass cover illustration.

Update: Something screwy came about between the ampersands in the Creativity links and my WordPress RSS feed. If you’re into the links and they’re returning noise in the syndicated version, click through to the actual post and they’ll work from there.

Old Media

“Old media will not be forced back into a historical village, like cute old handicrafts, wielding the same brief power of nostalgia as a spinning wheel in action. The old media are as intoxicating and empty as the new playthings. Their age is no guarantee of wisdom. Nor can we accuse the old media of dull or demented behavior. Their chronicling continues; they perceive with the one sense to which they have been doomed. With a little exercise, old media may serve us just fine, amidst all the contemporary telematic machinery.”

Buddy Scott sent this over a while back; it appears here on Agentur Bilwet’s “1000 Fehler,” an audio recording of these guys. “Adilkno (Dutch: “Bilwet”), the Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge, was established in Amsterdam in 1983. It is a free association of authors and researchers. ”
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Android Cometh: First Looks, Critiques and Bugs in the G1

So, I got my G1 Android, aka Googlephone ahead of schedule last night and have now spent some time with it, so here’s a hands-on look as well as a bit of criticism.

I think the phone, especially the Android OS, has a lot of promise, and potentially can unseat the iPhone, if you look at functionality.

Stylewise, the G1 is a bit of a beast, though, and won’t win any beauty contests. But, erstwhile netcrunchers, we don’t want pageant wins, do we? We want to work! Handle business. That’s why we owned BlackBerries. Or at least I did.

Updated!!

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Spark it up! We’re talking Facebook next week.

Next week is Advertising Week in New York, the week many in the industry gather for a celebration of selling things. It’s not all parades with mascots down Fifth Avenue (though I can’t find any info this year about the “Procession of the Great Icons”); there’s some jibber-jabber too, and an unhealthy amount of socializing.

I’m going to be moderating a panel Tuesday, talking with three very intelligent guys about the potentiality for big ideas on Facebook and other social media. If you’d like to come by, it’s free, all you have to do is RSVP. (Oops–I just looked, and it says it’s sold out on the Advertising Week site. Contact me if you’re interested in coming, or just show up early.)

Anyway, we’re going to be (hopefully!) talking about interesting stuff, including a pretty conceptual look at what some future hypothetical Facebook marketing efforts might look like. I’m joined by some great creatives/forward-looking digital guys, so expect some cool ideas to pop out.

The Facebook Spark Series: Spark The Big Idea

How do good ideas spread? What does it take to get people to share branded content or offers with their friends? Top creative thinkers discuss innovative work and the methods to developing big ideas worth sharing in today’s social media world.

Moderated by Nick Parish, Associate Editor, Creativity

Panelists:
Rei Inamoto, Co-Chief Creative Officer, AKQA
Richard Ting, VP & ECD, Mobile and Emerging Platforms Group, R/GA
Rick Webb, Co-Founder and COO, The Barbarian Group

Tuesday, September 23
9:00 AM to 09:45 AM
The Times Center
242 West 41st Street
New York, NY

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for coming to what turned out to be an interesting session. Audio is here, and video may or may not be coming soon. Ad Week saw fit to dispatch a reporter, who summarized the event quite well.

Michigan’s Digital Production Divide

All this looks like small beer compared to the meltdown here on Wall Street this month, but I was back in Michigan over Labor Day and found myself thinking the state’s huge production incentives program isn’t being fully utilized.

Up North, things are particularly bleak. In the town where my parents stay, Boyne City, 95 people started Labor Day weekend with a pink slip, as LexaMar, one of the biggest corporations in the town of 3500 laid them off on Friday. It made small talk everywhere, downtown, strolling past the classic cars on display, at the police-sponsored drag race at the city airstrip, another midsized manufacturer slicing off jobs as the economy expels another ragged breath.

The one point of light in a state with its biggest industry, automobiles, breaking down, is film production. It’s exceptionally cheap to shoot anything in Michigan right now, and that has ushered in the closest thing to a business renaissance the region has seen in years, at least the latest Band-Aid to create an economic buffer around the doomed car business, like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s Automation Alley plan that began about a decade ago.
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Radiohead, but with lasers.

Oh, you know, just another day at the office writing about Radiohead, lasers, and the folks that love them. Last week I talked with James Frost, the director of Radiohead’s new “House of Cards” video. I’m seeing the group play for the first time at All Points West next month; I’ll report back if the stuff from the video is used at all in the live show. It’d be a bit of a shame if it wasn’t; this look is too closely connected to this song to be utilized in a fresh way anywhere else. So Radiohead might as well keep trotting it out with “House of Cards” when they play it live. Come to think of it, as amazing as applying this technology to film the crowd and band during a live performance would be, it’d probably be impossible to render the data in time to produce anything but the crudest preview. But I’m sure you stopped at the link to read Frost say that in our talk and have already ruled out that possibility.

Good thing, too, as who knows whether that LIDAR stuff might cause some impromptu LASIK for audience members, like these dodgy Russian rave lasers.

ffffind something for ffffacebook

A few months ago I began a flirtation with ffffound after receiving an invite from designer Keita Kitamura. It’s a neat little image bookmarking service created by Keita and Yosuke Abe in Yugo Nakamura’s Tha ltd web design shop. Check out a bit on Yugo I did as part of the Creativity 50 to learn more about them. It’s gotten a great group of beta testers who’ve bookmarked some zany stuff out there. (Though the beta has grown rapidly and now includes lots of random photos of tits off Flickr.)

After playing around with it for a while I figured it’d be excellent if we could get the images to go on Facebook, to spice things up a bit here beyond hatching eggs and super wall videos. So I drew out a little plan of what a simple Facebook ffffound app would do.

Problem is, I’m just coping with English; communicating with Facebook’s guts is a ways away for me. Luckily super Aussie Arnold Almeida found me after a desperate post on a ffffound appreciation group here and whipped up a spiffy little app according to my basic specs. And he’s been awesome enough to maintain it through several ffffound code changes since.

If you’re on ffffound already, now’s your chance to show off all the freaky nonsense you pick up on the web to your facebook buddies. If not, the app will still work! You can put in any user, like ‘yugo’, who’s always got interesting new stuff, which will then show on your page. (Or me, ‘paryshnikov,’ but no guarantee my bookmarks are interesting or new.) Cruise around, have fun, and look at interesting images.

Stud Farming

Here’s a piece from the June issue of Creativity I feel came out quite well. Pulling in young talent is a constant source of gnashing whether you’re blogging or running a basketball franchise–but as far as digital marketing goes, it’s time to take the next step from hiring designers and coders who can make things look cool to hiring developers who can form concepts and bring together a team with knowhow to execute higher level things. Software tools. (Like, imagine if Chase built Mint.) There aren’t any great case studies yet as to how these things will look but smart agencies are already thinking beyond microshites to applications.

Here’s the full thing; poke around on the site for more goodies–we were all really proud of the June issue (let me know if you’d like me to send one). I’ve also pasted it below for convenience (erm, and search engines).

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