Friday, 13 February 2009

Twestival and the Twitter Sceptic

So Twestival was yesterday night, probably the most blogged about, tweeted about digital media event in the last year or so. I'm gonna keep this brief and just a few thoughts about the whole debate going on around the topic at the moment.

The event was good fun, seemed well organised and as far as I could see, went down pretty well with the 700 or so punters in London. It was all for a good cause and the people who donated their time and effort to organising it around the world should be applauded.

But, I was dismayed at one thing I saw - people using twitter on their phones while at the event. Surely the whole point of social networks is to find like minded people online with whom you can then get together in the local, at the cinema, on the footie pitch or wherever. So when the BBC manages to film loads of folks busy tapping away on their phones instead of talking to the real person standing right next to them, it gives the wrong impression. As texting is anti-social when your friend is with you, so is tweeting. It was almost as if some people were so proud of the cache of being at a Twestival that conversation was put on the backburner while they tweeted where they were. My phone spent the evening firmly lodged in my pocket while I danced to some of the great tunes that the DJ duo bashed out. Of course, the tweeters did put the phones down and joined the party as well.

It's a shame that the BBC video gives people like the Twitter sceptic (I'm not sure whether they just found the guy on the street) ammunition to dismiss Twitter as a medium for "vacuous, self obsessed people". He misses the point totally. Twitter is a self policing network, if you're not saying something interesting or useful then people won't want to hear it, so if there are self indulgent vacuous people on Twitter, as there are in real life, then they'll shortly have no followers bar their friends. These friends will put up with reading self obsessed tweets just as you put up with a friend moaning about their job, public transport, the weather or their latest haircut.

In fact, what's so refreshing about Twitter is exactly this, you choose who you want to listen to and what marketing messages you receive . If the same went for a lot of broadcast media and advertising then I would be a very happy chappie. I wouldn't have to sit through high amplitude DFS adverts on Channel 4 in between the sections of a programme I've actually chosen to watch. As a way of quickly sharing info and links or if you're a business, quickly communicating with customers, Twitter is unrivalled in my experience. As with anything, you can always have too much of a good thing, but as part of a balanced diet of media, Twitter can be perfectly heatlhy.

Some of you may notice that I've written this on a Friday night when traditional wisdom would suggest that I should be out and about in the real world instead of in front of a computer, but you know what? I'm skint and tired and I'm going to a party tomorrow night, I don't watch 'Enders or Corrie or Big Brother or the property porn that seems to take up most of TV airtime so you can take a running jump if you think my writing this means I haven't got a life!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Small Eats

Had my first week at my new job this week and it's been pretty full on, a lot to learn but it's already pretty varied and different. So I haven't been able to keep up with much this week, but here's a little round up of a few arty/asian things I've seen.

The new London Elektricity album has been included in the ART VINYL awards. I've thought for a while that Hospital Records put a lot of effort into their album covers. Helped by Trickartt they create some pretty cool images. Of course this wouldn't be a Hot Pot post without some reference to Flickr so here is Trickartt's Flickr. I particularly like his Berocca Obama.

On the Obama theme too, a new exhibition has opened in Miami with loads of artwork covering the new U.S President elect

Following on from the Monkey - Journey to the West Opera, Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn have put together a new short film based on it. It's pretty cool I reckon.
It seems there's a lot of art stuff going on in Miami at the moment as I also found this

For more like this check these folks: Rogerio Degaki, Krampf Gallery and Tokyo Gallery
This is a pretty big post and it probably doesn't make any sense but nevermind. Oh and I learnt a random fact this week, 5000 people work at Harrods, 5000!!!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

The MUJI Design Awards

Awarding there's a thought. MUJI, have just relaunched their website with an outline of their design mantra - simple, timeless, functional design classics. It's refreshing to see a company getting back to basics and I think they've judged the zeitgeist pretty well. In a time where our lives are getting more and more complicated, increasingly revolving around technology, I think companies who offer simple solutions to everyday problems/needs will do well. In the same way that people are switching to organic, locally produced foods, I think people will begin to look for companies like Muji to lead the way in simplifying their lives.

To emphasise their commitment to this philosphy, MUJI have recently concluded their international design competition and the winner, a straw straw clearly demonstrates what they're looking for: simple, functional, back to basics design.

I've also been watching a lot of TED recently and I came across this talk by Barry Schwarz on the Paradox of Choice. His idea is that although conventional wisdom dictates that freedom of choice is one of the fundamental foundations of a modern, free, democratic society, the western world has gone too far down this route, to the point that we are paralysed by the amount of choice we have. So instead of choice enriching our lives, it often does the opposite, making us despair over whether we have made the right choice or not.

The day after I saw this

and I annoyed a number of people behind me by faffing about, trying to pick a drink from the myriad of choices. Then I thought, wouldn't it be great if there was a coffeeshop that made things simple for us, that just served great coffee, plain, great filter coffee, instead of a venti low fat soy decaf chai latte? It might save us all some queuing time and some grey hairs!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Poladroid - More Flickr Genius

Just found this funky Polaroid converter. It's really easy to use and converts your digital photos into polaroid lookalikes. It's a bit of a craze on Flickr at the mo, check out this group and mine for more. I really like the didgeridoo man one I took, just found him practising in an alleyway in Covent Garden. I thought he was busking so gave him some money and asked if I could take some pictures of him. Turns out he wasn't a busker....bit of a blunder, but he was chilled anyway and let me take some photos.

Friday, 21 November 2008

My two cents on the credit crunch and the role for creative companies

At this year's Olympics, Usain Bolt blew away the competition and became the fastest man on earth. Michael Phelps became the most successful Olympian of all time. Apart from being the quickest in their disciplines, what do these two athletes have in common? They're different, they're extraordinary, Usain Bolt is 6ft 5ins, dwarfing most stocky powerhouse sprinters. Michael Phelps has size 14 feet, his arm span is disproportionately large. In short, they're completely adapted to what they're doing. That's all well and good, but how does this relate to marketing....?

In the wake of the announcement by Martin Sorrell I read yesterday saying that there are planned redundancies for WPP in the UK and US in 2009. It's often been said that in recessions, the more creative advertising ideas get relegated for more solid proven money drivers. But I've been thinking that this time, it's going to be the agencies that are nimble, reactive and quick on their feet and the ones that can prove that they can lead the field in terms of innovation that will succeed.

When massive Comms groups like WPP announce that there are recruitment freezes, that restricts the extent to which the operating companies can manouevre themselves. When client budget belts are tightening and when they need to grab market share with quick, headline grabbing, innovative campaigns, I reckon small, independent agencies are better placed to do this. These are the companies that don't have to abide by recruitment freezes and can make audacious pitches for client business against larger agencies, in the knowledge that those larger agencies may be struggling for resource. With the staff turnover in some large media and creative agencies so high and their lack of ability to hire new people to replace those leaving, surely it won't be long before large clients start to notice a drop in service levels?

Along with this uncertainty comes the possibility that talent, trained in the big agencies, will go with these clients to smaller agencies, looking for more creative roles and higher salaries.

A company like Ideo, while not being a media or ad agency, by being renowned for it's innovation capabilities is gaining media coverage and paper headlines. In the Guardian recently, Mat Hunter, partner at Ideo is quoted as saying that in sluggish times "you have to respond to rapidly changing consumer sentiment and this should prompt rapid innovation". It's this innovation that will make brands stand out and steal a march on their competition.

Brands like Innocent, have taken this to heart, launching new products when traditional thinking would dictate that high end, premium products like theirs would suffer in a recession. It's their guess that people still think good, healthy food is worth paying that bit extra for. So they've launched Veg Pots, find more here - they look pretty tasty!

It's these companies, the Usains and Michaels of their field, that will break records and post their personal bests over the next few years.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

There's a first time for everything - Data makes me happy - Flickr Stats

Anyone who knows me will probably know that I am obsessed with Flickr. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they added Flickr stats. Just in the 5 minutes time that I looked at it earlier, I found loads of little gems that I otherwise wouldn't have known; that people have actually been commenting on my photos for a while and have added some as favourites.

They've also updated the homepage so that you can see all the recent activity on your photos, any comments, favourites or views. It's great to see this as it gives you a real idea of who is looking for photos like yours and who are the best people to get talking to among your contacts.

Plus, they link with Moo, makers of Moo Cards so on the back of the cards I just ordered, I've been able to put my own pictures. Seriously, I love Flickr!

Btw, I'm aware this is an extremely geeky post

Monday, 17 November 2008

Playtime - live a kidulthood

Just watched a couple of programmes which have made me think about creativity and how we approach it as adults.

The first of these programmes was a 3 Minute Wonder on Channel 4 in which children from a primary school in London were given free reign to give their ideas on the potential future developments and uses for various household appliances and fixtures. Among the ideas they came up with were interactive wallpapers to fit your mood, operated by a microphone implanted in your living room wall, fridges which selected healthy food for you from the shelves and beds which respond to body temperature and make sure that the lucky person sleeping on them is at the most comfortable temperature.

The second programme which got me thinking was a TED talk by Tim Brown, co founder of design and innovation firm Ideo around the idea that by embracing the idea of creative playtime, getting over our adult inhibitions, we can often come up with our most inspiring ideas. The talk formed part of The Art Center Serious Play Design Conference earlier this year.

Tim Brown's argument is that many good ideas never get voiced by their owners as they are scared that they will be immediately dismissed.He points to the layouts and designs of the offices of companies which aspire to provide their clients with creative solutions to their problems, the Google Zurich office complete with slides, fireman poles and T-rex skeletons, being just one example.

It's something which I am a firm believer in, and no it's not because I am a lazy person, I just believe that as the saying goes, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". It's in this spirit that I have been mucking around with my camera recently. I'm not saying that I've created anything fantastic, it just felt quite liberating to play around and take photos of nothing much! One of the results is below

If I can find the 3 Minute Wonder video, I will post it here soon.

On a separate note, Under Scan was closed today....due to rain, damn English November weather!