Building a sort-of-Halloween project, work-in-progress for Inspirit Brands. It’s just knocking together a few bits of wood, but turns out building a coffin, measured around your own body (just for convenience) is quite a nice/odd meditative experience. Nice to be working outside all day in under a cloudless blue sky.
Entries Tagged as 'thoughts'
September 19th, 2010 · No Comments · art, thoughts
January 4th, 2010 · No Comments · domestic life, london, nature, thoughts
This year, instead of making vague statements, or trying to *not* do things (which is really difficult), I made bunches of little objectives across a number of categories which are important to me: Food, Work, Fun, Nature and Personal. The idea is that all these little tasks added up will hopefully shape life more in the direction I am trying to go.
This year focusses on going back to basics: growing, foraging, killing, cooking and eating.
1. Grow and eat 2 kinds of vegetable or fruit in the garden.
This doesn’t sound that hard, but I am a terrible gardener. I only have mint, thyme and chives (almost dead) in my back garden because Dog and I just could not kill them, despite our best efforts using claws, drought, biting, urine and neglect.
2. Forage 3 new wild items and utilise them for food (or chutney, soup etc.)
Two high points of 2009 included picking sloes from inside the M25 and the resulting sloe cachaca, and also an amazing wild blackberry crumble. So more of the same this year.
3. Kill and eat 3 different species of animal.
There is nothing more satisfying than catching your own dinner. I hope to maybe catch/eat a couple of new types sea fish (bass?), or maybe a rabbit.
4. Build 6 new food/drink items from scratch.
Last year I set the wholly unrealistic goal of only eating scratch built things (e.g. no bought ketchup, no coleslaw, etc). This year I will try a few new things like beer, jam, tonic water, jelly or a gala pie.
My theme for work is building things with long term value, and generally being freer – getting more control of my time and more control of what kind of work I do.
has gone well in our first year so me and Hal are mega-excited about the future. We started with the theory that booze makes people happy, and henceforth the more booze we move, the more we get people to spend time happily chatting, chilling, flirting, dancing and who knows what else. So far we are up to something like 17800 of these man-hours of Abelha-fuelled fun. Our resolution is to further increase the peace around the UK and world.
2. Work freelance less, and more on developing own projects.
(about 1:2 ratio of freelance to own projects)
3. Get the wheels going on one new product or service with long term potential.
4. Do about 165 days of work in 2010.
This is the easy section. I think it’s really important that we try to bring lots of moments of beauty into other people’s lives (as well as our own). For me this means craft, sort-of-art, events, and general silliness.
1. Make the Goat Race bigger and better this year.
2. Do another installation piece in a gallery or festival.
3. Develop our multi-touch screen into new useful object.
4. Build a piece of art that has ongoing development/usage potential.
5. Do our jousting party bigger and better this year.
6. Make the DogBox club into a regular self-sustaining thing.
7. Build three hats that I designed ages ago but still haven’t made.
8. Make one sustainability-related project.
I sometimes get an awesome sensation of peace and awe in beautiful natural surroundings – mountains, sunsets, lunar eclipses, etc. I knew when I got Dog that I wanted to spend more time outside, exploring; also, being a bit of a nerd I’ve always had a keen interest in nature too. I want to spend less time on the Internet too, and just to slow down a little.
1. Observe and sketch the 12 Zodiacal constellations.
2. Observe and sketch 10 Messier objects (e.g. galaxies, star clusters).
3. Pick/sketch/photograph 12 UK wild flowers.
4. Catch a falling leaf.
5. Observe and sketch common cloud types (if I ever have a kid, at some point they will ask about clouds, and I will feel like a bit of a cunt if all I know is that the wispy ones are good and the big grey ones are bad).
6. Mark the equinoxes with some kind of cool sculpture (this is the goal I am least keen on, and to be frank it sounds a bit druidic, but I like the idea of building a modern stonehenge).
Here’s to 2010!
July 5th, 2009 · No Comments · london, thoughts
I’m currently selling my beloved Schwinn beach cruiser for £160. A little info below.
This is my beloved super sweet beach cruiser which I am forced to sell as I have decided to live a more zen-like life. Because of this, I am trying to discard some of my unnecessary earthly possessions, even the ones that make me obviously way more awesome. I have decided that I am still allowed to eat meat and drink booze though.
This bike would suit someone 5’5″ to about 5’11″, who is either very cool, or aspiring to be cooler.
It is a classic Schwinn american beach cruiser alloy frame, with many of the parts having been replaced with lighter, better parts.
It has a rear coaster brake (back-pedal amsterdam style brake) and no front brake. You don’t really need one.
It is relatively lightweight, and not slow as you might think. For example, I rode it from Hackney to Earls Court, and it only took about 45 minutes. On my normal skinny tyred bike, this might take 38 minutes. So it is a very comfy bike to commute even relatively long (London) distances on. This is owing to the sit-up riding position and the giant, double sprung suspension seat that is like a DFS sofa. She is even pretty lively through traffic.
I am selling it for £160. The bike is in great shape – tyres are almost new, brake, cranks, are all tip top. I have just given it a good servicing and re-painted the front fork.
Image from lookingatdamascus
On another note, I have been working on a new bicycle, which I am building up bit by bit. Because of this, I have been looking at other bikes – I have found the sweetest store which sells these amazing stretch cruisers – if I wanted a new bike and had about 550 quid to spare, I would deffo get one…
June 26th, 2009 · No Comments · thoughts
No other single person in our generation has made as much of a global cultural impact as Michael Jackson.
Dance is a universal human language of joy and self expression, and there are 5 years olds in every corner of the planet, from the slums of North Korea to the to Amazon Basin, who have learned to moonwalk.
So whilst I’m not really sad – he was past the point of sanity/normality, a troubled soul, and probably a paedo, I think it’s nice to remember his gift to the world.
When Michael Jackson first brought the glide/moonwalk to the world
Link to YouTube
and 10 year old MJ is his big purple hat singing “who’s loving you”
Link to YouTube
PS – Reports that Michael Jackson died of a heart attack are false. In fact he was found in a children’s hospital having a stroke.
June 3rd, 2009 · 1 Comment · advertising, thoughts
At the risk of sounding old and grumpy, this is a great bit of technology, but the execution of it just looks really boringly obvious. Because of this, I just don’t believe that Microsoft will create amazing innovative games that will have the same impact on non-gamers that Nintendo did with the Wii.
To illustrate what I’m thinking, let’s say Microsoft had launched motion sensing controllers before, or at, the same time as Nintendo. You know exactly what the games line-up would have been like… classic shooting, sword-wielding, or driving games, which use the controller in the most obvious way possible, with the focus on slick, realistic, overproduced graphics and non-casual play.
Compare Wii sports to any of the newer sports titles on the PS3 or Xbox 360. They may be ostensibly sports titles, but the entertainment proposition is just totally different.
Not to say I’m not a fan of this but the demo here is just really game developer/tech led – there is no insight or human innovation here.
OH MY GOD, I HAVEN’T GOT A DRESS FOR THIS PARTY.
March 30th, 2009 · No Comments · advertising, art, thoughts
I am generally a very unpolitical person, but I strongly believe that this ridiculous fear-mongering ad campaign from the Met Police is a really bad thing for society. It’s just daft and harmful. So I thought I would post these remixes, from a Boingboing remix competition. Who is the ad agency responsible for these originals?
Photo from Antony Bennison
Photo from Timbearcub
March 10th, 2009 · No Comments · thoughts
too true. related to my earlier post on our toilet that broke.
March 1st, 2009 · No Comments · domestic life, thoughts
This is the air flush button for our toilet. This button is attached to the cistern by an air tube. If you have a toilet with a flush button that that isn’t actually on the toilet, chances are it works like this.
The point is, it’s broken, after only about 2 years. We do not push this button particularly hard or often. That is a very very very short time for something like a toilet flush, compared a regular toilet flush.
Here’s the second point. I can’t fix it. The rubber inside is split, so it doesn’t work. The dead rubber thing inside it is a specialist part, not a normal sized standard thing you buy in a plumbing store. I can’t find exactly where to get one online either. So it looks like I have to buy a whole new button which costs £20.
This trend is happening across all manufactured goods sectors. For example, washing machines and dryers are at the point now where they are just about as difficult and expensive to repair as to replace, especially as manufacturers have no incentive to sell cheap spare parts. Even good guys do it – go look at how expensive spare parts for a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner are compared to the new unit.
In the old days, if you knew a little electronics, and your stereo broke, you would have a fighting chance of fixing it. Now, no chance. In more and more categories, it’s getting cheaper to get a new one than repair.
This leads me to Goh’s Law:
Every N years, devices become twice as likely to fail, and twice as difficult to repair.
N is a constant for a given industry.
Aside from being annoying for people like me, it is incredibly wasteful and irresponsible for manufacturers to make stuff like this. In an age where we are probably heading towards a global energy and natural resources crisis, this is simply not on.
How can we help? As punters, buy stuff that is built to last, and buy stuff that is built with standard replaceable parts (as much as possible).
February 28th, 2009 · No Comments · thoughts
I’m reading Moonraker (1956, Ian Fleming). It’s the best book I’ve ever read. I’m halfway through the book and about 24 story hours have elapsed. In this time, all Bond has done is go to the office, then go to a card game, all the while getting horrendously drunk, and high on speed. I also have lost count of the number of fags he has smoked.
A Day in the Life of James Bond
Lunch (so I didn’t count this) – half a carafe of White Bordeaux
Gets briefed, goes home.
Checks himself out naked in the mirror.
In the evening at Blades, the most exclusive card club in London:
Vodka Martini (Dry)
Bond explains to M that he has to get hammered to pull off tonight’s card sharping hustle.
M eats a marrow bone using a silver spoon.
1 whole bottle of Dom Perignon ’46, most of which he downs by the glass, and about half a gram of Benzedrine (speed).
He took our a thin packet and carefully opened it under the level of the table. It contained white powder. He took a silver fruit knife off the table and dipped the tip of the blade into the packet so that about half its contents were transferred to the knife. He reached for his glass of champagne and tipped the powder into it.
“Benzedrine,” he said. “I rang up my secretary before dinner and asked her to wangle some … It’s what I shall need if I’m going to keep my wits about me tonight. It’s apt to make one a bit overconfident, but that’ll be a help too.” He stirred the champagne with a scrap of toast so that the white powder whirled among the bubbles … “It doesn’t taste,” said Bond, “and the champagne is quite excellent.”
3 fingers of Vodka, with a dash of black pepper in it.
1 cup of very black, very strong coffee
“a fat measure of pale brandy” (Rothschild Eastates in Cognac)
Another entire bottle of Dom Perginon ’46 (he again downs 2 of the glasses from it)
I went to the Drinkaware site (which reminds me – I dislike the current-ish “You wouldn’t start a night like this” radio and TV campaign by the way – daft strategy, I will explain later) to check Bond’s units consumed whilst on HMSS.
It’s 24.2 units in about 5 hours, from 8pm until around 1am. The equivalent of maybe 10-12 pints while he’s playing cards and having dinner. It’s not just an excuse to talk about fine brands, and getting smashed plays an integral and exciting part of the plot of these books, which doesn’t come out in the movies at all. Excellent.
You wouldn’t start a night like this….
On why I dislike those anti drinking ads. I think the proposition/idea is good, and the executions are great too. Really viceral, clever twist on things, etc.
I have no doubt that when you show these ads to people in a focus group, they will all respond and say something like “That has really put me off drinking, made me think twice.” However I also have no doubt that these same people will still go out drinking. They will then get -almost- too drunk, then someone will say, have a shot of this, at which point they will probably not be thinking of this ad. Then they will be trolleyed and we are back to square one.
This is for 2 reasons:
1. The strategy is a pure moderation one, and it doesn’t give people a solution, or an alternative behaviour to use
2. It doesn’t address the moment at which the problem occurs
Have you ever toilet trained a dog, or trained any kind of animal? Then you will know that if you want it to stop doing something (chewing shoes), the easiest and best thing to do is provide an alternative behaviour, that you reward (chew rubber bone instead of shoes). The key thing about the alternative behaviour is that it’s realistic, fun, and that it makes it impossible to do the un-desirable behaviour at the same time.
If you have ever tried to control, chastise, or reason with a very drunk person, you will also know that telling very drunk people or animals about what they can or can’t do after or before the event is near-useless. Drunk people have little sense of past reasoning or future consequences. You must catch the bad behaviour at the moment they do it.
So, IMHO, a good strategy would be to provide moderately drunk people with an alternative behaviour that prevents them having “the excess drink” which sends them over the edge.
I don’t know what this behaviour could be, but the key thing is that it can’t be just “don’t have a drink.” Something about pulling could maybe work.
Another thing to do would be some actual research into how people get too drunk. My pointers for more general topics would be:
* Get people to go out later, or go home first then meet up later to go out, rather than straight to the pub from work.
* I suspect research would show there are key people within social groups who catalyse excessive drinking. (This includes most of you who are reading this). Perhaps something making it socially unacceptable to nudge your mates into drinking more than they can handle. If you make your mate drink, you could KILL him/cause her to get RAPED.
Poor ideas, but you get what I mean?
February 23rd, 2009 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized, advertising, thoughts
I don’t normally write negative posts, but I have to vent a little at people’s Twitter usage. Previously, I have always thought that technology is blameless, and it just amplifies human flaws. E.g., if you are a lazy gossiper, you are pretty much destined to become addicted to Facebook or MSN Messenger.
Twitter is markedly different however, for the simple reason:
Twitter is *only* really useful if you use it *very* frequently. Thus, responsible and disciplined use of Twitter in a work context is almost impossble.
The same is not true of any other social media stuff. Blogs have deep and interesting articles that can be found and read at any time that I choose. If I miss my friend who I haven’t seen in a year, I can see pics of what they’ve been up to on Facebook. I can open MSN Messenger when it suits me, have a live conversation, then close the app.
However, Twitter’s only function is shallow, asynchronous conversation.
It’s the same as what kids have been doing for ages – leaving MSN group conversation windows open all day and just dropping in and out over the course of a day.
You know when you first started blogging, and you only really “got it” when people started linking to you and commenting on your stuff? The “Eureka” moment for Twitter comes when you start to have conversations/responses over short (sub 1 hour) timespans.
What is so bad about this then?
If your job honestly depends on really timely information, this is fine.
Examples – journalist, ambulance dispatcher, guy sailing a boat heading rapidly towards Tower Bridge. Maybe someone running a very time sensitive online PR campaign, but I have not seen any campaigns that would justify this.
If your job involves thinking at all, Twitter is simply just another huge distraction. Not just when you are using it, but it nags your brain from your subconscious whilst you are trying to concentrate deeply on something else. Enough has been written on this, and I quote from Neil (Only Dead Fish) paraphrasing Jon Steel’s Perfect Pitch:
“our modern obsession with speed and ‘always on’ connectivity reduces our ability to concentrate on the task in hand. Even if our thoughts are not already interrupted, our minds are constantly ready to be, resulting in a loss of focus.”
On top of this, there just isn’t anything terribly good on Twitter. I can’t hand-on-heart pretend it’s a help at all to my job, despite all the brightest and best of the comms and tech indusry being on it.
Put it this way, look at Stephen Fry’s Twitter. He is arguably the most funny, articulate and intelligent person on this planet, but his Twitter feed basically contains utterdrivel.
I also follow the Mashable guy with the scary super close up face photo. Mashable is a great blog and resource – but dripping it out as links over 24 hours simply does not make it any better for most people!
a) ditch Twitter
b) total Twitter discipline. Check/refresh Twitter only at certain scheduled times, e.g. on the hour.
Twitter is quite fun, but for most of us, it isn’t useful on a day-to-day basis, and I strongly suspect that prolonged (and therefore necessarily frequent) usage erodes your basic ability to concentrate on tasks which require actual thinking.
In other words, I am the Daily Mail and I am calling cancer on this one.
I haven’t had a microwave for a couple of years now. Our last one broke and I made a point of not getting a new one. I wasn’t sure what the point was exactly, but I really enjoy not having one now.
One thing I really missed was microwave popcorn, so a couple of months ago, someone showed me to make popcorn from scratch for the first time since kindergarten. I’m now really obsessed with it and eat it all the time (3+ times per week), to the point where I can make it consistently, quickly and easily.
The point of all this is that the other day I ate microwave popcorn again for the first time in months. Without meaning to be snobbish, it’s very, very bad in comparison to pot+fire+oil+heat+butter popcorn. It’s on the same level of difference as a microwave burger (e.g. Rustlers) to any kind of real burger. So I tried to give the unwanted microwave popcorn to Dog, but he turned his nose up at it, at which point I realised that (a) that’s the first microwaved thing he’s ever been given and (b) that it must be really, really, bad.
There is also the point that microwave popcorn is 3-4 times more expensive than real popcorn, even after you factor in the butter costs.
I’ve also recently been inspired by Tristan’s homemade drinks and syrups, which I’ve been trying out, and seeing that often, the only difference between store bought and home made is a load of industrial processing and flavouring.
So my resolution is:
For cooking food at home, I will only use scratch-built ingredients. This applies to anything used in the quantity of more than a few dashes.
For example, I will only use scratch-built ketchup and mayo, but I am not going to ferment my own soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. It does not apply to drinks, and I also exempt bread, as I love crusty white bread and refuse to entertain the thought of frequently running out of it.
If I eat out or take out, it’s anything goes.
This shouldn’t be too hard, since I usually cook very simple stuff, and don’t even cook very often, perhaps 3-5 times a week. It also gives me an excuse to make more stuff, which over winter, tends to be spent more in the house and kitchen rather than shed or park.
Things I commonly use/eat in my kitchen that now need to be scratchbuilt or scrapped:
Frosties, Paté, Coleslaw, Jam, Walls Vienetta (joke), fish fingers (F*#K!!).
So there we go. I’ll keep updating on new things that I make from scratch, stuff that turns out very tough, or more things that I exempt myself from.
I also have other resolutions like cut my hair, stop spooning the dog, get some proper adult clothes, and stop being a wastrel, but those are all boring.
December 18th, 2008 · 2 Comments · fancy dress, thoughts
Any of you on Facebook? Have you noticed that it seems that with each month, more and more of the pictures of you and and your friends seem to be in fancy dress? Does every major party have to be fancy dress these days? It seems so, and there are more and more fancy dress clubnights springing up and gathering momentum too.
I suggest 2 reasons for this.
The first is that simply people are getting more and more bored with going out. This is just how we are, we get bored of everything very quickly. Bored of drinking in the local, bored of clubs and DJs, bored of nice meals at gastropubs, bored of nice cocktails in a nice bar, bored of big gigs, bored of secret intimate gigs and so on. Not to say these things are on the decline, but as a bunch we continually are striving for anything different to distract us into having fun again.
The second is the rise in how easy it is to take and share digital photos. Camera phones, cheap cameras, and Facebook/MySpace/Bebo. When I first started going out as a teenager, there were very few photos of it, and you would see them maybe once, and then no-one could be bothered to get them re-copied. Now, you can’t even go out without there being a 30 pictures of the night out easily sorted, tagged, and available to view on a social network that everyone checks at least once a day.
The negative result of this is that instead of nights out being just a thing to enjoy in the moment, they sometimes become goal-orientated towards getting pictures of the night. If you’re in any party or club, you will see some people spending as much time posing and taking pictures as doing anything else.
This is clearly crazy – have you ever been to a breathtaking tourist spot, e.g. Angel Falls, and seen a hustle of Japenese tourists simply come in, pose, take about a million pics and then move off, without taking any of the beauty in? It’s the same insanity.
Previously, it would be your memories of the night out that would be all you have to judge it by.
But now, you now have lots of accessible pictures. Since the pictures are permenantly there, and easily shared and discussed – we can, and do, look at them over and over and smile – then the quality of a night out becomes associated with how good the pictures are from it, to a point where the the pictures become a more visceral measure of quality than our own memories of it.
This is why more and more nights are becoming fancy dress, or require some other extraordinary feature that will good in pictures. Simply because the history books are being written in online conversation more than in traditional conversation, and the nights which will acquire the most notorioty are those that look best in digital, as opposed to mental, images.
November 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment · advertising, thoughts
I’ve just finished doing a blogger relations campaign. By blogger relations, I guess what I mean is that no content or assets were created by us – no video, no flash app, no ‘viral widget’, or anything. Just a good old competition and an interesting message.
We wanted to generate original unique, on brand, coverage, which would also provide link equity.
In a nutshell – we got 4 key fashion bloggers to run a competition for us, where they would ask their readers to blog for the chance to win a bag.
You can get the idea of by looking at this post here on one of the host blogs.
Results were excellent – with the only equity on our side being the charitable nature of the campaign, and four £250 hangbags – we managed to generate over 150 real, user-written blog posts about the campaign.
I really love working with smaller brands and campaigns, and am consistently amazed at how ROI often grows as budgets shrink.
Some things I learned:
Bloggers can be an incredibly helpful, positive bunch. People who blog and stick at it are overwhelemingly nice. The blogosphere is a nice place. I have ideas about why this is true, which I might write about later. Our call to action of helping to spread the word about a charity auction (even a heavily sponsored one) was as powerful as offering people free bags.
In some categories, there just isn’t the depth of blogs (yet) to be worth getting stuck into. If you’re having to change your campaign significantly just to get it onto the blogosphere, you should probably ask yourself why you’re doing this. There are many other good ways to use social media, depending on your goals.
There is a huge difference between commercial blog sites and blogs.
Blogs are 2-way, personal, conversational and link a lot to each other. This is what gives them their value to us marketers – we know people are engaging with them. We can see it from the comments and links. Commercial blog sites rarely get the conversational, 2-way thing.
July 5th, 2008 · No Comments · advertising, frivolity, thoughts
Those of you who know me outside work will know that I love tatty R&B songs with good videos. I believe them to be the pinnacle of the consumer culture within which we work. You may also know that I am borderline obsessed with Usher. So without further ado, here are my picks of the best Usher videos of all time.
#5 Usher – Love in the Club (2008)
As my friend Leila points out, the whole concept of making love in a nightclub is fundamentally flawed. At worst, you can get shagged in the toilets (in this club, in this club), and at best, felt up tastefully in the corner (in this club, in this club).
Nevertheless, at age 29, after an entirely ridiculous intro, kind of like a cross between The Shining and a phone sex line, Usher pulls out some awesome chest popping at about 4:40.
#4 Usher – Pop Ya Collar (1999)
Easy choice, for 2 reasons.
1. Slick dance moves and brilliant use of props.
The bit in the parcel sorting office with the boxes and ladder is really nicely choreo’d – it reminds me of one of the best Jackie Chan fight scenes. In fact, if Usher got Jackie Chan to cameo in his next vid, or if they make Rush Hour 4 with Usher instead of Chris Rock, I would die.
2. The sheer number and unrelated diversity of jobs which Usher has in this video.
Whilst I think the idea of a career path in the traditional sense is slightly dated, I could not advocate anyone following the job path that Usher takes in the video:
#3 Usher – My Way (2007)
An oldie but a goodie. Usher is frolicking with Tyrese’s (of the best Coke ad ever - da da da da da da, singing on the bus with headphones, always Coca Cola) girl. He is doing it on a creepy-clown-themed bouncy castle, while wearing a bowler hat, and green shirt. Tyrese turns up, with his posse, and he is not happy. A dance off ensues in the funfair. Usher gets a cane from somewhere, pulls out a HUGE frontflip and there’s even a surprise Batman-style ending. Need I say more?
#2 Usher – You Make me Wanna (1997)
Actually I think this is more the song than the video. This is the tune that made him famous, 11 years ago in 1997. I can’t even remember what life was like before Usher. It must have been so dreadful I blocked it out. The slickest concept in this video is that there are lots of Ushers in the video, all doing very slightly different things. And a fish.
Link to video of Usher – You Make me Wanna
#1 Usher – You don’t have to call (2001)
I think this one strikes a chord because it’s rooted in a real boy insight – when you’ve had girl trouble, forget it, go out with the lads and get a different one.
You don’t have to call.
It’s okay girl,
Cos I’m mo be alright tonight.
Gonna boogie tonight,
Cos I’m honestly too young of a guy
To stay home,
Waiting for love.
I’m gonna do what a single man does
And go party.
This is out and out the best Usher video ever made.
We open with Usher. He is sad. Puff Daddy phones him on his video phone to give him a pep talk about women. Puffy taps the screen and yells “Yo Playboy!”
Usher then performs the greatest getting-ready-to-go-out via the medium of dance scene ever created, complete with body-popping your way in to the shower, and a Usher-eye-view panning shot of all his watches and his iced-out belt buckle.
There is also an awesome Michael Jackon Bad-esque car park dance routine. And, to cap things off, the tune is even produced by Pharrell Williams. Sometimes, if I’m tired and can’t be bothered to go out, I put on this video twice, then get in the shower. It gets me so pumped that I bounce out the door, full of renewed vigour to mack on chicks.
Any more suggestions or comments, let me know. Next time will be top 5 most incongruous Pop/RnB video dance interludes of all time.
June 6th, 2008 · 2 Comments · advertising, thoughts
Following on from my long and boring post about how our constant need to check our bleeping things lead to a loss of creative potential, Gmail have introduced 13 new features, but the only one that really caught my eye was this:
Email addict: A tool that lets people lock themselves out of their e-mail account for 14 minutes.
Neat! Google once again lead the way in productivity, by ironically making a block for their own product.
(Phone rings) Hey Anthony, I’ve just sent you through the artwork to your gmail – can you check it and forward it to the printers? It has to go in the next 10 minutes.
Hey yeah sure. Erm, I’ve just locked myself.. hmmm… we’re having Internet problems here, can you send it to my other address?
May 19th, 2008 · No Comments · advertising, thoughts
I just read some people’s notes on Mental Detox Week, most notably, Iain’s. Having been pretty much on beaches for 3 months and reading a lot of books about Zen, I have been thinking about this subject a little bit.
I honestly doubt that anyone who uses Facebook, Twitter and IM can do any real creative work at their desk, unless they have elaborate self control strategies.
Let me clarify what I mean by this.
The 2 types of creative process
We might say there are two types of creative work that go on. The first people call synthesis, and it happens whan the brain is in a conscious, thinking mode. For example you have these conversations:
Hey, did you hear about that artist/blogger/kid on YouTube who did XYZ? Why don’t we do that, but in some different way using A instead of B, in this new context?
And it turns out to be a great fresh idea for brand PQR.
There is nothing wrong with this, and the reason it works well these days, is because the Internet has given us such a big pool of XYZ, that we can mix it around at quite a superficial level, and it never seems to get played out or tired. People who are good at remembering lots of different things they’ve seen, or searching for interesting things, will be very good creatives.
The other type of creativity, is what Iain called focus. It’s definitely a deeper mode of thinking, and here’s how it relates to Zen (when did I become such a twat!!!):
No new ideas come from the conscious mind… it can only synthesize images it has already seen. True creativity comes from a state of no-mind, where your thoughts cannot block the unlimited creative potential of your inner being.
Eckharte Toll – The Power of Now
This “state of no-mind” is a state of flow, or being in the zone. The place Ronnie O’Sullivan is when he’s doing a 147 or when an artist is working creatively and doesn’t have any conscious thoughts. Now, I don’t agree about the “no new ideas” thing – it’s too tough to argue that anything is a new “idea” rather than a synthesis, but we instinctively know that to create work that’s a cut above, we need more of this type of creativity.
When seeking answers, one must quiet the soul in order to hear them.
Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls
Strategies for upping your creative potential
During when I worked at glue, it was just as Facebook status updates became widely used, as well as most people using MSN messenger. At this point I entirely gave up doing any planning thinking work at my desk – I used a pad and pen somewhere quiet, and used my computer to type them up/draw them into PowerPoint. This had the added advantage of making me appear more creative.
If I had an agency, and it had planners or creatives (or similar roles), I would probably insist that they spend at least a third of the time away from their desks. Or something. Anyway I don’t have an agency, and if I did it would have animals in it, and not be profitable. But regardless, here is one more smart strategy from Paul Graham:
I now leave wifi turned off on my main computer except when I need to transfer a file or edit a web page, and I have a separate laptop on the other side of the room that I use to check mail or browse the web. My rule is that I can spend as much time online as I want, as long as I do it on that computer.
He sees this as a strategy of first recognising the problem of wasting loads of time on the Internet:
When I have to sit on the other side of the room to check email or browse the web, I become much more aware of it. Sufficiently aware, in my case at least, that it’s hard to spend more than about an hour a day online.
My other thought is about research – doing it first, not as-you-go-along, and doing it properly, with paper, pens and printing things, and annotations. This is so that the stuff can sink into your head, and you can have a flash of inspiration in the shower, or so that you can work on it later away from your computer. I have seen so many junior people in agencies asked to do some research, and come back with just a list of hyperlinks! Bad intern – no job for you.
Jokes aside, I think this is a serious problem for any creative agency right now. What HR or personal strategies are people taking to deal with it? Any good software strategies?
November 19th, 2007 · No Comments · thoughts
I wasn’t sure whether to put this here or not, but people were really nice about the Zen Snacking article I wrote, so here is a link to a new blog I’ve started.
It’s just a collection of notes and ideas on how to not get so stressed and how to try and get more joy out of life, drawing on ideas from various religions, philosophies, and kung fu movies. I’d really welcome any feedback or ideas for contributions.
August 4th, 2007 · No Comments · portfolio, thoughts
Having recently been to lots of interviews, meetings, and coffees, I’ve been conscious of myself talking a bit too much sometimes. Nerves, poor preparation, leading to jabbering. I also found myself boring someone with a really awful anecdote just yesterday in the pub, and instead of doing the noble thing – stopping halfway and apologising – I finished it to the punchline-less end. This post is my way of saying sorry to the world.
The purpose of talking is to get exchange feelings and ideas to other people. These can be simple, like “I am happy to see you” or more complex ideas such as “why I love planning”.
When we abuse this exchange, we’re essentially relegating ourselves to the level of mental illness, like the guy outside Primark in Hackney who argues with himself.
Abuse No.1 – Using too many words to get across your idea across
photo from cdmoats
Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the most powerful speeches in history, in just 2 minutes, 267 words.
He’s also responsible for one of the greatest insults ever, of which is particularly poignant to ad-men:
“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”
photo from david
The Terminator is one of the most memorable and quotable characters in movie history. In Terminator 2, Arnie speaks only 700 words and gets paid 15 million dollars.
Abuse No. 2 – Talking at people when they’re not interested in your ideas
This is what you see on really bad dates. One person endlessly talking rubbish, and the other wondering how much of this they can stand before they can shut them up by kissing them. Obviously this is bad, so here are some signs that you should let them talk or change subject.
1. If people start shifting, fidgeting, glancing around, they’re bored of you.
2. If their responses (e.g. uh-huh, yuh) become more frequent, and more mono-syllabic, you should also stop talking.
3. If people started out quite bouncy and energetic, and now appear listless, you have sapped them of their will to live.
On talking lots VS doing lots
In actions, doing things, practicing, we learn and gain skills.
Like Russell’s possibly apocryphal story about a ceramics class, sometimes the best way to create quality is through quantity. Fail harder and all that.
However, talking isn’t like this. No one ever got smarter by talking too much, or by talking -at- people. Giving a lecture doesn’t make you smarter, it’s the preparation and feedback from students which does.
Excess thinking, yes. Excess writing things and doing things, yes. Excess talking, no.
July 23rd, 2007 · No Comments · advertising, thoughts
One of the most interesting things about digital, is that it has the potential to go beyond just advertising.
Sometimes the work goes to the point of actually making the product better, like Nike’s recent Cannes winner for Nike+.
In a way, this is what advertising has always done – ads which made products cool beyond their physical attributes. Like a posh quarterly owners club magazine for a posh brand of car, or slick marketing that makes ordinary training shoes so desirable that you’d steal them.
But this new class of stuff – like the Nike+ application from RGA, is edging on stuff that should come straight out of product development rather than a hired marketing agency.
For an example, a product that I’d talked about before, webkinz (collectible stuffed animals with a unique code that brings them to life in an online world – think Beanie Babies plus Second Life) is another example of where digital add-ons can enhance the life of a product. While previously kids would buy more toy accessories at Woolworths, or simply tire of the stuffed toy, they can now interact with other toy users on the web, and even purchase digital accessories for their toy’s avatar.
Image from Willow Tree
There are 2 points I’d like to make then:
1. That the line between advertising, digital stuff, marketing and product development, and even business plans, is very blurred right now.
It isn’t a useful line, and certainly not a line which helps make products and communications creatively better. My feeling is that the agencies and companies that will do best are the ones who’ll try to get stuck in as much as possible, and not the ones who sit around trying to decide what is and what isn’t cricket.
When I say do best, I mean the ones who are remembered for redefining whole periods of marketing, like David Ogilvy, myabe Crispin Porter Bogusky and maybe Innocent. Everyone else is talking about this, so I won’t go on too much.
2. I really think that digital marketing might help save the planet.
On Russell Davies blog, they’re talking about un-product, or maximum idea, minimum (physical) stuff.
“So I’m wondering whether we can persuade people to consume more branded ideas and less branded stuff, in the same way we might sometimes be able to substitute connected technology for cars.”
This is exactly what digital can do, and is the existing business model for huge online communities like Habbo Hotel and the Korean CyWorld. They make money from selling virtual clothes and furniture to people.
So this could be one way of making people consume less stuff – extending the purchase cycle so people buy your physical product less often, but you still make more money.
I have some more ways which aren’t quite formulated in my head yet, which I’ll post later. I can feel a list coming on!