Friday, August 31, 2007

Luck be a lady

As it's Friday night here's an amusement (via Idealog weekly).

The Special Projects Idea Generator from The Directors Bureau.

It's fun for a few minutes but the novelty wears off rather quickly. I felt a little like one of those people who sit infront of a one armed bandit feeding the mortgage money into the slot.

My final randomised idea generator was 'miniature invisible magazine'- sounds like Unlimited magazine (did I say that out loud?).

Portnoy's Complaint

"The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress." Philip Roth

Tell me about it. I have a number of projects on the go - none of which seem to be progressing especially well. Decided to completely restart one project today. The direction it had taken was just dull. Worthy - but dull. Discussing it with the client brought out a whole new set of ideas. We'll see.

If you haven't read any Philip Roth books you are missing out. The character in Portnoy's Complaint called Monkey is the girl of of my dreams that I never met. There's still time I suppose.

Portnoy's Compliant

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I had to have it

Well, I'm not sure I should be doing the heavy lifting for Sarah Jessica Parker's new fragrance. But I have to admit: I really like this commercial.

It has attitude. It is fun. It is bold and spirited (but not mean-spirited in that lame post-modern way).

I like that the narrative ends with the character taking responsibility for her actions "I had to have it…" (with a smile).

And I like that it was directed by Jean Paul Goude (the man who invented Grace Jones and created the spectacular event for the French 300 year anniversary of their popular revolution). In the short 'making of' video you get to see him sketching out a storyboard image - which reminded me of a book …jungle fever?…that showed his sketches and storyboards for commercials and videos. Très Magnifique!.

You see? Fashion advertising doesn't have to be banal.

At your disservice

After my post about Telecom's stuff-up in media planning i.e. running self congratulatory full page ads up and down the country without actually communicating with their customers directly by...um...email. I finally received a message late last night.

I guess Saatchi & Saatchi took their eye off the ball becasue they were too pissed at their client for not spoiling their Lovemark theory and demonstrating the old adage:

Nothing kills a bad product quicker than good advertising.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Get frocked

sharapova in a red sequened Nike dressTennis changed back in the days of Ivan Lendl when colour began to find its way into the player's kit.

Maria Sharapova has taken it to a whole new level - wearing a little red sequined frock at the US open.

It's a terrific development. It adds interest to the game. It is another example of how creative juxtapositions make life interesting.

US Open on Google News

The Real McQueen

I came across this beauty on the Christies auction site. It used to belong to Steve McQueen. It is a 1963 Ferrari 250GT Lusso. If you seen movies like Bullit, Le Mans and The Great Escape you'll associate McQueen with driving/riding. In real life he was a genuine enthusiast. The scene in the Great Escape where McQeen has gotten away from the Bosch on a motorcyle - heading for the Swiss border and freedom. At one point he stops. Does he have enough gas to succeed? He shakes the bike from side to side between his knees. That's something a genuine motorcyclist would do.

It reminds me of the ad for Ford where The Great Man was digitally resurrected.



The loving look at the end towards the old Triumph twin reminds me that I always wondered why the Germans in the Great Escape would have a British bike on standby? Wouldn't BMW or Zundapp make more sense. I suppose those bike wouldn't have been able to convicingly complete the stunt jump over the barbed wire. (If you want to be finicky the bike was a 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy - WW2 ended in 1945).

When Steve McQueen died I saw a photo of his vehicle collection (I think it was in an Arena magazine) I noticed a Sunbeam S7 - the same model I once owned. And there the connection ends.

In a strange example of being a one trick pony (if you'll excuse the pun) Ford dug him up again for their retro Mustang relaunch:


And finally - the real McQueen. Here's the trailer for LeMans



As for the Lusso - Don't wrap it. I'll take it as it is.

LINKS:

Christies
Steve McQueen on IMDB

How to kill a brand

Telecom NZ have been deconstructing their brand over the past week. Ironically it was the addition of the Yahoo! brand that seems to have been the cause.

Migrating the Xtramail service to the Yahoo(Xtra) 'Bubble' service caused mayhem for thousands of customers - me included. To add insult to injury Telecom refused to answer their phone lines. I waited a total of more than 3 hours to have my calls answered. On one occasion after a wait of an hour or so A recorded voice told me that 'Due to high call volumes we cannot take your call. Please call again later..." which was followed by by a click and then the disconnect tone. Nice.

'Old news' I hear you say. Which makes for the perfect segue into part 2.

In the daily newspapers Telecom have written a letter of apology shown in a full page advertisement. Xtra customers are to receive a week of free broadband for their troubles. That's nice of them,…isn't it? Of course I didn't read the ad. I don't read the daily paper anymore. I quickly scan the news online from a variety of sources from the local NZ Herald to the LA Times and the Guardian. If it's on paper it's old news and an environmental disaster. I was only aware of the 'apology' when I saw it on the early TV news bulletin. Kevin Kenrick of Telecom was interviewed on camera. It was interesting is choice of words. He apologised for the 'negative surprise' customers had experienced. The gift of a week's free broadband was, he said, "a positive surprise".

As it happens I don't want surprises from my Internet provider. I want reliable, invisible, cost effective service. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Finally. Why take an ad out in a newspaper I don't read?
Surely Telecom know the email address of every single one of their customers.
I haven't received anything in my email.
(Though I have read that Yahoo!'s spam filters have been draconian and open-weave in turns…)

The Man from McKinsey


Some time ago I interviewed Steven Carden the author of New Zealand Unleashed. You can read the story online at Idealog - and an excerpt from the book.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reinventing the wheel


"Millions around the world, especially in rural Africa, live kilometers from a reliable source of clean water, leaving them vulnerable to cholera, dysentery, and other water-borne diseases. Water in adequate quantities is too heavy to carry. The Q Drum is a durable container designed to roll easily, and can transport seventy-five liters of clean and potable water. Rolling the water in a cylindrical container, rather than lifting and carrying it, eases the burden of bringing water to those who need it."

This project makes me wonder if students in the transport design department at Massey University might better employ their imagination on projects like this than learning how to render supercars?

Where there's muck there's brass?

Q-Drum site

Lingua Franca

Did you know: it is illegal for a French government employee to be interviewed for television in any other language than French?

Part of their global outreach plan?

The eye of the beholder

"I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful.” - Oscar Wilde
I saw one of these monstrosities on the road over the weekend. Quite possibly the ugliest new vehicle on the road today. The nose job reminds me of the ill conceived Ford Edsel which was criticised for having a front end like a toilet seat in its day.

Mind you Porsche managed to sucker plenty of buyers into their oddball Cayenne (wrong on so many levels I won't even get started) when the sister ship VW Touareg is so much cheaper and better looking.

In a celebration of ugliness Business Week have a slide show of the world's ugliest cars (survey must have been conducted before the nasal Subaru was launched).
AMC GREMLIN
The inclusion of the atrocious but aptly named AMC Gremlin reminded me of an ad I once saw for a panelbeater which featured an image of the Gremlin in profile with the headline: We can return your car to its former ugliness.

THE story for many years to come.


Further to my post about dairy farmer payouts of yesterday. Here is a comment from the Trendwatching site:

THE story of 2006, 2007, 2008 and many years to come? Consumers, governments and business leaders are finally feeling the pressure to confront and act upon the fact that unbridled production and consumption comes with mounting pollution and at a significant human/animal/earth cost. Now, since virtually every think tank, trend firm, eco-blog, former US presidential candidate and oil company has chimed in on the issue, we'll refrain from rehashing endless studies and scenarios on the globe's future. Instead, we'll focus on one sub-trend — locality — that is still emerging and as such can offer brands additional inspiration to come up with new goods, services and experiences that are part of the solution, not the problem.

Let's start with 'eco'. Now that carbon footprinting has become a household term in mature consumer societies, expect consumers' desire to find out about the origins of a product to become a given. Questions no one ever asked a few years ago will become an integral part of the purchasing process. How was the product made? By whom? How did it get to its point of sale? What effects on the environment will it have after purchasing?

Increasingly, this transparency will pit distant production against local production. Above all, local production holds the promise of less pollution due to less transport. And, in prosperous and regulated nations, chances of inhumane labor practices are smaller, too.

A slew of projects and publications are fanning the current debate on local versus global production. Not too surprising, it’s the food and beverage sector — which can be both closest to, and most removed from nature — that finds itself at the forefront of the eco-meets-local debate(my italics) while the apparel industry (sweatshop, anyone?) is feeling the impact of ethics-meets-local more than any other industry.



Interesting sites
No impact man - learn about dumpster diving-inter alia.
The 100 mile diet - eat local for global change
"A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. The ingredients for a typical British meal, sourced locally, traveled 66 times fewer “food miles.” Or we can just keep burning those fossil fuels and learn to live with global climate change, the fiercest hurricane seasons in history, wars over resources…"

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The Books that go with them
The 100 Mile Diet

"The official drink of a better world."?


As my gradually expanding midriff attests diet drinks never really taste as good to me as the real thing.

Here is an interesting idea from Germany. Bionade is a brewed, non-alchoholic soft drink that has become something of a phenomenon in its home market. It is completely organic - which might explain some of its popularity in the home of the Green political movemnent.

The drink was created in the mid 80s in response to declining beer consumption. A couple of years ago it had a makeover in packaging and flavour extensions which, according to Der Spiegel, transformed the drink "into a must-have with its retro yet enviro-friendly appeal. The flavors—elderberry, lychee, herb, ginger-orange and the new, sporty "forte"—likewise have a cool, "you're drinking what?" sensibility. And the broadly-striped label, bulls-eye cap and 1920s-style font exude sophistication.

The re-launched drink hit the zeitgeist exactly, appealing to health-conscious consumers who were drinking less beer just as they were embracing organic food and drink. Bionade (pronounced "Bee-oh-nah-deh") soon became a firm fixture on supermarket shelves and behind the bar in trendy nightspots."

What is also extremely interesting is the process they have developed to change the characteristics of the sugar used in the fermentation.

"In order to produce a non-alcoholic refreshment drink in a purely organic way “Mother Nature” has to be out-smarted through her own mechanisms. Under purely natural conditions, alcohol is usually generated during the process of fermentation when sugar is involved.
It was only after a long period of research and development that BIONADE’s inventor, the master brewer Dieter Leipold, was successful in converting sugar into gluconic acid in the process of fermentation according to brewing principles. An analogous process can be found in the production of honey by bees. Glucose-oxidase, an enzyme found in bee saliva, plays a central role. The ultimate kernel of the innovation lies in the HOW of the procedure. That is and will remain the secret of BIONADE." (From the Bionade website)


So, unless I am mistaken they make sugar sweeter without using more of it. That has to be a good thing. A quick glance at the Internet shows that there is a noisy backlash against aspatame (Nutrasweet), the sweetener used in Diet Coke etc.

Has anyone tried this stuff - should Red Bull worry?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Make hay while the sun shines.

Farmers have had good news. Fonterra will make record payouts this season. There is a sense of celebration in the media (which has all the hallmarks of government propaganda). Instead of negative sotries about the pending housing market bubble burst cum meltdown - 'happy days are here again'.

The wave of ‘ha ha told you so’-economic back to basics thinking and comment has been circulating grossly misses the point.

New Zealand’s primary production is valuable but also vulnerable.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease would have a devastating and lasting effect on exports and the wider economy. The hoax threatened release of the virus on Waiheke Island pointed to just how exposed we would have been had it been real - the damage would have been in the tens of billions.

With sustainability and carbon footprints at front of mind for most of the developed world (i.e. our markets) our distance from market may, yet again, be tyrannical. In spite of the logical argument that most of our exports are literally shipped that will make no difference to consumers who are increasingly concerned with ‘doing the right thing’. It won’t matter that factory farming in Europe and the UK may well be appallingly bad for the environment - let alone the animals - perception is everything. Farmers in the those markets will be releasing meme’s for all they are worth. Propaganda and spin might well win where tariffs and protectionism have failed.

The facts of New Zealand’s farming practices are also in opposition to our ‘clean, green’ proposition. The rolling green hills of New Zealand farmland (with more being created to profit from the milk solid bonanza) were once native forests. Nitrogen floods into our waterways and erosion is a major problem in many areas. Our myths could easily be punctured and exposed.

I have always argued that the issue is and/and, rather than either/or.

One of the issues surrounding the ‘knowledge’ economy is that it has been biased towards the provision of services rather than developing intellectual property that can be exported profitably and cheaply (what does a gigabyte weigh?). Profits from licences, royalties and residuals are the ultimate in sustainability. A kilo of mik solid can only be sold once.

It is little wonder that companies like Google, YouTube and MySpace have such stratospheric valuations - they consume few resources and cost virtually nothing to distribute. There is no reason why New Zealanders couldn’t have developed any of those ideas.

The current bonanza may bring with it the dark spectre of complacency. Why invest in education, for example, if the ‘traditional’ capabilities are all we need?

Question: why is it bad to buy toilet paper from Indonesia but New Zealand's environmental record goes unchallenged.

Howler


Ginsberg's poetry beats me.
I just don't get it.
Still, nice to see the man himself on the road - albeit in/on a golf cart. As if the image of Ginsberg overtaking a limo in said cart isn't enough to tip the surrealism balance in the favour of …well…surrealism consider that the Bob Dylan character is played by Cate Blanchett whom I've always considered Dylan's dopelganger.


That'll be an interesting bio-pic.

I was reminded by this post by the bad banana blog:

Monumental thinking

Art should turn your ideas on their head - shouldn't it?
I'm a fan of the website 'Around the World' that features photos of monumental and public sculpture from around the world. Some are witty (laugh out loud funny even) and surprising.



I'd like to see more in Auckland. There is a statue of Auckland's iconoclastic mayor Sir Dove Myer Robinson. It is placed by the town hall in Aotea Square. Robbie, as he was known, was a great advocate for a rapid transport system in Auckland. Instead we got motorways and short sighted local politicians who are driven by demands for lower rates (i.e. no investment). I remember hearing someone on the radio, an expert from Perth in Australia on public transport, saying that trying to solve the problem of traffic congestion by building more motorways is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.


I have one comment to make about the Robbie Sculpture.

Yes, he was a little man. But he was a Collossus.

The statue should have been monumental. 10x zoom. Not like a Burger King Simpsons kiddie meal toy.


Thinking small is petty.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sustainable Design

The conversation about sustainability in design is gathering momentum. This panel discussion reflects some of the ideas I've discussed on the blog.

One of the thoughts I especially relate to is the idea that we should design systems that reduce waste and unnecessary consumption. You can't save the planet by buying a Prius (I'm sorry if I seem fixated by the Prius - it's symbolic - nothing personal).

I wonder if there is an opportunity for one of the big hardware chains to set up a network of neighbourhood tool lending libraries. Community clubs together - members pay a joining fee to have access to the latest, well maintained tools from lawn mowers to DIY essentials. Members would pay a hire fee when they needed the tools. They could also have access to seminars and workshops about energy saving, safety, DIY techniques, gardening etc. The system would be managed online and the community could form a community (and network of communities)....With 200 well equipped cells in the community all with the latest, most efficient equipment the store would probably make a lot more money from amateurs and prosumers and not affect the trade customer business. Establishing relationships through regular conversations would open many more opportunities to trade.

Just a ThoughtSpur. What other areas could a web 2.0 communal model make a difference.

Twitter Explained...'crack for marketers'


Robert Scoble, one of the world's most noteable bloggers (and co-author of Naked Conversations : How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers).

I have an issue with the world and his wife knowing what I am up to every minute of the day. Does it work here in New Zealand. I'll have to have a play.

What has your experience been?

The footage is from Fast Company.

Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig...

Interesting discussion about the importance and power of 'mash-ups' on the Talent Imitates - Genius Steals blog. Watch the mashed trailer for Spider-Pig. Very funny.

Whether you call it mash-up or cross pollination I agree that it is important to look outside your field of craft or specialisation to move forward. Looking at advertising and design executions I often hear the sound of dueling banjoes in the back of my mind.

It is a serious issue. Innovation is rarely a result of incremental steps forward. Constant research is needed - by which I don't mean focus groups or panels who evaluate the 'quality' of ads or campaigns - but research through constant mucking about and playfulness. The opposite is unquestioning orthodoxy…atrophy and entropy.

Chuck out your chintz redux

I like playful design. This dresser is made from surprising materials. The finish is baroque - like flock wallpaper - but the material is steel from the Moooi furniture design studio in the Netherlands. Their motto: Design is the unexpected welcome.
Snow table by swedeseThis is the Snow table from Swedish furniture design and manufacturing firm Swedese. Clever use of low cost laser cut ply and glass.
The truffle chair comes from Italian design house Porro.It is constructed from thermoplastic on a steel frame. I'll have mine with the pivot base.

I think the days of 'form follows function' might need a rethink.

Unintended consequences

biometric car key
I'm all for innovation. Sometimes it has unintended consequences though.

A man in Malaysia, so the story goes, was carjacked - or rather his Mercedes Benz was. The car was fitted with a biometric security systems.

The thieves cut off the owner's finger and made off into the night.

Maybe apocryphal (according to Biometric Technology Issues - who knows. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I suppose using your finger as security code is a different sort of digital.

laguna key cardI recently borrowed a friend's late model Renault Laguna while my trusty hybrid Volvo was in the panel shop. The Renault has a strange card key. You slot the card into a reader then push the start button. It also works as the remote locking control.

So far so good.

The snag comes if you lose the card/key. I'm told a replacement costs $500.00 (that's an old advertising trick - if you want to emphasise how expensive something is then include the decimal points. Of course the opposite is also true).

I was vigilant about the key. I am notorious for losing keys. Then I had an aha! moment. I would put the card on my key ring - using the convenient hole at the top.

Can you see the problem with that? When you try to insert the key into the slot the ring - well, …you can't.

Silly really. Renault are one of the car companies that made an early commitment to design.

If memory serves me they were the only major car manufacturer to have the head of design on their board of directors.

I quite like their vehicles - the current Megane convertible is very smart and I like the glasshouse effect of their mechanical foldaway roof. Not everybody likes the little Gallic flourishes - like the boat tail - but I do.



So, anyway, I spend my time with the Laguna in an odd state of paranoia.

I needn't have worried.

But I should have paid more attention to the loud, continuous, beep after I had removed said key one rainy night. When I return in the morning the immobiliser failed to make the cheery chirp.

Dead flat battery.

Once the Automobile Association has restarted the car none of the things controlled by the computer worked and had to be reset. I

had to go back to the dealer to get the code to make the radio work.

Whatever happened to the days of a key that unlocked and started your car?

Interesting article about Renault design.


"J.D. Power and Associates survey that says carmakers that polarize opinion make juicier margins on the cars they sell. The study found that cars that people either love or hate -- such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Infiniti FX -- "sell quicker and at a higher profit margin" than cars that get lukewarm reactions."

Fast Company

Wake up call

I've returned to the first draft of my book. The One & Only - which was the original title for this blog and which might explain its name (perhaps you though it was simply blogerati narcissism?).

The simple thesis is that brands that don't clearly speak in their own voice are doomed to be homogenized, dull and interchangeable.

As Gerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead once said:

"Don't be the best at what you do.

be the only one that does it."


So while I am dutifully suffering through the Diana Princess of Wales concert (it takes time for these things to filter through here on the edge of the world - though I understand why it didn't get a high priority…it's a little variable in quality) - while I have the show in the background I'm thinking about iconoclastic performers.

Check this out:



He's big.
He's old and dyes his hair and eyebrows.

But when he sings…he's Pavarotti. The One & Only.

I worked for the Auckland Opera Company in the early 90s when the entrepreneurial and charismatic Stephen Dee was at the helm. I had to learn enough about opera very quickly (and I think I acquitted myself rather well given that my experience of opera before winning te account was Malcolm McLaren's Fans album). We sold shows out using a fun, inclusive approach to the brand. That and the fact the product was genius.

While I was in that period my wife Megan hated/didn't get opera.

If I wanted to listen to it I had to go into the garage - which was separate from our house.

So I would go to the garage and goof around with my 1949 Sunbeam motorcycle. I'd have a few beers and sing along with opera's greatest hits. I'd like to say 'you should have been there' but the truth is you should be grateful you weren't.

One night I was in my cave (garage) mucking about with the front forks. Listening to Nessun Dorma. Full noise. It's about 11pm. There's a loud banging on the door. "What the!..." I pick up a wrench and open the door. Standing there is a council officer. 5'3" in his socks.

"We've had a complaint..."
"Whaa?…
"WE'VE HAD A COMPLAINT…"
"No, I'm ok…thanks…
"I'M REQUIRED TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU ARE IN BREACH OF BYLAW…
"What a minute…I'll turn the music down
"Thank you
"For what?…"

At the time I had no idea that Nessun Dorma means…

None shall sleep.


I have to confess the Diana show sends me into a maudlin mood. Diana died within a week of Megan.

The outpouring of affection by the people of the world for Diana reflects back on me as if it was for Meeg.

She deserves it too.

Megan died of cancer. She was 29.

Daffodil Day is coming up to help fund research into cancer cure and prevention.

Make a donation

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Once more into the breach…

Dear friends…once more

The Fallon blog has an excellent post featuring rousing motivational speeches that have appeared in film.

Among them are the likes of General Patton (aka George C Scott) and the Spartan captain from 300 (which I have yet to see).

I added a suggestion in the comments - the St Crispians Day speech from Henry V by Shakespeare - performed by Richard Branagh (who ranks up there with Baz Lurhman for making The Bard bearable).



Let's make a list:

What are the most rousing speeches ever?

Martin Luther King - I have a dream

JFK - Ask not what your country can do...


...What happened to oratory?

have we become too cynical? Too postmodern?

Recommend your favourites...

We'll come back to this.

Hang ups about the environment




Here's an interesting idea. Eco-Hangers. Instead of wire or plastic clothes hangers an American company are producing hangers made from recycled paper. That's kind of cool in itself but the really novel thing is that the hangers are given away for free to drycleaners. The manufacturer places ads on the hangers themselves and the advertiser underwrites the costs (at about 5cents per unit).

It serves as a reminder that, potentially, everything is a medium. I imagine there are some products that would be better suited (if you'll excuse the pun) to this environment and would be useful for some provocative and different ideas that leverage the context.

A nice example of a no-value product (other than utility) being re-thought in an intelligent way. I wonder what other opportunities there are to kill two birds with one stone?

LINK


Hanger Network

Friday, August 24, 2007

Illumination

Here's an animated short that I found quite haunting. In a good way. I thought it might jumpstart some ideas. (You can see the higher resolution original here on animator Adam Gault's website). While you are there check out his showreel.

Link via NotCot

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eaves Dropping


The architect and the physicist discuss what it means to 'See'.
Interesting.

Further & Faster

If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.
African Proverb

Another ThoughtSpur from Jack/Zen

Closet treehugger


I saw this some time ago but it has come back into my peripheral view.

I want to go live in a tree house in the woods.

It will need to have excellent broadband. Mind you it can't get much more primitive than Telecom NZ's efforts.

See more here on the Free Spirit Spheres website

Ads imitate art?


The advertising world holds its breath for the release of the bunnies commercial - third in the groundbreaking 'like no other' campaign.

I stumbled across this image on a blog that celebrates creativity in Italy. This installation is situated in a beautiful Cloister of Bramante (which houses a wifi cafe as well as contemporary artworks).

bravia bunnies

Source Links

Eternally Cool Blog
NotCot blog

Enemies of Reason


If you asked me which living person I respect the most I would quickly and without doubt reply: "Richard Dawkins".

This is the first episode of The Enemies of Reason. I think it is important you set an hour aside and watch.

Prof. Dawkins may not provide all of the answers but he does what science and creativity does best. He asks questions.

Questioning and enquiry are crucial to moving forward. Relying on dogma and bias is hopeless.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Viva Netocracy?

There is a Swedish philosopher (and musician) called Alexander Bard. He predicts that democracy and capitalism are about to be replaced by something entirely new. The Netocracy.

There used to be an idea that global corporations would replace nations. In the era of the Netocracy nation states and corporations are eclipsed by global networks.

The networks will be oriented and led by Netocrats. The rest of us will be the Consumtariat. Netocrats will tell the rest of where and when to buy.

The term Netocracy wasn't coined by Bard. It was a neologism invented by the editors of Wired magazine. However Bard saw the need for good stories to have both a protagonist and antagonist. By creating the idea of the Consumtariat he introduces a force that is both symbiotic and antagonistic - a fusion of Marxist ideas (the proletariat in opposition to the capitalists)

Since 1970 it has been possible to communicate with interactive media. Now attention is the scarcest resource, and capital is not the fundament anymore. Money is not the crucial power anymore, because you can't buy yourself into a network. Money is second-rated, and what is bought for money obtains a loss of credibility. This is a major power shift.

The society is divided between

* The netocracy – those who are connected in interactive networks, and
* The consumtariat – those who thinks that interactivity is selecting channels on a television

Individualism has been abandoned, and instead networking is in. The old identities are worthless, and the new identity will be defined in subcultures.

* Who has got the power? Especially the curator, the one who sorts the information.
* What is his reward? Dynamics.
* What will be the next? We don't know. We'll be obsessed with dynamics.

In a democracy the majority rules and works. But it reigns a closed space, a nation state.

But the nation state has vanished. Will you die for Sweden? No – the nation state is dead. It means, that we have a plurocracy where the minorities can walk out like it has always been in the plucratic culture in the United States. If a group did not like the others, they went west.

Maybe a network can convert into a company? Surely, a company can convert into a network.

Money is not important for the upper class anymore. You need money as you need food, but it is not the most wanted resource anymore.

From a speech by Alexander Bard

Interesting ideas. What do you think?

Cut it out

At the risk of overstimulating you: here is a look that has been created as 1:85 scale representation of a real house. It was created by Olafur Eliasson and produced by the specialist paper firm Kremo using laser cutting. The book was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Pretty cool huh? New tecnology suggests all sorts of possibilities (like the One Shot Stool I showed you previously).






Via Your Daily Awesome

More a flog entry than a blog entry



Some genius from Saul Bass - the grandaddy of motion graphics designers. If you've never heard of him I'll wager you know his work - he designed the opening titles for movie classics like The Man with the Golden Arm and Vertigo.

Via BadBananaBlog as are the items that follow. It is such an interesting repository of thought provoking ideas I'm adding it to the permanent link collection on the right.


Simple ideas put a smile on your face.

Eurostar shaving guardsman's busby

Hip replacement


I won't blow the gaff by telling you what it is for. But it is sensational. Nice to see an approach that isn't hypnotised by 'hip' (in a category sodden with hipness)

From the badbananablog (a cool new place to play)

Accounting 101

If you are an independent creative the last thing you want to worry about is managing your accounts. They need to be done. What are your options. Accountants are expensive. Programmes like MYOB are expensive to buy and there is a learning curve to set them up.

Over at Ben Kepes blog I saw his post about 1Place. A brilliantly simple solution by the looks of it. Perfect for a business like mine. I'll sign up for the trial and let you know how it goes.

If you know someone who could use cheap, easy microaccounting - pass it on.

Kiwi the people



The other night C4 promo'd this spot from the Daily Show - then didn't screen it. I think that's called bait and switch. Kind of irritating.

So, in case you missed it here is John Stewart poking the borax. Something New Zealand media isn't allowed to do. I think there are similar regulations in North Korea, China, Mugabeland (used to be Rhodesia) and, of late, Fiji.

Let's go to Paris

I wrote about fashion a few posts back. This video from Vogue magazine's site Style.com caught my eye. The fashions are striking. Some of the fashion 'luvvies' comments are also fascinating (fashionating?). I was interested to see the adoption and integration of technology in some of the garments. Cross pollination is an important thing.

I also thought that it would be interesting to see how New Zealand designers would fare at Paris shows. Compared to the luxury and glamour of some of the clothes being paraded in this clip Kiwi designers seem dour.

Actually when I think of brand New Zealand the adjectives glamour and luxury don't pop readily to mind. Not a criticism, mind you - simply an observation.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Politicians laid bare

New Zealand media is in a lather. It quivers with gelatinous excitement. The leader of the Australian Labour party Kevin Rudd has admitted that he went to a strip club in New York.

At the time he wasn't leader. He was on taxpayer funded business. It's not certain who paid for the excursion. He was accompanied by another politico and a tabloid journalist.

Rudd's popularity has increased, according to the polls, since the 'news' was allegedly leaked by his political opponents in the run up to the Australian federal election.

Mainstream media's reporters are now confronting New Zealand politicians in the corridors of power. "Have you ever been to a strip clup?"

Lets ask a few question of our own.
(note the cunning use of language - the pluralisation of the question when actually it is just me)

What's wrong with strip bars?

Many young New Zealanders fund their university studies by dancing in clubs like Show Girls and Mermaids. Whilst they remove their clothing it is wrong to assume that dancers are, by default, prostitutes. That is rubbish. Given the cost of student loans to New Zealand - an economic diaspora - which is the lesser of evils?

By the way I take my clothes off every day. Often more than once. Sadly I don't get tips for it. But showering is a dirty business.

Why would you criticise a legal economic activity?

Auckland's downtown strip bars contribute to the cultural and economic life of the city. Visitors from overseas spend time and money in legal, well managed establishments (which pay taxes, employ people and collect excises from alcohol). They are significant contributor to the tourist and business traveller economy.

Politicians are representatives not ideals

The term representative is important.People in the parliament are chosen by the community to represent themselves. When I vote I don't vote for an airbrushed fantasy. I expect that politicians will have had parking tickets, speeding tickets, disputes of one kind or another; I am suspicious if they promote themselves as without guilt or vice. Helen Clark is the prime minister and while she may not represent what I regard as normal or 'moral' I think she is fine. Who cares?

That she is married but assumes the title Miss (Clark), has no children and has never (so far as I know) had a job in the private sector…- it's all less than representative.

I don't think Helen Clark is representative of New Zealanders by some kind of deomgraphic analysis.

But she is a very effective political operator.

There is an election looming here.

Politicians should be taking care.

The mainstream media is creating 'news' where there is none.

We must all be vigilant.


If you can't bring yourself to go to a strip club then simply watch State Owned TV here in NZ. On Monday night this week: Nip Tuck promoted strip clubs; on Thursdays the Sopranos routinely feature a strip club as the home base of the gang.

I'm not sure of the ad rates for these high rating shows but the people of New Zealand seem to be significant beneficiaries from the promotion of stripping.

As a footnote here's a funny thing: I reported the death of Tony Wilson - the father of the Manchester sound on Monday, August 13. TV3 got around to it tonight on Nightline.

So the traditional news media now engage in 'creating' 'news' (fiction) where there is none while humble bloggers bring you stuff as it happens (oops slipping into their hyperbole).


By the way: if a man in his 30's (+) says he's never been to a strip bar/club - he'll lie about other things as well. (or he has other skeletons in his 'closet')

Monday, August 20, 2007

Duped?


"If you have two people who think the same - fire one of them.
What do you need duplication for?"

Jerry Krause - GM Chicago Bulls

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Leave something for the moment

Watching a teleplay called 'Stealing Beauty'. Set in the reign of Charles 1 (who inflicted on us the dreadful King Charles Spaniel). Claire Danes plays the role of a dresser who longs to be an actress - and wonders why women are forbidden from playing Shakespeare's female characters.

As the film progresses dirty old man Charles revokes the law banning women.

Claire is a hit.

The man she replaces finds redemption as, well, …a man.

The headline for this post comes from a remark made by the fellow during rehearsal.

I thought it was profound.

As was this:

She: "You almost killed me

He: "I did kill you. You just didn't die"

She: "Why not?"

He:"Because we only got the death scene right…"



I also laughed as the former 'female' actor, as Othello, suffocates the new Desdemona (flat chested) Danes with the 'pillow'(padding) of his former incarnation.

Reality kills artificiality with its own prop - though the twist is that the 'real' is the former impostor.

My head hurts now.

As a footnote: Claire Danes is a Shakespearean legend. Her portrayal of Juliet alongside Leonardo de Caprio brought the whole genre back to life. (Romeo and Juliet dir: Baz Lehrmann).

The greying of the great white hope

Zoe, my seven year old daughter thinks fart jokes are funny. This piece from Ford confuses me. It seems to deny what Ford itself represents. I am not intimate with what Ford does represent. But I am sure this isn't it.

Planning gone mad.

Not sure at all what the insight is that might persuade prospects to change their behaviours.

I am worried that contemporary vehicles (excuse the pun) for advertisers are being hijacked by people who have found a new environment to be self serving in. One that is not constrained by either the time limits imposed by TV channel owners or the fetters of advertising standards in 'legacy' media.

Can I suggest a heretic idea? Has 'Planning' done its dash for the advertising business? It was once the 'Great white hope' - whatever that ever meant. Are we in need of new methods and terms that don't simply perpetuate 1960s ideas from the first blush of 'creativity' in advertising?

The Ford ad above seems to me to be a denial of the brand or an apology - buried away (discretely?) on the web. "We're not really MOR…we're edgy…like you…what?…you're not?)

What do you think?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


From the Media Guardian:

"China has ordered its media to report only positive news and has imprisoned a pro-democracy dissident amid a clampdown on dissent…

Then, in the same report:

…On Wednesday the government issued new regulations that prohibit false news and illegal TV coverage."

How perfectly Orwellian.

Read the Guardian Story.

The weather report for Beijing for the next 375 days:

Perfectly clear, 16 degrees.

The traffic report for Beijing for the next 375 days:

Light, flowing freely.

Human Rights Report:

Everybody happy.

History updates:

Progressing well.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A little something for the weekend.


How to exchange worthless bits of paper for goods (without having to push your worthless bits of paper around in a wheelbarrow when you nip down the shops for tetrapack of double cream like they do in Nigeria).

Oh, alright, here's how it's done. Don't use your powers for evil.

Noun to Verb


The Italians have a saying "Chi bene incomincia è a metà dell'opera."
"Well begun is half done."
I came across this graphic on a new creative collaboration site called Behance (in Beta). I like the idea of contracting creativity from a vague noun to become a verb. Scott Belsky is the originator of the idea (and I think one of the founders of Behance). Check it out if you are a creative producer.

Hondamentalism

I remember reading about the Atom for the first time in the English CAR magazine. I might also have seen it in a segment on Top Gear. I'd love to drive one.

Check out this commercial from the UK Hondamentalism campaign (check it out online). It's nice to see that the idea of a 'brand' campaign still exists - an ad campaign that doesn't tout a particular product. I like the way that everything is integrated without being a monotonous litany.

I like the curiously American - laid back voice over (reminds me of the old Bartles and James winecooler commercials

"Is that necessary?

Do you really need that?

…That roof

…That door

…That windscreen

Getting the most out of what you've got

Using only what you really need."


I agree with the sentiment too.
I wonder if the perception persists that Honda is for old people after exposure to this campaign.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here comes Idealog 11


It's that time of the month. Well that time of the bi-month actually. New Issue of Idealog hits the streets on the 20th (you may get it a little sooner if you subscribe).

The team at Idealog do a sensational job. I love the design and art direction. The stories are interesting (even if sometimes they drive me nuts - I'll explain later).
Winning business magazine of the year was very gratifying to me. It reinforced how important the issue of creativity is in the commercial future of New Zealand (or where you live).

As a final note I think that it is also important to acknowledge how important developing a partnership with the production company Image Centre was in our original plan. The care and attention to detail they have put into the project has been consistently outstanding. They are a fascinating, fully integrated business from photography and design to pre-press, printing and finishing. When I was involved in the hands-on nothing was ever a problem or issue (especially when the deadlines were tight).

I didn't write a column this month but I did interview Steven Carden, Author of New Zealand Unleashed: The Country, Its Future and the People Who Will Get it There and I reviewed the book. Let me know what you think of the stories and the magazine.

(I've also resumed blogging on the Idealog site - I'm going to focus on issues relating to independent creatives…let me know what's on your mind).

The contents page is here…go get 'em tiger.

Howlin' Wolves

Here's a story I read on a blog called Jack/Zen:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that
goes on inside people. He said, My son, the battle is between two
wolves inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false
pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth,
compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his
grandfather: Which wolf wins? The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.

from Tom Carson

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Listen carefully…



For those of you who don't know who Dick Cheney is…he is the Vice President of the United States (you may have heard of it).

When the moon is in the seventh house


"Astrology is a primitive belief system made into elaborate pseudo-science. It arrogantly makes humans the centre of the universe.
…It never made sense when it was invented and it makes even less sense now…"


I had a conversation with a friend recently, a Sagittarius. She is intelligent, focused and goal oriented. And yet she seemed to genuinely believe that astrology was valid for her and that her characteristics aren't the product of her own progress in life but the movements and alignments of the planets.

Prof Dawkins points out that Ptolemy's invention (who gets his royalties?) is wrong because new discoveries in astronomy (a valid science) and the earth's rotation has changes so much in the intervening period as to make the original calculations invalid now (as if they ever were).

Hey, astrology is just a diversion. But I wonder whether we're diverting ourselves a little more than is healthy. Perhaps confronting life based on the evidence is more useful than distracting ourselves with 'ideas' like astrology.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to check some entrails to work out what to wear tomorrow.

Thus spaketh Bob Thurman



Well, by now you must have realised that I follow a Buddhist path (where I can). I like this talk from the brilliant TED conference presentations by Bob Thurman, the first American to be ordained a Buddhist monk by the Dalai Lama when he was 24.

On the weekend I am speaking to visitors at Massey University's open day. I'm talking about the importance of design in the New Zealand economy.

I wonder whether the more usual arguments in favour of design might be better summarised by the idea that good design makes us happy.

Before you assume I am talking about about the superficial 'happiness' that momentary consumption generates. Think about this:
"Happiness can be reliable and satisfying in an enduring way without depriving others."


Monday, August 13, 2007

The hidden tape

I was interviewed on Radio Live not so very long ago.
As Zoe and me drove into the city we lost reception. I thought it was the rubbish reception in my car. It wasn't. The station had gone off air.

Teknikos Problimatikos

Just listened to the MP3 of the interview. It has it's moments - many of them bad. (Listen out for the part when the air conditioning suddenly stops...ahhh, silence)

Oy vey....


What do you think?

The Internet is not a medium...

Jeff Jarvis is a very influential blogger.



What do you think?

A load of trashery by Ogden Nashery

I never 'got' poetry at school. I could never figure the line breaks and capitalisation and commas. I did like Ogden Nash. Just seemed to make sense - even though his work was often nonesense.

Check out the BBC's site that features poets reading their own works. In curious way it helps poems make more sense. (Thanks to Catherine who gave me the heads up after my Tennyson post).

The Poetry page

Hear O.Nash deliver this:

What is life? Life is stepping down a step or sitting in a chair.
And it isn't there.
Life is not having been told that the man has just waxed the floor.
Life is pulling doors marked PUSH and pushing doors marked PULL and not
noticing notices which say PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR.
It is when you diagnose a sore throat as an unprepared geography lesson
and send your child weeping to school only to be returned an hour
later covered with spots that are indubitable genuine.
Life is a concert with a trombone soloist filling in for Yehudi Menuhin.
But, were it not for frustration and humiliation
I suppose the human race would get ideas above its station.
Somebody once described Shelley as a beautiful and ineffective angel
beating his luminous wings against the void in vain.
Which is certainly describing with might and main.
But probably means that we are all brothers under our pelts.
And that Shelley went around pulling doors marked PUSH and pushing doors
marked PULL just like everybody else.

Sitting Perdy



I'm interested in the new materials and manufacturing techniques that are changing what is possible. Came across this today - the coolest object I have seen for a while: The One Shot Stool by Patrick Jouin.

Patrick Jouin is a designer who used to work for Phillipe Stark’s studio in Paris.
His stool design is manufactured using a very cool rapid prototyping process called Selective Laser Sintering. Sound thrilling? Wait for this: the stool and all its moving parts are cut from a single piece. Using a special laser, the procedure cuts out a 3D model that maintains its kinetic properties by integrating hinges in its construction.



The design world loves it. It debuted at Salon Del Mobile Milan in April 2006 (which some of our Massey Design School students also exhibited at). It is in the permanent collections at MOMA in New York the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Very cool.

I want one.

Banksy Backlash

I like the work of Street philosopher Banksy. It is usually biting and clever. He is a voice of dissent. I am reading a book called Why Societies Need Dissent by Cass Sunstein, professor of juriprudence at the University of Chicago School of Law. Here is an early comment in the book:
Conformists are often thought to be protective of social interests, keeping quiet for the sake of the group. By contrast, dissenters tend to be seen as selfish individualists, embarking on projects of their own. But in an important sense, the opposite is closer to the truth. Much of the time, dissenters benefit others, while conformists benefit themselves.


Could there be a backlash against Banksy - dissent - in the design community. This from the design blog AceJet170
Making stuff look shit etc.

"OK, perhaps it's very uncool to say this but I really hate graffiti. I know, I know; it's a youth/sub-culture thing and I'm just about as far away from that now as I could be, and I know there are some very talented people out there graffiti-ing (or whatever you'd call it), and yes, I know, everyone loves Banksy. But on the whole, the vast majority of it is just moronic and habitual daubing of "public property" with shitty looking "tags".


Unfortunately most graffiti 'artists' don't have the talent or wit that Banksy has.

On the idea of dissent - I wonder if the basis of creativity is dissent. I've said it before - Agreeing isn't thinking; it's voting. Creative people have to disagree that the n'est plus ultra has been achieved.

Here's to the malcontents.

P.S. Thanks to Brand DNA for the Banksy quote.

Tony Wilson dies.

I was reminded the other day how much I like music movies. You'll recall I was touting DiG! - the mad film about the rise of the Dandy Warhols and the long slow plateau of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I'll say it again. Brilliant - watch it.

Another of my favourites is the movie about the Manchester scene of the 1980s: 24Hour Party People. I just read that Anthony Wilson, the man behind some the the best bands (Joy Division/New Order and the Happy Mondays)of the era and founder of Factory Records has died of cancer.

He was one of those rare people who have a real sense of the Zietgeist.

And tonight something equally epoch-making is taking place. See? They're applauding the DJ. Not the music, not the musician, not the creator, but the medium. This is it. The birth of rave culture. The beatification of the beat. The dance age. This is the moment when even the white man starts dancing. Welcome to Manchester. Tony Wilson


I'm having a iTunes Manchester festival (which will segue into a general Britpop thing probably - currently The Stone Roses 'Made of Stone' is playing…very loud.

While you're at go to the video store and get Live Forever. Irony not intended.

"The smaller the attendance the bigger the history. There were 12 people at the last supper. Half a dozen at Kitty Hawk. Archimedes was on his own in the bath. Tony Wilson


(Quotes from the movie 24 Party people)