October 3, 2007 by Colin
Rockin’ axe. Check!
Rollin’ drums. Check!
Grungy concert t-shirt. Check!
Bank of Marshall amps? Check!
Extended walkway for outrageous on-stage antics and guitar solos? Check!
Leather pants? Check!
White pleather jacket with gold brocade and arm chevrons? Ummmmm.
Short spiky hair? Jeeeeeez……..
Overextended leg kick? Phew, back on solid ground with that!
It’s David Lee Roth – who’s obviously been watching old game tape with Sammy Hagar at the helm of Van Halen.
image grabbed from videophone footage shot at Van Halen’s last rehearsal concert, at the LA Forum last month.
h/t to Cleveland Scene
[tags] Van Halen, David Hasselhoff, Allen Frew, Glass Tiger, Richard Marx, leather pants [/tags]
October 3, 2007 by Colin
… but I’ve written some interesting posts over at my other blog, sosaidthe.org. They tend to concentrate on government communications, so I’ve stopped posting these sorts of ideas here at canuckflack. Still, I think they’re worth a gander:
- New recruits stumble on Facebook: how much embarrassment can your new employees bring to the office?
- Is blogger outreach a timebomb in your work plan?
- Conferences: the crucible of government communications.
[tags] Facebook, employee communications, blogger relations [/tags]
October 3, 2007 by Colin
Chalk signs. You know – chalkboard signs decorated with menus, promotional tag lines, simple price displays, usually found at grocery stores or restaurants – that rough and personalized touch that helps build a personal bond between you and your retailer.
One Canadian company, Chalk It Up!, has created 400 boards since 2001, including 75 for the Ruby Tuesday chain of casual dining restaurants. Claire Watson, the principal artist, has posted several images from her work on flickr.
Chalk signs provide hearty opposition to the polished and focus-tested stalagmites that otherwise dot the grocery floor – the promotional pop-ups, tasting stations, shipping palettes disguised as festive boxes, and good old fashioned Super Bowl celebrity cut-outs.
Properly conceived and executed, chalk signs can convince a consumer that their chosen shop or store is so fresh, so responsive and so connected to the community that their signs HAVE to be chalk, HAVE to be changed every day.
When institutionalized, though, chalk signs can prompt memories of the big bad wolf, dressed in Grandma’s bedclothes: when Whole Foods, Starbucks, Domino’s or Movenpick Marche list ingredients, menu items or prices in a chalk script, I get a faint whiff of lupine halitosis.
The most appealing quality of chalk signs is their humour. Subtle, ironic, sophisticated, blunt, or punny. The artists and workers who put some real effort into the signs should be recognized – at the very least with a piece of flair that says “I’m the chalk artist, tip me well!”
In the wrong hands chalk signs can provide quick outlets for staff dissatisfaction – like at this New Orleans Starbucks.
[tags] chalk signs, chalk menus, restaurant menu [/tags]
October 1, 2007 by Colin
Your childhood stuffed toy has been hijacked by consumer goods companies. That may not be a surprise to you, but it has irritated the hell out of the original illustrators of characters from the Snowman to Paddington Bear. (London Times, via Serendipity Book)
“…[Raymond] Briggs complains that his iconic Snowman, with his soft curves and floppy felt hat, has been used to sell everything from fizzy drinks to fried chicken. “It is galling to find that the innocent character one has created for young children is being used to promote junk food and drink, and also to decorate the packaging of lavatory paper,” he said.”
[tags] children’s books, illustrations, Paddington, Marmite [/tags]
September 27, 2007 by Colin
It was snapped by Kate Hutchinson, a Montreal photographer who’s being patient and professional while taking some great pictures at our conference this week.
And we all know how hard it is to take great pictures at an academic and professional conference. Cordura shoulder bags, glossy pamphlets and giant screens full of powerpoint presentations everywhere.
Either that of a facefull of brioche and fruit plate.
On top of that, she’s taking pictures at a conference of privacy advocates.
Understandably, the conference attendees are more interested than most in how their image and personal information is captured.
As for the picture: I absolutely love street-side bar-b-que. Especially Portuguese meat – they know how to spice it and prepare it. Just by looking at the men and how they’re tending to their skewers, you can tell that this bar-b-que did not come with a choice of dipping sauces.
[tags] Kate Hutchinson, photography, Mile End, Montreal, chorizo, Portugese [/tags]
September 26, 2007 by Colin
Wow. If Simon Dickson is right, the folks at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the U.K. are about to blow government blogging right open. And maybe even corporate blogging.
Forget restricting your corporate blogging to just C-suite executives. Opening blogging to everyone? Fine for tech companies, but not very workable for CPG companies.
How do you find a balanced and reasonable voice to represent your organization? Maybe by identifying three or four strong voices spread out throughout your organization, and giving them the tools to communicate. Foreign Minister David Milband is leading the charge, just like he did at DEFRA.
“…Miliband himself is joined by Jim Murphy, his Minister for Europe who ‘wants to hear your views on how the EU is doing, and to encourage discussion through this blog’. So whilst you’re not likely to get your referendum on the European treaty / constitution, you will at least have one outlet for your support / anger. Good luck to whoever’s moderating that one.
Then there’s Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, currently Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Afghanistan; and Lindsay Appleby, a First Secretary (ie relatively senior) in the Brussels office. Reporting from the front line, there’s Maria Pia Gazzella, from the Embassy in Chile. But most remarkable of all is Sarah Russell, who doesn’t even work for the FCO yet – she’s a Fast Streamer due to join in October 2007, so presumably we’ll be following her progress as she learns the ropes…” (Simon Dickson)
It’s important to remember that EVERY member of a diplomatic service is trained – extensively – in skills essential to a blogger:
- the comprehension of complex ideas and themes
- the synthesis of debates and positions, often conflicting
- the rapid creation of understandable but nuanced subject briefings
- and, most importantly for a government blogger, an acute awareness of the influence and impact of their words and writing.
[tags] government blogging, corporate blogging, diplomatic corps, diplomat [/tags]
September 25, 2007 by Colin
What’s the link between social media and skateboarding? Sometimes, social media experts will strike really poor bargains for their services – just like the early boarders who performed for stickers, decks and gas money.
I mean, in what other industry would thought leaders trade their hard-built reputation for a free camera, cellphone, iPhone or a free laptop?
In skateboarding, there’s a lot of people who have jumped on a deck and found a new image or sense of group identity. There are a few boarders that have developed the skills – on the deck and in the office – to build strong identities in the sport and personalities that are eagerly sought out by marketers.
Sure, skateboarding has always had a distinctly commercial element. Even with its roots in home-made equipment and the growing legends of local or regional skaters, the continuing perception of skateboarding as an underground industry is largely manufactured. Today, it is part of a mainstream image industry.
Social media, as a profession for consultants, marketers and public relations hacks, is growing into a mainstream industry. For every mis-step amplified by bloggers and journalists, there are countless small improvements being accomplished in large and small businesses, not-for-profits, community organizations and local governments.
Still, I’m really growing tired of leading bloggers, authors and consultants crowing about how they scored some more schwag. Let’s keep this in perspective, people. Even community-access television can score $500 for a month’s sponsorship.
At some point, we’ve got to stop behaving like the stoners at the back of the school. Even skateboarders figured out that pocket change was poor compensation for their brilliant footwork.
Image above from a 70s era Skate Safety video.
[tags] blogger outreach, schwag, social media, payola [/tags]
September 25, 2007 by Colin
Today, a few excerpts from Colin MacInnes‘ 1961 compilation of essays, England, Half English. First, a cutting observation about critics:
“…This declaration was scornfully refuted by a columnist in one of the grimmer dailies whose special talent – being himself bereft of any marketable notions about such fragments of our world as his myopic eyes can visualize – is to pinch ideas he is incapable of inventing, and sneer at them in shop-soiled journalese…” (Pop Songs and Teenagers)
In other places, MacInnes attempts to examine the growing popularity of pop music, and the increasing economic power of teens and youths:
“…Today, youth has money, and teenagers have become a power. In their struggle to impose their wills upon the adult world, young men and women have always been blessed with energy but never, until now, with wealth. After handing a pound or two over to Mum, they are left with more ‘spending money’ than most of their elders, crushed by adult obligations. They are a social group whose tastes are studied with respect – particularly by the entertainment industry…” (The Pied Piper from Bermondsey)
“…To check on my observation of kid’s clothes, I asked for the help of younger friends who dress much as they do … Such minutiae it will be increasingly hard to notice, because teenagery has passed its spring. Their startling initial impact on their elders, and their own amazed discovery of themselves, had already waned by the end of the last decade; and had become on the the kids’ part rather craftily self-conscious, and by adult parasites, quickly exploited without sympathy or understanding…” (The Other Man)
[tags] Colin MacInnes, pop history, critics [/tags]
September 24, 2007 by Colin
Really. An impressive ass kicking machine. On Craigslist. With a picture.
At the tail end of the description, the machine’s master craftsman has thrown in this pitch:
“Oh and If you need any remodeling done I have 10+ years experience and my own tools.”
There you go: the key to success as a small business. In a field with many similar competitors, identify a quality that separates your services from the pack and promote that quality. Make it real for the consumer.
Here in Canada, we have a guy who has built a reputation as an expert in ass kicking AND renovation: Mike Holmes.
[tags] renovation, ass kicking, promotion, Mike Holmes [/tags]
September 24, 2007 by Colin
This appears to be a record of some early public history or public opinion research. Browsing through a university library, I picked up Britain by Mass Observation, a small Penguin book that reported on the results of “man on the street interviews,” day surveys and personal diaries compiled by volunteers.
It’s an interesting read: one third about the Munich crisis, some thoughts on wrestling and local fetes, and big chunk on the bloody lambeth walk.
The Mass Observation movement seemed a little too casual and non-too rigorous to qualify as public opinion research or market research – as we consider it today.
“…Young, confused, and vigorous, Mass-Observation sought to understand something that anthropology and sociology still took largely for granted: the everyday life of ordinary people…(New Yorker, nice long article about the “movement.)
Still, this one book is chock-a-block with direct quotes and observations from a variety of classes and generations. Some of the observations are likely more honest and frank than you would expect from a poll today.
For example, here’s a woman of 38, speaking to a pollster about horoscopes:
“I read them every Sunday, many a time it’s been true, but they don’t give you so much bad news. When it was my birthday they said I should get a surprise. I got one. It was a good ‘un, mister. No, I’m not telling you what it was, that’s my business.”
[tags] mass observation, polling, public opinion research, 1938, Munich crisis [/tags]
September 24, 2007 by Colin
Yes, that is me quoted in the Globe and Mail about productivity tools and GTD. If you subscribe to the “treeware” version of the paper, you also get a four column picture of me, taken by Bill Grimshaw, a funny guy who really likes his job.
In the picture, I’m holding my Moleskine – and the roll of red duct tape I keep around to repair my Moleskine when it inevitably rips at the cover.
[tags] GTD, productivity, moleskines [/tags]
September 22, 2007 by Colin
The write/here project was a public art project conceived by Tasmanian artists Justy Phillips and James Newit. Part of the Ten Days on the Island Festival, it asked the residents of Hobart to pass along stories of their life in the capital of Tasmania.
Eye magazine tells us the artists convinced local businesses to donate their billboards for ten days – and to sponsor the new “skins” for their own billboards.
“Phillips and Newitt gathered comments from the public through one-to-one interviews, workshops, and exhibitions, and even opened a ‘story shop’ offering passers-by a dollar for their thoughts. Carefully framed questions – ‘What does Hobart mean to you?’, ‘Do you have any regrets?’, ‘What are your hopes for the future?’ – elicited responses that were honest, potent and moving. From the 1000 responses that they generated, 27 anonymous texts were selected, one for each of the billboard sites. “
That’s one there on the right.
This project is a two fer for me: the two year process of collecting stories and observations appeals to the historian and faux ethnographer in me.
The simple, stark but engaging billboards help the project stand out from their urban surroundings, and make no attempt to infer value, attributes or judgements about the statements they broadcast.
As an added reflection of the community’s reaction to the billboards, many of the images preserved on the project’s website include comments from Hobart residents.
There are pictures of all 27 billboards available on the Write/Here project site.
September 21, 2007 by Colin
The newest paper from Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer:
“…Rather than a terrorist organization, the 1920s Klan is best described as a social organization built through a wildly successful pyramid scheme fueled by an army of highly-incentivized sales agents selling hatred, religious intolerance, and fraternity in a time and place where there was tremendous demand.” (NBER abstract)
Hatred and Profits: Getting Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan is available from the SSRN or from Fryer’s own Harvard page.
September 20, 2007 by Colin
Short sentences that both amused and enlightened me:
“Older people are sticky”
“Mad as a box of snakes”
“Web development is for Spartan warriors”
September 19, 2007 by Colin
Well, bit of a breakthrough at my office. A government blog. I’ll blog and/or write about it when I have the energy, but thanks to the great support of my team and my bosses, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a blog.
That’s right. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a blog.
Why don’t you?
Obviously, this is a learning exercise for all of us. But we’re pretty excited.
[tags] government communications, government blog, egovernment, epolitics, outreach [/tags]