July 25, 2009 by Colin
” … It used to interest me to see the brutal cynicism with which Christian sentiment is exploited. The touts from the Christmas card firms used to come around with their catalogues as early as June. A phrase from one of their invoices sticks in my memory. It was: ’2 doz. Infant Jesus with rabbits.” … ”
” … [Being a bookseller] is a human trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman …”
- “Bookshop Memories,” 1936, George Orwell
Ah, the comfort and security that used to accompany topical expertise and local presence. And then someone had to go and invent punchcards, databases, and recommendation engines.
July 23, 2009 by Colin
Supervan, the story of a plucky Dodge and her owner, converted to crime-fighting superheroes despite the objections of his traditionally-minded dad.
July 17, 2009 by Colin
Colin McKay was an early Canadian pioneer in blogging and social media, but also in the Government use of social media. In my continuing series of interviews with Alumni from the Global PR Blog week, I ask Colin questions about the conference.
John: What did you learn from the Global PR Blog Week?
Colin: Global PR Blog Week was my first real opportunity to work with like-minded people from around the world. Collaboration, community and crowd sourcing are words that are thrown around quite easily today: just five years ago, it was unusual to pull together virtual teams working to a common agenda. YoungPrPros and other listservs were the most similar beast.
John: What did you learn about blogging, if you learned anything about blogging, from the blog week?
Colin: By July 2004, I had been blogging for nearly a year. I had been posting short observations, longer analytical pieces, and even commentary. I didn’t, however, truly realize the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that could be shared if bloggers pulled their resources together and focused on a common series of topics.
John: Did the conference give you any new insights into PR, and if so what were they?
Colin: I had been aware of the different fields of PR and communications, but hadn’t really spent much time really thinking outside my own day-to-day work. PR Blog Week really demonstrated that there were inspired and influential bloggers who could bring insight to issues common across all these fields.
John: What were the lasting effects of the Global PR Blog Week?
Colin: Personally, I am still in contact with many of the contributors. Participating encouraged me to write longer form posts and articles on my blog and elsewhere, and to consciously look to other bloggers and online sources for inspiration and ammunition.
John: How did the Global PR Blog week influence you and the industry?
Colin: I’m not sure how influential PR Blog Week was for the industry. We’ve certainly seen an explosion in the number and quality of PR pros expressing themselves online. I’d hope that PR Blog Weeks 1 and 2 demonstrated that sold, well-reasoned and influential work could come out of blogging, and that blogging was not just a distraction for disaffected employees.
Interestingly, I look back at the list of participants, and I notice many names that are still influential in the field – personalities that have remained consistent and have continued to contribute, often without a care for being identified as influential, or a guru or a thought leader.
Reviewing the post(s) you wrote for the Global PR Blog week what has changed? What has not changed, since you wrote your post?
Colin: In year 1, I covered crisis communications. I notice that I didn’t cover online tools in any detail. That would definitely change today, but my advice on the preparation, attitudes and approaches to a crisis would not.
In year 2, I focused on the intersection between online communications and the development of government policy. For the longest time, that article remained current – it seems that the ground has begun to shift over the past nine months or so. #Gov2.0 has taken a great leap forward with the arrival of the Obama administration and the experimentation of the Labour government in the UK.
John: Give an update on what you’ve been doing in the last five years, and what you are doing now?
Colin: Well, canuckflack is still well and alive, although it has received greater and less attention over the years. I continued as a communications manager at the Department of Industry until 2007, when I joined the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. At the moment, I’m the Director of Research, Education and Outreach, and have been able to launch some fairly novel outreach tools that draw from my experience blogging and fooling around with social media: http://dpi.priv.gc.ca, http://blog.privcom.gc.ca and http://youthprivacy.ca. Not to mention our fledgling Twitter account http://twitter.com/privacyprivee.
John: Thank you Colin. Great insights into the virtual event, how PR has changed and not changed. Also I think your point about the faster pace of change in Government is very true.
July 13, 2009 by Colin
Ah. The country/pop combo. I forgot how much I missed the forced bonhomie and idle chatter that usually opened the videos for these early 80s crossover hits.
Here’s uncomfortably aged Kenny Rogers weavin’ the sweet sweet talk with Sheena Easton.
July 9, 2009 by Colin
Billy Bragg on the death of Steven Wells, poet, activist and erstwhile music critic, who died last month.
” … If there is anyone out there who wishes to take up his mantle, they’ll need more than just a snarky sense of humour and a potty mouth. The comment sections of every website are full of posts from cynical jerk-offs who get their kicks from upsetting people. Swells could be hurtful in what he wrote, but his contrarian stance was never mere posturing. It was underpinned with an unswerving belief that things could be better – culturally, politically and globally. He just wanted people to feel like he did at the paucity of talent on display – outraged to the point of engagement. To that end, he was willing to take it further than many of us are prepared to go – in your face, down your trousers and up your arse like a shit-eating rabbit on speed.”
How much of a loss is this? Depends if you read British music magazines in the 80s and 90s. Or appreciated a voice that didn’t hesitate to cut through the bafflegab and call out the pseuds.
Here’s an excerpt from a piece Wells wrote last year:
“… So this is how punk ends – not with a bang but with a jumper. Today, all over the world, thousands of punks, goths, emos and other ferociously tattooed, face-pierced miscreant bastard folk-devil scum will take to the streets to protest their disgust with war, oppression and bourgeois conformity by crocheting hideous green twat-hats with stupid ear flaps.
I’m talking about World Wide Knit in Public Day. Which, by its very name, suggests that knitting is a sordid and disgusting practice best done behind locked doors and drawn curtains. Which it is …
If you need a hobby, take up spitting.”
July 7, 2009 by Colin
I think I’ve narrowed down a new hairstyle – to that of any of the 1984-era GoGos.
At the moment, I HAVE the Jane Wiedlin, and if it goes any longer it’ll be a Charlotte Caffey (keyboards – I had to look it up).
I figure I could go for the longer Kathy Valentine (bass), and cut it back to a Belinda Carlisle if the summer gets warmer.
I’m going to reserve the Gina Schock for a sudden desire to look like any of the cast members from Less Than Zero or Some Kind of Wonderful (see exhibit “A”)
July 6, 2009 by Colin
How have the tough slogging mechanics of political campaigns turned into the petty victories of follower counts and poor graphic design?
” … As Newsom returned to his S.U.V., Ballard made sure to tell me how many Twitterers would already be able to see photos of the mayor on the backhoe. He derided Jerry Brown’s campaign Web site and ridiculed Villaraigosa’s “totally pathetic” Twitter following ..” (NYT Magazine)
That’s Nathan Ballard, the communications director to Gavin Newsom, the current Mayor of San Francisco and competitor for the job of Governor of California.
I found this moment almost repulsive: in a state where the economy and political life are near catatonic, the battle for political leadership is being framed in part by photo ops, unattributable and unreliable Twitter follower levels and poor web site design?
Is the political process at all dependent upon policy proposals anymore, or can a candidate gain a lot of ground simply by picking the right font, a sympathetic palette and an easily navigable design grid?
Oh – and a monkey to tweet?
After all, limiting your literary masterpiece to 140 characters significantly increases the odds that you can defeat the infinite monkey theorem – that an infinite number of monkeys, banging on typewriters for an infinite amount of time (while assuming there is no evolution in cognitive capacity) would not be able to reproduce Hamlet.
In fact, they’re more likely to smash the keyboard, mark their territory, and then engage in repetitive behaviour.
Wait a minute … I guess someone better get that monkey a Brooks Brothers suit and a BlackBerry.
July 2, 2009 by Colin
You could say the wire walker in this short film has intense short term focus, but is easily distracted by new opportunities. You could say that he is agile enough to react to changing situations, but acutely aware of the many competing interests around him.
If you’ve met me, or know my job, you could see why I feel some affinity for that wire walker.
In fact, if I was the type to build some sort of horribly overextended and barely consistent business talk out of the correlation between my personal life, professional life and this wire walker, I could type out three or four overwrought and barely personal posts meant to inspire you and increase my subscriber count. After all, I AM a capable strategist and thoughtful person.
His name is Florent Blondeau, and he wants you to “let your mind wander” – or at least that’s what The Economist magazine would like. This 70 second clip is the centrepiece of a new campaign that hopes to remind Brits that The Economist covers topics they seem to be interested in: domestic politics, world affairs, business, and travel. Apparently, surveys have identified 3 million of them as flighty, brainy or shifty enough to be targeted as potential readers.
I’ve read the magazine for nearly 25 years. Strangely enough, I appreciate it most for it’s dry and sometimes wry sense of humour. That’s hard to accomplish while discussing Indian economic reform, you know.
The campaign, to be launched on July 3, will play primarily in theatres. I have to imagine the clip will play much better on a large (or as large as a multiplex will allow) screen. (Faris has added his own thoughts about this and past campaigns.)
In 2008, Blondeau and some colleagues from the French wire walking fraternity (apparently, there’s a close kinship between the wire walking fraternity and the clown school alumni) showcased their skills in a regional performance called le fil sous la neige – a brief excerpt can be found just below.