November 8, 2007 by Colin
Wondering what exactly is happening with the writer’s strike in California? Stee at Plaintive Wail has a running narrative of the strike and his work on the picket lines.
“… I also got into an email battle with the super-douchey reporter Dave McNary whose coverage of the strike in the trade rag Variety has been as slanted as a San Francisco hill. I haven’t been compelled to write a stern letter in a long time, but he pissed me off like no one since some stupid TV Guide critic thought Silver Spoons* was unrealistic. And now it’s REALLY easy to send a stern letter over email. Especially when the reporter has a button you can just click that opens up a mail document already addressed to him.” (Plaintive Wail)
You might expect it from the Writers Guild of America, but they’ve produced a solid video explaining why they’ve hit the bricks:
*You really have to watch the Silver Spoons video I linked. It has Ricky Schroeder and Alfonso Riberio breakdancing!
[tags] writer’s strike, wga, hollywood, ricky schroeder [/tags]
November 7, 2007 by Colin
“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
That’s from Animal House, of course. And the image below is from a profile on Bebo.
[tags] Bebo, social network, Animal House, cheater, Kent Dorfman [/tags]
November 7, 2007 by Colin
Fifty years ago, a bunch of suits stood against basic human rights, democracy and the rule of justice.
This week, in Pakistan, it’s the suits that have stood up against false claims of democratic support, oppression and unwarranted claims to power.
I acknowledge that both situations were much more complex, but the reversal is startling.
November 6, 2007 by Colin
Yet another selection of snippets from my feed reader:
- The Booty Block – your guide to breaking into rollergirl competition.
- Rex Humbard, the original televangelist
- Dark Side of Brands – fantastic graphic, I’m kinda late to it.
- Stevie Ann covers Brit Brit’s Toxic in acoustic guitar – quite quite well – over at Coverville.
- Rules to live by in Advertising – from Richard via Craphammer.
- “We write ads or people die” – via MemeHuffer.
- Gladwell’s back – on the blog and in the magazine. And it seems he has a new book. Fire up the overhyping machine!
[tags] rollergirl, rollerderby, Britney, Brit Brit, Gladwell, advertising, televangelism [/tags]
November 6, 2007 by Colin
Okay, people. It’s taken four years, but I’m finally getting some work done at the office that relates to my online obsessions.
A friend of a friend of a friend … a flash presentation about social networks and privacy.
Before you complain: yes, it should have an embed link. It should be available on a sharing app. It should have links to sharing sites.
We’re the government. We’re working on it.
UPDATE: And … we did it.
[tags] privacy, identity, social networks, government communications, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut [/tags]
November 4, 2007 by Colin
Courtesy of the Federline/Spears divorce proceedings, we now have proof of two things:
- Viral campaigns MUST be supported by quality content and activities in other media channels
- the market knows how to value the singing talent of Kevin Federline
What proof? Kevin Federline made $3300 in royalties for his 2006 drop “Popozao.”
(cover version actually from The Fountain)
[tags] Rick Roll, Rick Astley, Kevin Federline, Popozao [/tags]
November 2, 2007 by Colin
I am addicted to the internets. It is really sad. How addicted, you ask?
I am writing this post from the middle of a hiking path in the Laurentian mountains.
My management team is spending two days at very a secluded hotel, discussing our priorities for the organization in the next year
The hotel has no cell or blackberry access.
I went for an innocent walk in the woods yesterday, and discovered about 1500 metres out (and up several hills) that my BB had started buzzing.
Today, I’ve hightailed it out of the hotel during the “health break” to check my email, approve some comments on the work blog, and send you this post.
That’s how much I care for you – and my internet access.
November 1, 2007 by Colin
The premise, as posited by Jeremiah, Kami, Kevin and others: content generators need to develop materials and vehicles that communicate effectively with “media snackers,” those new economy animals who bounce from medium to medium picking up information and filtering it.
That means short blog posts, interactive web tools, podcasts of varying lengths, videos, Twitter streams and anything else that two guys withs seed capital can think up.
I see a strategic weakness in this premise, however: just because people want their media quick, easily digestible and interactive doesn’t mean we should abandon context and overlook longer term tactics.
That’s because I’m an old school media snacker. Not as old enough to be a Reader’s Digest subscriber, let’s get that out of the way.* But old enough to know how to follow Usenet threads. Old enough to have thought PointCast was going to revolutionize our world.
I think we run the risk of over-simplifying our tactics and under-estimating our readers/listeners/viewers: they don’t come to the dim sum buffet for the individual dish, they see ach piece as part of a larger meal.
You see, I’m not a media snacker, I’m a media aggregator. I may bounce from source to source and from one format to another, but I have one (or several) topics that I’m tracking.
I am picking up tidbits, thoughts and observations, and integrating them into internal narratives, or adding them to databases on issues I am following, or marking them as useful for work I am doing at the office.
The danger with the “snacker” meme is that we may see our readers in too simplistic a manner: as someone dropping by for a visit, or someone not really engaged in the process.
We have to make sure, as communicators, marketers, public relations hacks or community builders, that we integrate our “snack media” into a more comprehensive communications and marketing plan.
And that doesn’t mean a cool splashpage made in flash.
It means some sort of community hub, where all these snacks can be displayed on a big buffet table (or, given that most “media snacks” are ephemeral in time and place, a warming table). A touchstone for your “lifestream,” so to speak.
And then our reader, community member, stakeholder – whatever – can pick and choose the tactic that most suits them.
*You realise, of course, that Reader’s Digest was the original media snacker’s resource.
[Tags] media snacker, twitter, meme, community, interstitial, lifestream [/tags]
October 29, 2007 by Colin
You’re like me, aren’t you? You look in the fridge, and all you can see is a package of frankfurters. Hot dogs. Sausages. Processed meat in a casing.
What about a refreshing meat bunny? Or perhaps you’d like a little meat trunk on your elephant?
It’s been around for a while, but Nippon Ham has a novel way of promoting the purchase and consumption of their Winny brand hot dogs – detailed instructions on how to carve them into a variety of animals. Like these instructions for making that adorable meat bunny.
October 29, 2007 by Colin
Barbara Faga is an urban planner who has participated in hundreds and hundreds of public meetings – meetings that attempt to build a dialogue among many different factions on a highly sensitive issue: what will be built/destroyed/grown/paved over near my house or business?
Imagine two ferocious Not In My BackYard opponents chained together and locked in a 900 square foot room – with bad coffee. That’s right. A NIMBY faceoff of epic proportions.
And you are the referee.
Barbara Faga is well-acquainted with this environment. Which is why she was well-qualified to write this blog post last month: A guide to Taser-free public meetings.
She has also written a much longer book, Designing Public Consensus, that discusses the process of urban design and public consultation. Of particular interest is her observation that a good public consultation will stray from a linear, factual and dogmatic presentation of the proposal and options.
“…Rather than a scripted reading, managing a public process is much more a continuous improvisation. This is another image that came to me in Boston, about halfway through the 19 months it took to get final approval of our design for the Wharf District Park. As we debriefed after a particularly fractious meeting, our colleague, Lynn Wolff, insightfully described this series of public meetings as a form of “civic theater,” an entertaining way for involved and curious citizens to spend an evening.
At this point, we felt like lion fodder in the Roman Coliseum, so the metaphor seemed particularly apt. The power plays, emotional outbursts, bitter arguments, tiresome soliloquies, comic relief, sudden plot twists, and dramatic resolutions of the typical public process somehow seem better suited to the stage than to the hardheaded realities of designing and building our public spaces.
As I participated in the public drama that played out in Boston, I couldn’t help noticing the strong parallels to soap opera, Kabuki, and a three-ring circus. Some of our most important work will be performing (not acting, precisely, though a little dramatic flair doesn’t hurt) for audiences we have to win over. If we design and planning professionals think we can stay safely in the wings, ensconced at our comfy desks or drafting tables, we’ve got it wrong.
It’s like the old vaudeville act in which the guy gets all those plates spinning at once, in time to the music. That guy has nothing on us. (Foreword, Designing Public Consensus)
[tags] consultation, public meetings, town hall, public debate [/tags]
October 29, 2007 by Colin
Sorry folks – I’m going to interrupt with a little Ottawa civil servant code here.
If you’re an IS-04 or IS-05, bilingual, and can answer the question “what is your favourite feed reader” – please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
October 26, 2007 by Colin
Thirty years of teenage angst. Thirty years of rage. Thirty years of commercial manipulation.
It’s been thirty years since the Sex Pistols desecrated “God Save the Queen” – for the good of music and to add to the arsenal of expression available to citizens overlooked or oppressed by their government.
It’s a pity that a large part of the punk rock identity has been appropriated. Not just by large corporations peddling Never Mind The Bollocks tshirts or using London Calling in mobile phone ads, but by snot-nosed suburban kids with no real idea of the severe social, political and economic dislocation that prodded punk rock into existence.
Now, I don’t mean that punk rock MUST be reserved for the dis-associated sallow-skinned British youth. Punk has a mutli-cultural (and multi-generational) appeal and a highly personal relevance.
Instead, I am obsessed with the appropriation of punk imagery by the customers of mainstream marketers. My kids like a Canadian retail chain called West 49. There, they can find studded belts, skate decks, DC shoes, plaid pants, and $100 Billabong hoodies. And all these things sell very well.
But that sort of behaviour has to be expected. These retailers are serving the market.
But what is wrong with the GD kids? Why are $80 ballet flat Vans with death’s head appliques selling so well? Why does the young woman boarding that suburban bus have a “punk rock” tote bag? Why can kids pick up temporary hair colour in purple, yellow, green and orange?
DIY punk seems to be dead, at least in middle-class Ottawa. Is this the result of increased brand awareness among children?
Do kids now look for “punk” brand attributes? Are they looking for their rebellion, their outrage and a radicalisation of their family, neighbourhood, city or society in a well-designed box?
As we keep pushing youth and children to identify with brands, with products or with sentiments, are we undermining their ability to express themselves?
Are our marketing dollars making brand attributes so prevalent and so culturally predominant that it takes a truly dissociative individual to build a truly independent identity as a punk?
Is it even possible to buy white Chuck Taylors to colour and “bedazzle” with spikes and pins?
To quote Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock by MC Lars:
“…Hot Topic uses contrived identification with youth sub-cultures to manufacture an antiauthoritarian identity and make millions.
That $8 you paid for the Mudvayne poster would be better spent used for seeing your brother’s friend’s band.
DIY ethics are punk rock! Starting your own label is punk rock! GG Allin was punk rock!
But when a crass corporate vulture feeds on mass consumer culture, then spending Mommy’s money is not punk rock!
[Tags] punk rock, Sex Pistols, brand, brand attribute, self expression [/tags]
October 25, 2007 by Colin
“…“Second Life, as a global community with residents from more than 100 countries, is an ideal venue to host a virtual launch of a report that compares how easy it is for people to start and operate a business in 178 economies,” Dahlia Khalifa said.
“Second Life is on the frontier of collaboration and technology. It brings people from around the world together by removing boundaries,” she added. …(news release)
It’s a noble effort and an example that the World Bank and its’ partners are looking for new ways to communicate their ideas – but Second Life has not proven its worth as a communication tool.
Earlier this year, Eric Kintz at HP argued why he still needed convincing about Second Life. Bandwidth and computing power were among the factors he identified for his reluctance to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak.
Those are very big issues for most government departments. Even OECD members have to evaluate the capacity of their network to deliver content over a service like Second Life – but also their network’s capacity to deliver that content back to their own employees.
I suspect that many organizations with outposts in Second Life (like Sweden) have set up separate networks and better equipment for their in-world representatives.
More on the event:
“…The event will be an open forum where policy makers and the public from around the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, can ask questions, challenge the findings, and contribute to a global business dialogue aimed at stimulating reforms that improve the business environment, and ultimately create more business startups, job opportunities, and economic growth.
Digital copies of the report’s overview, as well as World Bank–IFC virtual apparel and products, will be available to Second Life residents who attend the event.”
How are the clients of the World Bank – many of them living in remote corners of the internet – supposed to sign on for this report launch?
[tags] Second Life, World Bank, Doing Business, third world, international organizations, multilateral [/tags]
October 25, 2007 by Colin
Wow. A commentary on microblogging which manages to sneak in a 1980s AND a 1960s cultural reference:
“Trivial Pursuits: With microblogging services, such as Pownce, Jaiku, Twitter, and Facebook, the mundane is the message.“
That’s the title and subhed of an article by Jason Pontin in the November/December MIT Technology Review.
As a result, a prescient observation (the medium is the message) becomes another snippet of post-mod irony (the mundane is the message).
Still, as a polite Canadian I suppose I should thank MIT for the double shot reference to these significant Canadian contributions to popular culture.
I certainly shouldn’t lash out in anger and spite – like the last comment on this Slate article about Trivial Pursuit.
Still, the observation is accurate: 140 characters is not a lot of space to communicate sophisticated thought, or even to draw a link between ideas and events.
But that’s not the benefit of services like Twitter, is it?
[tags] microblogging, micro blog, twitter, facebook, Pontin [/tags]
October 25, 2007 by Colin
What do you do when a review process goes horribly, horribly wrong? When the judges are just staring blankly past you, hoping that you’ll get the hint and leave? Sort of like any one of the first five episodes of every season of American Idol?
Apparently, one option is a blowfish:
“…Puff out your cheeks and point your fingers out around your face, like dangerous spikes…”
That’s from Blowfish: What To Do When A Design Jury Attacks, in the Fall issue of Harvard Design Magazine.
There’s another 109 responses in the article. Here’s a sample:
2. Pre-emptive abuse
Slap your head violently and mutter “Stupid, stupid, stupid, I should have thought of that.”
6. Throw down the gauntlet
Gesture aggressively toward the jury and yell, “Ya wanna go? Ya wanna step outside?” For a hockey motif, bear-hug a critic and try to pull his or her shirt up over the head. This renders your opponent both blind and open to your punches.
10. Postmodern simulation
Leaf through your sketchbook and then look up and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not in the script. What page are you on?”
Say nothing. Whip out a roll of Mentos, smile at the critic, and freeze.
43. Focus power (chi)
With a serious manner, straighten your body, look at the critic severely, then explain, “Architecture here!” (tapping on your chest), “No here!” (tapping on the critic’s head).
45. Special interests
Make your rebuttal based on the endangered mystical animals that inhabit the area of the critic’s concern. For example, “But unicorns are fatally allergic to exhaust fumes, so there can’t be parking anywhere near there.”
51. Bill and Ted
Make the devil sign with your hand, raise it above your head and shout, “San Dimas High School Football Rules!” The audience should cheer loud enough for you to make an exit.
59. Lost childhood
Look sad and mutter, “This is the worst school for show-and-tell I’ve ever been to.”
94. News anchor
Stick a finger in your ear, as if receiving a bulletin through an earpiece. Haltingly inform the critic: “Wait a minute . . . yes. . . . I’m receiving word that. . . It is indeed as you say, not like it looks here. Again, the latest news is that you are correct, and this drawing is NOT accurate.”
Wow. There’s actually 164 in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Student Forums.
More recently, Michael Schrage wrote about his experience as a juror for the Industrial Design Society of America’s global design competition.
[tags] blowfish, design, review, judge, creative, design school [/tags]