Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cell Phone Stories

arrested heart

I wrote the first chapter of my new mobile text story today. As a long time fan and a dabbler in short story telling, I think this is going to become my new favourite hobby for the forseeable. 

I'm not sure the site I'm working with at the moment is 100% there yet, i had some little niggles in getting started, but it's pretty much the only one I found of any scale, where you could write in English (my Japanese just isn't quite there yet). And it is in Beta, so fair play.

I'm pretty interested in this whole concept (apart from my love of short stories) becuase it's making me think about how we tell short stories: so we plan them, half plan them and make the rest up on the fly, or do we rely utterly and completely on our intuition to navigate our way through it and make everything up in real time as we type or talk...

In the most part it made me think about my own life as a story. And as I do, i've realised that i am as a person fairly 'episodic'. Maybe we all are, but when i realised that, 'my own story' started to make much more sense. And actually i started to see everything in a much more future focussed, flexible, dramatic way. Rather than looking back, which we are all so prone to do, i started to only look forward. Such is the power of storytelling, and not just the content but the whole structure.

I've got a fairly good idea of the storyline for this latest 'novella' *jokes*. But not 100%. It's made me think a lot more about each of the characters. Becuase as I write it, I am publishing it, my readers already have an idea of the characters, and they know how the plot is progressing and it already exists in their consciousness. I can't go back and edit anything. I haven't finished the story and even though there are many chapters to come, in some sense many things are already final. 

I can't believe some version of text storywriting or chapter-following can't happen here in the UK, and I'm certainly going to be championing it, as there are some brands that this makes total sense for them and their fans to get into, together.

Read along at if you dare. Or more apt for these times, ..."if you care". 

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Cult of Done

I got excited when i read this. Stumbled upon it via a Steve Rubel tweet about managing your social time, directing me to smartdatacollective but then spotted this post there and went to the original source which is Bre Pettis' site.  I've struggled for years under the debilitating disease of perfectionism, and often it has lead to procrastination and in some cases complete and utter non-achievement. And I could never really understand that. This explains it all: 'laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done'. It's Easter Sunday and that hit me like an Easter Sunday epiphany should! 

And it made me think again about the whole 3.0 world. everything we're doing now is about being done. Twitter: 'what are you doing', Friendfeed 'see what you're friends are doing', open source 'others doing becomes your doing too'.....i think that's one of the things that makes the newly updated Facebook status update that asks 'what's on your mind' so incongruous'....i'd rather now what someone is doing/has done/is about to do than what's in their unknowable and, in often cases terrifying, mind. 

Anyway, I love (most of) this cult of done, and from now on I'm going to try to live by it more. It reminds me of the philosophy of just Being and being 'present'. Of the need to get rid of our fears of looking good, and equally the need to get out of the stands and onto the pitch if we really want to participate in our own life. Funny how technology in the hands of a collective of people can and has made that happen, rather than the individual mind working it out for itself. So finally, i think it's a great example of a 'together-in-between' idea, where the best ideas happen in the space inbetween individuals, and in a way that renders it not just an ephemeral concept sitting in someone's head that they then have to explain in written communication to someone else, but something automatically practical and behavioural, and therefore tangible, and happening (also affecting those around), from the word go. 

Anyway, I'm done.......

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Twit To Woo

       my 100 character story

Here's my entry to QR-Tales 2009. If you want to participate visit the qrcode site where you'll also be able to get details of the prizes (which includes your short story qr code printed up on merchandise). Thanks to Nick, on whose blog I originally spotted the reference to the competition. I'm very happy with my story - a modern twist on an age old fairy tale. But you'll have to use your mobile if you want it to be your bed time story tonight. 

Friday, 3 April 2009

Time is waiting in the wings...

      Nicholas Bourriaud's Altermodern exhibition 

What's after postmodernism. That's the question that Nicholas Bourriaud's exhibition poses. His manifesto which attempts to answer that question puts clear water between where we've been and where we're going in the realms of art, media, communication and culture. He weaves together several macrotrends, including:

- Increased communication, travel and migration
- New universalism based on translations, subtitling and generalised dubbing
- Globalisation in every aspect of everyday life

to investigate what that could mean for the era that is now emerging and in which we will soon find ourselves. The Altermodern era as he calls it. 

One of the most interesting points he makes in the accompanying video on the Tate's site, is that 'History' is the new continent. His point (I think) is that Time itself as a concept has become a continent - has become a place - it's become spatial - rather than temporal. With the advent of Google and the ever-present nature of historical content as and when it is created, as well as forever afterwards....nothing passes away or retreats into the past. It stays in the present. And so we can mix up the past with the present and have them running in parallel in some ways, partnering up through mixed media. 

It made me realise more than ever that not only is creation a non-linear process but so is consumption. We've all done the path to purchase plotting out the decision making processes of a consumer, and acknowledged that it doesn't really happen like that ( a realisation - acquisition - confirmation sequence of events). But have we really taken it any further? Not really. Traditional advertising and even most integrated campaigns still follow the linear sequence of I see it, I investigate it, I buy it, I feel vindicated, I talk about it. 

What the Altermodern exhibition does is make us just feel it.   When we are faced with  'Line of Control' or 'The Projection Room' what our senses are experiencing can't be understood in a logical, rational way. We can't work out the elements of the experience, we can only feel all the various ways the mix of media, the time and  the content, is having on us at that moment. It should be the same for brands. A consumer online could be reading a recommendation on a comparison site, overhearing the TV ad, opening a new pack and throwing away the old one, seeing his friend become a fan in a newsfeed - all about the same brand - and all at the same time.

We're in the continuous partial attention economy now, not the linear temporal one, and our comms strategies have to reflect this. And whilst the likes of Cadbury's content is at least rich, participatory, shareable and mashable, it's still really following a pretty traditional linear path.

Just in the way the exhibits at Altermodern often each combine lots of different media or perspectives into one piece:  static and nonstatic, traditional and interactive etc, switching on all our senses to ensure we experience it rather than just 'look' at it or  just 'hear' it, we need each of our comms to do the same. Each 'communication' we create is no longer a message, it's an experience in itself, something that exists without boundaries. If anything it's a place to be discovered rather than an event to be plotted. 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Change in Advertising. The Full Speech

          Genius timing from the chaps at Famous
Anyone in advertising (or whatever we are calling it these days) I think you might appreciate this one. This is a clever viral from the really interesting chaps at Famous in Brussels. Timed to coincide with the very pinnacle of Obama positivity and hype, this has as much to say about the state of the world of advertising as Mr President had to say about the state of the world in general. Whether planner, creative or client, read it and weep, or if you're feeling positive about what this all means for the future of it and feel relief. 


We heart Tony Hart

Howies T-shirt selling at Tate online

I so covet this fabulous t-shirt. When I was a kid I would watch religiously Tony Hart's shows, Take Hart and Hart Beat. Every episode was an inspiration, and the music that accompanied the Gallery will be with me forever...I would sit in anticipation wondering whether anything I had sent in would ever be featured. How many children were sitting at home in their living rooms, glued to the TV, wondering the very same thing. Tony Hart was an inspiration to a whole generation of kids. Not because he taught them art but because he encouraged them to use their imaginations, see things in new ways, and then bring that to life originally yet from the most very basic of materials. What a legend. What a teacher. What a t-shirt. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

To Tweet or not to Tweet

Typed copy reads: Regarding Twitter, I believe it is an excellent way to engage with the public however I receive approximately 200 pieces of correspondence from constituents a week and I feel that my time is best spent responding to their queries and concerns.

So don't get me wrong, I think my MP is great, I mean I really do like and respect her, and in this day and age it's fantastic to get a handwritten reply on quality paper (with matching envelope), and for it to feel like a personal message, which this did.

What I find interesting is the sentiment that Twitter is just a fad, and the job of 'engaging with the public' is secondary to answering their queries and concerns. Many of these queries and concerns from constituents will of course be serious minded and have a personal context but could it not be that using twitter to inform and engage constituents (or at least those interested enough to follow) could perhaps also prove preventative and reduce the need to mail out some of those queries and concerns in the first place. 

Let's say in the case of a planning application, or a local eduction issue, a Twitter group on that specific issue could inform, update, direct and answer many questions, and at the same time leave constituents feeling that they were actively given the information rather than having to go out and search for it, wouldn't that be progress of a kind. Twitter is by no means the answer to everything, but surely there are lots of ways in which twitter = community, and politics = community, so surely the two should coexist rather than compete.

And the real benefit of twitter of course is that there's a 100% guarantee of never mis-spelling someone's name when you do reply. Oops. 

(the plaster didn't come with the letter, that was all me)

Monday, 2 March 2009

Tonal Planning

I guess mainly because I am so bored with the question: 'are you more of a commercial planner or more the creative planner type?' I've begun to think about whether there might be meta-tones that exist within the planning community. 

The very dull question above presupposes that you can either be a planner who has a rational and logical approach,  forensic about the commercial cause and effect of your communication, or you can be a planner who is creative, intuitive and whilst possibly inspiring to creative teams, pretty breezy about the commercial effects of your strategy. It's assumed that one planner is a good match for a hard-nosed sales driving task; the other for the creation of a brand image impact, and that never the twain shall meet. 

We all know that is nonsense and the job of planning is both holistic and forensic, but it did start me thinking about planning approaches, and whether each planner has a genre if you like, that he or she plans within. A way of looking at the world that provides a lens for the way they might see the problem, or the way in which they might express a solution. Or to put it another way, to make a distinction between a commercial planner and a creative planner is to miss the point. The question I'm asking is 'what kind of creativity do you bring to commercial planning'?

When I read, but also when I look at the visuals and the organisational structure of Adliterate, it's  the closest thing to editorial. It's opinion, and point of view strongly held. It's as if Richard Huntington is a journalist, investigating the consumer and commercial landscape for insights, uncovering them with the powers of an investigative journalist. Is it surprising then that he talks about insights as 'revelations'. I think of him as the journalist/editor planner .

When I listen to Paul Feldwick and his clever use of language, as well as his inspirations from poetry, it strikes me that he is pretty simply the poet-planner. His papers on digital versus analogue communication takes us right back to an understanding of how language is used but how meaning is conveyed, how the two are interrelated, and the possible ways we can use language as a way of showing rather than telling, if we truly want to communicate. 

John Grant has to be the political planner. His theories and arguments are always have huge policy or political contexts; innovation, environment, ethical production and consumption.

And what of Mark Earls and Russell Davies?  Is Earls not our social scientist of planning? Tirelessly uncovering new and fascinating ways in which we are social beings, and if he sees us as super social apes, perhaps we should see him not unlike the Attenborough-type explorer. He's the explorer-planner. Russell Davies on the other hand, is to me anyway, the Martin Parr of planning. He can pull out of what is on the surface the most ordinary, and perhaps dull everyday scenario, something truly enlightening and as he might say, interesting. The tension between the interesting and the ordinary is less about 'exploring' and more akin to 'engineering'.  What's really going on behind the stuff of life, how does it work, and how could it be better? When I read his blog I think of design both in terms of its visual sense and in terms of the mathematics of design.  I say he's our engineer planner.

No doubt these planners would probably be recoiling at some of the 'labels' I've given them, some of which could be debated, and improved upon, but it's not done to give labels, it's done purely to make a point. That each planner with a view, a viewpoint, or a point of view, has a way of meeting the world, that they will bring to the discipline of planning. And thank goodness for that because each brings an artistic lens to the science of planning. And in that sense every planner worth his salt, has a signature tone to their thinking. What's yours?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Rubin's Cubes

This afternoon I went to the Olivia Rubin show at London's Fashion Week. Already making a name for herself, Rubin recently dressed our doe-eyed pop princess Cheryl Cole in the little zebra number. The show was fascinating, reminded me of making TV ads...all the time and resources, dedication, envisioning, preparation, planning, styling that goes on months beforehand, and then it's all over in about 15 minutes. So it better be a magical few minutes.

And this one was. The models slinked down the catwalk like little glow worms, their luminous skin matching the pearly palette of their beautiful outfits. Another inbetweener, Rubin's look is caught between the graphical nature of the art deco of the past and the wearable, flightiness of the future. And top styling by the lovely Grace Woodward. 

What Would David do?

I've decided to take some inspiration from Jeff Jarvis, and write the great unwritten work 'What would David Do?'

Heroes & Superheroes

Here's the original then. From Marvel Comics. Essentially The In-Betweener represents the dualities of concepts like good and evil. He was and is an agent of Lord Chaos and Master Order, and his job was to keep the Cosmos in balance. But of all his powers, attributes, weapons and paraphenalia, it's the fact that he has one black eye and one white eye that's most fascinating. 

And that's mostly because he reminds me of my other hero. The thin white duke, the diamond dog, the aladin sane...Bowie. Who's more representative of the inbetweeness of things, than the creator of so many utterly original and innovative art, music, personas, commercial practices and even communites.  Not long ago he received a lifetime acheivement award for services to technology through his innovation around bowienet, which quickly led to what was then a hugely innovative concept on the web, allowing artists to showcase their galleries of work, that of bowieart. But even more than this, John Harris in the Guardian recently asked: Is David Bowie responsible for the recession? Joking aside, it takes something for a creative genius to also be commercially astute, and to be as innovative in one area as they are in the other. He challenged and changed our perceptions of what was real, what was art and performance, and most importantly what was acceptable, and therefore shaped the future of so much of today's culture. That's the magic of being an inbetweener. 


The intention of this blog is just to serve as a space to record and discuss all those interesting things that sort of sit inbetween; not easily identifiable as either in the past, but not yet well enough defined to be understood as the future. Of course it's not just about tenses, there's lots of stuff that occupies the world inbetween. There's the in between of good and evil, art and science, rational and emotional, heritage and progress, truth and lies, inside and outside, the physical and the virtual, the right and the left....... Strikes me that we're in an era where things are really not as easily identifiable or as open to clear definition as they used to be. Obvious, maybe. But where does that leave us in trying to understand the world around us, when almost by the time we've understood it, it has morphed again.  Anyway, let's just see where it leads.