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Ice Record

 

Missed this over the holidays: Working record made from ice – Boing Boing. I suppose it’s one way to stop piracy (or ensure that people search for a listenable version of your song to pirate).

The top 2 comments on YouTube say it all really (as usual)…

Screenshot 02:01:2013 20:14

New Year, New York, New Blogging Attempt

New York Skyline

It was almost a year ago exactly that I set up crackunit2.com. Enthusiasm for a blank sheet of paper, blah, blah, blah.

Then I posted halfheartedly for a couple of months. Then I posted a big bombshell about leaving my job, moving to New York, and to Google. Then nothing. Not a peep.

I could make a bunch of excuses about moving house, trying to get my arse in gear in a new city, blah, blah, blah. All of it true. All of it rather lame. But instead I’m just going to pull up my crappy socks and give it another go.

I’ve got a spanky new template called Memoir by Design Crumbs - I picked it because it was simple and free from tomfoolery that would distract me from actually posting stuff. Oh, and it looks really nice on mobile devices – which I think might be big in 2013. No really. People might start looking at the internet on their phones ;-)

Hello 2013. Hello world. Go easy on me, I’ve forgotten how this stuff works…

I can’t quite believe it

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this funny feeling? You wake with a sneaking nagging doubt. You wonder if you’ve been bluffing your way through life. You look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re about to go. And you ask yourself, “how did I get here? Is any of this real? How could this be happening to me?”.

I haven’t spent any time in therapy, I probably ought to. I’m pretty sure they would have a science-y name for this feeling. But I’ve also heard enough people describe similar things to suspect it’s just a kinky part of the human condition.

Anyway, I’ve got an intense version of that feeling right now. I think the symptoms become especially acute in moments of good fortune. And right now I suspect I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I’ve spent the last two years and 12 days working at the greatest creative agency in the world – Wieden+Kennedy.

I’ve been part of an incredible group of people (no doubt fuelling my feelings of inadequacy and fakery) helping to evolve the output of the agency to be more interactive, and to take advantage of the connected world we’re building. That evolution is an ongoing and never-ending work in progress. Something that many companies seem to forget or choose to ignore because it’s such a frighteningly infinite task. The fact that W+K is undaunted by that challenge, and is honest and clear with itself about the work that’s been done, and the work that’s still to do, is the reason I know they will continue to thrive and lead the industry. But they will thrive and evolve without me.

It took me 5 paragraphs to get there, but now I’ve said it: I’m leaving W+K.

I can almost hear the 12 people reading this blog asking: “Wait! If it’s so great how come you’re leaving?”.

I have nothing but admiration, respect, and fuzzy-warm feelings towards W+K and (almost) every single person there. And it’s a cliché but they ARE the best storytellers in the world. They create deep, rich, culture-shaping, stories, personalities and voices for brands that are unrivaled. W+K is in the game of creating content and experiences that people crave, seek out, share, and become emotionally entangled with – often driving incredible business results. During the last 2 years I’ve learned tons from some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

I paused at the end of that paragraph and asked myself: “What the hell AM I doing walking away from this?”. I can only make sense of it when I look at where I’m heading; I’m going to be an ECD at Google Creative Lab in New York.

I’ll try my best to explain why this is the right move for me: on the surface it might seem like a subtle distinction, and for some people there’d be no difference, but for me it’s pretty fundamental. Earlier I mentioned doing things for brands that take advantage of the ‘connected world’, but what I really want to do with my life it to get closer to the shaping of the connected world. For me that means getting deeper into the shaping of products and services, showing people the life-enhancing potential of technology, and helping to get those things into peoples’ hands. I believe that Google is in a unique position to make those things happen in the world.

Google Creative Lab and W+K are a strange kind of yin and yang. And I know how much each of the organizations respects the other. They both create stories and products, and they’re both operating at the intersection of art and science – but their history, their outputs and their missions are quite different. At this point in my life I feel that I need to be working with the kinds of products that Google is creating.

I’m fully aware of recent criticisms of Google, and I’m going into this with my eyes open. It’s not a startup anymore. Google is a large company with vast responsibilities, and those responsibilities are only likely to grow. So it has to hold itself to ruthless standards of impeccable behavior. I’m excited and motivated by that.

Everyone I’ve met who works at Google and Google Creative Lab feels like they’re part of a company that is both a great business AND can change the world for the better. I’m overjoyed to share their beliefs and look forward to joining them.

I can’t believe that I’m leaving W+K. And I can’t believe that I’m about to join Google Creative Lab. The whole thing is kind of unbelievable.

To everyone at W+K – goodbye and thanks for everything. To everyone at Google – hello and thanks for things to come.

Looking for Impossible People

find_people

If there was one thing I’d love to take off my to-do list. It would be the ‘find awesome people’ action. I suspect that’s unlikely to happen any time soon though. Especially as the brief is so impossible.

We are looking for people who most probably don’t exist. Walking paradoxes. People who can exist at 2 ends of a spectrum simultaneously without descending into schizophrenia. People who enjoy being on both sides of any fence they come across. They might be hater lovers or lover haters. Angels who crave a bit of Satan, or Satanists who like the idea of God. People who can deal with being 100% yin and 100% yang at the same time.

Freaks basically. Freaks who are interested in the idea of being Interactive Creative Directors at the highest levels of W+K’s offices around the world.

We’re looking for Visionary Realists, people who revel in the wonder of what the world is becoming and are excited to invent the future of the agency. But at the same time know that there’s shit to get done in order to get there. That today’s graft will become tomorrow’s glory. People who are excited to make the most of what they have today to propel them to where they want to go tomorrow. Their visioneering should excite everyone around them (inside and outside of the agency), and their realism should inspire confidence, trust, and loyalty from clients and co-workers.

We’re looking for Perfectionist Hackers, people who are comfortable throwing stuff together out of what they’ve got lying around as much as they are working with a multi-million dollar budget to produce the most expertly crafted thing in the universe. Understanding that different situations require different solutions and being equally happy with cheap-and-dirty and mind-blowingly-indulgent.

We’re looking for Wildly Conceptual Thinkers with Executional Grounding, people who would “Choose the Moon” but be confident in how to actually get there. Big dreamers who have turned outlandish dreams into reality a bunch of times before. People whose passion and vision for an idea will have everyone around them believing that it can and must be done, and whose experience inspires confidence that we can do it.

We’re looking for Digital Revolutionaries with Traditional Sympathies, people who are first and foremost digital agitators. People who get frustrated by most of the work that they see. People that think we’re not trying hard enough. That we’re too slow, too backwards, too analogue, too static, too broadcasty – that we need to push harder and push more.

But at the same time they must have a respect for, and understanding of, the heritage of the agency. Of the un-process that has been creating great provocative communications for almost 30 years. An interest and passion for the craft that makes the most wonderful, soulful, effective, advertising in the world. But then be prepared to pick the right moments to say: “fuck it old timers, that was yesterday”.

Know anyone that fits the bill?

If you or someone you know does, please email me at this address – everything will be treated in the strictest confidence. I won’t take an email as a sign of anything more than just being a tiny bit curious.

Oh, and I started out writing that with the idea of it being about Interactive Creative Directors. And that’s what I’m personally trying to hunt down at the moment. But if you’re someone that’s saying “hey, that’s me” and you happen to be an account person, strategist, technologist, juggler, mercenary, monkey butler or whatever, I’d be happy to hook you up with the right people.

Maybe I’m a little lax?

A senior businessman with expertise in China goes through this ritual when he visits:

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.”

Electronic Security a Worry in an Age of Digital Espionage – NYTimes.com.

+Pool on Kickstarter

I missed the +Pool project last year. It’s great.

More than the fact I love the idea. I love that it shows the power of a community like Kickstarter not only to raise money, but also how putting an unrealized idea out into the world can raise awareness and create connections that can take a project to the next level.

The designers of +Pool could have decided to keep the thing to themselves. They could have squirreled it away and hoped that one day they could make it happen by themselves. They would have been left with nothing but a great idea sitting on a hard drive somewhere – and a nagging sense of disappointment. Instead they put it out there. People liked it. And things started to happen…

During that summer we designed + Pool and launched it into the world with the main intention of building a team that could help us realize the project. We figured it might attract attention from some engineers and experts that could help us out.

What we hadn’t anticipated was that within the first few days over 50,000 people had shown interest in the project and we were fielding calls left and right about how to make this pool a reality. At the end of the first week, we got a call from Arup, one of the most innovative engineering firms in the world (and frankly, a firm we never thought we’d even get a chance to talk to) who basically said, “look guys, you’ve got something new here, and we want to help you make it happen.” Arup offered to donate their resources and it was at that moment that we realized that this thing was really going to happen.

100 Hours of Solitude / Glitchbot

 

A 100hr long video on the internet. That is all.

By Ben Baker-Smith: http://bitsynthesis.com/artwork/

Also by the artist is something I like even more. Glitchbot. It automatically creates a new image every day by taking an (appropriately licensed) image from Flickr and ‘glitching’ it to create a new work.

&Jx4TM#!5lyN=JHBxK

For the full Glitchbot stream go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glitchbot/

 

The Three Rs of Modern Creativity

Resilience - Jet Set Willy Style

Resilience – Jet Set Willy Style

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be a good creative in a modern agency. And it just so happened that 3 things that kept resurfacing began with an R. So here are my Three Rs for creatives:

Resilience – Don’t give up!

The modern world is complicated for clients and agencies. In most commercial environments there are tons more reasons not to do something brave than there are to do it. So if you’re doing your best as a creative person to innovate or do something a little more daring or unexpected there are hundreds of ways for your idea to be killed.

The idea that’s on the table might not be to the taste of the person who’s buying. It might sound a bit like that thing that someone else did. There might be a mismatch of appetite for risk. It might be too complicated in terms of requiring people from different departments to talk to each other. It might be all about Facebook that week. You may have used the color blue incorrectly. And sometimes, just sometimes, the idea might be a shitty one (but that almost never happens, right?).

So what do you need? Apart from good ideas? Resilience. You need to be able to take a few knocks. You need to understand that someone not buying something in the first meeting doesn’t mean “no”, it just means they didn’t believe your spiel. If you’re convinced that you’re right. Then figure out how to make them believe.

Listen to the clients’ feedback. Why didn’t they like it? Speak to the rest of your team. What was wrong? Mostly your idea isn’t 100% incorrect. So don’t tear it all up and start again. Fiddle with it. Squeeze it. Bend it. Change the typeface. Do some ghetto focus groups. Work with some folks who can make a better business case than you. Make it red if you have to.

Too often you see good ideas die because people weren’t able to look at the idea and protect the core of it. Babies get thrown out with bathwater all the time. Partly this is because people become wedded to execution of ideas. And as soon as they feel like the execution is questioned then the idea feels compromised. Mostly that’s not the case. There’s a different way to express the same idea that will often overcome everyone’s issues with it. Fight to keep an idea on the table when it deserves to be there.

Of course there’s ways to do this and there’s ways not to do this. Don’t confuse resilience with belligerence. And if someone is really really saying no (especially when accompanied by sustained weeping) then it’s time to give up.

Oh and you don’t just need resilience on one project. You need it across everything you work on because chances are you’re going to fail over and over again. That’s just how it is these days.

Restraint – Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. 

It is tempting though isn’t it. There’s all these fancy new things out there that everyone is using. Why not spooge your wares all over Pinterest (or whatever today’s fresh virgin snow is)? Of course it makes sense to gum up Instagram with your awesome thing. It’s not like people have had their fill of your Tweets, YouTube Videos, Facebook status updates, rich media eye-rape, projection-mapped city takeovers, bluetooth phone-jackathons, interactive outdoor-o-matics with busloads of people jumping up and down in front of a Kinect, and that mobile-thingy-you-stuck-in-at-the-end-for-good-measure. Oh and of course a bloody #hashtag.

Ideas fail all the time because they’ve been obscured and over-compicated by adding ‘too much stuff’. They start to feel onerous and difficult and that they’ll be a nightmare to manage for the client. Let alone what a ball ache they’ll be for any normal person to engage with.

It’s no wonder people crave the simplicity of a TV spot, some print, and a bit of radio. Imagine how much simpler and easier that sounds to a client. You can sign-off in 20 minutes and be back doing your proper job before you know it. With all this social media nonsense we’re asking them to dedicate the rest of their lives to whatever-it-is. 24×7.

Make it simple, concrete, smart, and focussed. At least at the outset. When your idea proves to be the next big thing and people are begging to be wowed in even more places, then of course oblige them, it’d be rude not to.

Respect – You can’t do this stuff on your own.

In this complex world you can’t do it all on your own. You need to collaborate. And to collaborate well you need to respect other people. Even if you don’t understand what they do. No wait a second. Especially if you don’t understand what they do. Chances are it’s much more complicated and difficult than you think – unless their title has “Social Media” in it, in which case probably not ;-)

I’m always amazed at how threatened people seem to get when it comes to working with new people. We have to get used to collaborating. In most situations everyone wins most when a successful outcome occurs. It’s rare that sabotage and watching you fail are anyone’s motives. Unless you find paranoia, fear, and a general sense of unease are useful creative motivators assuming the best in people is a good idea.

Of course there are tricky moments when there’s blurry lines over responsibility or people are worried about who’s going to get credit for what. But this is all just ego-nonsense. And surely it’d be better for you to get some credit for a thing that happens rather than be totally responsible for something that never gets made?

I suspect that these 3 things don’t just apply to the creative discipline in agencies, I feel like they might be more general than that. But I couldn’t say for sure.

Have you got any different / better Rs? Being respectful I’d love to hear them.

Confused about why I called this the “Three Rs”? (I’m not sure if it’s a global thing or not) Wikipedia will fill you in. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_three_Rs

Absurd Breakdancing (with no phonecams)

Normally YouTube comments are mostly banal nonsense. But I liked the most ‘liked’ comment under this incredible video…

i love how the crowd don’t have any smartphone in their hands to take any fucking pictures or vdo they just enjoy the moment…this is how it is suppose to be :)

I’m guessing its because most of the front rows are other dancers, but I liked the sentiment.

Pen Type-A

Missed this when it was on Kickstarter. It’s proper pen geekery. it’s an aluminium body for the Hi-Tec-C pen cartridge.

The Hi-Tec-C is my favorite super-fine pen. And loads of other people seem to have a thing for them too.

Not sure I could justify the $99 price tag, but it’s the kind of thing that in a moment of drunken e-commerce stupidity I could conceivably find falling through the letterbox. If you’re feeling flush they’re fully funded and you buy one from CW&T SHOP.