Archive for October, 2009
21st October 09
I first came across this last year, and found it to be one of the best written and most insightful papers of the year.
At first glance this year’s presentation, posted yesterday (20th Oct) looks equally essential reading. See what you think.
15th October 09
“This is it. One day, one issue, thousands of voices.“
Robin Beck, Lead Organiser, Blog Action Day 09: Climate Change
Blog Action Day has it all: a social experiment on a mass scale, for the good of the planet. And, whilst it’s been pretty awe-inspiring to witness thousands of people write about the same topic in one day, it’s fair to say we’re most excited by that word in the middle: Action.
With that and #BAD09′s climate change focus in mind, we’re using our post here to share the work of Sebastian Copeland, the photographer, environmental advocate & polar explorer. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say Sebastian is also my cousin).
Aside from the fact we’re not-so-secret fans of exploration in all senses of the word here at Labs, the thing we most admire (as we’ve discussed on a more than one occasion) is the killer combination of ground-breaking creativity put to great use. In Sebastian’s case, it’s one thing to have enviable creative & technical skill as a photographer, director, writer & speaker, it’s altogether another thing when that’s combined with a fearless appetite for physical endurance and a single-minded commitment to putting climate change issues front & centre.
15th October 09
We liked this.
Fairly cutting edge stuff – probably not easily accessible to everyday (‘normal’ i.e. have-a-life) users, quite yet at least, but still really interesting step on the way from mouse to touch-based (more direct) interface. See what you think.http://www.vimeo.com/6712657
Thanks to @kunaldpatel for the heads up.
3rd October 09
As in thrall as we may be to the firehose of new stuff drenching us in the here and now, occasionally we want to look a little further over the horizon. Two thoughts collided in the collective Labs brain a short while ago. By ‘collided’ we mean we saw a consequence of the relationship between the two that made us sit up and think:
1. The mass socialization of technology. 300 million + Facebook users can’t be wrong. We’re still in awe of how mainstream the adoption of technology has become and just how networked the world is. Increasingly the ‘loop’ never seems to close.
2. How ill-equipped we are to cope with the deluge. Natural human processing power is sadly finite and struggling to cope. Certainly, we know we’re not alone in adopting coping strategies like continuous partial attention and ignoring much beyond tomorrow or next week. Steve Rubel at Edelman also has written extensively on the attention crash and its relevance for marketers.
The heady mix of excitement and uneasy tension brought about by these two things has felt irresolvable and on an accelerating curve. Sure, we can help speed our path through the data with better micro tools (“there’s an app for that…”) but they invariably lead us to consume more, faster; giving us the sense that we’re simply accelerating to the point where our brains implode are placed under too much stress. We’re not wannabe priestesses and priests of Zen around here, but is there a longer term, more profound step change to be made where technology actually enables a more balanced life?
An answer began to emerge when we read a thought-provoking piece in the NYT by John Markoff subtitled “Artificial Intelligence Regains Its Allure.” AI. Cybernetics. Nanotechnology. Post Humanism? Sounds eccentric, but stay with us. Markoff’s assertion that a groundswell of attention and respect has been building around AI, in particular around an idea dubbed the Technological Singularity, made us curious. In a sentence, the idea is that once we create an an artificial intelligence greater than our own, it follows that any resulting ‘Superbrain’ will be capable of augmenting itself extremely quickly to become even more intelligent and so on, leading to an explosive growth in intelligence that is (literally) beyond our imagination.
3rd October 09
*John Markoff, “The Coming Superbrain”, New York Times, May 2009
This post exists to house the material we digested to write the “The Coming Age of Augmentation” Labs post which follows this one.
We have to come clean first. Yes, we do like tech innovation and even sci-fi. We count amongst our Labs midst a few fans of Philip K Dick and one who still reads Yevgeny Zamyatin, so we may appear to be on less than entirely rational, objective ground here. Then there is the fact there is something fabulously seductive about the language and imagery used to describe prospective real & imagined scientific frontiers: Dystopia, Utopia, Rapture (of the Nerds), the Singularity, that extraordinarily gripping, nightmare sequence in Terminator 2 when the playground is blown to smithereens… But we’re drifting from the point.
Here we’d like to create a virtual library of all the very best content about the Technological Singularity and related topics. Please add links to other good stuff worth reading in the comments. We’ve arranged the content here on a make-shift scale from Tech Evangelist all the way to Sceptic, starting with the former. Here goes -
1st October 09
In this film, recorded in NYC last week during Advertising Week, Bob Greenberg (Chairman, CEO & Chief Creative Officer) & Barry Wacksman (EVP, Chief Growth Officer) provide smart, grounded, food-for-thought around agency model re-invention, and particularly around the role of technology in the emerging shape of agencies, post-recession.
It’s of value for a number of reasons. First, because they’re talking from experience rather than about theory – always preferable. But second, they’re not just talking about themselves or about how great they are (though they are clearly very good within the niche they occupy). And so it doesn’t feel preachy. It feels honest and useful. And so no matter whether you’re a tiny & groovy start-up with six people or a networked mega-shop, there are provocations here.
The dissection of the very real differences between CAMPAIGNS, PROGRAMS and PLATFORMS is useful, not least when it comes to resource implications, processes and structures. This seems the key take-out. And two numbers have stayed with me: 25% of their headcount are technologists (where do they get *that* much great talent?). They produce 95% of their output in-house.
Their model won’t be right for the great majority of agencies – they’re still production specialists in many ways – but they at least seem to have a model, and can talk coherently around why it’s right for them. They seem to have worked out how technology can work for them, rather than the reverse.
Smart people. Worth watching.