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  • Note to Self: Stop Making Sense

    4th June 09

    Posted by Adam Glickman

    Posted in creativity, culture, design, music

    This is simply a note of appreciation to David Byrne, who continues to remind me that interesting ideas don’t always require explanation and that great success can occur from the oddest of experiments.

    Byrne doesn’t simply make music. He also designs chairs:

    picture-31

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  • “An Epochal Debate over the Value of Content”

    26th May 09

    Posted by Adam Glickman

    Posted in data, economics

    That’s how Rupert Murdoch recently summed up the current relationship between online publishers and aggregators during a call with his shareholders.

    He ended with a shot across the bow: “The current days of the Internet will soon be over.”

    It’s about to get interesting.

    Back when we were floating high inside the web 1.0 bubble, it became indisputably accepted that online content was going to be free and advertising was going to pay for it. And until recently this worked since there was still enough media money in circulation to fuel experimentation and allow digital to continue as a loss leader with an eye toward the future.

    But things have changed. Quickly.

    Long tail economics are working swimmingly for the aggregates – the blog networks, ad networks, search engines, etc – prosper through triangulation while those that actually create the content that gives these engines their value die a little more each day. Watch in the coming months as the providers, who are now quite literally in a fight for survival, begin to circle the wagons and shoot back.

    But within this climate there is also real promise. Necessity being the mother of invention, we may now (finally) begin to see the growth of micropayments in our near future.

    Numerous companies have already tried and failed to introduce these systems, but please keep in mind that only a few years ago, it was predicted that consumers wouldn’t trust online security in large enough numbers to sustain retail on a mass level. Consumers are increasingly willing to pay for great online content, it is the high, one time price tag and the hassle of inputting credit card info that is the barrier keeping publishers from our money.

    When the barriers are removed, we are generally more than willing to pay 25 cents for a text, 99 cents for a song, so why not 1 cent for an article?

    With the introduction of internet ez-pass type payments, users will be able to pass through web pages fractions of a cent at a time. From video games to recipes, from pornography to journalism, this will allow the actual creators to be properly compensated for their work.

    Individuals like former Time editor Walter Isaacson and start-ups like Kachingle are pushing just such sytems. But leading this charge will likely require new habit-changing products like the Kindle, which is already beginning to do for print what iPhone did for music. Or more immediately, the new iPhone itself which will change the whole game again this summer by allowing for third party micropayments within its upcoming software update.

    In our new data-driven world, micropayments might begin to apply to how creative agencies are compensated as well. Creative and media will likely increasingly begin merging services, molding to a more performance-based system. This doesn’t need to adversely effect creativity though, since appealing to more sophisticated eyeballs might pay better than the blunderbuss approach.

    Watch for Labs to be dabbling in exactly these kinds of methods in the months ahead. We welcome further conversation by potentially interested partners and clients here.

  • Crowdsourcing Our Logo: The Crowd has Spoken

    24th April 09

    And boy, did we get an earful.

    picture-1To quickly recap: As a innovations unit tasked with exploring new models in communications, we needed a logo that can convey our mission and philosophy. So it made sense to try crowdsourcing to experiment first-hand with how all this might fit into our industry down the line. In the process, we hoped to find fresh talent who are marketing their skills in new ways.

    A lot of people asked why would we do something like this? Don’t we have great designers in-house? Doesn’t that stuff commoditize design? Isn’t that exploitive?

    That’s beside the point: the pros and cons of crowdsourcing design can be debated ’till we are blue in the face but the fact is, the model seems to work and therefore deserves our attention.

    Currently, we believe it works best for small or start-up clients. But as the model evolves it has a lot potential to work for larger clients with more demanding needs.

    These new technologies aren’t going away, so it’s now our duty to understand how to work with them. We can continue to insist that us trained professionals are irreplaceable by the untrained crowd (and end up like our poor friends in journalism), or we can start figuring out how to turn eggs into omelets. From our viewpoint, this isn’t about preparing for the day that creative agencies can outsource design, it’s about preparing for the day that clients can outsource creative agencies.

    BBH Labs believes that in the not-too-distant future, creative agencies are going to resemble expanded networks, with core teams overseeing expansive partnerships rather than the more vertically-integrated models existing today (more to come on this topic later). We see these kinds of partnerships and platforms happening across media increasingly already.

    The task now is to find out how to build these new models in a way that is fair to all involved. Crowdsourcing our logo was the first tiny step in a larger Labs process to come – the medium was the message.

    (For full post click below)
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  • We are the Robots!

    20th April 09

    In eager anticipation of the new Terminator film, I’ve done a little poking around into what’s happening in the world of robots.

    The main action in this area is clearly in Asia. And while Korea pushes ahead with plans to build robot parks, even going so far as to introduce legislation for a robot code of ethics to “Prevent Android Abuse and Protect Humans,” it’s the Japanese who appear to be in the quickest sprint to building a creepy robo-future.

    Due to strict immigration laws and a quickly aging population (its expected that 1/3 of its citizenry will be over 60 by 2050) the country is racing to realize a day when robots can provide care for their elderly, clean homes and provide administrative office tasks. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is actively involved in supporting the development of intelligent robots and hopes to introduce many of the models in development into the marketplace by 2015.

    Here’s a cross-sample of what’s in store…

    PARO
    According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Paro is the “World’s most therapeutic robot.” It uses an array of sensors to respond to audible, visual, and sikis tactile stimulation. Each Paro attains a unique personality of sorts due to its ability to be trained to execute (or refrain from) specific actions. Pet Paro and he knows he is being rewarded for good behaviour, smack him and he will do his best not to repeat that behaviour.
    (For full post click below)

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  • Crowdsourcing continued…

    10th April 09

    Posted by Adam Glickman

    Posted in creativity, crowdsourcing

    One week into our Crowdspring experiment and I’ve been pointed to some thoughtful debates on the subject as well as those whose tone resembles an angry mob.

    From the latter crowd I keep hearing this analogy that using Crowdspring is akin to outsourcing (complete with images of dank foreign sweatshops). If were going to trade in metaphors, I would counter by labeling this crowd protectionist. (Picture angry immigration opponents rallying to protect US jobs they probably don’t want in the first place.)

    This isn’t outsourcing and this isn’t bootlegging. This is simply about an expanded marketplace. And as long as your product is best-in-market, you’ll always have best-in-market work at your door.

    One last thing I need to note as some are accusing us of being exploitive and that bothers me greatly. (MORE BELOW)

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  • Effective CRM you won’t read about in Adweek

    7th April 09

    Posted by Adam Glickman

    Posted in BBH Labs

    I saw my friend Joshua Ramos for a drink the other evening. He was telling me about his new book The Age of the Unthinkable in which he details all he learned from Hezbollah’s new media guy on how to run an effective communications strategy against a better-funded adversary. Remember, this is the same team that turned an impossible-to-win military campaign against Israel in ’06 into a perceived victory. And if you agree that in today’s media frenzied environment that perception is reality… then the round went to Hezbollah.

    Though we were discussing Mid-East policy, my mind went immediately to brand marketers who essentially faces the same issues: how easily a single crafty teenager can ju-jitsu multi-million dollar budgets and turn big business assets into liabilities.

    So I took a stroll through the darker alleys of the internet to peek at marketing and outreach techniques by some of society’s better-known ideological enemies. I collected a few links below (before stopping in fear of having an FBI file opened on me).

    To be honest, gang members, terrorists and racial hate groups don’t seem to as technology and media-savvy as I expected. All the sites I found could have been created by the same web designer (in 1998): free hosting, terrible anthem-like music files, and lots of broken links. I get the sense many of these sites are constantly on the move, remaining one step ahead of hosting companies and law enforcement agencies whose job it is to stomp them out in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

    Please proceed through the links below with caution… (MORE BELOW)

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  • Designer needed. Logo desired. Labs flirts with the crowd.

    3rd April 09

    Posted by Adam Glickman

    Posted in BBH Labs

    Tasked with exploring new models for marketers, one of our first orders of business will be to hold an “open pitch” for our new logo. All interested designers please visit http://bit.ly/39yWEd for more on the deadline, the brief and the fee.

    We’re posting a brief on Crowdspring well aware of the heated discussions taking place within the design community regarding sites that promote spec work. Though the crowdsourcing business model is still clearly in its infancy, BBH Labs reasoning for giving Crowdspring a try, simply put, is because the model seems to be working (albeit, better for smaller companies).

    We’ve heard the arguments against Crowdspring. We’ve heard it said that it lowers the standard of what is considered “good” design. But for the purposes of this conversation, isn’t a “good” design one that pleases the person paying for it? I think Marley and Me is a “bad” film. My niece disagrees. So be it.

    Another argument is that the Crowdspring model is akin to outsourcing, putting professional design work in the hands of untrained amateurs, and in the process, driving down the price real designers are able to charge for their services. If you’re a great designer, these sites shouldn’t be a threat since aspiring designers willing to work on spec is nothing new. If you’re a mediocre designer on the other hand, then consider that new technologies will only continue to make you better: just as the mouse made you better and Adobe Illustrator made you better, competing on a larger playing field should also make you better (and add to your bottom line).

    I don’t want to sound overly insensitive, but evolution isn’t always orderly: we are living in a transformational period and in order to not be put out to pasture prematurely, entire industries are having to retrain themselves and rethink how business is going to be conducted going forward. From young designers to established agency networks, change is coming.

    I’ll stop rambling now and come back to why we like Crowdspring. We see these sites as giving much more than they take. By matchmaking small businesses that wouldn’t have been able to otherwise afford a custom logo with a pool of designers that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to offer their services, they are helping to grow an overall appreciation for design as well as build an entirely new market that didn’t previously exist.

    Will Crowdspring deliver Labs a great logo that meets our demanding and sophisticated needs? Not sure, but we’re looking forward to fishing these new waters nonetheless.