BBH Labs

Marching Backwards into 2012

“The past went that-a-way … We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” – Marshall McLuhan

Predictions are a mug’s game. In these uncertain times you won’t find us sticking our heads above the futurology parapet and making some rash pronouncements on the coming this or the tomorrow of that. Instead, at this time of the year, we like to approach the future with a longing gaze in the rear view mirror and a look back at the last 12 months of postings on this blog – 81 of them in all from 35 contributors.

As in previous years, below you’ll find ten of our favourite posts from 2011 – the ones that have provoked us in the learning and writing and our generous readers in the comments. But our self-analysis has also uncovered buried themes, some revisited, others newer, which marked our 2011 and perhaps set a tone for the year to come.

Storytelling and new forms of narrative have always been of interest to us in Labs, but this year we’ve added the growing attention paid to, er, attention to the mix with a couple of guest posts on connected TV and further exploration into storytelling with our Fray Cafe-esque TaleTorrent event for Internet Week. For many, all around the world, 2011 has been a year of grassroot activism and whilst occupying Kingly Street and 32 Avenue of the Americas is our day job, sustainable marketing and creativity for good have also bubbled up as pervasive themes in a number of posts this year. And given the tumultus changes happening within our industry, you won’t be surprised to see industry innovation and reinvention well represented as another theme below. Perhaps more than any other year since Labs was founded in 2008, this has been a year of rolling up sleeves and putting theory into practice.

It might seem that 2011 has not been a stellar year in terms of innovation in the broader technology industry. While our Facebook experience has been timelined, our Googling plussed and our questions quoraed, the space shuttle programme has come to a close, the Higgs Boson remains elusive and so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that this year also saw a number of more reflective rather than reactive posts. BBH London Chairman Jim Carroll set the tone for a theme we’re calling ‘Think While you Make’, with a lovely series of elegiac posts on sleep, ennui and nocturnally abnormal wildlife.

So while we recover over the holidays we look forward to much more thinking and making, talking and doing in 2012. As always we are are astonished by the generosity of everyone who writes for, reads, shares or comments on the blog. It’s been an amazing year. Thanks for taking part, thanks for letting us in and thank you for everything you’ve taught us this year.

We’re already looking forward to the start of the Spring term – see you back at school in the new year.

Mel, Jeremy & Saneel

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So, finally, Labs top 10 for ‘11, in mostly chronological order.

1. Think While You Make, Make While You Think

Some setting out of the stall in this post which encouraged us to find a balance between action and reflection, to not have too many tabs open at once, and occassionally to leave things alone for a while to let them ripen at their own pace.

2. Collaborative Consumption & Customer Co-creation

It might be a small cheat to bundle these two great posts together in a top ten, but as a pair they make a strong argument for more evolved thinking when it comes to creativity, collaboration and consumption. When audiences are willing to participate in branded activities and business see the benefit of a more transparent and collaborative model, co-creation and collaborative consumption are surely pivotal to the ongoing success of any forward facing brand.

3. The Human OS

A fascinating guest post from Google’s David Bryant on the convergence of computer and human operating systems and the increasing adoption of intuitive physical interactions that provoke a more instinctive than reasoned response.

4. Exploring the Edges

Provoked by a couple of posts on the need (or not) for agencies to employ Chief Innovation Officers this post looks at how to be an innovation unit and what the wider agency can and should demand of those it employs to push the envelope and live on the edge.

5. Creative Direction Vs Creative Selection

‘No one works for a Creative Director. Everyone works for the idea. The idea hires us and we go to work.’ The most popular post of the year from BBH LA’s ECD Pelle Sjoenell on the role of the Creative Director as politician, farmer and assassin.

6. No Tangible Limits

For Labs, meeting Amber Case and learning about Geoloqi, the location sharing startup she is developing with Aaron Parecki, was one of the highlights of SXSW. We’re already looking forward to seeing her keynote in 2012 and catching up with the great concentration of smart people that SXSW attracts. Come and say hello if you’re there.

7. Turning Intelligence into Magic

To mark the launch of Sir John Hegarty’s book, we asked him a series of questions which he answered with a series of sketches, an appropriately witty, incisive and ‘different’ interview celebrating an iconic advertising career.

8. Don’t Forget the I in T

At Labs we celebrate the hybrid, but in this post recognize that a team of hybrids might lack the depth in specific disciplines, might spend too much time agreeing with each other and might only be appropriate to crack certain tasks. As Ben points out in the comments, it’s important for a jack of all trades to be a master of some!

9. Building a New Agency OS

A consideration for a new thinking about what an agency can be, should be and could do as we approach ‘marketing singularity’, the moment the message becomes indistinguishable from the product or service it promotes. Instead of codifying an agency operating system around functions and outputs, we suggest that an agency of the future needs an OS rooted in a culture of collaboration, experimentation and transparency.

10. Keep Aaron Cutting

Lastly, in a year when social media has been both blamed for fuelling the London riots and praised for fuelling the Arab Spring, we can’t have a top ten list without acknowledging the Keep Aaron Cutting project. Thanks to the generosity (there’s that word again) of all the BBH blog and twitter stream readers who used social media to spread the word about an 89-year-old barber from North London who might have lost everything, Aaron’s shop is well on the way to being rebuilt and a nice old guy has had his faith in young people and in technology restored.

More of this next year, please.

Tech interns, we need you.

Authors: Gabor Szalatnyai (Creative Technology) & James Mitchell (Strategy), BBH London & BBH Labs

Here at Labs, we make a lot of stuff for other people and brands, but, now and then, we like to build experiments – additional stuff we love so much, we take extra time and pull late nights to see it done. We do this because sometimes, we want to test a theory,  because we want to test our capabilities, and because we want to make something cool.

With one very special project, we’re ready to begin the making and we’re going to spend the next three months doing just that.  Which is why we we’d like some inspirational new talent to come and intern with us in London to help out.  We are embarking on a project with Rails and MongoDB on the backend and HTML5 on the front.  We would expect you to have previous projects using these, and if you are confident with CoffeeScript, Sass and Javascript game engines (craftyjs, gameQuery, renderEngine,) you’ll enjoy the coding even more.  We are managing source code with git on GitHub, so prepare your branching and merging skills too!

But this role is about more than the build.  We’ll work iteratively on this, so we’ll be testing and learning as we go.  This means you’ll be working with the team to prototype, test, bend and break – modifying and bettering the experiment at every stage.  We’ll expect you to have a major impact on the idea itself.  You’ll have the freedom to implement any technical solution that solves the problem, to work with the entire team to make sure the thing doesn’t just happen, but happens better.

Why work with us? Because we hope you’ll agree the project is cool, the team is a diverse and interesting one, and the use of data is, as far as we know, something that’s never been tried before.  And, at the end of it all, you’ll get to put your name against something very special.

To apply, please send a nice message (with your GitHub username and/or some work) to **labs.intern@bartleboglehegarty.com**, and we’ll have a chat about what we’re trying to build.  If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments.  Thanks!

Our top 10 in the last 7 days: 17th May 2011

NASA's space shuttle Endeavour at Mach 11, as seen on Google Earth 05.16.11

Regular readers will know that every now and again we share our top ten links over the past 7 days. This one has a particular space mission flavour to it, we hope you enjoy.

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We’ve fallen in love with Photopic Sky Survey, a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky (see image below).

Legendary Technologist John Seely Brown talks about “the big shift” and much more in this fantastic speech.

Our friends at Made By Many launched madebyideas, an elegantly simple platform for sharing and rating ideas.

This interactive film by Chris Milk is the latest Chrome Experiment (case study by Mirada here).

Prinstagram is the latest star in the exploding Instagram solar-system, letting you print photos or Instagrid posters.

Think Insights is a new digital marketing trends site from Google because “data beats opinion.”

BBH friend Adam Wohl writes a manifesto on the future of agencies.

An epic post by Dan Light on emerging trends in movie-land, “Distribution, Redistributed.”

BBH London’s Chairman, Jim Carroll, asks “Whose ad is it anyway?” in this post on the Labs blog.

Labs’ Jeremy Ettinghausen interviewed Amber Case (@caseorganic, a cyborg anthropologist) about everything you’d want him to. *Bonus* Google launched its Chromebook last week (a computer-like object). Here’s the BBH-created video.


Source: Photopic Sky Survey

Keep Austin Weird

So in 10 days we’ll be relocating the BBH Labs experience to Austin, Tx for the annual geek jamboree that is the South by SouthWest Interactive festival. I last attended three years ago, when I was an earnest book publisher and before advertising folk had descended in force and totally harshed the vibe, man.

This year I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of likeminds and seeing where, if anywhere, the paradigm has shifted and intend to follow @katylindemann‘s guidance of not going to see anything I already know anything about already, which makes for a pretty packed itinerary.

Given that the web based scheduler is, imho, ‘not very fun to use’ it might be that twitter or sitby.us prove to be more useful discovery tools for the good stuff, providing of course that wifi and/or 3G are in operation. We’ve hacked together a rough list (with agile development and rapid iterations built in!) using the web interface, the recently launched official app, an old fashioned contacts book (yes, friends and family are represented at SXSW) and have uploaded it to sitby.us where you can find it here.

Ping us if we’ve missed anything vital, if you want to hang out and, most importantly, to let me know where I should go for breakfast tacos now that Las Manitas has closed down!

See you there.

Top 10 links from the last 7 days: 27th January 2011

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that we send out a weekly email to the BBH staff with 10 links we like every week. We look for things that are provocative, challenging, useful, or just plain interesting. When we feel really good about the list, we post it to the blog. Here’s the list from the last 7 days. Feel free to let us know what we’re missing. The list is strongly influenced by what we tweet. Or if following us is too big a commitment, feel free to get our links via trunk.ly.

Source: Sensimed

Next-gen iPads & iPhones can be your payment system for things in the real world. Apple’s place in our lives may be on the verge of changing dramatically.

Smart contact-lenses with heads-up LED iris displays. Welcome to the world of augmented vision.

Former black Sheep Ben Malbon went to Tokyo on business and made this fantastic instagram album of his trip.

“We’re so eager to describe the web in utopian or dystopian terms.” NYT’s review of Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together book.

Social Media Week is a global event from 2/7 – 2/11 with a number of incredible, free events worth attending.

A second worthy bit (& piece) from the Malbon family. Tim Malbon of Made by Many rants on participation requests from brands (read the comments too).

BMW is making films again, but this time they’re documentaries about mobility. They had us at ‘jet packs.’

A collection of brilliant quotes from startups that deliver incredible wisdom in just a few characters.

We loved (and almost solved) this visual puzzle of 20 things that happened on the Internet in 2010.

TED launches TEDBooks & hot off the press, @brainpicker takes a look at the launch proposition and first titles.

Our top ten reads from the last 7 Days: 20th January 2011

We’ve mentioned before that we pick just 10 links we like the look of every week (provocative, challenging, useful and/or entertaining tend to be the order of the day) and send them to our friends at BBH around the world.

It’s heavily based on the @BBHLabs twitterstream across 7 days, but filleted, honed and whittled to a Top Ten for anyone who fancies a filter between them and the 24/7, 365 days a year drenching in data that is Twitter.

So here it is again. Feel free to pass on. As usual, ideas on making it more useful always welcome.

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Comprehensive analysis of CityVille game mechanics – http://bit.ly/eN4GWq

How novels came to terms with the internet – http://bit.ly/ewWiSj (via @garethkay)

66% of 16-24s cite *entertainment* as prime motivation to engage with brands – http://bit.ly/hNvy4D (via @contagiousmag)

If you’re in the Bay area, you only have a few days left to book Kevin Kelly to come and talk about What Technology Wants to your team – http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/

“Instead of thinking about what to build – It’s about building in order to think” Tim Brown at TED in 09 – http://bit.ly/h2qgHT (via @sermad)

“Each media channel is a strand in the rope that is the story” – nice piece on @LanceWeiler‘s take on transmedia – http://bit.ly/ha94fy

The Past Imagines the Future – @brainpicker revisits retrofuturism – http://bit.ly/iebLIE

The Number One Key to Innovation? Scarcity – http://j.mp/f90r5h (via @malbonnington)

Interview with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia for the site’s 10th birthday – http://bit.ly/hfzDzB

2010 online, by the numbers – http://nyti.ms/f3elXQ (via @edwardboches)

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And  bonus 11th – We’ve come a long way, baby – Map of the internet 1972 http://t.co/URxFwds Vs map of the world through Facebook connections 2010 http://t.co/MyyXkUy

A Quick Glance Back – 10 of Our Favourite Posts from 2010

For 11 months and 30 days of the year at Labs we force ourselves to face forward. A relentless, 24/7, barely-stop-for-a-sandwich, is-the-singularity-here-yet? pursuit of the future. Okay, you know what we mean. On the last day of the year, however, it seems like a good moment to look back briefly, draw breath and say thank you.

The ten posts here that we’ve pulled from several times that number in 2010 are a representation, versus an exhaustive analysis, of the themes that coloured our year. Nonetheless, there are some common threads that emerge along the way to help paint a picture. This year, five particularly large threads dominate: collaborative creativity, social ideas, new agency models, ‘new school’ learning and sustainable marketing.

As we said when we did this in 2009, this post also gives us the opportunity to say thanks. Thank you for reading this blog and for inviting us to contribute to yours, for debating with us, asking and answering great questions, sharing your wisdom and making us smarter.

If the past few years have taught us anything at all, it is this: the more insanely steep the curve on change, the stronger our need for the talent and generosity of the people around us.

This was also a year of hellos and goodbyes at Labs. Hello to Saneel who joined us in NYC and Jeremy who joined us in London, and goodbye to Pats and to Labs co-founder Ben, who landed awesome jobs at CHI in London and Google respectively. We miss our partners in crime, but we’re as excited as ever about what’s coming next, both for them and all of us.

Which brings us neatly full circle, facing forward again. . .

Happy New Year Everyone.

Saneel, Jeremy, Mel

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So here they are, the ten posts we most enjoyed and which triggered a conversation from which we learned a lot. Posts are in chronological order, with links (via titles) to the original posts.

1. Where Does the Agency End, And The Crowd Begin?

We argued here that creative agencies need to move towards becoming permeable organizations. Those in networks need to be reconfigured as networked organizations versus simply organizations within networks. Creative business must be able to draw on not just the talent within the building, but the many skills and areas of expertise that lie beyond those walls. Written pre the launch of Co: and in the very early days of Victors & Spoils, this post provoked an interesting debate around two interesting questions we posed – what impact does this approach have on agency culture and how do you incentivise people in this framework?

2. Will Social Media Eat Itself?

Using the dip in trust of friends and peers cited in the latest Edelman Trust Barameter, we took a look at the factors in play: examining the implications and challenges thrown up for social media (as Mike Arauz summed up in a comment: “the management, navigation, and filtering capabilities we need haven’t kept up with our exploding networks..”). We put forward some thoughts for consideration on how to move forward, two of which I find myself returning to, time and time again: 1. Learn how to marry authority and inclusiveness, 2. Ask yourself if you’re offering something genuinely useful.

3. Screw Relationships, Let’s Have A Fling; On Brands & The Privacy Debate

This post challenges just about everything we’ve ever learned about loyalty and customer relationships, but does so from the perspective of media efficiency and a shedload of humanity. We argue brands need to let go; concentrate instead on when the context and time is right to initiate a relationship with someone, then move on. The relationship is no less real or valuable, just because it may be fleeting. In doing so, we note, brands demand less depth of information from users, supporting their privacy on the web.

4. We Know Chrome is Fast, But…(Google Chrome Speed Tests)

As remixes and spoofs go, we liked Opera’s take on BBH NY / Google Creative Labs’ work for Google Chrome. It also gave us an excuse share the current (awesome, though we say so ourselves) work that was live at the time, as well as go behind the scenes with the Making of.

5. A Perfect Storm: the social web, storytellers and brands

Prompted to give a talk at our friends’ Power to the Pixel’s Pixel Lab, we examined how brands are telling stories on the web, what entertainment brands have to teach non-entertainment brands about transmedia storytelling and proposed a framework for how brands and producers may work together beyond straightforward product placement or promotions.

6. Raging Against the Machine: A Manifesto For Challenging Wind Tunnel Marketing

In a tour de force of five separate posts spanning the second half of the year by BBH Chairmen, Jim Carroll and Charles Wigley, we railed against the “Wind Tunnel” approach to marketing that uses identical methodologies to deliver insight, ironing out difference. The argument began with Wind Tunnel Politics at the time of the UK election. In the post we’ve chosen here, Jim focuses on a series of solutions looking at how we achieve divergent insight and deliver better value for brands. This in turn was followed up by a workshop Chaz held in Asia: The Anti-Wind Tunnel Marketing Movement. For the full series, please just put ‘wind tunnel marketing’ into the search box of our blog.

7. Ben’s Last Post: Some Things I’ve Learned At BBH

A lot more than a farewell post, a considered, entertaining and brilliant bit of writing that sums up 5 years’ worth of learning** on the inside of agency life. Justifiably our most popular post this year in terms of tweet love.

**Note: we’re talking about Ben here, who fits seven days’ work into one on a good day. So the time frame is misleading, better think in terms of dog years instead.

8. How To Do Propagation Planning

Griffin Farley’s post which does exactly what it says on the tin. An incredibly useful, generous post and a slideshare to boot (co-authored by Campfire’s Mike Monello), examining the hows and whys of “planning not for the people you reach, but the people that they reach.” And a great observation answering Edward Boches’s question: why give content away?

9. St John Ambulance: The Difference

As we say in the post, we like nothing more than great creativity and innovation put to great use. BBH London’s work for St John Ambulance showed a clearly defined communication problem and managed to combine surprise and emotion beautifully.

10. What Collaborative Consumption Means For Marketers

Inspired by Rachel Botsman’s TED talk, our argument takes the line that marketers so far have focused largely on collaborative production, vs consumption. In this post we examine what the implications might be for brands to exploit this potential shift in focus. As with all these posts, the comments add immense value to the thinking.

AND THE THEMES THAT WOULDN’T STAY DOWN THIS YEAR…

– The rise and rise of social and participatory ideas. Just a few examples of the work and the thinking here: A kind of magic: Myspace Music Fan VideosSuperbowl, super social: The story of Yeo ValleyBurberry’s Global 3D Live Shows + SocialDigital Communities Can Learn From “Leading Clever People“, The Powers and Perils of Participation (originally a guest post on the Likeminds blog).

– Proof that awesome creativity is alive and well, just emerging in new, exciting, tech-enabled forms: our favourites ranged from Ali Merry’s story behind BBH London’s game for Barclays, 56 Sage Street and their Status of Africa Facebook app to awesome light painting with an iPad from Dentsu London and Analogue Digital’s hotel light show for Target. We also love the iOscars and, perhaps most of all, yet more of BBH New York’s outstanding work for Google Chrome.

– The desire to challenge orthodoxy where needed, with some solutions along the way: in addition to the Wind Tunnel series, BBH NY’s Emma Cookson challenged short hand marketing rules whilst Calle Sjoenell with characteristic perspicacity and good humour threw down his Radical Proposal To Save Advertising on the Web. We also asked the questions Agency, Does Your Client Need You?Where’s the Coke Bottle of the Online World? and later in the year debated whether the word “digital” should be killed for good.

– Sustainable living becomes sustainable marketing? If we make one prediction for 2011, it’s this: the social web will both encourage and enable businesses to behave more sustainably and win in the process. Give to receive. Think about it. If brands and agencies need any encouragement or provocation from others, here are just some of the show-stoppingly great initiatives and platforms that caught our eye this year: Pencils of PromiseTIE – Exchange for Good, A Developing Story, Six Items Or Less and Green Thing’s Saved.

Collaboration and crowdsourcing in all its forms came of age. I tried to write that exact sentence at the end of 2009 and Ben (rightly) questioned it. But this year, no question, crowdsourcing and the overturning of old models kicked into the mainstream. The topic stretched between agency models (see the first post to make our top 10 this year above, it’s also examined in Agency, Does Your Client Need You?), skillsets and attitudes (Are You Ready To Form Voltron?), to hands-on experience via the brilliant Betacup Project, an interview with the founders Len and Daniel of The 3six5 Project and Rick Liebling, not to mention flipping the idea of crowdsourcing on its head and examining the magic that happens when creativity and crowdsourcing meet.

How storytelling can have the power to move and surprise us, no matter what its form: what the book sensation Tree of Codes can teach digital, James Mitchell’s great #bobt speech The Value of A Good Story and Jeremy’s reevaluation of Long Form. And grateful thanks to our friend Dan Light, who happily subjected himself to a three part interview on brands and transmedia at the hands of Ben Shaw and Mel, whilst setting up his brand spanking new company.

– All back to the new school: the power of perpetual learning. A fitting theme to end on. This year we learned a huge amount from others and it’s only given us appetite to learn some more. We put a call out to join us for an Internet Week Europe event and attempted en masse to learn how to code with the help of the super smart and nice Tom Uglow and friends at Google; we spent time at SXSWi and TED Global (thank you to June Cohen and Ronda Carnegie); Zach Blank showed us what open source has to teach us about creativity; we got a life and a 20% project and learned from one in particular, The Knot Collective. Much respect also due to both Boulder Digital Works (we continue to learn more from the students than they from us) and, er, the CIA. . .as well as BBH NY’s amazing internship program, the BBH Barn, which goes from strength to strength.

Our top ten reads from the last 7 days: 1st November, 2010

It is not the same to talk about bulls, as to be in the bull ring”
– Spanish proverb (HT @juzmcmuz)

We’ve mentioned before that we pick just 10 links we like the look of every week (provocative, challenging, useful and/or entertaining tend to be the order of the day) and send them to our friends at BBH around the world.

It’s heavily based on the @BBHLabs twitterstream across 7 days, but filleted, honed and whittled to a Top Ten for anyone who fancies a filter between them and the 24/7, 365 days a year drenching in data that is Twitter.

So here it is again. Feel free to pass on. As usual, ideas on making it more useful always welcome.

“140 chars is not a limit, it’s a shape” – exceptional interview with @discographies on Big Spaceship’s Think blog: http://bit.ly/bXzMkz

‘Ball Droppings’, a Chrome HTML5 experiment: http://bit.ly/9ua0s (via @timogeo @seth_weisfeld)

The history of mankind in a minute – a great stop-motion animation for BBC: http://bit.ly/aFhOUN (via @motionographer)

Super cool – Stamen Design’s 2 week long series of race data visualisations for W+K London’s Nike Grid is live: http://sta.mn/x3g

Not sure why this took so long. Augmented Reality app that lets users graffiti buildings. Interesting “steal” feature too: http://gizmo.do/bHdwRm

*Extraordinary* short ‘Nuit Blanche’ – if you’ve not seen this, think Brief Encounter + CGI – by Arev Manoukian: http://bit.ly/bEnTvw (via @finnbarrw)

Two handy infographics from Flow Town: How Important Have Apps Become? http://bit.ly/awjgWY & The Social Buying Universe: http://bit.ly/coPzse

NASA turns its attention to sustainability challenges right here on Earth, with its LAUNCH initiative: http://launch.org/ (via @jess3)

How Money Follows Attention, Eventually – Kevin Kelly on the commercial future of mediators who boost the signal: http://bit.ly/dfGfun

“The first step for each of us is to imagine fearlessly; to dream.” – big thinking from Ray Ozzie: http://bit.ly/a3RsM5 (via @Techcrunch)

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And a bonus 11th, Power to the Pixel guest post on Labs: Powered by Pixels – on new storytelling: http://bit.ly/pttppost

Zero History – Notes from a n00b

Skateboard

I know that I’m late to the game on this ‘five things I’m thinking about’ meme and very new to the game in this advertising business, so here’s hoping that the two things balance out here, in my first nervy post.

1) Where is knowledge stored?

OK – so just a week ago I was posting farewell on The Penguin Blog, trying to distill a few years of digital publishing thinking into a couple of hundred words and now I am in a new office with new people doing a completely different thing in a new industry. So my short term goal is to find the well(s) of knowledge and drink deeply.

In preparation for this transition I’ve read a couple of books and redirected my RSS and twitter streams adwards. But already in 4 days I’ve learned more from a few concentrated conversations than from hours of reading. So maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books and blogs, or reading them badly.

But perhaps it’s a very analogue notion that knowledge is stored on paper and a digital notion that knowledge is amalgamated in crowds. Everyone is an expert in something, everyone has a specialist subject or a unique take on an issue – the challenge is finding them and unlocking their knowledge. And face-to-face beats distance learning every time.

2) Is there still an edge?

The publication of any new William Gibson book is always a good opportunity to think about the edges of things and, of course, the places in between, which in our upside down topsy turvy existence must be edges of a sort. My favourite Gibson passage is from All Tomorrow’s Parties where the disappearance of bohemia is explained thus: “We started picking them before they could ripen. A certain crucial growing period was lost, as marketing evolved and the mechanisms of recommodification became quicker, more rapacious.

Of course, as a new entrant to the world of advertising I need to start rapaciously appropriating the edge as swiftly as possible, which is why I should start finding out where it is.

3) Skateboarding

(Actually, specifically, the sound of resin on concrete, or even more specifically the difficulty in finding good skateboard sound effects)

Don’t get me wrong I am not and have never been a skater but I have always loved skate videos and watching this yesterday (via Ruby Pseudo) it struck me that it is the sound that I love especially. I was born in a city and have lived most of my life in the same city and can’t really imagine not living in a city. Cities, as far as I’m concerned, are where stuff happens, and I am a huge fan of stuff happening. And, since skating demands ‘crete perhaps there is no soundtrack more urban than the sound of skating. If there are other, even more urban soundscapes I should be tuning into, let me know.

4) Flickr and careful curation

Every now and again it’s worth remembering what a lovely and valuable discovery engine flickr really is. Of course for simple image search it’s great but there is also the joy-inducing serendipity of discovering that there are others who share the same interests as you, whether these interests are craneporncontrol panels or failure. A friend of mine describes internet pornography as having the same serendipitous effect – all of a sudden you discovers kinks that you didn’t know you had. But with flickr the quality of a group is in the care of the curation. A good group will have clearly communicated criteria for submissions and submissions that fall outside certain boundaries will be rejected, so preserving a curatorial, yet crowdsourced, integrity. It strikes me that there are all sorts of lessons to be learned from flickr and curation and community are good places to start.

5) The Idea Thing

A change in profession is a good opportunity for some good old fashioned introspection and navel gazing. So, is there a difference between what I did (getting things made and selling them) and what I now do (communicating ideas about things other people have made and want to sell)? Who is the customer for an idea, the client or the audience or both?

When ‘things’ encapsulate ‘ideas’ do they stop being purely things or purely ideas? I am less interested in *the social object* than I am in *the idea thing*, a digital or physical object that captures and communicates an idea about the world. Can idea things sell stuff, or are they the stuff that sells?

I guess I’m about to find out.

Our Ten Top Reads from Last 7 Days, 26 July 2010

Every week Mel Exon (@melex) & I pull together 10 stories or links that we think are in some way inspiring, relevant, challenging, or just plain interesting, & we send them to BBH-ers in our six offices around the world.

It’s of course heavily based on the BBH Labs (@BBHLabs) Twitter feed & blog, but recognizes the reality that not everyone is hooked up to Twitter 23.5 hours per day.

Anyway, we thought we’d share it. So here it is. Feel free to pass on. As usual, ideas on making it more useful always welcome.

Summary of the how agencies are pushing to evolve & become more digitally literate, & how ‘digital shops’ are losing lead – ‘Closing the Tech Divide’ (AdWeek) – http://bit.ly/9dI94r

‘Google is not making us stupid, & the Internet is not really changing our brains’ (a riposte to Clay Shirky, in the LA Times) – http://j.mp/c1RBYU (via @chrisgrayson)

Will Zynga Become the Google of Games? On the rise & rise of Zynga (of Farmville fame), in the NYT – http://nyti.ms/dzJhFQ

‘Digital agencies are the new dinosaurs. If they don’t evolve quickly they will lose their 10yr headstart’ (written by Daniele Fiandaca, chair of Creative Social) – http://j.mp/9L2ICM

‘Digital Tools for Making Brilliant Mistakes’ – on Hipstamatic, Vintage Video Maker & why they appeal (explain to your kids why all your photos of them look crap) – http://j.mp/b5T2pg

‘Facebook is beginning to look & act like a sovereign state’ – from The Economist – http://j.mp/dggyN2

Refreshing to see augmented reality work where there’s genuine reason for the AR; new work for Olympus, by Mullen – http://j.mp/deytQl

‘What Makes A Good Creative Director?’ – a fairly solid list of attributes here + a good discussion – http://j.mp/cN46me (via @ckburgess)

‘We Need To Rethink How We View Creativity’ – great post by @neilperkin – http://j.mp/bRPoyX

Thought-provoking stuff from @brucenussbaum – Is Humanitarian Design the new Imperialism? – http://j.mp/dkq6H8

plus a bonus 11th . . .

New @BBHLabs post by BBH New York’s Seth Weisfeld – ‘The Best Camera is the One You Have With You’ . . . introducing the iOScars’ – http://j.mp/iOScars