Archive for the ‘culture’ Category
29th June 09
“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”
(Dieter Rams, 1980 speech to Braun supervisory board, from his Design Museum profile)
There can’t be many more legendary & respected designers around today than Dieter Rams. For over 50 years Rams has been one of the most influential industrial designers around, producing elegant, stripped-down and flawlessly balanced everyday objects in such enduring forms that one is hard-pressed to identify a design of his that hasn’t stood the test of time.
In fact, if you own an iPod, iPhone, or iMac you almost certainly owe thanks to Dieter Rams for some of the look, feel and simplicity of these products. His influence is explicit in the work of Jonathan Ive at Apple, most literally, perhaps, in the design of the calculator on the iPhone, but in fact across almost the entire range of Apple products.
(For more, including Q&A with Rams, click below)
24th June 09
Wow, are we looking forward to seeing this film in full.
“RiP: A Remix Manifesto” – a film about remix and copyright culture. It explores copyright issues in the information age, where the media landscape is being profoundly transformed, and the distinction between producers and consumers is becoming blurred, to say the least.
This is the trailer and it’s uplifting, provocative, challenging and inspiring, all at the same time. Full of complex debates and clearly coming with a strong point of view on how those debates might be – must be – resolved (so not everyone will agree with this, by any means, but heh, that’s good right?).
Features contributions from Gilberto Gil, Laurence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, and many more. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing the awesome Lessig in action again: “There is no way to kill this technology, we can only criminalize its use” – Laurence Lessig.
Download the film in full, paying what you think it’s worth: http://www.ripremix.com/
Check their blog: http://www3.nfb.ca/webextension/rip-a-remix-manifesto/
Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/remixmanifesto
(Thanks to Marc Schiller – @marcdschiller – for the heads up)
4th June 09
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:
2nd June 09
“I love fools’ experiments. I am always making them”
Charles Darwin, 1809-1882
Brokeback to the Future. Must Like Jaws. Google Maps with just about anything. Danger Mouse’s the Grey Album. We just can’t escape mashups. When the very last music track, piece of software, data or film has been spliced with something else to create another new hybrid output, perhaps then, and only then, will the world rest easy.
Or maybe it shouldn’t. We could look at consumer-orientated mashup culture as just the start of something with even broader application. Taken to an extreme, I’m talking about mashing up entire industries. The marriage or mutation of skill sets inside an industry like marketing & communications, with those on the outside. The sole purpose of the experiment to devise radically new, hybrid forms of creativity.
Industries as diverse as architecture, astrophysics, poetry and genetic engineering are already showing us how it’s done, collaborating and cross-fertilising with each other to evolve. A BBC podcast not so long ago explored this whole area with almost Darwinian alacrity, a guest on the show summing up his take as follows:
“How do we produce original knowledge? …We no longer need specialist knowledge, but trans-disciplinary creative solutions.”
Andy Miah, editor of ‘Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty’
The implications for creative businesses seem particularly significant. Despite the pride the communications industry has taken historically in its ability to seek inspiration from far & wide, it’s undeniable that large chunks of it currently maintain a pretty insular, closed off existence.
Consider this then a rallying cry to break down the walls, take a step outside and embrace the new forms of creativity that lie waiting for us at the intersections with fields, disciplines & cultures different to our own.
30th May 09
Posted by Ben Malbon & Heidi Hackemer
I’ve just finished an awesome article in ‘New York’ magazine by Sam Anderson called ‘In Defense of Distraction‘. I say finished. I mean barely finished. I’ve been reading it for four days.
The truth is, it took me waaaaay too long to read the piece. Not because it’s not a really top quality dissection of the attention crash, its causes, and ramifications – it is – but because almost every sentence I read contained a phrase, name, concept or idea that I wanted to get more information about. I barely finished a single sentence in one go. I spent more time on Google than on the New York magazine site.
My colleague Heidi (@uberblond) also took a crack at it. In her desperate attempt to not meander off into conceptual undergrowth, she opened a new tab with a Google search every time a thought hit her. At the end of the article, she had racked up almost twenty tabs of where her mind wanted to go. It turned out we both struggled to finish what is a really excellent, highly readable article on a subject we’re both really into. Not good. Some would say pathetic.
In Anderson’s piece, David Meyer, one of the world’s leading experts on multitasking & cognition describes this phenomenon in bald, almost harrowing terms. He sees our distraction “as a full-blown epidemic—a cognitive plague that has the potential to wipe out an entire generation of focused and productive thought.”
This struck a chord with us, although we were both barely paying enough attention to the piece first time around to register the thought. Only when we compared notes did we recall skim-reading that quote as our bit-addled brains struggled to process thousands of concurrent potential search terms at once. Our mutually pathetic attempt at pointed concentration got both of us thinking: if two averagely-smart people can barely concentrate on something that *really* interests us, what does that mean about our ability to think creatively? Hmmmm . . .
Well we haven’t got any smart answers to that one, but fortunately, as we both took so long to finish the piece, in the meantime something on this theme snuck in and offered an interesting counter-argument. A recent piece in Wired magazine by David Allen, ‘How to be creative amid chaos‘, proposes using the disordered reality of over-stimulation, continuous partial attention and multi-tasking as a liberating force that can feed, not stifle, creativity. Allen muses on how, perhaps, the skill of the next generation might lie on mastering how to extract meaning from this cacophony. He cites the example of Evan Taubenfeld, a guitarist and producer in a rock band.
He was telling me how he’s learned to produce an album most effectively. Some of the best ideas for his songs happen while he and his band are working on another one. Now he has a whiteboard in the studio. They’ll be in the middle of one thing, suddenly get inspired about something else, and stop to capture it. Evan said it’s chaotic, but once the band got used to it and trusted the process, they were way more productive and more creative than ever. Before he realised the power of capturing thoughts as they occur, and building in just the kind of structures that he needed to foster and support the process, he experienced lots of wasted and frustrated energy, with much less output. Trying to exert the “discipline” of staying focused on one song at a time stifled his creativity. The coolest thing about the new process, he said, was that making music was fun again.
We thought this was cool, and inspiring. And we’re now less worried about not finishing pieces we start. Far from trying to install some form of order around the cacophony, maybe we should jump into it? Maybe we resist order and accept that it’s from within that craziness that we might craft and find creativity?
You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. (Nietzsche)