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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

  • Can you lend us your room for an exhibition?

    22nd December 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    We need your help.

    We’re after a big room, studio or small stage in NYC for three days in January (14-16th). We’re trying to find a space where we can re-create the Chrome Features short films we’ve just made for Google.

    For a start, we want to have a little party, and January seems like a good time to be doing that. But we’d like to open it up to anyone who wants to come along and have a look at how they were made. redtube The space needs to be around 60 x 40 ft, with – ideally – some good height to the ceiling. If you have somewhere you can lend us, or you know someone who might, please email me at ben.malbon@bbh-labs.com

    THANKS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS

    Here are the films:

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    And here is a film about how we made them:

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  • Will The Web Make Us More Honest?

    3rd September 09

    In a world where it’s too easy to get used to things coming in 140 character-sized packages, everything happening in real time, and thinking about the future and what it might bring means having a debate about whether Tumblr is better than Posterous, it’s always refreshing  to have something more substantial to chew on. A proper three-course meal versus repeated, ultimately unsatisfying, trips to the snack cupboard.

    We’ve been digesting – and debating – a post by Walter Naeslund on his very excellent blog. Naeslund is, in his own words, ‘an internet freedom fighter and CEO of the Stockholm based communications agency Honesty. [He] also give lectures and runs workshops on Internet Trends, Modern Communications Strategy and Social Media.’

    Naeslund’s post, from Tuesday, was grandly-titled “What the World Will Look Like in 25 Years“. The whole thing is worth a read (it’s not long). He offers a range of more speculative thinking around the way the world might be going, and the emerging role of the web within those scenarios; as I said, a welcome contrast to an increasingly myopic focus on the now.

    But what struck me in particular was a short paragraph in which Naeslund speculates on what one might call future ‘ethics’:

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    It’s an interesting contention, that there are fewer hiding places in a world of instant access to perfect information, and total transparency. Even if it is likely to never be that flawless in practice (& actually, would we want it to be?), the pronounced increase in sharing of everything about one’s personal life in digital form (what Naeslund characterizes as the merging of physical and digital identities) will undoubtedly bring both costs and benefits.

    It’s the last line of that paragraph that intrigues me and that has stuck with me.

    Is there any evidence of better behavior and less cheating?

    How do we think that might manifest itself, if and when it does happen?

    On one hand it all sounds a little Utopian (and some might argue, less fun). On the other, it does sound rather attractive.

    What do you think?

  • GOOD Magazine crowdsources world-changing ideas

    13th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, crowdsourcing, culture

    We like this, and look forward to seeing what comes from it.

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    GOOD Magazine are asking people: “If you were to invent anything to push the world forward, what would it be?”

    The jury’s still out on whether collaborative creativity can provide a viable business model (high enough quality; low enough costs) for creative businesses, but this seems to us to be a smart way of focusing the minds of artists, inventors and other thinkers on some of the more important questions.

    We’ll watch with interest – what would your idea be?

    (Thanks to John Winsor of CP&B – @jtwinsor – for the heads-up).

  • (Un)classes – community powered learning

    10th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in crowdsourcing, culture

    We just stumbled across (Un)classes (thanks to Julius Solaris | @tojulius).

    A potentially strong application of collaborative intelligence . . . with a twist.

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    (Un)classes starts with the premise that everyone has something to teach, and much to learn. But, pragmatically, few of us are going to sign into formal programs. Casual learning (as they frame this form of education) is aimed squarely at people who lead hectic lives but still want to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.

    (Un)classes is thus in effect a marketplace for matching interests with passion, simply connecting people who’d otherwise have few ways of directly collaborating in this way. It’s deliberately informal, with few rules and none of the stuffiness that could surround what is in effect a ‘learning’ service.

    (We’re also reminded of the campaign BBH New York helped create for one of BBH’s clients, NYC & Co, around using one’s skills, passions, and willingness to help address some of NYC’s most important issues: What’s Your Blank?)

    The depth of the (Un)classes offering seems quite shallow at the moment, but as people sign up, and choice and quality deepen, it will be interesting to see whether the idea takes off. We wish them luck.

    More details at: http://www.unclasses.org/about

  • Plugging into Reality: APIs to connect the physical world

    27th July 09

    Author: Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York

    This weekend saw the first Town Holler, a meeting (and pub crawl) of foursquare Mayors in New York City. From the photos, it may just look like another fun Saturday evening, but what’s special about Town Holler is that it’s whole reason for being is to create a direct physical world connection using digital platform. Organized by Conrad Lisco (@conradlisco) and myself (@schatz), our goal was to use an existing digital platform to facilitate and enhance a physical world experience, in real time, which, to be frank, should be the goal of any great digital creation.

    With so many checkins we had to bring our own power supply

    With so many checkins we had to bring our own power supply

    Imagine five years ago, where a party organizer would, perhaps, illegally take over a warehouse in Brooklyn and throw a rave. Well, using foursquare, we (playfully) squatted on a social platform and threw the party on top of their digital service. We didn’t have to build any software, spend any money, ask permission (the foursquare creators did come along for the journey), or risk being arrested! We hooked into a passionate group of people who had the tools to connect in their pockets–on their iPhones–leveraging someone else’s software and data to curate an event which blended the digital and physical worlds.

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  • Less, But Better – an interview with design legend Dieter Rams

    29th June 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in culture, design, process

    “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.

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    Electric shaver, 1970; Control ET44 calculator, 1978; LE1 loudspeaker, 1960. All Braun.

    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.

    The influence of Rams on Jonathan Ive at Apple is profound (image: Jesus Diaz)

    The influence of Rams on Jonathan Ive at Apple is profound (image: Jesus Diaz)

    (For more, including Q&A with Rams, click below)

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  • “Sharing is the essence of creation”

    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?).

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    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)

  • 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:

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  • Marketing Mashup

    2nd June 09

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    “I love fools’ experiments.  I am always making them”
    Charles Darwin, 1809-1882

    Universal logo for mashups, concept by Zohar Manor-Abel, criticalflare.com

    Universal logo for mashups, concept by Zohar Manor-Abel, criticalflare.com

    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.

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  • Getting comfortable with chaos

    30th May 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    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.

    llustration by Glen Cummings/MTWTF (Photo: John Day/Getty Images)

    Illustration by Glen Cummings/MTWTF (Photo: John Day/Getty Images)

    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 . . .

    Image by Kevin Dooley, Flickr (CC)

    Image by Kevin Dooley, Flickr (CC)

    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, adut 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)

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