culture

The Economies of Small

'Frenzy' by Amayu, courtesy of Flickr

'Frenzy' by Amayu, courtesy of Flickr

“The money on the table is like krill: a billion little entrepreneurial opportunities that can be discovered and exploited by smart, creative people.” Landon Kettlewell, fictional CEO Kodak/Duracell in Cory Doctorow’s “Makers”

I’ve finally finished reading Cory Doctorow’s new novel “Makers” and – like a lot of people I suspect – needed to take a little break afterward to put my brain back together again. It’s the usual Doctorow high octane cocktail: stuffed full of imaginative near-future action & immutable human frailty, at times the plot veers close to depicting a post-capitalist, economic Armageddon. I’m not going to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it by saying more.  Instead, against an ever-increasing backdrop of recent pieces examining crowdsourcing (here are two of our own, here and here), I wanted to dig quickly into a single thought that the book provoked in me within its first few pages.

What if, instead of thinking about sourcing from the crowd, we reverse engineer that thought. In other words, why not send the company out into the crowd?

As Doctorow’s character Kettlewell (more force of nature than human being) puts it:

“Our business plan is simple: we will hire the smartest people we can find and put them in small teams. They will go into the field …capitalized to find a place to live and work, and a job to do. A business to start. Our business to start. Our company isn’t a project that pull together on, it’s a network of like-minded, cooperating autonomous teams, all of which are empowered to do whatever they want, provided that it returns something to our coffers. We will explore and exhaust the realm of commercial opportunities, and seek constantly to refine our tactics to mine those opportunities, and the krill will strain through our mighty maw and fill our hungry belly. This company isn’t a company any more: this company is a network, an approach, a sensibility.”

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Burberry Global 3D Fashion Show – Watch it live here at 4pm GMT / 11am EST

BBH Labs will be streaming today’s Burberry London Fashion Week show live in the below video players from 4pm GMT / 11am EST.  Thanks to some clever player tech, the show will be broadcast on 73 other websites including Vogue, Grazia, CNN, Sky News, The Times, The Daily Beast and Yahoo. The player is also optimised for iPhone viewing.

High Definition

Standard Definition

Over at http://live.burberry.com the video stream will be complimented by live comments from global Burberry fans. Visitors can log in with their Facebook / Twitter sign in and post comments live as the new collection comes down the catwalk.

Finally, in a fashion and technology first, the show will also be broadcast live in stunning 3D to global VIP events in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Dubai and Tokyo. You can read more about the project here:

In Vogue. In Grazia.

In The Daily Telegraph.

Thanks to VideoJuicer for some very clever player technology.

BBH is a strategic digital partner of Burberry.

Can you lend us your room for an exhibition?

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. 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:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC-2VGBHFQI[/youtube]

And here is a film about how we made them:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yf3pTFiUt4[/youtube]

Will The Web Make Us More Honest?

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’:

screen-shot-2009-09-03-at-90828-am

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

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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcSQZINXyKo[/youtube]

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

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

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

“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”

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?).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otCImNtKqwk[/youtube]

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)