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  • The Economies of Small

    1st March 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in business models, culture

    '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.”

    Read full post

  • A Day in the Life of New York City, in miniature

    27th February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in awesomeness, online video

    The Sandpit from Sam O’Hare on Vimeo.

    This is a stunning piece of film, shot by Sam O’Hare in NYC, in miniature and using a shallow depth of field. Worth noting right at the outset that the tilt-shift effect was faked in post (but the overall effect is far from lessened because of this).

    For best results hit HD and watch in full screen. And turn it up.

    There’s a really great interview with O’Hare here, on the Aero Film site. Here’s a sample, in which O’Hare talks about the equipment he used in putting this together. It involved over 35,000 stills.

    screen-shot-2010-02-27-at-71705-am

    The music is perfectly matched. It was specially written by Rosi Golan and Alex Wong, and composed by Human.

    If you watch carefully there are some priceless moments, usually involving tiny characters doing things that look other-worldly when viewed in this way (I particularly like the scene in which someone sneaks out on their roof – this is shot in the height of the hottest part of the summer of 09 – to have a quick cigarette). One of the slightly odder things about the film is that despite seeing hundreds of people across the five minute piece, we don’t see a single face. This adds to the surreal, almost fake quality of the film.

    Thanks to @finnbarrw for the heads-up.

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

    23rd February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    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.

  • Isn’t Crowdsourcing Just Good Marketing? Interview with Rick Liebling

    22nd February 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in crowdsourcing

    “The world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.” Yochai Benkler, Yale University, from The Wealth of Networks

    Image by Goldberg, via Flickr

    Lightbulbs image by Goldberg, via Flickr

    Our collective interest in crowdsourcing (the creative and commercial opportunities and challenges it throws up) seems to be on an exponential curve only matched by the controversy and misunderstanding still surrounding the topic. Cue Rick Liebling’s eBook, Everyone is Illuminated, out today, a compendium of constructive thinking on the topic to date. As experiments in crowdsourcing start to unfold and the world waits to see just how sustainable it is a marketing tool, his primer aims to shed light on the whole area by gathering (in part crowdsourced, of course) insight and hands-on experience of crowd sourcing together in one handy place. We were happy to make a contribution to the eBook and caught up with Rick to tell us more about the project. Check out his introductory post here too.
    Read full post

  • BBH New York are hiring Creative Technologists

    22nd February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, technology

    Posted by: Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York

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    BBH is looking for a rare breed of person to be part of the evolving Creative Technology team in New York. Creative Technology at BBH is the fusion point between bleeding edge technology, the creative teams, brands, & people. Inventing and discovering new ways to connect with people and bring rich creative ideas for brands to life in the digital world.

    Does this sound like you? Read on . . .

    First and foremost you are a creative visionary with a deep passion and knowledge of the digital world; most importantly, you actually *make* things.

    You never stop tinkering, playing with things, hacking and combining to create new species. Your life is a digital social experiment; the way you live exposes the way you think, and what you make defines who you are. You love to watch people and uncover the nuances in life where you can make a difference in peoples lives. Technology is your oxygen you need it every second of the day and always want the freshest air, but you understand that not everyone is like you, so you can translate it into natural consumable language.

    Do you have these type of skills? Actionscript 3, CSS/HTML, PHP, Processing, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, iPhone, Android, Arduino … and can create exquisite interfaces in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash etc?

    If so, email your resume and examples of things you’ve made to richard.schatzberger@bbh-usa.com with ‘Creative Technology’ in the subject.

    (Read more about creative technologists in this AdWeek piece).

  • Will social media eat itself?

    19th February 10

    Posted by Patricia McDonald

    Posted in social media

    Here at BBH Labs we’re big fans of all things social. We’ve spent time evangelising about the power of the social web and speculating about a future dominated by social businesses. We’re inspired and excited by a future where we can take our social graph with us anywhere we go on the web-a future beautifully articulated by Undercurrent’s Mike Arauz.

     ”There is no longer any interaction that an individual may have with a brand, company, product, or service that disconnected from all the people they know, and the people that share their interest in that experience.”

    So we were more than a little taken aback by the findings of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer that shows we trust our friends and peers as a source of information considerably less than we did two years ago. The decline is particularly marked in the US where just 25% of respondents view friends and peers as very/extremely credible-a decline of 20 percentage points on 2008-but is also reflected in the global data.

    It’s an extraordinary finding which calls many of our assumptions into question. The trust consumers place in peer to peer recommendations versus corporations has been one of the primary drivers of the social web, the excitement we feel about the potential for social business and the shift of marketing dollars from above the line to social media.  

    So has all our excitement been founded on a false set of assumptions? Is this simply an anomaly in the data? Or is social media sowing the seeds of its own demise? Read full post

  • Where does the agency end, and the crowd begin?

    3rd February 10

    Photo: Dunechaser, Flickr, http://j.mp/c6kd2o

    Photo: Dunechaser, Flickr, http://j.mp/c6kd2o

    I went to the ‘Crowdsourcery Potions 101′ event at JWT yesterday as part of Social Media Week in NYC. Not so sure about the event name, but the content was great, and the panel line up was genuinely stellar.

    We watched John Winsor (Victors & Spoils Founder) lead a discussion that featured Ty Montague (Co-President & CCO, JWT North America), Saneel Radia (Alchemist / Chief Potion Master, Denuo), Michael Lebowitz (Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship) and the inimitable Faris Yakob (Chief Technology Dude, McCann NY).

    Thanks to the appliance of science, the whole thing is viewable at the bottom of this post, on video. Lots of useful, practical discussion around the kind of cultures, systems, and processes that would enable new forms of creative collaboration. I particularly liked the metaphor of ‘scaffolding’: the structures that are required for successful collaboration efforts (the filters, the creative direction, the incentive model, the access requirements, and so on).

    Anyway, I was struck by one area of the debate in particular, and I’ve been reflecting on that since. There were a number of observations about how business models (around agencies, and how they construct themselves, most specifically) were being challenged, and indeed how the definition of what constituted ‘the agency’ was evolving rapidly in new and interesting ways.

    As Ty Montague suggested, ‘we’re on the verge of a remaking of business and what a company is’. Bold and exciting words from the leader of one of the largest and most powerful agencies around. In particular, Ty was talking about a point John Winsor had made just a moment before, around the idea that the distinction between JWT and *beyond JWT* was blurring, and would continue to blur. As creative businesses continue to experiment with new models of creative collaboration, and explore different approaches to maintaining a creative arsenal comprising the highest quality individuals and partners, it is inevitable that which was once almost wholly contained within an agency will become, to some extent, located outside the formal confines of that business.

    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. And they need to be able to draw on this external resource. Like immediately. Certainly within BBH Labs we believe this is the *only* way the future can look; and of course it comes with challenges.

    For us (probably like many, I’m in no way suggesting we’re unique here), this means building and curating a broader group of people and companies with whom we create and produce ideas, and of course, we’re busy doing just that. It was an ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems who once said, ‘no matter where you work, most of the smart people work somewhere else’. Whilst challenging to orthodoxy, there’s definitely something in that.

    Back to Crowdsourcery Potions . . . Ty was hinting that one logical manifestation of this philosophy would be the formation of a broader pool of potential creative collaborators, perhaps more akin to the curated creative group put together by the team at Victors & Spoils. I also sometimes think the Alessi example is helpful here. Alessi occasionally put together hand-picked ‘crowds’ outside their company to help them on specific projects. So for example, on their program to create new ‘postmodern’ style product designs, they curated an invite-only ‘crowd of around 200 postmodern architects to submit work. This seems smart. It also signals a potential way forward for agencies looking to innovate new modes of creative collaboration.

    But it also raises what for me is *the big question*. In fact, two related sets of questions.

    1. CULTURE: If the culture of an organization is one of the key elements of differentiation between one agency and another, when does the definition of an agency blur to the point of intangibility? When does JWT (or BBH, or Victors & Spoils, or IDEO for that matter) cease to be JWT? When does JWT become Victors & Spoils? When does it simply become a set of senior and experienced curators of skills, talent and partnerships? And does this matter, if it does happen?

    2. INCENTIVES: What kinds of models are right for incentivizing the crowd? If the model of the future is going to involve fluid boundaries between ‘working for’ and ‘working with’, what does that mean for how people are incentivized? Not just in the crowd outside the agency, but within the crowd inside the agency? And linked to the first point, what value does one place on the cultural DNA found within agencies (which surely *must* have a commercial value) versus the more flexible and emerging skills found outside?

    Early days, but exciting days.

    All ideas, challenges, thoughts or builds welcome.

    —-

    Notes

    For more coverage of the debate check out Jonny Makkar’s (@jsmakr) neat summary blog post here, Faris’s here, or John Winsor’s short but kinda sweet piece here.

    For more on the critically important role of culture, see Grant McCracken’s excellent and provocative new book: “Chief Culture Officer: How to create a living breathing corporation“.

    Watch live streaming video from smw_newyork at livestream.com
  • When everyone’s a broadcaster, is everyone an advertiser?

    28th January 10

    Posted by Patricia McDonald

    Posted in social media

    Now social media has made it possible for everyone to become a broadcaster, is it inevitable that everyone becomes an advertiser?

    In the early weeks of 2010, there’s already been considerable debate (and indignation) around brands, businesses and even bands incentivising users for Tweets. Twincentivisng, if you like (and I must admit I can’t resist a pun).

    Is everyone an advertiser? Image by Mike Cogh, Flickr, under a creative commons license

    Is everyone an advertiser? Image by Mike Cogh, Flickr, under a creative commons license

    Should brands pay for tweets? Should twitterers take the cash or resist? Is there a sustainable paid for media model here or a fundamentally misguided reaction to the rise of social media? Is pay-per-tweet the end of the Twitterverse as we know it?

    In many ways this is an inevitable response to a number of factors:

    • The extraordinary rise and equally extraordinary media profile of Twitter
    • The increased premium placed on peer to peer recommendations
    • The collapse of on-line display advertising and the rise of SEO
    • The socialisation of search

    Any and all of these factors suggest a pressing need for brands to find a way to harness the power of social media and for media agencies to find a way to monetise it. Viewed from one perspective, the asymmetric nature of Twitter relationships make it particularly ripe for the adoption of a “broadcast” model.  1 in 5 tweets already mentions a brand so monetisation of these mentions seems, from that perspective, to make eminent sense.

    Read full post

  • Interview with the3six5 project founders: 365 days, 365 perspectives

    26th January 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in crowdsourcing

    “New tools give life to new forms of action…eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination… We are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups.” Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008

    3six5-image

    One of the things that caught our eye last year was a blogpost from Len Kendall sharing the plan for a simple, yet audacious lifestreaming project. Every day for 365 days, Len and co-founder Daniel Honigman were going to get a different person to write about their experience that day. If you will, a crowdsourced diary for 2010: the3six5 Project.

    Just under a month in and c.250,000 site views later, the project is growing into something with real currency AND potentially long lasting value. Before we get into the interview with Len and Daniel, here are a few early thoughts on why we think the project is turning out to be so interesting. As always, we’d love to hear other points of view, so please let us know what you think.

    1. Currency: the3six5 mashes up three communication themes – crowdsourcing, curation and lifestreaming – neatly in one idea. (At the same time it’s a simple journal. The combination is very seductive: it feels experimental and familiar at the same time).

    2. Cultural value: if the entries continue in the vein set down so far, it’s a time capsule of intensely individual thoughts. One year seen through 365 different minds, gathered in one place.

    3. As communication models go, a continuous, virtuous circle. Fresh, surprising content, which in turn its originators & their supporters want to promote and propagate.

    4. Great content: none of the above would mean anything if the words didn’t leap off the page. And boy, do they. A lot of writers have taken Daniel & Len at their word and taken risks, others have brilliantly evoked the day and their state of mind, often to profound effect.

    5. Success or failure depends on the community: The project has the chance to go wrong at any point, all it takes is a missed post. If we’re honest, that adds to the frisson around the project. It also proves yet again that crowdsourcing is no cop-out for the curators. As wonderful as everyone is, we suspect it can still feel like herding cats at times. As one of the contributors so far, I can also testify to a what-if-you-fail-to-come-up-with-anything? feeling in your gut as you sit down at the end of the day to write a post to an immovable deadline.

    We caught up with Daniel and Len, to hear how it’s going so far from their perspective, as well as their hopes and expectations for the rest of the year.
    Read full post

  • A Kind of Magic – Myspace Music Fan Video

    22nd January 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, interactive, music

    Posted by Fran Hazeldine (@franhazeldine), Planning Director, BBH London

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    ‘Myspace is dying’. How many times have you heard or read that in recent months? It’s not a hard conclusion to reach from recent visitor trends.

    But speak to some of the guys here at BBH London and they’ll tell you a different story. For the past few months they’ve been working with our Myspace clients on the UK relaunch of Myspace Music. It’s a revolutionary platform for the stream and share generation, and they’ve created some really smart and engaging work to promote it. Will that be enough to kickstart a turnaround? Only time and data will tell. But it’s a good excuse to share some wider thoughts on the kind of work we get excited about at the London office.

    The campaign started back in December, when 9 artists revealed the music they love in a series of interactive films showcasing the new music player. The idea was to bring fans closer to their favourite artists, reinforcing the core Myspace offer of music community.

    Building on this idea, the team have created a new set of films starring Fiddy, Florence, Furtado – and you. Visitors to Myspace.com/fanvideo can create a playlist of videos, log in with Myspace ID or Facebook Connect, then sit back and watch as the artists take turns to make a personal dedication. If you’re feeling friendly, you can also give a load of your Myspace / Facebook pals the super-fan treatment.

    Sure, most of us have seen personalised video apps before. But I do think the Fan Video app moves things on a bit. In fact, I think it’s made with three fresh ingredients that will be part of the mix in most of our best BBH London work this year.

    1. LOVEABLE MAGIC

    Agency types get very excited about whizzy new technologies. Apparently, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. And boy, do we love magic. It’s what our clients pay big bucks for. We spend countless hours trying to conjure up little bits of it. So when ACME Tech serves up another massive blob of ready-made magic there’s a rush to give it a branded twist. AR bog roll? Awesome!

    Problem is, some of this pure techy magic is losing its allure. Out in the real world people are suffering innovation fatigue. They’ve seen a thousand tech firsts and the give-a-fuck bar is iPhone high. You can dress that bog roll up in in AR magic clothes, but it’s still just bog roll. Where’s the good stuff? The funny, emotional, cool stuff? What’s there to LOVE?

    With the Myspace Fan Videos, the magic isn’t in the tech. It’s in the moment when 50 Cent hangs a picture of you on his wall, or Alicia Keys sings you a song. Sure the magic is tech-fuelled, but it’s the twisted cultural content, the playful reference to things I love or hate, that really makes it. Tech is the means, not a magical end in itself.

    Tech magic is out. Loveable magic is in.

    2. COLLABORATIVE CRAFT

    One of the things we’ve become more and more sure of as an agency is that we can’t do everything. Not on our own, anyway. And certainly not to the ‘best in class’ standard our clients demand. We’ve got bags of creative talent in the building, but to make truly awesome, loveable magic, we need the help of great craftsmen from outside BBH. These aren’t just suppliers or production companies. They won’t settle for a white label. These are creative partners who respect the vision, shape the execution and share the credit.

    I spoke to Dom Goldman, the BBH Creative Director on this project, and it was refreshing to hear him say that the Myspace Fan Videos couldn’t have been made without Pulse Films (who shot them), Absolute Post (who did the post production), and Domani Studios (who built the application). More importantly, they couldn’t have been made without genuine collaboration between that network of partners. Let’s call this process ‘collaborative craft’.

    If you watch the Alicia video carefully, you can see the reflection of your Facebook profile pic in the glossy piano surface. That isn’t off-the-shelf tech. That’s collaborative craft. Dom’s creative team obsessed over those art directional details. Absolute advised on special filmic effects. And Domani coded away until they were subtlely, perfectly achieved.

    3. SIMPLE SOCIAL

    We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that people can’t wait to participate in marketing, and will happily jump through branded hoops.

    Most personalisation apps I’ve used in the past have asked me to answer several questions or find and upload an image. Sharing has tended to mean entering lists of email addresses or choosing from lists of buttons. Those are pretty big demands at every step of the experience.

    By focusing on the simple and specific request for your Facebook Connect login, the Myspace Fan Video app makes that experience faster, simpler and more spreadable (auto-post your fan video to newsfeed, batch-create fan videos for your friends). The use of Connect also amplifies the magic. You don’t know the app has scraped your Facebook profile image until you see it spinning round on David Guetta’s turntable.

    Stepping back from the content, it’s just very cool to offer Facebook login for a Myspace promotion. That’s confident, user-centric behaviour. It makes my life a little more convenient. It says “we’re not trying to replace Facebook, we’re different”.

    And isn’t that all Myspace need to say, really?

    Check out the work here and let us know what you think:

    myspace.com/getrealclose

    myspace.com/fanvideo

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