Saturday, 30 June 2007

Secrets

Boss Nightclub - Bangkok

I've been following a blog for a couple of months now that sliced right through me as I realised I what I was getting into. I never know when I'm reading the last post and I will only realise its demise at some unexpectedly triggered point after. Today he writes something that I've seen elsewhere but I think in this instance carries more weight. Creatives are often conditioned to be far more cautious than the writer below has shared with us.

" I'll give you a free gift. As a writer - albeit in a very small way - people always ask you where you get your ideas and they're always dumbfounded when I tell them that getting the ideas is the easy part, knocking them into shape is the hard bit."

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Calton Hill Acropolis

I'm off to Edinburgh for a week (and then Leeds after that) doing depths for the pharmaceutical industry and I'm quite excited about the trip. Although I've made it into quite a few places around the planet (Junta or no Junta), and checked out a few locations that easily qualify for the 7 wonders of the world, I'm quite psyched about eventually visiting a place that if only for the Scottish enlightenment and its influence on the founding fathers of the United States is interesting in itself, but of course there is so much more. If anyone knows any bloggers/digital ramblers or agency/marketing types that might be interested in meeting up in the evenings I'm very much going to be up for some fresh air, insights into the place/people, lager or coffee. Expect random twitters to alleviate spreadsheet revolts and general monologue iteration wear and tear.

Kurt Vonnegut


'Join a gang, any gang', Kurt implores us in this one of his last interviews. I like the way he describes how the gang/group/herd is important to our well being and how the industrialised society with its scientific method spawned (my words) the atomised lifestyle and the nuclear family. He also talks about who cares if Jesus was the son of God, because what he said was beautiful and that's what matters. I've never read any of his books but hope I get a chance some time to check out his work. Somewhere that the the phone is off and Wi-Fi is out of range.


Friday, 22 June 2007

Participatory Culture

Doritos must have a savvy marketeer to get this kind of work through and even send themselves up a bit which is perfect for the post consumer society. Tastes like Chicken, no?



Via Andrew Smart and Collaborate Marketing

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Uniqlock

I love this. Good solid digital marketing from Uniqlo. Click the "off" word on the bottom right hand to hear the music with it.

Lemon


It's easy to understand that most people think good design is largely a style affair. However a fundamental pillar for the role of design is to facilitate our lives and hopefully do it with flair, imagination and delight (insert a string of adjectives). It was a bit of a giggle seeing the convulsive British reaction to the Olympics logo because clearly it had been 'focus grouped', and the only reason that it could have been such a Yoof effort is because it was meant to be that way. It was designed to annoy the living hell out of a certain age demographic and thus appeal to the 'kidz' who are the real target audience for winning over to sport now that we've exposed them to the delights of 'consumer culture' obesity.

Isn't it a bit embarrassing when the waiter presents a seemingly erroneous dish and we immediately fly off the handle with an irritable and disgusted mien, only to find it's actually for a dining companion who then relieves you of the plate while trying to put on a brave face about their choice of meal, that you've looked at as if it were served on a fully laden poopa scoopa complete with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top?

Wolf Ollin's earned their fee for this project through the paradoxical PR from the collective aneurysm of middle England. I guess they are unable to admit that its meant to offend (because then the Kidz wouldn't be down with it) until after the Olympics is over, if anyone cares by that point (which they wont). Anyway, the point of this post is to reaffirm the discussion of placing proper design at the heart of the marketing communications process because in an age of ubiquitous product parity, all we're often saying is love my ad/logo love my product.

Here are two examples from the wonderful Core77 that give me the design 'orn so to speak.

The Cardboard chair that weighs only 2 Kilograms.

The reusable notebook packaging that converts to a carry case



And one extra. This little cheeky fella, from Worn Again, is right up my street for a birthday present from anyone at anytime until the end of my days. Make yourself useful and get me this Charlie bag made from recycled army cape, seat belt and inner tubes.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Is Blogging the new Tamagotchi?

Talking to the Mark McGuinness at Interesting2007 I was explaining my emerging relationship with this blog. How if I neglect her it feels like she's content starved or being taken for granted. I also feel it makes sense to introduce this blog when meeting up with any of the distributed village posse in case it facilitates conversation by navigating quickly through the small talk or helps to locate me at a later time. Notice a pattern here? Guilt through neglect, burden of provision and requisite introductions in social situations? Lets face it, this blog could easily be 'the wife' to use a certain vernacular couldn't it? Anyway it was Mark who nailed it. "Blogging is the new Tamagotchi". We were both pleased with ourselves for having a conversation that concluded on this line.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Interesting People


Yesterday was Interesting 2007 (A Russell Davies Production) and a delightful time was had by all. I'll be posting about some of the highlights that I really loved, but most of all I enjoyed the people in the audience. They were a very generous and warm 'herd' indeed. Here are a few pics I snapped of some of the people who got together in the Pub after. Without exception all were lovely and a big thank you to those who gave their time towards the event.

Friday, 15 June 2007

ATTENTION LEVELS

Nigel Hollis, head honcho of Millward Brown asked a great question in June last year. Is the Link pre-test the equivalent of the Smith & Wesson Magnum 500? This began a much needed debate between advertising, clients and research about the value and relevancy of pre-testing that has been bubbling along quite nicely with a first response by the highly respected Jason Oke of Leo Burnett in Toronto and a further serious but welcome contribution by Fredrik Sarnblad over here. Nigel then responded in depth on his blog over here and Jason took up the debate with his post on Pre-testing part II over here.

No less a proper academic luminary than Dr. Robert Heath, author of
The Hidden Power of Advertising - How low involvement processing influences the way we choose brands has weighed into the debate on both Nigel's and Jason (+Leo Burnett)'s blog. I wonder if the talented and authoritative Richard of Adliterate fame would care to chip in following his "A Kick in the teeth for Low involvement processing post" now that a robust cast of characters are assembled to stimulate the debate. This is a book that has long challenged my thinking of the different ways advertising can work as I've stated last year over here. All we need are a few clients and we might well be on the way to a civilised and constructive debate to determine when, how and if research should be used. This is what planning blogs were made for isn't it?

Ernest Bevin


I'm reading Alan Bullocks' Ernest Bevin at the moment. It's certainly the most comprehensive biography on Ernie Bevin, but its in some ways a disappointing book. So far I've read one sentence on his marriage and one on his daughter after 300 pages, which is a poor show. We're all a product of the people around us, and I feel that his depth has been stripped by focusing on Bevin's ascent from Trades Union Leader to Minister of Labour, by Churchill's invitation in the coalition government during the second world war. No, its not a great political history book and frankly the British never do quite get it right when trying to paint a picture of our politicians. Its generally either overblown puff pieces or pedestrian led tours of duty-to-detail like the late Roy Jenkins biography on Churchill.

Our cousins in the United States however seem to excel in this department. Maybe its because they have a bigger stage like say in Caro's biographical trilogy of LBJ or for a real left field choice, Edmund Morris' biography on Reagan: 'Dutch'. But for the real master of writing history there probably is no greater insight into power corruption and lies, than by writing your own history, as Kissinger memorably did with his autobiographical trilogy, peaking in the craft of non fiction writing with his second book (for his doctoral dissertation) 'Years of Upheaval' which saw shuttle diplomacy invented, not to mention Vietnam, oil shocks and China to mention a few.

That isn't to say the Bevin biography doesn't shine in parts. In the passage below, we find that he is under pressure in the artificial (for him) habitat as a socialist minister in the house of commons, with criticism all round when the Conservative Churchill steps up and soaks up the punishment in his defence from his own 'side' so to speak.

"To abuse the minister of Labour. He is a working man, a trade union leader. He is taunted with being an unskilled labourer representing an unskilled union. I daresay he gives offence in some quarters; he has his own methods of speech and action. He has a frightful load to carry; he has a job to do which none would envy. He makes mistakes, like I do, though not so many or so serious - he has not got the same opportunities. At any rate he is producing, at this moment, though perhaps on rather expensive terms, a vast and steady volume of faithful effort, the like of which has not been seen before. And if you tell me that the results he produces do not compare with those of totalitarian systems of government and society, I reply by saying 'We shall know more about that when we get to the end of the story'

Time and again Bevin struggles to persuade people that the British worker is motivated most when free to choose their own destiny and less commited when compelled. Only Bevin understood this and fought tooth and nail to gain their permission for anything he subsequently requested from them. This is a logic that totalitarianism never grasps.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Transparency

Once in a while I'll think about why the credits on movies include everyone involved with the production down to the second gaffers' illegitimate child. Why wouldn't the same happen on my Kellogs cornflakes? I can't help but think how theatrical it would be to have a full list of credits on a cereal box even down to Fred the forklift truck driver at the Kellogg Warehouse.

Well.. on that theme Jan Chipchase asks a splendid question today that may offer a taste of the future of marketing. What happens in a world where the kid who stitched the uppers on your Vietnamese/Chinese manufactured trainers is part of the legend/PR disaster of the brand? In an increasingly transparent world, would it be that hard to make the staff the stars. Jan Chipchase is a blog worth following as he traipses round the world with a sharp eye for what is often going on around us right now.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

おーるどぼーい - Old Boy



Wouldn't it be great if all those favourite movie scenes could be made into huge posters by uploading the image and then mounted so that you could choose how many sheets to print the job without having a city and guilds in Photoshop  

Participatory media as marketing in action is just the job at Block Posters.


Remember to use the blank side of used paper if you can.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Who is Kate Walton?


Over at Life in the middle the pressing question of the day is "Who is Kate Walton"? This sort of paralyzing Saturday afternoon existential angst is deeply troubling for us at Punk Planning, and has been known to take the edge off our evening Angel Delight and Rice Pudding. If you know of Kate Walton and why her name is on a five pound note please get in touch as soon as possible so that Paul can get on with the weekend and feel in good shape for some more rough and tumble man hugging tomorrow. Who are you Kate Walton and why is your name on that fiver? The public has a right to know.

Playtime


A post on Ian Tait's - Crackunit about the quality of YouTube commenting and community led me to do a bit of exploring. I discovered the 'Community Channel' Vlog by Natalie. She is an Australian born Vietnamese Asian, who at first glance comes across unfairly, as yet another vacuous and self indulgent net teen exploiting her natural good looks with a veneer of digital literacy disguised as drama talent vlogging. You'd be mistaken. Her video clips are wildly popular in the main because she is such a babe, but underneath it all there's a charming tenacity on her part to make engaging YouTube clips that often have a role playing make-believe narrative.

Natalie's videos generate mini waves of video responses from people like Van Awesome below that I particularly like, but what is remarkable for those video responses is that while in the main they are pedestrian (they're not meant to be Hollywood) there are flashes of rather good knowing film nods and techniques not to mention great humour. They're not consistently brilliant nor are they meant to be, but this is the future of community video entertainment and I can see no reason why Tim Tams haven't gone out of their way to offer Natalie a sponsorship collaborative deal, or indeed why a youthful brand isn't fostering the right environment where people like Natalie and Van Awesome can do stuff that keeps us coming back more often. Regrettably, I can just imagine that if they did, a monolithic and data driven marketing department wouldn't know how to handle a personality that is all about experimentation, making mistakes and sometimes mediocre musings on life with occasional flashes of delightful brilliance. MTV is surely missing a trick and so are a bunch of others. Snack brands seem ideal to me for this kind of bite sized entertainment format and shouldn't be an excuse for as Nigel Hollis writes, new media making old mistakes.

I guess the question is not so much 'is it good?', but instead, is it better. It seems that compared to other forms of entertainment and for up to 400 000 people who have watched Natalie's most popular clip, the answer is most definitely yes. Here's a video response to her work which has plenty of links for Natalie's own work. She may not be brilliant yet but I'll put money on it that she will be in the future. This is just the testing ground.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

What I'm Thinking


Mark Lewis
from Planning from the outside blog, in San Francisco has generously tagged me as one of the blogs he thinks about, in the 'blogs that make me think' meme. I probably read way to many blogs and there's loads to choose from but here's a quick five and why.

Made in England - Simon Cook keeps me highly amused (if not rip roaring laughs), has an eye for visually refreshing and provocative graphics, design and art, is a keen observer of life and seems to understand how to make digital most compelling.

Make marketing history - John Dodds is actually one of the tightest marketing thinkers in blogging right now. He posts small and easily digestible but important guidelines as we inch forward into a new model of selling through communication.

Zero Influencer - David Bausola has one of the best de.licio.us accounts that he feeds into his blog. I want to do an interview with him at some point and find out how he gets hold of all the good stuff on the net.

TIGS - An obvious one but I'm a fan boy. We're in the business of storytelling and it takes someone who really understands the breadth depth and history of language to put into words some of the more complex ideas that are evolving in this very exciting time to be in the marketing communications business

Capt. Pancreas - doesn't have forever like we all seem to think we have and behave as if we do, its a short hard lesson in how to drain the sweetness out of every second and a highly compassionate reminder of how lucky we are.

There really are loads more and some that I look forward to digging back in the archives for nuggets I've missed so no slight intended for the those that know I'm a regular reader and think about a lot.



Update: Yes I know its six I've listed (this is after all punk planning). I'm going to be at the breakfast club tomorrow from 11 am for coffee and hello if anyone would like to drop by :)


Wednesday, 6 June 2007

PSFK Conference - Niku Banaie

Niku Banaie, Managing Partner of Naked Communications did a heartwarming presentation that explored some of the more pressing humanist dimensions of digital life today. Niku's grandfather was one of the early entrepreneurs of arcade and pinball games in the UK and the lesson learned by him that a fundamental human characteristic of playfulness is a key driver of all activity was not lost. Niku outlined a guideline of five universal needs for successful understanding on interaction that apply not just to life but cascade down into winning people over in general social intercourse.
  • Need for love
  • Need to learn
  • Need to give back
  • Need for simplicity
  • Need for play
Niku talked about the sense of loneliness on the net and how face to face interplay is still a hard wired necessity. He talked about how The Guardian, the worlds leading liberal voice, makes most of its revenue from Guardian soulmates by putting like minded individuals together. The irony of this massively connected world is the absence of love and how so many people are facing increasing levels of loneliness. Its remarkable how important it is for science to put a tactile face on its output and yet so often the results are engineered for efficacy rather than satisfaction. On learning Niku discussed the availability of MIT open course ware, a revolutionary sharing approach to putting the best lectures and learning materials in the world on the net. Self education with the aid of an internet connection really does open up the potential for people to explore and fulfill our learning instinct. When quality content and flat distribution are coupled, the potential for unlikely people to enable themselves is nothing short of magic.

The need to give back was best exemplified by an example of the Patagonia company I talked about in an earlier post and which if you listen to the podcast gives a number of heart lifting examples on how giving back supports a virtuous circle other than just profit. Niku talked about how the founder allows all his staff to get involved with environmental activism with the company paying for a get out of jail free card that will honour any amount of bail that is set for for related civil disobedience. Yep, Patagonia encourage their employees to break the law and put their money where their mouth is. Yvon Chouinard also discusses in that podcast how the company provides day care facilities for mothers and has a retention rate for his employees that exceeds anywhere else, thus limiting the expense of having to replace valuable human resources that other companies factor-in massive amounts of dollars to keep. Patagonia's problem he jests is letting people go even after they hit retirement age. Stability is a wonderful foundation block if companies begin the process by giving back to their employees.

Kiva was the next great example of giving back. They are a web interface that allows people to sponsor entrepreneurs in developing companies with loans that save lives. By putting people in touch with specific entrepreneurs a direct connection is made, cutting through the bureaucratic and less rewarding transaction of just giving to charity. If you take a look at the link you can see how Meas Sokheang of Phnom Penh is only $150 dollars short of raising the $1000 dollars needed to buy a motorbike and pigs to take to the market. We can chip in with a minimum of 25 bucks but its a loan and not just a donation. Its repaid back with interest but the satisfaction of knowing that a real vetted loan candidate is going to be given a fishing rod with which to fish and not just the food to see her through the day. When I first went to Cambodia many years ago nobody can be unshaken by the genocide that took place there and the barbaric torture that took place in Tuol Sleng. But one thing that lifts the soul each time I return is the kids who increasingly look less grubby and frankly don't have any recollection of the Khmer Rouge years that wiped out a generation and left a stain on a par with Nazism or the Hutu Tutsi conflict of Rwanda. Here's a chance to change and observe the process by giving back and you can also meet a bunch of other people (all from the U.S.) who are putting Meas Sokheang back on her feet with a loan that she will pay back over 21 months. This site is awesome and puts facebook social networking to shame. The world really is flat in this instance. As I write this post I see that Meas has raised the money needed but that Victoria Terko from Ghana is just 25 Bucks short of her crafts business she dreams of.

On simplicity Niku Banaie highlighted how massively successful interfaces such as Google and Craigslist have become by streamlining the information we are exposed to and the number of linked options they can provide. He talked about the Sugar graphical user interface for the 100 dollar laptop that is set to launch in developing economies and how it is built around real life groups and communities, around the projects they work on the interaction between those groups. An intuitive dramatisation of first life communications on a screen if you like. The uncomfortable truth is as Asi has pointed out that our lives have become unmanageably full and we have too much to deal with. Niku talked about John Maeda's laws of simplicity: Shrink, Hide and Embody. A great example was the Wi Fi connected umbrella that alerts us to potential rain before leaving the house although the umbrella that can wail out when I've left it again would suit me. My record for losing one is five minutes after buying it. I hadn't even used it.

Niku finished up with the human need for play and gave us a bunch of examples that highlighted this important ability for positive reciprocity that all humans have and can leverage. Examples given were the climbing centre in Japan that 'reframed' the idea of simulacra rock environments and used old household objects such as picture frames and bric-a-brac to enable climbers to scale walls and a Danish school environment that had been designed around the understanding that different modes of learning included play, activity, reflection and collaboration but crucially in a manner conducive to knowledge absorption unlike that from didactic monologue.


I need also at this point, to highlight that while looking for some photos for these posts on the PSFK conference I came into contact with Lynette Webb who is also a user of Google docs & spreadsheets which allows us to share and edit in an open source manner on the PSFK conference for example. You can find the link to her notes here and I hope to be doing a post about online collaborative working with Lynette using the tools that are available to everyone. Check out Lynettes blog interesting snippets in the mean time.

"The good news is we're running out of oil. The bad news is there's a lot of coal" - Yvon Chouinard

The mountains above are in Patagonia, Argentina and the picture was uploaded last Saturday from Argentina. I do think immediacy isn't everything but in this case it is. You can almost smell the mountain air unless VW Eos haven't branded it as theirs with advertising. Patagonia is the same name as the clothing label run by Yvon Chouinard who is the real deal when it comes to, we are what we do, and living an 'examined life'. I'd never heard of him before a few weeks ago but happen to stumble across a podcast on the often slightly worthy Social Innovation Conversations. Around about the 38th minute into the podcast he says everything you need to know about putting sustainability back into the wealth creation business model with simple but brilliant marketing values. In this case its for an oil company but it applies to all business. This audience with Yves is the sort of podcast I recommend for a Sunday while prepping the vegetables for the Sunday roast. and getting a good pot of tea on the go. It doesn't need full on attention and its not a blow away grab you by the nuts Mr Motivator podcast. Instead its a conversation that to paraphrase the robust words of Paul Coleman gives "just a continuous unshakable feeling" that this guy knows how to make money, do the right thing, treat people right, sell responsible products and live an examined life. Its fun, interesting and I can't recommend it enough.


Monday, 4 June 2007

PSFK - Mind The Gap


The picture above is one I took while strolling one Sunday along Wimbledon Common a few weeks back. The guy was taking macro photography pictures of new appearances in insect life that hadn't been previously recorded and were appearing due to the changes in the British climate disrupting the ecosystem. Specifically, he was capturing a wasp like creature killing a dung-beetle like insect. Most people welcome a bit of warmer weather in the UK but the reality is that if we blindly continue with the current consumption is king economy, based on infinite growth, we can look forward to less acceptable changes in British flora and fauna. In my experience of the tropics its the snakes, large spiders and golf ball sized hornets that flip most people out.

One of the less obvious dimensions about the business of saving our own skins as the planet warms up is that a shed load of money is to be made in reshaping the existing wealth creation business model. The PSFK conference last Friday held a panel to discuss the topic with Karen Fraser from The Ethical Index chairing the discussion with John Grant (Greenormal), Diana Verde Nieto (Clown Fish) and Tamara Giltsoff (Ozolab). Not so long back I took some time out to study a bit about propaganda because it seemed obvious to me that there was no way that after the failure of Kyoto and the growth of China and India that the neoliberal capitalist model was going to rein in the excesses of marketing communications credo of sell more despite it 'getting hot in here' (so take off all your clothes). Actually I was pretty much floored by the release of the Stern Review Report on climate change which I had no expectation to see in my lifetime. If the human race can make a global business out of something like World Wrestling, Hello Magazine and Blue Tooth Headgear for anyone other than taxi drivers then I'm sure we can make a buck from shifting something not from A to B, but say from A to C. It really is as simple as that.

John Grant kicked off and although we've met in firstlife and talked bundles on his greenormal blog I only realised at the PSFK gig why he really does kick ass. John talks coherently in compelling joined up paragraphs and really could use an hour or two on his own to take us through a journey from sinners-in-denial to messianic converts. I think he's a national asset and at some point the British should collectively chip in to give him our spare carbon points because we need him out on the road and 'representing' for the U.K. around the globe since he practices what he preaches and only flies when only absolutely necessary. John opened with some breaking market research that aviation brands are the new dirty word. Can we anticipate a renaissance for the great British seaside holiday and the rise of the guest house again? Flying seemed to lose its sex appeal around about the time Pan Am were shot out of the sky in 1991, but its official now; only losers and drink drivers fly unnecessarily.

I urge you to buy John's about to be published book The Green Marketing Manifesto when it comes out, for all the juicy bits about how to do green marketing. He did talk about how the green (sustainable living) movement is in its early stages right now like digital was in 1995, and that there's a real opportunity for all marketing folk to get into this and start changing the senseless waste of that indulgent age 'The Consumer Society' and make good money out of it. Money and Green are not incommensurate, and one idea I liked was the movement to get children walking to school with a kagoul brand perhaps getting involved. However if you do check out one website to wet the whistle and that John has championed before, take a look at freecycle. Because sharing and recycling is the new Sexy black as I mentioned back here.

Tamara Giltsoff also chimed in with a similarly reasoned argument that a new sustainable business model is emerging and that its a front end change that we should be putting our marketing brain cells to, not short sharp shock. She also championed the need to put marketing and corporate responsibility (C.R.) together. We need to urgently be speaking to each other because doing good is actually something that sets products and services apart. Its not exactly rocket science is it? I did like the way that Tamara implied that SUV's were now approaching the social pariah status of something like a Chavmobile.

Diane Verde Nieto of Clownfish made a great observation for those in attendance, that modern communications professionals should be able to handle the schizophrenia of leading two agendas. One to sell our clients products and services and the other to build sustainability into the way they work. Again they are not incommensurate but it takes a twin track mind to handle the conflict in the transition stage. She also drew our attention to London's aim to be a sustainable city by 2020 which was something I wasn't aware of and will surely be a terrific motivator for business to reshape and retool. In addition Diane pointed out the Ariel low temperature wash cycle campaign(30 degrees) and that the internet is a heavy user of electricity impacting on the environment through huge data centers that are sprouting up around the world, as well as the costly running of computers and servers. Water, she alerted us, is going to be the next big challenge after carbon footprint responsibility takes hold. This makes complete sense for those who follow geopolitics around the globe and is a timely reminder for Sci-fi fans to reread Dune. Lastly Diane used a bleak euphemism for the business of carbon offset trading described as the equivalent for the environment of the morning after pill.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Usual Suspects






Regine Debatty - We Make Money Not Art


Regine Debatty stepped onstage looking breezily stylish and was soon taking us down the path of biotechnology and art related projects. I've been meaning to check out her blog, We make money not art for some time now but within a few seconds of her presentation I'd resolved to add her RSS feed to my daily intake. Regina conveyed the importance of understanding what biotechnology really means and its impact on the human race. Examples given such as the victim less leather jacket grown from a combination of mice and human cells really got me thinking about what we define as norms and how science can make the mundane and inhumane (killing animals for their skin) appear to be more digestible than artificially growing biological organs such as skin. Regine asked us if this was the future of farming and its a good question for us to consider. Up next, Regina highlighted the potential for growing human hair from a deceased person as a way of drawing comfort from those we were close too and if that seems disjointed, as was later brought up, why would we not draw a parallel with the business of renting pets.

I thought that Regine made the point that scientists are now much more creative than the artists when it comes to biotechnology related disciplines although I'd like to double check this point as it seemed to me that the art collectives can't wait to get their hands on the laboratory test tubes and petri dishes. Other topics covered were the potential for biotechnology created armies, replacement kidney supermarkets which are already a reality and being harvested from prisoners in China for wealthy people. Coincidentally the day before the conference, China's leading kidney transplant expert in Shanghai accused of organ harvesting from the outlawed Falun Gong, committed suicide by jumping out of a hospital window. On the subject of mass harvesting take a look at this to see how mechanization of biological processes is already taking place.

Regine also covered the idea of rapid prototyping, which is a concept I'd come across before in a Poptech podcast by Neil Gershenfeld of MIT about the Fablab which uses incredible technology in ways which can dramatically change the lives of people through concepts like making perfect stuff out of imperfect stuff.

Other topics covered were Spimes, which will challenge our definition of what an object really is once it can be tracked before development and after manufacture. One amusing anecdote that Regine related was a tale of a friend whose luggage was on the wrong plane and that it was the passenger who had to disembark and follow the luggage on the wrong plane even though or possibly because it had radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging which is a technology that will intervene in our lives and is already making headway in Prada's 40 million Dollar flagship store in Manhatten. RFID is a technology that like barcodes is going to become ubiquitous due to the falling cost of technology. If you can imagine what the falling cost of processors and storage has done for computing than take some time out to imagine a world where everything ever made and those that use them can be tracked.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Timo Veikkola - Nokia

I went to PSFK's conference yesterday in London. It was billed as a morning of trends and ideas, and an afternoon of new marketing. The whole day was hugely enjoyable and I'm not just saying that because PSFK put me up at the Metropolitan and paid for those Cannes tickets I was moaning about. I made some notes of the thoughts and ideas that made sense to me or even didn't make sense but somehow needed to be taken down. Here they are.

The first speaker was Timo Veikkola (picture by lynetter) who is a future specialist at Nokia (what a great job), and seems to have a similarly exciting position as Jan Chipchase. Timo is one of those social science types that the Scandinavian countries excel at integrating into big business much more sympathetically than many U.S. corporations. His goal is to make communications as natural as possible while picking up on future trends to integrate into Nokia products and usability. Timo pointed out that there is no other stimulant like travel and I'd fully agree with him there. Anything else is just Disneyland really. Timo is currently planning for the year 2010, and reminded us of the question "can the human mind master what the human mind has made?" (Zygmnunt Bauman). For a Clinton Kid like me, the last 6 years have been quite depressing and Timo underlined how war is thematic for this decade despite the number of casualities at this moment in time. He talked how these visuals of the oxymoron 'war on terror' have started to seep into culture and may also explain why there is a considerable counter movement for the honest, fun and simple.

Many years ago I was in Vietnam and noticed that despite all the efforts of the mighty U.S. military machine it was Coca-Cola that had really won the war. One slide by Timo of a car covered in Arabic text reminded me that if we look at the population growth demographics for Islamic countries it shouldn't be too long before, along with India and China we should in the future begin to see more Arabic text creeping into our culture. I always find text fascinating and have even etched a few Khmer and Siamese tattoos on my body. I can think of nothing more exciting than nipping up to the Turk, Sri Lankan, Kurdish and Tamil supermarkets where I'm living and looking at 'foreign stuff'. Somehow Coconut Milk from Southern India is much more romantic and kosher than something packaged by one of the supermarkets. I am also quite frankly bored with all the web 2.0 cuddly logos sprouting, although I do realise that style is more important and useful than identity in this overloaded logo world.

Timo talked about how protest and political statement will likely be more present in design of the future and this was reinforced later by the sustainable design panel. I can certainly see a future where homogeneous brands, products and services are more likely to differentiate themselves by what they stand for - their values as it were. Timo also described that we seem to be living in almost biblical Revelations-like times with famine, pestilence, disease and floods from things like SARS, Hurricanes and Tsunamis, he then talked about the move from a celebrity culture to a knowledge culture which simply can't come soon enough for me.

Many moons ago on a hardcore right wing political chat channel that I liked to sharpen my teeth on I was arguing (or rather being shouted down) about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of driving SUV's in a world with rapidly diminishing oil and young Americans and British people dying for it while serving in the armed forces in Iraq which everyone knows (except the oil addicts) was invaded for its oil reserves and the Green Zone that will administer it. The one weapon that unsettled the frothy mouthed right-wing-nuts in the debate (95% of the channel) was the question, would Jesus drive an SUV? The unholy alliance between the Neo-Conservatives and the Christian fundamentalists is always unsettled by this simple question and mark my words for the future of sustainable consumption, religion and culture will be huge factors in the war of ideas. Ask yourself if Jesus would purchase an SUV, because it looks to me from the picture above that Mohamed wouldn't have minded a Big Mac. That is every reason for being optimistic about the future...... which according to Arthur C Clarke is going to be 'utterly fantastic'.