Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Widgets

I know some of my bloggy friends don't like widgets and it's possible that we all went a bit crazy on them this year diminishing their value a little, but I'm convinced of their utility and more importantly I like the conceptual blurring between either this space and that space (or your space and my place) when using them. Here's a great example of why Widgets are good.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Quran

It was my planning mentor at HHCL who first turned me onto the Koran (as we spelled it then) and Islam, and watching the following video reminds me of a discussion I had in Starbucks the other day with a guy carrying Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion. I asked him how he was finding it, and pointed out one flaw is the absence of separation between God and Religion (I dislike the latter).

In any case I put him onto my favourite rebuttal of the Dawkins book and he was very grateful for that link. I've just had a chance to watch this, and it's top quality content. I've no idea why YouTube viral clips get only 10 seconds to work with me and yet I'll lose an afternoon in this stuff. This came by way of Smashing Telly which has disrupted any number of lovely days I should have spent in the sun. Time to get down to the beach and squeeze a few hours out if possible.


Freestyle


I've pulled a calf muscle and forced to drop out of the Huntington Beach US Open World Surf Championships. It's a shame I know and I'm gutted not to be able to catch some waves this year but it has given me the opportunity to take a wander around the beach and see the event from the spectator side. The Xtreme Motorbike action (is that what it's called?) has blown me away. These kids are pushing it further than I thought imaginable.

This one is called the Lazy Boy
 
  
  

Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Masses Are Debating With The Intellectuals Online

This lecturer is a rock star. Amazing.

 
Internet star and Beijing history teacher Yuan Tengfei talks about freedom of speech, with a clarity and frankness rarely seen in China. Just Brilliant. English subtitles by Chris Wip.

Doonesbury

Via Stan

Wall Nuts McCain - Come to Daddy

"For most of the past four years, John McCain and the man who beat him for the Republican nomination in a bitter campaign in 2000 have treated each other like a pair of reversed magnets, members of the same metallurgical family held apart by reciprocal repulsion. Now their locked arms are raising eyebrows."

 
It was at this point in 2004 that I realised McCain had the 2008 nomination wrapped. That's how in my opinion U.S. politics works. Power is handed over. Thanks to George for reminding me the picture is easily found through a Google search

Update: McCain goes pro weed to soften his warmongering stance. Will the stoners fall for the bomber?

Friday, 25 July 2008

Creativity

Listening to the world service recently I've been blown away by some of the creative audio they've prepared for the Beijing Olympics. It's awesome because for those that know me, I've become a little sceptical about the whole 'safety first' Olympics and even delayed my return to Beijing because the preparations for the Olympics are too intensive; foreigners with non Z class visas have been sent home, migrant workers have been cleared off the streets to project an image of modernity, factories closed and cars banned from the roads on alternate days depending on the number plate to project an image of cleanliness, bloggers and activists rounded up and thrown in jail to project an image of harmony and even tourist visas refused as well as a whole host of stuff that strips the spontaneity and fun from the event such as the official Olympic Cheer that I blogged about over here.

Happily the British Isles are blessed with people who have a creative response to the celebrations and just seeing this today over at Neil's blog has cheered me up no end. I'm sure it's going to be a good Olympics once we get into the swing of things and it's content like this this by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett that is going to help far more than any condescending cultural fingerpointing. I first realised that when I saw how wildly popular Kung Foo Panda is in China and how even the intellectual elite are questioning why it could never be made in China under the current conditions. Great Creativity always opens up great questions and the answer to that one is not safety first. It's fun first. Risk a little and gain a lot I say.

Sunsets & Time


I thought I'd be clever and weave this post into something lengthy about time and running out but I think the pictures speak for themselves. The sunsets on Huntington Beach are astonishingly beautiful but the day care centre where the old folks are marking out their final days is somewhat different. No less interesting though.


The first image of the post belongs to a staff member's wrist at American Apparel which is a brand I've really fallen for. Who couldn't? Clean and fresh image, simple but noticably hip garments, and all priced very fairly with proper brand values including a positon on immigration that puts both the Democratic and Republican parties to shame (though perversely not George Bush pre 911). I've talked (at length) before about why I think brands in a product parity world can differentiate through having a position that sits outside the quarterly report. One that preferably upsets a few people too.


These are the sort of brand values which are the difference between those that stand for something and those that would like to stand for something but fail to have anything to stand for because that's what pretesting and focus groups do don't they?


Anway I've been thinking about time for quite a while and I think it's a long post in the brewing. It's got nothing to do with planning and yet everything to do with planning of course.


This last image is taken from the Nokia N95 and while not perfect is every reason why I'll miss having a 5 megapixel cameraphone once I buy an iPhone. Unless of course Apple dish up one in the future.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sold

 
I'm really happy to have found a buyer for the Burma painting. It's just been put in the post to Daria Radota Rasmussen of Social Hallucinations. All proceeds will go towards the Google  Disaster Relief in Myanmar fund where Google is chipping in to the effort. Nice one Daria. Thanks.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

America's Most Wanted



Update: Ayasha who looks just as much a bad ass as George and I in this picture has started a blog over here

Swap Meet

Over the weekend I went to a 'Swap Meet' thinking it would be like a car boot sale with some swapping although it was more about me swapping my cash for stuff. In any case most of it was a lot of the junk we accumulate without having any real purpose and yet each piece of junk has a whole manufacturing process behind it.

Depressing really, but I did score some amazing vintage magazines which I don't really have enough space to carry back to China ,although if anyone is interested I can buy up the rest next week and ship 'em somewhere, where they will be appreciated because I was the only person interested in them given that most of the people ambling around the car park were of Vietnamese or Mexican extraction. These printed products kind of reminded me of the Ephemera Society fair that I attended with Charlie some time back last year.


This first cover caught my eye as it's celebrating the 1960 Rome Olympics and what with all the Olympic fever in the air I thought it provided an interesting contrast. The happiness and spontaneity of the front cover is evident with the two smiling gymnasts from the U.S. team.


The next one is an Evening Standard (I've no idea what it's doing in California) from the 1972 Munich Olympics. These games were marred with tragedy and if I'm not mistaken were the occasion when the term Terrorist first came into the public consciousness.


This Time magazine surprised me for it's coverage of a British election which led me to think the owner (whose address is on the cover) might be an Anglophile or a British emigre.


I think this Life cover from 1963 the year of Kennedy's assassination is I think the most historic find. Inside were full details of the death including the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald only 90 minutes after the event. A classic example of 'case closed' so quickly and yet we now know there are so many questions outstanding. Most importantly Oswald's assertion that he was a patsy.


Lastly a bit of advertising as all the items I bought are chock full of ads that are so good. I particularly liked this one because I'm staying with a friend who was partly responsible for hiring of Crispin Porter while at VW and developed with CP&B a campaign which is strictly speaking so on brand all these years later from the above quintessential Bernbach days of DDB and Volkswagen. See below.

Counter Intelligence

 
I just saw this at Newport Beach and immediately thought of Emily and Conformists Unite.

Clay Shirky at TED and the Kübler-Ross Model

Monday, 21 July 2008

PSFK - San Francisco


The PSFK roadshow is gathering steam landing in San Francisco last week and in some ways it kind of felt like PSFK was home. A few moons ago I was stuck in Asia and working on some business that required some Korean insights and trends. I was struggling to deep dive the search engines to find anything new or relevant on the topic and I found success with the PSFK website which was still relatively unknown out in Asia, and I've been a fan ever since.
I was struck by the British planner contingent at PSFK San Francisco, residing in the United States starting off with Ed Cotton from BSSP/Influx Insights who opened up the day with a great presentation on whether we should care about trends and most importantly pointing that getting out of context is where identifying and implementing trends can be most stimulating. PSFK now live blog these events with much better writers than me and and you can check Ed out over here.

Next up was a panel with Colin Nagy (Attention), Kevin Allison (Financial Times), Liz Dunn (Funny or Die), Jeremy Townsend (Ghetto Gourmet), and Amit Gupta (Photojojo, Jelly) talk about being inspired by SF culture. If there is one overwhelming impression for me of San Francisco it's the uniqueness of the place. Somewhat like a European oasis in America in terms of architecture and sensibility but equally nothing like Europe from an innovation and friendliness perspective. I particularly liked Liz Dunn from Funny or Die pointing out that if you're working 14/15 hours a day you're probably not good at your job. We're kind of choking on growth and the only effort that requires that sort of work is something to restrict the growth if that makes any sense.
Next up was the second British planner of the day. Former W&K planner Chris Riley who now works for Apple. Chris talked about three people that inspired him from the bay area and I have to say he chose something quite close to my heart because arriving early in the day at the Fort Mason Centre I noticed next door to the conference centre was the Long Now Project which is an idea built on the premise that we're so anxious about what the future offers we no longer wish to know what it will be like in twenty or fifty years time. I can share that growing up as a young boy in the 70's, that wasn't the case and that as kids we all fantasized about what the future held in store.
The Long Now project resolves this tension in part with great ideas such as placing a 0 in front of the year so this year is actually 02008... Feels better doesn't it? I had no idea that the Long Now Project would be next door from PSFK in San Francisco, after I first read about them in London some time back and furthermore that Chris would talk about his inspiration taken from a founder of the Long Now Project, Stuart Brand. Chris also talked about Alison Waters and Paul Hawken. Two people who have been progressive thinkers in their respective fields and reside in the bay area.
Next up Jen Beckman gave one of the best talks on art and and technology with her site for budding photographers called Hey Hotshot and 20x200. I knew Lauren would dig this lady the most because she took her art seriously and yet also was genuinely passionate about making it accesible and affordable to all, saying that she felt the photography on Hey Hotshot was to her the 'gateway drug' to art she was proud to deal in. I loved that and furthermore was pretty blown away that she discovered one of the most heart wrenching photographers of the decade, Nina Berman, who has been shooting returning gulf war veterans including the memorable photograph from the International Herald Tribune with a returning sergeant marrying his bride in what was clearly an awful car crash of 21st century expectations of love and the reality of matrimony and societal expecations. Let me show you the photograph because I bookmarked it many months ago. You can read all about it over here.
After Jen Beckman we had Ezra Cooperstein (Current TV) and Andrew Hoppin (NASA) talk about collaborating with consumers and navigating bureaucratic systems to make them more agile. I'm not sure it was working having someone from the entertainments/information industry and a grown up from NASA but only because they were both interesting in their own right but met in the middle on a slim branch. Andrew Hoppin did point out that NASA was losing its luster as a sexy place to work and I think that's because their mission is all fucked up. If anyone at NASA had balls they would be charged with both documenting climate change around the planet to the Nth degree and equally place in charge of something as radical as putting the human race into space. Because only a limited guest list of say 20 000 human beings with a VIP ticket into space leaving behind a shrivelled planet much like the moon, might make people wake up and realise that we only have one planet Earth. But hey, I"m not running NASA right?
Next up was yet another British Planner Gareth Kay from Modernista who I didn't get a chance to say hello to although I was keen to find out a little more about their Hummer work which friends of mine rate highly. Gareth chaired a panel including Eric Corey Freed (organicARCHITECT), Josh Morenstein (fuseproject), and Frank Striefler (TBWA\Chiat\Day & Media Arts Lab) on how you take inspiration and create change. I'm easily inspired but if you're in need of some hints you can read more about it over on the PSFK blog.
Later on we had Charles Ogilvie (Virgin America, but now working for Panasonic) about redesigning the airline experience. I thought the best question of the day came from Matthias Weber of PSFK who asked how the work could all relate to train travel. Air travel is about to get a lot more expensive.
Following on from Charles and including yet another two British planners was my mate George Parker (AdScam/MadScam), Rohit Bhargava (Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence), Lynn Casey (Team Noesis), Adrian Ho (Zeus Jones), and Mark Lewis (DDB SF, Planning from the Outside) about how genuine consumer dialogue can improve sales.
Next up we had George Murphy (Modo Group) and John Pollard (Microsoft) about physical brand experiences. I got the impression that Microsoft are floundering when it comes to understanding how radically they need to overhaul their business to make a difference. I'd even go as far as to say I think that they need to lose some blood to gain some in the future.
Finally we ended the day with Josh Handy and Nate Pence (Method) on how design can mirror and shape an organization. Josh and Nate are responsible for the enviromentally friendly products by Method and it was a sweet way to end the day with the spirit of how design is crucial to reinventing both the world around us and how we communicate it to build a sustainable wealth creation model.
I think one of the best things about PSFK apart from the interesting people they invite to share their work is the informal and fun networking through the day and in the bar afterwards. During the evening we ended up at Otis with generous complimentary drinks paid for by Behance and I ended up getting 'arseholed' with George Parker and a few others. ;)
I've got a strong feeling that the PSFK format is going to be a big hit for their next gig in Singapore where they can bring some of their West Coast vibe, NY hipness and London intellectual credentials to play. Keep an eye open for it.

Too Many Cooks

I particularly like the part about primary and secondary markets. It's complete bullshit but a lot of marketing people have plenty of slides droning on about those. Don't forget to pretest too!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Trouble at mill

I just found out that maybe the last two weeks posts didn't make it out to you through Dynamo London's post over here. It has to be down to me meddling with Feedburner (Does this mean I'm a geek?) a while back and if it wasn't for them or Sam I'd be posting away oblivious to the technical problems. I hoped I've fixed it but you could do me no better a favour than leave a comment or drop me a mail here if this post feeds your RSS reader. That would be great. Thanks

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Binding Feet

A mother or grandmother typically began binding her daughter's or granddaughter's feet when the child was between the ages of four and seven. The process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to properly develop. Binding usually started during the winter months so that the feet were numb, meaning the pain would not be as extreme - Wikipedia



Via Danwei

Asian Olympic Enthusiasm



It does look like Japan is struggling to be excited with the Beijing Olympics. I think the diminished enthusiasm is for historical reasons although the Hong Kong figures have surprised me a little too. I'm guessing that Australia will be on a par with other occidental countries. Via
Thomas Crampton

Radiohead

There's a reasonable amount of evidence to assume I'm a data junky and full-on information whore. I can often hold a conversation and listen to another one at the same time and I guess this habit arose from not getting enough information from just the one.

It's not the first time of late that I've been rebuked by friends for reading RSS feeds on my mobile in nightclubs while chatting and listening to the music and only last weekend in Mexico I popped out of a nightclub to pick up my Macbook Air and do a little light blogging from a club that wasn't quite distracting me enough. I'm like that when the mood takes me.


It's not really a good thing I guess because I only know my way round Beijing, through my electric bike. If it was just down to taxi passenger experience my geography wouldn't exist as taxi rides were invented for digesting RSS on a mobile phone - It took me months to even find my way home or to the office without assistance. Traffic jams come second to data and once I'm sucked in I rarely look up again.


Google Mobile Reader
is possibly the most powerful digital-fix-teat. It's way more data intensive than Twitter although considerably less contextual because I don't know most of the posters. Knowing the people who create content is the highest context for receiving it. It sounds obvious but isn't if you're thinking of taking up blogging.


Anyhow, one of the drawbacks of this is that I often come across stuff on-the-move that I want to come back to and without de.licio.us or Google Shared Items or starred items or whatever reminder 'du jour' I'm playing with, I sometimes fail and that's why I'm a bit late in reposting this amazing video by James Houston who entered the Radiohead Nude track remix invitation. You can read about it all over here but the pudding is below. (He's looking for work now he's graduated, in either London or San Francisco - I'd snap him up if I were a digital agency)


Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.


Then there's Robert's Visualisation for Radiohead's music video competion that is also completely brilliant.


Weird Fishes: Arpeggi from flight404 on Vimeo.

Which all leads nicely on to Iain's post about why Radiohead are way ahead of the pack when it comes to embracing Web 2.0 which is a term that some dislike but I don't because I do think that if you're using or thinking of the internet in much the same way as you did ten years ago it's possible you've missed out on a conceptual leap that is having a profound impact on the way that people can get involved with brands or communities. Here's Iain's video presentation and I've finally just discovered that his blog name comes from a reference to the A Team (Team Awesome?)

Friday, 18 July 2008

888

Ed's gone and made the unofficial Olympic T Shirt which brings to life the international flavour of the event in a positive way that will definitely not be seen in China. I know because I've scoured the entire Olympic merchandise/official sponsor merchandise/advertising and I have one complaint; it's all about China and nothing to do with the international multi cultural dimensions of the event (as I hinted at in this post over here and continued the discussion in the comments over here). Anyway, Ed has single handedly cracked the problem with this brilliant design that has all the names of the competing countries. Neat 'n sweet eh?

 

There are only 888 of them which as you may know represents the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year - which is when the Olympics start next month. 8 is also considered a lucky number in Chinese culture. These are a hip buy and you can buy one over here.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

SoCal












Lots of intense political discussions with old friends, catching up with some 2.0 people, Mexico this weekend, San Fran/PSFK next week and Beijing on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

It feels like a bubble here; particularly the Hummers. Completely removed from the the outside world and yet the ever present reminder of oil pumps and real estate for sale looms large.

Southern Californians though have to be some of the most generous and helpful on the planet. Pretty much every transaction or interaction is seamless and delightful.

Wall Street Journal



Chicks with Nunchucks Via Shanghaiist

Friday, 11 July 2008

Designs on Money


It's not often I post up quality design over here but I think the new British coin designs are really good. Perhaps up there with those Dutch Notes that looked so fantastic prior to the adoption of the Euro.

The new designs have been chosen via an open competition three years ago which attracted some 4,000 entries. I'm really pleased that the winning designer is a young Brit of 26 years-old called Matthew Dent, originally from Bangor who now lives and works in London as a graphic designer.It pleases me that world class designers are still emerging in the UK and so young too.

Here's a Dutch example for those who remember having some beautiful cash in their hands before the Euro. Isn't it just brilliant and beautiful?

Via Core77