Friday 27 February 2009

They were only together for 26 months

If you haven't yet seen The filth and the fury I urge you to take the time out to see what is arguably the best video documentary of the single most important contribution from the English in the 20th century. From Beijing to Tokyo to Washington D.C. the only British legacy I've ever consistently seen as somewhat alive is punk. We stopped making things years ago and no cultural movement is still as visible to this day. One of the myths of the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten is how the vulgarity was worshiped for itself, when if you take time out to study the lyrics or listen to John Lydon it's self evident that he is an intellectual who bought a dose of realism to a fetid and decaying society that lined itself with the hallucinatory fur of glam rock and the hologram of let's pretend we feel good. Shang a lang indeed. Thanks to Neil for consistently reminding me that I'm not alone in believing we are on the cusp of potentially meaningful change.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Spot On

Ah Hah! I coincidentally and conveniently stumbled across the drawing on the back of a business card that Hugh did for me in June 2007, and which I mentioned back here.

Anyone who knows me can vouch for my endless opinions. I'm obsessed with economics at the moment and really hope I'm approaching the light at the end of the tunnel, because I've now reached the miserable point that I think Adam bookmarked, and which I've just dug out from the New Yorker which is diagnosed as 'pessimism porn'.

It's mainly about only finding the evidence which suports my analysis of the economic state of affairs. Taleb might diagnose this as narrative fallacy behaviour but I'd have to throw in that I'm interacting with what appears to me, to be my entire social group hooked on Platonic fallacy. They're printing money folks, and that means everyone will want a mini Heidleberg too.

I've also begun thinking about Johnnie Moore's 'notice more, change less' mantra. If only because it's a very good reason to be more polite and listen to people rather than the compelling interruptions I excel at. See, I've gone on again. I do like the way Hugh doesn't leave a question mark though. More generous I think.

Any of you freelancers out there recognise the business card? Oh and one last question. Does anyone know how to format draft blogger properly so the paragraph spacing doesn't disappear when I press Publish Post?

That would be a small mercy.

Just checking :)

Friday 20 February 2009


Hokusai did this print of The Great Wave and captured the imagination of the Japanese people in much the same way that Shepherd Fairey's Obamicon hit an emotive nerve in the run up to the U.S. election. Both in their own way represent something that is outside the commitment to try one's best. To go a little further.

Sean Howard invited a bunch of us to write a piece that was inspired by Saul Kaplin about The Passion Economy.

One of the terrific things about Sean is that he has a hardcore intellectual streak that sometimes leaves me bewildered realising there's whole topics I've never heard of let alone grasped and which you can discover here on his blog.

However, Sean balances that deep thinking drive with what I see as a big ol' generous heart and very kind words of infectious happiness. When he asked me to contribute, I was really flattered and said yes.

I am in with some toptastic people on this one, including Scott Suthren, Ellen Di Resta, Gavin Heaton, Mike Wagner, Mack Collier, Mike Arauz, Katie Chatfield, Alan Wolk, Peter Flaschner and Matthew Milan all contributing to this piece which I hope will persuade some, that we are indeed living in profound times.

Something's happening indeed.

The Passion Economy eBook

Why not download the ebook from Sean's site if you're a little short on time?

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Rule Breaking Sloppy Blogging

Tim has warned us all of the perils from lazy blogging but I watched this lastest TED video last night and thought it chimed nicely with the the sentiment around the thinking man's blogosphere where the top down hierarchical nature of 20th century business and it's marketing machine are responsible for the dehumanization of our species. I think once again this is about not just learning to talk human, but learning to act human. I urge you to watch this fine talk by Barry Schwartz because it's important and valuable to those who try to over plan, in the belief that it will produce better and more effective outputs. It's a new rules social contract we need and paradoxically its about less rules and more...well I'll leave that to you.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Sunday 15 February 2009

Tweet Readings

If you haven't been following Marcus' official Tweet Readings on Vimeo you're missing out some of the sharpest lampooning of social media on the net. Marcus has consistently squeezed out top notch engaging content on the net and has chosen blogger, entrepreneur and cartoonist Hugh Macleod for this official Tweet Reading, the sixth in a series that has been going on for the last two weeks. The official Tweet Reading channel is over here.

Official Tweet Reading VIII: Hugh MacLeod from Marcus Brown on Vimeo.

I did get to meet Hugh over here along with Faris, George (who has a new advertising book out) and Ruby Pseudo. Hugh kindly drew me one of his famous cartoon cards, which I will blog shortly because even though we had both washed down a few cleansing ales after PSFK he summed me up rather splendidly.
Those of you who might have seen me present last week at the marketing to low income customers conference will recognise at least one of Hugh's often profound cartoons below.

Friday 13 February 2009

We're the lucky ones

More on this loved up adland delightfulness from Juniper Park over here. I'm loving these and if anybody wants me to critique them ask away in the comments. Right now I just want to smile and enjoy simple happy stuff. But happy to deconstruct at length if you can whistle the jingle. Or jingle the whistle come to think of it.

And remember nature needs no glue. Need more words? Over here.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Stuff I know, Stuff I don't know

I don't know what these are called but they are my new favourite not-too-sweet-kanoms and the lady who sells them is well, pure and lovely (unlike me). Anybody know their Thai name please? They are 'si som' just like the farang when they've been out in the sun too much chai mai krub ;)

They have biodegradable wrapping, are inexpensive, yummy, sold by an even yummier lady in this instance, and I've never had them in all the years I've been coming to Thailand since 1993 as a 23 year old immersed in very very dangerous ideas of simulacra (yes plural I'm afraid)

Here's something that I know I wrote over here in the comments where it was all kicking off for a few hours like in the old days when Richard had more time to write his quite brilliant stuff.

There are probably two communications books that were prophetic. McLuhan's Understanding Media which is still breathtaking given it was first published in 1964 and of course The Cluetrain manifesto which we all really wanted to be true 10 years ago, but had to hold our breath for a while before it manifested itself as brilliantly prescient.

That doesn't mean both are flawless, but the sheer volume of predictive accuracy gives them a slightly mystical halo which they both solidly deserve.

However, the notion of markets as conversations is completely contextual (everything is contextual) and was (still is....) a brilliant summary of the anthropological traits that drive much/most of commerce and life.

But let's be clear. Markets are transactional micro and macro models of human interaction, and here's the point that the Cluertrain authors were brilliant enough to articulate; conversations too are transactional. It’s a two way street to be absolutely perfick as the Darling Buds of May once showed us.

Furthermore even though we talk about the ability to just be human and refrain from carpet bombing each other with marketing jargon through what is evidently (to me), a completely new dialectic (based on ancient principles), the hard truth is that many of us often don't know how to engage in a conversation because to be really good at it requires incredible patience, lots of concentration and a paradoxical lightness of touch so as to make it fun, informative, comforting or constructive. That’s just for starters. The list is endless as are contexts.

We talk about ‘The conversation” as if it's not rocket science but here's an heretical view I hold. We think humans are terrific at communication. We think that the evidence shows quite clearly that throughout the entire animal kingdom, the human species is the finest and most sophisticated of species for communication because we get those featherlight nuanced nods of humour about prophylactics and hey, we've got the internet too, which if continuous partial attention is anything to go by could well be something akin to extra sensory perception. But let me park that ticking time bomb to one side for another day/blog.

The reality is that the human species is borderline cretinous at communication. A quick look at the 20th century and its two global wars (everybody fighting everybody) plus say Gaza and Zimbabwe for good measure should be sufficient evidence of our astonishing ability to, say the wrong things, misunderstand what was said, take offense, read intent that doesn't exist, put pride before pragmatism, or pragmatism before pride when necessary.

Point is we've always been rubbish at communication, and the internet seemingly adds a depth of understanding that was never there before. Or is it just me that would quit smoking or TV in order to keep my internet connection?

But to suggest that a conversation is easy...... Fuck me.....

Try striking up a conversation about the most pressing problems of our time with the next person you meet.

As I said. Everything is contextual.

I don't know the slightest thing about this operating system but a lot of computers in Asia are running it and I'm needing one to triangulate the Microsoft and Apple ones I'm on.

I don't know what Absolut Rasp tastes like (but I can imagine - alcoholic fruit crush?).

I know how to do this but please don't tell my mum.

I don't know this guy's name but I do know he made the floor go spastic in the most beautiful way I've only ever witnessed just a small handful of rare times in my life (OK, maybe two small handfuls), and that I was surrounded by the most incredibly beautiful (mainly Thai) women, while it all kicked off to some rather carnal hardcore beats (ladies you made my jaw drop that night).

Big shout to you my friend. You pump large.

And I do know that I just spent a couple of weeks or so thinking about the sort of people I took a picture of below (in 2006 on an i-mobile phone camera (how I loved you)), who watch every Baht they spend (how I love you more), and it was good.

I do know that the stuff I don't know is inversely proportional to the stuff I think I know (my inner Rumsfeld speaking) which is microscopic really.
That's about it for the time being.Thank you.

Friday 6 February 2009

A Presentation About Community, By The Community

Last week, Neil Perkin was in need of a presentation about, well about all this social, crowd sourcing, media kind of stuff that we're all massively interested in. Many of us contributed a slide after his request for us to help him out so that he could include it in his presentation to prove that what he was talking about actually works. Here it is and I'm posting this from Slideshare to see what the format looks like but may add links a little later for reference. I think it's terrific.

Computer Tan

Here's the link to save you time

Monday 2 February 2009

Context is Everything

I wanted to add this on to the end of the last post but forgot about it in the wallow of sympathy for myself. I can't think of a better endorsement for Apple and what it means to people across the spectrum of journalist to music community.

This is the DJ at the end of the night in Bed Supperclub's Hip Hop Night last Tuesday that I wandered over, to check out the crowd. Nice bunch. Could feel the warmth.

I've said it before but I think Bed Supperclub is one of the best clubs in the world. Not in that achingly hip kind of way, but just by consistently having a good atmosphere although I rarely enjoy the weekends because it's too crowded and usually only go for the last hour or so whatever night I'm there. Here's some Qik videos I took from the restaurant side which turns into a club later in the evening.

I was fortunate enough on that occasion to accompany Tim who is a restaurant critic amongst other talents. Great atmosphere though. I thought the Opera singer was a terrific part of the meal as was the human lobster.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Tarmac Apples

Not so long back last year when I was in California and running down to Huntington Beach as much as possible, I could tell the bike I was using was a superior machine despite not knowing an awful lot about bikes. It definintely needed some oil and I wanted to adjust the handlebars and the gears seemed like they need some recalibration but in any case it had been collecting dust for a few years (I think since I first saw it in Bangkok around year 2000) and so I was over the moon to be given the responsibility of breathing an honourable and useful life back into her.

The only problem was I was living in Beijing and had never shipped a bike before. I took the bike to Jax who had already impressed me with that inordinately high level of service that is found nowhere else in the world but California (I love you for that, really I do), and let them take the bike apart and pack it into a box, not knowing what the deal would be with the airline.

As luck would have it, because I was flying China Air and it was the Olympics coming up, they had this deal to ship it for 25 Bucks. That's a deal right? So I made it back to Beijing knowing I'd need to ship it to Bangkok which I subsequently did, although that did cost me excess baggage of a few thousand Baht. The point is that I've known this bike for some years, seen it in various states of assembly, finally used it in California and shipped it back to Asia (where she first made an appearance we believe) and dragged it around in a large box, by hand, till it reached its destination. Not an easy task but well worth it. I recently took it to Probike on Sarasin who blew me away by reassembling the bike, changing the cables, changing the handlebar grips, giving it a service and ....erm cleaning it; all for the amazing price of about 12 Euros. Not bad given they are the only approved Klein dealership in Thailand and could have charged whatever they wanted. I'll be going back to spend some more dollars.

Anyway, I was excited to be picking up the Klein and rushed over to pick it up before the shop closed taking a little movie of the motorbike journey there. The N95 flipped the screen horizontal to vertical so I just played around with it to compensate. Hope it doesn't make you dizzy (John)

So here I am in a city where I've heard Mercedes Benz owners say that if they take out a motorbike, it's best just to keep on driving as they're like flies. Or most memorably one Benz owner who got out of his car and assaulted the motorbike owner with his own helmet for denting his car. Such is the swagger of privilege in this city. Read here for more.

But the point of the post thus far, is really to say how happy I am to be able to run around doing small journeys on a bike that is incredible to ride upon even though I've conceded that Sukhumvit Road (The main artery in Krung Thep) is the first I've ever used in any city around the world that scares me a bit too much - random shit happens that I. So during weekdays I've taken to boarding the skytrain with the Rascal (As the bike is named) to skip out on the bits that are too hectic. The passengers aren't too happy with this during rush hour, and I really don't know how the MRT allow it but I figure I might as well get around the city in the best way possible while it lasts.

However last week my luck was out and forgetting how powerful the gears are on this incredibly light bike I accelerated from standing still position on Soi 8 into Sukhumvit Road, only to spin out of control. The rear tire had too much power and the surface of the road was too slippery and waxy in the burning heat. I hit the tarmac hard and on my back which of course pissed me off in so much that I had hurt myself but my immediate concern was for the MacBook Air I had in my rucksack (and later I pulled out my Canon Rebel too).

I was really pleased to see that the Apple Air had survived my weight crasing down on it and even though I know you're not supposed to do things like that, and that it could all start acting strange from now on I just thought I'd take the opportunity to say that once more Apple have given me a brand blow job. This incredibly thin computer survived me and while it's processing power is not really enough (no computer ever really is for me though) I just think I ought to give a shout out for Apple for saving me the cost of buying a new one. Which is what I'll be doing for sure should this piece of kit finally succumb to the punishment I invariably dish out to the rucksack of electronics I'm often carrying to capture or work within a mobile life.

Here's what I just discovered I did while taking off the plastic cover it usually sits in. Pretty amazing eh? I mean I'm over six feet tall!

So I see that we now know Steve Jobs is finally revealing the full extent of his illness and that the share value of Apple is dropping as we don't know who will take the helm. I'm pretty sure that nobody can fill his boots but I do think we've been lucky enough to have someone who was driven enough and passionate enough about his business to make a meaningful impact on our lives (sic). I mean that as someone who finally realised how good the products and service are, just a little too late in the game. What a B word.