Browsing articles from "November, 2010"

“Slam!” Says the Demo

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14:  Artwork of th...
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Yup, Google has done it again. Is anyone surprised anymore?

Tech demos – frankly, demos of any kind – tend to be very boring and cumbersome. There has unfortunately been a notion that tutorial information needs to be standardized and vanilla for us human beings to learn anything. Few people seem to remember how we used to do things back in kindergarten, but I digress.

As technology has become more and more accessible (heck, back in my day tech was just for nerds, I’m loving that tech is now cool!), a few groups have risen to break the mold of B for “boring”. The question is, why can’t tech demos be fun to watch, original and inspired.

Google has attempted to do just that with their latest promotion, the Demo Slam. In it, they’re inviting anyone to come up with a fun way to demo one of Google’s many proprietary and cutting-edge features.

Now frankly, we’ve long been a fan of demos coming from our buddies at CommonCraft, but Google’s genius is… c’mon say it with me… socializing the process. Not only can anyone build a Demo Slam, but you and I can also vote for the best Demo Slam out of all the ones submitted.

Want a taste of what I mean? I’ve placed a few cool ones below for you, among the many submissions available on their official site. The first one is one of the highest rated ones right now, a group of guys trying to trick Google Goggles to see if it recognizes them as Mount Rushmore.

Here are two girls ordering Indian food in Hindi, by only using Google Translate.

This one has a couple of musicians using Google’s Realtime Search to drum up on-the-fly lyrics for their improv song.

And to end this post, an ode to the great Tom Lehrer driving more Google Instant Search goodness.

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The Age of Creativity and Unpredictability!

I stumbled upon a great reminder this week that as we integrate social media into our marketing, it’s always worth noting of how powerful and somewhat unpredictable these tools can be. It’s the latter part that makes social media so engaging because anyone can join the conversation or in this case, add their own message!

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

It all started when mega agency Publicis decided to create a video to promote their Twitter stream. They also decided to skip over the typical staff stand-in actors and cast the big guns,  CEO Kevin Roberts and his senior circle…..what could go wrong? Well, Jim Edwards in his article on BNET chronicles it perfectly but I’ll give you the short and dirty (pun intended). The comical video featured the Publicis gang using bird noises to communicate with each other in various office settings…. Ok, somewhat clever. After releasing this video on YouTube the miracle of the remix took hold and within hours someone had added subtitles to the entire video…the theme of these subtitles were all crotch jokes. I must admit it’s impossible to watch the remixed video and not crack up, crotch jokes never get old. Obviously this was not the intended buzz the CEO of Publicis wanted for himself or the company but hopefully they’ll have a sense of humor about it. In a weird way it’s working by brining more eyeballs to their content then they ever predicted.

Although cleverly produced the original Publicis video itself has that “trying to hard to be hip” feeling to it. It reminds me of when dad hits the midlife crisis and runs out to buy the corvette. Do we make a video each time a new platform comes out to show clients that we’re also using it? This isn’t a knock on Publicis, they obviously are doing a ton of things right in this sector but my comment is more of a knock on the industry. We all need to have hands on experience and knowledge of the platforms for our own marketing, but the energy might better be used on showing clients the results of integrated campaigns using these platforms.

On behalf of the subtitled video version, this is an awesome reminder at the expense of another agency how we can craft the messages we send out into the world of social media but we cannot control it. How people interact with the content, manipulate it, customize it, share it or shit on it… is all part of what makes these communication platforms so exciting. The same reasons we love social media are the same reasons we despise it…. social media gives everyone a voice. Human nature doesn’t change just because a keyboard is in front of it, but every now and then at that dinner table of digital life you over hear something that’s amazing, you engage with an idea that inspired you or you spit your food out from laughing! Social media doesn’t allow time for candy coating or ego massaging; it’s instant human reaction minus the pie charts and graphs. Vendors see the reaction in real time just like clients; it’s the ultimate unscreened focus group moving at mach 4.

Oh…and if anyone wants to remix one of our case studies, have at it…we welcome the enthusiasm and enjoy a dirty joke or two!

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Stop motion: Still Superior to CG

Some might argue that the art of stop motion is antiquated, now with the vast array of CG tools filmmakers have at their fingertips. But I argue, not so!

Before you read on… please watch the following video: The story of stop motion

Whether it’s guerrilla style street art, or a hipster look at love, or even a big budget feature film (Fantastic Mr. Fox) (Coraline), this art form has the ability to transcend reality in a really cool way.

See for yourself. Just type in “Stop motion” into Vimeo and see what the kiddies are making these days. It’s amazing!

What made me start to think of this is our own resident everything-savant, Gary Grant, has been working on a little project of his own. As abstract as it is beautiful, what I’ve seen from it so far just confirms my belief that stop motion can be more impactful than the biggest budget CG.

The medium is charming, organic, and expansive. And truly, it can go as far as your imagination allows it.

Take that, Michael Bay.


Top 10 Lessons from Bladerunner

I’m convinced you can learn important life lessons from just about any movie (even the bad ones). However, for purposes of illustrating a topic currently of concern to me, let’s stick with one of my personal favs, Bladerunner. If you’ve never seen it, tsk, tsk. Netflix it now! Yes, it’s an oldie, but it definitely falls in the great film category. I guarantee it’s worth your time.

Now, for those of you who are up to date on the best dystopian-future movie ever, here’s my takeaway on some valuable bits of wisdom we can all benefit from:

10. Forget internet advertising, what we need are more overhead blimps.

9.  If you think you might be a replicant, make sure you understand what a tortoise is.

8.  When the automated police message says “move on”, then, for crying out loud, MOVE ON!

7.  Whether it’s Kill Bill, or Bladerunner, don’t mess with Daryl Hannah. She’s vicious!

6.  If you’ve created a large group of malcontent replicants with artificially short lifespans, you might want to invest in a top notch security system.

5.   If your top notch security system isn’t fail-safe, have your on-staff genetic engineers keep a backup pair of your own eyes in safe storage. I’m just saying!

4.  Stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen at all times. Just compare Bladerunner Rutger Hauer to contemporary Rutger Hauer.

3.  Always stick with the director’s cut (unless it’s Apocalypse Now Redux)!!

2.  If you only know one tune on the piano, but can play it really well, chances are good you’re not a real human.

1.  Whether you’re real or a replicant, we can all rally around one idea:                                “I want more time  #@*&%!”

Okay, the last one is what’s really on my mind. There’s a pivotal moment in Bladerunner when the dying android/replicant, played by Rutger Hauer, meets his maker and, not too nicely, demands more time. It’s a great metaphysical/theological question. If you could meet your maker, wouldn’t you have a gripe about the built-in time limit we all face?

My gripe, on the other hand, while still time-related, is just a little more mundane. I just want what many of us want – more time in the day. With a bunch of projects going on concurrently, I’m continually amazed at how quickly the hours (and days) whiz by.   Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself a very capable time manager. I use my hours wisely, and I get up earlier than the average bear. Still there just aren’t enough minutes to satisfy all my interests and obligations. Alas. A wise man once told me that “time is the fire in which we all burn”.  Alright, I confess, it wasn’t a wise man. It was actually an unintentionally funny line from a really bad Star Trek movie. But, hey, didn’t I say you could find life lessons in any movie?

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Facebook’s New Message Tools: Flip or Flop?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I don’t intend to answer here whether Facebook‘s latest announced feature — which, in case you didn’t hear, involves beefing up their message system so that it resembles more like a webmail, but with some added features — will be a success or a failure. There is no way I could do that without interacting first-hand with these functions, and it seems it will be a while until I’ll get my hands on an invite (judging by how quickly I got an invite for Google Wave, it’ll probably be a month or so).

Nor will I go through all the features announced. There is an over-saturation of journalistic blog posts on the subject, and I don’t intend to add to it. If you missed the news, you can begin here.

However, I did want to share some thoughts that immediately came up. I’m sure the Facebook crew gave thought to all these issues, but I don’t believe they were addressed in the press announcement, so here we go:

First off, let’s all agree to lay off of the simplistic “GMail killer”-type headlines. Yes, I also believe Facebook would love to dominate e-mail, but in technology, especially among services with such popularity, a new service or feature doesn’t just kill off another so simply. It usually takes a long road of adoption for one service to dominate, and who knows if that will happen anyway.

The features mentioned will try to integrate what Facebook does best into private messaging, which is capitalizing on their social graph to make conversations more relevant, cut through the clutter, and so on. When they heard that, there were complete armies of “e-mail marketers” pooping in their pants.

Facebook says their messages will include attachment capabilities. GMail currently offers 7.5MB worth of space for their free accounts. Will Facebook want to compete in that area?

The sinister side: Facebook’s new messages will allow you to message beyond Facebook users, directly to e-mail addresses. These addresses may or may not belong to Facebook users. What does Facebook intend to do with all these e-mail addresses? Sneaky, sneaky…

Currently through their message system I get all sorts of notification I’m not interested in, like invitations for events occurring many miles away from where I live, Page updates, etc.. I’ve always understood these as sort of the cost of being on Facebook, you get a bit of everything. Now they want you give you the ability to filter every message you receive into three nifty boxes: Friends, Other, and Spam. It makes sense that Facebook would want me to make this filtering from within their platform, and not in the external e-mail system I use (GMail).

On that subject, they also mentioned that they will join all communication, whether e-mail, SMS, IMs, etc., into one long conversation history. So does this mean I’ll get people’s FarmVille notifications in the same thread as other meaningful conversations? I’m not sure if this will be so, but if it is I think this is an oversimplification of how people communicate.

Anyway, there is a lot we won’t understand about these new features until we fool around with them. People have been pushing the rumors and hype about this for a while, which undoubtedly will result in many disappointed users. Others will probably feel it’s a welcome development. Time will only tell.

The only thing I will say is that e-mail as it is — even with all the coolness that GMail has added to it — is a truly archaic communication platform that is bound to evolve one way or another. Of course, its effectiveness in communication probably trumps most every other form of online communication, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an old and clunky system. I’m not sure that Facebook will be the missing link in the evolutionary process, but I’m glad that there are companies out there willing to take a second look at a platform we all take for granted.

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The genius of ROCK… band

Okay, okay.

I know you all have been screaming out of excitement once you heard the new rock band has a keytar.

I reacted that way at first, too. So let’s just calm down already and just simply bask in the joy of knowing that our craving for musical capability and rock-dom will be satisfied soon enough.

And with no practice or formal training whatsoever, we all can be Gods of Rock. At the very least demigods.

Here’s what is different with Rock Band 3:

  • One of the new features is easier to customize band and instruments.
  • This time, there’s a greater emphasis on quickplay modes, which makes for a better learning curve for newbies.
  • Rock Band 3 has a lot more songs on the pre-loaded setlists, versus previous editions.
  • Did I mention the massive arsenal of downloadable tracks?
  • Instruments: full band of drums, two guitars, up to three mics, and (yes) a keytar… (and what’s cooler than that?)

So, go out and buy it already! Be good consumers. Save the economy. Rock your socks off. Nerd out.


Reality: The Ultimate Attraction

Yesterday, some coworkers and I decided on lunch in Centro Ybor. Centro Ybor is one of those large urban hybrid developments that mash retail, entertainment and dining together into one central gathering place. It seems like just about every major city in the country has something like it: a point of destination that’s supposed to lure wary suburbanites into the “risky” environs of downtown areas. The problem is, these places don’t seem to be the economic juggernauts their developers painted them to be.

While waiting for our lunches, my coworkers and I counted the businesses that had left Centro Ybor. True, some of the retail spaces have been filled with new tenants, but the impressions of economic difficulties linger. Still, as the conversation continued, I had to laugh at notions of a struggling Centro Ybor.  That’s because I live in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg’s version of Centro Ybor is a complex called Baywalk. At its inception, Baywalk was supposed to herald a new era in St. Petersburg’s development – a glorious transition from a drowsy retirement town into something new and vital. What happened, instead, is that Baywalk set a new low standard for failed development and poor management.  These days, Baywalk is more a ghost town than a shopping mecca.  But here’s the weird part….

Downtown St. Petersburg DID transform into something new and vital (no thanks to Baywalk). Whether its Bella Brava’s on Beach Drive, the St. Pete Brasserie on Central or all the wonderful haunts in between, St. Petersburg is the very definition of vitality.   Everywhere you turn, there’s art, culture, fantastic cuisine and, oh, yes… authenticity.

There. You’ve found me out. That’s the real reason for this post.  I have this great crazy love of things authentic and, I posit, so do most other people, whether they know it or not.

Life occurs organically, not according to some calculated master plan laid out by urban development types. What’s happening in St. Petersburg is a unique, spontaneous vortex of culture.  If you’re not from the area, come by on a Friday night and check it out.  You’ll be amazed.   If you do make the journey, all I ask is that you stop somewhere between the Chihuly glass museum and the crowds at the gelatto joint.  Look out at the water and the marinas.  Take it all in and reflect on the authentic mass of it all.  You’re in a real place and it has true, immutable value.  This is not a fabricated, pretend gathering spot.

I ask you to consider this, not as an advocate of downtown St. Petersburg (though I certainly am) but as an advocate of real experiences.  Whether you’re communicating, advertising, marketing or just sharing your own experiences, think about reality as a commodity.  My feeling is that, in a world where so much is simulated and cynically prepackaged, anything with a feel of the genuine, the unique, the spontaneous, is bound to have the winning edge.   I think we’re starved for authenticity.   I think that’s what carries the day, no matter what endeavor you’re in.

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Cerebral Cortex Detonators

An often-cited special effect from the film, t...

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Yeah, yeah, that title is just a fancy-shmancy way to say “stuff that blows my mind”, which is what a couple of things I’ve read recently have honestly done, and may do it to you as well. Warning: read within a proper shelter.

One is an article that has been seriously making the rounds on the ‘nets (and I would quote the original source if I could find it… But all I can find is this). In that short quote, they basically confirm what we all know, that the “Close Door” button on elevators has no real function, other than fooling you into believing you have control. By the way? Controls on some office thermostats and those buttons on crosswalks you press so that the stop lights know you’re there. Yup, all placebos, all mere pacifiers.

So what if the world is full of these placebos? The American Dream? The election process? Love? I know this is sounding like tin-foil hat material, folks, but still.

The other is this write-up about procrastination, and what it all really means. You really should read it… But just to give you a short re-cap (pre-cap?), the article talks about procrastination is the way we fool ourselves into believing things will get done, while constantly preferring to do things we enjoy now. We do the cool stuff now, and then leave the not-so-cool for later.

Obviously, that “later” never comes, and we find ourselves in an ever-present cycle of doing stuff we like, and never getting to important stuff we don’t like that much. The write-up goes into some freaky notions such as the present-You hijacking the future-You that will just mess up the way you see the world forever. I think.

All this to say: our perception of the world around us is so, so flawed and limited. We are just so easy to fool, it’s not even funny.

And this leads me to ask: Is second-guessing really bad for creativity? I mean, I know we all need a bit of self-confidence to push forth with our ideas. However, if our minds are so malleable without us even realizing it, shouldn’t we stop for a bit and consider if our ideas aren’t being puppeteered by something outside of ourselves?

I think my main takeaway from all of this is simple: be humble.

What do you think?

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“Viva la evolution”

Digital mock-up of human evolution display for...

Those of us in the creative industry are very lucky to be working during one of the most innovative and amazing technical evolutions. The options of how, where and when we communicate and sh0w our work is nothing less then awesome!

Take for instance product integration…the fact that the new Jeep is written into the Call of Duty “Black Ops” game storyline and then is launched in real showrooms as a “Black Ops” edition, screw production integration….that’s product-melding!  With all that said I think the potential of our technology is only scraping the surface of how our industry will be applying them in the near future.

As we begin to explore geo-location opportunities or social gaming concepts, I can’t help to think in a few years from now we’re going to look back with a nostalgic smile on “check-ins” or 3D content much like how we currently look upon the Atari. No doubt we’ll be using a form of it, but I think it will evolve into such a distant and far advanced relative that the original uses will seem almost medieval. I’m thankful everyday on my way into work that I get to create ideas in such an exciting time, months from now we’ll have an entire new way to share, send and communicate the next idea. I’m sure some people will say that it’s too much too fast, that the creative is getting buried by the delivery….in some cases that might be true. But if you sit back and think about it, we get to do what we love and tinker with our ideas during the most revolutionary time in our industry…, I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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It’s Alive!!

Yes. Much like Frankenstein’s monster, the MindoMondo blog has been re-animated… only this time without Gene Wilder.

As a novice to the blogging community, the idea of writing a blog for people to see – my peers as well as complete strangers – is a little daunting, to say the least. It makes me think about the sheer number of people on the internet actively willing to gobble up as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. It makes me think about my own internet habits…

Not unlike a person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, who has to click the light switch three times, then tap their nose three times, then tapdance through the livingroom in a specifically coordinated routine just to get to the kitchen, I find myself under a similar compulsion while on the internet.

Let me back up.

A few years ago, I was an avid reader. I painted. I watched an array of movies. I socialized. Not to say I don’t still do these things, to an extent. But looking at my life then versus now makes me wonder… what happened?

What happened was the explosion of online availability. Over the last several years, the need – and immediate availability – for online material has spread through our culture like a brushfire.

Our daily lives have evolved into a constant flow of information – important or otherwise – into our rapidly hungering brains. We get home and sit in front of the computer (many of us after working a full day in front of a computer) just to connect with others doing the exact same thing.              Status update: Just got home from work.

And like robots, we commence the automated review of our typical sites: Twitter, Facebook, Woot, Etsy, AOL News, Living Social, Hulu, Ebay, Amazon, YouTube. We might throw in a game of Farmville or Bejeweled in there just to mix it up.

Not to bash the internet or anything, it’s great. Obviously, it’s so great that it can consume any life otherwise. …Like mine. These days. But that’s another story. :)

And, though there is also the argument that personal relationships have evolved as well, it has to be said that – through the use of this constant stream of Shares and Links and Status Updates – perhaps these relationships have not devolved, but simply changed into something new.

And with the ongoing and inevitable changes in internet trends, we (like frontier people, or those who were around when the telephone was invented) have to break down the walls in our brains and just say, “ok, we can roll with that.”