Stop Talking at Me, No one is Listening-Slides from the DiG Festival

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I have just returned (and recovered) from Newcastle’s DiG Festival. I had expected it to be an Australian SXSW and I was not disappointed.

Newcastle in NSW’s Hunter Region, turned on the weather and the charm, playing host to hundreds of festival participants, local businesses and a swarm of innovators keen to connect. The festival itself was a tightly run, but eclectic mix of topics, speakers, academic research and workshops. Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank and with backing from the University of Newcastle, PwC and local startup accelerator, Slingshot, the festival brought together the research, business, startup and innovation communities in a unique format over two days.

There were various streams all happening at the same time – with talks in the main hall, workshops close by, networking out by the bar, and an open innovation team challenge upstairs. People were constantly weaving between the spaces – dropping into workshop sessions, popping out to network and share information, heading out for in-depth discussions over coffee or settling in for the meaty topics in the main hall. There was a real buzz and energy that was backed by some serious, high-powered speakers.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Nick Aronson got everyone fired up around the “future of payments” on day 1, and Jeff Julian rounded out the day with a jaw-dropping demonstration of his creative prowess. The day 2 keynote from Pandora’s Jane Huxley had everyone tapping their feet to the music and IBM’s Catherine Caruana-McManus dazzled at day’s end with a vision for a smarter, more sustainable cities. Topping and tailing the festival this way provided a strong focus to an inaugural event and demonstrated the way that businesses and communities are collaborating in innovative new ways.

But it wasn’t just the keynotes that showed the quality of the festival. Many of the attendees could also have presented on-stage – there were thought leaders, business and community leaders and startup entrepreneurs with dozens of ideas and projects well underway.

I presented “Stop Talking at Me. No one is Listening: The New Physics of the Consumerverse” – and had a great time in front of a great audience. I was followed by the powerhouse insight of retail guru, Nancy Georges. I believe all of the presentations were recorded and will be made available online in the near future. Be sure to check out the DiG Festival website for updates.

And in the meantime, pencil DiG Festival into your 2014 schedule. This was just the beginning, and it’s only going to get better from here.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

What is creativity? How do we link it to business – and how do we make a business OUT of that creative impulse? These are all questions that link the five must-read posts from last week. And interestingly, at least for me, the answer is not what you’d expect.

  1. When Google decided to shut down its Reader product, it sent shockwaves through its community of influencers. So when it came time to launch Evernote competitor, Keep, Om Malik decided it may not be worth the investment. Great article reminding us all that a “Free” product always comes with a cost.
  2. Do you feel that you have the tools, skills and capability to be innovative at work? Do you have permission? If you answered “no”, Glenn Llopis says you are not alone.
  3. There is no doubt that both internal and external forces are bringing CIOs and CMOs together. But how do we recalibrate our businesses? Dion Hinchcliffe looks at the new reality.
  4. Jonathan Crossfield takes a deep dive into marketing statistics and infographics. What does he find? Confusion.
  5. When Bill Bernbach resigned from Grey Advertising to start DDB, he not only left behind a legacy (and created a new one). He left a letter exhorting his colleagues to creative greatness. Read his blistering resignation/challenge at Neil Perkin’s blog.

Advertising in 2020 – Let’s Hope There’s Fire

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John Willshire and Mark Earls make you think. They chisel and shape ideas until they are sharp enough to be carved into your mind.

As part of the Wharton Future of Advertising program, they put together this presentation that provokes a conversation around advertising and what it might look like in the year ahead. Take a look through, it’s quick and it will challenge you. Then read on below …

One of the things that caught my attention was a simple statement. “Make things people want [is greater than] Make people want things”.

This seems to be self-evident, but in practice it requires an alternative way of thinking. Almost all of our marketing theory and practice centres on the stimulation of desire. We deliberately create items, objects and experiences that are limited in their availability and then we amplify not only the fact of existence, but the fact of their scarcity.

And yet, we live in an age of abundance. We all know it. Yet we still play out this game of scarcity. I find it interesting. I find it fascinating that we are complicit in this form of cultural production that we call advertising. But I also predict a seachange ahead.

We are going to have to work a whole lot harder to generate the kind of engagement and interest that advertising once commanded. Our connected consumers have outflanked, outranked and even out-performed us. Mark and John are right. We will need marketing and advertising that is bolder than we have been in decades. And decidedly more primal. We’ll need to relinquish the calculator and the paperclip and step out from behind the mirrored glass and meet our customers face to face.

Big data may hold the answers – but we’re far from understanding the most basic of questions. Mark and John have lit a signal fire but it’s not off in the distance. Look down, it’s right under our arses.

Vibewire’s 6 Under 26 – Australia’s Hottest Young Innovators

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When we think and talk about innovation our attention naturally tends towards a vision for the future.

But more often than not, that vision of the future is being set by middle aged women and men. Leaders of political parties, “captains of industry”, and community leaders of every size and shape tend to achieve their status not only through their commitment and enterprise but also due to their age. And often, I wonder, where is the voice of youth? Where is the perspective of those young people who will have to live with the decisions made now?

That’s why I am excited to share the great work of Sydney, Australia-based not-for-profit, Vibewire. Today they have announced the 6 under 26 – Australia’s hottest young innovators to watch in the year ahead.

The young innovators tipped to make the world a better place come from a broad range of backgrounds, from indigenous youth empowerment initiatives, sustainable food movements to programs that foster social entrepreneurship in high schools to organisations that encourage young women to take up engineering and technology.

Over the last 12 years, Vibewire has helped launch over 90 startups and kickstarted the careers of hundreds of young people. But this type of innovation does not occur in a vacuum. It requires incubation and support.

You can help Vibewire support more young change makers by joining this crowdfunding campaign. With a one-off donation from as little as $10, you will be contributing to a vision of the future that young people have a hand in creating. Support this great organisation here.

Light Up Someone’s Life This Holiday with Moore’s Cloud

Support the Moore's Cloud Light project on Kickstarter

Admit it. You’re more than a little geeky. There is a drawer somewhere in your house with old mobile phones, cameras, and pieces of technology. For all I know, you probably have a Newton gathering dust under your desk.

Support the Moore's Cloud Light project on Kickstarter

If this sounds like you, then you may just want to add Light to your Holiday wishlist this year. The Kickstarter project turns a stylish 52 LED light into a Linux powered, web-connected device that can be controlled by your iPhone or iPad or from the other side of the world via the web interface.

It’s “illumination as a service” – or the “internet of things” come to life. There’s only 15 days in the Kickstarter campaign to go – and it needs your support. Choose a pledge package and get behind this innovative startup. It’s even been named CNET’s Kickstarter project of the week. Sign up for a package – you’ll be glad you did.

And while I like this video, I reckon they should have gone with a different soundtrack. More like this one!

Ideas, Innovation and the Danger of Networked Group Thinking

Last year, when Steve Rubel looked into the figures from Compete.com and realised that Facebook is driving more traffic to news portals than Google is, it appeared that we were witnessing the beginning of a trend, not the end of one.

Since that time, there has been a lot of hype and discussion about Facebook’s 500 million members. Some claim it’s a landmark and that Facebook will just continue to swallow the internet whole. In fact, for some people that I know, Facebook IS their entire experience of the world wide web.

This seems to be confirmed by the following graph from Compete.com which shows the traffic trends for Google and Facebook seem to be converging. Or more precisely, Google is dipping down and Facebook is ascending.facebookvsgoogle2010

Now, I have written about this as a phenomenon before. Social judgement not only happens online – it has been happening in every social interaction since the dawn of time. But increasingly it seems, we are relying on who-we-know to know what we know. This sounds great in theory – smart people filtering, curating and sharing their knowledge and expertise – bringing order to the chaos of abundant information.

But I wonder …

Are we limiting the gene pool of our ideas?

Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From reminds is that innovation, invention – or what he calls “the slow hunch” – require the time and space to collide with other ideas. (HT to Chris Noble for the video.)

What if social networks reach a certain point and then begin to shrink? What if the noise to signal ratio becomes so large that we begin to partition ourselves and our interactions to those of “like mind”. Steven Johnson says “Chance favours the connected mind” – which I love. But what if those ideas swim around in ever shrinking ponds starved of oxygen by the blue-green algae of group think?

I don’t know about you, but this is not the internet I want to play in. It’s not the internet that I want to do business in.

Get out of your internet comfort zone

Years ago when I ran a creative team, I used to regularly drag them away from their desks to visit cultural spaces. We’d go to the Museum of Contemporary Art. We’d catch buses or trains. We’d experience the day-in-the-life of everyone else. I saw it as fuelling their creativity, and it worked.

It worked because it reminded people to be social. To be social in their experience and in the work. It brought a social connection and a context to their creativity. It’s part of what I am calling “The Social Way”.

But now I feel we need to increasingly push ourselves outside of our internet comfort zones. We need to click those links randomly. We need to visit, search and read sites that are outside our narrow focused expertise.

What are we looking for? Our next great idea. I’m hoping to collide with one today.

Are You an Undercover Innovator?

UI-logo I have always had an interest in new stuff. In new ways of doing things. In working smarter, not harder. And I have always been interested in implementing change – not just talking about it.

In many ways, I have always been an undercover innovator – pushing away at the core problem, seeking to transform the businesses where I have worked. Sometimes this has brought me into conflict situations – though this is rare. Most of the time, while I have been the instigator of change or innovation, I have generally been happy enough to take credit for the transformation and its impact – I have never been good or particularly interested in self-promotion.

But I am certain I am not alone in this. I know a lot of people who are beavering away, working on amazing projects, doing interesting and challenging things – and are doing so largely under cover.

So I thought it would be interesting to do some interviews with these folks. The undercover innovators who are changing the way that we work and live. I will start by talking to people that I know – but here’s where you can help!

Are you an undercover innovator? Do you know someone who is?

Drop me a line or leave me a comment – I’d love to interview you. We can do video, podcast, Skype or even email interviews.

Change Your Briefs

I can remember hand coding my first “proper” website. It was for a small business that I was running out of an artists’ studio on a dilapidated pier. We specialised in helping publishers move from the print to the new web-ready world. Well, it was almost web-ready – it was the days when there was “an Internet” and a “World Wide Web” – and they were two different things. They were completely different experiences.

Being impatient and a risk taker, I bet my money on the graphical world wide web and created a website. It felt like I was working at the edge of the world – and in a way it was.

Fast forward to 2010 and it is a vastly different world. Knowledge of “the web” and how it works is far more widespread. Indeed, it has spread far beyond my own meagre expertise. There has been a massive transformation in the shape, technology and the platforms that enable our polyphonic internets – perhaps matched only by the huge shift in the way in which we use it. (And I do mean “use” in a very loose way.)

However, the way in which digital agencies are “briefed” has remained relatively static. Gareth Kay suggests that it is time that we changed our briefs – and has put together a great presentation, PostDigitalBriefs, that challenges us to do just that. But best of all, Gareth provides us with a way forward.

Take a good look through the presentation yourself, but my key takeouts are:

  1. Know what we want people to do
  2. Understand which behaviours we want to shift
  3. Differentiate and articulate your social mission vs the commercial proposition
  4. Identify the triggers that will prompt people to share
  5. Make it easy for people to participate
  6. Know where your constituents are and the social rules that operate there

Postdigitalbriefs2 – August 2010

View more presentations from Gareth Kay.

 

The Promiscuous Idea

CK, George & GregWhen Drew McLellan and I pulled together the first The Age of Conversation book with 100 of the world’s leading bloggers, social media was still a rough and ready frontier. Two more editions and three years later, many of us are still having the same conversations – partly because more businesses and more people are beginning to see value in the space, but also because innovation is like a spiral, folding back on itself in ever more complex ways.

With this in mind, I thought I’d publish here, my article from the first book – the Promiscuous Idea. To me, it still feels as relevant as it did in 2007. If you haven’t got a copy, consider buying one. It’s a great primer – and all the profits (still) go to a great cause.

The Promiscuous Idea

We are living in a time of proliferation. Never before has the marketplace of ideas been so free, the barriers to entry so low and the willingness to collaborate so powerful. In moments, a concept can be explained, shared and tracked on a single blog — on the other side of the world, this idea can be modified, expanded upon and discussed. Seconds pass and more voices are heard — a version transmutes into new forms … being picked up as a podcast, a video, an older-style presentation deck. From a single creative impulse, a legion of additions, modifications and transmutations can spread in minutes, hours, days and weeks.

Even months later an idea can come full circle. Someone, somewhere can stumble upon a “stale” idea, investing it with new energy, new context and a new perspective and the cycle of proliferation begins again. What this means is that our ideas are constantly in a process of reinvention.

What links an idea and draws us to it is the “story”. And the power and gravitational pull of the story brings us back to it time and again. In the Age of Conversation, whether we are marketers, activists, educators, politicians, academics or citizens of the world, we are all becoming the connected storytellers of this new era. This presents new challenges but also significant
opportunities for brands, consumers and communities.

We are now dealing with a different type of story. Where once we had a beginning, middle and end, as readers and storytellers we can fall into a story at any point. We can link into the middle of a raging debate or witness the genesis of an idea that can change the world, and the narrative that we
are dealing with is no longer linear but multi-textual, layered, overlapping and promiscuous. The ideas and stories care not for their creator but freely leap from one mind to the next — sometimes appearing simultaneously across the globe — with storytellers tapping into a powerful worldwide zeitgeist.

The new art of conversation relies not on a sense of ownership but on a willing openness on the part of storytellers of all kinds. In fact, the jealous storyteller may well find that “their” ideas, brands, concepts or other “intellectual property” will laughingly thumb its nose at its creator and walk off, hand-in-hand with the idea-next-door. Whether we like it or not, our brands, ideas and
stories are no longer our own … they are out there promiscuously reinventing themselves word by word.

Chatroulette – It Isn’t What You Think

When Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink, it changed the way that we think. It made us realise that first impressions really do count – and in fact, we only have the blink of an eye before our conditioning, our prejudices and our expectations kick in.

So it is hardly surprising then that a site like Chatroulette is generating a lot of buzz and, in the process, generating as much fear as excitement. It is a site that works on the level of the blink – randomly selecting two participants and allowing them to share their webcams. If you see something that you don’t wish to, you can click the Next button and skip to another, anonymous webcam.

When I first heard about it, there were various reports of voyeurism, exhibitionism and so on. It sounded like the early days of the internet – but with video. However, just weeks later, there is a certain level of “gaming” starting to take place – with participants seeking to surprise, confuse and even challenge others.

Take a look at this video. Think about the experience of the participants. What are they expecting? What are they hoping for? Is there a power relationship at play? What are the participants exchanging?

What we are seeing, already, is a maturing not necessarily of the TECHNOLOGY but of the PARTICIPANTS. Our capacity to work with and then transform the relationship we have with technology is accelerating (at least in pockets) – and those who are socially savvy on the web are engaging and challenging other participants. This is a trend that is not likely to end anytime soon.

The important thing to think about is not what the technology is doing, but which behaviours are these technologies enabling? Then you need to think about your business and whether there is a connection with your brands, opportunities for your products/marketing or a thin slice of innovation that you can apply to the way you do business. Platforms like Chatroulette may not not appear to have much value at first glance, but then neither did email 20 years ago. The challenge for us all is to find the value that lies underneath. It’s there. You just need to look below the surface.