Monthly Archives: August 2011
1.The end of an era.
That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
- BusinessWeek interview, May 1998
2. Apple want your screens. All of them.
I’ve been reading a fair bit about the shift towards content being at the core rather than creating for cinema, TV or mobile exclusively and adapting that to be consumed wherever, whenever on whatever. We covered it in the Hyper Island Master Class I attended last year and the prediction is definitely coming true. Apple’s strategy of creating a great user experience on each screen size is set to continue into our lounge rooms. It will be interesting to see how they integrate their iAds platform into this.
3. 1 million downloads per day.
Great effort for Australian Startup “Jammbox” to achieve Number 1 status in 17 countries. This great little app uses your apps to help you “Discovr” new ones. Goes to show that simplicity is key – wish I’d thought of it!
4. Give a little, sell a lot.
Net-A-Porter are creating and giving away a free weekly fashion magazine (and iPad fashion magazine), littered with product placement (that they sell in their accompanying online store) -- the perfect way to add value, create brand loyalty and no doubt their sales are going through the roof. A fine line between hard sell “catalogue” and valuable content but I think they’ve nailed it. I read somewhere that they receive around 3,000 job applications a week. Huge!
5. eBay’s power as a global flea market.
I heard an interesting use case for eBay recently whereby FMCG’s were regularly trialling new products and pricing on eBay. It got me thinking about how useful this would be for start ups looking to go into eTailing without the huge up front overheads of having to create your eCommerce website as well as securing your warehouse and fulfilment. Using eBay eliminates these costs while exposing you to a huge hungry customer base and a handy search engine. This allows you to test small, early and often, and enabling positive cash flow from the beginning.
6. Making ideas happen.
7. Future tech, surfaces and batteries.
These are the things occupying my thoughts lately. Trying to predict what’s coming in just 2-3 years is difficult now days. Carrying on with tradition, obligatory TED Talk about something I’m pretty excited about – wireless power. I say just skip the middle man and plug my brain into the Internet. Bring on the hive mind.
8. My #1 iPad app.
I’m sure most of you with iPads have heard of Zite – if you haven’t yet, get it. Described as “A personalised magazine that get’s smarter as you use it”, it’s become my news source of choice. Basically, it skims your twitter account and those you follow as well as other sources such as your RSS reader and scours the internet for articles relevant to the subjects it thinks you’re interested in. It’s surprisingly good at this, download it free.
9. The evolution of the ‘traditional’ agency.
One of the biggest challenges for me, having come from a digital background into a traditional agency environment nearly 2 years ago, is to sell in the idea of the “perpetual beta” or the idea that something can be launched without it being 100% “finished” or fully market tested. Get it out there! To me it’s done when it performs the task it was built for, the rest can be tweaked and polished based on feedback from actual users out in market. Here’s an interesting read on the topic.
10. Jack White on the influence of restrictions on creativity.
Nextness’ must-watch video last week, this is probably the best description of a process that works for me personally.
Brad Cumbers has been a digital designer, print designer, radio online content producer and business owner. Now responsible for the digital team at STW company The Brand Agency, he “should have invented Facebook, but didn’t.” Follow him on Twitter: @BradCumbers.
How do you solve a problem like climate change? Or: why having facts on your side doesn’t mean you’ll win.
Think for a moment of 2007, when it seemed like the whole of Australia was crying out for bold policies to tackle climate change. It wasn’t everyone, of course, but it was the majority.
Now it’s 2011. The media and the blogosphere is filled with people who deny the very existence of global warming and militate against the Government taking action. The thing is, climate change is real. All the facts line up behind the scientific consensus. So why are we having this problem? And it’s not just in Australia either.
If you are one of the people who think global warming exists and that we have to try and stop it, it can feel inconceivable that others don’t. Not being able to understand why people who disagree with you is bad, especially for politicians, marketers and activists whose job it is change minds.
Without any judgment at all of people who are skeptical about climate change, Nextness’ task today is to unpack some of the reasons why their skepticism is legitimate – and why believing is no guarantee of taking action. Doing so can help shed light on the complex rational and emotional process humans bring to all big questions – and why the facts don’t always win.
Rational reasons not to believe in climate change.
Rational people make up their mind based on evidence, and must ask “is the evidence real? Can I believe the providers of information?” Unfortunately for those trying convince the population that global warming is real and a big problem, climate change science and its providers have been discredited in several big “gotcha moments.”
2. Being put off and genuinely confused by politics and argument.
The two major Australian political parties are polar opposites when it comes to climate change, the fragile partisan consensus forged in 2008 gone. With the very existence of climate change (let alone policies in response) up for debate every day, it is no wonder that public belief in and support for climate change measures has fallen precipitously.
3. Generalising from your own experience.
Some people could be taking an evidence-based approach to determining whether climate change exists, but using a flawed sample – their own past and personal observations. Global warming is a long-term trend, not something that can be encapsulated by an individual’s experience in a lifetime.
4. Undervaluing risks.
People may believe climate change is real – but not as risky as commonly stated. Essentially, they’re meeting climate change half way: “yes it is exists, but no I’m not concerned.” This category includes people who accept the existence of climate change but deny that humans cause it – which could be around 40% of Australians, according to CSIRO research.
5. Putting off having to assess risk.
A study of more than 3,000 people in 18 countries showed that many people believe environmental conditions will worsen in 25 years. That means there is plenty of time to worry about it down the track, and plenty more things to worry about right now.
Emotional reasons not to believe (and why it’s so hard to change your mind once you become a denier).
These first five concerns stopping people from thinking climate change is real have been purely rational. Now we need to delve into the murkier world of human emotion to understand why people to want to believe.
There is no denying that taken to its logical extension, the threat of global warming is extremely frightening: epic weather events, loss of land and movement of refugees, agriculture failing and economies collapsing. We have all heard stories about people who have troubling symptoms but leave it too late to go to the doctor. To disbelieve in climate change because the alternative is too frightening is an understandable human response.
Faith, in its broadest, most religious, sense can be characterised as “God isn’t going to let millions of people die in an epic drought.“ In a less religious way, many people believe implicitly that the world is fair, and that bad things don’t happen to good people.
When presented with evidence to the contrary, especially couched in apocalyptic terms, they ignore or downplay it. Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer at the University of California Berkeley found, after two experiments, that participants primed to have a stronger belief in a just world reported levels of climate scepticism that were 29% higher, and a willingness to reduce their carbon footprint that was 21% lower, than those primed to see the world as an unjust place.
Australians have a bedrock, unshakeable belief in fairness. Could this be stopping some of us from taking climate change seriously?
3. Need for detachment and control.
This is a controversial one. According to a study by a Michigan State University researcher, women may find it easier to believe the science of climate change than men do due to socialisation.
Boys in the United States learn that masculinity emphasizes detachment, control and mastery. A feminine identity, on the other hand, stresses attachment, empathy and care – traits that may make it easier to feel concern about the potential dire consequences of global warming.
This theory has recently been bolstered by US researchers who crunched ten annual polls on environmental issues conducted by the Gallup Organization from 2001 to 2010. They found that “conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views.”
For example, 39.1% of conservative white males (compared with 14.4% of all other adults) said they did not worry at all about global warming.
This could be because of System Justification: the way the world works now, white men are the top dogs, so they have an interest in making sure it stays that way.
If climate change is real and human caused, it potentially threatens the whole economic order and those who have built it and benefited from it. It is the most inconvenient of truths.
- ‘What’s up with conservative white men and climate change denial?’ DesMogBlog.
Then there’s there tendency for “conservative white men” to veer towards a social dominance orientation.
Notably, the researchers say that Conservative White Males also tended to assert a stronger understanding of global warming than other adults – and those who said they understood it best were the most likely to be the strongest deniers.
- Conservation Magazine. The original research paper (PDF). Which leads us to another reason why people in general, and not just conservative white men, don’t listen to the “facts” on climate science.
4. Motivated reasoning.
We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself. We’re not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn’t take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that’s highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about.
Chris Mooney, ‘The science of why we don’t believe science,’ Mother Jones.
Everyone is familiar with the ideas of cognitive dissonance: that horrible feeling when we’re confronted with a fact that goes against everything we know. Do we discard our whole belief system, or rationalise it and push on? To make things easier for ourselves we tend towards a confirmation bias: recalling only those facts that make us feel good about our opinions.
We like to feel as if we’re rational about it. But really our “reasoning” is a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case.” A new theory hypothesises human reason has nothing to do with finding the truth, or locating the best alternative. Instead, it’s all about being able to argue with others:
Reasoning is generally seen as a mean to improve knowledge and make better decisions. Much evidence, however, shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests rethinking the function of reasoning. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade.
5. Living in a filter bubble.
Then after we’ve made up our minds, we surround ourselves with people who feel the same way so we’re never, ever challenged.
6. Um… being cold.
Why it’s so hard to take action even when you think climate change is real.
Let’s not place all the blame for climate change inaction on skeptics. Even those who believe global warming is real have a hard time doing anything about it.
1. Low urgency.
It’s common sense that you can only care deeply and deeply about a small roster of issues at a time. It is no surprise that belief in climate change, and taking action to combat it, declined in Australia and globally when the global financial crisis shook the world.
2. Lack of control.
This is perhaps the saddest, but most understandable, reason for inaction. People believe their actions would be too small to make a difference – and thereby choose to do nothing.
As anyone who has tried to quit smoking will tell you, ingrained behaviours are extremely resistant to permanent change while others change slowly. The same goes for changing your consumption, energy-use and voting patterns.
4. Social comparison.
People routinely compare their actions with those of others and derive subjective and descriptive norms from their observations about what is the “proper” course of action… For example, in experimental resource dilemmas, when any sort of inequality or inequity (real or perceived) exists, cooperation declines. (The many criticisms of Al Gore’s large residence, rooted in social comparison, have been employed as a justification for inaction by others.)
To spur you on to action yourself, it’s extremely important to see your peers taking action – not just celebrities.
5. Moral leaders are annoying.
You can believe the climate change science and want to act, but still be turned off by smug, utterly objectionable “greenies.” Benoît Monin, a psychologist at Stanford, has found scientific proof that ”overtly moral behavior can elicit annoyance and ridicule rather than admiration and respect” when we feel threatened by someone else’s “high ethical standards.”
6. Action? I’ve already done it.
People typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, but after that, they start to believe they have done all they can, and attention begins to fade. Behaviour researchers call this the “single-action bias.”
7. Being your own worst enemy.
While the climate change deniers have strongly banded together with a unified message (“it doesn’t exist, or if it does it’s not our fault”), people who believe climate change is a real threat are all over the shop on how to deal with it. “We need nuclear; no, nuclear’s bad; we need solar; solar will never scale up; a windfarm made me sick.” In Australia, the Greens voted against the Emissions Trading Scheme the first time it went through parliament. How are we supposed to see any action at all? As an American commentator writes, emphasis ours:
A big part of the problem is precisely that climate efforts so far have been almost entirely driven by liberal elites. It’s been an extremely intellectualized, top-down sort of undertaking, and as we saw with painful clarity during the climate bill fiasco, an elite-driven strategy isn’t going to cut it. Part of it is that [...] every online liberal fashions him or herself a precious snowflake. Everyone has their own perfect pony policy solution and disdains all others [...] You need a left that is greater than the sum of its siloed constituent parts.
- Why isn’t the climate left stronger,’ Grist. We’d also argue that the fact that being a climate change believer is wrapped up in being “left” is also a problem. How did that happen?
8. Giving up hope.
If you believe climate change is a threat, you are taking personal action, and are eager for governments to lead collective action – well, you’ve probably been waiting, and stressing, a long time. It can be hard work keeping up the necessary feeling of urgency without burning out. No one wants to be on a losing team.
A conclusion of sorts, and a question.
So this depressing list goes a long way towards explaining why our first female Prime Minister looks like she’ll be out of a job next year, unless something changes. The Government’s advertising has not seemed to work, though who’s to say how terrible the numbers would be without it. What could turn this around, if anything? Have you ever seen a climate change-related campaign that works?
- The Labor Government’s climate change action website Clean Energy Future.
- The Liberals’ No carbon tax website.
- The Greens’ details of the carbon pollution price package.
- Image on this post by Franceso Vincenzi.
‘On the mind’ is a new Nextness feature that showcases STW Group’s best thinkers and the ideas they’re excited about. This week we get a glimpse into the brain of Zoe Freeman (@Zoe_Freeman), digital director for STW company Spinach.
1. Offline social media.
An impromptu bulletin board gives positive voice to riot-struck Londoners in Peckham Rye, via Eye Magazine. For those who aren’t so digitally savvy I define social media as “human interaction online” but when it spontaneously occurs offline it illustrates the point perfectly.
2. Golden Fields.
This restaurant opened recently near the office. I’ve spent my career talking clients out of splash pages but this one took my breath away.
3. I heart Instagram.
Instagram: transforming rubbish happy-snappers (like me) into photographic geniuses AND it’s a social network!
4. Function and form.
“The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words.” It’s one of my favourite websites of all time.
5. Obligatory TED talk!
Ze Frank presents a medley of zany Internet toys that require deep participation — and reward it with something more nourishing. I can’t help but smile when I see people smiling at their mobiles now.
6. Getting a Zadie fix.
An interstate family means minimal time with my niece. However, between my sister’s smartphone and Skype I get regular contact with her -- which is better than nothing and a lot better than if she was born 10 years ago. And means I smile at my mobile quite regularly too.
7. Old-skool glamour.
Only Chanel could mange to make an animated Gif look glamourous. (It’s called The Sketch by Karl Lagerfeld, and you can view it here on the brand’s email newsletter). I’m loving the Gif’s resurgence. Takes me back to building my first website.
8. Secret santa hint…
I now patiently await the tipping point of Google’s new social network, Google+.
9. Tiny wings.
The Tiny Wings game iPhone icon is by far and away the most gorgeous icon on my home screen.
10. Funny pictures.
When you work in digital it can be easy to forget that the internet is a fun place to just hang out and look at pictures of dogs.
Zoe Freeman has been a HTML developer, medical secretary, producer, project manager, web agency boss lady and internet consultant. After selling her business in 2010, she is now the Spinach web-geek-in-residence and Digital Director. Follow her on Twitter: @Zoe_Freeman.
In Nextness Visual Diary, we highlight the top pieces of art, craft, video and design that grabbed us in recently. Do you work at STW Group and want to curate one? Email us/ Tweet us! Don’t forget to follow our Tumblr for more.
1. BBC Knowledge.
2. Island Study.
3. Where the bloody hell was my invite…
…to take part in this project? “3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ….into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films…” For STA Travel Australia. This one is called MOVE; view LEARN and EAT. Via Small Sight.
“The literal destruction of an object is secondary to the overall effect created by color (dis)harmony and the overall aesthetic of the reclaimed and reinvented object/experience,” writes Chad Wys of his eerie work.
5. Dear Photograph.
“Dear Photograph, I fell in love with a woman. I’m not ready to let go…but she is.” -- McKenzie Dillingham. You’ve probably already seen this Tumblr, where people take a picture of a picture from the past in the present. But look at it again.
6. On a beautiful shoestring.
No idea what this film is about, aside from love of course. But it’s gorgeous, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year, was sold to Paramount for $4 million… and was shot on a Canon 7D. (RRP: around $1600.) Via PetaPixel.
7. Double life.
Breathtaking writing from this 1999 ad for Playstation.
8. Don’t fear the internet.
9. Magic carpet.
Céline Ramoni‘s long exposure shots “from the New Transit Yurikamome, an automated [Japanese[ guideway train that connects Odaiba to the mainland, passing through the Rainbow Bridge.” On Flickr. See also: Shinkansen.
Last week it seemed like society was collapsing in London. Riots, looting, tense stand offs, fire, injuries and even deaths. Technology was blamed for helping make it happen. But four campaigns showed the kind and caring side of social media and the crowd -- here’s what they did and how they made a success of it.
1. Riot clean up.
When the third night’s rioting began, the hashtag #riotcleanup started trending ahead of #londonriots. In the small hours of 9th August, a Twitter account (@riotcleanup) was created and by 5.30am a website was up, led by artist Dan Thompson in Worthing. Using the site and Twitter, Dan organised cleanups in major riot sites across London, with more than 500 people attending each one.
Outside Clapham Junction, pictured above, one of the #riotcleanup volunteers said:
A crowd of 200 people caused this damage, but there are now 500 here to clean it up. That sends out a strong message. There are more of us than them, and we are not going to let them claim our streets and neighbourhoods. I guess it’s a Blitz spirit.
The account amassed more than 85,000 followers; the site is now a portal for those wishing to donate to the riot victims.
2. Let’s do something nice for Ashraf Haziq.
Ashraf Haziz, a Malaysian student, was on his way to visit a friend when he was bashed by rioters who demanded his bicycle. This YouTube video of the aftermath of the mugging “disgusted” Prime Minister David Cameron and everyone who watched it. In it, Ashraf is helped to his feet -- but then other looters rustle through his backpack and run off with his possessions, leaving the 20 year old helpless.
“It was a shameful way for a guest in our country to be treated and the image projected a pretty crap image of the UK around the world,” thought @jamiecowen and @eswilkies. So they set up Let’s do something nice for Ashraf. Over 20,000 pounds were raised in just a few days. “Over the last couple of days the fine people of London, the UK and the world have visited this site to demonstrate that this kind of thing did not happen in their name,” the organisers said.
3. Keep Aaron cutting.
A born and bred Londoner, 89 year old Aaron Biber built up his businesses in Tottenham High Street over several decades and is a popular figure in the local community. He arrived at his shop on Sunday morning to find the place smashed up, with windows broken and hairdryers looted. Even his kettle had been stolen. “I will probably have to close because I haven’t got insurance and I can’t afford the repairs,” Aaron said.
“We wanted to show the world that youth and technology could also be a force for good,” BBH said.
4. Operation Cup of Tea.
Operation Cup of Tea started with some simple symbolism.
During the rioting, we have been urging the Great British public to harness the power of tea by staying at home and having a brew, every night until it stops. Furthermore, we want everyone to take a photo of themselves in the act and post it to Facebook as a show of solidarity.
Hundreds posted photos to the 300,000+ strong Facebook page. The campaign was so well-supported, organiser Sam Pepper decided to take it a step further. “We have set up our own charity to help the people affected by the riots. All you have to do to support us is buy your tea through this website; all profits will then be donated to the charity and be used to give people the help they need.”
The magic behind successful acts of kindness.
What lifted these four ideas to the top of people’s consciousness and made them a success?
1. Be quick.
Ride the wave of public feeling while it’s at its height.
2. And dirty.
You don’t have time to build a beautiful, slick microsite. While some of the sites upgraded to a purpose-built site, they started immediately with Twitter, blogger, Tumblr and other free tools.
3. After a period of crisis, give people a way of showing who they are (and who they aren’t).
Two of these campaigns were identity-based. Both Riot Clean Up and Operation Cup of Tea allowed people to say, “we are not like this. We are the opposite of this,” in an effective way.
4. Appeal to patriotism.
The BBH campaign emphasised Aaron’s status as a local treasure; Do Something Nice for Ashraf made people think about the world’s perception of Britain. These are powerful motivators to get people to take action.
5. Make sure people can trust you.
“Why would I send money to a random stranger?” Not everyone says it, but everyone thinks it before donating to a charity effort. Without bignoting yourself, make sure you and your organisation (in the case of BBH) are clearly identified on the site. Answer any questions that are asked. Make media appearances and do interviews to give a face to a Twitter handle. But all the while (in a delicate balance) keep the emphasis on the people or cause you’re trying to help.