Monthly Archives: November 2011
“On the mind of…” is a semi-regular feature here on Nextness, curated by guests from within and occasionally outside STW Group. This week, we get to peek inside the brain of Cathie McGinn (@acatinatree). She’s a Strategy Director at STW’s Mindshare, erudite blogger at TheYearofTheCat.com, and -- as you can see by her range of interests and insights -- she’s no insect. Don’t worry, the insect reference becomes clear when you get to point 9.
One of the things I love about surfing is its seemingly paradoxical nature. It’s at once a celebration of existing intensely in the moment, at one with nature, and simultaneously striving for bigger and better waves, moves, airs – see Kelly Slater’s triumphant eleven world titles to the crazy locals nightsurfing Sydney’s infamous big wave break Ours. To surf is to be both completely at peace and continually restless. Above, a video shot by “Bra Boys” director Macario De Souza.
2. The literary mash-up.
As any strategist worth their salt can tell you, putting two dissimilar things together and examining the resulting tensions can be illuminating. A site that does this beautifully is Bookslut, where the author juxtaposes two authors who share a birthday month and imagines their interaction. This month’s meeting of minds features Dostoevsky and George Elliot; a richly imagined reminder of why you really ought to return to reading more great literature, if only you could prise yourself away from reading about it on the internet.
3. A design for life.
IDEO Creative Director Jane Fulton-Suri gives a compelling talk at TEDx on what nature can teach us about design – not just through observation of human interaction, but also the natural world, such as the way bees dance when they’re communicating something exciting. She argues that nature can help us design for human needs and desires in more elegant and sustainable ways.
4. xkcd on money.
This infographic (see full-sized) is by my favourite comic nerd xkcd, a physicist and robot engineer with a profound and droll take on human frailty. The money infographic contains the mother lode of fascinating facts, stats and comparisons of world markets, the 1% and the 99%, along with the odd sortie into the whimsical, like a projection of J.K Rowling’s fortune had she become a rapper instead of a novelist (see below).
5. Future Me.
If you could write an email to yourself, to be read in five years’ time, what would it say? Future Me is a sometimes painful, often moving, occasionally uproariously funny collection of the letters people have sent to their future selves. It’s a treasure trove of the preoccupations of the time, and a repository of those eternal human concerns: love, friendship, what we’ll be when we grow up and the meaning of life.
6. Carriage wit.
Conversations in that once sacrosanct private space, the car, made public– from UK actor Robert Llewellyn’s interviews (he gives someone interesting a lift, they talk: he uploads it to YouTube as above) to the often excruciating view from the front seat of Sydney cab driver Attila, the car is now truly multi-functional.
I’m continually inspired by the Tumblr community’s creativity, wit and untrammelled love of navel gazing. It’s also a handy way of keeping a finger on the pulse of the development of themes and memes and is really valuable for content creation: tracking clusters, hot spots and popular content can provide excellent insight.
8. The “pervasive art” of mysterious and innovative guerrilla artist JR.
He’s primarily known for pasting his photographs of local people onto public outdoor spaces – rooftops, buildings, buses, bridges, and roads all over the world, showing in a very real way, the human face of conflict and poverty. He’s making a film called Woman Are Heroes as well as an inspiring art project called Inside Out, a collaboration between the artist and the public, facilitated by the TED Prize. Art that can actually change the world.
9. Specialisation is for insects.
Robert Heinlein foretold the age of the talented generalist in 1973, when he said that “specialisation is for insects.”
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- Robert A. Heinlein.
One of my favourite generalists is Bjork, a polymath who seems entirely, untroubled by definition or categorisation. Her approach to creativity is one I think our industry could certainly learn from, in which she uses whatever tools seem most suitable to the project, from film to apps, live performance to HTML5. In her latest endeavour, Biophilia, she aims to “use technology to make visible much of nature’s invisible world”, in a fascinating transmedia production which brings together music, nature and technology.
10. Everything old is new again.
There’s an interesting cultural trend that’s steadily on the rise: a move from high-tech to lo-fi life-hacking; an acknowledgement we might be losing some critical life skills through an over-reliance on technology. You can see glimpses of this shift in things like the growth of community gardens and the Technology Will Save Us series, which is teaching people how to DIY everything from soldering your own musical instrument to knitting.
Cathie McGinn (@acatinatree) is Strategy Director at Mindshare, where she finds creative and innovative ways to help brands connect with people. She is one of the co-founders of Digital Citizens, an inclusive, informal organisation dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of social, political, ethical and professional issues related to new technologies and the social web. Cathie is a regular contributor to a number of industry publications and blogs at TheYearofTheCat.com.
Today’s guest post is from Laura Kevan. She’s in Year 10, and wangled some work experience at Ogilvy Sydney from her family friend Simon Bloomfield (@dekkard42). Once she got over her disappointment at the lack of a Don Draper in Christie Street, she tweeted: ”If this is working, I can’t wait to finish school!” Here is her report, and some observations of her time at Ogilvy Sydney.
Back in April, I was asked to submit a location for my Year 10 Work Experience. I was told to think about my future career choice when I made the selection. I was still 14 at the time. Seriously, apart from Stevie Wonder, who else ever thought about a future career choice at 14??
I did get some good advice though: to make sure I spent a week doing the things I like and being involved with something creative. As I couldn’t get a job working on an episode of Dr Who, I thought advertising would be the next best on the list. I like art, I like English and I like The Gruen Transfer (I like listening to smart people talking about interesting stuff). I asked a family friend, Simon Bloomfield, a creative at Ogilvy Sydney, if I could do a week’s work experience. I ended up having a fantastic week planned for me that opened up a world of possibilities. So now it’s Stevie Wonder and me in that club!!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect on my first day at Ogilvy – maybe something like an updated version of Mad Men (with less smoking and drinking maybe). Ogilvy is definitely at the forefront of new advertising across all areas – which is why Simon made me open my Twitter account (@LKevan) and “Tweet My Week”. With a plethora (yes I just said plethora, I’m practicing my copywriting skills) of teams and groups, it’s a small wonder that everything gets coordinated as well as it does at Ogilvy – all that activity just so we can end up with the pleasure of sharing a coke with Nan.
I was lucky to see all this. While others at work experience have been counting buttons, sticking on labels, watching cats get de-sexed, or just slaving away on some appliance in some backroom somewhere (although one friend got to play cricket on the Parkes Dish which is rather cool), I had a WIP meeting, account meetings, a photo shoot, the art room, planning…even lunch with creatives (no beer for me thank you waiter!) – a real opportunity to have a sneak peek into the minds and work of some very creative and smart people.
This is what I have observed at Ogilvy:
- Lots of people think they have the most important role in the agency!
- The Creatives think they’re the most important, as they do “all the thinking.”
- The Planners disagree and think that they’re more important as it’s “all in the planning.”
- The Account Managers sell the stuff that comes out of the Creatives’ heads, generating all the money, which has to be the top job…doesn’t it?
- People use a lot of acronyms and lingo that continually confuses the work experience kid.
- Mucking around on Photoshop is actively encouraged. Some people make a fantastic career out of it. That is a definite bonus.
- That there are absurd amounts of coffee being consumed in this building and that half the people here might break down and cry if the coffee shop in the foyer closed (what will you do over Christmas and New Year??)
- It’s a really nice place to work.
I won’t comment on who I think has the coolest or most important job but I can say that working here, just for one week has been fun, interesting and enlightening It’s been great to get some insight into how the whole jigsaw fits together, how all the teams work together to produce the final output…and all of this to make @dekkard42 think he’s really in charge : )
Thank you to all those who gave up part of their day and their valuable time last week to show me the work that they do. It’s been a worthwhile experience and not a second was wasted.
Laura Kevan, Work Experience Kid, is in Year 10 in Roseville College. Follow her on Twitter @LKevan. Thank you to Simon Bloomfield (@dekkard42) for looking after her during her time at Ogilvy. Good luck in your last two years of school Laura!
A new Nextness Visual Diary, a new swag of inspiration. One of these items contains swearing, and is also the funniest thing you’ll see on the internet all week (if you’re a casual user) and all day (if you consume the internet for a living). But you’ll just have to peep all ten to see which one it is.
1. Neverending knit dress.
Nelly Agassi, Whispers, 2004.
2. UFO HOTEL.
3. Can I interest you in a delicious embroidered breakfast?
4. Black and white studio.
5. Cherry blossoms.
Visiondivision is an architecture firm in Stockholm, and from 8 cherry trees they made a study retreat at the campus “with patience as the main key for the design.”
If we can be patient with the building time we can reduce the need for transportation, waste of material and different manufacturing processes, simply by helping nature grow in a more architectonic and useful way.
This is just a mockup. The final result can be enjoyed about 60 years from now.
6. Scratching the Surface.
Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils is a Portuguese street artist who chips, carves, and scratches portraits.
A classic Sesame Street animation. (See also: Circles.)
8. Steve Jobs and NeXT.
NeXT is what Steve Jobs did after he had to leave Apple. Here you see him hard at work, brainstorming at a company retreat. It’s fascinating stuff.
As pointed out by commenter Sho_hn on Hacker News, the woman who stands up to Jobs (11:00 minute mark) about the due date being part of his ‘reality distortion field’ is Joanna Hoffman, of the original Macintosh team.
She had a reputation for being the one to lock horns with Jobs and was even given an award internally by the team two years running for doing so. This anecdote can be found in the bio of Jobs by Walter Isaacson. You can read more about Joanna on Andy Hertzfeld’s fantastic Folklore.org here.
Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued aerial surveillance film, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. The film, originally developed for military reconnaissance, registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson and hot pink.
10. This horse is poppin’ yo.
You will have to trade off for yourself, as a responsible adult, the pros of HILARITY versus the potential cons of hearing SLIGHTLY INAPPROPRIATE swearing. We trust you to make the right choice for you. Link via The Hairpin, which is excellent.
There’s something very comforting about getting a glimpse into the life and career of a certified genius. Frank Gehry was told to drop out of architecture class -- his teachers thought he’d never make it. Philip Glass drove a cab well into his brilliant career as a musician and composer. Of course, now they’re established creatives whose reputation is assured, so what felt like failures at the time have lost their sting. There’s a lesson in that somewhere. To both comfort and inspire, a list of five brilliant documentaries of creatives’ lives and work.
1. Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
Watch it if: you’re battling with having to make a living from your artistic talent. You think getting a campaign past layers of approval is hard -- Gehry has to do that and make sure his buildings don’t collapse and kill people. Despite his immense ego, Gehry is a client wrangler extraordinaire. A must-watch for anyone who wants to see their big ideas come to life.
2. Glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts.
Watch it if: you feel out of step with your time (Glass was so radical that at first people wondered if he was actually a bit stupid). Or if you need a kick in the pants -- Glass might be innately gifted, but this documentary shows the sheer effort and stamina he pours into his craft, juggling multiple works and sitting at the piano from breakfast to late in the day.
3. Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time (2001)
British artist and environmentalist uses nature as his canvas.
Watch it if: you need to get away from your medium, tedium and the quotidian and back to the biggest inspiration of all: nature.
4. Patti Smith Dream of Life (2008)
This documentary about Godmother of Punk, artist, poet and National Book Award winner Patti Smith was ten years in the making.
Watch it if: you want to get to know the amazing woman who wrote Just Kids. Bonus: marvel at her Bob Dylan impersonation and how frankly poor she is at guitar for a towering rock star.
5. Art and copy (2009)
With appearances from the brains behind campaigns like “Just Do It,” “I Love NY,” “Got Milk” and “Think Different,” Art and Copy reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time.
Watch it if: you need to fall in love with advertising and its possibilities again.
Colour, texture, emotion. Another Nextness Visual Diary to inspire you.
1. Negative space alphabets.
2. Coloured pencils.
Mound is a film by Allison Schulnik. It’s claymation, but not like any you’ve seen before. Cinematography by Helder K. Sun; ”It’s Raining Today” written by Noel Scott Engel.
Google Translate reveals that this is an edible “food colour spray” by Esslack.
7. New York.
New York, by photographer Anne Laure-Maison. Courtesy of Google Translate: “Looking at these windows, I tell stories about the people who live behind them, I fantasize about their space, their privacy.”
8. Sign language music video.
Walk with me, Suzy Lee
through the park and by the tree
we will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we found
then safely walk to school
without a sound
Get ready to smile! D-PAN ASL music video for “We’re Going To Be Friends” by The White Stripes.
9. Embroidered portraits.
Cayce Zavaglia‘s embroidered portraits are just under life size and take approximately 6-8 months to create. Zavaglia has developed a technique called “Modern Pointillism” where she blends colors and creates tones like an oil painter. “She sews the way a painter would paint -- her thread is layered, creating an illusion of depth, volume and form.” Via My Modern Met.
10. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein.
With a background as a painter, artist Ysabel LeMay is pioneering a technique called “Photo-Fusion.” She takes hundreds of photographs, then “light and visual properties attuned and assembled one detail at a time in a painter-like fashion to form one large composition.” Ysabel Lemay via Kipton Art.