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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Left-brain versus right-brain.

by Nextness published May 30, 2012 posted in Creativity

Left or right brain

This spritely dancer swept the internet in 2007. Do you see her turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain. Anti-clockwise and you’re a left-brainer, the meme’s accompanying text tells us.

Left-brainers, it’s said, are strategic and knowing; they think through problems and are logical, practical and detail orientated. Right-brainers are scatty, perceptive and intuitive; they see the big picture.

Mercedes ad | Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive, Tel Aviv, Israel
The left-brain/right-brain divide is gloriously expressed in these ads for Mercedes Benz | bigger.

(Their precise relevance to a luxury car? Let’s not get all left-brained about this. They are a very beautiful piece of work.)

Sure, there’s some scientific basis for breaking the brain into halves like this. And certainly, losing the use of one part or other of your brain has an impact on your thoughts and behaviour.

But there’s not actually that much scientific evidence supporting it. The two hemispheres have more similarities than differences:

Perhaps the clearest evidence of this is from studies of brain damage. To completely lose a particular mental faculty, a person normally needs to suffer damage to a particular area in both the left and right hemispheres.

In fact, most researchers have concluded the left/right dichotomy can be best termed a myth.

But that hasn’t stopped the left/right divide influencing management theory, recruiting, training and even how agencies are structured.

Blogger and ECD Dave Trott says it’s why Bill Bernbach put copywriters and art directors together in a classic creative team.

The copywriter will be more left brain, with a gradual progression towards a logical solution. The art director will be right brain, with an instant sense of what will work, an ability to empathise emotionally.

In a recent post on his excellent blog, Trott goes on to use the right- and left-brain dichotomy to tell planners to stick to their knitting when it comes to making advertising that grabs attention.

We have art directors to make emotional decisions, right brain decisions, that’s their job. They’re trained for it, planners aren’t. Of course a planner will have a subjective view, so will a bricklayer, a banker, a soldier, a lollipop lady, and a jockey. But none of them are trained to be art directors and create advertising that stands out in a crowded environment. Therefore, their subjective opinion isn’t as important as an art director’s. Nor is a planner’s.

And that’s where the left-brain/right-brain divide stops being a cute shorthand for a personal preference, or a fun Barnum Effect personality test, and starts becoming dangerous.

Yes, planners are hired to plan, and art directors to grab attention. It’s in their job descriptions.

But Trott does a disservice to the art directors I know who can project a year or even five years down the track and imagine a future for the brands they work on, not to mention balance multiple accounts, time-recording, and constant deadlines. He does a disservice to suits I’ve seen weave, spontaneously, a beautiful story to sell-in a piece of work to a client. And he disregards strategists I know who, on the weekend, take beautiful photographs, cook beautiful meals and play and compose incredible music.

Every single person in every agency or every organisation must be as creative as they can be… and as farsighted and strategic.

There’s no science in the world to support a belief that some people get to do the ‘fun’ jobs and some people don’t.

Let’s not use crappy science to keep our agency colleagues in their place.

Jessica Stanley (@dailydoseofjess) is the editor of Nextness. Some previous posts by Jessica include: Is the internet making you sad? | On process. |  How we curate Nextness. | What is the New Aesthetic? | Why is no one commenting on our blog? | Introverts in ad agencies: a helpful guide.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | May 25, 2012

by Nextness published May 25, 2012 posted in Linkness

Maira Kalman via Austin Kleon. Welcome to another Linkness!

If you only read one thing.

  • If you’re not micromanaging, you’re not leading: “Seeing the data raw instead of analytically pre-chewed can have enormous impact on executive perceptions.” | Harvard Business Review


  • 3 lessons (and warnings) for agencies looking to emulate startups | Co.Create
  • How Tim Cook is changing Apple | Fortune Tech


  • “Great UI and UX are becoming the new IP. Thanks to the low cost of computing, these entrepreneurs find innovation in human behavior, not pure technology.” ‘Legendary’ angel investor Ron Conway on mega-trends, non-bubbles and more | Twilio


  • How I’m implementing responsive web design | JeffCroft.com
  • The Facebook fallacy: For all its valuation, the social network is just another ad-supported site. Without an earth-changing idea, it will collapse and take down the Web | Technology Review
  • Five (intuitive) reasons to bet on Facebook | Logic+Emotion
  • How Mark Zuckerberg hacked the Valley | Businessweek
  • Facebook: a brilliant business model | Jeremiah Owyang
  • The golden age of Silicon Valley is over, and we’re dancing on its grave | The Atlantic
  • Arts and cultural organisations are exploring apps | WSJ.com


  • Planningness 2012 recap and trends in planning | Digilicious
  • How Gatorade redefined its audience and a flagging brand | Co.Create
  • From the archives: Why Gawker is moving beyond the blog | Lifehacker
  • Machine beauty and our bionic future | Big Think
  • “Reinventing yourself in this business ain’t easy, let alone getting a foot in the ‘Planning Department’ door.” Mark Pollard’s tips | Junior


  • Hack the cover | Craig Mod
  • Creative destruction: how advertising is swallowing the creative class | Gawker
  • Advice to young designers | The Window Seat
  • Web design manifesto 2012: “Thank you for the screen shot. I was actually already aware that the type on my site is big. I designed it that way.” | Jeffrey Zeldman


  • People want jobs that make a difference, even if it means a pay cut | Co.Exist

On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Lights, camera, action at the white agency.

by Nextness published May 24, 2012 posted in STW Group

Today’s post is cross-posted from the white agency blog. Have you checked it out recently? It’s stylish, and updated regularly too! (And they tweet @thewhiteagency). We love their idea to make non-film specialists make a film. Is there any better way to get an insight into the process than to dive in?

Ready for a close up.

A new initiative at the white agency in 2012 has seen everyone participating in events that focus on specific disciplines across the agency. The idea is to help everyone understand the challenges, processes, techniques, highs and lows involved in disciplines outside their areas of expertise. We kicked off the year with a creative concepting day out of the office which was a great success.

In round 2, our Video department took centre stage with the launch of a film competition. Staff were divided into seven groups, and within each team members were allocated roles from director to production designer, editor to actor. The teams were led by people with no video production experience, with staff from the Video department taking supporting roles.

With only three weeks to produce a cinematic masterpiece, the competition kicked off with a three hour masterclass in ‘Acting & directing for the screen’ and ‘Camera techniques and lighting’. Then it was time to channel our inner auteurs and transform Ultimo into a local version of Hollywood, only with lower pay days, no back-end deals on the box office and fewer outrageous demands from self-important actors.

Red carpet premiere.

Like awards season in the movie biz, the paparazzi were circling and the buzz was building in the lead-up to the red carpet premiere at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington.

On the Night of a Thousand Stars the glamour quotient was high (ok, four people dressed up and wouldn’t have looked out of place on the red carpet at the Oscars – everyone else was working a more Tropfest vibe).

“Riveting…We laughed, we cried.” 5 stars, Margaret and David.*

We think the output from a room full of (mostly) amateur filmmakers was pretty damn impressive. The storytelling was diverse, there were loads of laughs on the night and it’s not everyday you get to see yourself on the big screen.

Band for Life.

Tony Wall (Actor), Garry Law (Actor), Peter Scobie (Writer/Editor), Mike Barry (Director), Ingrid Prowse (Production Design), Lin Mei (DOP), David Gustafson (Sound Design)


Katie Courtney (Actor), Cara de Ferranti (Actor), Graham Robertson (Actor), Eve Medvedeva & Isabel Matias (Director), Eric Natapradja (Director of Photography), Bec Mangan (Production Designer), Andre Karlsson (Editor), Peter Feltham (Sound Designer)

Drop bear.

Cameron Rickersey (Actor), Dirk Hohm (Actor), Matt Bertie (Director of Photography), Ross Dixon (sort of, Director), Sarah Miles (Writer & Props), Monika Natalia (Producer), Jaime Ryan (Editor)


Hilary Hannigan (Actor/Production Design), Tara Loyd (Actor), Nick Salter (Actor/Producer), Kathryn Scott (Director of Photography), Paul Fiore (Director), Steve Wilcox (Actor), Scott Nolan (Editor)


Gabrielle Smith (Actor), Heather Charnock (Actor), Luke Sandral (Directory of Photography/Actor), Susan Montgomery (Producer), Mitch Seeto (Director), Bruno Barthas (Editor)

Work in progress.

Brook Blakslee (Writer/Actor), Colleen Gibson (Producer/Actor), Dom Watson (Editor/Actor), Casey Glass (Actor), Raymond Van Der Zalm (Director/Actor), Rokshana Atken (Actor), Erinna Lambert (Production Designer/Actor)

Internet stick.

David Dwyer (Director/Writer), James Hinton (Producer/Actor), Dell Matejka (Actor), Jeremy Frouin (Editor/Sound), Geoff Goddard (Director of Photography) , Ailsa Mackenzie (Actor)

And the winner is…

Two prizes were awarded on the night. And the winners were…

  • Best Film: Drop Bears
  • Audience Vote: The Internet Stick

We hope you enjoy watching the films as much as we enjoyed making them. Next stop Cannes…

* Not the Margaret and David from ‘At the Movies’, just two randoms who accidentally wandered into the wrong cinema.

Visit the white agency blog | Follow them/ask for their autographs on Twitter @thewhiteagency.


Nextness Visual Diary | COLOUR!

by Nextness published May 23, 2012 posted in Inspiration

For this week’s Visual Diary, we’ve got colour on our mind (and a spot of movement too).

Artist AJ Chu is a 17-year old high school senior living in New Jersey. Via Wolf Eyebrows.

Korean artist Kwang-Ho Lee via Sarahness.

Advanced Style via Style Rookie. See also: I WANT YOUR HAIR.

Animal Atlas: Shark by Alex Carletti.

Maricor/Maricar via The Fox is Black.

Gunta Stölzel: “Slit Tapestry Red/Green,” 1927/28. Gobelin technique. Cotton, silk, linen. 150×110 cm. Via Etsy.

Untitled (Self-Portrait), c. 1979 by Nellie Mae Rowe.

David Hockney gif via Jean-Luc Godzilla.

Georgiaperry’s beautiful dreamcatchers! (See also: her giant dreamcatcher window.)

Via The Jams.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | May 18, 2012

by Nextness published May 18, 2012 posted in Linkness

Orangutan with iPadAn orangutan points to an object on an iPad after being told that word, at Jungle Island in MiamiPicture: Pat Carter/AP via The Telegraph. Welcome to this week’s Linkness!

If you read one thing this week.

  • Advertising people are the new advertising medium | Forbes


  • How Yahoo killed Flickr and lost the internet | Gizmodo
  • Power and poor decision-making | Farnam Street
  • “I do shake my head in wonder though as I see some of the younger people coming into this industry, expecting fame and fortune without being prepared to put in the hard yards.” | Chris Savage’s Wrestling Possums
  • Find the reverse leaders in your midst | Harvard Business Review
  • In search of the money gene: What makes someone want to start a business? | Boston.com
  • Marginal thinking: the danger of “just this once” | HBS Working Knowledge
  • The social side of strategy: Crowdsourcing your strategy may sound crazy. But a few pioneering companies are starting to do just that, boosting organizational alignment in the process. Should you join them? | McKinsey Quarterly


  • 5 commitments to become part of a solution to the world’s problems | Co.Exist
  • The 10 most important marketing trends according to Sir Martin Sorrell | Forbes


  • GM says Facebook ads don’t pay off | WSJ.com
  • On Facebook, Intent and Marketing | Noah Brier dot Com
  • Browsers and Apps in 2012: The browser’s doomed, because apps are the future. Wait! Apps are doomed because HTML5 is the future. I see something almost every day saying one or the other. Only it’s mostly wrong. | ongoing by Tim Bray
  • The rise of the social web is not really about the end of what came before, but instead is the starting point for what comes next: richer and more complex societies. These technologies are a bridge we use to cross over into something new, not a wrecking ball tearing down the old. | Stowe Boyd


  • Designers vs. engineers | notes.unwieldy
  • On floundering: Trying to figure something out on your own before getting help actually produces better results than having guidance from the beginning | TIME.com
  • 8 ways to cultivate serendipity in business and life | Matthew E. May
  • Moving customers from pinning to purchase | Harvard Business Review
  • Oil, water, and food: how our largest companies are managing our most important resources | Co.Exist
  • Modelling participation online: is the 1,9,90 rule outdated? | Only Dead Fish
  • Howard Rheingold on how the five web literacies (attention, participation, collaboration, “crap detection,” and network smarts) are becoming essential survival skills | Nieman Journalism Lab
  • The simplicity thesis: The only companies or products that will succeed now are the ones offering the lowest possible level of complexity for the maximum amount of value | Fast Company


On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


On process.

by Nextness published May 16, 2012 posted in Inspiration

To keep up to date and make sure we’re sharing what’s now and what’s next, we follow a lot of blogs. Art, design and literature. Science, management and tech. And of course other agencies. (Take a look at our blogroll on our site’s sidebar if you’d like to see some of our favourites.) Recently, the agency blogs we’ve been loving all have one thing in common. BERG, More & Co and Made by Many: they all give us a glimpse into their process.

Design consultancy BERG have high profile clients like the BBC – but you might remember them for their Little Printer which generated a lot of buzz a few months ago. It’s hard to believe that such interesting work come from a relatively small office in London. On their blog they routinely detail what each member of their small team is working on, from complex UX projects to “Simon has just brought in bacon sandwiches for everyone,” in a weekly blog post they call Weeknotes.

Last month, CEO and Principal at BERG Matt Webb used Weeknotes to describe “a pretty heavy week, dealing with some of that kind of stuff where (a) the best person in the company to deal with it is me, and (b) it’s tiring to think about.”

Switching rapidly between conversations that delight me and mental work that grinds me down has its own particular effect: to be fully involved in each activity, the feelings appropriate to the other activity have to be contained or suspended for the moment, and it’s that continual packing/unpacking/repacking that creates a novel kind of tiredness, a kind that I can only describe as – I don’t know whether this word exists outside the UK – radgy.

He goes on to talk about not being sure whether something was bad… or he was just negative. It’s a fascinating read for all managers of innovative or creative work, which depends so much on motivation, energy and mood. Obviously they’re doing something right (in a huge write-up of them, the New York Times say they’re at the forefront of experiments in humanizing technology) so it’s both fascinating and educational to take a glimpse behind the scenes.

In Portland, creative studio More & Co maintain a blog called Notes.

Using a mix of analog and digital photograhy, mixtapes, sketches and illustrations, they take us behind the scenes in the office, their shared meals and drinks.

It’s astute marketing for their art direction and styling services; each post is so beautiful it looks like it could be in a magazine. They post outtakes from and teasers for upcoming work; their subscribers are excited to see what the talented team turn their hand to next.

Meanwhile, digital product and service design company Made by Many use their blog almost as a whiteboard,  taking readers behind the scenes of key decisions they make while creating their products and campaigns.

A perfect example of this is their new app, Picle. It all started back in May 2011 when a team member posted What would Instagram sound like? He experimented, and wrote,

…what I found looking back was that the photos seemed to take on a new dimension, they come to life, allowing you to remember and relive as if you were there, which the alternative, video, can sometimes overcomplicate. It’s the halfway point that allows you to document the best bits with the pro’s of each medium. Whether the journey works as an idea, I’m not sure, but as an addition to individual images, it could be interesting?

Now, a year later, their app Picle is gaining steam. A stylish and easy-to-use little app, it records the sounds that surround you as you take a still photograph. You can see it in action in this stream from the London cultural hub the Southbank Centre.

The team is still using the blog to tease out what next for Picle, turning it into a living example of the Lean product innovation approach before its launch at SXSW, and showing how they grew and evolved from the first minimum viable product.

And most recently,

It sounds rather existential, but by watching how people use Picle and feedback to us, we have had to ask some deeper questions than ‘How can we get more people using the app?’

With all behind-the-scenes blogs, it can be scary to let people in. Isn’t it giving away trade secrets? Doing work for free? Opening yourself up for mockery or copying or both?

On this, we like to quote Rhizome’s Joanne McNeil:

Revealing influences is the confidence of a true creative person: you can see where the ideas come from, because even with the same ingredients I know you can’t bake what I’m about to with it.

Long live the process blog.

If any STW Group companies want to use Nextness to take our readers behind the scenes of their next campaign or product, tweet us.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | May 11, 2012

by Nextness published May 11, 2012 posted in Linkness

Sometime's it's okay
Illustration by Yumi Sakugawa. Welcome to Linkness!

If you read just one thing.

  • Modern medicine: The nature of addictive technologies in relation to business, the power that software designers are presently wielding over the masses, and a new way of imagining companies: as medicine men for the species | Jonathan Harris


  • I hate advertising | bud caddell
  • Win the pitch: tips from Mastercard’s “Priceless” pitchman | Harvard Business Review
  • The inside story of the Facebook showdown reveals a lot about the relative status of Wall Street banks in Silicon Valley these days, especially Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs | Business Insider
  • How Hewlett-Packard lost its way | Fortune Tech
  • The maturation of the billionaire boy-man: Incredibly, Mark Zuckerberg has grown up to become an ace CEO—one whose way of thinking might drive Wall Street nuts | New York
  • Partners not vendors! A digital production manifesto | Undercurrent
  • The future belongs to the flexible (in business as in world affairs) | WSJ.com



  • What your Klout score really means | Wired.com
  • WhatsApp bucks convention, quietly builds a messaging titan | GigaOm
  • Why publishers don’t like apps: The future of media on mobile devices isn’t with applications but with the web | Technology Review


  • The simplicity thesis: The only companies or products that will succeed now are the ones offering the lowest possible level of complexity for the maximum amount of value | Fast Company
  • “People feel that it is safe to consider evidence with an open mind when they know that a knowledgeable member of their cultural community accepts it.” Harvard Business Review
  • Your company has social media nailed. Now what? | Fast Company
  • Branding good: Q&A with GOOD Editor Ann Friedman | Sparksheet
  • What defines a meme? Our world is a place where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve | Smithsonian Magazine
  • Study helps explain why we over-share on Facebook, Twitter | latimes.com
  • How to spot the future | Wired.com


On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.

  • The day we got digi’d: a recap of STW’s first Digital Academy | Moon Blog
  • We’re in the book: Moon’s work for The Darling hotel | Moon Blog
  • Ogilvy Melbourne wins Australia’s only award at 2012 One Show Design
  • Australia’s Young Lions finalists announced: congratulations to all from STW, too many to shout out individually! | Campaign Brief