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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Linkness. What we’ve been reading | December 21, 2012

by Nextness published December 21, 2012 posted in Linkness

Naturally this Linkness must lead with LOLgilvy Melbourne’s Rhonda and Ketut remix for AAMI <3 (FYI: Bali is in love with Rhonda and Ketut!) And here are the articles we liked this week.

If you only read one thing.

  • Christmas, comparisons, media and mental health: thoughts on having a more realistic Christmas this year. “The Christmas season is a time when even people who don’t suffer from depression usually are much more at risk of the negative spiral that can be triggered by making comparisons.” | @fostress writes


  • Never lie about who you really are: a gay entrepreneur argues that everyone should be well-versed in “coming out” | Harvard Business Review
  • Related to the above: Having a core | Andy Swan
  • Programming your culture: “When you start implementing your culture, keep in mind that most of what will be retrospectively referred to as your company’s culture will not be designed in, but will evolve over time based on the behavior of you and your early employees. As a result, you will want to focus on a small number of cultural design points that will influence a large number of behaviors over a long period of time.” | ben’s blog
  • Don’t get stuck as someone else’s second-in-command | Harvard Business Review


  • The five most disruptive technologies of 2012: Controlling computers without touching them. Fusing the real and the virtual. The world’s most cost-effective energy storage. The end of cars as we know them. Five billion people with internet access. | Quartz


  • The web we lost: “We’ve lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we’ve abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world.” | Anil Dash


  • What science says about gun control and violent crime: “If we want to hash this out in the political and socio/cultural sphere, we’re going to have to stop vilifying the people who disagree with us and start trying to talk about how we can all solve the problems we want to solve while remaining true to our own values.” | Boing Boing
  • The power of concentration | NYTimes.com


  • Does Twitter kill TV comedy? Writers from “The Daily Show,” “SNL,” “Fallon” and others sound off | Co.Create
  • Agency names: “things give names meaning, not the other way round. So spend a billionth of a second on the name and the rest of the time on making great work. That way your name will be cool, whatever it is.” | If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas?

On Nextness this week.

Have a safe and happy Christmas!


The year’s most clicked posts.

by Nextness published December 19, 2012 posted in STW Group

At the risk of being the most boring person at the Christmas party, we just have to ask: can you believe how fast this year has gone?

To wrap up 2012, we’re sharing with you the year’s top five Nextness posts. The ones that got the most shares, mentions, buzz – in short, the most attention. In reverse order:

5. Customer experience is the new brand.

We are living out our careers on shifting sands. But from here, in our offices and behind our desks, it’s easy to lose sight of just how big these changes are. ‘Shifting’ doesn’t quite capture it.

With this post that’s still getting shared and quoted around the internet, DT Digital’s Phil Whitehouse took out the inaugural Nextness Prize

4. What is a copywriter? Should I be one?

Every 2-12 months, I get an email from an acquaintance or friend-of-friend’s sibling, enquiring about the day-to-day of being a copywriter (or, more broadly, an advertising creative). I’m not an industry genius or veteran. But, they don’t know that, so I pretend. Who else are they gonna email? Don Draper?

Guest poster James Ross-Edwards gave aspiring ad creatives “some unqualified answers.”

3. Left Brain versus Right Brain.

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.

In this piece, we tackle one of the most persistent and pernicious pieces of pseudoscience in the communications industry.

2. #socialmediatheories.

Photoshopping your party/holiday pics is vain. But applying a filter to or Snapseeding your iPhone pics is creative. Instagram is like Twitter in that you can follow strangers without feeling like a creep. Everyone prefers to be the added not the adder on Facebook.

We shared observations of behaviour and norms on leading social networks in a post that was later republished on Daily Life.

So what was our top blog post? It was this one that struck that biggest chord with readers:

1. Introverts in ad agencies: a helpful guide.

Unlike extroverts, introverts are most stimulated and do their best thinking when they’re alone. But how often does that happen in an agency environment? Given our industry thrives on creative and original ideas, it pays to let introverts do their thing.

Introverts everywhere were pleased to have a light shone onto their untapped powers – and – to their credit – in embracing and sharing this post, extraverts proved themselves keen to understand their quieter colleagues.

We’ll be going a bit quiet on the blog over the holidays to give you all a well-deserved rest. (Though we’ll continue to curate Linkness and the @STWnextness Twitter; the internet never sleeps so why would we?)

But in the meantime: have a wonderful Christmas and thank you for reading.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | December 14, 2012

by Nextness published December 14, 2012 posted in Linkness

Above, land artist Michael Grab creates sculptures of perfectly-balanced rocks. Here’s this week’s list of articles we found worth reading.

If you only read one thing.

  • Bigger big ideas: “There is no lead agency anymore, there’s only a lead client” | Contagious Magazine



  • Too much efficiency can be just as deadly as too little, if it leaves an organization unable to cope with change — either because it’s too fragile to survive a crisis or too rigid to adapt to industry changes. So the goal should not be greater efficiency, but rather efficiency where it makes sense. | Harvard Business Review



  • How many times have you said: “Oh yeah, I forgot about that requirement…” or “I think we talked about that a couple of weeks ago, but nobody added it to the project tracker?” | 22 Idea Street


  • Have we become too assertive? | FT.com
  • Film culture isn’t dead after all: 2012 shows people love movies | NYTimes.com
  • Hollywood’s year of heroine worship: rise of the female, active protagonist | NYTimes.com


  • The dark side of content marketing | Tom Webster
  • What I’m looking at when I’m looking at your portfolio | Zeus Jones
  • Put off for some stupid reason by the title, it took seeing multiple recommendations to read this article until we finally got round to it. It’s like a manifesto for publishing on the web: if you were starting a magazine today, this is what you’d do. “Subcompact publishing” | Craig Mod

This week on Nextness.

STW Group news.

Don’t forget to tweet us if you’ve got something you’d like to include in this section!


Nextness Visual Diary | Living off the grid, Twine, Louis CK, Christmas gifs, selfies, cats, bokeh.

by Nextness published December 12, 2012 posted in Inspiration

Some things that have recently made us look twice and think too.

Beginning in 2006, photographer Lucas Foglia spent four years photographing people who chose to reject modern urban living, opting instead for an “off the grid” lifestyle in rural communities around the southeastern United States. This picture shows a girl at at her homeschooling chalkboard in Tennessee. More at Slate.

Out now, Twine is “the simplest possible way to get the objects in your life texting, tweeting or emailing. A durable 2.5″ square provides WiFi connectivity, internal and external sensors, and two AAA batteries that keep it running for months. A simple web app allows to you quickly set up your Twine with human-friendly rules — no programming needed.”  Says Fast Company: ”If you think of it as a little magic box that can do anything--kind of like a Swiss Army knife crossed with a Tamagotchi--you’re more likely to find its open-ended possibilities inspiring instead of intimidating.”

Comedian Louis CK did Vanity Fair’s longrunning Proust Questionnaire; this gif was its illustration. You have to be super confident to take the absolute piss out of the traditional survey questions like his answers did… is  that a good or a bad look?

Meanwhile, a tumblr devoted to Christmas Gifs.

Iconic photos reimagined as #selfies in a campaign for The Cape Times newspaper: “You can’t get any closer to the news.” Via Design Taxi.

“Bad Trip is an immersive interactive system that enables people to navigate my mind using a game controller. Since November 2011, every moment of my life has been logged by a video camera that mounts on my eyeglasses, producing an expanding database of digitalized visual memories. Using custom virtual reality software, I design a virtual mindscape where people can navigate and experience my memories and dreams.”

GoPro Cats vs Laser is the new Will it blend? (Not sure if it’s by GoPro itself, but a masterful product demo…!)

In The Master, beautiful lights in the boat scene. (This screen cap is taken from the trailer of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film.) More about bokeh.


It used to be so easy to be interesting.

by Nextness published December 10, 2012 posted in Insights

First, you’d watch TED Talks. So cross-disciplinary!

Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008). Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006). Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009). Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009).

Then you’d listen to Radiolab. Science! And storytelling. A touch of This American Life, for emotion! And storytelling.

Then you’d read Jonah Lehrer’s blog Frontal Cortex, and see how human behaviour could be explained by neuroscience.

A little bit of daring piracy opened up American TV to you long before the laggard Australian networks got round to showing the best shows.

Tumblr helped you find art and photos of old stuff, and to get conversant with cool literature (quotes from it at least).

And as for memes…! It felt so nice to be among the first people to get the joke, any joke. So that when friends from school or your aunties posted a macro to Facebook you’d think, “Ew. That’s months old.” And pity them.

Workwise, instead of reading the ad trade rags, you’d follow ad blogs, cooler and quicker on the uptake in spotting great work.

You’d go to Cannes and think “this stuff was all on the internet a year ago.” (Or was that just us? Sorry Cannes.)

You follow @brainpicker, or at least trust that her best stuff will be RTed into your stream.

And what’s the problem?

The problem is everyone’s doing it! We’re all the same. And so it’s not interesting any more!

Well, that’s what it feels like nearing the end of a long year.

As You Look Nice Today‘s Scott Simpson recently wrote for The Magazine,

You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops. You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst… Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers. You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals… You are boring. So, so boring.

What would happen if we stopped listening to the same five podcasts and reading the same seven blogs as our friends?

Would it impact our work? (Would our ideas be more fresh, or less?)

Would it impact our friendships? (Do we need a baseline knowledge of the same exact stuff to be able to connect?)

Would we still be able to imagine the future and what’s next without other people’s prognostications to help us?

Scott Simpson recommends some ways to be less boring.

  • When talking to someone, “give a conversation some air. Really listen. Ask questions…”
  • Consider why you’re sharing something to your networks. “Why are you adding that link to Facebook? Will it be valuable to the many people who will see it? Or are you just flashing a Prius-shaped gang sign to your pals? If it’s the latter, keep it to yourself.”
  • Instead of instagramming your lunch or doing a boring status update, “could you find a better way to communicate your experience?” Focus on proper storytelling and “give us a reason to care.”
  • “As you widen your social circle, work on your intellectual one as well. Expose yourself to new writers. Hit the Random Article button on Wikipedia. Investigate the bromides your friends chuck around Twitter like frisbees.”

Here at Nextness, we are too reticent to actually call you boring to your face.

Especially as we read all those blogs and listen to all those podcasts you do too! (And love them! And make it our life’s work to curate the best of them for you!)

But our resolution for next year is to consume more consciously. To share more consciously. To go a little bit deeper; be a little bit more off the beaten track.

To not just produce “content” for contents’ sake. (After all, buckling under that pressure was what got Jonah Lehrer in trouble.)

And to unsubscribe from TED Talks.


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | December 7, 2012

by Nextness published December 7, 2012 posted in Linkness

Meryl and Hillary enjoy a #selfie… And now, the reading we found most interesting and useful this week.

If you only read one thing.

  • Twitter is a machine for continual self-reinvention. You are who your last dozen tweets say you are. And what a feeling of freedom that is. | Kottke


  • A simple association trick to use when introducing yourself | Farnham Street
  • Be true to your word. It’s a simple as that. If you make an agreement, shake hands on a deal, make a promise, make a commitment – then stick to it. | Wrestling Possums


  • The wrong movement: “If you truly want to pressure content providers to adapt new distribution channels, and you’re not just trying to justify getting everything for free, piracy is hurting your cause.” | Marco.org


  • ‘The memory palace’ mnemonic strategy works with virtual environments | BPS Research Digest
  • Growing a beard, getting a mortgage: when do men become grown-ups? The trickiness of defining manhood in a culture without defined rituals | The Atlantic
  • Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook | Medium
  • Planning. If you’re still doing it in an agency, you’re doing it wrong: “To realise their true value, planners need to escape their agency shackles and start up a McKinsey-type creative consultancy.” | Sense Worldwide
  • Advertising is dead, long live advertising. | BBH Labs


  • The science of storytelling: why telling a story is the most powerful way to activate our brains | Lifehacker
  • The lost art of creative copywriting in advertising: “This isn’t the writing of writers. It’s the writing of advertisers.” | Guardian Professional

On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Wishlisting: books we loved in 2012 | Part Three.

by Nextness published December 5, 2012 posted in Inspiration

In the lead up to Christmas we’re asking readers, contributors and people we’re fans of here at Nextness to tell us their favourite book of the year. Whether it inspires your own holiday reading list or helps you buy for that hard-to-please brainiac, please enjoy Wishlisting: books we loved in 2012. Part One here. Part Two. And now:  Rachel Hills, David Trewern, and Ben Harris-Roxas.

Rachel Hills | In Praise of Messy Lives, by Katie Roiphe.

Journalist and literary critic Katie Roiphe isn’t too well-liked in the small-l liberal feminist circles I inhabit online – in fact, I’ve been paid a couple of times this year to deconstruct her articles. But man, the woman can wield a sentence! In Praise of Messy Lives, Roiphe’s collection of essays on everything from divorce and single motherhood, to Gawker, Jane Austen and Joan Didion, is startlingly well written, full of lyrical phrasing and deft observations. Better still, it feels like reading the blog posts of your soon-to-be new best friend: you may not agree with everything Roiphe has to say (I didn’t), but you can’t wait to tear into it with her over the dinner table.

Rachel Hills is a journalist who writes on gender, culture and the politics of everyday life. | @rachelhills

David Trewern | Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.

The Steve Jobs biography was my favourite book of 2012… of course! It made me think about the dynamics, the relationships, the drivers that shape a person to go well above and beyond what most humans can achieve. Two sides to the coin: there is a very high cost that comes with this level of greatness. Both for people close to Steve Jobs (such as the mother of his first child) and Steve Jobs himself, whose cancer could well have been exacerbated by the highly stressful environment that he kept himself in. Some interesting parallels with Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

David Trewern is the Founder of DTDigital, and Chief Digital Officer at STW Group. | @davidtrewern.

Ben Harris-Roxas | The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever, by Alan Sepinwall.

We’ve lived through a golden age of television drama in recent years. Sweeping, epic tales are now told over entire seasons. Broader narrative arcs are now plotted out well in advance (look, Lost was a good show, shut up). Detailed worlds are created and explored. Characters actually change.

The Revolution Was Televised chronicles this change. The book describes twelve shows ranging from Oz to Breaking Bad. Each chapter is made up of interviews and criticism and they each stand alone. If you haven’t gotten around to watching The Wire yet you can skip the chapter and avoid spoilers. Sepinwall writes beautifully and has obviously given a huge amount of thought to each show.

I have wondered if this book, a genuinely great piece of television criticism, can only be written now that television as a medium has ceased to be disruptive, to be scary. The same thing happened with film scholarship; film could only be taken seriously once it had been overtaken by TV in people’s daily lives. The great moral panics of our era now centre around the internet, not TV, so maybe that’s why it’s now acceptable to take TV seriously.

If I have a small issue with this book it’s that there is an unstated assumption the era of long-arc television is current and will endure. I tend to think it’s on the decline. Intricate non-episodic drama was enabled by the spread of cable television and DVD season box sets. Both these distribution channels are becoming less dominant and more fragmented. Hulu and Netflix original programming may be a source for this type of program in future but really, nobody knows what TV will look like even three years from now. Interestingly Sepinwall has subverted traditional distribution channels himself by self-publishing this as an ebook, despite being one of the U.S.’ best known television writers.

It’s certainly the best value book I’ve ever bought for $7.

Ben Harris-Roxas is a public health consultant based in Sydney. He writes for Limited News and is the one of the most consistently valuable tweeters we’ve followed this year. | @ben_hr.