Monthly Archives: December 2012
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:
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.