What's now. What's next.

Change Happens

by Nextness published February 25, 2014 posted in Inspiration

People talk of ‘change’, but what does it really mean? Today’s guest post is by Richard Sauerman, Strategy Director at Shift.

In the past, the knowledge and experience of ‘the old’ was the best instruction for ‘the young’. Today we live with a new set of realities – we are like immigrants into a new time, unable to take our cues from yesterday’s lessons.

Which is why people are starting to tear apart the walls of our thinking and our understanding. People lack certainty as they become more aware that there is no right way to live and think. The monolithic views of the past are crumbling as more different viewpoints of the world are understood and embraced. There is challenging of some of our fundamental ideas, like kids, marriage, jobs, medicine, spirituality and pleasure.

In business, and from the Business Council of Australia down, there is talk of the “triple bottom line” where the economic, social and environmental results must all balance. There is talk of social contracts, social coalitions and social cohesion. There is talk of including new metrics such as “social performance” to assess the net worth of a company. “Social capital” is the buzzword among the free marketers recognising the limits of capitalism.

People are eager to know where their products are coming from. Are they genetically modified? Are they environmentally benign? Are they made by child labour in developing countries? It is against this backdrop that the way people define and see themselves has changed. Australian people [and perhaps this is true of all people] have entered a period of retreat from the big agenda – a period where people are more concerned about close, personal, immediate issues, not national issues.

The shift is from being outer-directed to inner-directed. From people who’s main concern is what others think of them, to people who look inside of them own selves and ‘do their own thing’.

It’s a shift towards cultural ideas that are about transforming ourselves from within, like: learning to cook, or feel confident, or be calm. Angus & Robertson estimate a growth of 500 per cent in self help books over the past decade.

It’s a shift towards experiences that are more intense and personal. New found freedoms are leading people to general informality of lifestyles, and a regression to play at all ages.

The fundamental ‘ethic’ that people are striving for is a view of life and the world that is essentially humanitarian – not economically rational. It is a view that says the future is about spirituality, not economic growth and technology.

It is an attitude that says “I will live and be in this world with all the capabilities I have, not just a part of myself.” It is a desire to close the ever-widening gap between “how I want my life to be” and “how my life really is”.

It is a belief that says we need to centre on our heart – not our head – and act through it. It is an open recognition that we are ALL seeking love and self-worth.

At the end of the day it’s about people wanting to feel good about themselves, their lives, and their world. And that is gold.



What we’ve been reading | Friday 21st February

The Vice Guide to Engagement | Google Think Insights

House of Cards is built on Big Data | Salon

By analysing its subscribers’ preferences, Netflix can be sure its original content will find an audience. But is that a good thing ? | 15 min read

Machine Language | The Verge

How Siri found its voice | 15 min read

When hardware acts like software | Ideas Lab

Digital fabrication — the ability to instruct a machine to create a form defined on a computer — is blurring the line between software and hardware | 10 min read

Invisible money | Fjord

The transformation of money will affect commerce at every level | 5 min read

The death of expertise | The Federalist

Exploring the Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers | 15 min read

Why people trust online reviews for dinner but not doctors | Quartz

‘I’d give you five stars if your hands were warmer’ | 5 min read

Why I left advertising to become a software designer | Co.Design

There’s a war for design talent between technology and advertising companies. Marc Scibelli of Infor explains why he left the ad industry after 18 years to focus on the UX of business software | 10 min read

Haven’t made it yet? Don’t stress. Big breakthroughs come in your 30′s | The Atlantic

What the ages of Nobel Prize winners tell us about creativity  | 10 min read

How technology makes creative more intelligent | Google Think Insights

Google’s Creative Platforms Evangelist talks about how new tools and platforms can help marketers create “intelligent” ads that are engaging and meaningful to consumers in the moments that matter | 8 min read

How the internet uses nostalgia | The Atlantic

Long-lost memories pop up in music recommendations, personality quizzes, and ads. Why? | 10 min read

Brand building in a digital age | Martin Weigel

Old thinking for new times | 18 min read

When Yahoo Reigned Supreme | Priceonomics

In the 1990′s, Yahoo was a really big deal. What can we learn from that? | 15 min read

A mobile content marketing strategy just became essential | Forbes

What Google’s latest algorithm update means for your content strategy | 10 min read

From foodstamps to fortune| Forbes

How Jan Koum Built WhatsApp into Facebook’s new $19 billion baby | 10 min read

Getting to the bottom of the top end of town: 5 myths about engaging execs | Marketing Magazine

It’s easy to make assumptions when marketing to senior executives. They’re impossible to reach. They don’t read marketing. They’re humourless money-men, who just need the bare facts laid out in short, sharp, staccato fashion. Interestingly, the evidence suggests the opposite | 5 min read

Your story of experience | Smart Company

In today’s connected world, consumers can navigate their own way through a brand experience and buy anything and everything at the tap of a key | 5 min read



A sceptic’s week with Google Glass

With some tipping Google Glass to further evolve change our day-to-day experiences, DT’s creative technologist and Glass sceptic Tim Devine found some surprising results after a week with the device.

In a kind of tribute to Steve Mann, the father of wearable computing, and so that I might have at least something of an informed opinion on the subject, I wore Google Glass for a week — everywhere, all the time. For thirty years Mann has worn far less sophisticated versions, so I figured it couldn’t be that onerous, and if I was to give Mann and Glass proper shrift nothing less than full immersion would do.

Aside from my Mann crush, as a creative technologist and practicing media artist my work has at times suffered from crushes on various technologies. There is something wonderful about expectations for a new technology — beyond the new toy anticipation the potential for a leap to occur, even if only in the imagination, is sufficient to begin all manner of feverish speculation.

My relationship with Glass as a technology reminds me of a girl I was seeing a few years ago. While crashing on a friends couch in Brooklyn after an epic romance and break up I noticed a card that read, “I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you”. Love is blind but temporarily.

Spike Jonze’s Her is closer than we think 

So the question this led me to suppose was do our relationships with technologies form in a similar way to our relationships with people? A hot flush at the beginning, fading slowly to something you could reasonably take for granted but pine for when you’re apart, replace with the new and shiny, or even do away with altogether?

A few weeks ago I found myself, a youngish creative technologist, contemplating an arranged marriage with Google Glass. Our agency, DT, was fortunate enough to acquire a couple of sets and as I run the creative technology lab I felt obliged to engage.

To be honest, if I could solve a brief with a single fold in a sheet of A4 paper I would. I’ve spent years trying to neutralise the effect technology has on me, while endeavouring to deeply understanding it — when a technology like this is pre-released and inevitably polarises the community, it ends up shrouded in media hype, shrill denunciations and misrepresentative guesswork in the rush to be earliest non-adopter.

The most useful commentary comes from direct experience no matter the device. So I flipped the SIM from my iPhone 5 into a Nexus 5, (Glass needs to be tethered to an Android phone) and strapped on Glass for a week.

Wearing Glass is like dating a celebrity

All week I scored free drinks and double takes as I went about my everyday. It was with me everywhere — driving, golfing, the beach, cycling, the cinema, a rooftop bar, work, watching a band, a restaurant, rock climbing and importantly while I lay hungover in my lounge room hammock. I didn’t skydive, fly a stunt plane, frolic with reptiles, trapeze, sword fight, juggle fire, ice sculpt, own a catwalk, hot air balloon or figure skate — though I was ready for it all, Google.

Glass brings voice interaction into a far more functional context. You have to give over to it, to the point where it sounds like you’re talking to a puppy — very conspicuous if there isn’t a puppy around. If you enunciate, and the sound environment is at a reasonable level, it’s pretty good.

Halfway into my week I found myself engaging in conversation with other computer generated voices, similar to accidentally swiping a non-touchscreen, or mentally pressing “Command-Z” when you pour salt instead of sugar into your tea. In a most illustrative case I was in the part harried, part dazed condition induced by self-checkout in the supermarket.

When asked if I wanted a receipt I accurately turned to face the machine and robotically, in perfect oral formation, enunciated “No. (Pause) Thanks.” Under normal conditions I’m as irritated and diminished as the next person by the automated voice of those machines yet here I was naturally, if automatically, having verbal exchange with one as I would any corporeal service entity.

Fear of blinking in bathrooms

Glass is great for capturing content by voice or wink detection. It’s some kind of wonderful snapping photos with the wink of an eye. Every time I posted something to Facebook it was tagged ‘via Google Glass’, and shot from my 203cm perspective. The result is a peculiar kind of kink in the cultural and visual aesthetic to the content glass captures — it will always be shot from slightly above and outside your right eye, though I eventually figured out how to take a selfie without looking at a mirror. I did find myself trying to warp my neck or body for the best shot, but generally I took photos with a quick wink. If you wish to you can imagine my cold, blinkless disposition while I line up in a bathroom at the rooftop bar.

Being unusually tall I’m used to people compelled to ask questions about my experience up there. With Glass I’ve added an entirely new set of icebreakers. Mostly I found myself looking awkwardly out of windows on trams so as to not to have passengers opposite feel like they were in my camera’s field of view. Maybe there will be a mechanical shutter door in future releases to alleviate this awkwardness. Or better still, maybe we need a new type of necklace that emits powerful infrared light visible only to Glass and not the human eye, blowing out all photos taken with Glass, like a kind of urban camo! Tech, counter tech.

Google Glass sits somewhere between the hype and a hands free bluetooth headset with a screen/camera

My original view of Glass was that it was a thing you wore all the time and that it would more or less replace your phone. Personally I wouldn’t wear it all the time. In the Glass Explorer forums there are countless tips on when it’s appropriate to wear it or how to avoid confrontation — like a dojo really. That said, it’s been 24 hours since the end of my experience and I’ve caught myself peering longingly up to where my Glass once satiated my visual cortex… I miss it… if only a little.

Some people will love Glass and wear it all the time (afforded the excuse to wear prescriptionless designer frames). For others maybe it’s a part-time screen, with similar utility to a hands free earpiece. Either way Glass, or some other brand of face-screen coming soon, is definitely going to be part of our mediated life.

Tim Devine is a Creative Technologist at DT.

This article was originally published on mUmBRELLA.



What we’ve been reading | Friday 14th February

Crowd funding explained | 3 minutesCheap words | New Yorker

Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books? | 3 min read

Giant fungus towers will be grown in New York City this summer | New Statesman

Not a response to NYC’s overheated property market, but one possible sustainable construction method for the future | 2 min read

In 2043… | SVBTLE

“I work at an accelerator. My boss asked me to predict 2043.” | 5 min read

Technology and wealth inequality | Altman

Technology makes wealth inequality worse by giving people leverage and compounding differences in ability and amount of work | 10 min read

Facebook fraud | Veritasium

A must watch for anyone who’s ever bought Facebook ads | 9 min watch

The  hacker’s guide to getting press | Austen Allred

Learn it. Try it. | 10 min read

The science of humour | New Republic

It takes 36 hours after a tragedy for jokes about it to become funny | 5 min read

Become 5% better Ad Strategist | Medium

Overcoming everyday errors of creative strategy | 5 min read

Flappy Bird is proof that no one knows what the audience wants | Polygon

How did a game with no marketing, no story, no viral hooks, no levels, no candy, no visual sophistication, no cross promotion and no achievements capture the hearts and fingers of millions of gamers? | 5 min read

Why writers are the worst procrastinators | The Atlantic

The psychological origins of waiting (… and waiting, and waiting) to work | 10 min read

Lessons for storytellers | Contagious

TMW’s senior planner Roz Hase discusses redefining the craft of storytelling today | 5 min read

Twilight of the brands | New Yorker

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess. But brands have never been more fragile | 8 min read

It’s official: Pepsi has just about had it with soda | QZ

For struggling soda companies like PepsiCo, munchies, not fizzies, are the business of the future | 5 min read

Long live the brand | HBR

Brands aren’t dead, but traditional branding tools are dying | 3 min read

From the archives: Parkinson’s Law of Triviality | The Guardian

Why organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues | 3 min read

The art of crafting a 15-word strategy statement | HBR

All great business strategies can be summarised in a short headline. Easy to understand and communicate, they convey clarity internally and externally to the customer | 5 min read

Paul Everson moves to JWT Sydney as client services director | Mumbrella

Adding to the agency’s strategic and creative firepower, Everson’s appointment adds another string-to-the-bow of the Sydney leadership team | 2 min read

Boom time for political operatives as limping lefties make way for rampaging right | AdNews

The Abbott government has its sights set on everything from media ownership rules to competition policy. For the peddlers of political influence, it’s snatch and grab time | 1 min read

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival takes us on a sensory journey via Ogilvy Melbourne

“Through the use of artistic and sophisticated imagery, along with cutting edge technology and promotions, (the campaign) hopes to also capture the attention of a whole new audience” | 30 sec watch

Personalised print guides for showing friends around new cities | Springwise

Jauntful is a service that enables friends to create their own personalised, printed and digital travel guides for guests visiting their town | 2 min read

Renault’s off-road concept car launches a drone out of its roof | Wired

The tiny drone can be controlled through either a tablet on the dash or by setting GPS waypoints, alerting the driver of obstacles in the road, beaming pictures back to the car.



Is Facebook still worth it?

The secret is well and truly out. The age of Pay-to-play social is very much upon us. Today’s guest post is by Adam Noakes at Switched on Media.

There’s no need to talk too much on the recent algorithm change by Facebook; a thousand blogs have covered that already. In short, Facebook recently made a significant change to how it determines how many people see content from brand pages. No longer can you rely on the fact that a fair portion of your ‘fans’ will see your content. In fact, brands have seen organic reach drop as low as 0.5% of their total fan base.

Mark Zuckerberg now answers to shareholders and making money sits atop his priority list, somewhere alongside connecting the world and user experience. Make no mistake, Facebook is now a juggernaut corporate entity in every sense. This means that brands are left with a few extra things to consider when thinking about their Facebook marketing efforts.

Pay-to-acquire and pay-to-reach is leaving marketing managers with a bitter taste in their mouths, and some would say rightfully so. Brands have invested significantly in social strategies, community management and acquiring fans through advertising, giveaways, campaigns and competitions. Now they have to invest even more to get their message in front of people.

In terms of audience and engagement from users, Facebook still leads the way by a considerable margin. Here are a few simple tips for maximising your Facebook marketing spend in light of the recent changes to the algorithm.

1. Using your own data will save you money

Time and time again I notice a significantly reduced cost-per-acquisition when uploading a custom data set for targeting purposes. Facebook allows you to upload email addresses from your database into the advertising module, which then locates those people based on the email address matching a registered Facebook account. Serving these users an ad this way is typically far more effective given they already know at least something of your brand.

2. Find look-a-likes based on your data

Once you’ve found users from your database, you can build out a look-a-like pool of similar users – based on demographics and interests, with the goal of attracting people similar to those you already attract – making the barrier to acquisition somewhat lower than that of less specific manual targeting.

2. Go hard or go home

Saying ‘Happy Friday’ and posting a cat meme is all well and good for business-as-usual content, and if your aspirations are to just be one of the pack – but if you want Facebook to work hard for the dollars you’re spending, equal investment in quality content production and planning is needed. Custom and branded images, content pillars and key themes should be developed and revised on a regular ongoing basis

3. Identify what purpose Facebook serves and build around that

Does your page act as an efficient alternative to in-house customer service methods? Did the recent offer you promoted give you a viable alternative to using Groupon or similar? Does the insights gained from interaction and engagement provide your sales team with a new target market to focus on? These are the type of questions you should be considering when figuring out exactly what purpose Facebook serves for your brand.

5. Consider what would happen if you stopped using Facebook

Look at your website analytics to measure Facebook referrals in the past 12-months, apply an attribution model to determine the effect Facebook has on brand term search and direct traffic. Measure your brand sentiment online, and determine the part Facebook plays in that. In most cases, brands taking Facebook seriously will see that it impacts many facets of the branding and marketing mix.

That’s just five essential points to consider right now. In an ever-changing social media landscape, using Facebook and other social channels to promote to consumer and prospects is only going to get more expensive. Making sure every dollar spent is spent with the confidence it’s working hard is essential.

Is Facebook still worth it? It’s only worth the dollars you spend, based on the effort you spend on making sure every dollar counts.



What we’ve been reading | 7th February 2014

by Nextness published February 7, 2014 posted in Linkness

A beautiful visual accompaniment to an iconic quote | Daniel Sax

Inside the UK’s controversial ‘Nudge Unit’ | The Telegraph

At the unit’s heart is a simple premise. Instead of using clunky legislation, or the blunderbuss of regulations, to threaten people into action, government policy can be better executed by employing small, clever prompts.

The future of UI and the dream of the 90s | Medium

The future of interface design is about emotional awareness; connecting us with products the way we connect with each other.

The science of paper versus screens | Scientific American

How our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper.

Welcome to the era of the hardware startup | Ideas Lab

Hardware startups are fearless in their willingness to take on and transform dauntingly complicated industries.

Jesse Williams, the Dark Lord of the internet | The Atlantic

How one of the most notorious alleged hustlers in the history of e-commerce made a fortune on the web.

The six things that make stories go viral | New Yorker

While emotion and arousal still top the list, a few additional factors seem to make a big difference.

The Facebook of Mormon | The Atlantic

Since 2010, the Mormon Church has been conducting, largely in secret, an experiment: what happens when missionaries can use the internet for their work?

Why great artists need solitude
| The Atlantic

It’s not drugs, poverty, or wild lovers that make a great writer. It’s discipline and time alone.

How music hijacks our perception of time | Nautilus

A composer details how music works its magic on our brains.

Why designers leave | Medium

Sometimes, a designer finds herself working somewhere that is doing well, has ample learning opportunities, and is wide open for impact. In such circumstances, why would a designer leave?

When you flirt with other brands, you only like your favourites more | QZ

You know I love Coke, but that Pepsi is pretty dreamy.

Can advertising overcome the scourge of indifference? | Smart Company

When it comes to advertising and product promotion, Australia is now one of the most disinterested countries on earth.

Brands as storytellers | Inside Retail

Brands and retailers often overlook their story of origin. Yet the idea of beginnings and history has never been so important.

Can market research still predict consumer behaviour? | Quartz

There’s a growing feeling that something is not working with market research, where billions are spent every year but results are mixed at best.

Reopening an employment door to the young | NYTimes

Hiring managers who look beyond narrowly focused credentials might uncover something even more important.

A/B testing and the benefits of an experimentation culture | HBR

The most obvious benefit of testing is the ability to improve products and increase revenue. But there are indirect benefits too, ones that manifest once testing becomes ingrained in company culture.

Microsoft, Past and Future | Daring Fireball

No company today has reach or influence anything like what Microsoft had during the golden era of the PCA. Not Apple, not Google, and not Microsoft itself.

Meet Tabby: the open source car you can build yourself | Gizmag

The Tabby is a DIY two or four passenger vehicle design with a chassis that can be assembled in less than 60 minutes.

Philographics | Genis Carreras

Big ideas distilled into simple graphics.

The 100 most influential books ever written | The Greatest Books

In case your ‘to read’ list isn’t long enough already.



Linkness. What we’ve been reading | December 20, 2013

by Nextness published December 20, 2013 posted in Linkness

The Marketer’s Anthem. Welcome to a new edition of Linkness! It’s the last one for 2013.

If you only read one thing.

  • “The Stream” has been the organizing metaphor for the web for the past several years. It’s fun and fast, “but don’t you miss the sense of an ending?” | The Atlantic


  • Instant messaging/chat trumps meetings | Zach Holman
  • A method to find balance | zenhabits
  • Who goes to work to have fun? | NYT


  • Beyoncé releases surprise new album exclusively on iTunes | The Verge

Data and technology.

  • “How big is the delta between the kinds of content we want to be seen as consuming and the content we actually like to consume? The answer to that question may determine who benefits from Facebook’s recent moves and who loses out.” | Forbes
  • The golden era of spam comments has ended | The Awl
  • Just adding a Chief Data Officer isn’t enough | HBR
  • Facebook wants to know why you’re self-censoring your posts | Slate


  • What can we expect from the next decade of marketing? | Forbes
  • Why we’re sometimes kind without reason: Our brains are constantly, subtly being primed in fascinating ways by our physical surroundings | The Atlantic
  • The fourth wave of feminism: meet the rebel women. “The campaign for women’s liberation never went away, but this year a new swell built up and broke through.” | The Guardian
  • The ideal working relationship with a media agency? | Mark Pollard


  • Tips for an aspiring writer | The Frenemy
  • We say we like creativity, but we really don’t | Slate
  • Young geniuses or old masters? What age are people most creative? | Fast Company
  • “If that attitude of uncompromising excellence can be applied to sushi, then it can also be applied to whatever occupation you decide upon. Even advertising.” | welcome to optimism

STW Group news.

OMG | wow | cool.


PS. No one wants Christmas wishes from a corporation, but to all our friends and colleagues: Merry Christmas!

PPS. On a small personal note, after editing Nextness for three years, this is the last blog post from me, Jessica Stanley. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you all on the blog, by email and on Twitter. Stay tuned for when Nextness returns, with a new team at the helm, next year!