Regular readers will know I've referenced this ongoing documentary project on how we dress but if you haven't come across this or if you're memory's slipping then go here to learn why this reveals our herd nature (or even herewhere I explain the Monty Python gag). Of course, you could just buy one of these.. for the longhand version of the explanation.
Or of course you could pop down to store itself - undoubtedly one of the best retail marketing organisations in Europe IMHO
A couple of weeks ago, I had this idea which I mentioned to the very playful Johnnie that a few of us might get together in London one weekend to play some of the improv games we find useful in our different versions of "work".
Not really much more to the idea than that: we get together, play a bit, have some fun and er...that's it. Of course, there might well be tea and biscuits involved!
A few hours maybe one Saturday...anyone interested (apart from Johnnie and I)?
My oldest mate has another great piece on R4 on French 'toons (curiously while France is bemoaning the demise of its high culture, it's comics or BD's are alive and well) NB listen to the Saturday show for the next 7 days by going here or just subscribe to the podcast version here
Hugh's piece from a couple of years ago on the French obsession with acronyms is still one of my faves of a radio genre and format I really love: intelligent analysis about both small and big stuff in a particular culture, brought to life in a tangible, accessible and memorable way.
One of the most interesting things about watching coverage of this year's US presidential campaigns is observing how important The Other (other people) really is and how - relatively - unimportant The Thing (the candidates).
Most of the conversation by the pundits (on- and offline) is about Things - as if the candidates were being rationally evaluated by millions of individual party electors on some (as yet unclear) tangible dimensions.
But the truth is glimpsed in a number of ways: the participative and iterative shape of the process for choosing candidates is clearly a social one - I for one love the curiously olde worlde grassroots caucuas mechanism. And let's be honest, something other than rational evaluation is being used to sort out would-be candidates. Indeed, the widely referenced notion of Momentum (see herehere and here) is all about sensing what the Other (what other around you folk think). Whatever the value of his candidacy or the tactics he deployed, Rudy Giuliani discovered how difficult it is to compete as a Thing when The Other is so public and well articulated: when what other people think and do is the main show, Things just don't cut it.
This makes the rise and rise of Obama less about the man himself than about Americans and America:
Now a fan of rationalist democracy might object to all of this - as if the social side I'm higlighting here was some aberrent, twisted version of our fine democratic institutions. Indeed in certain countries Opinion polls are banned during elections as the information they contain about The Other is believed to have an unfair influence on each individual voter - I'm sure it must have been this way even in the Ancient demos's deliberations.
1. Politicos take note: if you win, it's about them and not about you so use your power wisely. Ditto, Marketers: if your brand is successful it's likely to be more because of the Other (people being ready to interact around something and take up your brand for their interactions) than it is about your Thing. Be humble.
2. So whether you're campaigning or marketing, don't focus on the Thing: it's largely not about the product or the ad or what you do but about them and how they interact with each other. It's about how they see themselves: how they see the other folk in the perpetual dance that is human life. Help them do so.
3. So what else do you do? Understand that the dance was going on before you arrived and will go on long after you've disappeared, so try to understand the dance they're dancing, how they see each other and then try to enhance it...
"I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms"
"Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.
Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love..."
"When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love."
1. Great post from Adriana laying out how the VRM concept she and others have been slaving away on is taking shape. Maybe soon the idea of "brand relationships" will start to be a bit more equal. Even if you - like me - are a civilian rather than someone working in this area, it's well worth getting your head around this concept (and being grateful for the collective collaborative effort that has got it this far) because if it (or something adjacent) works out like we hope, it's going to change how we use the web (as individuals and corporations) because of how it makes our data our own (and not the corporation's)
2. Russell's brilliant piece on the two ways to start a creative business. Like him, my money's on the Double Decker solution (the Expert tag always scares me). And I think there's something important about our desire to hang out with folk we like in workland: at once a fundamental need to shelter together and at the same time the basis of guilds and other means to share and transfer knowledge and skills. Seem to spend a lot of my time at the moment drinking tea or eating noodles withlikeminded folk, as we rethink the silly, enfuriating and downright brilliant business we're all in. God bless, you all...
God, I used to love those kids and really wanted to be one(the hand through the door sequence is here)
3. And last but not least, might be doing a project with my old chum Jay. One of the many things we share is a love of old Jamaican music. This week on the playlist is a re-release of the classic early Lee Scratch Perry collection, Chicken Scratch. Get your dancing shoes on, my son...
Am a big fan of newspapers on- but particularly offline. Something romantic - in a nice way - about the whole newsroom schtick...something special about newsprint on your fingers and a cuppa in your hand.
Anyway on the wires today are a number of interesting pieces around Herd and related insights into human behaviour:
"in "a world of hurt" because consumers are tuning out the messages the industry is predicated on producing. Instead, it believes shops need to be organized around communities, not disciplines. What it is calling "the connected agency" would not only know certain communities but also be active members of these groups. Pushing messages would give way to encouraging voluntary engagement, and ongoing conversations would replace time-based campaigns"
Which is kind of half right.
Yes, our obsession with messages and vehicles to send them is really out of date (and fairly pointless given that messages and information has only a marginal role in changing behaviour, particularly brands sending messages AT consumers) and yes, agencies need to organise themselves around the social world of consumers.
But a big fat "NO" to the idea that there are "fixed communities": this reeks all too much of the network theory that geekworld likes; human social connections are much more interesting than that model - derived from the tech world - suggest.
And a "Where have you been, my friend?" to the thought that the digital guys are going to be any better: they're also mostly tied up with old ideas about influence and information being a key driver of behaviour (of course, they would be - that's how digital stuff is framed, mostly.
Adweek cites Peter Kim of Forrester saying "I can't say there's an agency now that's the agency of the future,".
Well, I think he could have tried a bit harder. Looking here, here , here or even here maybe or here....There are folk doing interesting stuff and thinking about behaviour and how to shape it with brand behaviours and peer-to-peer interactions...
In anycase, not sure the message from Forrester is likely to change things - however many times we say something, doesn't really change things. Far better for Forrester to move themselves from information provider to behavioural exemplar...that'd be a way to stimulate change!
Before I make main point of this post, let me just say what a good idea "Stickiness" is: how widely used it is, not just online but offline, too; not just about marketing ideas but in broader social terms, too.
(Deep breath)Yes, there's a "but" coming, a big ol' "BUT". Ok, here goes:
I think that Sticky is entirely the wrong word.
Sticky looks at things from the arrogance of the author or the marketer.
Sticky is all about control, about things staying how they are, about doing things to consumers/citizens.
Sticky just encourages marketers to pretend that they are still at the centre of things, still the prime shapers of human/consumer behaviour.
Sticky makes me think about the thing (what I made) rather than what folk do with it or do to each other around it.
Let's be really clear: Sticky is old school marketing in a groovier, low-slung denim jeans and retro sneaker disguise. It's "viral" nonsense of the first order. The wrong end of the telescope, if you like that kind of thing (that's why ultimately the lens of sticky things is just as misguided as that of the Influencers that I've been focussing on recently)
I don't want my ideas to be sticky; I want them to be SLIPPY.
I want them to slip out of my control and through social spaces and communities.
I want folk to find my ideas and the things I make socially useful; I want folk to add to them and rebuild and rework them and spread them further (you see, I'm not hung up my ideas); I want my ideas to change the way that folk interact with each other, to distort how their social connections work, to be worth passing on...because only by being SLIPPY will they have some impact on the behaviour of folk out there....
I want my work to be all sorts of things, but most of all I want it to be SLIPPY not sticky. I want it to appear hereand here and here and here
Trenchant as ever...his central thrust is much the same as Derren was trying to teach us on Friday...: that our retrospective organising of data serves to distort our sense of how things work (think, for example, of the false causal connections we are prone to spotting).
Think for example of the unemployed single mum at the heart of Friday's episode: we - and she - were trapped in her explanation of what had happened (she'd had 5 successful tips on the trot) so we felt this must be caused by something like Derren's alleged "system".
Whereas the truth is that there were some 8k other folk that she didn't know about who had also had mysterious tips but 1 or more less successful ones than her. Her 5 successive successful tips were the result of sheer chance, nothing more, but that's not how it seemed to her.
Surprising how the combined voices of others can affect us and arouse our feelings - surprising how easily our feelings are aroused by the voices of others...
The brilliant thing of course with the Tallis is how the sheer number of interweaving vocal lines just overwhelms our capacity to process them. The sound of the 8 choirs just defy rational resistance: our monkey selves just can't help themselves...
Go here for the next 6 days to hear the show on the BBC's website.
So far I've only found 1 reward for being stuck at home on a Friday night with winter bug when everyone else is out having a good time: my favourite modern illusionist, Derren Brown has a great new show called the System.
Tonight's episode uses gambling on the horses as lens through which to see some of the cognitive illusions we create for ourselves everyday. Along the way persuades an endebted single mum that he's got a system that has won her 5 bets on the trot, so it'd make sense to borrow money from her dad for one last punt...
I particularly like the way he talks about each of us seeming being trapped in our own evidence: what our individual heads or hearts tell us is so.
Seems a good reason if you can't wait for the repeat to get to you to sign up to C4's marvellous on demand pc player...