What planning can learn from design thinking

The wonderful John V Willshire (formerly at PHD, now running his own show, Smithery) has published the slides from his recent presentation to the Google Firestarters session. The title is What can planning learn from design thinking?

 

 

The event took place in late June; here's the writeup from its organiser, Neil Perkin.

The unreasonable power of creativity

 

The video from last night's D&AD event is now up:

 

Sharp'ner - Use Your Creativity To Change the World

 

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Preservation and society

Preservation and society

 

Regarding the storage of information, we've never had it so good. Hard disks with a minimum capacity of a Terabyte are now available on the High Street, and we can back up all of our personal information to the cloud. Gone are our concerns in terms of physical volume; we can now take a seemingly infinite number of photos, and store them on our netbook's hard disk, or send them to an unseen RAID array somewhere on the other side of the world, for later retrieval by us or anyone else.

When there is less physicality, there is less of a need to be choosy. Storing photos on a CD-ROM required some consideration as to the number and parameters of photos. When personal storage has increased at a factor exponential to the amount of content that we produced, we're less bothered. 100 holiday photos – no problem. You could get every holiday for a lifetime onto one cheap hard drive.

Storing data in this way makes it easy to forget that there are still mechanical elements involved. In a standard hard disk, accessing and adding data requires a read/write head to move across a platter which could be spinning at 10,000 RPM. Faster devices, such as solid-state storage, are still made up of manufactured parts: SDRAM chips, PCBs and the like.

While all of this brings spontaneity to the user, it is actually creating a problem. A problem that is currently overlooked by many, but is likely to grow year on year, generation to generation. That problem is one of storage and archival.

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Things to make and do

Things to make and do

In a mixed economy, craft and mass production co-exist. We make different considerations when looking at both, although most of us are happy for them to be together: a handmade vase on an Ikea table. There is a relationship between these market concepts that has often been challenged, but perhaps not with such depth and breadth as with PostlerFerguson.

Martin Postler and Ian Ferguson met in 2005 while studying at the ICA. They had both been working in industry prior to their studies, in industrial design and architecture respectively, so had a shared understanding of why they were back in school. They also share a love of food. "Probably the first glimmers of mutual professional respect came when I noticed he had a copy of Larousse Gastronomique on his desk at school and he noticed that I knew what it was without seeing the cover."

After graduation in 2007, they were both invited to exhibit at Designersblock, deciding to combine their work into one show, The future on your plate. It was Chinese homewares producer Puzhen and creative publisher Gestaltlen that helped to get the business in motion; Puzhen hired the duo to design a new range of products, and Gestaltlen invited them to produce a full range of paper gun kits, following on from Postler's graduation work, a paper AK47. The new kit, a full-scale anti-aircraft gun, premiered at the Death Machines exhibition at Notting Hill's Craze Gallery, where fellow designers and artists were invited to customise the copied items. It's the play between two extremes, between industrialisation and craft, that profoundly influences the duo's work: Cafe Sonja, a new piece, is an entire cafe that can fit into aeroplane baggage.

 

Paper Oerlikon, 2008

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Some antics at the museum

Some antics at the museum

 

Great news from the British Museum:

 

The British Museum is committed to making its collection, and data relating to the collection, accessible to a global audience both physically and virtually. Collection Online, the British Museum's web database implemented in 2007, already allows visitors to the Museum's web site to search nearly 2 million object records, a third of which currently include at least one digital image.

The British Museum has now released a Semantic Web version of the database complementing the Collection Online search facility. The Museum is the first UK arts organisation to instigate a Semantic Web version of its collection data. The new service brings the British Museum into the 'linked data' world and will allow software developers to produce their own applications that can directly manipulate and reuse the data. It will also allow researchers and scholars a way to search and find data more precisely and facilitate automatic updates.

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The future, in a book

The future, in a book

 

Omnicom media agency PHD has launched a new book which aims to predict what 2016 is going to be like.

According to Media Week's coverage of the book, "2016: Beyond the horizon", you are guaranteed to see the following, 5 years from now:

 

Internet speeds of up to 100MbpsYouTube battling Sky for the media rights to the Premier League 2016-2019The cloud will store all of our music and videosMost TVs will be connected to the internet, and will be fitted with Ultra-HD technology, with 8,000 vertical line resolution compared to HD's 1,080A hologram of Simon Cowell in every home*

 

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Feeding at the edge

Feeding at the edge

It has been a slow and often painful journey, but large companies are starting to embrace concepts and technologies that many of us take for granted: gaming, virtual environments, and gestural interfaces. The backdrop to many of these concepts is openness: the willingness of people, and other companies themselves, to share ideas, developments, products, and distribution methods that actively encourage open participation, and the means to experiment.

Where experimentation happens is where you'll find Ian Hughes. A self-proclaimed "Metaverse evangelist", Hughes is actually something of a polymath: commentator on social technology, software developer, frenetic researcher, co-host of children's tech show Cool Stuff Collective, and a consultant to companies that want to know what lies at the edge, and what they will need to factor into business planning – and business culture.

As Chairman of the BCS Animation and Games Specialist Group, Hughes plays something of the shuttle diplomat: promoting the games industry and its technologies to the BCS, while providing professional development opportunities to the industry through BCS activity. He sees gaming as a sector which can provide tremendous knowledge to others. Gestural interfaces can clearly be applied to other sectors, as can the infrastructure developed to support games such as World of Warcraft. He acknowledges that bridge-building between an established Society and the gaming community is not going to take place overnight, and perhaps the application of game technologies into other business sectors will be the way to do achieve the understanding that's needed.

Hughes is unquestionably convincing in the way in which he encourages his own clients to apply gaming concepts and technologies within business. Gone are the days when a briefing equates to a slide-heavy Powerpoint; what's required to convince the less-aware is a mix of psychology, persuasion, theatre... and a spoonful of fear: the fear that they will be left behind.

"Software in a corporate environment is really about the next version, and how it's going to automate some sort of process. It's what you think software does. But, when it's about people interacting with one another and it's the fabric of your business - your people - it suddenly gets more complicated. It's not the tech that's the difficult bit, it's the people that's the difficult bit. It's quite complicated to say that people are going to be happier, or share more, or are more likely to invent more. People like definite boxes. As soon as you get something more expressive such as with virtual environments, you can see people making choices about how they represent themselves... then you look at how to understand their peers, and who to go to in an organisation, and how that social network works, then you know that now, it's not just who you know, but who you see that you know."

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Killing twee

Killing twee

 

Sabotage Times, James Brown's new thing, has published a highly readable takedown of the friendlier side of B2C marketing. Written by Lucy Sweet and with the endearing title Fuck you talking smoothies, it rips into Innocent, Boden, Pret a Manger, and Dorset Cereals.

Here's how it concludes:

 

[...] Maybe one day, we'll live in a better, more well-adjusted world. A world where bottles of juice will tell us to fuck off, and breakfast cereal boxes will detail all our shortcomings in a quirky font. Until that day, here's a word of advice. Next time your smoothie asks you to recycle it, tell it it's a wanker. Then drink some Fanta and throw the bottle into the road. That'll learn 'em.

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Onedotzero is back for 2011

Onedotzero is back for 2011

 

The onedotzero Adventures in motion festival is back in November. It's the event's 15-year anniversary of showing new and interesting short films, animation, music videos, interactivity, digital art and everything in between.

This year, there's a focus on modes of presentation: live AV, 3D, interactive, web-based storytelling, projection mapping, and creative code.

 

Here's some more info from onedotzero on this year's programme.

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Elliot Reuben: How to end rioting with targeted advertising

The title of this piece disgusts me. Marketing people are always telling you how products will change lives for the better; usually such positive changes are evident in the swelling coffers of their and their clients' bank accounts. The level of self-regard and rampant egotism in marketers is not something I try and subscribe to - but bear with me, I think I'm onto something here.

 

Elliot Reuben. Photo by Melissa Baynes

 

Firstly, we all know London and parts of the UK "erupted" in riots in August 2011. This caught everyone by surprise except, say, people that actually lived in these areas who feel the boiling, feral emotions of everyday urban life day-in day-out, and were waiting to see how and when the volcano would erupt. In the immediate aftermath, it was a race to apportion blame; facts, evidence and calm heads at this juncture become irrelevant – it's a big ol' game of point-scoring and the first to come up with a cosy-sounding theory that fits with people's pre-existing prejudices is usually the winner.

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Untangling the meaning of engagement

Untangling the meaning of engagement

 

Definitely worth reading is a long, detailed, opinionated piece by the brilliant Martin Weigel, Head of Planning for Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam.

 

Called Engagement: Fashionable yet Bankrupt, it's split into the following sections:

 

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Review: The Philosophy of Software

Review: The Philosophy of Software

 

Rob Myers has reviewed David Berry's book The Philosophy of Software: Code and mediation in the digital age at Furtherfield. Here's the text (under CC BY-SA licence). 

 

"The Philosophy Of Software" is an ambitious book by David Berry, who has turned his attention from the social relations and ideology of software (in "Rip, Mix, Burn", 2008) to the question of what software means in itself. The philosophy that he has in mind isn't the mindless political libertarianism attributed to hackers or the twentieth-century foundational mathematics that is the basis for the structure of many programming languages. It is a serious and literate philosophical reading of software and its production.

Software is an important feature of contemporary society that is rarely considered as a phenomena in its own right by philosophers. Software permeates contemporary society, Berry gives the examples of Google's profits and the "financialisation" of the economy through software as examples of software's importance in this respect. In reading this review on a screen you have used maybe a dozen computers, each containing multiple programs and libraries of software directly involved in serving up this page. Digital art and cyberculture often use and discuss software and philosophy (or at least Theory), but usually to illustrate a point about something other than software. The software itself is rarely the subject.

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Big new Adam Curtis piece

 

New Adam Curtis. This one is so long and stuffed with intertwined relationships and a variety of media clips that it warrants a whole TV series in itself. Anyway, enjoy. You'll need some time to get through this one but, as always, it's worth it.

 

Adam Curtis: the curse of Tina

 

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Longer Copyright

Longer Copyright

 

As you may know by now, the EU has agreed to extend copyright term - the length of time by which something has copyright - by another 20 years, to 70. The EU Term of Protection Directive was voted through by the European Council of Ministers on Monday morning. Here's their press release (PDF).

Inevitably, some organisations, such as PPL, welcome the deal (Copyright is "successfully extended"); others such as the Open Rights Group, hate it (Term extension is a "cultural disaster").

After a campaign from the larger creative bodies spanning several years, the UK Government agreed with a term extension back in 2008. It was the agreed by the European Parliament in 2009, and now it's in law, to be implemented in all EU states by 2014.

Andrew Orlowski in El Reg has written a good overview of the situation.

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Jonathan MacDonald: Advocurrency - an alternative trading currency for advertising

Jonathan MacDonald. Photo by courtesy of Jonathan MacDonald

 


I remember reading in Smash Hits magazine when I was young about how Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones would drape coloured scarves over lampshades to get the right ambience backstage. I'm not sure whether the photo is representative of such an environment, but you get the idea..

 

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Latest from Webit

Latest from Webit

 

Our friends at Webit have made given out some more news in advance of their big event which takes place in October.

 

20 days before the ending of the "Webit-Most Influential People Online" campaign, more than 1300 people from 77 countries are trying to gain the prestigious award.

The five most influential representatives from the online communities from 77 countries will gain special awards – free access to one of the premier international digital industry's events, that for third year in a roll will take place in Bulgaria - Webit Congress. The most influential person will receive VIP pass to Webit Congress 2011, flight ticket to Sofia and back and recognition by the Webit society and media.

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Big screenings

Big screenings

 

New media art organisation Trampoline is looking for submissions from artists working with moving image, for an exhibition which will form a touring programme for urban screens (in other words, big screens in cities).  It follows up the first part of Trampoline's urban screens programme Do Billboards Dream of Electric Screens?

This time, work can be generative art; digital animation; net art; or film performance... but it must be presentable as a single channel video piece.

They're looking "... for works that respond to and play with the architectural qualities of urban screens as media surfaces and their relationship with public space."

 

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The hare and the tortoise

The hare and the tortoise

 

Oh shit:

 

Consumers prefer being reached by post and email, rather than through social media or mobile channels, according to research published by data specialist Acxiom.

The study, carried out in July, benchmarking marketers' perceptions against consumers', suggested that just 9% of consumers feel SMS marketing is an appropriate way for brands of which they are existing customers to get in contact.

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In your ears

Nicole Yershon, Tara Austin. Photos by courtesy of Nicole Yershon, Tara Austin, Ogilvy

 

The relationship between music, marketing, and the consumer is fundamentally changing: the rulebook on what's possible, what can be offered, and what consumers want, is being rewritten all the time. With that in mind, we asked Tara Austin and Nicole Yershon, two leading thinkers at Ogilvy and part of the agency's "Lab Day Live" event, to consider how an agency's work with music is changing – and how music forms part of a client-agency relationship.

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Robots and avatars

Robots and avatars

 

Robots and Avatars has launched its full call for proposals - two development commissions and at least six existing works, culminating in an exhibition next year. Here's how they put it:

 

Robots and Avatars is an intercultural, intergenerational and interdisciplinary exploration of a near future world consisting of collaborations between robots, avatars, virtual worlds, telepresence and real time presence within creative places, work spaces, cultural environments, interactive entertainment and play space.

 

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