In conversation with... Jamie Balliu and Jeff Knowles

In conversation with... Jamie Balliu and Jeff Knowles

It could be argued that WikiLeaks is one of the most important contributions to democracy in a generation. With the release of thousands of communications – 'cables', the site has caused political and diplomatic turmoil around the world, while amplifying – even unlocking – arguments for a greater public access to information.

With that in mind, "Information is Currency" is an exhibition from a collection of designers, illustrators and artists which address the themes and topics that have arisen from WikiLeaks, the behaviour of its founder Julian Assange, and the information that has arisen from the project. We talked to the exhibition's curators, Jamie Balliu and Jeff Knowles.

 

Tell us about the exhibition.

JB: There's a lot of discussion about the online world, privacy and freedom of speech, especially surrounding the cable releases from WikiLeaks. What has happened with politicians, the established media, and court hearings... the debate was not happening in public spaces. We wanted the the creative and public communities to come together and have that dialogue, and hopefully the artwork will generate some questions and new conversations, taking it away from the established media into wherever we hang out: bars, galleries, cafés.

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New musical expressions

New musical expressions

 

We are, of course, not the first to report on the changing nature of the (popular) music industry, and the seismic disruption cast onto it from digital technologies, and consumer adoption of them.

With that in mind, perhaps the greatest level of disruption has yet to come. With more and more connected devices, sophisticated cost models, and a lower cost of market entry all taking place, is now the best – or the most painful – time to be in the music industry?

We asked two people with unique insights to give us their views. W+K's Oli Beale developed the recent Kaiser Chiefs campaign, where consumers "make" their own albums and are incentivised to share them; digital strategist Elliot Reuben is former CEO of the Welsh Music Foundation.

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Shooting the past

Shooting the past

 

There appears to be a thread running through Imperica's coverage of creative technology to date: that creatives don't understand the technology, and technologists need to appreciate creativity. It is a deep-rooted issue that manifests itself in many different ways, though is often observed by creatives.

Kate Sicchio is no stranger to these findings. Her performances combine dance with digital media, with the results being a unity that occurs in a single space. Her latest work, Nayramara, performed at April's Digital Stages Festival, explored the interaction between human performers and video display. Alongside video screens on wheels, the work featured a semi-transparent mesh to which material could be projected, but retaining visibility of the dancers behind it. Movements of the dancers would be captured and projected in front of them, with the wheeled displays moving around, changing the configuration of both the dancers and the video in real time. The projections are made by filming the performers in real time on a CCTV camera, with video processing undertaken in real time in Isadora prior to projection back into the space.

Both the mesh and the wheeled displays provided visual indicators for the cultural issues that the work addresses. The Aymarans, indigenous to south America, reverse the space-time metaphor when people are speaking: they don't say that the past is behind them - it's in front of them.

They even gesture to the front, so in saying 'that happened yesterday', they make a gesture in front of them. Through Nayramara, Sicchio explored that idea of the past being in front of you. The work plays with time and space, and the relationship between time and space.

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Connecting the digital world with print

Connecting the digital world with print

I am a designer and express my ideas through product development and built experiences, not writing. So, it's unusual for me to be doing this, but I have a desire to see if I can convince you of my belief in a potential for a future for print. First, I would like to explain a more general idea and lead on to why I think publishers could be the key.

 

Why fluidity of use turns processes into product

Interaction in the physical world changes as it becomes fluid. If hurdles are removed, interaction becomes invisible – it disappears from your conscious mind and your train of thought is not broken; you concentrate on the purpose and not the process. You don't have to think about doing the action.

Eventually the physical object becomes what it does and in our minds you no longer see it as a set of mechanisms. It simply becomes its purpose. For example, each of these was a complex physical system that has now become almost invisible to use:

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In conversation with... Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern

In conversation with... Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern

What is, and isn't, art? Where should art be constructed and exhibited?

In 2009, an article was published to Wikipedia, called "Wikipedia Art". To substantiate its publication, several articles were simultaneously published and cited. In the following few hours, the article was fiercely debated on Wikipedia, and eventually deleted; legal wrangling followed, with specific reference to the use of the term "Wikipedia".

The work, by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, was selected for exhibition at the Venice Bienalle that year, and is now on display as part of "Made Real" at the Furtherfield Gallery in London. We caught up with Scott and Nathaniel, to get a first-hand account of the work, and the culture of Wikipedia.

 

Please give us the background to the work.

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Elliot Reuben: The madness of crowds

Elliot Reuben: The madness of crowds

We all know what chaos theory is, right? That whole schtick about a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan followed by an Indonesian volcano erupting a few days later and so forth, yeah?

Well, that's a bit simplistic and a bit misleading, as examples go. Chaos theory is all about how a tiny event can have seemingly unrelated consequences somewhere down the line – but those events are connected. Trying to imagine the series of events that causes a butterfly flapping to set off a volcanic eruption is a bit much. But if you imagine said butterfly flapping caused a small bit of air to move, and in turn that movement triggered more movement and so on, until you get to a point where a tornado may or may not form... we're getting closer.

Why is this relevant? Because of Twitter, that's why. (And Anonymous / 4Chan, but we'll get to that in a bit). Recently, the marvellous Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted (one of the greatest British comedies ever) and the nearly as brilliant IT Crowd, decided to have a bit of a laugh. As a comedy writer, this seems quite natural. So he tweeted the following:

 

 

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Elliot Reuben: What can the games industry learn from the demise of Myspace?

Elliot Reuben: What can the games industry learn from the demise of Myspace?

Remember Myspace? It was huge, once. Just like the music industry, it had a good few years to work out how to monetise phenomenal demand for its products & services on the web and, despite a head start that should have seen it luxuriating in cash and ivory back-scratchers, it failed. myspace will probably get another shot under new ownership but is now back in 18th place on the starting grid, with Facebook,  Soundcloud, Last FM, Spotify, Bandcamp & others now way ahead. Like Friends Reunited before it, it has somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory. How the hell did that happen?

There are lots of reasons, but I’d like to look at it from the point of view of communications. What Myspace did brilliantly at the beginning was connect fans to bands. That may sound simple, but think how things happened before – you could buy a band’s music, you could see them at a gig (and maybe grab a quick autograph), you could read an interview with them in a mag or paper. If you joined a mailing list or fanclub then, once a quarter you might receive a badge, a limited edition EP, a “letter” (written by a press officer) and that was about it. That was as close as you could get.

And then came the digital age. And communications needed to be quicker and there needed to be more to fill the ever-increasing spaces available. Whilst some bands need to retain an air of mystique (some bands would certainly not benefit from the fans knowing too much about what kind of people they really are), others rely on emotional and personal connections with their fanbase. Along came Artic Monkeys, who seemed to just be natural communicators, and suddenly “Myspace made them famous.” This was just a myth perpetuated by people who didn’t really understand what was going on. They were just a great band with a penchant for communications. it’s just a medium. If you have good content, it works; if you don’t, it doesn’t.

But then the music industry saw what was happening and all the people who stood to lose from direct communications between bands and fans stepped in; suddenly, it was de rigeur to have your press officer running your Myspace page. You could tell because everything they posted had lots of exclamation marks!!!! At the end of everything!!!!!!!! Cos, like, that makes a 35 year old PR seem down with the kids, right?!?!?!?!

Gone were the real connections between human beings, and back into the land of the glorified press release we sailed. Churnalism of the worst kind, dressed up as humanity. A certain kind of fan wants a certain kind of connection – and this opportunity was lost, frankly. Now, watch those Twitter accounts for more of the same.

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In conversation with... Charlotte Crofts and Siobhan Harrison

In conversation with... Charlotte Crofts and Siobhan Harrison

There has been significant interest in recent years, regarding how digital media is transforming the art of storytelling. While this is often seen from within a contemporary prism, there are, of course, an infinite number of stories that have already been told and recorded – often passed down from one generation to the next.

The result is that contemporary digital media have a tremendous opportunity to bring the past back into sharp focus, introducing stories to generations and audiences that have yet to hear them – or, at least, to understand the stories that they are aware of.

This "In conversation" features Charlotte Crofts, producer of a project to develop contextually-aware cinema heritage; and Siobhán Harrison, part of BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's project to mark the 70th anniversary of the Blitz in Coventry.

 

Please tell us about your project.

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Influence Influenza

Influence Influenza

 

Last week, the Sunday Times launched a new app called The Social List. Set to compete with Klout and Peer index, the app is being positioned as "The definitive measure of the most influential people in the social space."

With social media now such an integral part of most brands' marketing mix, we have seen a rise in these kinds of tools in an attempt to quantify reach and influence. Although most of the tools available so far seem like a poor attempt to apply old forms of measurement to a new medium.

Influence is not something that can easily be measured through various algorithms or keywords, as RAAK Social Media proved when they put Klout to the test with four Twitter bots that automatically tweet.

The four bots tweet once every minute, once every five minutes, once every fifteen minutes and once every thirty minutes, respectively. They were completely anonymous, with no avatars or custom user profiles set, and did not follow anyone. After 80 days, RAAK found that the bot that tweeted every minute had a Klout score of 51 out of 100. This research not only highlights the underlying flaws of social influence measurement tools like Klout, but also forces us to really think about the problems with measuring influence in general.

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Camille Baker: The modality coda

Camille Baker: The modality coda

 

Artistic applications of digital technology fundamentally require an understanding of technological capabilities. As documented in many online publications, including Imperica, the world is full of successful examples.

These examples are successful because, in most cases, the artist has understood how to apply chosen technologies to their aims of production. Silicon hardware and digital media become part of the answer to an artistic conundrum. However, that is clearly not always the case, and digital artworks – and art to which technology has played a part – have the danger of becoming less about the theories and thinking which create the work, and more about the technology that has helped with the production of the work. That isn't necessarily the isolated fault of the artist, but symptomatic of a society based on capital and commercial construct: the lure of the new and shiny.

Camille Baker vehemently opposes what, for many, is a default human reaction: to concentrate on the tools for their own means, rather than use them to reinforce and build on one's artistic credentials. Her clarion call is to ask what a question of what's more important to an artist: what's more important, tools or trying to explore the same problem in different ways? She sees artists that understand how and where technology can play a role, as all too rare. A new modality is required, with new modes of practice. They may produce new solutions, or they may not... but they will certainly offer a lot of new questions.

Baker's own work has explored these challenges. She explores artistic conundrums within a more telematic means of performance; mobile phones have become a recent focus. Her mobile workshop at the recent Digital Stages Festival is indicative of an interest in mobile as a multi-purpose tool in performance – across visual, gestural, and non-verbal means of communication.

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Quiet realities

Quiet realities

Systems have linked data with physical objects for decades. We are all used to the bar code, and the occasional attempt to halt the tide of automating retail systems through them. To some, they represent more than just a series of black and white lines.

QR codes, a recent innovation in this area, provides more opportunities than bar codes. They are free, in that it is possible for anyone to generate a QR code based on information such as a URL, email address, or contact details. They can also be customised in their display – to a point. There will always be a certain blockiness to them, but can contain limited features such as colour.

Terence Eden is an energetic, infectious advocate of QR codes. Eden is expecting a flourishing scene to be built up around them – their use, their proliferation and propagation, and an understanding of their potential in the eye of the consumer. Essentially, to Eden, QR codes are the lever that is so needed by both publishers and consumers, unlocking information at an environmental point of access which is comfortable with the consumer. They will no longer need to memorise or write down URLs, or type them into mobile devices with small keyboards. Further, and importantly from the perspective of access, QR does not require an aggregator, as is required with a competing technology like Microsoft Tag.

However, this is not to say that QR codes are easily understood by publishers and agencies. Eden's work in QR technology has given him a level of knowledge and opinion in the matter that is both passionate and logical. It seems easy to consider how and where QR codes should be used, but we are still in the early days of their use, so experiments will take place and mistakes will be made.

One of the problems of the QR experience to date is, for Eden, actually one of the easiest to overcome. Many QR codes, designed to be scanned by consumer mobiles, point people towards a full website without considering that someone is on a mobile phone, without plugins such as Flash. He gives the example of an ad in the Evening Standard for a tour operator, whose QR code initially took the reader to a mobile-formatted webpage, only for it to start to download a 10mb PDF. This is less of a technological issue, than one of assuming a single audience: if more consumers are adopting QR code reader technologies in their phone (either with new devices or retrospectively), then there will be a wider variety of situations. Not everyone will have an iOS or Android smartphone, and not everyone will be on wi-fi. The offered code has to be flexible to operate within a wide variety of mobile environments. This sounds pretty obvious and logical, but is still missed when campaigns are in development.

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Big decisions

Big decisions

 

If you think that the growth of IP traffic has been been exponential in the past decade, then this decade is going to be something else. We're only starting to see what the Internet is capable of. If the past decade has placed HTTP port 80 traffic – the web – at the centre, then expect this decade to be much more decentralised in terms of the types of devices sending out data, and the types of devices receiving data.

Telemetry has been revolutionised by the common protocol. Where data used to be hard to retrieve and share, it's now possible to obtain from practically anywhere, to throw it somewhere, and to make it meaningful. And, making it meaningful is the hardest bit. By far.

Giving both clarity and context to data is gaining in interest, as access to data is becoming easier. Data visualisation – dataviz – is now starting to become interesting to a wider group of people, as the ability to process lots of data and to make it look visually elegant becomes easier to achieve. Giving context to data is essentially the practice of statistical analysis; the word statistics is of central European origin, meaning "political state". The study and discipline of statistics allowed Governments to understand the effectiveness of its functions, and to see where interventions had to be made. As ITO's Chris Osborne observes, the availability of rich data within our environments has transformed statistics into urban arithmetic.

Previously, statisticians and planners were required to model outcomes, based on predictions and assumptions. It was Edward Tufte that transformed these decisions into high-level iconography, making data visualisation accessible to all. Now, with the accessibility of visuals comes the accessibility of data.

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The magic of the roundabout

The magic of the roundabout

 

It's not too far from Canary Wharf to Shoreditch, but they feel like different worlds. The slick, futuristic architecture of Canary Wharf, with its skyscrapers tickling the undercarriage of City Airport's aeroplanes, contrasts rather starkly with the shabby Victoriana of Shoreditch. What both areas have in common is their change in the past 30 years; where Shoreditch has become a funky, creative area for artists and small businesses, Canary Wharf was built entirely from scratch after acres of land on the Isle of Dogs were cleared by the LDDC.

These environments were brought together last week, when a team of Canary Wharf-based employees of OgilvyOne, the direct business of Ogilvy, embarked on a tour of digital creative businesses in Shoreditch – or, specifically, what is now known as Silicon Roundabout. The area is clearly going to continue its evolutionary journey, with the possibility of more digital businesses locating to the area, on the back of Tech City.

The tour is a mix of fun and serious business for the agency. Visiting and talking with successful businesses such as Last.fm, Moo and It's Nice That enabled the team to have a greater understanding of each business, and the success that has enabled them to operate in European, and sometimes global, markets. There's a camaraderie to the visit, with the team wearing "My mum & dad went to Silicon Roundabout" T-shirts making the atmosphere feel something like a postmodern coach tour.

Fundamentally, there are serious motives to the visit. OgilvyOne want to understand these businesses in some detail. They want to know what the focal point is of each business; and how their approaches (for example, of rapid development) could be adapted to processes and working practices within the agency. The team are also there to consider how each business on the tour could partner with OgilvyOne with future client work.

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Marcos Lutyens: a sensory story

Marcos Lutyens: a sensory story

The world loves stories of space exploration. The infinity of space is a challenge for humanity, in how we explore, map and experience it. However, it's nothing compared to the challenges of mind exploration. The rolling expanses of the mind – a perceptual entity based on the physical organ of the brain – is a place that we all like to explore: in dreams, in memories, and in alternate realities.

The mind sometimes plays tricks on us. With some, it can play tricks at every move. The study of synesthesia, neurological responses to environmental stimuli, is not without its difficulties. Both personal and deep, synesthesia is the mechanism by which something in our physical environment occurs, but we understand it to be something else.

As an artist, Marcos Lutyens' work with synesthesia and related "trickery" such as hypnosis, is based on years of work with neuroscientists. His interest is to use the mind as a forum for exploring art, with the culmination of this research and work being the FlavourCollider, a work with Absolut Vodka.

FlavourCollider involves the wearing of a special headset, which transposes the taste of a flavoured vodka into dizzying visuals. While the headset undertakes the computational work in terms of the visualisation, it's fundamentally the mind that is the enabler here. As Lutyens himself observes, in recent years "...I have investigated a number of approaches as to what's going on with the mind, and have come to the realisation that there are so many different, fragmented things going on in our lives: phones, the Internet... all of these other ways of perceiving our reality. They all so fragmented that the only convergence point is in the mind."

Lutyens' research has involved deep and close working with synesthesia – people that have a pre-disposition to associate different sensory modalities (in basic terms, interpreting things differently). synesthetes do not have control over how they interpret the world around them. "It's rather poetic, metaphorical creativity. It happens to them, whether they want it or not." The research featured work with a group of synesthetes in San Francsico, where Lutyens sent them to a McDonalds, and asked them to describe it. One participant understood words as having different colours, so their view was that the golden arches were wrong, because they should have been "red". Another interpreted all of the sounds within McDonalds as sensational body movement. A third, who had been working with pioneering neuroscientist Richard Cytowic, interpreted the numerical factors such as prices and dates in terms of physical factors around her. Although these interpretations and processes are different, Lutyens has yet to meet a synesthesia that turns taste into visuals, the purpose of the FlavourCollider.

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The free design

The free design

The disruptive force of digital media within markets has not gone underreported. As technology companies become some of the world's largest, they have played a fundamental role in creating new markets, and completely transforming existing ones.

The compliment to these commercial successes is the extraordinary culture of 'free' that has worked in an unwritten partnership with commerce, to give us the democratised online world that we see today. The pervasiveness of the free culture, spirit and approach means that not one commercial force can control the Internet, although many have tried (and many more than once).

While many column inches have been written about the rise of global players in tech, less has been written about how 'free' has made such a tremendous contribution to the development of culture, technology, working practices, and the perception of value. Ranging from the major contributors to free software – such as Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds – to those that spend an hour or two a week making a contribution, it's a story that appears to warrant greater telling, and it's one that is still being created. Without the culture of 'free', you simply will not be reading this article in its current form.

Bill Thompson's appreciation of free software and culture is shared by many. He agrees that the story is a remarkably successful one, even if it is told at less volume than the stories generated by commercial success. "We've done remarkably well; it's just not very apparent. Some don't appreciate how much the hacker ethos, the sense that the community works together to solve problems, that many people are willing to give their intellectual effort to solve problems and then make the solution available to the community without looking for financial reward... actually underpins what's going on."

The principles which underpin 'free' are entirely compatible with Thompson's own leftist beliefs. It is easy to consider global markets in 2011, with their austerity measures, bailouts and socially-driven volatilities, as being driven by doom. Believing this does the success of our mixed economy a great injustice. It's this mix – between the production and supply of products for free, those in a commercial model – that has never prevailed, anywhere, at this level. Societies have often had capitalist or communist markets forced upon them; the rich mix of choice and availability across free and commercial products within one framework is unique to where we are, right now. One wonders as to whether locking Smith, Keynes, Marx and Engels in a room (a complete hypothesis, of course) would have enabled such a subtle, blended economic framework. "I believe in a mixed economy. In that sense, things are far from ideal, but I don't despair all the time and for people on the left in politics, not to despair all the time is a win, frankly."

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Ruth Catlow: Internet interventions

Ruth Catlow: Internet interventions

Networks are disrupting our society. They offer new opportunities, while bringing age-old issues into sharper focus. If networks offer us a chance to engage and connect with others in order to crystallise thinking, the devices that provide a connection to them can be ecologically unpleasant. According to Ruth Catlow, we are nowhere near a harmonious resolution to these problems – even though we can almost feel them within our grasp.

Catlow is the co-founder and co-director of Furtherfield, a digital community of co-creators that are interested in the intersection between art and technology, complimented by the Furtherfield Gallery in north London, a space dedicated to the exhibition and performance of work. Underpinning the organisation is a creative approach which is inspired by the metaphors and material media of networks within art.

The discursive culture within Furtherfield is substantial and important. Many artists from an online community of around 15,000 collaborate with the organisation each year. The behaviours within it, and within Furtherfield, are largely non-hierarchical: its motto is DIWO, Do It With Others. It requires Catlow and her team to be constantly considering new systems of co-operation, which in themselves may require new models of operation and sustainability.

Furtherfield came from the development of critical approaches to digital and media art in the mid-1990s. These thinkers and artists saw networks as a space: one that opened up new ways for them to produce work, and to intervene in existing processes, particularly given the democratic nature of the Internet. As Catlow says, "... it is the old Brechtian idea that art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it. If you put art and technology together, then that really makes sense. Art and technology can shape society, shape people's thinking, and can form a 'group imaginary'."

In recent years, the organisation has been running an informal programme around issues of digital culture, including its relationship with, and impact on, the environment. It was decided by Catlow and her team that this programme, including exhibitions and artistic work featuring imaginary engagements with issues of technology and the environment, should also take the form of an event.

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Mark Coniglio: Repetition and invention

Mark Coniglio: Repetition and invention

Before you read this article, make a small movement, then repeat it.

Repetition. Looping. Over and over again. It's something that we assume that we can do. The performers of Loop Diver will give you a rather different view.

Loop Diver is a work from New York-based group Troika Ranch, led by Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello. Coniglio's seemingly unrelenting flow of creativity has resulted in work across media, performance, and software – with no jarring between these supposedly individual, different disciplines. Indeed, one might consider Coniglio to be one of the forerunners of much of the contemporary thinking around transmedia.

Electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick played a vital role in shaping Coniglio's career, enabled him to mentally conjoin composition with technology. Making software with Subotnick, as well as learning composition from him, enabled a practical understanding of the role that new media and technology could play in composing, and performing, artistic work. Subsequent innovations have included, for example, the first MIDI-powered system for dance, measuring joint inflection on the dancer and allowing them to create music by bending their limbs. Meeting choreographer Stoppiello at CalArts set off a partnership that has flourished over two decades. Through Troika Ranch, they have made pieces which carefully integrate performance with media, spanning film, performance, and installation.

Loop Diver is the latest piece in this partnership, recently performed in the UK as part of London's Digital Stages Festival.

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Magic manufacturing

Magic manufacturing

Since the 1970s, the transformation of advertising businesses into multinational forces has been rampant. Two particular, inter-related, forces have been at play in recent years: the growth of BRIC and their commercial possibilities; and the permeation of interconnected digital media. These have helped advertising and marketing groups to grow their revenues from millions to billions, and to create networks that can be overlaid onto the territories of multinational clients, while being cognisant of local, cultural nuances.

Japanese communications giant Dentsu is no stranger to the opportunities and challenges of scale. With offices across the world, it has a rich heritage of interesting, creative work that has made the business one of the world's largest in the sector.

With growth comes new opportunities, and while it is easy to create adaptation offices, or cut-and-paste offices - using either the HQ or local agencies as the master - the creation of a new London office suggested a different approach.

The UK is not short of creative talent, and Dentsu has come the market at a later time than others. As agencies should have a reasonably good grasp on the principles of differentiation – as it's what they do every day with their clients – the team at Dentsu was given the possibility to conduct such a strategy with its new London office. The resulting business, Dentsu London, is a very different business to its parent.

Dentsu London has been given the freedom to be as creative in its execution as in its business model: offering original, quirky, independent executions in response to local ideas, developments, and briefs. Head of Strategy Beeker Northam explains the thinking. “We have been given freedom as to what we do, what we say, how we make money, and the kind of work that we make. When I came on board, it was a blank slate: an opportunity to consider what might be a different way. We wanted to create a philosophy that would fuel everything, and to encourage ourselves to deliver the most ambitious work that we could.”

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On curation

On curation

 

The late-nineties analogy of "surfing the Internet" no longer works. The explosion in digital content makes the experience less of a breezy ride on a wave of crafted material, and more of an attempt to cut through a leafy jungle with a blunt scythe. And blindfolded.

As a result, filtering has become more and more important as a way to establish quality and relevance to a personal experience of consuming digital content. The concept that underpins this, is curation – a hand-picked selection of material.

Why is curation now so important? Why has it become so interesting, so quickly, and what can be done to ensure that with curation comes quality? We asked three digital content leaders for their thoughts.

Philip John

Why has curation become such a hotly-talked-about concept?

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A question of taste

A question of taste

What a banana looks like should be a fairly easy question to answer.

What does the taste of a banana look like? Does it look different to the taste of a strawberry, and if so, how?

These and many similar questions have been at the forefront of the minds of teams at OgilvyOne and Greyworld in recent months, charged with bringing a requirement – to visualise taste – to life for consumers, based around a small ice cream brand with only one store in the UK.

That brand is Freggo. A sister brand of Argentinian steakhouse Gaucho, the brand is known across its native country as Freddo. When a UK store was opened two years ago, just off Regent Street in London and next door to Gaucho, its premium products were unknown to consumers, who had little experience of very-high-quality ice cream. The store quickly gained a loyal customer base through its quality offering, and its long opening times (until 3am), which gave it visibility to West End clubbers.

Having just one outlet in a market dominated by FMCG and chain retail immediately suggests something of a struggle. The brand must punch above its weight and offer something different and participatory, without necessarily resorting to cliché. Responding to the brief at Ogilvy were the creative partnership of Rae Stones and Fiona Sanday. Over 15 months, the duo, working with Andrew Shoben of Greyworld, conceived a campaign which led to the development of an interactive installation at the Menier Chocolate Factory gallery. Here, visitors could try a sample of an ice cream, and "visualise" their taste by describing it through using slider controls in a purpose-built Java application. The resulting, personalised, visual is projected in the gallery, as well as emailed to the recipient. The end result offers a personal relationship with data visualisation.

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