Sell your agency

Sell your agency

 

Own or run a pure-play social media agency? Then, according to this opinion piece in NMA, you should GET OUT NOW:

 

Owner/managers of social media agencies looking to realise the value they have built in their businesses may well be asking themselves how they should be approaching a potential sale. Currently there are only a few independent social media agencies of any significant size - perhaps a dozen at most in the UK - so rarity value is playing in their favour. It's a sellers' market and we believe deals will continue to be done at lightning speed.

Yet the window of opportunity to sell is likely to be pretty brief - the 'sizzle' in the market is starting to disappear already, and now is the time to act. We are seeing social media agencies starting to lose pitches to non-specialist agencies. A range of warning signs leads us to believe that social media agencies have this year and possibly some of 2012 to make their move.

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Mountains of things

Mountains of things

 

The impact of connected digital media on western society is well-documented. From the early days of Usenet and IRC to the contemporary, vibrant interest around Twitter, Facebook and many others, it has been matched by commentary, books, and the growing importance of new sources to report on constant innovation - such as Mashable and Techcrunch. For consumers and for business, it is a phenomenon that has completely transformed society and allowed the world to shrink, to be faster, and to be more accessible.

 

 

For developing communities, their own journeys will be different. If there is a much smaller digital legacy – no telecommunications infrastructure, no 16-bit computers – then much of what we in the west consider to be de rigeur and readily available within society will turn out to be completely new. The ways in which these communities approach, use and develop themselves in terms of digital adoption may deliver interesting, and perhaps very different, results.

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Shrinking covers

Shrinking covers

 

NYT:

 

When the album designer Michael Carney submitted his proposed cover for the Black Keys' album "Brothers" last year, he and the band were a little anxious. Seeking a change from their previous, illustration-driven packaging, which he'd also designed, Mr. Carney devised the simplest of covers: two sentences — "This is an album by the Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers" — set against a black background.

"We thought, 'Are we allowed to do this?' " Mr. Carney recalled of the bare-bones cover, which he also felt reflected a new boldness in the Black Keys' music. Although its label, Nonesuch, was initially perplexed, Mr. Carney's fears were ultimately put to rest. "The marketing people said, 'This is our dream!' " Mr. Carney said, and the artwork was a go.

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The Internet in 1969

This YouTube clip is labelled "The Internet in 1969", although there is no information on whether this is from 1969, or which programme it's from. Still, interesting, if only for the father's rather scary collection of silver boxes and screens on an L-shaped oak desk.

 

 

Our favourite bit is the "Communal Service Agency". Next time you're on the phone to BT, call them that.

Spot check

Spot check

 

Art is becoming increasingly wrapped up with digital technology. Whether it's from people and companies with a predominantly technological history, or from those that have come from art, resurgent coverage and attention on art, artists and galleries has come at a time when digital business opportunities are greater than ever.

Working and living at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery for 16 years, Raphaëlle Heaf knows a thing or two about the wider art world – artists, curation, exhibitions, and the nuances of the gallery space. Bringing this knowledge into a completely new context – the development of a social network and mobile application – requires perseverance, determination, and an understanding of what works – and what doesn't. While these qualities are shared with many other entrepreneurs, they may not have been so rigorously tested in art, where there are fewer online services and apps. Consequently, now is a great time for digital innovation within arts and culture.

Although Heaf has a firm grounding in art, she has not worked uniquely in the sector. Studying architecture at university gave her an opportunity to marry creativity with technology, something that she remembers with fondness – including the chance to play online games while waiting for work to render in the middle of the night.

It was one of her first undergraduate projects that became something of a reference point for her later work. Working as part of a project team for the the Forestry Commission in Dorset, she started to measure and record the attributes of a park, every 5 metres of so, adding small posts from marble as indicators. She had decided to use these points as markers to communicate the location of her fellow students' work within the park, and that the posts would interact with visitors through SMS. Eventually, a strategy behind the project was formed: to provide a way for park visitors to receive information on park installations through their own mobile devices.

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Gerry McGovern on Yahoo's broadcast mentality

Gerry McGovern on Yahoo's broadcast mentality

 

As is so often the case, McGovern is well worth reading - this week he's on Yahoo's case:

 

Yahoo is an extremely popular website, yet its stock has performed really badly. Why? Because it sells stuff (banner ads) people don't want to buy.

Bartz claims that Yahoo is customized, that it's moving towards the "web of one." When I went to Yahoo today I saw a big banner ad for a mobile phone plan that I definitely don't want. This plan in no way meets my needs. Is that customization?

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Mish Mashing up

Mish Mashing up

 

The folks at Leonardo have relaunched the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. Called Mish Mash, the first issue in the new series is packed full of wonderfully insightful, interesting and thoughtful articles covering art, science and tech.

 

The articles are:

 

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Creatively socialising

Creatively socialising

Here's the next event from our friends at Creative Social. It's all in the flyer...

 

 

... and here's where you go to book a ticket.

The dance of the hemispheres

The dance of the hemispheres

 

A common belief of the brain is that it is divided into two sites, hemispheres, and that they are entirely separate. Indeed, the “left / right” analogies offer a separation which suggests that people, and the world, are either A or B.

Psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist suggests that a co-existence between left and right occurs within all of us. The left hemisphere does not appreciate how much it depends on the right - although the right hemisphere appreciates that it needs the left. A right-hemisphere world would have room in it for the left hemisphere, and would be properly balanced, unlike a world of the left hemisphere. The concepts are explained in his latest book, The Master and his Emissary.

It argues that these two hemispheres are fundamental to human existence. They make possible the versions and interpretations of the world that otherwise would not exist. The differences between the two hemispheres are stark and are broadly accepted, although there is less known as to why they exist, and why they exist in the way that they do. The book argues that every type of function, whether emotional, linguistic, visual or anything else – is the product of both hemispheres, rather than the domain of one in essential isolation. McGilchrist admits to his surprise as to the correspondence that he has received on the back of the book's publication, suggesting that his thinking is untapping a need for an understanding of these hemispheres to be at least discussed, if not addressed. The RSA is planning a symposium for public and private organisations to debate these ideas, an activity that is perhaps symptomatic of a need to debate these ideas, in advance of perhaps a re-addressing of how we live out lives, and the implicit and explicit products that are made through them.

McGilchrist's forthcoming talk at Salon London will focus on only a few of these key points. "I always like talking to a new audience, and the whole subject of hemisphere difference is such a minefield, full of prejudice and misunderstanding. Yet it is of absolutely prime importance, because it casts light on why we think and behave in the way we do, and even helps to explain some of the more worrying features of the world we live in today."

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Lack of Facebook

"Attention, citizens of the world":

 

 

 

Anonymous is threatening to shut down Facebook on November 5, basing the threat on Facebook's much-documented - and often controversial - ways in which it deals with private data. The threat makes specific reference to an alleged passing on of private information to "authoritarian governments".

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Recovering from the riots

This is the Sony CD / DVD distribution centre in Enfleid, in flames.

 

 

It left a number of indie labels, whose stock was inside the building, basically without any stock... and struggling to survive. They are distributed by PIAS, with the Quietus offering those with good ears a chance to help the labels - and the artists - out, by buying some great music digitally.

 

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The Choice: Captain Cyborg

The Choice: Captain Cyborg

 

Kevin Warwick is on The Choice with Michael Buerk, BBC R4.

Link

Data wars

Data wars

 

Rob Myers reviews The Secret War Between Downloading & Uploading:

 

Peter Lunenfeld's book "The Secret War Between Downloading & Uploading: Tales Of The Computer As Culture Machine" (MIT Press 2011) presents a new way of looking at the cultural struggle for control of the Internet. Although the conflict between uploading and downloading may not seem secret since the Napster case a decade ago, and is indeed a common feature of net political debate, Lunenfeld is using the concepts of downloading and uploading to discuss not the copyfight but how human beings relate to each other culturally and socially through technology.

 

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Sex, drugs, and discoveries

Sex, drugs, and discoveries

 

Drug-taking. Open relationships. Ménages à trois. Seeing your mistress's daughter behind your mistress's back, who is in turn behind your wife's back.

Scientists, eh?

These are not the characteristics that one might associate with the profession. However, they have all happened, and to some of the most groundbreaking, most famous people associated with it. To many, science is something almost devoid of human emotions, however extreme: the rational over the irrational, the clinical over the trashy, the straight over the random.

Obviously, this is not necessarily the case. Don't be shocked by this, but scientists are human beings too. Dr. Michael Brooks would like to be at the front of the rope, pulling the reputation of science back from this endpoint of the geeky, the nerdy; a set of disciplines that are certainly revered, but are somewhat disconnected from the human condition.

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Burn, dork, burn

Burn, dork, burn

 

Back for its sixth year is DorkBot's summer getaway, BurningDork:

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, it's time to get excited! Yes, once again it is that special point in the year when we get to pack up our soldering irons and head to the woods!

If you don't want to be disappointed you are going to need to pull up your socks and get cracking.

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Two states

Two states

 

Still available to listen to from BBC R4 is The new two cultures:

Neuroscientist and arts enthusiast Dr Mark Lythgoe investigates the divide between scientists and artists lamented by C P Snow in a lecture nearly 50 years ago.

 

It's a two-parter, and well worth a listen. We love art and science stuff, having discussed it many times before (starting here).

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The smart generation

The smart generation

 

Would Napoleon in 2011 say that we are a nation of smartphone addicts?

Ofcom:

Over a quarter of adults (27 per cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per cent) now own a smartphone.Most (59 per cent) have acquired their smartphone, which includes devices such as iPhones, Blackberrys (surely "Blackberries"?) and Android phones, over the past year.Users make significantly more calls and send more texts than regular mobile users (81 per cent of smartphone users make calls every day compared with 53 per cent of 'regular' users).Teenagers especially are ditching more traditional activities in favour of their smartphone, with 23 per cent claiming to watch less TV and 15 per cent admitting they read fewer books.And when asked about the use of these devices, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens admit they are 'highly addicted'.

 

Key facts:

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Know your rights

Know your rights

Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt announced wide-ranging changes to UK copyright law today which will apparently bolster the creative industries by £8bn, and substantially alter the legal framework for consumers.

The key points are:

Hargreaves review is fully endorsed by Government Ofcom kicks web-blocking into the long grass, basically owing to its technical complexitiesAppeals regarding copyright infringement ("detected instances of unlawful sharing of copyright material") are given a fixed fee of £20, refundable if wonCopying digital works across devices will be decriminalised

 

Coverage:

Orlowski on El Reg (although... 'freetards'... really?)Tim Bradshaw, FTCOI press release

Creative review

Creative review

As the belief goes, we are in a knowledge economy. Gone are the mills and factories of the Industrial Revolution, with office blocks of varying degrees of character in their place. Although the definition of "product" may have indeed changed, what has not changed is the perception of quality. The globalisation of industrial production may have shifted, even polarised, our views of what quality is. from cheap T-shirts to artisan baking. This has translated into a change of what creativity is and stands for, in the sense that while there are still "good ideas" and "bad ideas", interconnected networks make access to intellect much more accessible to all.

The impact on advertising should be for the quality to go up. After all, global get-togethers such as Cannes mean that countries have a benchmark to measure their own work against, and for commentators to compare the shift in capital production or consumption, with any perceived shift in where the most acclaimed ideas are coming from. Some have suggested that, rather like Eurovision, the shift in transnational focus away from the west means that the UK's command of awards – even the UK's potential of getting anywhere commanding anything – are over.

But Cannes is just one platform, and the real story is less to do with the UK being not as great as it used to be, but more to do with new players catching up. That's the view of Saatchi's ECD Kate Stanners, facing the challenges of the agency and of the sector head-on: what the talent pool looks like, how it creates great work, and how that work is useful to consumers. She feels that Cannes this year was rather more evenly-distributed in its prizegiving: emerging economies producing some interesting work alongside the stalwarts, and what we are seeing is a rebalancing of what creativity looks like across globalised markets, as well as trying to address how to keep executions locally relevant in way that consumers find culturally authentic. In fact, Stanners' views of the 2011 New Directors' Showcase, a Saatchi initiative which pulls visual talent from across a wide spectrum of disciplines, is that northern Europe remains very much the dominant force.

 

Movable feasts

As the daughter of Leo Burnett copywriter Bob Stanners, who with Norman Icke created some of the most memorable campaigns for McDonalds, Bradford & Bingley and Cadbury's Flake, Kate has advertising in her genes. Success at GGT led her to become one of the first hires at St. Lukes, an agency whose relentless focus on creative talent retained Stanners for a decade. She was then led once again to a start-up, Boymeetsgirl, before joining Saatchi & Saatchi at a well-documented, turbulent time, but offering considerable opportunities in within a global network, itself a young subsidiary within Publicis.

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Newsgater

Newsgater

 

Beyond Hackgate: Who Should We Trust Now? is a live discussion which took place on BBC R4 this morning. As iPlayer puts it, "Eddie Mair leads a discussion of the implications of the hacking scandal for the shape of power in Britain."

 

Given the continued revelations, whether this programme is a one-off or the first in a series, remains to be seen...

 

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