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Give me something I can write about January 25, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, philosophy.
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From the It’s-been-sitting-open-for-a-week-just-write-about-it Department, this great short video called Making Is Connecting from David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications at Westminster University. In it he argues tools that exist to facilitate expression of one’s self are inherently more powerful than tools that exist only as an expression of someone else (think the rise of social platforms versus the dominance of 20th century media) as this connects us to the world around us.

Gauntlett backs up his ideas not with the latest digital media thinkers such as Charles Leadbeater or (my hero) Clay Shirky, but with quotes from Ivan Illich, a philosopher from the 1970′s, and William Morris, a textile designer from the 1800′s. The examples point to something I’ve been banging on about for quite some time: the rise of social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. are an interesting development, but they are successful due to facilitating expression of self, and conenction with like-minded others.

As I wrote about Posterous last March, tools will continue to rise that make it easier and easier to express yourself, creating content for others to consume in the process. Making is connecting indeed, and as the world gets radically smaller on a daily basis, understanding this becomes ever more crucial.

(found via altnytterfarlig)

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All that noise, all that sound November 17, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, technology.
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So my agency is on a decent size pitch at the moment, and we were talking about the acceleration of technology over the last three years as it pertains to this particular company. And we were video taping various people saying different things and so I of course being the narcissist I am went off back to my desk and sat running a monologue over and over in my head, trying to think of something clever to say while being able to toss it off as if it was largely off the cuff.

And then when they came to film me I was on a conference call. And then the opportunity was gone because they’re in a bit of a rush.

The thing I thought of though, I thought was quite interesting, and it was this: the technological revolution we’re going through right now is currently being framed as a change in lifestyle, when what we’re really dealing with, on a really fundamental level, is a change in life itself. 20 years ago, many-to-many communication was basically impossible, and even one-to-many was limited to those who could afford to do it, usually requiring a publisher.

Now anyone can, and because there are still more people in the world who knew life without the Internet than there are who only know the Internet, being always connected is deemed a lifestyle and a choice. As that ratio changes however, being disconnected is going to be seen as a lifestyle and what is currently (at least in some circles, not mine) considered an “other” state, will be the norm.

The norm on the rise now is being able to get a message to anyone you want or as many people you want at any time you want. After thousands of years of relative status quo, it’s changed over night. Which is why I say the web is young, and why I say we haven’t fully grasped all this yet. I could just have a smaller mind than most (it has often been suggested), but sitting and pondering it for a moment kinda blows it to a thousand tiny pieces.

And having said all that, the only thing I can be sure of is I would have wound up on the cutting room floor, with the Creative Director going “Do you really have to do that every time?”.

…I suppose I do…

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Image courtesy of bass nroll, with thanks to compfight.

On the road again October 29, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, intent, marketing, philosophy, work/life.
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3 comments
Cover of
Cover of On The Road

I have had Jack Kerouac‘s On The Road given to me a gift to keep at least three times. I imagine some combination of traits my friends spotted in me (wannabe-philosopher mixed with restless-and-easily-distracted) focused their attention on this book. When people visit, they remark on the copies that line my shelf:

“You liked it enough to buy it twice?”

“No. I ignored it long enough to be given another.”

This is not about that book though. This is about perception (and a little intent).

Your friend and mine Mark Earls referenced a piece from Lynne Truss in the UK’s Sunday Times in which she states:

…I like to see what other people are reading on the bus or the train; how far they’ve got; whether they’re enjoying it. It seems to me that such information needs to be public for the good of us all and I’m sad to think of reading in public places ultimately becoming so private…

Lynne was lamenting the arrival of E-Readers and the disappearance of actual book and magazine covers from the parks and cafes and public transport systems of the world, along with the loss of a shared look or a fleeting conversation about the work at hand.

Lynne Truss’ worry stems from the removal of social identifiers in public spaces; it seems we don’t just judge a book by its cover, but the reader as well. I smile whenever I see another grown-up reading Harry Potter in public, because I remember being consumed by those books and also embarrassed to have them out in public without an 8 year old in sight. We use these things (and clothes, iPods, cars and holidays) to signal via the perceptions we assume others will have. My intent given my office wardrobe today of boho-cardigan and falling apart at the seams (but limited edition John Varvatos-collaboration) Converse sneakers, is to signal something true about myself; unfortunately that truth is little more than the clothing equivalent of the never opened copies of Kerouac’s masterpiece, or as I wrote in Everyone 2.0, you’re unique.

Just like everyone else.

I have friends (they shall remain nameless because I love them dearly) who have taken great pleasure in displaying tomes they have conquered in the name of enlightenment. These friends drew more pleasure from others seeing they had read (or at least bought) the appropriate books than perhaps they did from the work itself. On The Road is a book a selection of my friends feel I am supposed to have read, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, something someone says I am supposed to do instantly defaults to the thing I am least likely to do. Their intent is to help me appear a culturally astute and well-rounded individual; my intent is the equally pretentious attempt to thumb my nose at convention simply for the sake of it.

Now, my favourite magazine is British GQ as its collection of columnists is a veritable who’s who of the UK’s newspapers. They are regularly funny and insightful and it pains me when the publisher stoops to putting a scantily clad woman on the front cover, partly because the writing is better than that suggests but also because I then feel the need to explain to others, much as the joke about Playboy goes, “I read it for the articles.” Perception reveals, or so we would assume, intent. Perception is also said to be reality, and so given the option of tangling with the looks I imagine women might give me on the subway in the mornings, I opt for Wired and instead leave Heidi Klum in her various states of undress on my coffee table for next Sunday (sorry dear, you know how it is).

Back to the Kindle, on one hand I like where we’re heading as I could potentially just read A.A. Gill‘s column without wondering if someone’s nipple is slipping out on the other side for the rest of the train to see.

On the other hand I’m envisioning a birthday not too long from now, where a gift arrives as a download along with a note “Didn’t see it in your “Read Items” list on Amazon and thought to myself David is supposed to have read books like this!!

The identifiers are perhaps moving out of the physical world in some ways, I doubt however this will have much impact on the intentions we have for everyone else’s lives.

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Everyone wants to be the man at the top (Commented on “Howard Lindzon”) October 26, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, storytelling, strategy.
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The conversation taking place around the web about Digital Strangelove is truly blowing my mind. All I wanted to do was move the conversation forward a little, the fact so many people have taken the time to work through it, comment on it, think about it and share it means the absolute world, and it’s great getting to visit a bunch of new blogs and engage with different audiences I would never have had the chance to find out about.

Below is a response I wrote to one post in particular on Howard Lindzon’s blog to an anonymous comment that had said (and I paraphrase) “The ultimate goal is to give people what they NEED”, to which I responded:

“Name” – appreciate your thoughts. And for saying I was smart, I wish my high school teachers could see! ;]

I would suggest the ultimate goal is not to give people anything, except for an easier way to spread their own message. It is entirely unquantifiable, but I would love to know how many people with no prior experience just had a stab at recording some music because of how easy it was to use Garage Band.

At the end of the day, I don’t think you should aim to give your customer something meaningful, you should create an environment where they can give something meaningful to you. To use the Apple/Microsoft example, MS is launching a campaign for Win7 based around having listened to its users, whereas I believe it is arguable Apple’s platform tries to facilitate being able to listen to each other. A subtle but crucial difference.

Now, off to find a cushy job in a Think Tank!

(Written, for the record, on a PC. With a Mac to my left.)

Originally posted as a comment
by David Gillespie
on Howard Lindzon using DISQUS.

The Think Tank comment was due to a wry observation on the part of the poster than I had taken so many slides to say something they thought was blatantly obvious. Maybe they’re right, though other comments had come in stating how concise it was.

Each to their own.

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I need something to believe in October 15, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, strategy.
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2 comments

For the last month or so, I have locked myself away on weekends and any week night I had free, which I made most nights, in order to get a dump of informatino out of my head. I feel like last year I had or at the very least made the time to get it all down ona  regular basis via this blog. This year there’s been a bit more going on, and trying to stay on top of it all, “all” being the job that pays me, the thing that I love and this place where I do my thinking, let alone whatever may happen in my personal life has been a bit much to digest.

So sometime in September I got a big stack of Post-It notes, a Sharpie and a glass of wine, and went to town, covering my loungeroom with notes, ideas, thoughts and pieces of things I was thinking. After that I left it for a few days, then came back and organised it into a flow that made sense. Then it was a case of pulling it all into a presentation that said everything I wanted in as few words as possible. I’ve perhaps wound up a little more verbose than I ahd in mind, but I feel like I’ve arrived in a place where I can say “Yes, this right now is the summation of everything I’m thinking and feeling about this space.”

There are still a few edges I need to round out, and some great questions posed by friends whose feedback I’ve sought. I’m looking forward though to being able to think about something else, I feel like while I’ve had this deck coming together I haven’t had space to think about anything else. I’m looking forward to your feedback too – call it perhaps the Gospel According to David, it is once again a testament to my innate desire to follow interesting lines of thought, regardless of whether they’re “right”. I feel lucky to be able to experiment publicly with thoughts, and I love it when the readers of this blog come back at me with an opposing point of view. In a few days when I post it up, I hope you’ll do just that.

Imagine courtesy of jannalauren, with thanks to compfight.

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We off that October 5, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, music, philosophy.
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4 comments

While looking at Katie Chatfield’s blog last night and thinking about the various ways I’d like to be like her when I grow up (I’m sure she’d say she’d like to be like her when she grows up too), I stumbled back across a post she’d made in May of this year on “done”. I liked it so much at the time I printed it out and stuck it on the glass door to my office, though I’m not sure anyone else got it (complete aside, taking the time to turn something in bits into atoms surely has to be the most you can like something, ever).

Re-blogged below for the sake of further cementing its awesome-ness, here it is in full:

Something I preach and rarely practice is the importance of just doing, and not waiting for perfect because perfect never happens. My musical self, all nerves and insecurity, decided to make good on threats to be less hypocritical, and found once it started it was actually fine and better than expected.

Done is the engine of more, and the important thing is to have done it, not talked about it. If Nike’s slogan had been “Just practice and be ready to do it at some point”, then odds are they wouldn’t be the rock star brand that they are.

The point of done is not to finish, but to get other things done. Amen.

(and we’re done!)

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I’ve got big ideas, I’m out of control (Commented on “A VC”) September 9, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, philosophy, work/life.
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Fred Wilson has an interesting short piece up this morning on failure. After reading it, I left the following comment:

I was doing a review of a (young but brilliant) guy on my team recently, and as we were discussing the feedback he said to me “You know, the thing I worry about more than anything is making mistakes.”

I looked at him blankly and said “That is like fretting that the sun might come up tomorrow. Guess what? It’s going to happen! Don’t worry about making mistakes, worry about things you can actually have a positive impact on. If you spend your time worrying about the possibility of mistakes you’re not going to get anything done.”

Now, being Australian (living in Canada atm), there’s a fair amount of a “no worries” attitude that is ingrained in us, but Fred I think you hit on something really crucial about the States – the fact that success is rewarded and if you fail you are encouraged to give it another go; as fortunate as I feel to be from Australia we don’t have the latter as part of our psyche. I’ve benefited from tremendously from growing up in Hong Kong among other places, and I think a willingness to get it wrong is one of the best things any society can have in its DNA.

It’s probably also the reason I’m a long way from home right now :)

Originally posted as a comment
by davidgillespie
on A VC using DISQUS.

Now, I adore Australia and it will always be home. We do have an odd relationship with success and failure though, born no doubt from a myriad of cultural sources others I’m sure have written long and eloquently about, and which I don’t want to get into right now. Instead I’ll just say, as I did the other day when someone asked me what this blog was about, I said “big ideas”.

“Are they the right ideas?”

I laughed and said “That my friend, was never the point.”

So, here’s to the big ideas today. Wherever they lead us.

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Intent = stuff white people like March 13, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, intent, philosophy.
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“People have a really good  ability to see through you projects on the Internet that are just done to try and make you famous.”

Great quote. This is why I bang on about INTENT!

Watch this Google talk, from Christian Lander, author of brilliant blog Stuff White People Like.

Treetop Barbie March 5, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, philosophy, politics, work/life.
1 comment so far

On the subway this morning I was watching the below TED talk by Nalini Nadkarni on her work as an ecologist, studying life in the canopies of rainforests. It’s a great talk which i recommend you check out, my favourite part though was her institution’s appropriation of every girl’s favourite doll, Barbie.

They buy them from thrift stores and other cheap outlets then hand-sew costumes for them and send them out. They’re also available for purchase which makes me wish I had cousins who were young enough to get one for!

A few thoughts:

  • I love the appropriation of a classic symbol, recast with new meaning in this day and age
  • Is this brand-jacking? Maybe, but not in a way that casts the original in a bad light
  • If I were Mattel I would be all over this. Nalini’s group send a booklet out with each Barbie on the work they do, Mattel could release a whole line of eco-warrior Barbie, created entirely from renewable materials in a series of different guises. Sea-Rescue Barbie, Treetop Barbie…Ivory Coast Barbie? (ouch!)

I’m wondering about other campaigns, brands, products, services, whatever. Major symbols like Barbie that can be given new purpose in an eco-aware age. There’s a lot of chatter right now on how green issues will be cast aside as people just try to hang on to their homes, I’m hoping initiatives like this might manage to keep it front of mind for people.

This post is also a special dedicatuion to Alex White, one of my best friends and a tireless eco-warrior himself. He gets married to an extraodinary woman (hi Fern!) tomorrow, a wedding I am sadly not in Australia for. Mate, I love you to absolute pieces and am sorry I can’t be there to share your special day. I cannot wait to hear about it, watch the videos and catch up when I’m back home at the end of the year.

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Value + Hope February 18, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy.
7 comments

In a former life I gave a presentation to the sales team of a company. I was reminded of it after reading this quote from Seth:

What marketers sell is hope.

Hope was part of the thrust of the presentation I gave, the other was value. We would raise hopes, set a price on those raised hopes, and then afterwards the customer decided whether or not they got value. My point was (and is) the seller mitigates value by adjusting the level of hope in the buyer – the price point is almost irrelevant (ok it’s not, but humour me here).

So I agree with Seth, marketers sell hope. But once money exchanges hands, hope transforms into value – either good or bad. Hope isn’t ever received by the buyer, and if one really wants to get into semantics, you could argue hope never actually existed with the seller in the first place.

There’s a link here somewhere to Schrödinger’s cat, though I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Anyone want to have a go?

Oh, and the (not very good)  presentation is below.

Thank you to the three people still reading for indulging me :)
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