Hemingway.

HemingwayGun

This is an exceptional idea. Hemingway allows you to edit and verify the quality of your writing based on readability. It’s a one of those platforms that you wish you’d had for ages, as once you start using it, you can’t stop. It makes your writing exceptionally tight and clear. Which, for someone who loves using rather flowery language, is a useful and vital tool. Especially in helping writing for presentations.

(Written on Hemingway obviously…)

Access here. The desktop version is $5. Get on it.

The snobbery of ‘No Internet Week’.

AdAge recently drew my attention to this project from the always innovative and provocative Mother London. At the last Internet Week Europe, Mother decided to run an experiment in digital fasting. (I don’t think I need to point out the irony of that). No Internet Week.

I watched the entire piece, and instead of being nudged into rethinking my own internet habits, it infuriated me. Not because the message isn’t important, but that it’s delivered with such a sense of superiority and snobbishness, that it undermines it’s whole point.

The experiment actually starts off well. The diverse nature of the group selected shows how pervasive and cross generational the phrase ‘digital native’ has become (especially with it’s heavy associations with Millennials). The initial days of no digital interactions are actually quite revealing.

Then the wheels fall off.

The shift this film takes is one that you increasingly see across the digital landscape. It’s the idea that somehow ‘switching off’, taking an internet break, is a badge of honor, of one-upmanship, that the Internet is a stark choice of addiction or absolution. I myself have been guilty of this, a few years ago, I posted on here a post called ‘Cabin Porn’. It’s beautiful pictures of isolated cabins, sparked a moment in me where I felt I needed to curb, or at least revel in those moments that were not dominated by the internet. In the intervening years, this idea has gone ‘overground’.  Just today, I saw a rather excellent press ad from Guinness that talks directly to the pervasiveness of phones on pub tables. Bands are increasingly asking their fans to put away their phones and iPads (shudder) when at a gig. While these push-backs are relatively embryonic, they do illustrate a culture where the personal regulation of internet usage becomes a cultural norm.

It’s easy to forget that we are not even a decade into the smart phone era. Indeed, many people online were staggered to recollect that the iPhone only came out in 2007. We are still grappling with technologies that are barely out of their teens, and in the smart phones case, not even out of the 2nd grade.

But these aren’t arguments that this experiment is interested in dealing with. The point taken is that the Internet is somehow a life-sucking, disruptive, destroyer of relationships and interactions. Instead of promoting or contextualizing what smart digital usage looks and acts like, we’re left with a typically British (and deeply Calvinist) sense of self flagellation. That when we binge, we deserve to be punished. To have our toys taken away as punishment. There is no idea of moderation. Simply of absolution.

When sensitive, smart films like ‘Her’ explore our relationships with technology in very human and thought provoking ways, the shrillness of ‘No Internet Week’ becomes even more pronounced. Maybe if it treated the Internet and their behaviors with the maturity it deserves then maybe the insights would have been a bit more useful to others, not just the participants.

Postcards from the Deep Web.

It might be just over 5 months old, and suitably brief, but there is some great thinking here about how the less salubrious parts of the internet actually hold some relevant keys to helping evolve our relationship with advertising ‘on’ the Internet.

Having spent a fair amount of time in this ‘Deep Web’ (especially around streaming sites), their methods are exceptionally effective, but in the hands of these pseudo-spammers, deeply frustrating. The classic waiting for 30 seconds to access content could be a far more entertaining and engaging experience if these same units and tricks were manipulated effectively by creatives as opposed to just spammers.

Certainly this presentation makes you think beyond the ‘traditional’ ad units that we all becoming accustomed to and creatively expired by. I’m sure the deep web has many more secrets that can be unlocked to tell more effective Brand stories.

(From Amber Horsburgh  & Julian Cole)

Reboot.

It’s always a cliché, but true. January 1st gives you an opportunity to re-assess, and in the case of this blog. Reboot. I said I’d do it a number of times in 2013, but frankly, I had other things on my mind. (New country, 2 new cities, 2 jobs, it all went off). However, I was inspired to come back stronger than before by Bud’s relevant post on the same subject matter. This quote sums it up nicely:

“My blog is a safe place where I can try out all of my new ideas, without the need to be pithy or friend-safe, and it also helps me collect all of my favorite reads in one place. My blog is my best resume and I don’t think I would have landed any of my recent jobs without the product and process of it. ”

My blog has morphed numerous times since I started in 2009. It focussed more intensely on digital practices as the years moved on, and with my full-fledged jump into a strategic role at Spring Studios, (as opposed to operating in a fuzzier hybrid environment), this blog now gives me another opportunity to explore the impact and implications of my thinking.

This gets at the heart of why this blog is called the Society Of The Spectacle. The Situationists, among other things, were fundamentally curious. Debord’s book of the same name seeks to reveal answers (and solutions) by peeling back the layers of ‘unreality’ in the world. In the same sort of fashion, this is what this blog should aim to do. Peel back layers to reveal insights, ideas and disruptions that shake us out of current thinking, and make us better in the process. In doing so, it might hopefully, inspire people that might come across those posts, and work out my own brain cells to boot.

Here’s to a 2014 of becoming smarter in the world.

James.

The Scarecrow

Rare is it that you see a campaign and go: “That will win everything in site this time next year”. Well, this might just be one of those campaigns. In 2012, Chipotle and CAA cleaned up (rightfully) with their emotive and powerful ‘Back to the start’ film. A combination of stunning attention to detail, ingenious musical selection (who knew Willie Nelson could bring actual soul to a Coldplay song?) And a powerful brand message that resonated in all the right ways saw the film become a touchstone for ethical marketing and creativity.

Chipotle have followed this up with another film, this time a trailer for it’s mobile game ‘The Scarecrow’. The film and game are designed to highlight the different choices that fast food manufactures make and the impact that it has on our environment, society and the choices consumers make. Chipotle & CAA went with the whole ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ concept here, but in my opinion, elevated beyond what Back to the start achieved. A darker edged Pixar feel permeates the film (from production company Moonbot Studios,) which is heightened by the (genius) use of Fiona Apple singing a wildly re-imagined ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willy Wonka. While in the film, the song is a lush and optimistic ditty, the songs double meaning is bought to life brilliantly by Fiona Apple and adds to the heightened drama in the Chipotle film. It’s beautifully paired duo, and sets the dramatic tone that the game itself is trying to achieve. (From what we can tell, it looks like a fully immersive platform game – Mario with Scarecrow’s.)

I’ll have to download the game to get a sense of whether it’s any good or not, but, if the same level of detail has been included in the game as their has been in the film, then it could really be something special.

(Via @sandoz)

The Sound Of Honda.

This is a hugely atmospheric and smart piece of work for Honda in Japan. The idea sees them tapping into their heritage in Formula1, and of course, the most iconic driver to ever slip into one of their cars. Ayrton Senna.

In 1989, Senna set the fastest lap of all time in F1 at the Suzuka circuit in Japan. Using the original telemetry data, the sounds of that world record lap have been recreated around the track.

Shot at night, the lights track the sound at the speed the car went around the track, combining to create a hugely atmospheric piece of content. It’s both a wonderful tribute to Ayrton Senna himself, but also re-affirms the long lasting influence that Honda has had as a car and engine manufacturer. It’s a nice use of (very obvious) data sets to tell a great story. Some of the cutaways capture people in sheer delight at this experience, and I can’t say I blame them. A fantastic piece of work.

(See the making of below…)

 

Dream Concert Art Show.

andre dream concert series

André is not exactly an artist that sits on his hands. His handiwork adorns everything from whisky to hotels and clubs. But, beyond the dilution of the André brand still lurks an artist at heart, which is why I was pleased to find that these mysterious posters that popped throughout downtown Manhattan were André (Via pseudo patron Kitsuné…) handiwork.

The Dream Concert Poster Series is exactly that. What would it look like if your favorite bands of all time had shared the same bill? How seismic would the impact of been of seeing all 5 Britpop titans at one venue have been? What collaborations would have been sprung from Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez and Rodriquez sharing the same bill?

Covering almost all genres and decades of musical culture, these pieces tug at the emotions of ‘I was there’. We’ve all had it; the concert that could never be replaced or forgotten, the iconic moment where you knew you were part of history… It’s one of the ever-lasting great allures of live music; finding that holy grail, that ‘Manchester Free Trade Hall’ moment. (For reference, mine are Daft Punk 2007, David Axelrod 2004, Brian Wilson performs ‘Pet Sounds’ 2002, and Spiritualized® ‘Acoustic Mainlines’ 2006 & ‘Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating In Space 2009.) The posters tap into that longing, and frankly, would look great as a series of prints, (which, from previous André experience, these almost certainly will be.)

Look out for them in a city near you…

http://dreamconcertsartshow.tumblr.com/

Exploring and deciphering the digitally excellent.