Sunday, October 7, 2012

What is a Cult (radio mix) - Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012

I have realised it is something of a treat to be shunted out of one's comfort zone.
You don't think it is, but really, when you come back from the arena, whatever that may be - the adrenaline of being challenged, hopefully combined with the relief of having met the challenge - is something we should all try and do more.

So I guess I should be grateful to my 'friends' at the Sydney Opera House for their suggestion that I talk on the somewhat left-field topic of: My workplace is a cult with Narelle Hooper, Catherine Fox, and the journalist Gideon Haigh at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, 2012

There is a video (apparently) to come of the event - which seemed to go jolly well, and was fascinating (thanks to my excellent co-panellists) but in the meantime you can listen to me stutter and stammer my way through an interview (with Gideon) on ABC's Drive program...

So I think this dangerous thing was good to do, my blogpost on the art of #fail is much more my comfort zone, but gave me far less satisfaction. So what I learnt is: it is sort of fascinating to be placed in a position where you have to think creatively, unconventionally about a theoretical 'stated' position, in public, on the record. It's affirming. Everyone should try it.
Though I'm not confident the PR team would agree.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Scratched Data: physical implementations of information and the future of consumer electronics. (according to me ;)

The Zeitgeist Project Berlin 2012 - Tom Uglow trend presentation from FreeState Ltd on Vimeo.

It was with some trepidation that I was asked to talk by Adam Scott of Free State at their inaugural Zeitgeist Project 2012. The event was a fringe event / curtain-raiser for CMO's and CTO's from a range of global brands attending the IFA Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin in September and I was asked, in the spirit of free thinking I guess (certainly not because I know what I'm talking about) to choose a piece of consumer technology that represented the zeitgeist. THere is a nice overview of the whole thing here.

Obviously for me the connection between the online world and the physical was the direction I immediately headed in: (these are the notes from my talk - the video is below)
I wanted to talk just as an enthusiast about an area of the digital world that's undergoing significant change mainly due to the democratization of funding mechanisms like kickstarter and more fluid production processes. 
Another important aspect is a psychological one. We live in a post digital world.
This is a term coined a while ago to describe the point in time when we stop being awed by the power of computing in our lives… and just like cameras or combustion engines this is true. we no longer marvel at all the astonishing technology that you will se, we simply demand more. 
We expect our phone to allow a three way international video-conferencing call with no latency and for it to be free.
It isn't normal. It's extraordinary.  
So I am more interested in places where the interface between the real world and this magical one. 
There's a term called biophillia which is a hypothesis that states we have an innate connection with nature. WIth trees. wood, organic materials.
And our lives have become ephemeral. Invisible. 
For example we listen to digital music, play online games, take digital photos on digital phones that are saved invisibly into the sky, we go to work and we do this and we don't actually make anything.  
I think others this evening have or will talking about our innate need for patina and physicality, to create deep and longer lasting memories and how this is best effected by sensory mash upß sonic/visual/taste&touch etc but predominantly organic - innate and
- cross-modal experiences 
So we love that  damage, distress, residue and patina caused by physicality and we want to see it in digital as well as traditional consumer products .
Scratches on a record.
creases on a book.
the crack on your android. the dent on your macbook
the trace of the hand.
this organic complexity is more authentic and in a world of ephemeral magic I find that authenticity is lacking. 
So my examples are grass-roots projects, I'm afraid several are prototypes, but increasingly they indicate the need to move digital into physical, instead of augmented reality, we want reality augmented.

little printer from berg is a physical box that creates a thermal printed newspaper from the internet for you each day personalized to your world. 
We have heard about 3d printing technology for a while. But with printrbot we are finally seeing them in homes and offices.  I have one on my desk, unfortunately it's still in 74 separate pieces, but it is there. and it was about $500 
tableau by Jon Kestner is a beautiful model of how you can bridge the divide between the digital and analogue generations using some affordable gadgetry, a drawer, and a touch of showmanship. 
Jon Kestner is a partner at super mechanical who also produce twine - a piece of consumer electronics that lets you program with your phone to tell you when things happen - i.e.  you want to get a tweet when your laundry's done, an email when the basement floods, or a text message when you left the garage door open. THis is the 21centuries equivalent of programming the VCR. You may not be able to do it - but your kids will. 
pebble is a watch that tries to harness the computing potential of your phone in a more convenient consumer device. They made 11m dollars on kickstarter when only asking for $10000
Consumers want these things. I want one. 

But apparently I have to pick one thing.
Well it's a close run thing between twine and my winner - because I really feel the remote controls of the future are going to allow us to program environmental triggers into our lives and we haven't even begun to really think about what that means. 
In the meantime my award goes to makeymakey. That they call an invention kit for anyone but could be equally described as a way to program physical objects to do digital things. It's really easiest to show rather than tell so here's a great video that they made for kickstarter that to me is the future of consumer electronics.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My accidental TED talk :: Cannes SMG/TED with Eric Berlow & Ronda Carnigie

Sometimes remarkable things do accidentally happen. I was certainly unprepared for the incredible hour of panel discussion I got with TED Fellow & complexity scientist Eric Berlow, and TED's own Ronda Carnigie last week in Cannes.

After all I thought I was going to do 10mins on some fuzzy ideas around new models of narrative that I'm interested in followed by a quick Q&A for a lunchtime event for Starcom MediaVest Group.
(If you're interested - my deck:
But Cannes has a way of swinging surprises so when Ronda and Eric  joined me on stage and we segued effortlessly into an intensive discussion about the existence of data in nature and how organic patterns can help us understand organisational culture and challenges around creativity, well, you know, you just have to lean back and join in.

I can honestly say I have never had more fun on a stage with two such bright and brilliant people. It was just lovely, like jamming in a band, which seems the most appropriate metaphor given Eric's reminiscences about Shona Brown's use of the same when talking about Google's own intentionally chaotic structure when it was growing. 
I am a huge believer in fail culture, in allowing small groups to fail faster, about an organic org, about interconnectedness, removal of fear, celebrating uncertainty, avoiding intervention cascades, idea agility, budget paralysis, and the pursuit of fun  at work (and hiring to that goal), not to mention slime mold.  

In fact it's a damn good thing I'm not in charge. But it was amazing to hear a lot of those ideas reflected back in Eric's own insights both as a teacher and academic, and from within nature itself - it was just so much fun - which is the point after all. Quite how we got to the Swedish twitter scandal I'm not quite sure, but there's nothing like rounding out with some awkward pauses about Nazi's.

And in reply to Stephanie - 
(who wrote this rather flattering review of our chat: What are you passionate about?) -

Yes. Failure is the only option... mainly because in itself success is simply a failure to set sufficiently ambitious goals. And we only do that because uncertainty makes us so profoundly anxious. 
It's a massive indulgence but one I am very lucky to be able to enjoy.

Hangout On Air - Mobile Creativity at Cannes Lions 2012

Reuben and I hosted our first live Hangout on Air from the Beach in Cannes.
Somewhere between Jimmy Fallon and Terry Wogan in shorts. The sight of my legs is a bit of a horror... must remember more fake tan next time.
Anyway if you had 42 minutes hanging around...

Hangout on Air with the mobile creatives at Cannes Lions 2012 on the stand-out mobile moments and inspirations. Features mobile movers and shakers at our beach-side Creative Sandbox, including James Hilton, Co-founder and Creative, from AKQA as well as some surprise guests, for a lively session on mobile creativity. And in true Hangout style we have some remote guests including Richard Ting, VP, executive creative director, mobile and social platforms - R/GA, joining us from further afield. All hosted by our very own Google creatives Tom Uglow and Reuben Halper, making it a very entertaining and enlightening session.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hello #future :: Ad-Tech Melbourne

An updated version of a presentation for Ad-Tech Melbourne with a few more ideas...
(first covered at Fallon's future festival last year)

Circus : Festival of Creativity 2012

Spoke last week at the Communication Council's Festival of Creativity in Sydney, known as Circus.
It was a fascinating day filled with big speakers and big ideas.
Really great to see so many friendly faces and hear so many inspiring people.
Here is my presentation from the event:

And a blog post as well: marketingmag
Am sure there will be a video along before too long...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Digital Does for Film-Making

I gave a rather quick talk recently at Tropfest in Sydney at their Roughcuts seminar. Terrific fun, amazing speakers, not sure it quite gets the love it deserves really - but good to see the festival do something more practical for the film-makers than just show the work. 
Not sure how practical i am anyway. I just talked about how everything is about to change.
My speaker notes are here: