Myth and Rarity

From Elvis Costello's December 2013 interview in Esquire:

People can’t really understand that now, when everything is available and everything is annotated, but you used to watch a television show and it was just gone. You really had to pay attention. Its mythic power came down to the fact that you saw it once."

Via Phenomenal Work

Seeing the Creative Woods for the Data Trees

Barry Meade writing at Polygon:

I am arguing that this is what we have forgotten in our chase for mobile profit, that we can’t see the creative woods for the data trees. For all our mountains of information we’ve collected about user habits and sales, the gut-level ability to give joy and inspire our audience remains the job of our industry’s creative people first and every other industry role second. Our ability to communicate to, reach and inspire the people that we make things for is the foundation for everything any artist or craftsperson ever produced.

For all of the bleating about big data and analytics, the most successful creative work, digital or otherwise, still seems to be coming from talented people doing cool stuff.

To bastardize one of my favorite Mark Fenske quotes:

It doesn't matter how much data you have if your idea sucks.

The challenge for the quants is going to be the same one that research and strategy groups in creative settings have always faced: It's not enough that you have the information. It has to be made compelling to the creative process. Helping the work get better is the only way to get a seat at the table.

On the flipside, the creatives that learn how to really have fun with data will continue driving the future of their respective industries.

Via MacStories

VCU Brandcenter Seeks Lead for Creative Technology Track

The VCU Brandcenter Creative Technology track has been churning out some amazing people over the past few years. We're lucky to have one of them, Jeff MacDonald, here at Martin. In fact, he's so good and such a nice guy that he was featured on Forbes' 30 under 30 this year.

Anyways, his (and my) alma mater, the VCU Brandcenter, is looking for someone to lead their Creative Technology track. It's the chance to work with some of the scariest, capable and most socially awkward talent that you're going to find within 100-miles of the word "brand." I'm jealous of each and every one of them for what they are able to do.

Mission or Goal of Unit

The Brandcenter, through its groundbreaking Master of Science degree program and executive education programming, seeks to provide the advertising and marketing industry with strategic and creative leaders – men and women of integrity, enthusiasm, imagination, and uncommon vision who will lead the industry to new heights.

Preferred Qualifications

Information architecture, web design, programming, behavioral analytics, contextual inquiry, usability studies, research methodologies, rapid prototyping, and user journeys.

Fluency in Experience Design production tools include, but are not limited to, Omnigraffle, Axure, Visio, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Cinema 4-D, After Effects, 3D Max.

Sound like you? Click through for the details.

My Own Personal Waterloo

Things have been a little slow around here lately.

I decided to move the blog portion of my website to some sort of flat-file CMS. Idealistic dreams of dropbox powered writing workflows, the freedom to write with any text editor, being forced to learn to code in a practical way...it was all so beautiful.

It hasn't been going well.

I started working with Statamic back in December. The idea being that I'd get everything moved over in time for the new year and that I could relaunch the site along with a new podcast.

But that was a different time. A time of optimism, open evenings, and reckless underestimation.

It was also before our baby became crazy colicky at night.

It was without understanding how deep the rabbit hole of learning to code my own site would actually be.

It was before weekly snow storms and resulting daycare closings. Days full of kids, nights full of catch-up work, and weekends in recovery.

But I've finally made progress.

I've got my Statamic theme working.

I've exported all of my posts from Squarespace, and formatted most as markdown files.

My server is now symlinked to a folder in Dropbox, so posting will be as simple as creating a new plain text note on OSX or iOS.

The only thing left is to try and make some sense of my mess of RSS feeds. They've piled up over the years like the Pacific Garbage Patch. It's time to clean them up. Feedburner is long overdue for the ol' heave ho.

This has been my own personal waterloo.

But it hasn't been without positives. I've spent tons of time working with the command line in Terminal. I've navigated through a few different hosting companies and products before figuring out what I really needed. And I've finally had a good reason to dig in, really get immersed, in coding. It took a real project to do it. Sites like Code Academy are great in theory, but without a good motivation to spend late nights problem solving and pulling your hair out, I've found those learn-to-code sites to be a little more idealistic than useful for my needs.

The new site should be ready to go soon. You'll know when it happens because 10 repeat posts will go out over RSS. Apologies in advance...

Some Other Platforms:

I spent some time with a few different platforms while working this out. Some brief thoughts on each:

Postach.io is a great idea, but it doesn't have the depth that I want (and probably don't need).

Scriptogr.am seems like a ghost ship. It's there, it looks like a good solution, but I can't tell if anyone is still at the helm.

Skrivr uses wonky file names, and honestly I'd like to self host.

Dropplets doesn't work on mobile.

Markbox is still really immature.

Ghost is SUPER buggy when posting from iOS.

Kirby required a bit too much PHP for my taste, and I just couldn't get it to work without fiddling around with htaccess.

Second Crack was made to do exactly what I'd like to do, but installation takes serious server-side acrobatics. I never thought I'd have to use VIM, and I've now seen horrors I can never unsee.

Pelican seems really great, but to say that it's command line intensive is like saying calculus is math oriented.

Newegg Loses to Patent Troll

TQP's single patent is tied to a failed modem business run by Michael Jones, formerly president of Telequip. The company has acquired more than $45 million in patent licensing fees by getting settlements from a total of 139 companies. TQP argues that the patent covers SSL or TLS combined with the RC4 cipher, a common Internet security system used by retailers like Newegg.

I think it was Andy Warhol who predicted: "In the future, everyone will have 15-minutes in court with a patent troll."

Source: http://http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/...

Squarespace redesigned on iOS

Whoops...spoke too soon.

After writing another post about the problems of posting to Squarespace from iOS the night before last, they went ahead and released some updates.

We’re excited to announce two brand new iOS apps for Squarespace customers – Squarespace Blog and Squarespace Metrics – as well as iOS 7 updates for Note and Portfolio.

As Squarespace's functionality continues to expand, we’ve focused on creating an entire suite of applications around Squarespace’s core product. This lets us focus each app on specific functionality, providing a clear, targeted interface that helps you accomplish exactly what you need to do on the go.

I'm using the new iPhone app to write this. So far it's working well. And wow is it great to look at. It seems to have the full functionality of the desktop website. Which probably wasn't easy to do.

I was hoping for a URL scheme to work with or some kind of Dropbox integration. There's a lot to be said for being able to write in a proper text editor. Though that probably makes me a bit of an edge case for their target users.

I'm afraid that after looking into so many blogging services that use Dropbox to publish markdown formatted text files as posts, any other method of posting seems a little bit inefficient considering that I'm already doing all of my writing in Dropbox synced text files.

Sven just wrote about moving Simplicitybliss to [Kirby] and I am incredibly jealous. Also, I'm happy to see that one of my favorite bloggers shares my inability to Stay. Put.

More complaining about posting with Squarespace...

Chris Gonzolez put together a Squarespace wishlist that reminded me of some of the frustrations I've written about. He makes a number of great points, but this continues to be my main frustration:


If Squarespace isn't going to update its own app – it's been 25 weeks (!) since the last iPad update – they should open up some kind of public API for 3rd-party apps to use. If I could just publish directly from Byword or Editorial, it would change my entire game.

Their head of operations (I think?) replied to a frustrated tweet of mine with a cryptic "stay tuned," but at this rate it could be years.

I've been thinking of continuing to use Squarespace for a home base, but moving my blog to a platform better suited to day-to-day posting. Tumblr or any of the Dropbox blogging services offer much better blogging functionality.

But maybe if I wait long enough...

Via Unretrofied

If you're paying attention, you're not paying attention...

Those registering lower on a test that measured mindfulness were able to identify more quickly a series of repeating geometric patterns on a computer screen that they were unaware they were learning. This type of unconscious, or implicit, learning is the same automatic mental process used in teaching yourself to ride a bike or that a child marshals in intuiting underlying grammatical rules by listening to the ways a parent strings together sentences.”

Via Scientific American

The Martin Agency Kitchen

The agency is starting up a great new program for creative "types" looking to spend a few months inside an agency making awesome stuff:

Combine 15 overachieving prodigies from the worlds of art, copy, design, film, digital and business, give 'em actual real-world assignments and you get The Martin Agency Kitchen. No, we won't bore you with culinary-puns and hackneyed cooking metaphors. Although that would be kinda fun.

We're here to throw down the gauntlet and ask you if you're up for the challenge to blow people's minds with the kickassest of kickass work EVER CREATED.

So are you ready to bring the pain for three months and come home with three completed projects like: a killer music video, new business, branded apps, art installations and alien-grade inventions? Then read on, amigos.

Check it out here: martinagencykitchen.com

Disclaimer: I'm still waiting for my tailored pants.

Unpleasant Design

Unpleasant Design is a phenomenon in which social control is inherent in the design of objects and spaces. Park benches with a central armrest where one cannot sleep, blue light in public toilets which makes intravenous injection impossible, (((it’s amazing what one can learn from design fandom))) are just a few common features we regularly encounter in public spaces. In recent years, unpleasant design has become a global fashion with many examples to be found across cities worldwide.

WORKSHOP PROCESS

Designing “unpleasant design” is an intricate process. During the Unpleasant Design workshop, participants use persuasive and coercive design techniques to invent a design which targets a specific group, behavior or product. Particular attention will be paid to technologies, which enable discrimination and the role of pervasive technology in urban spaces. Participants will actively explore this change through the application of unpleasant design.

Some might mistake this for passive aggressive design. Or use it as a way to condescend to MBA's who work in marketing. I'm just happy to have a two word term that so neatly describes product strategy in the cable industry.

VIA: Beyond the Beyond

Bill Watterson: Repetition is the death of magic

When asked why he stopped making Calvin and Hobbes:

You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.

I never got into Calvin and Hobbes, although it seems like something I would've really liked if I took the time. You've got to give it to someone who knows when it's time to stop and has the courage to actually do it.

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Vice wonders why "so many social media managers are dipshits"

Tom McElligott, founding creative partner of the great Minneapolis ad agency, Fallon McElligott Rice, once said, and I paraphrase because this was pre-internet 1980s: I would much rather overestimate than underestimate the intelligence of the consumer. That quote really stuck with me in ad school, and McElligott became an early hero of mine. You can see some of his creative work, which includes the brilliant Rolling Stone “Perception/Reality” trade campaign, here.

McElligott was a very smart ad man. Today, many of the social media managers at large and important companies are, by contrast, not very smart ad men. To say that they regularly underestimate their customers’ intelligence would be a great understatement. They seem to believe their customers have the brain power of a baked potato.

This seems to be the question of the hour. Or at least I've found myself having this conversation a lot lately. How can community management be so universally terrible?

I'm not sure it's a question of under-estimating customers - that might be over-estimating community managers.

More likely it's a combination of posting too much without having anything to say, highly creative positions being filled with the wrong people, and misguided expectations from marketing teams.

Source: Vice
Via: Daring Fireball

Defending Marketing Against Fundamentalism

As usual, some good thinking from Martin Weigel:

So until we have identified the specific circumstances and needs of a business, marketing is  -- like Schrodinger's cat -- an ampersand.  It is is everything it can be:

Realtime and fixed

Personalized and mass

Always onand scheduled

Cheapand expensive

Mobile and tethered

Utility and 'image'

In betaand the final product

About small ideas and big ideas

Interactive and one-way

etc.

It's easy to fall into the trap of right or wrong, especially in an environment that is slow to change. But his point is valid. The problem justifies the means.

Via All possible states: Defending marketing against fundamentalism | canalside view

When will Facebook be overrun by the dead?

Adage ran a story today (that I happened to see while deleting their unopened email) about teens leaving Facebook but Facebook still having more teens than anyone else.

Marketing and agency people get nervous about things like this because Facebook is an easy way to put impressive looking numbers on charts alongside words like engagement, social, and digital. Facebook is the beard of the marketing world. Companies that are incredibly traditional in thinking can fool their board memebers and stock holders into thinking they're with it and engaging with millennials.

Anyways, I thought the Adage story contrasted nicely with a post that Kottke linked to that tries to work out the point at which Facebook has more profiles for the dead than the living.

Based on the site's growth rate, and the age breakdown of their users over time,[2] there are probably 10 to 20 million people who created Facebook profiles who have since died.

These people are, at the moment, spread out pretty evenly across the age spectrum. Young people have a much lower death rate than people in their sixties or seventies, but they make up a substantial share of the dead on Facebook simply because there have been so many of them using it.

It's nice to know that we'll all end up on the winning team.

Source: http://what-if.xkcd.com/69/

Cognitive Dissonance and Video Games

Jamie Madigan on whether he would've liked Dead Space 3 more if he paid full price for a new copy rather than buying used:

Now, I had really liked the first two Dead Space games, but after just a few hours of tromping through another space station fighting more necromorphs, I felt completely bored. I didn’t like it. I stopped playing.

This made me think about the subjects in Festinger’s experiment, and whether or not I might be feeling the lack of cognitive dissonance. Or more to the point, if I had paid $60 for Dead Space 3, would I have convinced myself that I was enjoying it, rather than face the fact that I had decided to spend all that money on a full priced game? Even worse, would I have gone online to told people who didn’t like the game that they were wrong and that all their arguments were invalid?

Probably. A little, at least. Research on cognitive dissonance theory and consumer choice exploded4 in the 1970s and researchers found that shoppers were generally willing to change their attitudes towards purchases in order to confirm their belief that they were worth the price –and vice versa. Researchers have also found that cognitive dissonance after purchases (a.k.a., “buyer’s remorse”) can be reduced by getting directly involved with the purchasing decision (as opposed to just following the advice of marketing material or salespeople) and taking more time to make the decision can reduce cognitive dissonance. Probably because shoppers can more easily convince themselves that they were well informed and not duped.

The answer is yes. You get what you pay for.

Turns. Out.

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Intergalactic travel is much stranger than sci-fi.

Stewart Brand:

Standard-physics travel will require extremely long voyages, much longer than a human lifetime. Schwartz suggested four options. 1) Generational ships—whole mini-societies commit to voyages that only their descendents will complete. 2) Sleep ships—like in the movie “Avatar,” travelers go into hibernation. 3) Relativistic ships—a near the speed of light, time compresses, so that travelers may experience only 10 years while 100 years pass back on Earth. 4) Download ships—”Suppose we learn how to copy human consciousness into some machine-like device. Such ‘iPersons’ would be able to control an avatar that could function in environments inhospitable to biological humans. They would not be limited to Earthlike planets.

Thus his four starship scenarios… 1) “Stuck in the Mud”—we can’t or won’t muster the ability to travel far. 2) “God’s Galaxy”—the faithful deploy their discipline to mount interstellar missions to carry the Word to the stars; they could handle generational ships. 3) “Escape from a Dying Planet”—to get lots of people to new worlds and new hope would probably require sleep ships. 4) “Trillionaires in Space” —the future likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson will have the means and desire to push the envelope all the way, employing relativistic and download ships or even faster-than-light travel.

It sounds like the most likely scenarios involve people believing in something larger. God, or the end of the world, or a trillionaire's belief in his or her own ego. This is all assuming we don't ruin everything here before we can get away...which seems like the most likely scenario to me. But maybe I need to stop reading about peak oil.

Via

Soldiers Feel Loss, Anger When Their Robots Die

There were a few articles about soldiers becoming emotionally attached to their battlefield robots a couple weeks ago. It's stuck with me because IT'S SO WEIRD, and it might be something we all have to deal with at home. My wife already gives me grief about how often I have my nose stuck in the screen of my phone.

These soldiers take care of the robots that do a great deal of their dirty work, such as bomb disposal. They learn the robots' quirks, what the robot can and cannot do. They train with the robots every day. Then, one day, something goes awry and the robot is blown to pieces, creating a sense of anger and sadness that soldiers have trouble deciphering.

They couldn't quite verbalize the reason behind their sadness, but Carpenter believes it stems from the loss of something familiar, a semi-autonomous object with which they spent every day for quite some time.

Carpenter is concerned that further emotional attachment to robots could affect a soldier's decision-making skills. Petman and BigDog, robots designed by Boston Dynamics, may one day be used on battlefields. (The bots look like a human and a dog, respectively.)

After watching videos of Petman and BigDog, I'm already feeling a bit sentimental.

Source: http://mashable.com/2013/09/18/robot-like-...