Monday, 30 July 2007

5 Point Action Plan to stop child abuse in NZ

Bob McCoskrie of Family First gets a bit of flack sometimes, but his 5 Point Action Plan looks like just about everyone could buy into it.

What ya reckon?

Friday, 27 July 2007

What a week!

This week I have:
Thinking can be tiring but it's undoubtedly better than the alternative.

First up, the Marketing Magazine awards were great, not only because won the Malcove Innovation Research prize, but because you learn a lot by just hearing about the kind of people and projects that win these awards.

Of course, you get that in more detail (but without the sumptuous food and wine) in the magazine itself - as well as a particularly insightful article about online advertising by yours truly.

Gosh I sound like a PR writer. I'm not being paid to write this, honest.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The art of documentary filmmaking

I've been really enjoying reading Alan Rosenthal's Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos, despite the really really long title and the fact that it's over 10 years old (the edition I read anyway).

Starting to read the book, I remembered I'd downloaded podcasts from this year's Sundance Film Festival. Some really interesting insights on the evolving nature of documentary.

It's fascinating see what's changed and what's stayed the same. Since Rosenthal's book was published in 1996, we've seen cable TV and the internet open up huge new markets for film producers. Yet that is only still unfolding as filmmakers - often more traditional in their thinking than they would care to admit - slowly grasp the opportunities of micro-films on YouTube.

What hasn't changed is the need to tell a good story. And Rosenthal has some really sound advice on that, which I'll summarise here:
  1. Have a clear idea of what you want the film to accomplish - this will help you identify your audience and secure funding.
  2. Know the language of documentaries - actually, of filmmaking in general - and use what works for what you want to do.
  3. Write, rewrite and rewrite.
  4. Think visually.
  5. Avoid abstractions, statistics and lists. Instead go for personal stories that follow someone's journey or conflict.
  6. Where possible, let the story's characters tell their own story.
It's all stuff I'd heard before, but it was good to hear it specifically applied to docos.

It was also great to read Rosenthal's examples, as well as hear the up-to-date examples in the Sundance podcast.

All in all a good read - part of my self-selected curriculum bringing together the communication skills and languages of a whole bunch of disciplines.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

I'm a little behind

(Not I have a little behind, that's a different matter!)

I took until now to add Mad Young Thing to my Technorati account. Please add Mad Young Thing to your Technorati favourites, if you feel so inclined:

Add to Technorati Favorites

(No need to mention you know me, of course!)
(An explanation of that in-joke is here)

Monday, 23 July 2007

How to promote a blog post with word of mouth

Andy Sernovitz's Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! blog has a helpful - and growing - list of How to promote a blog post with word of mouth. A helpful checklist when you've posted something you actually want read. Good stuff!

What's the deal with Debbie Weil? (Please comment on this post)

Friday morning I heard about the furore over Debbie Weil's simple request for people to comment on a blog she was facilitating - if they felt so inclined.

(Read the message on this blog post)

Storm in a teacup, I thought. Debbie's got a great reputation, and it's a small faux pas that would only offend a few ultra-uptight purists. (In fact, shockingly, I don't even see it as a faux pas).

But it has exploded in a heap of stinking controversy. Allan Jenkins (a great guy who I've met in Second Life) excoriated Weil on his blog, saying:

you'd have to be an obese PR blogger more than ready to shill for no pay

Surely this is misconstruing the whole point of a product blog? It's not about necessary selling the product, but sparking genuine discussion around the subject - at the level that it interests you. It's not shilling, it's talking. Conversing.

Surely that's simple enough? And not deeply offensive.

I think I understand where the objectors come from. They're zealous for the reputation of blogging and social media, and don't want it tarnished by cheap and nasty PR spammy yucky tactics.

But their response would tend to scare me if I were a marketer in a big company, with all the accompanying accountabilities, trying to venture into blogging. Thankfully for GSK it's been Debbie who's taken the heat, but if I were the CMO there - and I came from a traditional marketing background - I'd consider pulling the blog. Too much trouble, not worth it.

However, the pressure to be doing something in social media is so strong, that it's likely they'll continue.

Interesting comment on Maggie Fox's interview with Debbie Weil where Weil says GSK don't care, they're puzzled at what all the fuss is about. "They're well on to the next thing," she says.

Just a kerfuffle in a teacup, so it seems. Here are some of the leaves:

Oodlies - another great accidental business

Some of the best businesses just grow like penicillin, born out of passion and very little planning.

Oodlies is just such a business. They started as a form of relaxation for overworked designer Joi Murugavell, and found an audience of people captured by their ... oodliness!

Oodlies are accidental no more - there's an e-store, blog and even a buyer's FAQ.

Full disclosure: we know Joi and have worked with her in the past. This post (until now, anyway) was a sort of experiment in how important someone sounds if they're written about 'objectively' ... how impressive would it sound if we said "our friend Joi has this business"?

"I don't give a Facebook"

I, Platform » Blog Archive » Here’s how to mess with people talkin’ too much about Facebook

It's funny.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The first anti-Facebook rant I've read

Facebook is flavour of the year as far as social networks go. But Jeremiah Owyang has composed a stinging critique of Facebook. In a Twitter post Owyang said "i just realized i'm putting a lot of effort into facebook (even inviting you all) but I don't own any of this data, they do."

Good point. It seems that openness is the primary virtue of any internet app these days, because just about anything has the capacity to become vital infrastructure. Therefore, lack of openness is the worst sin.

In terms of openness, Facebook has been praised because it lets people create their own widgets (mini-applications). But the need to sign up or sign in to see anything - Jeremiah's got a good point.

Meanwhile, I haven't even begun to explore Facebook. I've set up a profile and been invited to groups by a few people. Add me as a friend if you like, just let me know you're a reader of Mad Young Thing.


PS: There's an interesting post from David Young (no relation, but we did check) about the purpose of social networking. Interesting reading.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Crowdsourcing hits online retail

NZ online retailer Fishpond is dipping into the vast ocean of collective intelligence.

They sell DVDs, and people often choose a DVD based on the trailer of a movie.

Option A: pay a web developer to embed trailers on the site. Very costly.

Option B: pay your affiliates 20 cents for each trailer they embed. Affiliates only do it if they want to, they find trailers for the movies they really really like, and they at least get paid something for it (albeit not a lot).

Nice thinking.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Second Life on your browser

When I introduce people to Second Life, I encourage them to play around. But often the barriers to entry are too high for people just wanting a taste.

This might be the answer (or at least the beginning of an answer). At the moment it sounds like it's more complicated than just using the program you download from Second Life, but maybe it could eventually turn into a helpful auditioning tool for people just wanting to see if SL is for them.

Picture from Second Life Insider, heard about via Neville Hobson's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The voice of a generation

Jack Kerouac.

Hat tip to Public Address (not going to the party, but it's a great idea).

Question: does Generation C have someone who epitomises this generation?

Monday, 9 July 2007

The Difference between Insanity and Lunacy

Until I started reading Brave New World I had no idea there was a difference between insanity and lunacy. I'm still puzzled what the difference is.

The distinction is in Aldous Huxley's introduction to the 1946 edition of Brave New World, where he criticises his former self (writing in 1931) for only giving a choice between the insane "civilised" society or the lunatic "savage" society, when there was a viable middle ground.

Still, definitions aside, Brave New World is an amazing book. First of all, it creates a future that still rings possibly true, even today.

Secondly, it plays with your thinking. Instinctively I know that this is an upside-down world, a crazy place with no soul. But when I look at the big problems that have been solved in this world: unhappiness, war, unemployment, overemployment, discontent, boredom... it's a perfect world, if happiness is the greatest goal of mankind.

But it's not, is it, and that's one of the big cans of worms that Brave New World opens in a knock-down lay-down philosophical dialogue worthy of Plato or Aristotle. I'm talking about the chapter where the Shakespeare-quoting savage puts his questions to Mustapha Mond, the controller for Western Europe and representative of this "Brave" new world.

Huxley admits that he made the savage far too intelligent for someone of his upbringing, but it shows just how good a platform fiction - and particularly fantasy or science fiction - can be to explore the real issues of here and now.

Other observations about the story:
  • I read that Huxley was an advertising copywriter, and he shows the uncomfortable familiarity with manipulative words that we wordsmiths wield. To whom much is given, much is expected.
  • The characters in classic literature seem to be much more flawed than in popular literature. Just when I started to like Bernard, he does something completely unsympathetic. Just when I think Mustapha Mond shows potential for good, he shows how cynical he really is. There's no archetypical hero in this story; just a bunch of tragic anti-heroes.
  • Unlike 1984 where people lived in conscious fear, much like the totalitarian regimes of today, the regime portrayed here is even more chilling - one where everyone is genuinely, superficially happy, and the world is so well-ordered that no real constraints are needed on behaviour or thinking - the pre-birth process has done it all. What hope would there be for such a world?
  • Why would an ad agency call themselves Brave New World? Is it naivete or irony?

Friday, 6 July 2007

Social networking explained in under 2 minutes

I found this short instructional video through Jeremiah Owyang's Tweets on Twitter. It's pretty good!

What's also impressive is the way they've made the original video very easy to share - through various video-sharing sites, through social bookmarking services like Digg, or simply as a file download.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Mobile- the next mass media?

Faster Future: Publishing possibilities now and beyond: Mobile as the 7th Mass Media

Thought-provoking stuff about the future of media. I was talking with my mum (who doesn't own a computer or a cellphone, and lives out of coverage area for all but 2 TV channels in Auckland) about online media (as you do). I said things start to get mainstream when they get simple.

Trademe's an example (and I actually got that in a discussion with Kevin Bowler, CEO of Yahoo!Xtra). He said it's simple enough for mums and dads to use. That's the beauty of Web 2.0 - you don't need to understand that AJAX stands for whatever it stands for to use it.

So with cellphones... when they get actually simple to use - which the iPhone seems to promise - it's entirely possible they will become the next mass medium.

Bring it on. We could definitely use some phones/browsers/minicomputers/messaging devices that are easy to use.