Monday, 30 June 2008

Jump In #27: Saatchi Strategist Murray Streets

More info: ... Murray Streets saw our article in DLB and asked to join the conversation. He's got some great things to share about Generation X and the web, and how agencies engage with social media.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Jump In #26: NineMSN CEO Tony Faure, part two!

(more info: ) The future of media is networks - not just social networks. Find out the big picture in our interview with Tony Faure, CEO of NineMSN ... and where you can jump into networking online, in Marie's interview with Simon!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Jump In #25: NineMSN CEO Tony Faure

Tony Faure has 12 years experience in the online business - an eternity in this fast-moving space. Tony tells us his view of the online ad and publishing industry in New Zealand.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Young people these days

Just finished watching The Outlook for Someday, an awesome example of Generation C in action, with some old media help.

The competition gave young filmmakers a chance to get their view across on sustainability, and - this is the genius part - present their film personally to a famous person of their choice.

Watching this, I quickly realised I am getting old. Not because the young filmmakers looked young, but because their messaging seemed so unsubtle.

Most of the videos were full of words. Numbers, facts and direct challenges that absolutely failed to move me. They did, however, make me feel vaguely uneasy, which is what a lot of green messaging unwittingly does.

The best ones told a story. As Steve Denning proved to me (by telling a story) numbers, statistics, directives, boxes and arrows don't create change, but stories do. Why? Because when we hear a story, we can't help but put ourselves into that story and ask "what would I do?" Admittedly my favourite films didn't get into that level of detail, but they did get into the emotional territory that helps move us towards feeling inspired enough to take action.

I've got to take a step back and give kudos to one of the films that took more of a journalistic approach. Instead of just stating bare facts, Ally Palmer talked to a whole bunch of key players, including "the bad guys", Genesis Energy. I thought that was a step in the right direction - getting all the viewpoints on the table so we can make an informed decision.

Coming back to my main point, if stories change things, why aren't our young people telling stories? The obvious answer is, it takes time and life experience to get stories that feel real. But there's something else. This generation is faced with problems more potentially disempowering than any generation before. This is bigger than the depression, bigger than world war II, and slightly bigger than the threat of nuclear holocaust. Global warming has the potential to suck your spirit dry of hope and resources. Or it can energise you. So, nitpicking about storytelling style aside, it was awesome to see and feel the energy, drive and passion of these young filmmakers, expressing themselves authentically.

Big ups to Ilai, who did most of the documentary camera work and worked some really, really long hours on the project!

Monday, 2 June 2008

I'm a freaking Marxist!

Originally uploaded by sandrino
I've started to realise I am becoming a closet lefty. It all started when I was watching Wheel of Fortune with Nofo, my father in law.

Nofo's not an intellectual. English is not his first language. His passions are gambling and gardening.

Nofo didn't see that the words on Wheel of Fortune were forming "The Roman Colloseum". In fact, I'm almost sure he doesn't know what the Roman Colloseum is.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought to myself, if Wheel of Fortune could be an educational programme. Just a little bit. I mean, just a photo of the Colloseum, so you know what it is. Where it is. What happened there.

But no, we just see appliance porn - lovingly crafted shots of fridges, washing machines and wide screen TVs.

All this is, I continued to think to myself, is a conditioning device. Conditioning people like Nofo and like me into knowing the right pieces of information - popular culture - in order to receive the right rewards - consumer appliances. It's all a plot by the capitalists to make us want their things.

Religion is not the opiate of the people. TV is.

I felt a bit better after dinner, but these thoughts kind of stay with you.

What next? Conga dancing in a public place? Or is it public? The security guard seemed pretty sure it was private property - no conga dancing allowed here. Interesting!

(PS: Maybe here's where it really started...)

Review: The Last Emperor

I've been reading a lot about China's history, so I felt like I needed some visual stimulus as well. I'm glad I did!

The Last Emperor was fantastic, luxuriously directed, with a compelling main character and supporting characters.

It's the story of Pu Yi, China's last emperor (well, the last ruler with the name emperor - Mao held much the same exalted position). He was crowned at the age of 3 as the Qing dynasty was slowly falling apart, and this film charts his life through being a Western-style playboy, a puppet emperor for the Japanese, an imprisoned war criminal, and eventually a simple gardener.

It's a big job to make such an unusual character accessible. Who can relate to someone who had absolute power at age 3? Yet he didn't really have power, as this film ultimately shows. And that's the part that really hurts. Two powerful scenes drive this home, where this strong-headed young man comes up against the limits of his absolute power. I won't give them away, you'll have to see it.

Through some skilled storytelling and acting, Pu Yi is incredibly easy to relate to as he moves through his uniquely confusing world.

It's not a film for the faint hearted. In a story full of people, there are only two who show Pu Yi genuine concern for his welfare: his Scottish tutor (played melifluously by Peter O'Toole) and, unexpectedly, the prison governor.

There's a story behind the story, as well. This film was made in 1987, with help from the Chinese government, who didn't interfere with the script at all. It was a time when East and West were growing inceasingly closer under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.

In some ways, the prison governor - portrayed by Ruocheng Ying, then vice minister of culture - reflects a story of modern China's growing up. While a prison guard yells at Pu Yi, Ruocheng's character takes a calm, avuncular approach. Later he is shown being marched along in a dunce cap, shamed by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. It's interesting that the government of 1987 allowed this portrayal - and perhaps admission of a mistake - of their actions just twenty years earlier.

Sadly, that openness was set back by the Tiananmen Square massacre two years later. Perhaps that openness is back, as we see in the amazing response to the recent earthquake.

Geopolitical musings aside, The Last Emperor is good. Go see it.