Archive for the ‘ rants ’ Category

Lets talk about budgets

via The Collective Context

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Why Smart People Do Shit for Free or Cheap

Over the last six months as I’ve been developing the whole collective thingamy discovered and old but irritating trend. Smart folk doing shit for free. Been there, done that. Never left a good looking corpse until now.

So here is your tip for the top primer on why you shouldn’t – and if you do how to make sure it’s recognised.

If anybody wants to volunteer to make a nice infographic of this they are more than welcome – I see this as a ‘living’ chart.

Why smart people do things for free when they shouldn't

Why smart people do things for free when they shouldn't

Thoughts on the Ipad

Thoughts on the iPad

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an iPad for a month now and am so far amazed. I can’t remember the last time a bit of hardware has had a profound impact on my day-to-day life.

‘A Big iPhone’

Not. Anybody who says it’s just a big iphone/touch misses the point entirely –  it’s the other way around – the iPhone is a small and cramped iPad. You simply can’t dismiss the feel of it and the thought behind the gestural language that was seeded on the trackpads and phones but blooms on the glorious screen.

the ‘I’ Pad

One of the less reported traits of the iPad is that it redefines ‘Personal’ computing. The fact is – an unsullied iPad is literally a blank slate – pretty but dull – a soul less hunk of metal, glass and plastic. There is no way to talk about ones experiences of the iPad without living with it for a while and making it your own. The day it arrived my wife asked me “what are you going to do with it?” and to be honest I’m still not entirely sure but I’m going to share how I’m using it right now.

Video

The media side of the iPad was something I was extremely excited about – I’m geeky enough to want to a £500 portable telly and for my sins I got one. Using the wonderful Air Video I can connect to my network media drive and stream pretty much any video format with no waiting and no iTunes. It absolutely rocks. With the addition of Elgato’s Eyetv app (still not iPad native but works well enough) gives me live TV, wherever.  The elephant in the room with  video is the aspect ratio but I’d be happy if they simply let me choose how much I wanted to zoom because at the moment it’s either overly letter-boxed or cropped at least in Apples own video app. I imagine that would be fairly trivial to implement but what do I know!

News & Browsing

They really weren’t kidding when they talked about how great an experience browsing is – it’s just stunning and works. Everything just feels ‘solid’  and when browsing in portrait mode sites just look so much better than they do with ‘the landscape ‘fold’. I hadn’t actually noticed the ability to create bookmarks on the home screen on my iphone because frankly I didn’t browse very much but instead of waiting for linkedin and facebook to be updated to the ipad I’m perfectly happy just going to the sites themselves.  That said I still don’t actually surf that much, I prefer feeds and Newsrack is currently the best on the ipad and works a treat.

Kids

My two year old immediately picked it up and started playing. Not all together unexpected as he’s had a iPod Touch for about a year so it made perfect sense to him. The potential here for education is truly amazing. It’s here where you really feel the ‘personal’ bit tho’. On his touch I’ve simply removed all the other apps and left the kiddy stuff but now he has a million and one icons to navigate (and delete arbitrarily as is his want). I’m hoping that the folders in next version of the OS with help a little.

Work

From a day job perspective it was an exciting prospect. I work in planning and strategy and the key tools for me are sketching, organisation and presentation apps.  I’ve played around a fair bit with Omnigraffle which even though it’s very very much a version 1 it is fantastic for pulling together those little ‘planner charts’. This experience is extremely marred almost to the point of being useless by having to then plug in the iPad into Itunes to retrieve my sketches for further development. That’s not Omni’s fault – that’s Apple and to be fair something which I suspect will be addressed, across the board. Sooner the better. also worth noting is Sketchy –  a sweet little app for pulling together wireframes, doesn’t have anywhere near the flexibility of omnigraffle but if all you need to do is bosh out a few quickies in a meeting it does the trick.  The poster child for usability and portability is mega-todo list Things which wi-fi syncs between desktop, Ipad and Iphone absolutely seamlessly. Alas as I don’t have a U.S. iTunes account I haven’t been able to try out the iWork applications but in the mean time happy to be able to take notes, sketch and present as PDF’s pushed over from keynote on the mac.

Ipad & VNC

Thanks to iTeleport I can now remarkably easily remote control all the other machines I’ve got in my house. I used to screen share from my laptop into my media server and player respectively whenever I wanted to do anything more than changed the channel (which I do through my iphone). The ‘touch’ mode in iteleport works perfectly and the refresh rate is not so bad depending on atmospheric conditions in my home network. In fact I recently started helping out on a screenplay using Adobe Story – which of course is flash based and hence an Ipad no-no. However, I’ve been simply leaving the app open on a mac mini at home and vnc’ing to use, write and review – not quite as neat as a dedicated app but a nifty work around for now.

Jailbreaking & Ipad 3G

OK, I admit it- I did it. Didn’t have a good reason other than to check out what the ‘scene’ was up to and it’s now ridiculously easy with the ‘Spirit’ app. Yes I can now run apps in the background but have realised that Steve was largely right in that you generally don’t need it. I’m sure there will be some great apps out soon (especially looking forward to wi-fi sync working on the ipad which is imminent apparently). If you are brave it’s worth checking out Full-force – it forces native iPhone apps into iPad resolutions – didn’t work on most games I tried –  but on tardy apps it’s a workable stop gap – Ocado and the Guardian for instance.  However it’s actually the iphone/mywi setup which impresses – it simply allows me to tether my iphone to my ipad when I *really* need to get online. Which is rarely at it turns since all my mail, news and social stuff is being pushed to the iphone anyway. As such I genuinely haven’t missed having a 3g Ipad at all!

Designing for Ipad

From my experience so far I don’t actually see the necessity to design ‘specifically’ for the ipad –  but its definitely an opportunity. I can pretty much guarantee that if you make it look good on the ipad it’ll still look good on a desktop so there’s an argument that you might as well.

Orientation

It’s astonishing to see just how ‘traditionally’ well designed sites work on the ipad. If you stick to the current standards around navigation and page structure most things look great. The main consideration is that you now have multiple ‘folds’ depending on orientation. In Landscape mode is unsurprisingly near enough identical to a normal desktop or laptop – most sites are designed for 1024×768 anyway.  The gag is that you actually get back about 30 pixels due to the fact there are no menus and it’s not in an unsightly window.   It’s the addition of the portrait view which adds extra opportunities. In portrait it feels like and is almost double the viewable area. Obviously all they are doing simply scaling to the width of the screen so if you do the maths your fold will be at  (1024/768)*1024 = 1365.  Given this – If I was designing specifically for the ipad  and don’t need to scroll vertically it’s a logical place to ‘hard’ position a footer to frame a page and remove scrolling entirely and give the site itself much more of an ‘app’ feel.

Depth

Additionally there is a fantastic opportunity to design sites with ‘depth’. Since all you have to do is double tap to zoom you could cram in a huge amount of content – you simply would never do on a mouse based browser – and then simply zoom in and out to read.

Sideways

It occurred that since you are always swiping, that horizontal scrolling might be fun. I’ve had a play around with some sideways scrolling sites for a laugh and to be honest it doesn’t work terribly well. The ipad is optimised to condense and scroll vertically and whilst it’s obviously easier swiping than dragging mice around it’s slightly counter intuitive and clunky. I wouldn’t design like a shop for instance where you want to insure that folk actually see what you want them to see. There’s also the other fundamental problem of orientation if you designed something which was no doubt incredibly pretty at 1024×1365 to be viewed horizontally you’d of course be 4 ways scrolling in landscape mode (plus the ipad would probably get all confused about how to scale stuff although haven’t tried that yet)!

Navigation

One of the other considerations when designing for the ipad is navigation positioning – the tradition of the left hand nav is counter intuitive if you are holding the ipad in your left hand and using your right hand to navigate as your hand now covers the entire screen. (The lefties finally got one up on us!). It does beg the question for the future – do we need to start making the nav location entirely customisable?

Irritations

It’s heavy, it wants a camera and some of the interface elements haven’t been well enough thought through – but it’s version 1 so I forgive all of that. What I don’t forgive and what nobody seems to want to talk about is iTunes. It destroys an otherwise fantastic experience. It’s about time that Apple bit the bullet and ripped the bloody thing apart and rebuilt it from scratch. The iTunes store and anything to do with video or managing applications is just awful. I didn’t mind it so much with my iphone but then I wasn’t having to sync all the time. It’s slow, it’s buggy, it’s bloatware and it needs some major love.

The Game-Shifting Paradigm-Changer.

Being a 1.0 digital dude I miss that days we used to talk about paradigm shifts and I believe that this is one of those. Everything we knew or thought we knew about the relationship between a carbon and silicon based life forms is in flux and the iPad is the catalysing expression of a frustration with technology you didn’t know you had.

At least for me, you will probably think differently, but that’s the point.

Bad Dad – Part 3?

So on what is potentially the eve of kid 2.0 I feel, I think and I grok with fullness that which is my first born. Jake.

He’s the definition of a character. Those of you who have met him will testify. He is, in short, a dude.

He ain’t perfect tho’.  He’s overly obsessed with technology. A flickering switch, an LCD,an LED. A signal to touch, poke, twiddle. Who knows where he learned that from.

He doesn’t understand the word ‘Gentle’. In Jake terms ‘gentle’ is literally a smack in the face. A well meaning pummel, a poke in the  eye with a sharp stick. It isn’t malicious, he just doesn’t get the pain. He doesn’t understand the frustration. He’s just a 2 year old. Why would he?

I keep thinking -” ve must haf se discipline , ve must haf se order” – but why?

He’s happy – we’re happy – he gets tech – we get a smile

Am I a Bad Dad?

j

Projected attributes of social media.

Work in progress - a way of thinking about yourself in the context of social media

Did this a while ago for a conference, never really got a round to ‘finishing’ it but thought i’d share – might be useful to somebody.

The idea was to (err) simply visual the kind of attributes that folk out there expect of a brand when the brand is playing in various area of social media.

i.e. if it takes forever for you to respond to a tweet, then you probably shouldn’t. Green is ‘go for it’, yellow is ‘well you could but think it through’, and red is ‘not for the risk averse’.

Obviously this is more for the less experience clients and isn’t supposed to be ‘scientific’ in anyway, just illustrative to get a conversation going.

Love to know what y’all think.

and no I don’t expect to win any awards for design here, it’s a spreadsheet innit 😉

It’s not the answer, it’s the question

Had another frantic couple of weeks of meetings, the ‘New’ company idea seems to be taking shape, especially now I have a ‘picture’ to share (more on that soon). As I’ve been talking to people the most common question is – what questions are you trying to answer?

I should have a pithy one liner with outlines the problem but haven’t managed to work it out yet – perhaps some bright spark out there can summarise below

In brief and in no particular order and incomplete, questions I think which are worth addressing:

The Commoditisation of production

It is increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself in terms of production – most clients simply aren’t that discerning and so much of the world is being outsourced overseas by default. However there are many, genuine craftsfolk, pushing the boundaries in their respective medium who are marginalised due to size and lack of appreciation of the nuance of ‘good’. How can these people be harnessed?

Those who can’t do, teach

Ironically in the marketing universe it’s those who ‘teach’ who get paid the most. Basically the issue is one of translation, if you can speak marketing you are fine, if you can’t then you are screwed, regardless of talent or ideas. Is there a way to break down the  divides which jargon & status bring?

Marketing is generic

There is a basic assumption that if you understand the ‘disciplines’ of marketing that it can be applied to everything equally well. I simply don’t believe that, the more you understand the sector, the business, the audience not simply from a research POV but a point of participation, the more you are likely to come up with something ‘good’. How can you systematically engage at an extremely high level within a sector or passion area?

The power of hobbies

A hobby is something you do because you love it, because it engages you on an emotional and intellectual level, because you can do it with other people you like and respect or on your own, because you can always be better at it. Is it better to have a hobby or have a job?

Addressing ‘The Big Lie’

If you need to sell X to  Y regardless of whether they want or need it – then you aren’t a client partner. You are a salesman. That’s fine, just don’t lie about it. How do you become a genuine client partner – or perhaps – why have clients – just have partners?

Adding Value does not just mean Cash

Simply put companies, or more to the point large groups of companies only really live by one metric. The bottom line – everything is geared up for increase it. Alas that’s unlikely to change any time soon – however does that cash need to come from doing what the client says or could it come from origination of product in conjunction with the client?

Divided we stand stand

The bigger you are… and all that – for many small & decentralised has proven time and time again to be a stronger model than huge and encumbered. However, the majority of collectives collapse because they make the fundamentally incorrect assumption that everyone is in it for the group. The reality is that everyone is in it for themselves – hard as that may sound. Is there a way to forge a systems which doesn’t shun this behaviour but embraced and accommodate it?

A change is as good as a rest

Smart people know that finding other smart people is the holy grail. Unfortunately smart people have a tendency to get bored when confronted with repetitive tasks. Is there a way to let the smart people move around the eco-system to keep them around for longer?

Trust obviously needs to be earned but can it be spent?

How can I trust people I don’t know? What is the mechanism to (try) to insure that the long term gain through participation is more attractive than the short term gain of shafting somebody? Wouldn’t it be great if you had an internal economy which rewarded positive actions – random acts of kindness if you will – but that these rewards, these ‘trust points’  can be traded for goods & services or just plain cash?

Bit of a mess but going to post this now but will come back to it soon. Comments welcome.

Bullshit

One of my favourite films of all time is the Sidney Lumet Classic “Network” (1976)  – if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it – it’s more relevant today than ever, especially given the state of the news and discussions around commercial models.

It’s full of extremely memorable rants and has been sampled to death. However there is one scene that has been running through my head over the last few weeks which seemed to parallel my current state of mind and I thought i’d share – below is an excerpt from the script written by Paddy Chayefsky (full script found here: http://sfy.ru/?script=network)

btw you can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Network-Two-Disc-Special-Faye-Dunaway/dp/B000CNESU8

If you can’t deal with reading 😉 It’s on youtube here:

The show monitor, which has been showing color patterns,

now suddenly flicks on to show HOWARD BEALE as he looks

up from the sheaf of papers on his desk and says:

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

Good evening.  Today is Wednesday,

September the twenty-fourth, and

this is my last broadcast.  Yesterday,

I announced on this program that I

would commit public suicide, admittedly

an act of madness.  Well, I’ll tell

you what happened — I just ran out

of bullshit —

HARRY HUNTER

All right, cut him off.

The MONITOR SCREEN goes black.

MAX

(from the back wall)

Leave him on —

HOWARD’s image promptly flicks back on —

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

(looking O.S.)

Am I still on the air?

Everybody in the control room looks to MAX —

MAX

If this is how he wants to go out,

this is how he goes out.

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

I don’t know any other way to say

it except I just ran out of bull-

shit …

The PHONE RINGS.  HUNTER picks it up.  ANOTHER PHONE

RINGS.  HUNTER’S SECRETARY picks it up.

HUNTER

(on first phone)

Look, Mr. Schumacher’s right here,

do you want to talk to him?

(extends the phone to MAX)

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

Bullshit is all the reasons we give

for living, and, if we can’t think

up any reasons of our own, we always

have the God bullshit —

HUNTER’S SECRETARY

(awe)

Holy Mary Mother of Christ —

MAX

(on phone)

Yeah, what is it, Tom? —

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

We don’t know why the hell we’re

going through all this pointless

pain, humiliation and decay, so

there better be someone somewhere

who does know; that’s the God

bullshit —

MAX

(on phone)

He’s saying life is bullshit,

and it is, so what’re you

screaming about? —

He hangs up.  The PHONE promptly RINGS again.  HUNTER’S

SECRETARY picks it up.  (HUNTER is on the phone that

rang before.)

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

If you don’t like the God bullshit,

how about the man bullshit? Man

is a noble creature who can order

his own world, who needs God?

HUNTER’S SECRETARY

(to MAX)

Mr. Amundsen for you, Mr. Schumacher.

MAX

I’m not taking calls.

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

Well, if there’s anybody out there

who can look around this demented

slaughterhouse of a world we live

in and tell me man is a noble

creature, that man is full of

bullshit —

DIRECTOR

(staring in awe at

HOWARD on the screen)

I know he’s sober, so he’s got to

be just plain nuts —

(starts to giggle)

HARRY HUNTER

(screaming)

What’s so goddam funny?

DIRECTOR

I can’t help it, Harry, it’s funny —

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

I don’t have any kids —

A PHONE RINGS.  HUNTER’S SECRETARY picks it up.

HARRY HUNTER

Max, this is going out live to

sixty-seven affiliates —

MAX

Leave him on.

HOWARD (ON MONITOR)

— and I was married for thirty-

three years of shrill, shrieking

fraud —

A breathless and distraught YOUNG WOMAN bursts into

the control room.

YOUNG WOMAN

Mr. Hackett’s trying to get through

to you —

MAX

Tell Mr. Hackett to go fuck himself —

47.   INT. DIANA’S OFFICE

DIANA, sitting alone in her office, watching HOWARD

BEALE on her office console —

HOWARD (ON CONSOLE)

I don’t have any bullshit left.

I just ran out of it, you see —

48.   INT. CONTROL ROOM – NETWORK NEWS SHOW

—  as FRANK HACKETT and his assistant, TOM CABELL,

wrench the door open and stride in —

HACKETT

(roaring)

Get him off!  Are you people nuts?!

The TECHNICAL DIRECTOR taps a button, and the SCREEN

mercifully goes black.

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