Yesterday evening was brain overload. First up was Malcolm Gladwell on the promotional tour for his new book Outliers. After a half an hour delay, Gladwell took to the stage to pimp a chapter of the book. The talk was a bit disappointing as I don't think I learnt anything that I won't read in the book. Gladwell was making a point about how cultural differences influence our actions without us knowing, but the example he used to illustrate the point highlighted the importance of good communication when trying to get things done.
I had to leave a bit early to cross the river to see Ferran Adrià, the head chef at El Bulli speak at South Bank, which was the more inspiring talk of the night. Interestingly, communication was the theme of his talk, but he was talking about creating a new language. I quote: 'If you can create a new letter, that is a revolution in itself'.
I've been reading a lot of Mark Earls
this week and something that he wrote about independent thinking: '...
independent thinking, as Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahnemann has suggested,
is to humans as swimming is to cats: we can do it if we really have to,
but ... So it is with behaviour: it is not that independently generated
actions are impossible, just much rarer than we think' (quoted from
Admap article which you can download here).
I've always connected genuis with a capacity for independent thought,
and that is the thing that always impresses me most about really smart
people. It was quite amazing to be around Ferran Adria, who in terms of
cuisine, has a massive capacity for independent thinking. He invented
spuma or foam ferchrissakes. Actually, I should rephrase that as, 'he is guilty for the foam madness taking place in Michelin starred restaurants'. Aikens take note!
I have to say that the talk has turned me into even more of an Adria fan, despite being knocked back for a table 4 years in a row (just for the record, El Bulli would be the exception to my vegetarianism). I loved his unassuming appearance, the fact that he was much shorter than I expected and his complete and utter seriousness about food. He was talking about going to Manzies earlier in the day - which gained lots of titters from the well-heeled middle-class crowd - and how in pie, mash and liquor he could taste the history of the country. I can be flippant about everything I do, which means I probably will never be an outlier because there's nothing I take that seriously to devote the 10,000 hours. Bless the generalists who are there to applaud genius-like talent. Please can I have a table?
I'm always surprised when people have email accounts at Hotmail. I associate Hotmail with being a teenager and getting lots of spam. I still have an account with them, but I only use it in places where I think I'll get spammed.
I wonder, is the choice of email provider as conscious a choice as which trainers, or which car. Does having a .mac account say the same things about you as owning an Apple computer? By using Gmail, do you say you are forward thinking or happy to give over your data? Does having a Gmail account say less now that everyone can have it? Rather sadly, I'm glad that I got my Gmail account before it became GoogleMail, because it looks nicer written down.
Or do people use the first webmail they come into contact with and keep using it? And does no one except me look at your mail provider and form an assumption about you?
Don't think we'll be celebrating in the same way 20 years on, but just seeing the old badge next to the new one made me really sad. That was a badge to be proud of. The new badge is just so bland and corporate. It makes me feel kind of empty when I look at it, which is the absolute opposite of what a club badge should do. Branding gone mad!
I've been a fan of Adam Curtis since I saw the Century of the Self when I was at university, so it was nice to see him in conversation with Mark Titchner at the 176 gallery space in Camden on Thursday. In summary: "everywhere you look, it's hippies" (in Curtis' world our ideas of nature being the answer and expressing yourself through goods is all down to the hippies). Am really looking forward to his next documentary though, which is going to be about behavioural targeting and how computers reveal us to be predictable. Which raises questions about whether the individuality we prize so much is infact a myth. He links the age of credit to the individualistic society - so if we are no longer individuals, but part of a herd, what does that mean for the financial systems, which are already in such a fragile state.
He also spoke about how the internet is not just a piece of technology, but a belief system. The idea that you can transcend politics and together create stability is held by those Silicon Valley and bears uncanny resemblance to the spiel of the hippies.
Curtis also made some interesting comments about how risk these days is shouldered by the individual rather than by a collective group, something that I'd never considered but which is pertinent in the light of the redundancies being made in our industry and others at the moment. We lose a lot by being 'individuals' when times are rough, something we don't think about when it's all good.
More thoughts from the Future of Music talk at the RSA. In the Q&A, Tod Machover said something about how the healthiest societies (in terms of music) are the ones with the smallest gap between the top and the bottom, i.e. between the professionals and the tone-deaf. Part of the work he does is about trying to get people engaged with music on a community level. In societies with smaller gaps the idea that stars have some sort of unattainable talent does not exist, so people are more likely to feel they can do it themselves.
In terms of piracy and new music models, I was wondering whether generations in the future will want to have societies with a smaller gap, i.e. there won't be a need for superstars on the level of Madonna, etc. Instead they might have loads of smaller artists that they're down with.
Last week (seems so long ago!) I went to the Future of Music talk at the RSA. It was a bit of a weird one. Tod Machover was really inspiring and interesting but then we had to sit through John Kennedy from the IFPI, who just - as Charlie righly pointed out on the night - rehashed the same argument from 10 years ago about how piracy was bad, mmm'kay, and his quest to get ISPs to threaten to cut off illegal downloaders. Yawn.
Way back in 2006 Disney were talking about treating pirates as competitors and trying to make their products more valuable in order to compete (not that they've let up on aggressively pursuing pirates) so rather than invest in projects like the IFPI, let's invest in looking at how to save the music industry. I got thinking about the fashion industry and how people are predicting that 3D printing will be its torrent/P2P. I was wondering whether the fact that culturally consumers already make the distinction between moody and authentic products (which doesn't exist in the music industry). It is a bit shameful for enough consumers to have fake goods - that's why rude boys keep their tags on! - but is it enough to save the industry from the attack of the 3D printer?!
Last week you may have seen pictures of this invite over the blogosphere: Picture nicked from Jamie
There was a lot of curiosity as to what it might be - all we had to go on was the web address driedonpaper.org which didn't really reveal too much. On Thursday night at Shoreditch Studios all was revealed. The launch was for the new INQ1 ('ink', dried on paper, geddit?) phone available on 3. So now you know!
I didn't get a chance to have a proper play with the handset but one of the INQ1 helpers did show me what it can do. Basically the phone is set up so you can have access to social media programmes such as Twitter, last.fm and Facebook at one touch. It looks pretty sweet - a bit teenage for my tastes maybe, but I'd want to have some time alone with the phone before I passed judgement on anything else.
Is there really a need for a phone like this? Does it really do anything more than the iPhone? Anyway, the party was good and the drink was flowing, so thumbs up!
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.