I was one of the audience at a night at the RSA hosted by Mark Earls last week. It was about 'cultural evolution', and it was one of the few talks I've been to that actually created a dust storm between these ears of mine (Obliquity for example, was pretty uninspired). As usual, a couple of bits that I found interesting...
Professor Mike O'Brien:
An awesome story about a Boston department store where people used to hide clothes in different departments in order to hold them till the price dropped. My only question is what were the sales assistants up to?
O'Brien's talk was mainly about similarities between biological spread and cultural spread. He asked some interesting questions about how inventions (mutations in biology) become innovation, i.e. how they get picked up and spread. Something that marketers are mad interested in.
Three ways of passing information: Vertically (parents to offspring, teachers to students, etc), horizontally (through friends), and obliquely.
What is the bias on social transmission of information?
Dr. Alex Bentley:
Alex Bentley plotted a chart (which I will draw and add at some point) which you could plot data against to help understand macro trends and their drivers. Interesting stuff.
He underlined the point that we now live in an era when choices are increasingly equivalent, i.e. we make decisions less on the inherent quality/benefits, but because of social networks. For example it's easier to understand the benefits of biking vs. walking, but not necessarily between two styles of eyeglass.
Remembering that social networks are dynamic not static. Also, a single persons sphere overlaps many different 'networks'.
Anyway, what the talks directed my brain to was actually articulated in the Q&A. Dr. Alex Bentley was all about looking at a population overview and trying to understand what makes trends spread through populations. And therefore how we can understand how to influence populations instead of individuals. It got me thinking about the creative brief and how it's often easier to bring it down to the individual level because it's something we can relate to. How do we re-train ourselves to understand the nuances of populations when thinking about individuals is our default setting?
Completely unrelated someone in the audience (a scientist I presume) made an analogy between physics and marketing. Bear with me. Back in the day they both subscribed to deterministic models (think Newton, Mad Men) and now are dealing with masses of uncertainty (quantum mechanics). I liked that. I might use it in a slide.
I'm totally loving 3-D at the moment. I quite happily sat through Avatar despite the terrible storyline. We had Can Communicate in to demo what the possibilities are and I've decided that its awesome. So now you know.
My favourite type of thought. Malcolm White did our APG training talk yesterday and he said something obvious, but important. All your competitors are listening to the same research as you and getting the same information. Just something to keep in mind.
I like research for listening to non-brandy people talk about products, and often something they say will spark something, but its not the be all and end all. There's that great quote by Akio Morita about customers not knowing what they want and how Sony (in the 80s) was all about working out what people might need so that it would there, ready (horribly paraphrased I know). It all fits together somehow.
This little excerpt is from an article by John Humphrys from one of the Mail magazines (I know, poison) that I happened to come across today (don't worry, I didn't give any money to the devil). It's about accent, class and the changes in the acceptable voice of media. Read the paragraph beginning 'Here's the big change':
I found it quite mad that one man's vision has shaped what we consider to be well spoken. And how long it's going to take to challenge that. Power eh?
I spotted this in one of my local patches of green space as I walked home from the [overly-expensive] gym:
Inspired treadmill design:
I do like the idea of free gym equipment, and most of the weight stuff works using your own body weight so no need for changeable weights etc. I can't imagine actually using this equipment because I don't really like the idea of people watching me work out. But still, I'll be interested to see if people do use it.
God it's been a while, hasn't it? In fact I got a rather sweet email from a friend this week reminding me that I've been neglecting this little patch, so here goes.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to make it to The Story, an event put on by Matt Locke celebrating the joy of stories. It was a pretty non-linear event so I can't really do a report, but I will note the couple of bits and pieces I scribbled down:
I liked Cory Doctrow's thought about 'how do you make people fall in love with books' and the fact that bookshops being for people who already love books.
I'm really looking forward to the podcast of John Spooner's talk. The bit where he highlighted the Carpenters Song 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' as a genuine attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials, using the minds of mortals to amplify the message into the cosmos was priceless.
Everyone seemed to have heard of Tim Etchells before apart from me, but my first introduction was good. He read from his 'Endland Stories' which was full of 'good sentences'. I loved the bit where one character asks another if he has kids, he replies 'you want to see a picture?'. 'Yes'. 'Give me a pen then'.
Tassos Stevens and Annie Mees talked about their project A Small Town Anywhere which sounds awesome. It's basically a play where the audience participate as characters of the story and in effect become co-authors. I like the idea of 'adventure-making' and the possibilities that holds.
I had an interesting conversation with Charlie and Katy about forgetting to be playful in the day-to-day. Once upon a time every contact in my address book had an nickname, but now that it's all synched to my google contacts so it's real names. It's little things like this that keep us inventive. Must do it more.
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.