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June 2009
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August 2009

Re: Selling Out

Good catch by PSFK, who highlighted this video by You Tube blogger Kristina Horner who posted in response to some criticism about approaches by brands to bloggers. Kristina, who did some stuff as part of the Ford Fiesta Movement, is eloquent in her defence and makes a clear point:- the approach felt right because it was made clear that "our success is their success". A must watch for any brand who wants to work with bloggers.

HT to Nick for the link

Exhaust Data

Vapour trail 1

Image courtesy

There was something about Adrian's thought-provoking post on the digital blurring between objects and people that reminded me of reading Grant McCracken's thoughts a couple of years ago on 'Phatic Communication' - the kind of communication that is all about sharing feelings or sociability as opposed to hard information or ideas. Says Adrian:

"things like Twitter and Facebook, flatten out the distinctions between people, objects, companies and ideas as all of these things (and more) now have the ability to create a profile, collect friends/followers, describe their tastes, preferences and affiliations and generally build data that describes them and their social graph"

As we make our way around the web, we leave vapour trails of data that define us. And not only the more tangible, obvious data like the profiles we create, the files we download, the websites we've visited, the searches we undertake, the videos we watch, the things we buy. But also the less tangible, 'phatic' data like the comments we leave, the interactions, the status updates, the tweets, the wall posts, the stuff we write.

Adrian makes the point that it is interesting to speculate about how language may hold us back from seeing the new possibilities that come from objects, ideas and people interacting at the same level. It's equally interesting to speculate about where an increasingly sophisticated understanding and application of this kind of 'exhaust data' might take us.

Data As Art

These data visualisations from Chris Harrison are so beautiful they are an art-form in themselves:

Digg Rings
Using data from the digg API, the top ten most-dugg stories of the day over one year rendered in a series of tree-ring-like visualisations (moving outwards in time). The colour of the rings relate to digg's eight top-level categorizations, the thickness of each ring is linearly proportional to the number of diggs the story received.

Chris harrison digg rings

The Colour Flower

Using a data set of colour names collected on the internet featuring more than sixteen thousand colors labeled by people online.

Chris harrison colour flower

The Internet - City To City Connections
Using data from the Dimes Project, showing how the Internet's routers are connected geographically. Almost 90,000 connections between cities all over the globe are shown.
Internet map chris harrison
Amazing. More here.

Consumers Are People (2)

Consumer 5
Looks like I struck a bit of a chord with my protestations around some of the language we use in our industry. There were some great comments and some good discussion around my post (thanks), some good follow up posts, and plenty of action on twitter. John even put together a natty widget aggregating the tweets containing the #StopUsingConsumer hashtag he's championed.

Several comments on the post made the point that it is behavioural change that is required, and I agree. The point for me I guess, is that language perpetuates behaviour. These kinds of descriptions are embedded in the practice of our industry. If we're really serious about changing behaviour then thinking more carefully about the language we use is no bad thing.

The Wrong Summit

This short 3 minute TED talk by Arthur Benjamin makes a simple but very perceptive point, that the teaching of mathematics is now out of step with the modern world. Moving beyond the foundations created by arithmetic and algebra, Benjamin suggests that as the world moves from analogue to digital the curriculum should move with it and embrace the more modern, discrete mathematics of randomness, uncertainty and data, and that the 'summit' of the subject should change from calculus, to statistics and probablility.

If the subject was more aligned with the changing world, Benjamin argues, maybe more people would find it relevant and interesting and maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't be in the economic mess we are in today. It's such a compelling point it makes me wonder how many other 'wrong summits' we're still aiming for.