Thursday, August 23, 2007

the evolution of good

Two friends of mine have recently embarked on separate missions to increase the good we all do in this world. People are constantly telling us that humans are inherently good and I believe it. We're heading towards a point in history where humanity takes a leap and it will be an evolution in the way we think and act.

We've seen enough maps filled with bubbles indicating where and how frequently crimes occur, or where the nearest sex offender lives, but I've yet to see a map filled with acts of kindness. I recently read a WSJ article about social networking enabling philanthropy. Non-profits and volunteers are popping up all over Facebook innovative ideas fostering communities that make it easier to volunteer and contribute to a cause you believe in. Advertising planners can do more than brand a product, they can crack a brief to help solve problems for non-profits and causes eg. resolving the New Orleans crisis or entrepreneurs can participate in micro finance by facilitating a small business in a developing country.

These are all great examples of a larger collective movement towards a fundamental change in how we are treating each other better. There is a shift taking place encouraging us to act upon our inherently good nature. Maybe we're tired of the perception that we're living in fear, maybe social networking is facilitating our dormant acts of kindness or maybe we're finally evolving to a point where we can all embrace a new level of kindness.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Train coming

Say there's a group of five people standing on a train track, with a train coming toward them. You can save the whole group by pulling a lever and switching to another track, but the catch is that you'll kill another person who's standing on that other track. Do you pull the lever?

According to Harvard scientist Mark Hauser, who posed this question to hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet, nine out of 10 people say yes, they would pull the lever. But the next question was a bit harder—and the answers much more confusing.

In the second scenario you're on a trestle standing above the tracks and again there is a group of five people standing down track who are about to die. There is also a large man standing in-front of you. If you push him, he'll fall onto the track, stop the train and save the group of five. Would you push the man?

This time Mark Hauser, again posed the question to hundreds of thousands of people, nine out of 10 people said they would NOT push the man.
It's an interesting moral quandry; in both instances you're actions lead to the death of someone, but the act of arriving there is processed by our brains differently. He ran tests posing questions like this while using an MRI to imaging the brains of respondents. He discovered that we process moral decisions and will arrive at different conclusions because of how our minds have evolved. Even more interesting, Mark's theory is that morality is hardwired into our genetics.

Listen to the full Episode on "This American Life" here: Who Can You Save?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

subliminal messaging

I attended and covered Siggraph; here's a piece from the Emerging Technology room:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a smarter city

Today I spoke with Katrina and Sam, editors of Dwell magazine and learned about new initiatives they're undertaking that have the potential to change our urban landscape. The challenge is to bring architects, city designers and engineers together to brainstorm about the ways we can make our city better. How do we design multi-unit housing so it truly promotes community? We spoke about learning from our mistakes with housing projects, how we can build a more sustainable city and what it will mean to look beyond San Francisco's new Federal building.

Washington DC is a recent example of what happens when urban planners start to run out of space an poor neighborhoods become valuable real estate. Naturally it's difficult not to wonder what is in store for the Tenderloin and more importantly how will we deal with it's inhabitants. It's also interesting to try and understand how we can clean up our cities without destroying their history or culture. The Meatpacking district of New York is a new place when it's filled with fancy restaurants, so can we clean up sections of the city without destroying their culture; or is that premise too centered around trying to hold on to the past. Come to the Dwell conference and learn more.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eric Ryan - Method

Great speech from the Account Planners conference this year down in San Diego. His company produces house hold products, but he approached the market from a new angle. Method products are certainly design savvy; they're meant to function well and be aesthetically pleasing. His cleaners are about living healthier, something not normal grocery store cleaners don't care much about. On the most simple level, he's moved in on large companies by eating the market share of players who don't innovate. It's a great case study for doing market research and innovating.

Feel Good? - Now Think

I didn't have 5 minutes to watch this video but I couldn't tear myself away. There's something to be said about a gritty, honest, feel good advertisement that has disturbingly good intentions and forces you to really contemplate an issue.

Post Secret

I think I first saw this technique in a more rudimentary form while watching "Adaptation"; it was a quick scene when a car reverses out of the driveway and you witness a startlingly disturbing and violent impact. The technique was later reused in a recent Volkswagon campaign.

Most recently we saw "Wind" which was elusively entertaining, intriguing and a bit unsettling to watch:

and now Post Secret. It's becoming more of an imperative that advertisements are entertaining, but there's a shift towards a theme that elicits an emotional response. It's a gritty, honest approach that doesn't seem contrived. This technique has incredible potential because it has the ability to get your message passed around; but it also enables the viewer to watch the message to the end and has a better chance of resonating with the audience.

In a DVR, OnDemand & internet world there has to be a reason to stay tuned into the increasingly obsolete 30 second spot, why not build off a trend that is gaining some momentum?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Siggraph 2007

This was a great opportunity to preview some state-of-the-art technology that will give us a look into the future of the video game and movie industry.

The Emerging technology room showcased some pretty cool innovations like 3D Holograms, the Microsoft touch table, easy to control robots, a touch based video game and track pad that let's you walk without moving.

Here's a preview of some of the technology I got to try out:

Siggraph also gave filmmakers an opportunity to preview their animation and CGI films. They were all breath taking. Here's an example of one:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

AAAA 2007

I've been at the Planners Conference in San Diego for the past 3 days and had the opportunity to listen to some interesting and smart people. The goal was to share ideas and become a better account planner.

The seminar kicked off with a speech by Sir Ken Robinson, an enthusiastic and funny, motivational speaker. His expertise is revolutionizing the way we educate and he spoke quite eloquently about unlocking creativity. He is the author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative. He mentioned case studies like the branding of tap water to fundraise and made comments like "it's not how intelligent you are, but rather how you are intelligent." His ending quote was "our problem isn't that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim to low and succeed."

Adam Morgan of Eatbigfish spoke about realizing opportunities and being innovative. He offered inspirational advice like Kissing the Shadow - creating an opportunity from a disadvantage, and others like being Gorilla Blind, and how to beat the Duncker Cradle Task. He expressed the tremendous value he sees in looking at micro targets to determine future needs, like for example designing products for the mainstream by looking at products needed by the disabled.

Brandon Geary of Avenue Q Razorfish spoke about how we can use web 2.0 to observing better and capitalize on consumer information that is posted on sites like Flickr, Wefeelfine and others who are the 'online entrenched.' He talked about aspirational profiling and searching out pent-up demand.

Scott Lucas of Dosage talked about why people become engaged and what to do to engage them. He referenced the "7-up" documentary and focused on the characteristics that engage, like: Scandal, coopertive communities, rituals and listed about 32 different ways people become engaged.

Ed Cotton & Aki Spicer spoke passionately about Blogging, why it's so important and how to do it successfully. They expressed the importance of using blogs to"harvesting our collective intelligence" and "helping keep us curious." It was inspirational because they showed the essence of being a planner requires soaking information in, sharing information with others in an effort to engage other and figure things out.