Thursday, April 15, 2010

Banksy's Grand Scheme

What makes good art good; and should everyone make art? Banksy answers these questions with great insight and a movie full of hilarity.

This documentary is the Grizzlyman of the art world. Yes it's about street art and actually features footage of Banksy as he tags Gaza and LA alike; but it's really about Thierry Guetta. Also known as Mr. Brainwash, an eccentric (mental) frenchman with a passion for filmming street art.

Thierry was a true ethnographer, he captured everything on film and filled his house with endless boxes of tapes of graffiti artists from Sheppard Fairy to Invader creating their art across the world. He didn't have a plan he just shot. Then the art world started selling Banksy's work at auction houses. He was pissed and knew the time was right to strike back. The problem was Thierry wasn't a documentary filmmaker, he just loved filmming. Thierry took a stab at the film but when Banksy saw Theirry's work he said, "I used to tell everyone to go off and make art; I don't do that anymore."

Now the film get's interesting. Under Banksy's request, Thierry's passion for film turns to street art, but Thierry knows no limits. He hires a team of henchmen and starts producing images for his street art show. The only problem is he hasn't cultivated a style or put any thought into his work, but that doesn't stop the masses from consuming his work. With an endorsement from Banksy and Fairy he transforms into "Mr. Brainswash" and becomes an overnight art sensation clearing over a million on his first gallery opening.

Now the question for me is why were people so quick to assign value to his art? Sheppard got noticed after employing a strategy of recognition equals power. His reputation grew the more people noticed his work, the more it was noticed the more influence and power he gained - his work became a movement based on drawing people's attention to this idea of branding. Banksy has risen by employing a similar strategy - he created thoughtful work riddled with political and cultural overtones. He knows how to express his ideas with wit, tact and creativity - and this film may be his master piece.

At first I was pissed at Thierry for desecrating the art world, in fact I thought Banksy was too; but then I had an idea of what Mr. Brainwash was. He's not an artist, he's part entrepreneur; but more importantly he's a pawn in Banksy's plot for retaliation . The film starts out with an anecdote explaining how Thierry became successful selling vintage fashion. He found a profitable model for buying cheap clothes and marking them up 400%. It worked because people bought it. Well the same was true with his art; but then I thought, what if that was Banksy's plan from the start - after all he did get a lot of investors to spend their money on what has now been outed as superficial art. I couldn't help thinking that this seemed like one sweet victory for a man who has an obsession with almost anything but the bank.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Replay, Nightmare, the Gift m & Food Revolution

Five well crafted pieces of subtly branded content that makes a good effort to provide a engaging experience instead of jamming another ad down our throats.

Replay Documentary Series: A documentary that re-unites an old highschoo
l rivalry. Well produced and interesting story to develop the Gatorade brand.

Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution: The Nake Chef & ABC pair with Giant Foods to change unhealthy eating behavior

The Gift - A bad ass short strategically placed in a Phillips TV frame.

Nightmares Never Sleep: Nike's branded interactive online game that tests your focus, agility and balance.

Devo Song Study: Listen to samples of the songs from Devo's new album and select 12 of the 16 you want them to include in their new release.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Currency of Trust

Craig Newmark of Craig's list makes an interesting prediction about the future of social networking saying "By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power." Building a digital reputation is about increasing your expertise, advancing your professionalism and building your credibility.

I've read it a thousand times, if you want to be an expert at something, then practice for 10,000 hours. Well what if there was a way to track your hours of expertise to establish your skill level and credibility? Here's an example. If someone asks me a question about training for a triathalon or becoming a Cat 3 bike racer how do they know I have the expertise to give good advice? Well
I use Garmin Connect to record all my work out activities and they can see I biked 600 miles last month, ran 75 and swam 12. They can also use goodreads to see all the training books I've read and see the interaction I've had with members about how the concepts worked for me. Now what if there was a way to rate my experience level or gain credibility points that make my advice more worthwhile?

Last year Y-combinator hosted Cory Doctorow where he explained his idea for something called Whuffie bucks. It's a system for recording and building individual trust. It tracks your interaction with social networks and feedback from your contacts so you can develop your reputation. When I think about my personal career I believe that LinkedIn recommendations have value but I think there's a huge opportunity to create a system for developing an online reputation.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Future of Magazines Is Here

Popular Science has been working with mag+ to release a new way to view content digitally. They will premiere their technology with the release of the iPad.

Mag+ live with Popular Science+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

How Much Does Workplace Culture Reduce Productivity?

What if businesses started measuring the work you do based on the product you create not the hours they see you working. Jason Fried makes a good point, people don't work at work any more. Getting work done means being productive, being creative and that requires focus and thought; but the work place is filled with distractions like meetings, ringing phones, management and socializing. People are seeing this and we're starting to see a change in work behavior. Tim Ferris encourages strategies similar to Jason to increase productivity in the Four Hour Work Week; on the top of the list: get rid of distractions.

Some workers still need a lot more structure than entrepreneurial life can provide but with the advent of software, video chat and other interactive tools I think we're going to start seeing work life moving away from the office and into an online space.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Value of Online Relationships

Umair Haque writes an article called The Social Media Bubble where he discusses how facebook and twitter produce artificial, weak connections he coins as thin relationships. The article currently has 214 comments which give some pretty interesting perspectives on how social media is meaningful. Here are a few excerpts from comments that had compelling arguments. For those who still aren't convinced read this article about re-uniting a band for charity.
"There are those of us out there though, who are trying to make it abundantly and transparently clear that a trust network can very well be established right in plain sight, and build on a universal value system of trust, mutual respect, cooperation, and collaboration. I've been working for months to reveal the value and power of building a trust network around yourself, and I've just framed it out."
"the internet has provided the tools to build more trust and more shared experiences in life across geographic boundaries - and that is of enormous worth. The question is whether people use these tools to further relationships - or just grasp for attention from the masses."
"Social media has enabled a great potential to initiate relationships, "it's all about who you know" And that is 100% true. Since I've proactively developed relationships online (NB-mostly with local people) I have created much more opportunities for myself and met more people that I may not have had direct access to before."
"You say "Real relationships are patterns of mutual investment. I invest in you, you invest in me." That's exactly what we do on Twitter and Facebook, we share good information not to promote (maybe a little) but to help others find that information easier while in return they send you good signal to save time. We also discuss in great detail with those "friends" our thoughts, beliefs and opposing views on various subjects. For some of us, this *is* a huge "investment of time, money, knowledge, and attention" that we do unselfishly. This is just as much of a real relationship as one may have with a co-worker or classmate. Some will fade away when they are no longer in the location (or site) but other friendships could stand the test of time."
"Most relationships in social media do not hold constant value. They are not like dollars that can be exchanged at any given point for a (relatively) fixed amount. They hold "potential value" instead of "relative value". For example, you might never realize any value in a certain connection, but then one day when you need someone as a source for x story with which that connection is knowledgeable, or an interview with y company where that connection works, that connection now has an extremely high value. It's the potential that drives these kind of relationships in social media."

My perspective is that social media isn't a fad or a bubble, it's simply in a nascent stage because ultimately it:

1. builds and reinforces our offline connections with people. It lets us continue our conversations, share our discussions and get input from other people in our network.

2. allows us to share things that are interesting and important to us and receive information from others in return.

3. let's us reach out and learn from individuals who previously would have been out of our reach.