Monday, 30 November 2009

Lunch & copy

You never know quite what attending a Cornwall Social Media Café meeting might lead to. For instance, at last week's event Fiona and I found ourselves being invited to Truro College to speak to their FdA Media Advertising course: we write direct mail, they happen to be covering it in tomorrow's session. So, tomorrow, we shall head up there to dispense our wisdom...

Or something. At least I think that's the idea.

Anyway, it all sounded pretty informal and I'm fairly sure we get free lunch, so it should be great.

The students? Oh, I don't know, I'm sure they'll be fine. And anyway, if a little hunger and the knowledge that hard work can lead to a free lunch doesn't inspire them, nothing will.

(Actually the back-up plan is suggesting they watch this:

But what we'll do with the rest of the hour, God only knows).

I'm kidding. Of course we'll have advice for them. Plenty. I've written a handout and everything. (The advice: ignore my handout).

The synopsis for Art & Copy, for anyone that's interested:

ART & COPY is a powerful new film about advertising and inspiration. Directed by Doug Pray (SURFWISE, SCRATCH, HYPE!), it reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time -- people who've profoundly impacted our culture, yet are virtually unknown outside their industry. Exploding forth from advertising's "creative revolution" of the 1960s, these artists and writers all brought a surprisingly rebellious spirit to their work in a business more often associated with mediocrity or manipulation: George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Hal Riney and others featured in ART & COPY were responsible for "Just Do It," "I Love NY," "Where's the Beef?," "Got Milk," "Think Different," and brilliant campaigns for everything from cars to presidents. They managed to grab the attention of millions and truly move them. Visually interwoven with their stories, TV satellites are launched, billboards are erected, and the social and cultural impact of their ads are brought to light in this dynamic exploration of art, commerce, and human emotion.

UPDATE: Fellow copywriter, and friend of Radix, Rob Self-Pierson has actually seen the movie (he's 'up country', down here we'll probably have to wait for the DVD) - check out his Art & Copy review at the link.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A Facebook member? Or a Facebook user?

Back in June 2007 my colleague Fiona wrote on this blog about quitting Facebook. A couple of months later, she reactivated her account*, having by then become resigned to at least having a profile on the thing, mainly due to being "in charge of social media at Prompt" at the time.

But over the last month or so, and over two years later, that first post has unexpectedly started to attract a number of commenters looking for somewhere to share their own Facebook disaffections.

Now, admittedly, when I say "a number of commenters" I mean, well, er, four (plus one in Feb). But for this blog that's still quite a few, and combined with noticing my own increasingly infrequent visits to Facebook, I can't help wondering whether something is going on?

Is there, perhaps, a particular generation of Facebook adopters now reaching a natural tailing off point in Facebook use? Might there be a natural lifespan to how long one might continue to find Facebook interesting - or any other social network? Is it all the fault of Twitter?

Certainly, four or five comments isn't exactly what you might call sufficent evidence to prove any of those theories - and perhaps it's hardly enough even to begin asking the questions. Moreover, that the commenters variously complained of starting to feel uncomfortably voyeuristic, narcissistic or addicted when using Facebook, probably rules out the possibility that they've all decamped to Twitter (although conceivably you could at least be more anonymous on Twitter, if you chose). Nevertheless, it still strikes me that perhaps after a certain point there really isn't all that much to keep Facebook users interested?

In theory, the site has a lot going for it, of course: it combines group e-mail, a photo album, event invites, birthday reminders, gaming, etc., all in one place. But even so, how many of us still find ourselves spending anywhere near as much time on it as we used to, say, a year ago? And doesn't iGoogle, or the start page on Chrome or Opera, let you do more or less all of that anyway, only you'll have selected links to more useful and fully-featured sites and online apps than many of those on Facebook?

Granted, Facebook does remain of at least some value to me, as a (more or less) permanent contact point between myself and anyone I don't see very often, or whose contact details are prone to change. But leaving aside what is basically a passive function, what is there on Facebook to make me as active a user as I was for a long while after I first joined?

Somehow, it's all just lost its novelty, or it's provided better, or less clunkily elsewhere.

Perhaps it's just me, but I wonder: might there be a lot of others now who would more accurately call themselves Facebook members, and not Facebook users?


*Facebook is basically the Hotel California of social networking, you can check out, but you can never leave.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Blogposts found abandoned on Tube

While Rupert Murdoch might be having second thoughts about content from his newspapers being freely available on the net (even if his papers do sometimes "borrow" content from it, and his news organisations perhaps even encourage Google to index their contents), one group of people in London seem to have decided that not only is free web content the way to go, but why not create an entire publication out of it.

Currently in Beta, The Blogpaper aims to be a free weekly London newspaper made up of articles, photos and reviews nominated and voted for by an online community of readers and contributors. Presumably, once a strong audience has been established, and any early production and distribution kinks ironed out, the publication will support itself through online and off-line advertising, but as yet I haven't found any details on that (UPDATE: there are ads in the most recent edition). Already, though, it's looking like a pretty interesting project.

Some short standfirsts to introduce each article might be a nice addition to the mix* - headlines maybe aren't always enough - but otherwise, from first view: it looks fresh and colourful; simple, clear layout; commuter-friendly (and indeed web-friendly) article lengths; a nice eclectic blend of subjects (with the art and design coverage particularly catching my eye); and it certainly highlights some interesting items I mightn't otherwise have noticed, which ultimately might be the best test of a publication like this. All in all, then, a pretty handy way to catch up on and digest the week's
on- and off-line goings-on, even for those of us who aren't obliged to spend time hurtling around underground (or sitting around gloomily wondering why the hurtling's stopped).

I'll be very interested to see how the project progresses - and deals with any attempts to skew the voting that might come along as it grows - because so far (and, I'll admit, a little to my surprise**) it seems to be producing a genuinely worthwhile hybrid of print and digital media.

Now to just find out whether it's an idea that can also support itself...

*On the other hand, the space is fairly limited...

**I've seen some awful, cluttered and dull user-generated sites (as well as plenty of good ones), so when I heard about this I did wonder quite which way it would go.