Best Valentines Present Ever.

Erotic Dots

And if that doesn’t work you can always get a free online e-course on how to make valentine’s day the best ever. Weird.

If it ain’t broke, it might still be worth breaking…

…Or at least breaking a little bit…

I read this today, it is good: Margaret Boden’s ‘The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms‘, it’s good. talks about links between human creative processes and those of computers, asking can computers be creative? My top Boden topic though, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts, is creative boundaries. Just thought it was a good hook:

broke

If it ain’t broke: It might still be worth breaking. Boundaries are there to be bent: they are malleable, they have plasticity and sometimes they can be broken. Breaking boundaries sounds all very nice and maverick, but boundaries may be as simple as communication gaps between departments or individuals, cultural boundaries between local worlds, or simply boundaries that have ‘become’ through culture, tradition, laziness…

So try and share some mutuality of experience with your co-workers, with your gran, with your mates girlfriend who you don’t really get on with – and see what you can do with the boundaries that exist (that doesn’t mean try and snog your mates girlfriend or do your boss’ job; it means try stepping into their reality tunnel, try thinking how they think or just do something differently. This is how creative processes can become evolutionary, dynamic and thus remain innovative as opposed to stagnant or foreign.

Break stuff.

Free Weed? It’s Pot Luck!

Promoters of the film ‘The Wackness‘, Revolver Entertainment are actually giving away the opportunity to win a bag of weed with the first 1000 copies of the DVD, a la Willy Wonka and his golden tickets. Ananova announce ‘The finder of the golden ticket wins a weekend for two in Amsterdam where they will collect a gram of high-grade skunk, courtesy of Revolver.’

The film is pretty good, the IMDB synopsis says: “It’s the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist (Ben Kingsley) for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter”.

But moreover, it’s a bloody marvelous prize, and a bloody great piece of WOM generating marketing.

Hook? Give people drugs to buy your stuff.

[via JPL]

Chinese Whispers: Interesting thoughts on Influence/Context going on over at We Are Social…

I’m involved in an interesting discussion over at We Are Social about Innovation and Network Influence.

The original post by Chris Applegate is here, and talks about influence in networks and particularly in social media situations. I extend his argument to talk about influence in networks, organisations and processes in general – and what was particulalry relevant to my work was the discussion of the context-dependency of influence. My comment was as follows:

“The most common ways of describing influence in social networks is to draw diagrams with blobs on them – typically there are some very large blobs with lines radiating outward to smaller blobs, which in turn radiate to even smaller blobs. While this concept is useful for specific purposes – and can be mapped algorithmically – it should not be taken as a complete model of a social process…There is also context to deal with – while one person may be influential on, say, technology, they may hold very little sway when recommending a florist.”

This is definitely an important notion; that influence relies on context. Both innovation and influence are inextricably linked to context in many ways, and this context is influenced and arguably formed by interaction, behaviour, language, culture etc.

“It doesn’t account for two-way conversation (or the lack of it), nor can it help explain where and when a message gets altered, or any other form of change that a lack of centralised control can bring about.”

This is also a really interesting notion – a concept I refer to as ‘chinese whispers’ when applied to creative processes and the social development of advertising work / creativity. A decentralised form will always result in bounded processes where messages with a certain degree of plasticity become distorted or altered to make sense in local worlds (eg in different departments of an advertising agency, in different online conversations covering overlapping topics), whilst retaining a degree of concreteness; retaining some kind of universally applicable meaning or value.

In this way, influence, innovation and creativity might appear in different ways and to varying degrees in different ‘contexts’ or different perspectives of the same or different networks, and are judged and valued subjectively as such.

Follow the comments here (Chris posted an interesting reply to my comment)…

Looking Cool…

I was told this morning by one of the professors at my University that she’d used me as an example in a seminar…as ‘an organisational ethnographer who dressed appropriately to study advertising agencies and creative businesses’…and told me ‘not to be offended’. I don’t think I was; it’s a compliment in a way I suppose (although I was ripped by @pace and @HayleyS simultaneously upon notifying them of this fact: (HayleyS @joeadamfry you and your ‘media glasses’); (pace @joeadamfry I always thought your dress sense was painfully, painfully cool. You weren’t even out of place sitting next to me!)).

Moreover, it illustrates an important point about impression management in the creative industries. I didn’t have to worry too much about adapting what I wore or how I spoke etc as it pretty much corresponds to the industry I research. But the point goes beyond the perspective of the organizational ethnographer. Remember those videos you watched in PSE or whatever at school telling you ‘how to dress for an interview’, ‘what to say and what not to say’, how to conduct yourself and so on…these are in many ways obsolete in the media/advertising industry – and in a wider post-modern, post-industrial context, for several reasons.

Firstly, I am not advocating the extremely self-conscious and almost pretentiously ‘creative’/’laissez-faire’ ‘dress-down’ places that seem to proliferate (where essentially, the uniform just moves from shirt and tie to designer brand polo-shirt, jeans and loafers, and management styles barely change at all: only in how they represent themselves), but am rather making the point that in my experience, creative people, or people who perceive themselves to be creative, in an organisational setting, tend to dress in a way that expresses this: that tangibilizes it and externalizes it.

Mothers offices

Mother's offices

Above: The offices at Mother

What is interesting for me is how creative agencies use this device. It is necessary in a lot of ways: creativity is a relatively slippy, abstract and intangible concept, and is essentially the core offering of many of the creative, digital and advertising shops around – particularly the majority of smaller agencies that have been springing up. They are on the periphery of the ‘core-peripheral’ networked industry (imagine this as a diagram if you can) and hence position themselves as flexible, innovative and creative etc….but how can they communicate this. Obviously in their work, in their tone of voice and so on – but mostly through their most valuable asset: their people. Their culture. Their location; their premises. How their employees and subsequently the organisation looks, acts and talks, all aid the communication of what the agency ‘is’ and ‘does’.

Secondly, when the agency goes to the client, they have a responsibility to their perceived cultural capital, and are seen to present themselves, act and talk as such. This in turn allows them to talk and act in certain ways (a ‘facilitative’ boundary between the local worlds of ‘the client’ and ‘the creative agency’) but simultaneously restricts them from behaving in others. It preserves the mystique of the creative genius (eg the black-boxing of processes – which if you remember we are trying to avoid) but more importantly facilitates a mutual understanding of what each organisation ‘is’.

Thirdly, when the client comes to the agency, they see a ‘funky, creative’ etc environment, more relaxed than the culture at their place of work perhaps, maybe with beanbags or whatever and music playing, people with their shoes off – and this serves to reinforce and confirm their choice of ‘creative’ people – or should do at least. They have an opportunity to relax and dress down themselves, and potentially become immersed in and part of this part of the creative process.

This is perhaps the most important point, as paradoxically whilst ‘creative people’ may express themselves in certain ways in an attempt to tangibilze their cultural capital in the form of creativity, they simultaneously must represent themselves as both credible and also manageable, in an organisational sense; again my argument reverts to the integration of management AND creativity – a combination of divergent AND convergent thinking, and the representation of such an integration through appearance, manner and discourse.

New URL and Design Section

letch

It seems maybe pointless to say this on the blog itself, but it is nice to mention. I bought joeadamfry.com today for £10.40 for the year, which seemed reasonable and stops anyone else from buying it. Coincidentally, my previous design portfolio site (http://www.joefrydesign.com) is presently parked, and so I thought I could easily open up a design section through this blog, and that is what I have done: at http://joeadamfry.com/design, (Or click on the design tab at the top of the page) which I quite like really. It suggests there is more to me than just design, an allusion not made with the previous domain. Ah what a great weekend this truly is. Check it out anyway guys, and I will be updating the design section regularly with my portfolio of work.

Cheers

Define the Space: It’s all about Context #2: Interpreting Creativity through Changing Epistemologies

Duchamp's Fountain

Aesthetics, for instance, has traditionally been the study of how to tell art from non-art and, especially, how to tell great art from ordinary art. Its thrust is negative, concerned primarily with catching undeserving candidates for the honorific title of art and keeping such pretenders out. The sociology of art, the empirical descendant of aesthetics, gives up trying to decide what should and shouldn’t be allowed to be called art, and instead describes what gets done under that name. Part of its enterprise is exactly to see how that honorific title–“art”–is fought over, what actions it justifies, and what users of it can get away with. (See Becker 1982, pp. 131-64.)

From ‘The Epistemology of Qualitative Research‘; Howard S. Becker