Different Ways of Looking at London #1

London as Typography

Taken from an A-Z Map, with everything removed apart from the text. Courtesy of http://blog.gooneruk.com. I think its really interesting how you can still see the river and the main open spaces…as well as follow the regions quite well. I’d probably prefer this to no writing whatsoever as a newcomer, but maybe not after having lived here a while.


Manuel Lima & Visual Complexity

I’m off to a talk tomorrow by Manuel Lima, a visual complexity/information visualization aficionado who recently spoke at TED. Organized by Many to Many, and hosted at BBH, they say:

“Manuel will be re-presenting his TED talk on understanding complex interconnectedness and highlights from a range of fascinating information visualization projects”

Some examples from his site and blog, Visual Complexity, are shown below.

Information Visualizations, as complied by Manuel Lima

How it would be if a building was dreaming” (Above) The conception of this project consistently derives from its underlying architecture – the theoretic conception and visual pattern of the Hamburg Kunsthalle. The Basic idea of narration was to dissolve and break through the strict architecture of O. M. Ungers “Galerie der Gegenwart”. Resultant permeabilty of the solid facade uncovers different interpretations of conception, geometry and aesthetics expressed through graphics and movement. A situation of reflexivity evolves – describing the constitution and spacious perception of this location by means of the building itself.

Hopefully this will relate to my PhD work in a number of ways: firstly he is talking predominantly about networks of information, and how these may or may not be organized, similar to the network theory of creativity I am developing, building on the work of Csikszentmihalyi. The overlap between design/aesthetics, and organizational theory are fascinating. Further, TED notes on his talk say:

“Networks are omnipresent. They’re in brains, in cells, power grids, ecosystems. This is why it is important to try to map networks. He studied Warren Weaver, who wrote on complexity, and “problems of simplicity.” There are problems of simplicity, problems of disorganized complexity, and problems of organized complexity”.

Hopefully, it’s gonna be good. I shall blog about my findings in next couple of days. Looking forwards to it.

Long Time No Blog

May and June have been pretty busy. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been up to:

Series of Papers on Delivering Creativity: Coming Soon


I’ve written a series of four papers around the topic of Delivering Creativity in an Advertising Creativity context, as a combined piece of PhD/Organisational Ethnography/Consultancy work. This has taken up the largest chunk of my time – and I’ve not really been able to blog anything on it as I’m tied up with a NDA and the work is being developed iteratively amongst myself, the agency and my professors. The papers cover topics including:

The Digital Advertising Industry Macro-Environment: Challenges, Boundaries and Systems
Digital and the Economic Climate
The Role of Organisational Culture in Delivering Creative Services: Tacit/Silent Running, Interpretive Repertoires and Communicating Creativity through Culture
A Systems View of Creativity
Bounded Creativity
Processes, Boundaries and Ownership in Delivering Creativity
Managing Relationships: Delivering Creativity through the Agency-Client Relationship; Managing Partners/Suppliers/Individuals

They are currently under review but will hopefully be rolled out over the next month or so. So, watch this space – I think they should be a good read.

Design, Production, Music

DOS Screenshot

Wagtale completed their final Lancaster gigs in June alongside the timely release of their demo EP ‘Dreams of Spacestations’. We recorded and produced the six track album ourselves at the Jack Hylton studios in Lancaster. The tracks will be available online at http://www.myspace.com/wagtaleonline for a short while and you can order the EP by emailing me or twittering @joeadamfry, priced at £5, postage contingent.

Singing on Stage at the Royal Festival Hall

Mention in Saturday 20 July’s Guardian as ‘a guy who wanted to sing a Britney Spears song’ in John Walter’s world music review. The gig was awesome, Ornette Coleman played – and singing with Bobby was one of the best things I’ve ever done I think.

“McFerrin never played it safe: he asked audience members on stage to dance while he devised a score. Another 10 volunteers went up to duet with him, including someone who knew the tune but not all the words to Over the Rainbow (McFerrin never worries about singing all the words); a guy who wanted to sing a Britney Spears song; and a girl whose indie wail worked beautifully with McFerrin’s chameleon-like bass riff”

If you’ve never heard of him – he’s the guy who released Don’t Worry Be Happy – this is the sort of thing he does live though. Watch it in HQ, it’s quite something.

Hyde Park/Southbank Centre/Rock Werchter

In the past three weeks I have seen some of my favourite bands, and some classics as well. Rodriguez y Gabriella, Mogwai, Dave Matthews Band (twice), Oasis, Coldplay, The Killers, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Bloc Party, Bobby McFerrin, Jason Mraz, The Prodigy.

@joeadamfry Officially featured on Bill Bailey’s Blog!

Yea, that right, my philosophical musings were featured in Bill Bailey’s Top 25 140 character essay challenge on the topic “Why we are the way we are”.

Read my entry, along with the other 24 (in alphabetical; not brilliance order, I hasten to add) on Bill Bailey’s Blog here

And then read the post below about Product Placement, it’s much better than this one.

Agencies, New Business, Opportunities and Blogging

Michael Gass over at Fuel Lines recently posted an article discussing the use of agency blogs as first point of call for new business development.

“Your blog is one of the most important agency new business tools you will find. It is becoming the gateway portal for an ad agency’s prospective clients. Your website is becoming more like an agency brochure or portfolio.

I’ve stated repeatedly that the key to effective new business tactics is consistency. For an agency to maintain their new business efforts when they are busy, is a chore. New business activities are usually the first things that are put on the back burner. But from my own experience, when you are busy is often the best time to step up your new business efforts.

Everyone has the same problem. Most agencies are busy. When I mention blogging to my clients, their first reaction is, ” They don’t have time.” But when they see the value of having a blog, how inexpensive it is and how the content created for the blog can be used in so many other internet applications, they are converted.”

I totally agree with this: some agencies have exemplary blogs that are useful and engaging, whereby clients, fellow practitioners or just people with an opinion can have conversations, which ultimately can lead to new business opportunities – or opportunities of any kind. Certainly, this is not the case if an agency blog is naval gazing, introspective or impersonal piffle.

I think a great example of how top do this well is we are social … the ‘brand’ of the blog, is the people. You can see their twitters, their posts…all under the umbrella of the organisation, with the ‘portfolio site’ norm reinforcing the front of shop ‘This is who we are, this is what we reckon’.

And as an aside – for me its not necessarily about New Business…its about opportunities in general; for beginning and building upon relationships.

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)…

New URL and Design Section


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.