All posts by Atley Loughridge

What we can learn from start ups

Business Model Generation has a nice section on FREE. Ad-based multisided (usually web based) companies offer a utility for free in order to sell ad space. This is not a new idea. Google and FB do it the best because they are tracking your metadata and sell personalized ad space. What I’m wondering though is if ideas like Intel’s Museum of Me are feeding social graph and meta data to add personalization to their recent moves into gaming optimization tech, platforms and partnerships. In any case, this raises an interesting idea. What happens when brands start wanting to invest in free utilities purely in order to drive user data and personalization across their entire business model? Not only is the CTO merging with the CMO, but to me, in the future, ad agencies look more like tech/web-based start ups. They contribute not only awareness and connection to customers, but also insight into what customers need. A utility goes beyond a desire. Utility offers need fulfillment and intuitive design in exchange for data.

This is different than buying ad space on a utility. It’s brands investing directly in the utility in order to access that data and insight.

Free utilities can be great. They can add connective and educational value to the world in an open access design. They can also learn directly from their userbase, meaning that they are a platform for users to directly voice their concerns and vote up their interests. Personally, I think it’s most important though to see the opportunity of moving these utilities toward transparency so that users understand exactly what they are exchanging in the experience. Museum of Me is at least pretty clear about how it works. But it’s so narcissistic… and to what end? It’d be great if branded utilities could be designed for everyone to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves, company included.

Spying or Sharing?

In March 2010, Google stopped its google.cn search service on the Chinese mainland and redirected traffic to its Hong Kong site-google.hk. This was a response to cyber attacks on Chinese human rights activists by the Chinese government in and outside of China. Moral judgments aside, this is my argument that Google actually has more in common with China than not, and that the best follow-up questioning to this event revolves not around the Google vs. China debate, but what their commonalities mean for us all.

In the virtual world, “Google” has become synonymous with “search” – the founding value behind most countries – while “Made in China” has become a brand in the physical world. Both China and Google have embraced “simulacra and simulation” to the nth degree (Baudrillard). While Google leads in producing simulations of our world online, China has copied or simulated just about every product known to man, from Gucci glasses to prescription drugs. Jia Zhang Ke’sThe World” expresses the darker effects of this on the Chinese citizen’s psyche. At the same time, the Chinese Film Bureau accepted this film and assisted the production. Whatever your thoughts on the moral discussions surrounding Google and China, no one can challenge the fact that both have made their services and products as close to free and available to all as possible.

The origins of this power dually stems from data. Both Google and China have capitalized on controlling user/citizenry information to achieve rapid growth. Since Google’s Initial Public Offering on August 18, 2004, it’s grown from an opening price of $85 per share to $600.14 per share last Friday. In China, “restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978” (CIA World Factbook). For Google users and Chinese citizens alike, the result is technological benefits.

Of all the businesses on Earth, Google is most like a country, and of all the countries on Earth, China is most like a business. Any perception of China compromising the individual must be scrutinized through the lens of “what is the fastest, most efficient route to economic growth?” Plans for Electronic Health Records online. Relocating residents for construction. Working overtime. Media control. The watchdog group Reporters without Borders ranked China 171 out of 178 countries in its 2010 worldwide index of press freedom. But before settling on this perception of China, consider this: where else is ritualized self-promotion and censoring dissent the status quo? Business. If you circulate an email badmouthing your boss or company, you are apt to get fired. No businesses publicize their weaknesses. Most hide them, some illegally. I’m not making a value judgment on whether or not government is the place for homogenizing beliefs. I am saying that the Chinese government maintains the appearance of unanimous accord in order to achieve maximum economic growth. And just as in business, one effect is social benefits for a lower cost. As the Chinese GDP has grown, so has life expectancy increased, infant mortality rate decreased, calories taken in per day grown, etc. Is China spying on its people or sharing the benefits of a country united under a common goal?

Now for the parallel: out of all the businesses on Earth, Google’s is most like a country. Why? What defines a country? Well, it’s a place you’re born into. You generally don’t question the fact that your identity is all wrapped up in it until you start asking existential questions. Of course a country is a physical place and Google is a virtual realm, but I think the distinction between the two is less meaningful by the day. The Net Generation of people who grew up gnawing on iPads were “born into” Google’s 40+ online services. Long before reaching maturity, their identity is just as indelibly wrapped up in Google’s metadata as it is in their respective countries. That “Net Generation” refers to a global group is indicative in of itself.

Another key attribute of countries is that they have governments, which justify their use of top-secret intelligence agencies with social benefits. Similarly, all of the free technological benefits that Google provides us with (Google Earth, the search engine, Gmail, G+, Games) must also be examined through the lens of “what is the easiest, most pervasive way to collect as much information as possible about our users?” Google dominates the virtual world as an identity company that harvests 99% of revenues from its Adsense program. In this sense, Google shares a primary similarity with countries, and none more so than China: its business model or “power” is based on collecting information about its users or “citizens.” But again, is Google spying on its users or sharing the technological benefits of a user community all contributing to a common goal?

I use as many of Google’s services as I can. I don’t care if they have my digital identity. I trust them. But I also don’t care if the Chinese government has my identity. I trust them, too. There’s a lot we could learn from the Chinese. As unemployment rises, the US economy tanks, and our healthcare and education systems limp behind countries like China and Singapore, the American public may do well to ask themselves what could be gained by uniting under the common goal of collective progress. Theoretically, Americans have the freedom to define that as economic, social and environmental advance. I do. Under this goal, determining factors shift from individual gains to solutions that enable life on Earth as a whole to progress towards a more healthy, stable and ultimately successful existence.

To me, the generally accepted moral distinction between Google and China is fuzzy at best. The bigger question is whether or not the global community believes rapid growth is worth the cost to individual privacy. I wonder what the net result is to you: spying or sharing?

 

 

Tristan Shone/Lenovo

It’s not often we come across people who find ingenious ways to follow their dreams. Tristan Shone is one such individual. Tristan creates music out of what others might see as industrial parts. He crafts his instruments by hand and hooks them up to his computer, transforming into a one-man band… all on his Lenovo laptop. OgilvyEntertainment is proud to bring you Tristan’s story.

STOP SOPA NOW

The Internet is a beautiful thing. The Internet is a free, open, global community, the uncensored global economy, education on demand, an opportunity for anyone with access to transcend the bounds of their circumstances, the digital lifeblood of our real time evolution, and so much more. But people in congress (who don’t even use the Internet because they’re too set in their ways and closed off and mistrustful and intolerant of openness and sharing) are considering SOPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act – which would fundamentally damage the way open Internet tools like Wikipedia, Google, Dropbox, and (fill in the blank) work. We have to stop SOPA, and here’s how:

We can do it!

 

Girl Walk // All Day: (not) Owning It

Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to friend Lance Weiler speak with the Writers Guild of America about how the idea of authorship in entertainment is obsolete. He broke it lightly to them by saying, “the thing about ownership is, you don’t really own it.” I brainstormed with about nine established screenwriters ranging from youngish to super up there about how they could design other properties of value around stories. Like the deal goes like this: the story is free, but the stuff still has visceral value that people will totally pay for.

And then there’s sponsorships. One of the coolest out there is definitely the creators project – a partnership with Intel and Vice. I have to admit, I’m a few days late on the story of Girl Walk’s 71 min music video to Girl Talk’s latest album All Day. (For those of you who don’t know, Girl Talk remixes about 12 songs per track release for free this crazy, completely illegal music under label “illegal ART”). Download it for free! The screening of Girl Walk // All Day is in Brooklyn tonight, and I’ve got to run to make it, so in the spirit of piracy, I’m just going to rip off the creators project article for this post (below). BUT, to mash it up, I’m adding my stream-of-consciousness while reading it and listening to All Day.…  yep, I’m in purple.

Girl Talk’s All Day Gets A 71 Minute Music Video

by The Creators Project Staff December 05, 2011

When Girl Talk released his last album, All Day, the internet went pretty wild. Visualizations and breakdowns of his expertly crafted remixes abounded as the album seemed to capture the collective imagination of the entire music-loving world and provide a hearty dose of creative inspiration as well.

Right now I’m 30 seconds late for a meeting 10 blocks away. But I’m writing because…… I’m inspired. The music is sort of so intense and loud in my huge earphones that I bought for film school (which I dropped out of) that my hands are literally shaking, making it harder to type, finish this, and get to my meeting with Hank.

But perhaps the mother of all Girl Talk tributes is debuting this week, a 71-minute-long music video created as a visual accompaniment to the mashup album called Girl Walk // All Day. It features a ballerina who has a bit of a freak out and a blonde guy in skeleton leisure wear who dances like he’s made of rubber. The first part of the film, School’s Out, was cast out into the world wide web a few days ago, and subsequent parts will be rolled out over the coming weeks. But those of you who are in New York can watch the entire thing at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn this Thursday, December 8th when they screen it at the release party. Get your RSVP here.

So Supposedly this screening tonight it FULL, but I’m going to try to find a way in…

We spoke with the film’s managing producer, Youngna Park, to find out more about the project and what, exactly, the team had in mind here.

It’s amazing that these guys are able to sustain their creative process in the midst of day jobs, the economy, the news, etc…. hacking it as an independent artist today is incredible.

The Creators Project: How did Girl Walk come into being? What in the world possessed you to try and make an album-length music video?
Youngna Park:
As a child, Jacob [Krupnick, director] was largely influenced by MTV and music videos. He found these brief, potent, immersive experiences were fascinating, and was especially drawn by videos with a narrative, or which broke from the original song to try and develop a little context. As an artist, he is working to create work that makes a big impact, engages an audience, and that combats the distraction most of us feel in the face of a really fast-moving, technologically-enabling life. Combining sound and video have the power to do this, [as well as the ability] to be shared on a large scale.

The idea for Girl Walk // All Day is an expression of these ideas, but the storyline comes from meeting an amazing, mercurial dancer named Anne while making an installation piece for a fashion show a few years ago. Jacob embarked on a long search for a soundtrack that would challenge her, and be widely enjoyed by the public. Upon hearing Girl Talk’s album, All Day, he knew he’d found the perfect soundtrack for this larger project.

Really should go to this meeting now… but the thing about this album is that I’m overrun with these rushes of nostalgia for songs – riding in cars in high school, babysitting, songs from my parents home on weekends cleaning the house – all mashed up in these new forms that make my heart rush with the power of freedom – absolute freedom – to grow and reach whomever you want and be whomever you want as soon as you realize that it’s not about owning, it’s about sharing. But just to point out the obvious irony of all this stuff, the creators project depends on intel funding, which derives a lot of its competitive edge from patents, as do most tech companies. But with Intel’s lab star Genevieve Bell going around talking about how “data is feral,” it’ll be interesting to see how far they can go with that.

ALSO SEE:

Creator’s Project Blog

Girl Talk’s Samples Revealed

Kevin Holmes November 22, 2010

So, last week Girl Talk released his latest album All Day as a free online download (and crashed the servers of his record label, Illegal Art, in the process). But now that you’ve given the albums a few spins, you’re dying to know what all those samples are, right?

Well, thanks to Wikipedia users who probably spent their working hours productively slacking off and identifying and cataloguing most of the songs used in the tracks, you can now listen to the album and see exactly what song’s being sampled as it’s being sampled, courtesy of software engineer Travis McLeskey’s site Alldaysamples.com. Or, if you’d prefer a more visually-inclined sample tracking experience, check out this visual timeline of samples from @brahn. All hail the power of the internet.

Click here to see more.