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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts from the Creativity Category

Surprisingly fewer and fewer designers, regardless of their particular design discipline, seem to be interested in the detail of how something is actually made. With a father who is a fabulous craftsman, I was raised with the fundamental belief that it is only when you personally work with a material with your hands, that you come to understand its true nature, its characteristics, its attributes, and I think – very importantly – its potential.

Jony Ive

It’s not hard to find this adorable:

Yes, it’s the CGI team from Industrial Light & Magic, watching reaction videos to the trailer for Rogue One, the forthcoming Star Wars movie.

In a month where we’ve seen so damn many examples of the negative impact of social media, it’s nice to see a more positive one. And while, yes, this is marketing, it’s also an example of communication. Fans of Star Wars who have gone into professional filming are reacting to the reactions of fans who makes YouTube videos. It’s sort of a meta-reaction video.

The circle is now complete

More than that, it’s a circle of communication between the creators and their audience that allows a degree of interplay. We’ve reached an interesting point in our culture where fans of the media of the 70s and 80s are now professionals in their own right, and able to bring both their fandom and their skills to bear on old franchises. The revival of Doctor Who under the acclaimed Russell T. Davies (a Who uber-fan) a decade ago is a classic example of that. At leat two of the lead actors – David Tennant and Peter Capaldi – are fans, too. The rebirth of the Star Wars franchise last year is another example.

However, there’s a really careful line to walk between being a fan and being a professional. You don’t just want to make something for the fans – you want to make it for everybody. But equally, you need to understand what it was about these narratives that made people fans in the first place. And it’s easy within your fannish professional bubble to make the wrong calls. At least here we’re seeing people take some form of sanity check on their own work.

Well, as long as they’re also watching the negative reactions…

[via The Mary Sue]

Why really bad decisions get made about open plan offices

It’s because the people making the decision don’t have to use the space:

Let’s start with the fact that the folks often making the space decision are managers who already don’t spend much time at their desk because they are, by necessity, in meetings all day. They’re already in a quiet and private conference room where they can focus on the task at hand. They (we) don’t intimately understand the daily tax of constantly being interrupted because they (we) are not living it on a daily basis.

comicbookgirl19

YouTube celebrities – like comicbookgirl19 above – are the fastest growing media stars of our age, yet a group much of the mainstream media seems utterly unaware of. There’s an interesting piece arguing that female YouTube celebrities have greater influence amongst viewers than traditional celebrities, because they’re seen as having more agency – more control over their own image and business:

The reason being, the way a YouTube star will approach social media is fundamentally different from the way a mainstream celebrity like Taylor Swift is going to approach their Instagram account or social media. The mainstream celebrity is using social media as just another platform to project the same images, ideas and positioning, whereas the YouTube stars and digital influencers are using social media as an inherent part of theirDNA. If the fundamental flaw from the get-go is the positioning of that celebrity and whether that celebrity’s positioning is actually credible or authentic, it doesn’t matter on how many different platforms you express that positioning; it is not going to make much of a difference.

It makes an interesting counterpoint to Alanis Morissette’s reflection on Jagged Little Pill after 20 years – and how she struggled to keep her own voice within the traditional celebrity system:

But my growing desire to write in the no-holds-barred way that I now dwell in was being discouraged…under the guise that “no one wants to hear this from you, not the least of whom is your manager.” Oh. I wasn’t aware that I was writing my songs and expressing myself to make sure my manager was happy. Perhaps my burgeoning sexuality and coming-of-age were being made evident through the imagery in videos I started to shoot — nothing wildly gratuitous, but an indication of the sorts of places I wanted to further explore in my art, in my music.

I suspect the creative limitations of the next generation won’t be about managers or labels, but about necessary ways of behaving to get the reach and eyeballs needed to keep their publishing platforms working in their favour.

I wonder how long before we see a YouTube celeb release their own app for the new Apple TV?

Apples & blackberries

There’s no doubt that the thing I miss most about corporate life is the team camaraderie. I haven’t really had a team for three and a half years now. I work largely by myself, and that can be rewarding – but sometimes lonely. (The fact that I spend a lot of time training or lecturing goes a long way to balance that, though.)

However, Stowe Boyd makes a very interesting point: sometimes solo working can be more productive for some endeavours – like writing and analysing:

The case I am making is not that of the solitary genius laboring in a garret, per se. But actually the opposite: the strictures and costs of the modern-day model of teamwork provide a scant return on the investments those on the team have to make, individually. Yes, I am aware that all important and useful things can’t be accomplished by soloists, true. But we seem to have swung so far to the teamwork side of the equation that opportunities for individual work are routinely overlooked, or swept into the team to-do list, like everything else.

And, as we reshape our workspaces to encourage collaboration – do we lose something?

The open office combined with an obsession with teamwork make today’s office more of a minefield than a “mindfield”: It’s not a place to think deep thoughts for long periods of time.

Fascinating thoughts. Can we create workplaces that allow solo endeavour as well as group collaboration?

Last Friday’s rather cryptic post (I even tagged it as such) was about more than just the switch to WordPress. I’ve been keen to slightly switch around my approach to writing One Man & His Blog for a while now, but a quirk of my personal psychology means that it’s easier to do at a point of discontinuity. A shift in blog platform is certainly that.

Last year, one of the most personally profound moments I had was at the Dots conference, arranged by Brilliant Noise and curated by Neil Perkin, both friends of the blog. Neil did a superb job of curating an event without a single weak speaker, but two in particular resonated with me.

Great artists steal – from a long way away

Mark Earls at Dots

First of all, Mark Earls made a compelling case that innovation is, in effect, stealing from far away:

Look a long way away from what you’re doing if you want to reinvent it. The man that invented boutique hotels took the idea of a nightclub and built hotels in that way. Marginal advantage is an idea from sport which borrows as many sources as possible. The sign of a good poet is someone who copies from far away, said TS Elliot. It’s easy to copy from next door…

Stagnation through introspection

That resonated with me because I’ve had a growing feeling that the discussion about digital journalism is stagnating, because it’s all happening internally to journalism. We’re looking at Buzzfeed and paywalls and what each other are doing, instead of casting our eyes outwards and seeing how technology and culture are changing. The former leads to copying, the latter to innovation.

Martin Elliott

The power of that idea was driven home by the brutally compelling talk by Professor Martin Elliott, about how the cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital radically reduced death rates by borrowing from Formula One:

The Formula One teams always meet at round tables, they plan for what goes wrong and they mentally rehearse what’s going to happen. They mapped the process – and found the surgical one was 10 times more complicated. They tried engineering a new bed – but it was too expensive. So they focused on human factors. And every situation is a web of complex relationships that could go wrong.

So they focused on leadership and choreography. Leadership is transferred via a checklist as needed. The most important person they hired was a dancer. No-one knew where to stand. Ballet had the knowledge they needed.

Formula One saving children’s lives in hospital? That’s stealing from a long way away – and that’s innovation.

Mental reset

At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve drifted into thinking of One Man & His Blog as a journalism blog, rather than Adam Tinworth’s blog. Now, the majority of my work currently is in journalism, so it’s always going to be heavily flavoured with journalism. But I’m granting myself the mental permission to write about wider issues that are informing the working part of my brain.

If we’re going to reinvent publishing and journalism, we need to get back to stealing from far away, as we did a decade or so back, rather than the circle-jerk of copying each marginal digital improvement that a particular site manages to create.

So, reboot time.

If you watch a number of GoPro-type extreme sports videos, you’re probably deeply familiar with this track:

This tune is indelibly marked in my head as the “Le Web tune”, because as I sit in the main stage area, finishing liveblog posts, high-energy GoPro videos are often playing with that track in the background.

For me, Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling, from her self-titled album, will always be of Paris (although, ironically, I met Lindsey in London.

But, for most people, it’s the GoPro music, and James Trew has gone to great lengths to understand why it’s so used in those videos:

Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya lectures on the neuroscience of music and emotion at Goldsmith’s University, London. Unsurprisingly, he says it’s complicated. “When a musical piece is chosen to go along with a visual scene, what’s needed is the congruency of meaning across both dimensions — musical and visual,” he says. “The answer lies, in my view, not just in the music, but the various ways that meanings emerge out of the video.” The trouble being, that meaning is a deeply subjective thing.

It’s a fascinating look at how something so subjective can lead to remarkably uniform results.