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…
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.
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?
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.)
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?
As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has interviewed creative people across various fields points out, creative people “show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.”
The ability to switch between apparently contradictory modes of thinking is key. Fascinating.
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.
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.
Picking holes in things is part of Newson’s creative process. “One of my biggest sources of inspiration as a designer is basically looking at things and hating them,” he says, good-naturedly. “I have other designer friends who feel the same way, like [Apple’s senior vice president of design] Jony Ive. We’re always sitting there going, ‘God, that’s horrible, that’s so s—‘ . Sitting there, ranting about what we hate. And it sounds really negative but actually it’s sort of not – because if everything was great, then we wouldn’t have a job.”
When you’re two years old, a busy day just needs a restorative nap, while you are carried home by your parents. When you’re older, and your productivity matters, you need more than that:
Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.
This fascinating NYT piece on holidays and the brain’s reset button by Daniel J. Levitin, director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University, is an excellent summation of the results of research into how our brain functions, and the interplay between productivity and daydreaming states. The conclusion is good news for us all, I think:
If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.
The reason is that content isn’t really king. Content is crap. Nobody walks out of a great movie and says, “Wow! What great content.” Nobody who produces meaningful artistic expression thinks of themselves as content producers either. So the first step to becoming a successful publisher is to start treating creative work with the respect it deserves.
The word “content” is a useful stand-in phrase for certain discussions. But never delude yourself into thinking you’re a “content” person. You have better skills than that – articulate them.
Lovely example of both how similar photos taken of certain sights can end up, even when “filtered” by Instagram, but also the creative potential of this vast online wealth of creative material we’re building up.