Hey! I found the missing advertising talent. And they seem to be doing just fine.

So after much anticipation, it turned out that I wasn't actually able to go to SXSW. Which was a bummer, and yet another reason why I'm ready for this whole economy thing to pass. The good news though, is that we happened to be heading to Austin for some research during the last couple days of the event.  So while we didn't get the panel goodness, we did absorb some learning from some friends who did go, and we had a great time.

After checking into our hotel, I remarked on Twitter that everyone looked like they worked with the Interwebs, but then later I realized that they looked surprisingly similar to junior and mid-level advertising people. Except of course that they were driving Porsches and talking about running companies. And that made me sad. But then it also made me think about all of the conversation I've heard about how advertising is having trouble attracting new talent. Which is funny when you think about the way young people are treated by this business. Understanding why there is a lack of new talent isn't exactly rocket science.

Advertising simply isn't the only way to make a career being creative anymore. Creative people can now just start their own business, call all of the shots, make all of the money, and have a good time building a completely original brand (yep, I said brand.) Whereas the advertising experience is typically something along the lines of paying your own way to go to New York to interview, being offered $30k to work in Manhattan, and then being reminded about how lucky you are, every day, for being allowed The Honour of working 80-hours a week for someone who got rich for knowing how to tell dick jokes in-between TV shows. I've been very lucky to have avoided most of that, having worked for some of the most incredible people in the business, in both talent and in graciousness, but I've heard some terrible stories from friends that I've made along the way. And it makes me think that agencies are broken in a more fundamental way than most people like to talk about.

The agency world is still operating under the assumption that they are the one place to go for creative folks. And while it still is high on the list of a lot of people, myself included, it doesn't seem like the business is doing a very good job of bringing in the kinds of people who know how to be what marketing needs to become as we hurtle into a strange and uncertain future. Some agencies are attempting to, but often it seems like more often than not they are just bringing in weirdos for the sake and novelty of it rather than bringing in people who actually know how to do stuff. But I'm starting to get the feeling that the people who know how to do this stuff aren't there for the easy taking, as they've all chosen a more appealing route.  Working for themselves. Living the life of an entrepreneur rather than an employee. Working 18-hours a day for themselves rather than someone else.

Advertising is having trouble attracting new talent because it's not trying to attract new talent. The business is still counting on a fading mystique to lure people who love it into working in it. And while all of this might be over-generalized, I am more and more convinced that until the industry addresses this problem in a real way, it doesn't matter how much change they talk about, agencies will continue to slide into mediocrity and lose relevance with clients.

Nominated for Post of Last Month, go back in time to vote!

I was hoping to have this issue solved by now, but having just found out that I had a post that was nominated for Niel Perkin's Post of the Month (thanks to Tom for nominating me and to Niel for actually including it) a few weeks ago made me realize that my current RSS set-up isn't doing me any favors.

I had things set up in daily folders. Each weekday had its own alotted feeds, which I would read daily on the Bart coming in to work. The problem with that system though is that feeds like TechCrunch and PSFK were still bullying feeds from regular bloggers out of the picture. Also, I downloaded the Kindle app for iPhone and have been reading books on Bart all the while neglecting my feed reader. All of which kept me from knowing to spam people for Post of the Month votes. Bummer.

So now I'm reorganizing again, this time with one folder that is filled with regular bloggers, things that I really want to read, to be read daily. Then I may divide up the rest in to subject specific folders, though I'm still skeptical of that system. In fact, I'm now thinking of eliminating a lot of stuff that I feel like I need to read in favor of things that I want to read. Twitter should bring anything else interesting to my attention … I think.  So here goes another great reorganziation.

What happens when an online game becomes a bank?

world_of_warcraft_checks_cashed

Those who have been paying attention to virtual worlds for awhile have likely seen all kinds of stories about  the transactions taking place within these digital places. Most stories have revolved around people buying and selling earned character attributes, rare items, and how sweatshops have sprung up in which people to grind away in virtual worlds to generate assets in characters or items to sell to lazy American gamers.  Well, I think things are about to get more serious, as Ars Technica is reporting that the makers of Entropia Universe have been granted a banking license in Sweden.

MindArk PE AB, the company behind sci-fi MMO Entropia Universe will apparently be able to let players conduct real-world banking from within its online game. Of course, Entropia Universe actually features a cash-based economy already, where players can exchange real money for game currency at an exchange rate of 10:1 (ten in-game dollars to one U.S. dollar) and then buy in-game items with the money; the game itself has proven to be incredibly successful, having generated over $420 million last year.

Now, though, MindArk's going to be just like a bank in the real world: it will be backed by Sweden's $60,000 deposit insurance, offer interest-bearing accounts for its clients, feature direct deposit options, let players pay bills online, and apparently will offer loans to customers.

I'm clearly not an expert in financial issues, but it seems as though adding banking to the economies within virtual worlds could have some profound implications for real life. It raises issues in my mind about things like money moving effortlessly and untracked across borders; the millions (and eventually billions) of dollars in transactions that are going to be taking place outside of traditional nation based economies; could a country like Sweden eventually become the dominant global financial power simply by hosting the billions of dollars in financial transactions that people from across the globe are wielding within virtual worlds?  What happens if something like World of Warcraft becomes the world's biggest economy? And most importantly, will Donald Trump buy Habbo Hotel and turn it into a tacky casino and virtual boxing venue?

Sometimes I think things are about a decade or so away from getting really weird.