This might be the most amazing syllabus I've ever read.
MAS S95: Science Fiction to Science Fabrication -or- Pulp to Prototype
Instructors: Sophia Brueckner and Dan Novy Meeting Time: Wed 6-9 in E14- 525 FALL TERM — (Wednesday, Sept. 4, through Wednesday, Dec. 11) 15 Wednesdays + Final Exam Week.
‘Pataphysics (French: ‘pataphysique): The science of imaginary solutions.
For decades, science fiction authors have explored both our wildest dreams and greatest fears for where technology might lead us. Yet, science fiction is fueled by the concerns of today just as much as it is about fantastic imaginings of the future. This class ties science fiction with speculative/critical design as a means to encourage the ethical and thoughtful design of new technologies.
With a focus on the creation of functional prototypes, this class combines the analysis of classic and modern science fiction texts and films with physical fabrication or code-based interpretations of the technologies they depict. Topics will include virtual/augmented reality; networks; artificial intelligence; nanotechnology; humanism and transhumanism; cyborgs and robotics; environmental issues; biology; utopias and dystopias; surveillance; music and art; interfaces; wearables; and/or religion, culture, and society. Guest lecturers and representatives from sponsor companies working in these areas will contribute to select project critiques. Requires regular reading, discussion, bi-weekly projects, and a final project.
Click through for the complete semester and some good books to add to your list.
“Know that it’s not going to be easy. Know that it’s going to take a long time to be good or great. Don’t focus on the career climbing. Focus on the getting funnier. The second you are bitching about what another comic is getting you are going in the completely wrong direction. No one is getting your gig or your money.
Keep in mind that you are in for a looooong haul of ups and downs and nothing and something. It takes at least 15 years, usually more, to make a great comic. most flame out before they get there.
And yes, be polite and courteous to every single person you deal with. Not because that will make you a better comedian, but because you’re supposed to do that.”
— Louis CK, advising an 18-year-old stand up in 2005 | Splitsider (via popculturebrain)
Andrew Hovell has written a great big list of things he's learned while working in advertising. It's pretty damn funny, a bit cynical, and much less annoying than any list you'll read on Buzzfeed.
Some choice selections:
11. If you're a planner, the best account handlers and creatives think they can do your job, they are right (bastards)
12. If you're a planner, the worst account handlers and creatives think they can do you're job because they haven't a clue what it is and don't care (bastards)
22. Most 'ad folk' don't really know what they're doing but got found out long ago
23. Most digital folk don't know what they're doing, but will get found out soon
24. Even more social folk and PR don't know what they're doing, but don't get measured on much that matters, so will get away with it
Junot Diaz in Salon:
Despite what we would like to think, the lag time between what a culture recognizes as its country and what the country is, my brother, is quite extraordinary.
I suspect there's a lot of this going on beyond cultural makeup and beyond cultural identity. Sometimes it seems like the agency world is constantly setting itself up to kick ass 5-years ago.
That might be a penalty for over reliance on process. Process solves old problems. It's often reactionary, looking to the past for answers. Gearing up to fight the last war.
Really great agencies continue to be so by staying present, focusing on ideas and looking for possibilities. Maybe there's a role for process in that. Maybe it's more of a matter of flow or steady navigation than of static organizational design.
I don't know.
I'm a little out of my element here.
And this is all a bit too far of a leap from where I thought it was going to go. It probably belongs in a different post.
In fact, I'm a little bit irritated with myself for writing it.
But here we are...awkwardly trying to end this thing.
Forget it, read the whole interview with Junot. It's good. And it's not about advertising.
Whereas Facebook’s initial value proposition was who was there (“Princeton University Network”), today’s popular social products are compelling because of what you do once you get there. They provide new ways of interacting with the same people we’ve been hanging out with on the Internet with all along: our friends. And thanks to the ability to let apps access your phone’s contacts, no single company owns your social graph anymore.
As a result, my hunch is that for a company to become The Next Facebook, it will need to enable a novel network of people. That’s not to say it won’t start with your friends — Twitter didn’t have Oprah on Day One — but ultimately its network will need to look different than your Address Book. Otherwise, it’ll just be another watering hole.
There's something that so much more interesting about connecting with people because of something you wrote or shared. My Facebook friends will always be there, no matter if I post there or not. There's no benefit to it. You're not building anything there. But writing or reading something on Tumblr opens up an entirely new world of weird possibilities and opportunities. You're building a collection of thoughts and interests, but also building a network of people and ideas that feels more like exploring. It's fundamentally more rewarding to explore the unknown.
I have a lot of friends who have recently hung up their Facebook boots. It sounds wonderful to be free of that nightmare.
I can't just get rid of it though. I need it professionally, and there's a lot of people on there that I really like but would probably never talk to again if I left.
Deleting my account just isn't an option.
What I need is less Facebook.
Maybe a couple minutes of Facebook a day.
So yesterday, on a whim, while I was waiting for someone to grab some pretzels from the AV group's snack stash, I deleted Facebook from my phone.
Just to see what happens.
And let me tell you brother, what I found out about myself was horrific and embarassing. I have seen the face of addiction, and I had no idea how out of hand it had become until it wasn't there anymore.
I must have compulsively unlocked my phone 4 or 5 times while getting ready this morning. Momemtarily confused when I came to my senses, realizing what had just happened.
I felt the urge at every stoplight on the drive in. That surge of domamine gets going and the phone is in your hands before you know it. When you catch yourself, the happy chemicals in your brain are shut off with an abrubt harumph. Like it hits a wall.
That wall is sanity, my friends.
It's amazing. And I'm more convinced than ever that life would be better with less of it.
iPad is next.
Then I'll just need to figure out how to remove it from the Internet.
Northern Planner on agency innovation in emerging markets:
Because while people in 'established' markets with a long tradition of advertising and stuff agonise about the future and spout stuff like 'ideas we advertise' rather than 'advertising ideas' it seems like these markets, without the baggage of 'the golden years', plus the jet propelled cultural and economic change, don't bother talking about the future, they're just getting with innovating it.
Maybe it's about time that we stop thinking so much about how to address the future and just get on with making it happen.
I'm not so easily worried by semantics, but the ambiguousness of social is causing problems. The word is out of control, having become a buzzword as sticky as it is devoid of meaning.
- Is it a social idea if it's a game that prompts you to post something to Facebook at the end?
- Is it a social idea if it's a microsite that pulls in Twitter feeds?
- Is Skype a social idea?
- Is a Facebook post a social idea?
- Is Game of Thrones a social idea?
- Is a hashtag a social idea?
- Beer and wings is definitely a social idea.
It's become the digital equivilant of the term widget (the business school use, not the precurser to apps). Which isn't a big deal until you have a team working on a social idea, not realizing until the idea is killed (or terrible) that there were 10-different expectations of what a social idea should be.
After all, the Internet is social by design.
But really, an idea needs to be good before it can be social. Or, ideas have the potential to become social if they're good enough. Things can be done to help out, but social is an outcome, or use case, of an idea. Social networks are places where social behavior can happen, but even there, social is a behavior. It's not a deliverable any more than viral is.
So let's get more specific. Words should mean things. Especially in the communications business.
Borges, Foucault, and Perec on Lists Jorge Luis Borges relates in his essay on "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins", in La Nación, 8 February 1942 of a certain list ascribed by "Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into
(a) those that belong to the Emperor,
(b) embalmed ones,
(c) those that are trained,
(d) suckling pigs,
(f) fabulous ones,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) those that are included in this classification,
(i) those that tremble as if they were mad,
(j) innumerable ones,
(k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush,
(m) those that have just broken a flower vase,
(n) those that resemble flies from a distance. He also cites other, less memorable, examples of classification, and concludes: "Obviously there is no classification of the universe that is not arbitrary and conjectural. The reason is very simple: we do not know what the universe is.
His point is that " there is no classification of the universe that is not arbitrary and conjectural. The reason is very simple: we do not know what the universe is."
But that sucks all of the fun out of it.
Google Strategist, Brandcenter grad, and all-around swell guy, Guantum Ramdurai, is writing 30-days of posts about water to spread awareness of the lack of clean drinking water in India ... and hopefully raise some funds to help out while he's at it:
I grew up in small town India. Being part of a middle class joint family I had a good healthy childhood, with an acute sense of how lucky I was compared to hundreds of other kids I met on the streets everyday. Lucky for being able to go to school. Lucky for three square meals. Lucky for drinking water.
However, I had no idea of the extent of my fortune till I moved to the United States 4 years ago. I now live in an NYC apartment where I drink water from the tap.
The moving thing for me is that he's actually experienced the problem first hand. It makes for some interesting reading. He's a smart dude and well worth following. And I'm not just saying that because he yelled at me for not following him on Twitter when he was still in school.
This is a post that I've thought about writing for awhile. Sort of a follow-up to a post that I wrote shortly after moving everything over from Wordpress.
I'm writing it right now, not becuase I planned to, but because I just lost an entire post by trying to use their in-browser composer. Turns out that it'll let you write an entire post and try to save it before letting you know that you're not logged in and losing all of your work.
So I'm a little peeved.
But here's the deal with Squarespace 6:
It's a great as a CMS. It's been really easy to maintain. I've changed themes multiple times without any problems. I haven't had to update a bunch of plugins or configure a bunch of weird behind the scenes settings that probably only make sense to system admins and Wordpress maniacs. It just works. If my blog is ugly (and it might be), it's my fault. Out of the box, you can make incredible looking web-things.
Also, their customer service is AMAZING. They are responsive and helpful and awesome.
I'm so happy with Squarespace 6 that there's not another CMS I would trade it in for at this point. But if I do move, it'll likely be to something that is as good at CMS but is better at posting content.
Squarespace is the Fundamentalist Baptist Church of CMS posting. It is not, AT ALL, flexible. You can post via iOS App, in browser editor, or by email. That's it, tough guy. There is no API access. There is no publishing from Byword or Marsedit. There's no nifty URL scheme for Drafts or Editorial to work with. It's probably due to the complexity of the technology behind their WYSIWYG interface. Or it might be a desire to control the experience from start to finish. The Jobsian way.
Either way, don't plan on bringing your slick writing workflows along for the party. Especially if they involve posting from iOS.
It's perplexing and frustrating when considering that the rest of the experience is so good. In an age where you can post to free services like Tumblr from blog editors, text editors, phones, email, CD players, smoke signals, toaster ovens, or Micro Brew IPAs, it seems odd to be paying so much for something that is so detached from how people actually create content.
I already mentioned the iOS apps, which are very nice looking. But if you format a post beyond straight up text, you'll not be able to edit it from iOS. You're living in the year 2000. With flying cars and desktop centric publishing. That piece of glass in your pocket is essentially a brick.
Stop everything. Wait for the Squarespace app to open, wait for it to finish whatever it needs to do before it becomes responsive, then paste in the text as markdown (which is a very cool feature, btw). Oh, and don't forget to set a reminder to fill in the metadata when you get back to a computer. Cause you can't do it from mobile.
I'm hoping that they'll bring out a new app when iOS 7 launches. But at the same time, I'd be incredibly surprised.
The other issues I've had, like problems with implementing common blog functionalities, I've been able to overcome with a little elbow grease or rationalizing the need for them away.
None of that compares to the sorry state of posting. Metaphorically, they've built a beautiful sports car without a gas pedal.
So there's the review. A tale of love and hate. If you like posting content often and easily, go to Tumblr. If you need something that looks great and is less dependent on frequent or flexible content updates, Squarespace might be a good fit.
I'll be waiting it out, because they've got to be doing something great if it's taking this long. Right?
Jim Wayne Miller on the difference between humor and analysis:
“Humor and analysis go at things in altogether different ways. Humor puts things together—in surprising and unexpected ways. Analysis takes things apart—through rather routine procedures. And this difference is the heart of the problem.”
You must understand that without the French toast I am no good to the cast and crew. And I will not eat the French toast if it is not prepared the right way. If I do not eat the French toast, my blood sugar will drop to precariously low levels, and I will be groggy and unable to make the necessary split-second decisions a director has to make in order for a film to be successful. Therefore, it is essential that you understand something about the French toast: it is not only my breakfast, it is the film.
The day that I walked through and knocked over a baby carriage (thankfully, empty) at Au Bon Pain in Boston serves as a great metaphor and reminder of what can happen when I work through meals.
Gamasutra ran a really great interview with the creatives working on the latest Splinter Cell. Centered around balancing realism with ethics and controversial gameplay, it's well worth a read if you're interested in that sort of thing.
But I thought this point about the challenge of using a constantly changing medium to bring about emotion in users was salient for the day job...
At the same time, I'm hoping that we're going to get to a point where we can touch people the same way Journey touched me, with a game like Splinter Cell or a game like Assassin's Creed where the graphics are realistic and it's true humans that are telling me a story -- I can be touched that way and be in control, and it's not just a game forcing an emotion on me, but just me through my decisions, living those emotions as strongly, or even more strongly, than in a non-interactive medium.
RD: Also, remember we're constantly trying to hit a moving target here. If you look at every other storytelling medium, it has been stable for at least a hundred years. Filmmaking, the language has likely stayed the same since George Méliès. Theater has largely stayed the same since Shakespeare. Books, since Gutenberg. And there's been time to iterate and perfect the craft and perfect the ways of communicating this material.
And you look at what we're doing. The hardware is constantly changing. What can we do when the hardware is constantly changing -- we're constantly evolving and trying to simultaneously maximize the potential of the tools that we have to play with while telling these stories. And because you're trying to hit a moving target, you're going to have a hit and miss ratio.
I don't think it's an accident that a lot of the games that people are pointing to as stirring these deeper emotions have been ones that have not been necessarily bleeding edge, that were built as more of a stable technology, things like Passage, for example. Those are games where the technology and the sandbox was clearly defined, and that allowed a, for lack of a better way of putting it, an ability to concentrate on just one aspect of creating something that was more emotionally moving, because there was a place where you knew that you could aim.
With what we're doing, with these advances in technology, with the new consoles, we're trying to do that, but at the same time, we don't know at any given moment the tools we have to do it with, and when you don't know the tools that are in your kit, you don't know what you're going to be able to build with it.
Sori Yanagi on designing for function over marketing:
“Things that are easy to use survive, regardless of what is fashionable, and people want to use them forever. But if things are created merely for a passing vogue and not for a purpose, people soon get bored with them and throw them away. The fundamental problem is that many products are created to be sold, not used.”
“This happens all the time,” said Bill Wolters, the president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. “Someone wants an exception to the franchise laws. If we made an exception for everybody that showed up in the legislature, before long the integrity of the entire franchise system is in peril.”
Oh the horror.
(HT @JamieVoorhies )
But if you want a leader to unlock the potential of their people, to encourage them to use their imagination, their initiative and be original and, well, creative, you're best looking for an introvert.
Someone who likes to listen more than talk, someone who likes IDEAS, not MY idea.
Someone who isn't intimidating, who thinks before they speak and doesn't want to win arguments, they want the right answer.
Yet the model for agency leaders and heads of departments seem to be fancy pants model.
Sure it's a business that rewards ideas, but it's also a business that rewards sociopathic tendencies.
For the Journal of the American Revolution, Todd Andrlik compiled a list of the ages of the key participants in the Revolutionary War as of July 4, 1776. Many of them were surprisingly young:
Marquis de Lafayette,18
James Monroe, 18
Gilbert Stuart, 20
Aaron Burr, 20
Alexander Hamilton, 21
Betsy Ross, 24
James Madison, 25
Thomas Jefferson, 33
John Adams, 40
Paul Revere, 41
George Washington, 44
Samuel Adams, 53
Puts a different perspective on things. Buncha punk kids...