Tag Archives: work

One Year of Junk Mail

I’ve just moved into a new flat, and it has prompted me to think about projects which last 12 months, the length of my contract in this place. The first project was waiting on my doorstep before I even moved in.

Junk Mail.

I’m going to capture the entire body of direct mail which I’m sent whilst I’m in this place.

Stuff which is anonymously door dropped, stuff which is marketed directly at me. Stuff which is incorrectly sent to me. I’m interested in seeing how long it takes for my details to appear on marketing lists, how targeted and relevant the content is, and the sheer volume of paper pushed through my door.

I’m not sure how interesting it will be to follow, but there might be some interesting data from the back of it.

You can follow the project at its tumblr, http://oneyearofjunkmail.tumblr.com and I’ll be tweeting project related tweets via #1yearofJunkMail

#NicerTuesdays

Last night, I spoke at It’s Nice That’s #NicerTuesdays.


Photography courtesy of GT / Its Nice That

It’s their monthly creative talks event, and I stood alongside three other brilliant speakers, photographer Spike Visser, Kevin Haley of aberrant architecture and Hector Harkness from immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, all on the topic of participation.

My talk talked about a couple of projects I’ve run where participation is key, and generally focused on the importance of the role of Curator, someone who is responsible for guiding and directing effort and talent, into the best possible shape; the importance of ensuring that your community is looked after and feels a sense of co-ownership; and that participative projects which include collaboration with a wide group of people are sustainable, so that no-one person can decide they’re bored and give up on a collective group’s input.

All of the talks revolved around the role of the audience in a piece of work, and reminds us that everything we do, ultimately, is for an audience – and without understanding how they fit into ecosystem and the role they play, ideas can be disconnected and inauthentic. Without putting a person and their needs and interests at the heart of an idea, it falls flat.

There’s a larger description of the evening over at It’s Nice That’s blog: http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/nicer-tuesdays-participation-write-up

The 100 (+2)

Almost 2 years ago, I started a project called The 100.

I dreamt up the idea on Jan 1st 2012 to send 100 cameras to 100 people aged between 1 and 100, one camera per age, in order to capture a week in the lives of 100 different ages.

I intended to complete the project within twelve months, as a quicker project in comparison to the long running Disposable Memory Project (which is five years and counting), and wrap the project up on Jan 1st 2013.

Boy, was that an underestimate. In reality, I’ve effectively finished the project today, with the very last roll of film being published on the site. Whilst there will still be a bit of actively over the coming months, the project in its first state is complete with 100 (actually 102) rolls of film developed and shared, in addition to two special ages 0 and 101.

Why did it take longer than expected? I’ll write a longer blog post over on the project to explain, but in short:

1. Major Life Events. Not least of all, my wife got pregnant and we had a second child in 2012, I moved jobs, and a handful of other significant personal events took place which immediately consumed all of my emotional and cognitive energy.

2. The Post. It doesn’t work. Sending physical things all around the world is costly, hard work and unreliable.

3. Crowdsourcing. It takes a long time to find 100 people. It’s sort of chicken and egg. If people aren’t visiting your website, no-one will apply. No-one will visit your website until you have images online. If no-one visits your website, there are no images. And so on.

4. Major Life Events. This is worth posting for both 2012 and 2013. This year has been even more unsettled, with yet another new job, and a host of other challenges.

Needless to say, its great when a project concludes, and to see the complete set of images is really special.

Check out the complete project at http://the100.thinkplaymake.co/

Carat Coffee Club

As some of you might know, I like my coffee.
As more of you probably know, I’m also very lazy.

Combine these two facts, and you arrive at the need for hyperlocal quality coffee, and what better way of doing this than starting your own Coffee Club at work? Rather than leaving the office to get a fix, I’ve brought a hand-grinder and bag of beans from Kopi into work, and left them in a public space within my team.

The plan is to let people drink the decent coffee, give them some lessons on how to use an aeropress, and the importance of good quality beans being ground just before you make the drink – and we have a nice little social movement.

If it works within my team, I’m planning on rolling it out across my whole floor. Hopefully ‘donations’ towards each cup will make it self-sustaining, and each month, we’ll aim to have a different coffee from a range of suppliers like Hasbean, Kopi, Monmouth and beyond.

My first job

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So, (in reverse order) after four years of consulting, eight years of running my own agency, two years of internship in agencies and two years of doing freelance stuff whilst I was at college, I decided to get my first job.

As of August 2012, I’m now Strategic Technologies Director for Carat UK.

What on earth does that job title mean?

First of all, lets start with saying I hate job titles. To sum up the breadth of one’s responsibility in a two or three word phrase is simplification beyond usefulness.

But let’s break it down:

Director: This just means I sit in a chair with my name on it.

Technologies: Technology has not been the T in IT for a long time. Technology is all encompassing, and should live in the same category of words which mean very little any more, like creative, digital or electronic. However, its useful as a signpost to my background, passion and focus in this role. We pluralised it because Technology Director suggests something I’m not. Technologies suggests the broader ecosystem, culture and society of technology – in fact, I think Kevin Kelly’s “Technium” describes that best. It is probably shorthand for 90% of the products, platforms, services and channels which have appeared in the last ten years. Technology is the connecting thread between many things, and those are the points I like working in, the intersection between things.

Strategic: I’m not sure how people classically define strategy, but personally I define it to mean exploring potential destinations and how to get there, rather than reacting to something in a kneejerk fashion. It’s also about sustainability and constant course correction.

Strategic technology: Like creative technology, but taking a broader view on the impact which emergent technology and new behaviours have on business, and helping to apply it when it is commercially relevant or progressive.

Lots of waffle, but my main aim is to help my clients and agency understand, explore and realise the steady flow of the new, through demonstration and play.

Kinda what I did already, but without having to chase invoices, right?

There were lots of reasons for taking a job, but the two that stand out are:

1. Being able to work in a team, within which I can learn from others, and collaborate better – and the Strategy and Innovation team at Carat is full of really smart people who believe the same.

2. Being able to focus on better work, and scaling the size of work I can do – through working in a single organisation, it means I can dedicate my time and energy to that organisation.

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into some fantastic projects.

PS. I’ve still managed to protect 20% of my week towards non-profit/non-commercial work like Disposable Memory Project and Child’s i Foundation, and undoubtedly things like CLARITY* and bluesky.

MK at WK

MK at WK

Yesterday, I joined the lovely people at Wieden + Kennedy London, as a Technical Creative Director. I’m already feeling at home, and the sun is shining through the windows at me. I never thought I’d go straight back into a perm role, but I’d always said W+K were the only agency I’d consider a proper job with, and gosh darnit, they invited me in – so looking forward to taking part in the amazing work which they produce. Take a look at their site for the skinny on their clients. I’m now back in the East of London, around Hanbury Street / Spitalfields, so pop by and say hello.

Child’s i Foundation launches

Through my work at Yarned, I’m involved in a new charity – Child’s i Foundation, which is building a babies’ home in Uganda on the outskirts of Kampala for 50 infants, from newborn babies to five years-olds. The home will have medical facilities to help with premature and sick babies and children with special needs.

This is happening in two ways:

1. To build a “transitional orphanage” with full medical and educational facilities that provides a safe haven for babies and young children.
2. To place these children into secure and happy families, giving them something we believe every child has a right to – a loving home.

Child’s i Foundation will connect supporters to our work in Uganda in real time. Through emails, blogs and videos, people will be able to see exactly where their money is going, and we will have the opportunity to appeal directly for additional help should we need it.

Members of the community can be involved on many levels, from community fundraising, making donations and suggestions to actively volunteering at the Home in Uganda.

Interaction and mass collaboration are the keys to building the charity and achieving our goals.

We are creating a Web 2.0 version of a letter from a sponsored child and creating a new way of giving.

I’ll write more about the approach we’re taking from a technical perspective over the next weeks, but in the meantime, please go and visit the website:

http://childsifoundation.org
Also, follow us on twitter and flickr.

Amstel Filtered Gallery

I’ve not been allowed to talk about this before, but it has just been nominated for an award, so I guess it’s all pretty public now. This was one of the last projects I was involved in at de-construct – a filtered art experience for Amstel.

Visitors would arrive at the gallery space, and be given a personal identity card – which they would take around the exhibit. The first port of call is to a booth where you are asked a series of questions, following the pattern of a multiple choice quiz. The aim of the quiz is to get an idea of your psychological makeup, and see where you sit in one of the three Hans Eysnick scales of neuroticism, psychoticism and extrovertism.

Once profiled, you would enter the gallery where we had about eight different spaces for watching short films and video art. You would arrive at once of the viewing areas (a mix of large cinema spaces, tiny shower like audio showers or plasmas screens with headphones), swipe your identity card, and you would be presented with content to sort your temperament (or to get your N, E or P juices really flowing).

flickr / amstel

We originally built a three screen prototype for demoing to our clients Amstel and 180 (their advertising agency) and then the project culminated in a 200 person event in Amsterdam in the basement of the old Post Office building. The private party was a resounding success, and many of the artists who were also invited found the experience extremely enjoyable. The viewers/interactors in the space found themselves discussing with the person next to them why they’d been shown a particular piece of content, swap cards to see other people’s content, generally discuss and chat over the art – which for any gallery experience is a huge measure of success.

Technically, the system was completely bespoke. Based upon RFID and wireless technology, we created a local network which allowed each unit to communicate to a central database server. Upon profiling, each user was stored and could be referenced upon demand. The swipe at each unit would check the person’s ‘profile’, and display relevant content as required. I was involved from the outset, helping to expand upon the original idea, taking it from a concept to delivery – developing the underlying code for the system itself, as well as the hardware, working with the curator to ensure the experience felt right from a content perspective, and installed and setup the space alongside the production team. It was a solid three days of work once we arrived in Amsterdam to setup the machines (most of which were completely smashed up in transit from London) install the software/hardware, test and the deploy in the live space, not to mention the inevitable problems which plagued us right up until the 11th hour.

I was really proud of this project, especially how deeply involved I was from the outset to completion. It was great working with a very talented team on a unique concept. I’m in the video somewhere, turning on a computer. A prize for spotting me.

I also took a range of photographs for the project which are available at Flickr.

Come fly with me

lv-beta

Huzzah! The Lucky Voice in home private karaoke service has launched in beta. I’ve been involved with the project over the past few months, primarily as technical consultancy, audience insight and some of the marketing activities. As they say themselves, Lucky Voice is a life affirming experience, and we’ve managed to bring an element of their quality and class to the digital space. No longer will you be tied to crappy plastic tape machines, this is karaoke for the 21st Century. Now, if they can start to push cocktails over IP, i’m sold.

If you’d like an invite, email me or post a comment, and we’ll sort you out.

Fancy a pint?

the prince regent

Another quick build project for Andy at de-construct, who part-owns The Prince Regent, a pub down in SE24. Building this has made me hungry. They’ve just been shortlisted in the 60 under £60 category in the Evening Standard London Restaurant awards, so bravo! Its still a bit of work in progress, as we had to get it live ready for today’s announcement, but I’m sure i’ll tidy up the CSS and add some new content later next week.

Get a haircut!

scissorhands

A little build project for Endemol went live recently. For the Children in Need programme, an application form to have your haircut by a celeb’. Fancy getting shaved by Rachel Stevens*? Sign up here. The full site (which i’m also going to be involved in) will be launching later this year.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/scissorhands/

NB. Rachel Stevens probably isn’t doing haircuts, as she’s doing the dancy thing this year. I’m not sure she’d have time to balance trimming and shimmying in her life.

Quit for cash.

“If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” If you’re willing to take the company up on the offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for.

US etailer Zappos have a number of positive and refreshing approaches to running a business, being an employer and customer service. Their take on “you’ll love working here, or your money back” is an interesting method of weeding out those who just aren’t right for the company. Filling your organisation with like-minded (and that’s in terms of passion, enthusiasm not picking people who agree with you) people or even just individuals who have excitement and energy is a hard task no matter what your group does. Being open like this is just one of many ways to help find the right colleagues.

Three Sites / One Day

Honestly, you wait for a site launch for a couple of months, and three come along at once. Big shout out to the team for the launch of three sites last night (in order of project length and blood/sweat/tears).

Vitra

vitracom

This project has been a couple of years in the making, and the passion and effort put into the site shows. Chris, the lead developer, has pretty much worked on it single-handed since he started, and its a testiment to his dedication.

adidas Dream Big

dreambig
A new campaign from the football team with some really nice video content.

adidas Cricket

cricket
The new adidas england cricket team shirts.