September 23, 2011

The top 10 things at Picnic Festival 2011 (and the birth of “Twatification”)

I was lucky enough to get sent on the European Creative Business Network trade mission to the fantastic Picnic festival in Amsterdam last week. Here are my top 10 things from this great international meet up:

1: The best thing I saw at the festival was an opening speech for the Green Challenge by William McDonough. He’s an architect who is driving change in how we conceive of and design buildings, and is a fantastic speaker.

He talked about a wide range of issues, but all driven by a positive optimism that mankind CAN change the way we go about things to live sustainably. His work helps prove this, as he has created a range of buildings that set out to give more back to the world than they take. Some of his buildings generate more energy than they use, source their own fresh water, and create more habitat for wildlife than they take away through clever design and high use of natural elements. Here’s one of his buildings, a Ford factory, that has a large amount of greenery on the roof that birds and geese live amongst:

2: Lawrence Lessig spoke twice, once on the use of Open Data in government (which I’ve blogged about separately over at our sister company Delib’s blog here) and once with Help US, a rallying cry to not follow the US culture too closely as they don’t always get it right – which you can watch here. He generally championed considered thinking rather than mindlessly assuming all progress is good.

Lawrence Lessig on Help U.S. / PICNIC Festival 2011 from PICNIC on Vimeo.

3: Scotte Snibbe talked about the production of the first ever App Album and the process of working with Bjork on Biophilia. He gave a demo of two of the “songs”. The level of craft that has gone into realising her vision – of a series of apps that explore one element of the universe and one element of musicology with each song / app – is amazing. You can watch Scott Snibbe talk here:

Scott Snibbe: Biophilia, An App Album / PICNIC Festival 2011 from PICNIC on Vimeo.

4: Peter Corbett of iStrategyLabs gave a rousing talk about the work they do, and the rules they set themselves. Find a mission that is greater than yourself. Give more than you take. And give without expectation. These are not only rules for life in general, but cover all of their client work – which ties very closely with the way we think here at Rubber Republic.

5: Amanda Mooney of Edelman China gave a great talk about talking to young people (she’s 25) and earning their trust. They’ve done a lot of research and generated feedback that makes total sense such as “Trust me and I’ll trust you”, “Don’t tell me what I like, tell me what you have and I’ll decide if I like it” & “Focus on making a good product and then your marketing will be true”. She talked about Milton Freeman’s assertion that the central responsibility of business is to generate a profit, and how this could perhaps need broadening to something more like “to generate value for shareholders”, and how value might need to include acting as a good citizen in the long term interets of the ecosystem you’re operating in.

The best moment was when she read out some response from one of their surveys of young people’s attitudes to brands: “We are a generation who gives a shit. We have the tools and capacity to make real noticeable change. We expect the companies in our lives to give a shit too.”

Overall it was a great talk calling for brands to continue developing their understanding that in this new networked world, they need to behave as good citizens rather than just profit centres.

6: Beeker Northam from Dentsu London gave a talk on their belief that smart advertising ads cultural value, finishing up with the great statement that “Whenever you make anything, you are making the world, so you may as well make it a contribution that is as good as you can make it, and that you want to make.”

7: Blaise Aguera Y Arcas of Microsoft showed off the latest developments of Photosynth and the ReadWriteWorld in which they are combining Microsoft techologies around mapping and visualisation (Photosynth, if you haven’t seen it, is awesome) and user generated content.

Here’s his 2007 TED demo of the same project incase you haven’t seen it (pretty incredible):

He was most excited about the doors that have been opened up by having software and devices that are able to tell where they are, can see things and create content, and then relate this back to an existing online version of the world. He demoed a version of Bing maps combined with Block View and Photosynth that allowed you to view a map of Manhattan, get down onto street level with block view, and then dynamically transition inside a cafe using a Photosynth stitch. It was, to be fair, incredible, and starts to make what Microsoft have been doing look like it could give Google a run for its money (although I kind of feel a lot of the awesomeness at microsoft is coming from these key dynamic people like Blaise).

Here’s a photosynth what I made. The problem with technology as awesome as this is that the shiny shiny of it means I haven’t checked at all what rights I have just given to microsoft and have probably just cavalierly uploaded the mangled face of @Jake_0606 and @Phishtitz

8: Toby Barnes of Mudlark gave a great overview of the thinking behind their interesting looking Chromarama game that uses London’s Oyster card check in to turn your daily commute into a screenless game.

The festival was generally awesome, and I’ll finish with two more light hearted highlights:

9: The self imposed ban by everyone in attendance on using the word “gamification”. This was extended to anything with the addendum “-ification” on the end after a certain speaker rather overused such terms.

10: The subsequent invention of the term “Twatification” to describe anyone who’s talk had a vomit inducing amount of generically meaningless buzzwords. Examples of Twatification might include anywhere that another “ification” term is used, or phrases like “Networked success requires that you gamify your social strategy” or “Urban futures mean the internet of things will invade our lives with pervasive reward mechanics”. I’m hoping that the term will catch on so start using it in your daily lives and lets see if we can start a trend.

Here are some handy badges I’ve prepared that you can use wherever you see Twatification in action:

Light Twatification

Danger Of Twatification

Extreme Twatification