Week 11: Clemenger’s art project harnesses social media power

Those clever Clemenger folks have done it again. First it was the Hidden Pizza campaign for client Yellow Pages. Clemenger created a restaurant and then hid it, only allowing customers to find the restaurant via the Yellow Pages, rewarding those who could find it with a free pizza. The search for ‘free pizza’ invariably led to the increase in enquiries via Yellow Pages. Needless to say, the client was very happy.

Now Clemenger BBDO Proximity Melbourne with their client HP, have launched a social media art project where they have placed an open invitation for everyone, from anywhere in the world to display their work at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) by just sending an email. The art will be displayed as it comes in with the printer producing the art works live.

The printed results will form a unique record of an experimental global art project utilising the HP ePrint.

Is this a case where art, advertising and business can amicably coexist? Despite practising the dark art of persuasion, Clemenger are also great patrons of the art. And though the project has a clear business objective, there’s also a nice idea in this project about social media, via this HP ePrint project, democraticising the art world, a world that is often criticised for being too exclusive. I guess we’ll have to wait until later this week to find out more.

From October 25 you can email your work to:

myworkisinTheAustralianCentreForContemporaryArt@hpeprinter.com

The work will print live in the gallery at www.hpeprinter.com
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Week 10: The largest and most comprehensive study of the global digital consumer

‘It’s not information overload it’s filter failure’ – Clay Shirky

Launched on Digital Day (10 October), the global market research company TNS released their Digital Life microsite, their online research project.

Above: An web page snapshot of the beautifully designed data on Digital Life.

The Digital Life project is a study into online activities of over 90% of the world’s online population across 46 countries, and from over 50,000 consumer interviews. TNS claim that, ‘Digital Life is the largest, most comprehensive study of the Global Digital Consumer, ever.’ That these markets represent 88% of the global Digital population’.

Besides being really well designed as Cliff Kuang from Fast Co-Design has pointed out, the study has presented fascinating results across four key areas including:

  • The Digital Lifestyles
  • The Digital Landscape
  • Drivers of Online Behaviour
  • Activating Social Media

TNS approach claims to understand that ‘ to understand what consumers do is not enough. “Clicks” are not the whole story.’

To get a true picture of the consumer, you need to understand their history, their needs and emotions. This [research study] will explain why they do what they do.’

*Among the key findings of the study were:

  • 61% of online users use the internet daily against 54% for TV, 36% for Radio and 32% for Newspapers.
  • Rapid growth markets such as Egypt (56%) and China (54%) have much higher levels of digital engagement than mature markets such as Japan (20%), Denmark (25%) or Finland (26%). This is despite mature markets usually having a more advanced internet infrastructure.
  • Four out of five online users in China (88%) and over half of those in Brazil (51%) have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32% in the US. The Internet has also become the default option for photo sharing among online users in rapid growth markets, particularly in Asia. The number of online consumers who have ever uploaded photos to social networks or photo sharing sites is 92% in Thailand, 88% in Malaysia and 87% in Vietnam, whilst developed markets are more conservative. Less than a third of online consumers in Japan (28%) and under half of those in Germany (48%) have uploaded photos to such sites.
  • Mobile users spend on average 3.1 hours per week on social networking sites compared to just 2.2 hours on email. The drive to mobile is driven by the increased need for instant gratification and the ability of social networks to offer multiple messaging formats, including the instant message or update function. Research shows that consumers expect their use of social networking on mobiles to increase more than use through PC. In the US, for example, a quarter (26%) of online consumers expect their use of social networking on a PC to increase in the next 12 months compared to over a third (36%) who will be looking to their mobile to increase usage. In Australia the figures are 26% and 44% respectively, and in Sweden they are 28% and 53%.

*Data taken directly from the Digital Life microsite.

The death of email and the rise of social networking sites

The study also revealed that ‘online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years.’

‘In rapid growth markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and China, the average time spent, per week, on social networking is 5.2 hours compared to only 4 hours on email. Online consumers in mature markets remain more reliant on email, spending 5.1 hours checking their inboxes compared to just 3.8 hours on social networking. The heaviest users of social networking are in Malaysia (9 hours per week), Russia (8.1 hours per week) and Turkey (7.7 hours per week).’

Malaysia is most social while Japanese is most shy

Malaysia (with an average of 233 friends in the social network) was top of the list when it came to the most social connectivity via digital media. This was closely followed by Brazilians with 231. The least social are the Japanese with just 29 friends and Tanzanians have, on average, 38 in their circle of friends. Surprisingly, Chinese consumers only have an average of 68 friends in their networks despite being heavy users of social networking sites, indicating a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships.

TNS Chief Development Officer Matthew Froggatt had this to say about the impact of the internet on the 21st century among different global markets:

“We’ve seen that in mature markets where people have been online for years and where access is ubiquitous, the Internet has already become a commoditised item that consumers take for granted. However, in rapid growth markets that have seen recent, sustained investment in infrastructure, users are embracing these new channels in much more active ways. The digital world is transforming how they live, develop and interact and online consumers in these markets are leaving those in the developed world behind in terms of being active online and engaging in new forms of communications.”

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Week 9: Why you should link to Wikipedia

Illustration by Wilcox, as published in the Age.

Among other jobs, I work at the University of Melbourne and I’m responsible for putting together eNews, the alumni newsletter that goes out to 70,000 alumni. As editor, I am responsible for putting together 70 pages of content within three weeks. Most of the content I have write myself, the rest, I edit. Because this course has taught me the importance of linking, I’ve made great efforts to link where possible (and when I remember to). In the October edition of eNews, I published an article on the Grainger Museum reopening and today I received an email requesting changes.

Image of Percy Grainger courtesy of University of Melbourne eNews

A person within the University questioned (and justifiably so) my use of a Wikipedia link to Percy Grainger. My response was I couldn’t find anything more ‘academic’, and that in absence of this, I choose to link to a Wikipedia entry on Percy Grainger.

This prompted me to investigate just how credible Wikipedia is, and weigh up the pros and cons of linking to this exemplar of web 2.0.

PROS

CONS

  • Because it can be edited, people have deleted and removed data
  • Not all information can be verified from a credible source
  • Wikipedia content is representative of only the people who contribute to it (therefore it is only reflective of

Despite its questionable content, I concluded that though Wikipedia is not 100% accurate (I can’t say most sources can make this claim), it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t link to it. I almost always defer to Wikipedia when I need to find out some quick information on a topic that I know little about such as  Lady Gaga, what is String Theory and the population of Kielce.

I am curious to know what others think: Does linking to Wikipedia diminish your credibility as a writer/editor? Please discuss.

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Week 8: The death of Facebook?


Image: courtesy of Daily World Trends.

I’m thinking about quitting Facebook. Although I’m told by many sources that it’s not possible, and that they [those who control Facebook] merely make your account inactive, until you, come to your senses, and reactivate it again. It’s a scary thought that even though you may not want to be part of Facebook anymore, it will always be there in the internet ether.

I have three main reasons for quitting: I’m concerned about how my data is being used; I’m no longer really that Facebook active (I prefer my twitter account @Lieu_tp, a more immediate and gratifying source); and, I feel rude when I’m not responding to people publicly – as people tend to write very personal notes on my wall.

Of course, I’m weighing the social costs of quitting Facebook.

And all those photos a.k.a. social memories….and the Facebook invitations I might miss. Will I actually miss them that much?

There’s actually an official day for quitting Facebook – 31 May! According to Daily World Trends, there are children as little as five with Facebook accounts!

Wired’s UK Editor recently wrote a post on this very topic, listing his reasons for why he won’t join Facebook. In ‘Six Reasons Why I’m Not On Facebook‘, David Rowan makes this point:

6) Why should we let businesses privatize our social discourse?
Some day you should take time to read those 5,830 words: it’s Facebook that owns the rights to do as it pleases with your data, and to sell access to it to whoever is willing to pay. Yes, it’s free to join — but with half a billion of us now using it to connect, it’s worth asking ourselves how far this “social utility” (its own term) is really acting in the best interests of society.

Mark Pesce has a more impassioned argument about why we shouldn’t be on Facebook – read his rant on the ABC’s unleashed segment. This kind of argument seems to be repeated elsewhere. In CNN Tech also has an article, Some quitting Facebook as security concerns escalate, highlighting the security concerns over Facebook. I know this isn’t a ‘new’ issue but it’s still very much a relevant one, and for me, a very personal issue.

All this is making feeling kind of anxious, and I’m still deciding…should I stay or should I go?

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Week 7: How much is your email time worth?

Image:  Courtesy of prabaharan.wordpress.com

If you’re a Gmail account user, you would have noticed an invitation to use ‘Gmail Priority Inbox’ – launched this month to assist Gmail account users save time – the Holy Grail for busy people.

As I use my Gmail for just about everything, I decided to try it. In a matter of days, I had neatly organised all my incoming emails to ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ or to use visual web-speak ‘above the fold‘ and ‘below the fold.

‘Why would you do that?’ one friend asked incredulously.

‘Because my email says: “You are currently using 6458MB (86%) of your 7497MB” and that’s on a good day.’

‘What?! Who uses all of their Gmail space?’

Well apparently, I do. As a freelancer for 7+ years I receive about 20 media releases a day both in Australia and internationally and it sucks. Because scattered between those ‘work’ emails are more crucial ones such as one friend trying to give away her awesome vintage shoes and another friend asking whether I wanted to be  plus one to a film premier. So, I missed out on both opportunities because of the (continual) flooding of emails to my account.

Then the reprieve.

Priority box.

You may have gathered that I am pro Gmail Priority Inbox.

How does it work?

The Gmail Priority Inbox works on an algorithm that determines what emails are important and what aren’t – it also tags and categorises for easy processing.

I was a little unsure about how to use the thing but Gmail’s blog had a good ‘how to’ use the new feature. Of course if you’re not in the majority using Gmail, you’ll notice that other email providers have a similar feature, there’s Hotmail Sweep Feature, and Yahoo’s Inbox Filter.

However, there are criticisms that though Gmail Priority Inbox may prioritise your email for you, it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of emails coming into your inbox. I suppose that’s what email ‘rules’ or filters are for. Mass deletion!

We’ve talked in class about writing effective blogs, headlines, kickers etc. but I believe writing communications targeting people’s inboxes (that has a prioirty hierarchy) is a whole new territory that borrows many of the writing principles of blog writing. The marketing professors blog lists has a few handy tips on how to do this in relation to this Gmail Priority.It’s written for marketing professionals but it can be adapted to all kinds of purpose-driven content.

Anyway, I better get back to teaching my email how to prioritise my emails. Reading my emails is never going to be the same again.

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Week 6: HTML5 Rocks! The Arcade Fire and Google collaboration

Life on the web, in the browser

Courtesy of Google Chrome Blog: Illustration by Jack Hudson.

Thanks to my friend Chuck @chakko, I heard about ‘The Wilderness Downtown‘, the online, interactive film by Chris Film. This fascinating collaboration between Arcade Fire (a perennial favourite of mine) and Google’s Chrome HTML5  platform.

Above: photo of Arcade Fire by Seraphina L on Beatcrave.

If you don’t know who Arcade Fire are, you might recognise them through their much-played song ‘Wake Up‘. Like me, you might not know much about HTML5 except that it has something to do with the web. According to a LifeHacker post, HTML is a major revision of the language of the web. Lifehacker has this great definition for HTML5:

HTML5 is a specification for how the web’s core language, HTML, should be formatted and utilized to deliver text, images, multimedia, web apps, search forms, and anything else you see in your browser. In some ways, it’s mostly a core set of standards that only web developers really need to know. In other ways, it’s a major revision to how the web is put together. Not every web site will use it, but those that do will have better support across modern desktop and mobile browsers (that is, everything except Internet Explorer).

Image courtesy of Bruce Lawson

What is it all about?

As Sam Biddle of Gizmodo describes in the post ‘Arcade Fire and Google pushing HTML5 together‘:

Rather than stick a traditional music video on YouTube, Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown” is a Chrome “experience,” highlighting what modern, HTML5-compatible browsers are capable of rendering. Multiple windows run and close in coordination with the music, and—easily the neatest part of the demonstration—your browser will incorporate Street View imagery of your childhood home (after you provide the address).

How does it work?

I must admit, I was rather perplexed when I actually ‘experienced’ the phenomenon. If you go to the website you need to type in the address of your hometown and then the experience begins.

Erin Keane  from The Courier-Journal describes the experience on a recent post:

Using Google street view and satellite maps, 3-D canvas rendering and real-time compositing, the movie follows an androgynous child running through a neighborhood that looks just like yours, followed by a flock of birds swooping across the aerial view.

This sounds rather strange but you’ll see what I mean when you try it for yourselves. Basically it’s a whole lot of browser windows opening, moving and closing in time with the music. It was really spooky to see images of your old neighbourhood (mine was Sunshine in Melbourne’s Western suburbs) intertwined with Arcade Fire’s music video clip. I  love the idea but I’m not sure if this experiment has fulfilled HTML5’s true potential. My guess is there’s going to be more of this kind of ‘show-and-tell’ of technology through pop icons/references.

Is this art?

I do not profess to know much about art. I know little about video art and much less about social media art. But I am interested, namely because I’ve been asked to curate a social media art project and have began investigations. I have found fellow classmate Jimmy Langer to be a great reference point – Jimmy (if this is his real name – you never know in the world of Web 2.0) made some excellent musings on netart in recent weeks. I encourage you to read these posts if you’re at all interested in the relationship between art and media.

Arcade Fire who are known for embracing media are promoting Google’s HTML5 in The Wilderness Downtown project which features the band’s new song ‘We Used to Wait’ from the new album The Suburbs.

I was more impressed with Arcade Fire’s previous foray into Social Media where they used an interactive website promoting their album Neon Bible. The music video clip showed a singer from the band with two hands; the user is then invited to use their mouse to click on any part of the screen to see what visual surprises result.This is/was pretty damn cool. If you haven’t seen this, I encourage you to check it out as my explanation does it no justice. Be patient, it takes some time to load up and then as the song goes on, the ‘interaction’ gets much more sophisticated.

Is it art? I don’t know. I guess it all depends on context…a piece of rubbish in a gallery might be considered modern art. Is social media the next chapter in netart?

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Week 5: Back to the future with Yahoo

(Photo courtesy of blogs.citypages.com)

You might want to read this post if you have any interest in the following:

If you’ve read this far, you have some interest on the topic of the future. Now be prepared to be wowed, OK, at least mildly impressed – the web can now predict the future. At least, the collective data on the web can.

Let me get to the point.

If you have been keeping RSS feeds on issues of technology, you might already know about Recorded Future which uses data from blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts to make predictions about the future and to check on past predictions.

The research team in Yahoo Barcelona, have created a search engine aptly called Time Explorer. This search engine is based on 1.8 million New York Times articles from 1987-2007.

‘Michael Matthews, a member of the Yahoo research team, says the service would be best used to give context to a breaking story. Users would be able to see the history of the topic and past predictions made about it.’

OK, before you go running out the door, just cool your jet boots for a moment.

The technology is only a prototype and currently only works with old news. So it’s very much a matter of ‘watch this space’ for Time Explorer. For now, there’s always Paul for any Tattslotto predictions.

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