Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Self-Repair Manifesto

from ifixit

True Fiction

In 20,000 Days on Earth, Nick Cave plays Nick Cave in a fictionalised documentary of a day in the life that takes in a trip to his therapist, lunch with bandmate Warren Ellis, drives around Brighton with Kylie and Ray Winstone and a gig at the Sydney Opera House.

The Possibilities are Endless is a documentary of the true story of how Edwin Collins suffered a stroke that almost killed him and how his partner Grace Maxwell helped him recover.  Edwin’s son plays him in re-enactments, some of which are beautifully realised expressions of how Edwin felt, lost at sea, drowning in black water.

Pulse Productions, who are behind both films, specialise in films about music and musicians.  Both films are part reality, part imagination, much like the best songs.  Like Madonna says of her lyrics, “I’m constantly inventing scenarios that are a combination of something I know and something I imagine. “

A couple of years ago the American writer David Shields wrote Reality Hunger, a collage book of insights, excerpts and quotes about how reality rather than fiction was driving much contemporary art and music, especially hip hop. Shields couldn’t bear to read novels anymore as he felt there was no truth in them.

Both these movies are about truth and what truth feels like.

From Wikipedia: "In Vanity Fair, Elissa Schappell called Reality Hunger "a rousing call to arms for all artists to reject the laws governing appropriation, obliterate the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and give rise to a new modern form for a new century.""

Both these films are part of that new form.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

consumers or citizens

Epic Thread tells the story of a girl who decides to find out how her T-shirt was made by following a loose thread first back to the factory where it was made and then to the farm where the cotton was grown.  Along the way she discovers that no child labour was involved in its production and that it was grown in a sustainable way.

It is a very modern parable that taps into a growing trend towards more socially aware consumer behaviour.

In Authentic Brands: from Transparency to Full Disclosure,Authentic Brands: from Transparency to Full Disclosure, Fernley and Beattie found that around the world brand transparency is now more persuasive than brand status as people are motivated more by how a brand behaves than its perceived status.  A luxury brand sourcing from sweatshops is less attractive than a brand with better practices.

People are changing.  They are becoming investigative consumers, curious about the politics around the things they spend their money on and the real world behaviour of the companies behind the brands.  They are not blithely accepting the traditional sources that inform brand choice – advertising, reviews, celebrity endorsement etc.  They are digging around themselves and asking friends or others sources they trust.

In Kill the Consumer, Jon Alexander shows the positive effect of people adopting the label “citizen” rather than “consumer”.  One study took a sample of people and asked half to fill in something called the Consumer Reaction Study and the other half to do the same for a Citizen Reaction Study.  The questions were the same but the “citizens” cared more about society and the environment. 

Meanwhile, Andy Wheatley thinks it is time for brand owners and advertising agencies to start encouraging citizen behaviour.  He argues brands, as a powerful global force, could make a massive difference if they encouraged citizen rather than consumer behaviour.

Ultimately, it will be people themselves who decide whether they are looking at life through the filter of one label or another.  Since the defining event of the great crash, more and more people have been adopting a less wasteful, destructive and reckless lifestyle.  They have paid off debt rather than racking it up; they buy local and value quality and craftsmanship in everything from clothes to beer and coffee.  Some brands picked up on this quickly and some bigger ones were slower, but there doesn’t seem to be any return to pre-crash bling consumerism.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Scottish independence and the rise of the small nation

The Catalan estelada and the Scottish saltire

"The symbolism, again, was clear – small nations of feisty people, fed up with remote elites, should stick together and disrupt the global order."

Paul Mason in the Guardian:

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

where are all the aliens?

Why haven't we met any aliens?  According to Geoffrey Miller:

"Basically, I think the aliens don’t blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they’re too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don’t need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today."

From Seed Magazine:

And referred to in the engrossing End of Absence.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

a manifesto for manifestos

The Campaign article in full:
How to write a Brand Manifesto
by Phil Teer, Brothers and Sisters
A new generation of brand owners are emerging out of the recession.  They are about diversity, locality, variety, individuality and depth.  They are global in ambition but refuse to sacrifice quality for quantity.  They are defiant, they are everywhere and they are growing. They stand in stark contrast to the uniform, global, corporation of the world before the crash. They are the Manifesto Brands.
In their desire for change, to draw a line under the past and in their habit of stating their aims in manifestos, these new brands resemble the great artist movements of the modern age.
The Romantics stood against the horrible realities of the industrial revolution and were all about absolute inwardness. They were also canny entrepreneurs and invented popular fiction to create as big a market as possible for their stories. The Romantic movement swept the world. Byron and Keats and Shelley became the first rock stars. Romanticism became the first ever consumer craze.
Today, there is no other brand like Brew Dog. They are surrealist revolutionaries, punks of brewing and provocateurs of business. They are the self-declared leaders of a consumer backlash against homogenisation. Their manifesto calls for nothing less than a craft brewing revolution.
Brands that get it wrong try to please all the people all the time. The good books, movies, songs, art and brands have a point of view. It is not enough to have a common purpose with your target audience. You need a common enemy.
We can learn a thing or two from those artists and the brands that follow in their wake about how to launch manifestos and build movements.
1. Don’t write it alone.  Manifestos are the start of a movement and movements need a vanguard.  Gather your fellow travellers together, lock yourselves in a room, speak your mind, discover common ground, agree objectives, decide what you will do and what you will never do.  This is how manifestos get written.
2. Launch with a bang.  Test it, tighten it until it is watertight then get it out there. The Futurists were the first artists to write a manifesto and they launched it on the front page of Le Figaro, triggering first a national then a global debate.  They rode the momentum and translated it quickly into several languages as it spread around the world within weeks.
3. Don’t just publish it, perform it.  To manifesto is to perform.  The Futurists literally shouted it from the rooftops.  They booked out theatres to read from the stage.  There were debates, arguments and riots.  When BrewDog ride tanks through London or satirise Vladimir Putin’s record on gay rights, they are following in the footsteps of rabble-rousing Futurists.
4. Know your purpose.  A manifesto is a series of demands.  The Futurists wanted to abolish the past.  The Surrealists wanted to liberate the imagination as an act of insurrection against society.  Hiut Denim aim to get the town of Cardigan making jeans again. 
5. Find your new cultural group.  The Beats were for the Beat Generation.  Converse are for the after hours athletes.  Vice are for angry, disenfranchised Millennials.  Brew Dog are for beer punks.  Which emerging, vibrant subculture are you with?
6. Find common purpose with your audience.  Make it clear that you both want the same thing.  Levis Go Forth articulated the frustrations of a generation that felt stuck.
7. Name your enemies.  Artist manifestos had as many “down with…” as “up with…”  Blu e-cigarettes stand against the prejudice that equates e-cigarettes with tobacco.
8. Develop your own myth.  Before they had even launched their business, the Pizza Pilgrims had filmed a documentary about themselves, written a cookbook and secured a load of press coverage
9. Build a nodal network.  Record Store Day is a global alliance of record shops, labels and bands that has given the record shop business a massive boost, changed the business model, helped revive vinyl, restarted dormant careers and launched new ones.  It is a wide, flexible, ever-evolving structure with no hierarchy.  It is a networked movement.
10. Unleash an explosion of new ideas.  Forget the big idea.  Your manifesto will hold everything together.  From that manifesto thousands of ideas can spring.  They need not look the same because they all ultimately demand the same thing. 
11. Embrace a new media behaviour.  The Beats had poetry readings and events, Punks had fanzines.   Vice owns immersive video journalism and Brew Dog has made the product their most potent media.
12.  Agitate, educate, organise.  This is a communications plan road tested by revolutionaries throughout history.  Stir things up with some provocations; as a crowd gathers, explain what is going on; when they are engaged and ready to go, show them what to do.
13.  Create a groundswell.   In surfing a groundswell is a wave that keeps growing. It starts with a single energy source and through a million complex interactions it becomes self-sustaining.   For manifesto brands this means selective use of bought media, provocative PR, stunts and events activating social conversations, amplified and encouraged by promotions and content and so on.  The Manifesto Brand campaign is always on and managing and sustaining it is a 24/7 activity.  The days of launching an ad campaign and sitting back to watch the effect are long gone.
14.  Read 100 Artists Manifestos by Alex Danchev.  It is an inspiration.
15.  Download The Manifesto Project at

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rearview Mirror

"We look at the present through a rearview mirror. We march backwards into the future."

Marshall McLuhan

Reading this:

The guy who saw the internet and the impact of digital networks from a long way off, coined the phrases The Medium is the Message and The Global Village, hated the modern world.

He did nail a great point though, we invent the future by looking at the past.