My presentation on new rules of engagement for copywriters and Social Media was chosen by the SlideShare editorial team as the Top Presentation of the Day. It received 40k views within a week:
Published on SlideShare
My presentation on new rules of engagement for copywriters and Social Media was chosen by the SlideShare editorial team as the Top Presentation of the Day. It received 40k views within a week:
Published on SlideShare
What kind of people are you surrounded with: the dreamers, doers or achievers? A simple model which I sketched to explain and understand people better:
Who are the dreamers?
These are the types who can talk. Those who want to learn to read music today and a foreign language tomorrow, but their desire to accomplish these never translate into meaningful action.
“I think, therefore I am.” — René Descartes
Who are the doers?
These are the butt of people’s jokes. These are the crazy ones who think different, stay different. They never lose sight of the fact that the only thing which sets them apart from other millions is they think and they do. And they don’t give up easily.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Gandhi
Who are the achievers?
These are the types who never, never give up; those who dream and do and are successful, but still manage to stay hungry, foolish and humble!
“Sometimes, if you aren’t sure about something, you have to just jump off the bridge and grow wings on your way down.” — Danielle Steel
Note: See the context here on Quora.
What is the difference between knowledge and information?
Ten or twenty years ago questions that most of us, who wanted to publish a poem or a quick prose on the Web, faced weren’t so obvious. Today more and more people are asking these questions that once remained within the serious academic sphere: What is the difference between knowledge and information? Is it possible to make sense of the world around us out of the massive explosion of information that’s occurring for some time right now? How much information is required to improve the quality of one’s life? How much should you know before you can claim that you truly know? Can one produce truly new information? Can new style justify duplication of old information? Should we demand total transparency from our governments? Does the real-world definition of privacy still apply in the virtual world? What about copyright?
In order to find right answers to these questions, the information architects of our generation have to go back in time to the old museums and cold libraries and re-discover the wisdom buried in the pre-print, print and post-print artifacts. We must uncover the secret recipe to ‘flow’—a state of mind where you are ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.’
Read John Geirland’s interview with the guru of flow for Wired magazine:
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, great Web sites are not about navigating content, but staging experience. A compelling Web site transforms a random walk into an exhilarating chase. The key, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a finely tuned sense of rhythm, involvement, and anticipation known as “flow.” Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “CHICK-sent-me-high-ee”), a professor at the University of Chicago, has spent more than 25 years researching flow, a state of “intense emotional involvement” and timelessness that comes from immersive and challenging activities such as software coding or rock climbing. His work is studied by marketing specialists like Vanderbilt University’s Donna Hoffman and Thomas Novak, who write that flow is “a central construct when considering consumer navigation on commercial Web sites.” In books like Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Csikszentmihalyi explores the implications of flow for personal and societal evolution.
John: What do you mean by flow?
Mihaly: Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
John: How can a Web site be designed to stimulate and sustain a flow experience?
Mihaly: A Web site that promotes flow is like a gourmet meal. You start off with the appetizers, move on to the salads and entrées, and build toward dessert. Unfortunately, most sites are built like a cafeteria. You pick whatever you want. That sounds good at first, but soon it doesn’t matter what you choose to do. Everything is bland and the same. Web site designers assume that the visitor already knows what to choose. That’s not true. People enter Web sites hoping to be led somewhere, hoping for a payoff.
John: So goals are important?
Mihaly: Goals transform a random walk into a chase. You need clear goals that fit into a hierarchy, with little goals that build toward more meaningful, higher-level goals. Here you are, tracking the footprints of some animal you haven’t seen. That’s exhilarating. Then there’s the question of feedback. Most Web sites don’t very much care what you do. It would be much better if they said: “You’ve made some interesting choices” or “You’re developing a knowledge of Picasso.” There’s also the ability to challenge. Competition is an easy way to get into flow.
John: Internet marketers embrace flow as the “glue that holds consumers in the online environment.” Are people more easily influenced while in a state of flow?
Mihaly: Actually, they’re probably more critical. A flow experience has got to be challenging. Anything that is not up to par is going to be irritating or ignored.
John: Your interest in flow came out of your work on the psychology of creativity. What advice do you have for online content creators who want to be more creative?
Mihaly: Realize that change and downtime are important. I found that if a painter relates to objects only through vision, his work is much less original than a painter who walks up to the object, smells it, throws it in the air, and manipulates it. The variety of sensory inputs allows you to create a visual image that has all kinds of dimensions bubbling up inside it. We are still a multimedia organism. If we want to push the envelope of complexity further, we have to use all of our devices for accessing information – not all of which are rational.
John: Flow depends on the ability to engage in intense concentration. But media, like television, seem to be shortening our attention spans.
Mihaly: It’s true that some kids who have grown up on only television fare have ridiculously short attention spans. One problem television poses is that it doesn’t provide children with the physical evidence of cause and effect. In olden times, if you didn’t get up and out of bed at 5 a.m. to milk the cows, you knew those cows would soon start screaming. What you did had consequences. Now children are passive observers of information without any responsibility.
John: Does the interactivity of the Net recapture part of that cause and effect?
Mihaly: Yes, to the extent that you have to play by the rules and each move has a consequence. Still, it is a symbolic causal system, like playing chess, and it may present too narrow a set of consequences. Playing chess is not the whole world, and there are chess champions – like Bobby Fischer – who are absolute babies in terms of operating in society.
John: In your book The Evolving Self, you wrote about promoting small social units, or cells, that would direct the course of evolution. Do you now see online communities filling that function?
Mihaly: Possibly. The cells I wrote about would be made up of people in the same locale who share some common interests and concerns, which are easy to translate into commitment. On the other hand, online communities are easy to create, but they are also easy to ignore and drop out of. There has to be a common business interest or ideology before an online community can have much leverage.
John: Will the Net be a tool for advancing the evolutionary goal of a more complex consciousness?
Mihaly: The Net allows the easy exchange of information and the communication of values. But I’m still fighting the notion that the Net is really going to result in a more complex vision of reality. When things become too easy, they also end up becoming more sloppy. In the Middle Ages, for example, people were willing to walk from Stockholm to Munich to meet somebody who had something important to say. They listened and thought seriously about what they heard. Now, communication is instantaneous. I’m afraid after a while we may not pay much attention to it. The gates of attention allow very few things to come in.
Gary Hamel, celebrated management thinker and author and co-founder of the Management, make the case for reinventing management for the 21st century. In this fast-paced, idea-packed, 15-minute video essay, Hamel paints a vivid picture of what it means to build organizations that are fundamentally fit for the future—resilient, inventive, inspiring and accountable. “Modern” management is one of humanity’s most important inventions, Hamel argues. But it was developed more than a century ago to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control, and shareholder interests. While that model delivered an immense contribution to global prosperity, the values driving our most powerful institutions are fundamentally at odds with those of this age—zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, power, conformance, control, hierarchy, and obedience don’t stand a chance against community, interdependence, freedom, flexibility, transparency, meritocracy, and self-determination. It’s time to radically rethink how we mobilize people and organize resources to productive ends. —MIX
Meet John Doe is nothing short of a triumph of Riskin the individual over Capra the institution.
The last day of December demands introspection, and I sense a now all-too-familiar pressure to choose the right words for this end note. The year on the calendar upsets my plans. These plans have now become ‘old plans’; plans that stopped my time a long ago. And to watch Frank Capra now means to freeze this time even further.
Capra’s world is the one of hope—often, the oldest hopes of man. There’s a childlike simplicity that characterizes these men. His women are strong-willed and independent. In this world the greatest villain is self-centeredness. Honesty and kindness come across as something worth striving for, and because you want to believe so. ‘Be nice.’ ‘Be good.’ That seems to be at the heart of his best-known films: It Happened One Night (1934), Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937), Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and Meet John Doe (1941), among others.
It’s a shocking discovery then: the voice in these films doesn’t belong to its director Frank Capra. This voice that we admire so much belongs to the writer of his films who could sympathize with the underdogs, who sailed the boats for Columbus but never got their due share of credit or recognition. Sadly, his partnership with the writer of his best films, Robert Riskin, can be described as the relationship that D.B. Norton had with John Doe in Meet John Doe.
Even the choice of the title of Frank Capra’s autobiography, The Name Above The Title, clearly propels his reckless attitude. The star director refused to visit the lowly writer who was slowly dying in a hospital. Throughout his life, Capra attempted to shroud the genius of the great scenarist. The truth is that Capra eschewed the funeral of a man whose creative vision and distinct voice was widely mistaken to be Capra’s own. Nothing could be more ironical for the man who reaffirms the Christian doctrine of forgiveness in his works.
Robert Riskin seems to have no problem with accepting the true nature of the director-writer relationship in the studio era. Riskin helped to set up the Screen Writers’ Guild and fought as a screenwriter for the screenwriters, and the fight still continues. Riskin needed Capra as much as Capra needed him, or any writer needs a director unless they are both one. The collaboration, between the man with an idea and the man with the means to sustain it, couldn’t be less lopsided:
JOHN DOEDo you mean to tell me you’d try to kill the John Doe movement if you can’t use it to get what you want?D.B. NORTONYou bet your bottom dollar we would!
Such a reading of Meet John Doe’s text then adds an autobiographical quality, on Riskin’s part, to this last collaboration. And it seems Meet John Doe is nothing short of a triumph of Riskin the individual over Capra the institution. Yet it cannot be denied that the brief marriage between Riskin’s idealism and Capra’s pragmatism was responsible for the birth of some of the finest classics in Hollywood.
In the beginning of the last year or was it the year before that, I left the oblivion of a film that I had co-written to return to the oblivion of advertising. The oblivion grows on you, no matter whether you’re a director-in-the-making or a director who’s made many films. Capra did his best films with Riskin, and Riskin did his with Capra. On the first viewing, a Capra film is a dialog film—hence a Riskin film. It’s all drama, and then when you keep playing back your favorite scenes over and again, you begin to notice the mise-en-scène. Capra clearly knew how to translate the text on to the silver screen, and all so well. Only if he were less ‘mean.’
Postscript from In Capra’s Shadow: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Robert Riskin by Ion Scott:
Jo Swerling, a mutual friend and colleague of Riskin and Capra, and himself a wonderful Hollywood screenwriter, once paced around Riskin’s wheelchair while he was ill, complaining that Capra’s reluctance to visit his old friend was just not right. In the end, however, Riskin lost his temper with Swerling and revealed a deep-seated loyalty to his former partner by dismissing what seemed to be a reasonable claim with the comment, “You’re talking about my best friend.”
Also published on MoiFightClub on Jan 6, 2012
How to make a brand stand out from the crowd?
Co.Exist editor, Morgan Clendaniel, writes that companies that aren’t making a difference—to the world and to consumers—aren’t going to be around much longer. Instead of just making your product incrementally better than the competitor, you need to create impact. If you want to build a powerful brand, make people’s lives—and the world—better and more meaningful.
Also read three keys for moving beyond branding and into storytelling.
The truth about social advertising and how to get more for your spending:
It pains me to see how a great idea is being crushed under the weight of unsympathetic brand managers. It is sad when you’ve to cook up feel-good stories when the original idea—if executed right— could produce real, outstanding results.
Key to Social Advertising
Social advertising isn’t for people looking for short-term goals. If the primary focus of your social advertising campaign is your brand, but not the social cause which you pretend to espouse, you shouldn’t expect your advertising money to produce the kind of results that you want. A brand can’t leverage from the social advertising if it fails to bring out the merits of the original idea—which is often the case with brands that solely focus on chasing that magic number.
Social advertising is worth your advertising money if your goal is to build long-term relationships with the people who buy your products. The truth is that social advertising isn’t advertising per se. We should think of social advertising as philanthropy or genuine CSR, and then make our campaign strategies accordingly. We shouldn’t be afraid to project the people who buy our product as the heroes of our social advertising campaign. If they aren’t the real heroes of your campaign, it’s unlikely that your brand would emerge as the winner.
“The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.”
“Who is the father of computer?” I asked my 9-year-old niece. “Charles Babbage,” she replied promptly. Then I asked her, “And who is the father of cinema?” “What is cinema?” the fourth grader asked me. “It’s the art of films,” I tried to explain but seeing the little girl perplexed, I changed the topic. We were soon talking about ants that had found their way into a cupboard where she had kept her candies.
The first thing that a man learns is the language of his people. The language of other arts is an acquired and a required skill. When I was in school, I learned about many great personalities but none of them were filmmakers. Why don’t we teach cinema to children?
There is little evidence that we have understood this modern man’s expression. There are not many people who can ‘read’ films. Is this the reason why film history is still not a part of the school curriculum while other expressions are taught seriously? I discovered the new language of cinema very late during my adolescence. If anything, the idiot box was just a major distraction until my discovery of the cinematic language came along with the discovery of P2P and bit torrents. I had only heard about Satyajit Ray until I was 18. The Apu Trilogy was my first download; The Bicycle Thief was second. Sadly, a majority of us are not unaware of the many potentials and powers of the cinematic medium. But I can at least feel satisfied that I’ve already started.
While Ray was a redefinition of what cinema could be, there was one film that just changed everything for me. I don’t know whom to thank for the inspiration or the creation of this great art form; cinema has no such patron deity. It is truly modern. But I worship Ingmar Bergman anyway; it was his persona, his partnership with cinematographer Sven Nykvist that convinced me that cinema is the art of all arts and it warrants a serious study like other ‘expressions.’
The technology that limited the faculty earlier is no longer an issue. The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, for one in South Asia, has already taken steps to make cinema an integral part of the school curriculum. NJ Nair wrote in The Hindu this January that the academy has proposed teaching the aesthetics of cinema, the technical aspects of filmmaking, including cinematography, editing and sound recording, in the vocational higher secondary education.
“Students should have a serious approach to cinema and they should learn it like literature itself. While appreciating the intrinsic artistic worth of cinema, they should be able to make use of its employment potential too. Hence, we have mooted a serious study of the technical aspects at the higher secondary level,” the academy vice-chairman VK Joseph told the newspaper.
Ronald Bergman started a similar discussion on The Guardian blog. He writes: Schoolchildren should be taught how to “read” films just as they are taught to read literature. They should learn how films systematize time and space and communicate ideas and emotions; how the patterns and structures of film genres allow us to engage specific historical and social rituals; how different conceptions of film history can direct and shape our responses; how film theory is a pragmatic extension and intensification of our interactions with a film, formal, technical and empirical. They should learn how to explore films from different angles and cultural perspectives.
“Why is film history not taught to schoolchildren?” The question must have occurred to many in the later half of the last century. A majority of us might consider it too modern a notion for our country. All great art form is modern in the true sense. Some might call it a dangerous proposition. All art is dangerous. Before our children begin to ask the same question tomorrow, let’s acquaint ourselves with the art of films. Let’s start “reading” films.
“I think that the interactivity of New Media is a false promise. The game is rigged, and what is invited is not honest contemplation, but merely “figuring out the next movie.”
A film, without any visible protagonist, plays with the audience and forces them to become active as the invisible protagonist. The audience feel s/he is there, s/he feels part of the story. Normally the audience can connect to the film through the characters playing on the screen, but is there any film that keeps the gap which only the audience would fill?
A discussion on interactivity in films on The Auteurs.
The future looks promising for filmmakers who want to exploit whatever interactivity technology might offer.
“I think that the interactivity of New Media is a false promise…. the game is rigged, and what is invited is not honest contemplation, but merely “figuring out the next movie”…. most games that I’m familiar with are, at heart, puzzles with actions to be “figured out.” I sincerely hope the day never comes when movies become interactive…. I don’t think motion pictures stand to gain anything via interactivity. I want To know that Hitchcock and David Lean and Tim Burton have made the choices (this is the Ebert argument that I think holds up.)…. and aren’t leaving it up to me to take the next step. But this isn’t to say I want them to do my thinking for me…. and this is where passivity comes into play. I think motion pictures are often a passive experience, but needn’t be, at the best they aren’t….. inviting critical thought is something that many of the best films do and rely on for their impact. But if a video game is active only because you move your thumbs about and figure out where the medipack is…. or even which corners you can go around in a game like Passages….. than this level of activity doesn’t seem to stretch far from passivity in a very meaningful way. I’ve no doubt that some games can give you a migraine thinking so hard about a given problem….. but by getting to move around on your own, I don’t see this as making you far more active than getting a migraine thinking about the issues and conundrums of a filmed narrative. It may take more active thought and hand-eye coordination to complete a task in a video game, but this thought is limited to the task at hand…. a great movie will give you opportunities to leave it behind and contemplate the world around you, which is a very active process, even if it isn’t interactive.”
Patrick does make a convincing argument. Is it interactivity in true sense? I’m trying to stick to the tradition (deciding the structure for the viewer without giving them you-can-choose options) while exploring new possibilities. However, what matters at the end of the day, is of course if you achieved your goal of telling a story and creating an impact best desired. I think it’s a tough call but this human desire to accomplish something unique and new probably drives all of us.
ee cummings: To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
“Here’s a recent quote that I found: ‘we do not talk, we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests,’. That was actually written in 1945 by Henry Miller, and I think it’s timely. I think what it says is that the world has been on its present course it’s on for a long time. People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives, every week, being fed entertainment in the form of movies, tv shows, newspapers, YouTube videos, the internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains.
“And it’s also equally ludicrous to believe that at the very least this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the people who are in charge. People are starving, they may not know it because they’re being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colourful and loud, but it’s produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking ‘what can we do to get people to buy more of these?’.
“And they’re very good at their jobs. But that’s what it is you’re getting, because that’s what they’re making, they’re selling you something. And the world is built on this now, politics and government are built on this, corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this, and we’re starving, all of us, and we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other, and we’re calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and we want to win because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’re led to believe winning will change all that. But there is no winning.
“What can be done? Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time, it can’t help but be. But more importantly if you’re honest about who you are you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me, and I have to keep rediscovering it, its profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world, don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.
“This is from ee cummings: ‘to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting’. The world needs you, it doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap, the world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying ‘I don’t know,’ ….being kind. (link)
On Charlie Rose (Part I & II) (17 min)
On Synecdoche, life, work (with Tom Tangney) (17 min)
On writing, television years (Thinktalk) (12 min)
Charlie Kaufman On Being — And Directing (NPR– audio) (30 min)