A few days ago Tim Hwang kindly accepted an invitation to come in and talk at Modernista! Tim is an incredibly smart thinker about the internet and one of the founders of ROFLCon.
He made a lot of great observations, some of which you can read on Tim's blog. But he made one observation that struck me as incredibly simple and powerful, one I should of probably have noticed already. Contrary to intuition, the crashing global economy is likely to lead to more bizarre, interesting awesome stuff popping up on the web. Here's Tim's rough, and arguably conservative, calculation:
even taking the overly harsh assumption that only one percent of those unemployed since the recession began both have a computer connected to the internet and are want to produce content in some form (33,000), and only spend one extra hour a day for a month on it (~30 hours) — we’re talking about a torrent of close to a million man hours of production (990,000) barfing up content online.
So, we're likely to see more funny cats and the next rickroll. Or, put more broadly, a more vibrant, fertile web culture. This in turn is likely to lead to more strange stuff entering pop culture because as Tim rightly pointed out the internet seems to be the beta development lab for pop culture - think about how stuff white people like transformed itself from a niche blog to a bestselling book, or middle America being rickrolled during the Macy Day's Parade.
So, it seems financial volatility is going to trigger some cultural volatility. I wonder if this happened in past recessions (going to look into that) but even if it did I doubt it will have been with the pace or pervasiveness of what we're about to see. (Worth noting, that there's evidence of the Argentinean crash triggering the emergence of a strong DIY/maker culture.)
For the next 24 hours, you can watch Paul Colman and Graeme Douglas write their APG paper in 24 hours. It's a bit like watching a lo-fi Big Brother but it's mildly addictive (perhaps because I'm hoping it morphs in to subservient planner), and more importantly, while the result of a crazy workload, it feels more than a gimmick.
The core insight in the paper they're writing (and I quote from their site) "is that its often when the pressure is highest and the risk greatest that the biggest rewards can be achieved, and its plannings job to manage and maximise these opportunities". So, it feels like the action of writing the paper is an experiment and demonstration of this. Anyway, you can watch away at two planners in a room.
Many years ago Charles Inge made a very pertinent observation about the importance of quality control of the work when you are the CD of at a large agency:
"Because we are so big, we have a duty to do good ads. An agency this size gets into people's living-rooms so much that we have to do good work. Every good ad is good for our business, and every bad ad is a chip off the block of advertising."
I desperately try not to simply point at ads I think are bad but I think the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this are going to take more than a chip off the industry.
I was lucky enough to spend Friday night at the One Show Interactive awards (yet to be announced on their site but nominations are here). Lots of great work despite not being the best year, and Modernista! was lucky enough to pick up a gold for the agency site.
Goodby Silverstein deservedly won Agency of the Year for great, beautifully executed work across a whole host of clients and Best in Show was for AKQA's fantastic ecodrive idea for Fiat.
Three campaigns however have stuck with me since the awards. The first is for Axion banner concerts. Interesting idea for a youth bank, but really impressive for its innovative use of the most traditional, and often dull, online space, fixed banners. You can read about the making of the campaign here.
Second, was R/GA's brilliant utility for basketballers from Nike where you can join and organize games via a Facebook app.
Finally there was the brilliantly evil and simple idea for the highly evil and violent video game, Condemned 2. Quite simply, it's a game so vicious, you need to do something to offset the evil.