Amber Case is the original Cyborg Anthropologist. These are my somewhat disjointed notes from a great talk.
Ambient location and the future of the interface.
Amber Case is the original Cyborg Anthropologist. These are my somewhat disjointed notes from a great talk.
Ambient location and the future of the interface.
I’m still hungover from the Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Skillshare: and I’m not just talkin about the after party after-effects (Pirates, Ninjas, iPad band, say no more…); I’m talking about the profound kind of headache you get from imbibing so much heady and thought-provoking information that you come home reeling. As Michael Baillie(@mikebailllie) put it, the whole thing was “SupercalifragilisticexpedaliAWESOME.”
Greenpeace UK is running a competition to rebrand BP and the squeaky green logo that they paid millions for when they toyed with the idea of moving “Beyond Petroleum.” This year, 5% of BP’s energy investment is renewables, and 95% is oil. Executive Director Tony Haywood restructured the company because “Too many people were working to save the world.”
I was looking at the logo and suddenly remembered Kurt Vonnegut’s drawing of an asshole in Slaughterhouse Five. So, given that it’s the emblem of a fossil fuel….
I had to seriously slice up that dinosaur with Photoshop — what’s now the tail used to be the neck. It’s really hard to find a picture of dinosaur’s butt on the internet.
What’s your rebranding of BP? Enter the competition.
Yes. It can. To everyone who tweeted, Facebooked, up-thumbed, blogged, emailed, IMed and otherwise digitally disseminated our “Give Earth a Hand” Earth Day video: YOU ROCK. We asked if we could beat pre-teen hearthrob JB’s video to the top of the chart, and you rocketed us into the #2 slot for the day on the Viral Video Chart.
UPDATE: IT’s 1:26 AM CET and Linkin Park just released a new video and grabbed the top slot, sending both drunk guy & flipflops and the Earth Day video a notch down. Here’s the YouTube awards status:
#3 — Most Discussed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism
#75 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Australia
#98 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Canada
#74 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Ireland
#3 — Most Viewed (Today)) — India
#23 — Most Viewed (Today)) — New Zealand
#11 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Israel
#31 — Most Viewed (Today))
#24 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Spain
#54 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Mexico
#73 — Most Viewed (Today)) — France
#50 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Italy
#52 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Netherlands
#91 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Brazil
#81 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Hong Kong
#35 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Czech Republic
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Germany
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Australia
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Canada
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — United Kingdom
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Ireland
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — India
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — New Zealand
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Israel
#3 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Spain
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Mexico
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — France
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Italy
#10 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Japan
#2 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — South Korea
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Netherlands
#2 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Poland
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Brazil
#12 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Russia
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Hong Kong
#2 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Taiwan
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Czech Republic
#1 — Most Viewed (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism — Sweden
#15 — Top Favorited (Today))
#1 — Top Favorited (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism
#94 — Top Favorited (This Week)) — Nonprofits & Activism
#56 — Top Rated (Today))
#1 — Top Rated (Today)) — Nonprofits & Activism
#3 — Top Rated (This Week)) — Nonprofits & Activism
Hands across the water, Hands across the sky. Good Night, Earth Day.
Oh boy do we have a hot potato media hit (BOTH legacy and Social) with our Copenhagen airport campaign of artificially-aged leaders apologizing for their failing at COP15. Over 100,000 Google hits, record breaking blog traffic, more Flickr views than you can shake a usb stick at.
But my current fascination in the digital dorm room f or viral vectoring is twitter and twitter lists. (But you know that, because you follow me, right? right?) In the course of trying to measure how much exposure the ads have gotten there, I stumbled on this great tool, Topsy. It gives you the possibility of measuring something like twitter trackbacks to a URL — in this case, tweets to the Weblog entry where we first broke the images. The great thing is, that no matter which url-shortening service you use, be it ow.ly or bit.ly or tinyurl, the analysis engine unpacks it to show hits to your long url. Previously, to get that kind of URL-specific information you had to shorten with one site, try to make sure everyone used the same link, and you lost measurement of anything that strayed from that. Magic!!!
Now, of course, you’d think that the high-falutin advertising company that we must have dropped six figures on to make this campaign would do the tracking for us, wouldn’t you? Heh heh, well, that’s the thing, see. this was pretty much a home-brew effort from start to finish.
Our communication strategy was to make the summit personal for Heads of State. Push them to go, and communicate that we were holding them personally responsible for the outcome. Our Nordic office had the foresight in June to buy ad space at the airport for the week of the COP, figuring that was one place the Heads of State would all pass through (if we succeeded in getting them to attend, by the way. Tick.) Christina Koll circulated a memo back then saying
*I now invite you to shoot around you like wild cowboys with ideas and wishes for the message on these ads.
Deadline is next week 23. June at 4 PM
Climate Communications Manager Martin Lloyd organized one of his famous brainstorms, and our former publications manager and über-creative Toby Cotton got wind of the challenge in his design kitchen. Toby freelances for us now, which as far as I can tell means he sits in an undisclosed location in Australia and thinks up cool stuff we should do, firing off ideas, well, like that wild cowboy Christina imagined. Due to time zone differences, he was asleep when the brainstorm here in Amsterdam happened, and did a lone wolf, bouncing ideas off his partner Alex.
He knocked up a quick concept sketch and popped it over to Martin, who knows a winner when he sees one, and who then put people, time, and a surprisingly small amount of money into making it happen. Between them and Mike Townsley they wrote the text, Karen Guy here in the office sourced the photos (creative commons where possible), and as with any great creative stew, nobody really remembers who came up with which bit — only that everybody is really really happy with the result.
I expect Martin will be telling the full story over at his blog eventually, but at the moment, he’s a bit busy with this Copenhagen business. As are we all. OMG, look at the time. Off to work.
Well, first thing this morning I called up my 10 year old son, Doon, on Skype to let him know that I had seen the preview of the Galactic Extension Pack for Spore.
Now, this may not have been a panel with direct relevance to activist organising in the digital social sphere, but dang it was fun. The first thing I had heard of Spore was here at SXSW back in 2007, when Will Wright demonstrated some early development work. I missed the presentation, but the buzz about it was intense, and someone got the whole thing on Viddler.
Caryl is a great speaker, and I loved her description of the design philosophy behind the editors in Spore: Zero to Smile in Three Clicks.
They succeeded. From my 4 year old son all the way up to their 50 year old dad, we love Spore at Casa Fitzgerald. Our friend Boris, who is a scary-good ten year old artist, creates objects with Spore that I defy anyone to look at without breaking into a goofy grin.
And I found this bit strangely compelling, about one of the artists who had found a sketchpad from when he was ten years old, and how Spore enabled him to bring those early creations to life.
There’s a longer video here with some visuals previewing the new Terraforming module, which looks far better than the clunky system currently in the release version.
If there was a takeaway from this for me about User Generated Content in the activist world, it’s the importance of fun, of enabling someone to make something very cool, very easily.
Now, if only the real planet Earth had a global temperature slider as easy to use as Spore’s.
I get up, feed the cats, make some eggs for the still-sleeping boys, make a cup of tea in my broad-bottomed ship’s mug. Listen to the quiet of the early morning.
All last week I had a fever off and on, at one point so severe that I was experiencing tiny bouts of that minor aphasia you get when single words stop making sense, when textures feel alien and everything is charged with strangeness.
Neil Young claims to have written Cowgirl in the Sand, Down by the River, and Cinnamon Girl while he ran a temperature of nearly 40 degrees Celsius (103 F). I wish I had never heard this story, as it has haunted my unproductive chilled and shivering attempts to sleep off every fever since. All I could do was read, but what I read was wonderful: In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin.
Were he alive today, Chatwin would be one of the world’s most celebrated bloggers. In Patagonia is a travel book, but there is only the thinnest of narrative arcs to this work. It’s a blog. A big, beautiful set of perfect small chapters that capture, perfectly observed, a character or a piece of landscape or a scene from history — be it a mystery about Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid’s travels, the natural history of the Mylodon, the migrations of early human beings in South America, or the shipwreck adventures of the man on whom Coolidge modelled his Ancient Mariner. Each chapter a box crafted so finely, it snaps shut with a satisfying click.
Beyond that, the accomplihsments of my week were few.
I did a little digital gardening. I removed “brianfitfriends” from Twitter. This was a feed of my friends’ Facebook Status messages, via twitterfeed. Unfortunately, it was also an automated Facebook privacy settings violation mechanism. Status messages in Facebook are private to your friends, unless someone thoughtlessly decides to broadcast them out into the TwitterScape. Whoops. Sorry, friends.
I installed Tweetdeck. YES! Tweetdeck just lays out all your incoming tweets, tweet responses, and direct messages in a convenient layout. It also chirps nicely.
The other thing I did with my week, of course, was fall horribly behind at work. Which now beckons.
I use Photoshop Elements to catalogue, arrange, and manage my digital library of 20,000 snapshots of my children around xmas trees and in birthday hats.
For the most part, it’s love-it and hate-it software. It does some things astoundingly great — its tagging and advanced cataloguing functions are ace, and it’s better than a massive album made of molecules for browsing, zooming, editing, and arranging.
But until you disable it, the damn programme throws popups at you for more things you can buy, more services you can purchase, more ways you can enjoy your photos pay money to Adobe. it uses *Outlook* for it’s mail client, for Pete’s sake. Which Elements peppers with ads for its product in every email you send with it. Either that, or an Adobe proprietary system that I am so certain sucks I haven’t even looked at it. No gmail? Guys…
When PC World wrote of the new version 7.0 that “Adobe obviously pays attention to what’s hot these days. And online photo sharing is more popular than ever, with sites like Flickr and Facebook and programs like Apple iPhoto keeping people connected through photos, blogs, and blurbs.” I thought, hot damn! Flickr integration with Elements!!!! But nooooooooooo. Adobe has simply launched their own proprietary sharing service.
Here’s why this is clueless, and disappointing. The only thing that binds people together on such a service is that they paid their money, they bought a product. That doesn’t make a community.
People are on Flickr because the love Flickr, not because they bought a product and Flickr came with it. If Adobe were smart, they’d build a Flickr interface into Elements and let people love Elements because it loves Flickr. I’m not going to love Adobe’s online sharing site, because I feel no afinity to the Adobe brand.
When I had trouble with my migration, I tried the Adobe knowledge base. It was OK. But the real find that Google led me to was ElementsVillage — a vbulletin-based community forum of users. And there were real human beings, with the same issues I had with the software, and who were posting outstanding faqs, chock full of solutions correcting the help files on Adobe’s site. Now THAT’s a community: people bonded together to help one another figure out how to manage their issues with the software and how to use it better, outside the official auspicies of the brand. I actually trusted it more, because it was not written in a corporate voice, it slagged Adobe off for sloppy stuff when they were sloppy, and it praised the good aspects of the programme in sentences that I could believe because they didn’t look like sound bites from a PR brochure.
I may be a consumer, but if your brand makes me feel like that’s my only relationship to you, I’m going to bolt. I do not exist to advertise your product to my friends, to sit looking at your ads, or remain within the confines of your corporate boundaries. I do not exist merely to provide further monetary streams.
I like your software. I use it. I don’t want to be used by it.
We strive at Greenpeace International to provide online activist tools that all of our offices can use worldwide. Our content management system is used by nearly all, and that has hard benefits, from being able to share webbies across offices with no additional training, to pooling development costs, content sharing and reduction of effort duplication.
But we’re a federation rather than a corporation. The uptake of tools is voluntary, and offices that want to do their own thing can. But it makes it harder to speak with one voice, act with one mind, and display aggregated results with one piece of software. Which is the subject of today’s entry: how I scraped the websites of Greenpeace offices around the world for a single data point, the number of people who had written to the Japanese government demanding release of our two whale activists, and summed them up into one global number that every office could display.
Starting backward, here’s the result:
a single cell from a Google Spreadsheet, which can be IFRAMED in to any web page using the code
<iframe width=‘150’ height=‘45’ frameborder=‘0’ src=‘http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=ppfKzvgYsAS9E5DwKZH-dMA&output=html&gid=0&single=true&range=E2’></iframe><br/>
To generate that number, I used two primary tools: the FETCHPAGE module in Yahoo Pipes to scrape values from our various websites and create an RSS feed of those values, and the ImportFeed function of Google Spreadsheets to read those values, update them once an hour, and aggregate them.
Yikes. I just blogged a story over on Making Waves titled “Whales: more money in watching them than eating them.” At the moment I hit the publish button, I spotted a typo in the headline.
I misspelled “than” as “then.”
By catching it, I may have missed a chance to get published in the New Yorker. Though my chosen spot would not have been the amusing little nuggest at the story footers lambasting unintentionally hilarious abuses of the English language.
A couple of my images of MacHuggers which I took during our Green my Apple Campaign will be in the forthcoming “MacHeads” film. Producer/Director Kobi Shely sent me a link to the trailer, and it looks great.
[swf movie=“http://www.youtube.com/v/0QMhOIySiyE&rel=1″ /]
Killer quote: “I have never knowingly slept with a Windows user. Ever.”
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of how one idea went from inception to implementation here at the Greenpeace secret mountain laboratory.This one began as a link that Gillo Cutrupi sent me a few months back to the vid above, something Google did to promote Gmail, passing their M-velope logo around the world in a collaborative video. It was a commercial viral, but Gillo saw the activist potential in it — inspiring, creativity-challenging, participatory stuff — and figured Greenpeace could do something with it.
I loved it, and tucked it into my “pending bright idea” folder.
At our Climate issue planning pow-wow, we were talking about the next big Kyoto protocol meeting in Bali and how hard it is to get a political meeting into the crosshairs of our supporters’ attention. We were talking potential action scenarios, and I was making one of my standard pitches about coming up with actions that our supporters could join in on — getting them INTO the inflatable boat instead of WATCHING the inflatable boat on TV. I suddenly flashed on the video Gillo had sent, and wondered what it would like as a Greenpeace action that our supporters carry forward, delivering a message en masse to the Bali conference.
During a break, I fired up my laptop and showed the Gmail viral to Agnes de Rooij and Nicky Davies. We started kicking ideas around for what kind of Greenpeace action might top and tail it, what object we might pass around the world, what we might message — we went right past “Is this a good idea” and into the “how can we make this even better” fastlane. We talked about globes or balls repsresenting the world (putting the planet in their hands), banners with “Just do it” on them, envelopes, documents, small dogs… Nicky gave me a 2 minute slot in the agenda to throw the concept up on a screen to see if it would stick. It stuck. Somehow in the midst of this meeting that was all about three year planning, highly general, helicopter-view stuff, the immediacy of something FUN we could get out the door and get people involved in was like a blast of fresh air.
And here’s the irony: so little of what this organisation does really really well is planned in those helicopter-view meetings. Much is, of course, but what astounds me is that we fail, year after year, to leave breathing room and capacity for sideways thinking, for putting creative people together to think outside the box, when we see the quality again and again of what happens without a mile long paper trail of documentation and consultation and compromise.
But throwing an idea out is easy. Implementing it is the hard bit. That’s where Tom Dowdall and Giona Barbera come in. Tom shepherded the project through brainstorm sessions and signoff procedures, shaping it and making sure that everybody that needed to have a some say over it had some say, and keeping those who didn’t need to at bay. (Too many cooks…)
Stephanie Tunmore, our lead lobby dog for the Kyoto work, came up with the excellent idea of making the object that got passed a message in a bottle (you can’t even say the words without hearing “Sending out and SOS, Sending out an SOS”).
Not to cast nasturtiums, but it must also be said that Steph came up with the hopelessly policy-wonky idea of kicking the video off with IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri passing the bottle. My response was, unless he looks like a rock star, forget it.
Steph had actually worked out a really solid narrative: climate scientists passing a message to the politicians via the vox populi. But it was too thinky, and we’d use up the entire 1.7 seconds one gets to hook a YouTube audience’s attention just explaining who Pachauri was. We needed something that was visually exciting, rather than intellectually logical. Enter Giona. He tried to get some footage from the Rainbow Warrior, and when that didn’t work out he went down to the Dutch Action Warehouse and shot the sequences you see in the final cut.
Giona and Tom got the staff at headquarters doing test videos (that cute-as-all-get-out kid in the vid is my 3 year old, Dylan), Giona got Garage Band aficionado Michael Nagasaka to lay down the guitar and drum tracks, and then he hauled the whole shebang into Final Cut on his iBook and spent the weekend editing.
On Monday the link to the final product went out internally for review. I heard the sound track open on the desk behind me, where our acting Chief Editor, Andrew Kerr, sits. Andrew is a stickler, one of those editors who will spot an error that six other people have skimmed past, or take a sentence that looks perfectly fine and find a way to cut out half the words and make it clearer. He’s also one who likes to ensure that no product goes out without his blessing.
After he saw the video, he stood up and walked briskly over to the webbie corner. “Who’s responsible for that video?” he demanded. Giona stood up. Andrew cracked a smile, gave him a bear hug, and said “Well fucking done.” And so it was.
Blogged with Flock
Here at the Greenpeace Planning Meeting, our mission is primarily to shape our 2008 programme in broad strokes. But as I take notes on the project specifications that get presented, I doodle — storyboards, campaign visualization ideas, cartoons, web banners, as my shorthand way of thinking about simple messaging. Unfortunately, I’m crap at drawing. Fortunately for those of us who are crap at drawing, there’s photoshop. The concept sketch above is something I knocked up this morning as a thinking aloud piece, which arose from a doodle adorning a conversation about how we are going to “blacken the face of coal and expose it as a climate criminal.” So we get a sculpotor, see, to actually MAKE a King Coal OUT of coal, see… I suspect that “King Coal” as a phrase only exists stateside, so this is probably going nowhere beyond this idle sketch.
Blogged with Flock
I went looking for something that explains Wikis to the uninformed last week, then saw this, from Rusty Cawley, pop up in the RSS feed on my Google Homepage. Magic!
We’re using Wikis quite a bit now in the web team at Greenpeace International for sharing internal information, support tips on our content management system, and lessons learned on the e-campaigning front, but they suffer from that old 1% rule: One percent of the people who visit the wiki contribute content. Others (some of them webbies) will actually E-mail suggested content or critique rather than roll up their sleeves and get in there and, Wiki-Tiki-Tavi-like, bare their mongoose teeth and wrestle the snake themselves. If they’re missing the basic concept, this video, which *features no computers* is a great way to break down that old “it’s geek, I’m not” response.
Now where oh where is the instructional video that takes folks the next step: to quickly and painlessly demonstrate the finer points of link creation, image insert, page creation, and the basics that anyone needs to just get started? I’ve looked at everything listed at the Wikipedia entry on Wiki Instructional Videos, and I found them universally awful. Those of us who aren’t afraid to poke around and figure this stuff out need to remember that we need to bring along the digitally shy as well if we ever want this stuff to be truly useful. And like “Wikis in Plain English” we need to make it FUN.
Blogged with Flock
I missed Will Wright’s demo of Spore when I was at SXSW, but thanks to zachinglis and his sometimes-shaky-but-who-cares hand-held video, I just got to see it on Viddler.
Wright is the guy behind Sims. Spore is a “massively single-player online game” due out 3rd quarter this year, and after seeing the demo I intend to be one of the first amoebas to crawl out of the primordial soup.
Creature creation looks like something that binds aspects of Mr. Potato Head crossed with Lego crossed with Clay modeling crossed with a Pixar studio.
The demo shows just how simple the basics are, how smart and intuitive the editor is, and what howlingly complex , bizarre, and lifelike things you can make and animate with nothing but mouseclicks. Thrillingly, Wright has been quoted as saying he doesn’t want to make players feel like Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins. He wants them to feel like George Lucas and J.R.R Tolkien.