… and many of them (specifically, all things creative and digital) are gathered together in a resource put together by Tom Uglow at Google Creative Labs. Spanning categories of audio, film, art, politics, visualization, technology, etc., and brimming with inspiration. First spotted on Only Dead Fish.
Another great video on visualization that summarizes some thoughts from previous posts. Thanks to Only Dead Fish.
Today, during his New York AdWeek address, TED curator and Wired editor Chris Anderson announced the Ads Worth Spreading Challenge.
“An open invitation to the global advertising community to reinvent, inspire and engage audiences with a new definition of what advertising can mean in the digital age, using TED.com as its platform.”
It makes sense, and it’s a welcome wake-up call for global advertising. TED is partially supported by advertising, and recognizes how as a medium it is not just about consumption, but also about “inspiring and motivating beneficial action”. But it doesn’t reach that level nearly enough, especially on the web. Chris Anderson aptly asked ‘If advertising is so great, why the hell is it largely failing on the web today?’.
So, the business community is invited to submit their best new campaigns, to premiere at TED2011 and be shown on TED.com for one week in March for free. Considering the 290 million (and counting) global audience, that’s quite a prize. It’s a chance to prove the value and potential of the ad industry at large, and raise the creative bar.
What’s surprising though is that submissions are in video format only. A shame that the criteria is limiting – why not encourage the possibility of say interactive usage of video, like Google’s Chrome FastBall or Tip-Ex’s YouTube bear hunting phenomenon? I’m sure for practical reasons this might have been difficult. But what makes great web advertising is often work that goes beyond the traditional formats of video and banners (essentially TV and press adapted for the internet), and instead harnesses the creative potential of a medium which in many ways has no boundaries, and can therefore lead to a greater consumer engagement than otherwise. On the other hand, it means that brands will have to focus on their core ideas rather than creative fireworks: as much strategy as show.
Nonetheless, TED’s challenge is necessary and exciting. Bring on the ads worth spreading.
Image from the TED blog.
RSA animates shows that there’s more to a talk than its words. Each speaker’s message is brought to life by witty illustrations that make even the most intellectual subject seem like cake. Behind the drawings is company Cognitive Media, who specialize as visual practitioners. They’re part of a larger trend that acknowledges the power of visualization. Infographics are widely circulated throughout the web to describe say the years’ most viral brands, while the New York Times website has won numerous awards because of its graphics team, whose members are interviewed in a neat video here.
What makes seeing an idea even more powerful than hearing it? The theory about working memory in cognitive psychology can help explain. In 1974, researchers Baddely and Hitch suggested that working memory, the capacity to hold information in the mind during the complex tasks of learning and memory, is governed by distinct components. One is a system that processes the sound of language, while the other main system processes visual and spatial information. The sound system is thought to have evolved from human’s capacity of speech perception and production. Meanwhile the visual and spatial system is believed to be more primal, being intimately related to the processes of visual perception and action – both innate human functions. Additional systems direct attention, and integrate the components together.
In our context, a visually stimulating talk triggers not only the sound but also the visuo-spatial processes. Both key components of the working memory system are mobilized. Although there is little research examining exactly how the two subsystems work together, I predict that an illustrated talk maps an integrated message into your mind and embeds it more deeply in your memory that otherwise.
So imagine if this methodology were employed more widely in education, for example: science classes animated with visualizations would become fun and not forced.
Image from CognitiveMedia’s blog here.
How do you stimulate creativity? Great work doesn’t come from the financial motivational carrots you’d expect. Instead, it’s all about understanding what underlies human drive. Companies like Google got this from the start. Daniel Pink explains this in engrossing RSA animate video above. IDEO’s Tim Brown’s thoughts about work go along the same lines:
But it’s not just about play. Good management comes also from knowing how to control play. Pixar, one of the world’s most creative companies, is a perfect example. Although employees navigate through the building on scooters and work in offices of their own design (including wooden huts), there are a set of processes that gently direct the progress of the work. All explored in an interview with President Ed Catmull here:
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A recent Economist article though questions whether sometimes play at work goes a little too far. Its perspective is that fun at work is nothing but coercion, and that in fact it brings employees further away from the Mad Men days where work-day drinking and smoking were the norm and no one had even heard of the term sexual harassment.
But I think it misses the point. Granted people during Mad Men’s time had a freer reign, but did it really stimulate work-place satisfaction and innovative thinking? And the motivational factors, including play, that are being embedded into modern companies aren’t designed to force fun per se, but instead to nurture creative thinking simply by having the right kind of environmental cues. Of course initiatives should not be empty efforts: they should not impose nor should they be considered sufficient alone. Having a slide in the middle of the office will be meaningless if the mentality that it suggests does not permeate through every other level of the company.
So it’s important and relevant to rethink how companies are managed, and to adjust existing models accordingly. This means it has to be holistic – from the very top of management hierarchies to the architecture of the office space. Considering changing expectations from Generation Y, individuals who themselves will become the future leaders of these workplaces, it’s not only necessary but inevitable.