Archive Page 2

Hiatus

Yes, its been a little quiet on here for quite a while. Here’s why:

1) Went on a ten day technology-free holiday
2) Came back in the middle of a large project. Holiday planned before project. You know how it is.
3) Then moved house.
4) And moved office.

Throw in a bit of writer’s block, and you have a whole mess of quiet on both this blog and my short fiction project.

Was going to write a post about re-booting projects and getting things back on track. But I’m thinking maybe I should actually get them back on track first.

Here goes…

A different take on advertising… condoms.

Ok, be honest. You half expected the Durex shagging balloon animals to be here, right?

Condom ads. Its funny when you get a category that’s so tightly defined that you only ever see one of two types of ads: ads that use sexual humour, or ads that use screaming babies to chill and terrify you. Cause that’s what the product is all about, right? What else is there?

Which is why I find this Japanese campaign so damn interesting. It attacks the problem in a completely different way.

lovedistance_screengrab

The story is simple – a young couple living in two separate cities has an argument. Separated by distance (over 1,000 kms), they start running to meet each other to prove their love. The distance between them is mentioned in millimetres, that count down as they get closer and closer. The ad finishes on 0.02 millimetres – the thinness of the condom.

It makes a link between physical and emotional closeness. And here’s the weird thing – it’s actually kind of… I’m searching for a better word here, but can’t find one – romantic? Suddenly other ads in the category start to look like cheap jokes by comparison, like schoolkids giggling abut something taboo. Maybe screaming babies and shagging are just such obvious places to look that it left another territory – relationships, love etc, wide open.

I’m not sure about every aspect of the execution of this – like, the whole “it was a documentary then we revealed it was an ad” thing – its a bit hard to see how the mechanics would have played out. I’m really just seeing what’s live on the site now, which plays like an awards video. But even as a piece of footage, I love the simplicity of the millimeters counting down between the two lovers. And the tone of the whole thing.

Sometimes it really pays to find a different – but totally relevant – space around a product.

Stumbled on in the sidebar of the FWA.

A year of failed projects

Ok, here it is. This is a condensed version of my Ignite Sydney presentation. A five minute presentation that I’m trying to rewrite as a two minute blog post. I’m not sure how well its going to translate, but I figure this works better than SlideShare, given that most of my slides had little or no words on them.

Firstly, I love making things. This is pretty much what I do for a living, make projects. And this takes up a fair whack of my time. In and out of what you would call standard office hours.

This is what my typical work day looks like.

This is what my typical work day looks like.

But I like to do other stuff too. As if work wasn’t enough, I like to find projects to work on.  This is a set of still frames from one such project, an animated short I made circa 2003:

Still frames from animated short “Taxi”

Still frames from animated short “Taxi”

Took me 14 months to finish, ran for 3.5 minutes. Its getting on a bit now, but if you’d like a look you can see it here.

So, back in January last year, I did a bit of goal setting for 2008. I wanted to make it a year of big projects. It was going to be huge.

Here’s what I decided I was going to do:

1) Write a short story for a week for the entire year.
2) Do some volunteer work.
3) Record some music and get airplay.
4) Participate in an art exhibition.
5) Work less.

Unfortunately, here’s what actually happened:

1) I created a blog called the 52nd Floor. My goal: 1 shot story posted a week.
Well, if you go there now, you’ll see that I haven’t even quite made it halfway. FAIL.

2) I signed up to do some volunteer work. Made it through six months of training and started doing shifts. Unfortunately the random timing of the shifts started intersecting neatly with the random timing of pitches, late meetings, emergency projects and basic workload. By the end of the year I had to quit. FAIL.

3) I was playing (more rehearsing, actually) in a band with a couple of mates. We’d spent the better part of two years looking for a singer. Well, while I was doing all this other stuff a singer found them. They went on to record and get airplay on FBI and Triple J. I saw them play the other night – they’re actually pretty awesome. Pricks.

No, I still haven’t recorded anything. *Ahem*. FAIL.

4) The whole art exhibition idea started with a few friends in a burst of drunken enthusiasm. This is the problem with alcohol-inspired projects – it can be tricky to keep the momentum going once everybody sobers up. Needless to say, this one hasn’t happened yet. FAIL.

5) And working less? I had a Big Theory about working less. It went something like this: Work keeps taking up big chunks of my spare time because I have lots of time spare. If I filled this spare time with lots of other things, I’ll just naturally end up working less. Like so:

The Theory

Working Less: The Theory

Makes sense, right?

Of course, what actually happened was more like this:

ignite_slides_02

I started going a bit nuts. I was exhausted all the time. I was always sick, always stressed, always coming down with some kind of cold. And everything, even fun stuff, even just hanging out with mates, became another thing that had to be done, another thing to get out of the way.

So, what did I learn from 2008?

1. Free time is not disposable

We’re used to thinking of free time as being expendable on anything. It feels like “spare” time. It’s not. We need free time, time to ourselves, time that could be for anything, like we need oxygen.

2.Time is like soil for creativity – the thinner it is, the less things grow.

Your subconscious mind does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to creativity. It needs time to chew on the idea at hand. Give it too much to think about and you’ll spread this thinking time too thinly. End result: you don’t get much back.

3. Don’t turn something you love into a chore.

Its one thing to be committed to a project, its another to make yourself hate it. It’s a fine line, but the whole point is that you’re doing something you love. Don’t make yourself hate it. If you’re starting to veer down this path, then something has to change.

4. Perspective is a beautiful thing.

After a while I started to look at 2008 in a different light, and I was surprised to discover just how much I got out of the year.

I may not have finished the 52 stories on the blog, but I did manage to write about 20,000 of fiction, almost by accident. The first writing I’d done since high school. And the blog is still there, and still growing.

And the exhibition may not have happened, but I did actually start painting. First time I’d picked a paintbrush up in about twelve years. If it wasn’t for the exhibition, that never would have happened.

I met some amazing people doing the volunteer work, from all walks of life, all willing to give their time to other people. And it taught me that you can’t really help other people out if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Watching the band really showed me the power of being focussed, of what you can achieve if you put all your energy into one thing. Sometimes you have to make a choice – do I do a billion things, and get 10% done on all of them? Or do I hone in on something and put everything I’ve got into it?

I’m almost always in the billion things camp. But I’m working on that.

But the biggest thing I took away from 2008 was this simple thought:

Wasting time is a beautiful thing.

wasting-time

So if you want a goal, or a plan, or a resolution to stick to this year, give wasting more time a go. Make space for it. Waste time shamelessly, without thinking that you should be doing something else.

Trust me, it’s good for you.

Ignite

A couple of weeks back (has it been that long?) I presented at an event called Ignite Sydney.

Ignite is a simplified presentation format where you get only fifteen seconds to talk to a slide, resulting in a five minute presentation.

There were some fantastic presentations there too, some in format, some in the content, some both, but I loved how it didn’t just stick to the one topic. There were a few that really got me thinking. One of my favourites of the night would have to have been Rob Perkins from Naked, who did a fantastic preso on being childlike to be creative – something we seem to keep being told and still seem to keep forgetting.

I also have to give a nod to Mark Pollard here as well – not only was his talk some great content delivered in his own inimitable style (beatboxer and all) but frankly, if I hadn’t seen his tweet about throwing in a submission I might have missed the whole thing entirely.

I love the challenge of stuff like this – I’m not the world’s most natural presenter, so its a way of stretching myself. I also did a really crap presentation a few years ago and have since sworn to myself that I will never do another bad one. Hopefully.

You can see a photo of me looking pensive here. Surprised there’s no motion blur on my shaky hand.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I should post the slides from the night, as they don’t really work without the talk, but there was some stuff in it I wouldn’t mind retelling. I’ll try to morph it into some kind of post, which should be up in the next couple of days, work permitting.

Big thanks to the organisers and speakers for such a fantastic opportunity and a great night. Definitely worth going to, so keep an eye out for the next one.

The most ironic bit of the whole thing – after spending all this time talking about the importance of having time to yourself, I had to skip drinks afterwards and head back into the office to finish a few things off for a morning presentation.

Will make up for it next time.

Bubblewrap

bubble calendar

There’s nothing like taking something everyday and getting people to look at it in a completely new way. Take this bubblewrap calendar for example. I mean, how much more satisfying is it to pop a bubble than to cross off a lame box? If you really want to make sure your year is going by at a rate of knots, this could be for you.

Available here. Found on Josh Spear.

Frustration Free Packaging

Amazon now ships some products in what it calls “Frustration Free Packaging“.

ffp-comparison-2_v261895878_1

Essentially they replace the colourful “sales” package with a recyclable box that’s simpler, easier to open and more environmentally friendly. Less ink on the printing, no plastic on the window and “free of excess materials such as hard plastic clamshell cases, plastic bindings, and wire ties”.

It’s interesting that the job that the packaging needs to do changes once the product is being sold online.

Its also interesting that its being pushed as “frustration free”… It almost seems that the environmental benefit would be stronger. I find it hard to take their idea of “wrap rage” too seriously…

Are mobiles the new cigarettes?

smokerSo I’m in this bar, and I notice this guy just hanging out by himself. He looks a bit older than most of the people milling about. He’s not talking to anyone, not looking at anyone. But he doesn’t look uncomfortable, or out of place. In fact, he looks like he’s doing something important.

Cause he’s looking at his phone.

I’ve never been a smoker, but something about cigarettes has always fascinated me. They seemed to give people a reason to be anywhere. If you were hanging out by yourself in a bar or whatever, that was just weird. But if you were hanging out smoking, well you were smoking. Its like you were doing something, like the whole action had a weird importance to it. Cigarettes gave you a reason to be anywhere.

Now mobiles seem to have acquired a similar sort of status. Now there’s any reason why you’d spend any amount of time standing around looking at your phone. Not even talking on it, just looking at it. It says “I’m busy”, or more importantly, “other people are talking to me”. You’re doing something useful. Something important. 

Mobiles. Saving everybody from awkward moments of social inadequacy.