Kingdom of Fools

I’ve been hitting the speakers trail this week:
Firstly, attending the lasy day of the Wildfire – Flammable thinking event in Brick Lane…
secondly seeing Crab speak at an NMK event on the future of digital design…
and thirdly, Ale and I ran our 2nd She Says night this week.

A week of really interesting (and not so) thinking, and a real energiser for me in the development of She Says as something that will really help to change the industry.

So, to Wildfire, and Tom Savigar from The Future Laboratory.
He spoke about the “yoof” generation… pulsing through some really interesting insights coming from his recent research…
I won’t recap everything in full here, just publish some of the cooler, more interesting and quirkier finds:

THE FUTURE IS NO CERTAIN PLACE – fear, uncertainty and doubt is normal and they live in a benchmarked culture where they are constantly measured. In fact, ranking can be seen in stores such as Tokyo’s Ranking Ranqueen, which sells only the top-ranked products in a vast array of catagories… and in sites such as where consumables are ranked according to their green creds.

They all equate creativity with real financial worth, and are hungry for creative careers… and they WILL TRY ANYTHING ONCE.

The coolest teen trend is a growing movement of teenagers dubbed the “Mad Hatters” with over 9000 members worldwide. Inspired by romantic stories of siting in cafés having real conversation and debate (think the original Avant Garde.) They collect through social networking sites to drink English Breakfast in bone china and chat over tea – in the real world. I tried to find them online, but I’m obviously just not under 20 anymore – I couldn’t find a thing. The idea was so appealing though – completely what I would have been into at the (this) time! I found myself longing for floppy hair, art school and Artaud again…

The other comment that really hit me is something that I have often felt (and still feel myself) is the idea that people constantly re-invent/rework/resample themselves these days – tha change and mutation is the norm – the feeling he captured from the 20somethings he spoke to: “Can I just have some time off before I re-invent myself again?” Its something I feel myself periodically…

Finally, a great quote from someone’s 5 year old daughter at a live football match, when she had to get up to go to the bathroom – “I need to go to the loo, can I pause it?”

It reminded me that there is a book about teenagers coming out in July by a girl called Jelly Ellie (often pulled out at the token teen by the BBC since about 2004) – “How Teenagers Think” . I hope this will prove just as insightful as today’s research – and hopefully a good read too.

He wrapped up the final discussion with the comment that we are living in a right-brain world: a feminine world full of empathy, joy and fun, but I have a real issue with the event organisers on this point: if its SUCH a feminine-thinking world, WHERE ARE THE WOMEN ON STAGE? Man after man strutted their stuff, but as usual, there was hardly any female representation… one woman on the first day only. Surely, not all the industry’s best brains have rampant nasal hair? OFFF festival last year was just the same, as was the NMK talk and most others I attend.

The other notable talk was by a Creative Social mate of mine from Anomaly in NYC, Johnny Vulkan (who agreed with me on the above point btw…)
One of his first points is that we haven’t managed the debate around our own industry – we’re seen as the bad guys.
Again, too much info to go into detail about here, save to say that apart from getting in a reference to GOLGAFRINCHAM his talk can be wrapped up in his final tips:
Make it easier for people to be good
Ask more questions
Expand your thinking/role/business
Help good companies grow, help bad ones change
Accept contradictions, learn, move on
Be good to your mother

Here are some interesting links from his talk:

Unfortunately, the NMK discussion left me a little disappointed, though I must remember to use the quote “design has never been a profession where you have to wait for permission”… Crab had an interesting point about what happens to digital designers in a world where non-design or utalitarian design (eg. MySpace) is the norm… do we become the designers of the systems to allow people to publish rather than the publishers ourselves?
Unfortunately it relly wasn’t the environment for a real debate or discussion about this (I see Crab’s point but have a lot that I wanted to add in favour of doing both) as the audience consisted mainly of traditional designers who were struggling to get digital in the first place – and I had to agree with Crab here that they just need to get on with it or miss the boat – you don’t solve anything with inertia…

She Says Mark 2 was a great success… you can read more about it on our MySpace page, but we had about 35 women there for almost 3 hours of informative discussion and informal chat…
We called the meeting ‘BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT’ as it was about how to take your career further and get what you want in terms of professional development.

The speakers were:
» Laura Ormerod – Creative Services Consultant – at Propel
» Tina Brazil – People Director at Profero
» Emma Witkowski from AKQA
» Rhiannon James – Graduating Creatives Manager at D&AD

Tina and Laura spoke about: ‘How to choose an agency that is going to help with your professional development’ and ‘how to handle work reviews and get the most of out them’.

Rhiannon spoke about women in the industry and how find the right agency for you and engage with them – as well as a little about D&AD itself.

Finally, Emma covered ‘Switching between disciplines inside an agency’

Tina’s talk in aprticular garnered a lot of interest! Our next event will be (hopefullly) at glue, on the 30st or 31st May.


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