Brief: Provide an insider's perspective on the Cotswolds for travel site www.morenativethanthenatives.com
Delivery: Disrupt current perceptions of the Cotswolds by showcasing some of the more progressive aspects of local life.
Proud of Stroud: Welcome to the Cotswold Town Like No Other
When imagining the Cotswolds it’s natural to conjure up images of sprawling lavender fields, sun-drenched yellow-stone cottages and twee countryside folk. It’s true that there’s a lot of beauty and old-school charm around this part of the world. However, a mere hour and a half train ride from Paddington will lead you to Stroud, one of the Cotswolds’ quirkiest and most popular destinations.
For many years the town was synonymous with the alternative. Alternative food, alternative shops and an alternative way of life. However, with the increase in people living more organically, sustainably and ethically, outsiders are being to learn what natives already knew: Stroud was simply ahead of its time. Now Stroud is over-flowing with artists, writers, celebrities and people looking for a quieter, yet fulfilling, life outside of London. They’ve come to the right place.
Here are just five of Stroud’s best bits:
1. Raise The Roof
From its humble beginnings of a childhood dream, Nell and Toti Gifford created Giffords Circus, a beloved summer tradition that returns to its hometown of Stroud every year. Clowns, trapeze artists and a live band combined with a wonderful comedic flair, set to a different theme each year, make for a great night out for the whole family. Shows are often sold out and this hugely entertaining show has to be seen to truly understand the unique magic that keeps visitors coming back year after year.
2. A Rather Jolly Nice Place to be
What was once a dilapidated filling station on the main road from Stroud to Cirencester is now one of the best brunch spots in Stroud. Killer coffee, delicious burgers and drool-worthy bacon baps await you. All to be enjoyed in cosy heated yurts or, in warmer weather, in the picturesque picnic meadow. With the focus on local, organic and homemade, and a lovely little deli selling local artisan food and drink, the Jolly Nice Farmshop and Cafe is one gem not to be missed.
3. On Common Ground
The National Trust commons of Minchinhampton and Rodborough, along with nearby Selsley Common, sit high above the Stroud Valley and offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area. Between Marking Day in May and the end of summertime in October, around 500 cows, 5 horses and a donkey, named Alfie, roam free. It's not uncommon to come face to face with grazing Highlands or to be held up in a traffic jam as cars wait for the herd to leisurely cross the road.
In the spring and summer months, or any time of year to be honest, a walk on the common wouldn’t be complete with a stop off at Winstones Ice-Cream factory. One of the longest running ice-cream companies in the country Winstones is simply scrummy. Definitely a welcome reward at the end of a good old stomp.
4. In the Market For Something Special
Farmers’ Markets are pretty commonplace in towns these days, but the multi award-winning Stroud Farmers’ Market definitely tops the list of must-do Saturday morning activities for the natives. Some of the Cotswolds’ best loved artisan food and drink brands sell their fabulous goodies each
week. Choose from a wide variety of organic fruit, veg, bread and dairy products along with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian produce to enjoy on the hoof or at home. Insider tip — get there early for the best of the best.
5. Oh Hoppy Days!
You can’t get more local than the Stroud Brewery which makes its own organic beers from barley grown on the hills of the Cotswolds. The Brewery hosts a family friendly bar, from Thursday to Saturday with live, acoustic music on Saturday nights adding to the welcoming, laid-back vibe. The beer is matched only by the delicious sourdough pizzas served up by Velo Bakery. Great beer, great pizza — what more could you want or need? Kids clear out around 8pm which is a fair arrangement. Families get a kid-friendly meal and adults get grown-up time later on.
All in all, Stroud is a gem all of its own and its uniqueness sets it apart from your average Cotswold town. Balancing its location in an Area of Outstanding Beauty with progressive ideas and creativity, there’s so much more that make the natives fiercely “proud to be Stroud”. Not that they’re likely to share them all with you. After all, you might not want to leave.
Brief: Full immersion in French youth culture was required to help Instagram successfully deliver their first ever brand campaign. Through conducting qualitative and quantitive research, I explored and analysed the Attitudes, Lifestyles, Relationships, Politics and Friendships of this coming-of-age generation.
Delivery: I wrote this article following the cultural analysis report submitted to Instagram.
“Cause we’ve been lied to by the liars,
We’ve been sold what we can't buy
In our hearts there’s a fire,
You can see it in our eyes.
We are the revolution, we want it all tonight,
We want to take back what’s rightfully ours”
Poor prospects for the future and a struggle for national identity. Is France’s emerging generation in for a fight?
As I was led down a curious rabbit-hole of French teen culture by a recent research brief, I kept hearing the lyrics to “Written in scars” by Jack Savoretti, in my mind. This coming-of-age generation is reaching maturity in a time of their country’s economic uncertainty; lacking prospects, employment and — perhaps even more importantly — a clear place in the world. Is it time for them to revolt?
Built upon a socialist foundation and raised with the belief that the French way of doing things is superior (termed “l’culturelle exceptionelle”) youths are quickly discovering that it is indeed those very things have led them to a point of lacking cultural relevancy on the ever-expanding global stage. Whilst France struggles to balance its traditional values of Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity) against the Western drive for innovation and wealth, the future is beginning to look very uncertain for the kids to whom it has promised so much.
Life in France is challenging. Alongside high levels of unemployment, there’s the most unpopular president of modern times and a lack of cohesion between cultures living side-by-side. With their country under attack three times in the past 18 months and the segmentation of cultures, their socialist ideals are struggling — leaving youths frustrated at being unable to fully start their adult lives.
In order to protect their way of life, the French authorities have gone to great lengths to resist influence from Americanisation, protecting what it means to be French, to have French values and to champion French art and culture. Indeed they are the only country to have an “Academie” which seeks to prevent the dilution of the French language, particularly in terms of anglicisation.
Yet as French teens gain greater exposure to their American and English counterparts on the digital stage, it would be foolish to expect that French teens are immune to the herd mentality of adolescence. Indeed at a time when doors to experiencing things for yourself are opening and the world feels like an endless adventure and, in digital terms, much smaller, the influence from American and English teens is amplified.
If we believe it takes a village to raise a child, then the French ideal is a whole country. But what happens when “mama et papa” insist that you follow rules that your American and English friends don’t seem to have to follow. Only for these “friends” to seem to have better opportunities? What if they have the “American dream” or the English balance between tradition and progression? Do you follow the rules unquestioningly? Or do you start to believe that, perhaps, whilst you can be your own person and honour your own culture, there is also room for inspiration and influence?
This is not to say that French teens disregard their own culture. Indeed they still seem to maintain a sense of superiority over the stereotypically superficial “Americanisms” and it is clear that there are some vast differences in their social systems. French teens value friendship with both sexes and dating is not a thing; relationships evolve out of existing friendships. They have fewer more deeper friendships and don’t divulge personal information quite as indiscriminately. Therefore social media, as a whole is not as popular as in the UK and USA, as it would seem that French teenagers are much more private. They are not as inclined to share information about themselves with people they are not close to. Overall they appear more mature and socialised from a much younger age; eating proper meals in a sociable manner, having their own role within the family and being able to drink, drive and travel abroad at a younger age.
As per the natural course of adolescence, teens are influenced by their peer group. But globally speaking, these peers are no longer restricted to school, neighbourhoods and their local proximity. Digital is dangling the carrot of exposure and experience. And the French government continues to grapple with its containment. So even in a country where Parliament has the ability to ban products and services that are counter to French beliefs or threaten French domestic commerce, American and British culture will undoubtedly break through.
For example, though popular US brands such as Netflix struggled for a long-time to enter a market where a French alternative already existed, the promise of locally produced content, such as the high-cost production Marseille, went a long way to helping their cause. Now, according to Paris-based research agency NPA, Netflix’s french subscription base will only continue to rise through the next couple of years. Additionally, amongst teenagers, brands like McDonalds have a loyal following and when the first Burger King opened in Paris in 2013 there were cues around the block. The same can be seen for sneaker brands Converse and Nike which, at odds with the resistance to American culture, have infiltrated street culture due to basketball’s big following in France and even high fashion, with sneakers being a trend at this year’s Paris Fashion Week.
See, we all know what happens when our “parents” forbid us to see a bad influence in our teens, they only seemed that much more appealing. Young pushing against the old, is a tale as old as time. But what if traditional values begin to hold back the evolving generation. What happens then? They revolt. Fight against the system. Or they leave. And in truth, they have seen older millennials leave for the likes of London and California where they can leave behind high taxes, short-term employment contracts and low wages — so much for protecting French culture against the influence.
France has been left with a generation reaching maturity with no clear sense of a future. With poor prospects and a country under unpopular leadership the question is, what does the future hold for them? What does everything they’ve been taught about the socialist system their nation is built upon mean when it seems to be failing? They’ve been taught that the French way, is the right way, only to see it beaten and bruised with a struggling economy and outdated notions. So what now?
Perhaps the message of resistance is futile is getting through. A campaign in 2015 saw the French government beginning to lure back its tech entrepreneurs by promising that France is now the place to be. And lets hope for the sake of those coming-of-age that they’re right. Because with a generation currently as lost as its identity, French youths are in need of something solid and something they can hold onto; some certainty for their future. And the French concerns of favouring American or English cultures seems somewhat irrelevant. It’s not about dilution but more about redefining and reaffirming what makes it great to be French in the modern world. A marriage of culture of sorts.
Otherwise what’s left may not be worth fighting for.
(Original Image @ Jack Savoretti)
Developing Brand Identity
Brief: Create a fresh tone of voice for a newly rebranded technology company that was free from tech jargon but that reflected their knowledge, experience and service values.
Delivery: Tone of Voice guidelines for all on-going communications and website content that demonstrated their new brand identity.
Example: Abercrombie & Kent Success Story
Global, luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent specialises in unique and tailor-made trips. With a bespoke service at the heart of their business, they need to be able to provide their customers with a first-class service every step of their special journey. That means a first-class telephony system. One where their customers can reach them for any reason, at any time and from any location, guaranteed.
Facing an increase in reliability issues and unnecessary costs, it was becoming clear that their system required upgrading. With a successful Telephony partnership already in place, Bamboo was asked to provide recommendations that would enable a seamless migration to Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP.
“I started to look at SIP as a possible solution when I recognised that we needed added resiliency to our telephony infrastructure, as well as looking at addressing reliability and call quality issues with the existing ISDN30 circuit and cutting call costs wherever I could,” explains Paul Nolan, IT Manager at Abercrombie & Kent. He continues, “We were happy with Bamboo as our current telephony provider so I invited them to put together a proposal for me to allow a seamless migration to SIP as the preferred telephony service, but with built in resilience to ensure that we had a failover plan should we encounter any problems.”
Bamboo’s Technical Support met with Paul and his Account Manager on a number of occasions to fully get to grips with the issues they were facing - and the implications. We know big technology changes can be daunting and believed it was important that Paul and his team were comfortable with the recommendations we provided.
Following these consultations we provided a number of solutions that we knew would satisfy these issues and ultimately give them peace of mind.
It was vital that Abercrombie & Kent and, more importantly, their customers would not encounter any problems. We were confident the capacity we recommended would meet their needs. To alleviate their concerns for call quality we suggested the ISDN circuit be kept in place in case, along with a backup circuit should the SIP trunk ever encounter any problems.
“The migration was completed last year, it went seamlessly well and our concerns over the call quality were never realised. We have an assured product through Bamboo and it is easily coping with our call volume.”
Paul Nolan concludes, “The quality is far better than what we had with the ISDN circuit. We have met and actually exceeded our original requirements, thanks to the solution recommended by Bamboo, and we will be looking to further develop our SIP solution with Bamboo over the coming years.”
Here at Bamboo, we are extremely happy that Abercrombie & Kent is seeing such positive results and can remain confident in the SIP’s resilience and reliability. It will be a pleasure to continue supporting Paul and his team with their on-going technology solutions.
Deciphering The Chatter
Delivery: Looking at the discussion and reverberations that surround news and social media happenings, rather than the happenings themselves, provides an interesting insight into changing social values and attitudes. The Chatter online feed identified prevailing cultural trends by deciphering the meaning behind online conversation.
We Are The Voice For The Meaning In The Noise.
When we think about the News. We think about stories we need to know. The information we require to understand the world, and the society, in which we live. And, everywhere we turn there it is. Thousands of sources reporting similar stories. Each enthusiastically relaying the same facts. But a story is more than just facts. It’s a lesson – from which we gain deeper meaning.
Humans have an inherent, psychological need to understand. But the noise of so much News means the clarity we are looking for is often obscured. More information doesn’t make us informed. Data can be distracting. And knowledge is not the same as understanding. The story’s value gets lost in the static.
We are The Chatter. We report the meaning in the noise. Monitoring entertainment channels including, TV, Film, Music, Fashion and Celebrity alongside Social conversation, we find the patterns in conversation that piece together a story’s real significance. The part it plays in the wider narrative. And we decipher what it tells us about culture as a whole.
News is often thought of as the output. But it’s, more often than not, the input – stimulating the social conversation. News is shared, celebrated, argued and judged. Outrage is escalated. Support is shown. Memes are made. In the hands of the online community, a news story evolves and adapts. And it’s true cultural meaning and relevance will be revealed.
Following online chatter, we’ve identified four prevalent social filters – Claimers, Community, Chargers,and Conscious – which we use as the basis to write content with meaning:
(Social Movement) “Claimers”
The third wave feminism movement is taking precedence in cultural conversation. Women are claiming back control. Over their power, their body image, their equality and their self-worth. These claimers are propelling the movement forward and charging towards a real change in the cultural narrative.
(Social Groups) “Community”
As the social neighbourhood fully expands to dominate within this Community, now is the time for redefining values. Born out of a self-organising societal model, the Community is concerned with the individual’s role within it, sharing responsibility for wider issues, and the wider pack, and how to establish a sense of order and etiquette to a yet lawless, and sometimes unruly, virtual democracy.
(Social Influencers) “Chargers”
Chargers lead the field. They set the tone and pace for the conversation and provide a context for the narrative. Some have a purpose, others just influence. But they all have the power to shape culture. Some Chargers will be driving the other themes whilst others will be carving out their own path.
(Social Trends) “Conscious”
No longer just about acceptance or tolerance, this narrative is a decisive step change towards a new outcome. From fashion, to TV and Film – and the industries that create them – the conversation surrounds the belief that in some cases, particularly racial diversity, we have made steps backwards. “Conscious” seeks to make fundamental changes to the community within which the conversation takes place.
As the lens for deciphering the conversation that surrounds the output of the media, The Chatter provides perspectives, editorial writing and insight reporting to deliver engaging content on behalf of brands and publishers.
We are the answer to – why are those messages appearing? What do they mean? And how do they form part of a broader cultural conversation? Always ensuring the content we write, is relevant to these conversations taking place.
Because the story is just the beginning, of the chatter.
The Cultural Capital of News (Feature)
“Social media has given every person online the ability to act as an on-the-spot reporter, and all kinds of news organizations are rightly harnessing Twitter and amateur video. The question now is: Have we become the foreign bureau?”
The above comment regarding coverage of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami earlier this year from the Tuned In blog on Time.com provides an interesting platform to examine news as Cultural Capital.
News is essentially a feed providing critical information that influences and shapes our shared beliefs and behaviors. By its very nature it holds the highest form of Cultural Capital.
The Internet created a new facet of journalism, enabling individuals to seek information for themselves while also providing an outlet for sharing news indiscriminately -- without bias or agenda and with ownership. Indeed ever-increasing social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube build audiences of such scale that they elevate the news source to a position of authority.
As Tuned In reports, The New York Times used crowd-sourcing to give real-time reports of what was happening in Japan. Without this, it is difficult to imagine that it could have possibly provided minute-by-minute eyewitness reports. As we see advancements and great accessibility of technology, there is a greater expectation for this kind of coverage.
IT consultant Sohaid Athar is now known for inadvertently breaking the news -- via Twitter -- that Osama Bin Laden’s compound had been raided. This incident further exemplifies the idea of organic news -- information delivered without polish and restraint. It was heard in first person, as it happened and, though it wasn't his intention, Athar shared culturally relevant information with the world.
Perhaps it is a bit premature to suggest that we no longer require official media outlets, or that anyone can be a journalist. However, The New York Times is not alone in acknowledging that to be culturally relevant and to maintain Cultural Capital, the feed must include real-time information, raw footage, and unbiased coverage from a range of sources.
Even the News is News
So it seems even the news is news. In fact the debate is still a hot topic with news networks, celebrities, bloggers and everyday people questioning the objectivity or agenda of the established news. Without objectivity, news simply becomes sensationalism for commercial benefit, or worse, political propaganda. It’s no surprise that a perceived lack of objectivity fuels independent parties to share their account of ‘the truth’ as it happens.
As a result, when personalities come along who are no longer restricted by media barriers they are viewed as objective and with a constant stream of relevant content, their Cultural Capital escalates. Celebrity Blog, Perez Hilton, a passion-fueled project of site founder Mario Armando Lavandeira (originally launched in 2005 as pagesixsixsix.com) is one such example. In the early days of these types of news vehicles, there were many claims of inaccuracies (some fair, some not) and criticism of the nature of their content. But in the six years since its inception, the site's longevity speaks for Perez Hilton’s presence in the news arena.
Taking into account the numerous attendances to exclusive events, and the friendly pictures with countless famous faces, it would be fair to suggest that Lavandeira is now courted by the celebrities that once reviled him as they too come to accept his influence over public perception; of their own Cultural Capital.
A Daily Source
Jon Stewart‘s The Daily Show epitomizes the questioning nature of the national media agenda. Emphatically claiming his role as a comedian first and foremost on his recent appearance on Fox News, Stewart is arguably achieving what the press is failing to do; establishing Cultural Capital.
At the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on October 30, 2010, Stewart referred to the media as, "the country’s 24-hour politico–pundit perpetual panic 'conflict-inator.”
As part of his speech he argued:
"Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives."
Through humor and highlighting pertinent issues of individuality and acceptance that are topical within culture, the duo inspired an attendance estimated close to 200,000. That is more than double the attendance for its inspiration Fox News Network's "Restoring Honor Rally” which pulled in an attendance of an estimated 87,000.
The Future of News
It does seem that even with the rising trend of social media as part of news, it is unlikely that the feed will exist only within this context. But it can be argued, that in order to continue to be a leading form of Cultural Capital, “news” as a cultural feed cannot ignore the relevance or importance of its growing presence, especially given its organic nature.
Ultimately news will manifest itself -- whether it is consumer generated or reported via professional channels. Its Cultural Capital remains influenced by the same factors: objectivity, authenticity and the speed of accessibility.
-Katie McKendrick (12,224 views)
Culturalcapital.tv (US blog Entry)
image @ gratisography
Brief: Take an existing social presence and increase its following but most importantly, its engagement with the audience.
Delivery: Create conversation that is guided by social, cultural and lifestyle trends. Extend opportunites to engage with existing and potential consumers by moving from transactional exchanges to aligning the brand values with their own.
Example: Instagram New Year's Day Post
Happy New Year Everybody! ⠀
What are your goals for this brand spanking new year? How about taking in as much as possible? Or to enjoy every moment with the people and pets you love? Or simply remembering to just, breathe.⠀
Feel free to share your New Year Goals below.⠀
#goals #newyearnewme#newyearsresolution #wellbeing#mindfulness #justbreathe
The Cultural Capital of Film (Feature)
Filming the mirror.
Are movies created from culture, or does culture create movies? It’s clear that they both provide a feed for the other, but is the balance shifting? What is the real Cultural Capital of a film now?
This shift is evident in the topical issues that are explored through the medium of film. For a long time, the big studios released “polished” movies depicting an interpretation of life through the glamor of the silver screen. However, in recent years we have witnessed a rise in popularity of the indie film, low-budget, grittier productions that are more likely to experiment with deeper societal issues or topics. It can be argued that kudos for film production has started to shift from high production, stylized film to the smaller, independent films that are by and large more controversial, relevant and it would seem, authentic.
Less surprising is the awards success these small films are garnering when pitted against their large-scale counterparts. We commonly see big name actors and actresses who have successfully built careers on the big screen more than willing to contribute to smaller projects. It is suggestible that this is where they are able to prove their acting worth, in dramas that are not glossy, nor manicured, but real interpretations of current culture.
Film by the people, for the people.
It should be mentioned that it is not only the content that depicts this shift. The film “Life In A Day” (Launching July 24, 2011) is the first feature film to be created entirely through crowd-sourced submissions, one of the biggest acknowledgements to date of film responding to changes in cultural influence. "Life In A Day" is billed as “an historic global experiment to create a user-generated feature film shot in a single day.”
The world was given 24 hours to capture a glimpse into their lives on camera and submit it through YouTube. The 4500 hours of footage was edited into a final film, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald. Furthermore, while there is a beautifully edited official trailer, viewers are encouraged to edit their own trailer and request preview screenings in their city by submitting requests. The film will be played where “fans are the loudest” that is where there is the most requests received.
Perhaps it is the removal of the constraints that surround big budget movies or the extension of ownership that has already ensured the movie’s widely anticipated release. Or perhaps it is once again, the authentic nature of the content that is so appealing.
While it would be unreasonable to suggest that conventional Hollywood movies are losing favor, what is clear is that as cultural values and roles change and we bear witness to emerging trends, we simultaneously see these formed for our viewing entertainment on the big screen. Perhaps the real changing trend of film, as a form of Cultural Capital, is its willingness to help us understand how we feel about cultural changes as we encounter them.
-Katie McKendrick (11,038 views)
Culturalcapital.tv (US Blog Entry)
image @ Johnonolan
Delivering Content Strategy
Brief: Provide content strategy to deliver an annual calendar of web content for dog owners looking for informational guidance on caring for their pet.
Delivery: Blog content that addresses seasonal, lifestyle and common training issues and content in an easy to digest and enjoyable manner.
Example: Christmas Countdown: Top Tips For A Top Dog Christmas
It’s officially countdown time. Present shopping, wrapping and food preparation are (hopefully) well underway. Apart from helpfully getting paws tied up in ribbon just as you’re face deep in a crucial sellotape situation, your dog is sure to be buzzing with excitement at the hive of activity. In between the needs of kids, awkward family members and numerous friends that need attending to, it’s easy to forget there are furry friends that will be eagerly (too eagerly perhaps) joining in on the celebrations. Are you ready for a Dog Christmas?
Here are some things to remember:
1. Deck The Halls (Not the Dog)
You’ve placed the last bauble in just the right spot. You’ve done it, you have achieved perfection. Kirsty Allsop has nothing on you. Smugly you step back to admire your handiwork. Perhaps this is a new career. Maybe that interiors magazine will hear about your festive finesse and give you a call. Yes, you are a domestic god(dess). And then comes Alfie, full speed and with all the excitement of a toddler who’s stuffed full of an oversized selection box. What’s this? What can I eat? Ooh shiny. Within seconds your masterpiece is more pitiful than perfection and as baubles, tinsel and lights lay strewn on the floor, all hell breaks loose as you try to stop four bouncing paws from doing some serious damage to themselves. Before you can shout “Leave”, Alfie’s tearing outside with his new “ball” for a patio parade and you’re weeping into your gingerbread latte.
Be mindful where you place your tree, especially if your dog is prone to jumping up, and what decorations are accessible to soft mouths and paws. Low-shed trees will stop ouchy pine needles getting caught in fur and keeping wires from lights tidied away will prevent a nasty accident from occurring.
2. Nom Nom Nom and On and On
Now, no judgment here, we too will be indulging somewhat at Christmas. All that food and the occasional (ahem) tipple are just too good to resist. It’s Christmas! Time to spoil ourselves. But whilst we will most likely suffer no more than a little tummyache from over-indulgence, dogs can become extremely poorly if they’re given too much, or too rich, food. Stick to their usual diet, and if you’d like to include them in a delicious dog Christmas dinner we recommend keeping the portion small, avoiding any cooked bones, herbs, spices, stuffing, onion and garlic and using low-sodium gravy. Keeping them to their regular exercise routine will also help them keep trim and avoid the inevitable post-chrimbo bloat we hoomans will be feeling come Boxing Day.
3. Fur the Love of Chocolate
Labs, spaniels, cockapoos we love our Chocolate dogs. But fur is as far as the connection should go. Chocolate + Dogs does not a happy dog Christmas make! Containing a chemical called Theobromine, chocolate can be fatal even in small doses. Keep chocolate boxes, calendars, coins firmly out of reach to avoid a disastrous dog Christmas.
4. Stress Less
Whilst you love to gather all your lovely friends, Uncle Bob, Auntie Mabel and the Stevensons from number 12 together at yuletide, your dog may hold a differing opinion about your company choices descending on his home. Dogs can be overwhelmed with people coming in and out, especially as the flurry of activity can often bring excited squeezes, overzealous patting and an unfortunate tail pull here and there. Give your dog somewhere peaceful to retire from the carnage Christmas brings. Watch for signs of dog distress; excessive panting, yawning, lip-licking and aggressive behaviour and remove your dog instantly if you notice any of these changes. After all, with that super sensitive hearing, they probably find Auntie Mabel’s wittering even more annoying than you do.
5. Treat Them Well
Yes, we do have to be careful with the additional mania and paraphernalia that Christmas brings with it but we don’t want to lose sight of what a wonderful time of year it is. Nor how much additional love and fun that’s had, because your dog is there to share it with you. So when all the preparations are done as Christmas Eve arrives; as you put up the stockings, lay a plate with mince pies and carrots, remember, there is one more little face that is a joy to light up on Christmas morning. Slip a special dog treat in their stocking to show them how very much they are loved.
Now, if only we knew where you could get that perfect dog treat )
The Good Life (Magazine Feature)
Brief: As we appear to be on the brink of the economic crisis, how has this influenced a change in values and attitudes to wealth and consumerism.
Read in full here.
Main image @ Juan Galafa
Co:Yo - Conscious Youth (Opinion Piece)
Imagine being 13 and knowing that you have the attention of some of the most experienced, famous and revered talent in the world. Listening to you. Believing that what you had to say is firstly of interest but, perhaps even more importantly, of value.
Tavi Gevinson is 13. She lives in Chicago and she writes a fashion blog “The New Girl in Town”. The first her parents really understood of the significance of what their teenage daughter was doing in her bedroom was when she had to ask their permission to appear in a New York Times feature – because she was underage. But that in itself is perplexing. Fashion royalty is waiting to see what you say next but to the rest of the (analogue) world you are a minor. Still at school, still needing your mum to sign you out of P.E and still learning about life and what the world means.
How is it that this new generation seems to have skipped straight to the point? Even one generation ago, it was unlikely to have someone with 20 years experience, extensive amassed knowledge and qualifications give youth the time of day but the question today is, who's teaching whom? How has the digital realm facilitated the proverbial levelling of playing field between age and youth, knowledge and perspectives, experience and greenness.
At MILK, we’ve been developing a model we call Co:Yo or Conscious Youth. A generation that has known nothing but instant access to a digital world. To instant information, instant connection to their friends, brands and any world that excites or interests them. They have the ability and access to develop their skills and knowledge from a much younger age, exemplified by Tavi, long before the previous generation was even contemplating what “Options” at school might begin them on a path to something they were interested in. Imagine having known what you know now since you were 13; being 10 years ahead of your current self in terms of perspective forming or exposure to the commercial world. And that’s not suggesting that these teenagers have already signed off on their life’s vocation but they are commonly demonstrating an aptitude that some are still waiting to find in their twenties or thirties.
POP magazine recently ran a feature covering Tavi and her peers. And let’s not dismiss that point too quickly. Appearing on the cover of POP magazine as part of a collaboration with Damien Hirst is arguably no small achievement; regardless of age and career credentials. The article included a roundtable amongst the young bloggers and it’s fair to say that they are both articulate and savvy. Demonstrating understanding of commercial restrictions and politics and their perceived liberation of luxurious free speech and opinions is arguably far beyond what one might expect of their years.
But the question is, if this new generation is indeed at liberty to form perceptions and explore their interests free from the bias most face in commercial environments, then who is teaching whom? For sure, the fashion glitterati are unlikely to solely base their next season’s collection purely on the wisdom or freedom of youth but they are equally unlikely to be as complacent as to ignore the impact they are having.
So what is the real lesson we can learn from this generation? That we can achieve what we thought was previously unobtainable? That with the right content and a virtual podium we can all be heard at an equal volume?
And if everything changes so rather than being a linear learning process the system is more cyclical, how will society feel about our children knowing more than us, faster than us? How will this change our education structures? Will schools encourage students to follow their individual inclinations rather than adhering to timetables with subjects that may have little bearing on their now earlier developed skill-set? It would seem fair to suggest that there may be a need for new strategy in response to this move towards self-learning.
It’s true that this generation of Conscious Youth is still just that-youth. They still require and indeed desire guidance but they are ambitious; learning and developing and getting there fast. They don’t have the answers yet but they have the resources and time at their disposable and if, as Author Malcolm Gladwell believes, its the hours that make you the expert, it may just be that those hours spent “surfing the net” will pay off sooner than we think.
- Katie McKendrick (Milkinsight.com)
Obsessions (Magazine Feature)
Brief: Explore the aspects of human nature that drive the desire to collect objects and make collections.
Read in full here.
Main image @ Taylor Swayze
Does it Offend You? (Magazine Feature)
Brief: Explore the theme of the evolution of linguistics, namely the changing attitudes towards swearing as an everyday use of language.
Read in full here.
Main image @ gratisography
Jon Burgerman Interview
I was fortunate enough to meet Jon Burgerman as part of my work at Uni-Ball. In 2010 I interviewed him for the introductory issue of MILK magazine.
Read the interview here
That's Delicious (Editorial)
Brief: Write an introduction to a visual digital feed that encompasses all the different sites that are visited and captures the nature of following wherever the Internet takes you.
HBO Imagine (Opinion Piece)
We were really intrigued when we recently stumbled upon the new HBOimagine.com website.
Built on a promise of “It’s more than you imagined” and starting with a video entitled “The Affair”, the interactive site allows the user to move around the story in their own way, choosing the story-line they want to follow and in some instances viewing the drama from four angles in order to see the whole scene unfold. Telling the story through newspaper articles, surveillance videos, police calls and mime(!) users can use a organisation chart to check their progress and choose where they want to go next.
Although it takes a fair old while to get round the whole of the site, it’s nice that for once something is not an immediate reward but encourages the luxury of exploration and discovery. Besides as you are able to pick where you left off, should time not be your own, it cleverly creates a legitimate reason to revisit. And each segment does indeed create the desire to explore further and let the story unfold.
A smart example of consumer generated content, once the user has witnessed all the pieces, they are able to upload their own videos which to maintain the integrity are to be one take with no cuts and no editing. Rules insist that a simple turn or move of the camera provides a twist to the original story; that the scene will become “more than you imagined.”
Combining the “active choice” nature of the Internet and the usual passive reception of TV, HBOimagine makes a very interesting move into a new generation format. Demanding your participation in order to tell the story is intriguing when you think that the majority of people watch TV as a way of switching their brains off so they don’t have to “do” anything.
This unique take on an interactive site reflects the authentic dramatic nature of HBO, a network renowned for popular series like The Sopranos and The Wire and for testing new formats in dramas like its newer “In Treatment” and should it (most likely) achieve its objective of connecting its user with the HBO “spirit of telling deeper, more engaging stories in innovative ways” a single click leads through to the HBO site.
At Open we talk about Culture Making. This is the belief that brands are not only be a part of culture but in good cases influence it. The HBO campaign not only gives its users something to talk about (Social Capital) but it allows them to share its ideals and get involved by way of a creative integrative experience (culture capital) changing perceptions of HBO as a mere cable channel and carrier of TV programmes to a forward thinking facilitator of innovative and creative drama.
— Katie McKendrick (Theopenconsultancy.com)
Image @ HBO