Kirby also appeared as a TED speaker on the subject with his talk ‘Embrace the Remix‘.
Kirby talked about his analysis of creative work, which falls into three categories of either copying, transforming or recombining existing elements. Many legends of music like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin more or less admit to using existing songs and melodies in their work. It’s how they learned to find their own style. Stand up comedian Richard Pryor taxed the time it took him to find his own voice to about 30 years. Similarly scientific break throughs aren’t leaps of imagination but often a transformation or recombination of previous knowledge and tools. Kirby took Henry Ford as the example of combining conveyor belt and other elements of mass production and deploying it for the automobile (which he didn’t invent).
What resonated with me was that seemingly original ideas often reveal their influences, and that it is ok to work like that. If we can admit that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, we can relax and keep inventing by copying parts, transforming and recombining them. But preferably avoid the pure copying. I think too often discussions in advertising are about the copying bit (in the sense of plagiarism) and used as a sledgehammer to cristicise and put down any transformative and re-combinatory (if that’s a word) aspect of the idea.
Kirby’s talk was organised by the resourceful guys from Portable as part of their Portable Talk series. I have already signed up for their next event with one of the makers behind ‘LookBook.nu’, Yuri Lee.
In case you haven’t noticed this site yet, it must be one of the most influential in terms of online fashion and (what they call) ‘Collective Fashion Consciousness’. Think of it as a ‘Sartorialist’ times 1,000. Book your front row seat here.
I am so late on Slap Chop but this very annoying infomercial got what it deserved, it got slapped and chopped. Even massacred. The Slap Chop wave of remixes, edits and spoofs has amassed millions of combined views and this would definitely be my favourite (please hang in there till about 1:15).
Google Reader for some algorythmic reason suggested that I read Fallon Planning‘s blog and while I am not a planner, Fallon didn’t sound like such a bad source. And as I read their first post about the usual “unmanage your brand”, “put people in charge” and “conversation-based campaign”, Conner’s mentioning of “eternal beta” stuck with me.
What if “eternal beta” , this expectation of flexibility and ever-changing functionality, usage and interpretation had to apply to the sheer visual veneer of a campaign? By now we are accustomed to users submitting stuff and this material being “all over the place” in visual terms. That’s fair enough since playing around with brand guardian-approved icons doesn’t produce the greatest variety or interestingness.
What if the whole campaign shell (layout, type, colors, contrast, GUI, sounds, animations) has no boundaries or fixed form? Is there any consistency left that makes a campaign recognizable, memorable and therefore have any effect? Sure, Tomato had an early stab at an ever-changing logo for SONY in 2001 and there have always been remixing tools for existing web pages, the latest being TenaciousD or Atmosphere’s Paint.
Yet I don’t recall sites, banners or other digital formats that let you basically change absolutely everything. Choose a color combo from Adobe’s Kuler, pick your favourite DaFont and while you’re at it, flip through the visual preferences your social graph shares with you.
Of course all of that is pretty involved and works against the lean-back trend of consuming content online. Is it fair to say that eternal visual Beta isn’t in the interest of users, after all why should they come and re-arrange YOUR living room before watching TV? And if I want to see randomly designed pages that hurt the eye, I go to MySpace.