Shirky’s back! And now he’s explaining ‘cognitive surplus’.

Clay Shirky, the renowned ‘futurist’ and explainer of web trends is back on the talking circuit.

Following the tremendous success of ‘Here comes everybody…’, Clay lays down the hypothesis that in a post-tv (couch potato) world, we can achieve a lot more. With social networks and the power of the web, people are using their ‘spare brain power’ for that of good. His example is crisis crowdsource too Ushahidi, born out of the bloodshed after a disputed Presidential election.

I agree in a large part, we are able to get the most out of ourselves by using the linking and empowering potential of the web, its all about group action. However, the directions for use of these free brain hours are the same as always, and although we are problem solving to make life better in a civic way, we could just as easily find those that want ‘negative’ outcomes for everyone. The difference between those creating civic ‘good’ and civic ‘bad’ is the same as the differences that exist in life generally, and they can use the same tools to do either.

That said I am an altruist, and hope that the good that can be brought about but I am also aware that behaviours on the web more often than not follow patterns that already exist in day to day (offline) society.

Beware: He socks it to the LOLcats (mee no like that!)

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5 great things about a social media World Cup (#worldcup)

As if the World Cup wasn’t cool enough there are now a wholehost of awesome social media tools, graphics and games to take the fun to a higher level!

Here are a few of my faves

1) The Vuvuzela feature on YouTube
Just when you thought you could give your eardrums a rest, away from the TV and watching your online vids, YouTube add in a feature to blast the living daylights out of any content. Sounding like the trackside of a F1 Grand Prix the football icon unlocks the thunder of the horn. I love it in short bursts but by the fifth or sixth time I had blasted it out of my speakers colleagues not so enamoured with the constant footie were losing patience.

Here’s your chance to use the Vuvu’s to runi the Official World Cup theme song (you have to watch in youtube proper for it to work and hit the football at the bottom).

2) The Twitter icons
Whenever you hashtag any tweet with either a nation or WorldCup you get a pretty logo. I like this.

And you can see how popular the World Cup has been on Twitter here

3) Livepitch
Anyone with an iPad must be thinking that it is the best accompanyment to any TV experience, acting as a perfect accompanyment to give you the stats as you watch. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t use this in public but if you like the idea of live stats as ammunition to criticising the manager then this is the device for you.

4) The Foursquare CNN Badges
Everyone on Foursquare wants badges and these are the most unattainable ones. For one you need to go to South Africa, for the others you need to watch the match at a CNN santioned venue (presumably US only!). BOO

5) The Guardian Twitter live games
Following up on their England Vs USA recreated in Lego the Guardian smash it iagain with the opportunity to re-live games through twitter feed. Nice simple, great execution, its what social media was made for!


Meet the Bloggers – An evening with some Handpicked friends

I have just come back from an evening with the bloggers of Handpicked Media, a blog network specialising in quality beauty, fashion, food and mums blogs amongst other topics. I was supporting a colleague who had been asked to talk about what media agencies look for in blogs and answer their questions.

Arriving at the venue (a cool cocktail bar in Broadick St, The Player) I was quite glad to find that the venue was quite dimly lit, misfortune having chosen the day I was due to meet influential fashion bloggers to jostle the lid from my pen whilst in my jeans on the way to work and spill ink all over my jeans. If I was trying to be positive I would say it gave me a ‘Just William’ naughty schoolboy quality but it probably just made me look like I had lost control of my bodily functions.

As an aspiring (although infrequent) blogger it was great to witness the camaraderie (sp.) amongst the crowd, from the first and second time attendees swapping tips on blog design, SEO for blogs, to the ‘pro’s’ bemoaning the attentions of ‘insensitive advertisers’ (not us!) offering ‘content’ and the trials of migrating to wordpress.org. Despite the obviously appealing free cocktails, it was clear that events like this are useful for both bloggers and their ‘networks’, as they are really working collaboratively, helping them increase their numbers and in turn improving their attractiveness to advertisers and profits. The night also represented the diversity of the blogosphere, with a good breadth of opinion, topic and character out there.

Working for a media agency its often easy to forget how personal this type of media can be, the polar opposite to the big publishing houses that are a much more established side of the media business. They offer us a great tool to really engage with communities and tap into expertise that can often go under the traditional media radar. For me opportunities on networks like this are what makes social media such an interesting area for advertisers and something that can be tapped in to to great effect.

The night had the added bonus of delicious wraps from Mooli on Frith Street, I will definitely be heading there soon!


World Cup round-up

The stadiums are ready, the five star hotels are booked and the goallies are alredy complaining about the unpredictable ball! Yes, its time for the World Cup, and in the advertising world that means time for ‘big’ budget creative and sweat on the temples of many a TV buyer as they negotiate the best placements.

It would take a bold person to argue that Nike’s record breaking ‘Write the Future’ is anything short of incredible. Ronaldinho’s inclusion aside (he won’t be taking part), it is slick, fast paced, watchable (again and again), and most importantly shareable.

Nike – Write the Future

The visible measures viral chart has the ad at number 1 with a reach of over 8 million, and that’s the 3 minute version, impressive, but that figure seems a little undercooked to me.

I think the competition has been overshadowed by Nike’s big noise but there is some nice work out there, especially in the shape of Puma’s Journey of Football. It taps into the real spirit of the World Cup, using the passion and culture of the African venue and aspirations of the ‘local’ teams. It also helps that Gnarls Barkeley provides a great whistle along tune giving a pacey upbeat feel.

Puma – Journey of Football

The other other efforts that have caught my eye are Pringles and Mars. They have both gone for a banter/comedy angle. Mars, eager to build on their repackaging as ‘Believe’ last time round, have recreated and updated the famous John Barnes rap from 1990’s World in Motion The moment has achieved mythical status having featured on a host of “100 greatest” shows and nostalgic talking head programmes. Barnes evokes a spirit of ‘daisy age’ in his non-commital verse and looks like he’s desperately trying to remember the words while also trying to avoid the urge to hit the ‘Keith Allen-a-like’ behind him. Rap may have moved on a lot since 1990 but this has definitely tapped into a rich vein of nostalgia and given the product a mention in a lot of casual pub or football field conversations.

Mars – John Barnes Rap

Pringles, the most overtly pan-European advertiser, have employed major territory stars, Fabregas, Kuyt, Anelka and England’s bean-pole joker Peter Crouch. Crouch has long enjoyed the reputation of banter boy for the squad, and this ad, with the lads frolicking about, and ‘doing the robot’ it looks like his reputation will be pushed across Europe.

Pringles – Do the Robot