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Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas

Culturematic:  How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football, Burning Man, the Ford Fiesta Movement, Rube Go
It’s the oddities that get your attention.Item:  Andy Samberg makes his own sketches for Saturday Night Live.“Interesting,” I think to myself. “This could be something.”Item: Gatorade replays a football game from 1993.Really interesting. Nobody outside the Delaware River region cared about this game in the first place. Why replay it?Item: People handing out pie in Greensboro, Alabama. To change this city, they have decided on pie. “Pie!” I say to myself. “Really!”I am sitting in my kitchen in Rowayton, Connecticut. I am monitoring American culture as if listening to shipping lanes on a shortwave radio. I’ve got the giant headphones on. I’m trying to dial out the noise and dial in a signal. What I’m getting is oddities.IntroductionCulturematicAs an anthropologist who studies American culture and business, I recognize some of what I hear out there. I have an idea of what marketers are doing, how capital markets work, the theater of politics, the logic of fashion, the economics of television. I get most of these. And, of course, I like having my preconceptions confirmed. But it’s the things I don’t understand that are useful. These send amessage. These say, “Your models are broken.”In fact, the world is busting through my anthropological models as if they were made of balsa wood and tissue paper. The problem, of course, is change, the sheer propulsive force of change. What once took a century now takes a decade. What once took a decade can now happen in a year. The world sprints into the future. Models waddle. Always too little. Always too late.Lately, the puzzles have been accumulating. Recall the Honda ad from a couple of years ago. It turns the pieces of an Accord into a Rube Goldberg machine. A cog hits a bolt . . . which hits a tire . . . which hits a muffler. It’s a weird way to sell a car. Most ads give us the car as a perfect act of engineering, not a rickety, random chain of cause and effect. And then I start to see Goldberg machines all over the place. At the moment, there are seventy-six hundred of them on YouTube. Wait, what? Laboratories without scientists? This is really weird. The new laboratory is everywhere, in subcultures like Steampunk, institutions like Harvard’s Artscience Lab, commercial enterprises like IDEO, the Syyn Labs in Los Angeles, the Culture Lab in Mumbai, Le Laboratoire in Paris, the FreedomLab in Amsterdam, the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Austria, Gary Hamel’s management lab, and the Pie Lab of Project M.1 Weird. There are no beakers, test tubes, or lab coats, no chemists, pathologists, or technicians. Noscientists. No science. Just labs. Go figure. I came upon an oddity while interviewing Bud Caddell. Hehas a genius for making culture. (He managed to break into a TV show with nothing more than a Twitter account.) I wanted to see how he did it. Caddell is a planner and strategist by profession, but it didn’t seem to me he was using planning or strategy to make culture. “It’s like you’re poking the world with a stick!” I finally said to him, my confusion and frustration showing. Very odd indeed.I look at my cross-eyed cat and say, “So, Zsa Zsa, what idea would help me explain Andy Samberg, the Gatorade campaign, using pie for social good, science-free laboratories, Rube Goldberg machines, and the method of Bud Caddell?” She blinks at me sweetly and as usual gives not a word of advice. Apparently, it’s for her to know and me to find out. Eventually, I found an idea that helps explain these oddities. I call it Culturematic.A Culturematic is a little machine for making culture. It is designed to do three things: test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value. A Culturematic is what Caddell used to “break into” Mad Men. Posing as “Bud Melman,”  he starting tweeting as if from the Mad Men mailroom. Suddenly, the Mad Men story had a new character. Mad Men got a little more collaborative. TV got a little more participatory. Our culture changed. Caddell became an early Internet celebrity. Out of a cultural innovation that was cheap and easy came a torrent of value . . . for him and for us.What Andy Samberg does for Saturday Night Live (SNL) is another good example. Samberg’s “Digital Shorts” appear most weeks: “Dick in a Box” with Justin Timberlake, “Shy Ronnie” with Rihanna, “Jizz in My Pants” with Molly Sims. These came from a tiny production company called The Lonely Island, consisting of Samberg and two of his high school friends, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer.The Lonely Island turns out to be a brilliant Culturematic. It’s good at testing the world, discovering meaning, and unleashing  Culturematic value. Traditionally, the SNL show runner, Lorne Michaels, expects a new comedian like Samberg to become part of the cast at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Even the likes of Bill Murray and Tina Fey were obliged to sign on. But Samberg was allowed to stay aloof. Why? It was to give SNL a little spaceship that could go places and do things out of the range of the SNL players. At 30 Rock, no one invests so much as a second in something that might not work. Because theclock is ticking. But The Lonely Island can try stuff until something works. Here, failure is acceptable, because, as Michaels puts it, it’s the guys, not the cast, who “take the risk.”2The rewards are huge. Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer got freedom. While the rest of the team fought for oxygen at 30 Rock, The Lonely Island folks got to investigate new comedic territory. They took the “digital short” to new levels. This was something we hadn’t quite seen before, the music video meets sketch comedy meets frank disclosure meets celebrity appearance meets social commentary. And they used this short to go places SNL had never gone before, partnering with celebrities instead ofmerely jamming them into the skit. Michaels’s rewards were greater still. Digital shorts revived SNL with digital and social media. “Jizz in My Pants” has been viewed more than 100 million times. Each viewing is an ad for SNL and its advertisers. This is a great torrent of value. We are all Lorne Michaels now. Every organization needs a Culturematic like The Lonely Island. The senior manager navigates an increasingly inscrutable world. It is really useful to have a landing party standing by, a team who can search for navigable space and habitable worlds. Managers can wait for the future to happen to them. Or they can use Culturematics to examine their options. Culturematics are a new management tool. A Culturematic can take the form of The Lonely Island. Or it can be a fictional character that lives on Twitter, a pie giveaway in Alabama, or a meeting in the desert like Burning Man. In each case, we see three defining properties: test the world, create meaning, unleash value.It’s still a little vague, isn’t it? Some of you are saying, “I’m not exactly sure what he means.” Me neither. I am still working it out. The idea will get clearer as you read the rest of the book. (Wait until you hear about the three guys who created fantasy football.)The fact is that this little book about Culturematics is itself a Culturematic. It’s an effort to provoke you, create meaning, and, well, yes, unleash value. This is how Culturematics work. They think things out as they go. There was a single clear question in all of this. Could I take all the oddities and find their center? Could I find the grammar, the algorithm from which they spring?And, no, I don’t have it exactly right. And that’s where you come in. Please make this idea better.More pressingly, I hope you will investigate Culturematics by making some. Chapters 5 and 6 have lots of how-to advice. Create your own laboratory. Run your own experiments. Try stuff out. Keep a log. Learn from your mistakes. Keep on firing probes into the world. And phone home. If we can get this Culturematic thing right, we will have discovered one of the engines of cultural innovation.I have a series of objectives. The first is to catch up with Boing Boing, the Web site that reports on the latest in science, technology, and gadgets. The technical side of innovation is exploding. Make Magazine flourishes. The attendance at Maker Faire doubles each year. Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing, published Made by Hand. Matthew Crawford gave us a book called Shop Class as Soulcraft. Do-it-yourself enthusiasm is everywhere in the world of the tinkerer, the mechanically adroit, the digitally adept.3The cultural side of innovation is less impressive. Some of the thousands of videos and updates uploaded to the Internet are Culturematic good, but some are naive, artless, or jejune. Honestly, how many more kitten videos and LOL cats must we watch? Some cultural content is underdeveloped and anti-evolutionary. I’m hoping this book will encourage cultural creators as Boing Boing does the technically minded. DIY tech has taken off. DIY culture is just getting started. Second, it is time to make innovation a little more practical and a lot less fashionable. In the old days, by which I mean eight years ago, we were still calling it invention. We weren’t being creative; we were being clever. And we weren’t thinking outside the box; we were simply solving problems. And then invention went all Hollywood. Now it was glamor and gurus. People started toposture about how inspired they were. The process became precious and self-worshipping.4A Culturematic approach asks us to return to something a little more practical and a lot more curious.I wanted to call the book Ingenuity Makes a Comeback. The publisher didn’t like it. And Zsa Zsa just looked at me. Third, we need to save innovation from mechanization. Once BusinessWeek announced the “innovation economy,” the corporation decided to “get serious.” And that can be a scary thing. Wetried to manage innovation in a way it had never been managed before. We tried to domesticate it. And that meant turning innovation into a system. And that meant the tyranny of close management. Designers, ethnographers, marketers, creatives of every kind were brought to heel, bound into the hierarchies and processes of the traditional corporation. The trouble is, new ideas don’t like to be managed. They don’t respect passport control. They come and go as they please. This makes close scrutiny a bad idea. The corporation has to learn to leave the creative alone.Perhaps it’s time to start wearing buttons to work: “Creativity. It’s what you pay us for.”5Fourth, I wanted to document the dazzling activity going on out there. And I learned soon enough that you can’t capture everything. You can only suggest some of the range, depth, and diversity of our new ingenuity. (Don’t be surprised if I have missed your favorite Culturematic. And please come to Culturematic.com and describe it.) Our era is Elizabethan or Victorian. It flourishes with new ideas. Compared with the couch potato of the 1950s, we are all mad scientists. One of my inspirations was The Whole Earth Catalog, a book so fascinating I actually once took it into the bath with me. (I needed a bath and I didn’t want to stop reading.) The Whole Earth Catalog gave me a glimpse of a world I wanted to live in. It changed my life. My own book can’t hope to achieve that greatness. (But if you take it into the bath, let me know. That would be a good sign.)Fifth, a new model of business creativity is called for. Clients have always turned to the agency for out-of-the-box thinking. But these days, they also need foundational work, an entirely new voice, for instance, or an unprecedented approach. This takes more than clever people in a room bouncing ideas off one another. In a Culturematic future, creatives will also run their own Culturematic investigations and experiments. The client will have to change as well, giving these creatives more time and more budget.We are no longer asking these creatives to work with known materials, the present periodical table. We are asking them to find the fundamental changes taking place in our culture and the opportunities these open up. And this will require new room for error and experiment. We need a line in the budget that reads “5 percent for Culturematics.”6Sixth, we have an opportunity to address a crisis brewing in the world of marketing. Agencies are beginning to doubt the efficacy of firing yet another ad into the world, especially one directed at aCulturematic consumer target on behalf of big, immobile brand. Everyone, themarketer and the consumer, now finds this a little tedious. What we all want is a more genuine creativity. We want brands that are works in progress, engagements in and of the world. Brands needto be about becoming, not about being. They need to be great, sprawling experiments, driving half forms at full speed. “Keep it simple” branding is dead. Brands made up of Culturematics—brands that are Culturematics—what a glorious thing this would be! The brand would become a space station, launching and landing probes in constant succession.Seventh, we can make ourselves useful to the world of the startup. If the gods are kind, start-ups will find their capital, consumers, markets, and payday. In the meantime, there’s a problem. Start-upsare inclined to put all their eggs in one basket, all their bets on a single idea. And this is wrong. If nothing else, it’s an evolutionary error. What we want instead is a Culturematic cluster, a bundle of experiments, investigating the world in a variety of ways, defined withenough intellectual generosity that several outcomes—some of them quite different—are possible. Are there venture capitalists out there who understand the Culturematic proposition? Are there people looking to fund ingenuity bundles instead of this-one-idea-takeit-or-leave-it? I hope this book will encourage a new approach. Eighth, I am hoping that some Culturematics will sustain theirinventors. The people who invented fantasy football created a new professional sport, but they didn’t see what their little Culturematic was going to do in the world. The torrent of valueescaped them. Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, on the other hand, was the beneficiary of Twitter’s success. In a perfect world, each of us would create a Culturematic that would fund a lifetime ofinvention and a great succession of Culturematics.And now the moment comes. Time to build your own lab. Refit a garage, find a coffee shop with a particularly good view of the street, or set aside a corner of your desktop. Furnish it with workstations, video cameras, mockups, and data streams. Create experimental zones. And away you go. I am not saying you must have a Siamese cat available for emergency consultations. Some people have had good luck with Labradors. Feline or canine, some kind of advice is called for. Time to build your first what-if. Get in touch with everyone with your name in the United States, and treat them as a record of whatyour life might have been. Imitate Bud Caddell, and take on a new identity on Twitter. (You could be the twin brother of NCIS’s Jethro Gibbs, for instance, the one who knows what Jethro is really thinking. Or give us a running commentary on Nurse Jackie from the point of view of a patient on Nurse Jackie.) Play Lorne Michaels. Create your own Lonely Island team, a group of smart people whouse Culturematics in search of the blue oceans your organization needs. Create a Culturematic conference in the manner of an Evelyn Rodriguez (chapter 3). Do a two-part Culturematic, like the onecreated for Old Spice by the W+K agency, that begins with old media and follows up with a new media campaign (chapter 3). Create new subtitles for a film clip (chapter 7). Create a Dan Harmonlab for the collaborative creativity (chapter 3). Plan a restaurant that will do for American cuisine in the twenty-first century what Alice Waters’s restaurant Chez Panisse did in the twentieth century. Orfind another example in these pages. This book is your handbook, your Culturematic manual.So go on. Start experimenting. Fire some Culturematics into the future. Provoke the world. Make a discovery. Make a fortune. Build a community of Culturematic-makers. And keep us posted.займ онлайн rusbankinfo.ru

Author: aralya

Loving person, people watcher & listener, german teacher, enjoys working @Books Express Write me an e-mail at bogdana@books-express.ro

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