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EA is using one of the coolest marketing gimmicks I have ever seen to promote Mass Effect 3. The company has taken copies of the game, attached them to weather balloons, and then sent the weather balloons way up into the Earth’s atmosphere. The balloons will be launched in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Berlin, London, and Paris.
If you’re in those cities and can find the balloons once they come back to earth, you get keep the copy of the game. How bad would it suck if you found the balloons only to discover it was the wrong format for your console? Each of the games has a GPS tracking device and the fans can track where they land using the Mass Effect website and then go find a copy.
Brazil just passed the UK to become the world’s 6th Largest Economy. Keep that in mind as you read this story; Five Years After Banning Outdoor Ads, Brazil’s Largest City Is More Vibrant Than Ever:
Imagine a city of 11 million inhabitants stripped of all its advertising. It’s nearly impossible when the clutter and color of our current urban landscapes seem inextricably entwined with the golden arches of McDonald’s or the deep reds of Coca-Cola.
Yet for the residents of São Paulo, Brazil, this doesn’t require imagination: city dwellers simply have to walk down the street and look around to see a city devoid of advertisements.
Before being enacted, the law triggered grave alarm among city businesses and other economic constituents. Critics worried that the advertising ban would entail a revenue loss of $133 million and a net job loss of 20,000. Fears that the city would look worse without the mask of the media alarmed residents. Despite the concerns, the law passed and the 15,000 billboards cluttering the world’s seventh largest city were taken down.
Five years later, São Paulo continues to exist without advertisements. But instead of causing economic ruin and deteriorating aesthetics, 70 percent of city residents find the ban beneficial, according to a 2011 survey. Unexpectedly, the removal of logos and slogans exposed previously overlooked architecture, revealing a rich urban beauty that had been long hidden.
No longer covered in homogenous and imposing signs, the unique character of São Paulo was able to resurface. Admittedly, not all of the revelations proved beautiful: shantytowns that pepper the city’s streets, once hidden under massive signs, revealed gross inequalities. But bringing the situation to light incited residents to improve conditions and begin discussing solutions. No longer could actual problems be masked by artificial solutions.
This short documentary (via the above article) made in 2007, as the ban was being passed, elaborates on its history and motivation:
Meanwhile, elsewhere in South America…
For some residents of the Colombian city of Medellin, a trip to the city centre meant a long and dangerous trek through one of the city’s most violent areas.
Ascending 384 metres, a new escalator project has changed that.
Al Jazeera’s Gerald Tan reports.
Recently, retail clothing chain H&M has caught a great deal of flack for using computer generated bodies in their online catalog. And while there is something to be said for looking critically at the introduction of computer-generated “perfection” into an industry already psychotically obsessed with unattainable standards of physical beauty, Coilhouse’s Nadya Lev has some relevant re-contextualization to share:
Also, this foray into the uncanny valley brings us one step closer to the age of the idoru. With teenage pop idol Aimi Eguchi, whose face is a composite of six different singers, and vocaloids (singing synthesizers) such as pigtailed holographic superstar, we’re almost there — in The Future. And even though H&M’s online catalogue conforms to the same beauty standard as any other big fashion retailer, this technology actually has potential to subvert the paradigm altogether.
See the rest over at Coilhouse.
It is more important than ever, as nearly everything seems on the brink of collapse and/or rapid change, that we honestly examine the past and present state of our culture and society. To acknowledge what counts as progress and what does not.
This film, Miss Representation, looks like a good step in that direction:http://www.vimeo.com/28066212
(E.C.C.O assures me this is unrelated to my recent McLuhan kick.)
via Jerem Morrow
This. This is what is happening in the UK right now. Radical destabilisation of the existing order, the status quo, through the pure power of the truth.
The Murdoch empire fractured, a Conservative prime minister attracting bets on his resignation, the Metropolitan Police on the edge of yet another existential crisis and the political establishment in disarray.
A network of subversives would have counted that a spectacular result to achieve in a decade, let alone in a single week. But it was not subversives that achieved it – the wounds are self-inflicted.
As the News of the World scandal gathered momentum it became clear, by midnight on Thursday, that this was not just the latest of a series of institutional crises – the banks, MPs expenses – but the biggest. For this one goes to the heart of the way this country has been run, under both parties, for decades.
In economics journalism, we have learned to study what the Financial Times writer Gillian Tett calls “the social silence”: the subject that everybody at high-class cocktail parties wants to avoid.
After Lehman Brothers collapsed, we realised that the unasked question had been the most important: “on whose books do the increasingly toxic debts of the housing market stand?” The answer was “in the shadow banking system”, but we only knew it existed when it collapsed.
The political equivalent of that question is the one everybody has been asking journalists and politicians this weekend: why do all politicians kow-tow to Mr Murdoch; what is it that makes them incapable of seeing the moral hazards of the relationship?
Nobody outside the Murdoch circle knows the full answer, but I suspect it is quite prosaic: like the Wizard of Oz, Mr Murdoch’s power derived from the irrational fright politicians took from his occasional naked displays of it. The Kinnock “light bulb” headline was probably the signal moment. He was powerful because people believed he had the power, and that editors like Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson probably had a file on everybody bigger than MI5′s, and so you should never, ever, cross them.
Now there is a school of social theory that has a name for a system in which press barons, police officers and elected politicians operate a mutual back-scratching club: it is termed “the manufacturing of consent”.
Pioneered by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, the theory states that essentially the mass media is a propaganda machine; that the advertising model makes large corporate advertisers into “unofficial regulators”; that the media live in fear of politicians; that truly objective journalism is impossible because it is unprofitable (and plagued by “flak” generated within the legal system by resistant corporate power).
At one level, this week’s events might be seen as a vindication of the theory: News International has admitted paying police officers; and politicians are admitting they have all played the game of influence (“We’ve all been in this together” said Cameron, disarmingly). The journalists are baring their breasts and examining their consciences. The whole web of influence has been uncovered.
Finally, the political influence that was supposed to stop the system crumbling, itself has crumbled. We are told Tony Blair pleaded with Gordon Brown to call off Tom Watson MP from his crusade over the original hacking allegations. It did not work.
Tom Baldwin, Ed Miliband’s spin-doctor purposely selected from the Murdoch empire to hone Labour’s message in the direction of Wapping, warned Labour “not to conflate phone-hacking and BSkyB”. Mr Miliband’s Bloomberg speech on Friday contradicted that approach.
One part of the Chomsky doctrine has been proven by exception. He stated that newspapers that told the truth could not make money. The Guardian, whose veteran reporter Nick Davies led the investigation, is indeed burning money and may run out of it in three years’ time.
But a combination of the Guardian, Twitter and the public-service broadcasters, including Sky News, proved stronger than the power and influence of Rupert Murdoch, and for now the rest of Fleet Street has joined in the kicking.
(It should be said here that the Daily Telegraph’s role in the exposure of the MPs expenses scandal laid the groundwork for this moment. The Telegraph proved you can attack major sections of the political elite, who had assumed impunity, and win.)
Now three institutions stand weakened: Mr Murdoch is facing the collapse of his BSkyB bid; a Conservative Party, cut adrift from him, faces a moment of internal re-appraisal; and in the cappuccino joints around New Scotland Yard there is apprehension over whether the Met can survive another systemic kicking so soon after the MacPherson report.
Of all these institutions, it is the one with least resilience among the mass of people that stands in greatest danger. The Conservative Party has branches, summer fetes, jumble sales and social roots going back centuries; the Met is, tonight, dressed in its stab vests and fuelled by stale McDonalds, dealing with traumatized victims of urban mayhem on housing estates few politicians would dare to visit after dark.
But Rupert Murdoch’s resilience relies on the few handpicked lieutenants and family members holed up in London and New York. It is a classic “Weberian hierarchy” – a command structure stronger vertically than horizontally.
Six months ago, in the context of Tunisia and Egypt, I wrote that the social media networks had made “all propaganda instantly flammable”. It was an understatement: complex and multifaceted media empires that do much more than propaganda, and which command the respect and loyalty of millions of readers are now also flammable.
Where all this leaves Noam Chomsky’s theory I will rely on the inevitable wave of comments from its supporters to flesh out.
But the most important fact is: not for the first time in 2011, the network has defeated the hierarchy.
via Mark Pesce
Of course, in the Philip K. Dick version of this scenario the devices would probably conspire against him.
Now this is my kind of advertising campaign, stimulating collective Futurism by the citizens of Tunisia after re-claiming their country. Sure, I’m far more in favour of the envisioning process than the brand promotion involved in this, but I’m nonetheless happy to see it being recognised with an award.
Let’s see what the next version looks like, as this idea spreads.
Update: Futuryst has dug further into this.
The following video is Google’s soon to be ex-CEO, Eric Schmidt, presenting to IFA 2010 a vision to create an ‘age of Augmented Humanity’; it also features demos of then new GoogleTV and various new automagical apps for Android. It goes for an hour, if that’s too long, there’s the cliff-notes version over on GIGAOM.
Now I love Accelerando and other such SF novels as much as the next post-cyberpunk, so the idea of my own personal AGI has its appeal. And so long as we don’t up with the world’s most annoying Microsoft Paperclip, I’m cool with that. BUT.. there’s a few holes in this vision, at least the way I see it.
Primarily, that it’s based on a nice smooth vision of the future, projected from an ideal yesterday.
Foremost being that these automagical apps they’re demoing seem to be designed to solve middle class problems. And, if you’re paying attention, the middle class is vanishing. Which leaves the over-educated and/or under/un-employed on one side and the global elite on the other. Neither of which need help buying shoes while visiting Berlin (the example given for Conversation Mode of Google Translate.) The Favela Chic (as Sterling calls them; soon to be, if not already, us) will gladly take the free OSs and services, but won’t be clicking on ads. Nor will the Global Elite (see: The Rise of the New Global Elite, if you haven’t already). If they want translation services, they’ll hire a human with 100% accuracy.
And it’s advertising that Google are and shall continue to use to monetize their system. Maybe I’m the only one that find the ads before popular YouTube clips (and nearly every other video streaming service) highly annoying.. a tax, no less, that I refuse to pay. Just as I never click on the ads that appear in search results or gmail, I don’t even see them. But then I don’t use loyalty cards either, and all of these things are apparently popular. For the moment.
So, point number two. The mythical always on high-speed network, the various flavours of delicious mobile and wired broadband. Which it is. Mostly. In cities (where we’re told the population will continue to centre themselves in). In what we used to call the first-world. Which have largely been under-invested in infrastructure thanks to widespread implementation of economic rationalism. So that a tiny, weany little thing called the weather breaks it. Snowed under, cables freeze and snap. Floods shut off power stations. Hurricanes and tornadoes etc etc. Life in the 21C. All the supercomputers are still there in the Cloud, but inaccessible.. useless. Also, there’s the little thing of being in a country that decides to just shut off the internet. That too.
So, think a few years ahead. You’ve all read about the potential of biocomputing and have been pirating tv shows and movies for years (partly because they have the advertising already chopped out of them) thanks to.. what’s that? Peer to Peer technologies. What if the Favela Chic-types figure out how to homebrew, say in 5years, in DIYbio labs, their own supercomputers and seed their own clouds? Google.. you say? I remember them.
Even this year we could see open-source phones that can create and communicate across their own mesh network; it’s not hard to do this with the Android platform, and the openmoko project also has a lot of potential. There’s a reason WalMart busted ass to be the first help out the victims of Katrina. That because there’s no reason that leaderless, self-organising groups couldn’t themselves pour into the next city or area that is the next victim of heavy weather, with just this tech to distribute, donated from hackerspaces local and abroad. Because everyone’s connected now; if they don’t know someone directly affected, they know someone that knows someones that is.
Now, I’ll jump back into this from another angle, in another post, shortly, but suffice to say: a top-down, device to network to cloud computer and back again, automagical friendly (not in any way censored.. oh no, heaven forbid) solution looks awful nice yesterday; but in today’s world, which is just a preview of tomorrow’s.. it’s already looking like wishful thinking. Yes, I’m being dramatic, but these are increasingly dramatic times.
Third and finally, do we really want to merge with the Googleplex? To become Google’borgs? Because that’s what this ‘Age of Augmented Humanity’ amounts to. Now, believe me, I’m all for the continued co-evolution between man and his tools, BUT.. I’m also, clearly, emphasising the importance of questioning and critiquing this. And doing it ourselves, with full control.
Fundamentally, it comes down to two questions: how much trust will you place in an Algorithm? and how much is your data really worth? To be continued..
As the information we’re leaving and using on the internet leaks out into the world, there’s many ways it can do so.
A subtle approach, making it an ambient part of the background, popping up on anything from digital clocks to the ticker on a TV screen to a receipt, is explored in this collaboration between Dentsu London and BERG:http://www.vimeo.com/16423199
These devices already exist; such as this mirror that displays your latest SMS messages as you approach it.
As we saw a while ago, the type of personalized advertising shown in the mall scene in Minority Report is just part of the biometric scanning system already being prototyped in Leon, Mexico. Good for the marketers and authorities who like to track people, more than a little annoying to have personalized advertising constantly calling out to you.
How really not to do it? Try this invasive attention-seeking stunt from Alfa Romeo, in a Dutch shopping centre:
The war for your attention is only going to get worse, unless we’re able to take control of how it’s used.
Whether you use QR codes or not, its undeniable that mobile tagging has become an integrated part of the marketing landscape. Popping up in print advertising and corporate-sponsored event/experiences, there still seems to be a lot of confusion about the application and usage of mobile tagging in delivering a more comprehensive marketing and retail message. PSFK just released a great “Future Of” report exploring some key trends in the field and interviews with experts an innovators in the field.
A pair of Chinese hackers, sponsored by Nokia Asia, designed this modded BMW 1 Series and cell-phone app that allows them to remote control a car with a high degree of precision. They claim it only took them 20 days in their makerspace to whip this up.
The marketing minds supporting Neil Burger’s Limitless have released a viral video advertising NZT – The Clear Pill. The film will star Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a copywriter who discovers a drug that gives him supernatural powers and this ad sells that drug.
[Via: Bleeding Cool]
What if I told you that movie theaters may become a little bit similar to Big Brother? A U.K. security firm just earned a grant to use special cameras embedded into movie theater screens to capture your facial expressions — to serve you more relevant ads. Just when I thought privacy couldn’t get any worse, this is sure to shake up movie goers.
The security firm, Arlia Sytems is planning to use infrared to detect the facial expressions of an individual’s face. It will use 3D facial recognition technology to determine things like whether the audience is looking at a certain ad, where on the screen their eyeballs are tracking and how targeted ads are being received.
Comrade-in-arms, grinder, and occasional Science Fictional overlord M1k3y recently penned a very insightful, spoiler-laden and topical overview of William Gibson’s new novel ZERO HISTORY over at the Tech Gonzo Diary.
ATEMPORALITY! There, I said it again. It’s been an obsession of mine recently and much of my excitement on the release of this book stemmed from videos of Bruce Sterling’s lectures on the subject, which he kept speaking of as a back’n’forth between him and Gibson, as they fleshed-out this idea. That Zero History would be the bible of Atemporality. That this would be the case was furthered by twitter exchanges between these two, and thusly hashtagged tweets by them on the subject.
So is Zero History a manifesto of Atemporality.. a guidebook to a new understanding of progress, a new way of viewing the present, the defining of a new historical epoch?
[Via: The Tech Gonzo Diary]