Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Qik Thinking: Social Media and Visual Orientation

At the weekend, I took my Cub on Hyde Park safari – we went on manoeuvres, enjoying the many tourist temptations that lie in wait, basking in the London sun.

Ranging up the Serpentine, we surprised upon the just-completed Pavilion installation by Frank Gehry – and this is where words, and blog, fail me. I’m not usually taken with ‘contemporary art’, but this was dynamic, dramatic, powerful; a creature of glass, wood, angle and sunlight that stood bright against the sky.

I took pictures with my little cam and found myself wishing I could share my entrancement, the wonder the work created. I wanted to do the Qik thing – I needed to be ‘live and streaming’; the passion and immediacy of the visual was the only way to express how I felt.

Fiction writers – particularly in science fiction and fantasy – paint incredibly powerful visuals with words, imagination, experience, ardour. Done right, these visuals don’t come to you, the reader, from the page, they’re powerful enough to spontaneously ignite in your mind’s eye. But they take time – and editing – and proof-reading…

Social Media is of the ‘NOW!’ In the flesh, communication is about body-language and eye-contact more than it is voice – and this holds true on the web; we perceive more by image than word. Recently, the loss of the S3 server deprived Twitter of both avatars and backgrounds – and we were instantly disconcerted. Like faces, we need patterns for immediate recognition.

A magical moment, wherever you find it, is there-and-gone – if we want to share it, it’s up to us to choose the best tool and platform. Blogging needs focus, both reading and writing take time; we can instant-hit-upload our images to twitpic, utterz or flickr – or we can, quite literally, see though each other’s eyes by sharing the optical experience.

Walking round the Serpentine Gallery really brought that home to me for the first time.

One might say: a Qik-ture paints a thousand tweets?

Friday, 18 July 2008

People Like Us

In 2004, on the occasion of his first official signing at one of his favourite stores, Simon Pegg asked what had become of the ‘original’ Forbidden Planet poster. He remembered it from the store’s Denmark Street days, from spending his pocket money as a kid.

When I first stuck my nose into social media, I came face-to-screen with a history of the company I’d been aware of – but had never witnessed the strength of first-hand. So many people; so many memories… and always, always attached back to one particular design.

‘People Like Us’, drawn in 1978 by a then up-and-coming artist who’s gone on to become one of the most famous names in comic book history. He is, of course, Brian Bolland.

From cult comic beginnings, Forbidden Planet has grown into the icon of Geek Chic, setting the trend for the new age of cool. This year, as the company hits 30, it remembers who it was – and celebrates who it’s become – by rediscovering Brian’s original art.

Thanks to Mister Pegg, to Nik lamenting the loss of the Denmark Street site, to a particular tee found on Welchtoon’s Flickr, and to many others, ‘People Like Us’ is due to make a formal re-appearance.

While we’re waiting to get our hands (claws, tentacles or other appendages) on it, though, we can show off how much we know about 30 years of science fiction here.

Place a vote for your favourites from the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy and cult entertainment – and be in with a chance to win £300 worth of vouchers.

And make sure you keep them in a safe place… you never know what they might come in useful for…

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Don't Lose Your Phreadz

I've been meaning to give the video blog thing a go for a while, but my new involvement in the 'closed beetroot' testing of Kosso’sPhreadz’ has given me the boot up my butt I needed to get me started.

Phreadz has appealed to me as marketeer, as retailer and as customer; it illustrates how well constructed something can be when it’s strategised from the outset with a clear model in mind. I can’t offer you insight on its technical expertise – but, in this concise overview of my initial thoughts, I can explain why I feel it’s had such a strong impact.

The relevance of Phreadz to a retail business is tied up in its use of channels - of course - in the same way that online retailers channel their products into departments, and their newsletters into demographic relevancy. We all know that successful marketing is about targeting your information - and here is a way that we can do that within a video forum.

Tightly streamlined, and moving ever-forward >>

One of the marvelous things about social media is that you never cease to break new boundaries – wherever those boundaries may be for you personally, they’re still there to be broken.

I guess that’s called making phread-way?

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Joy of Six

It’s taken me almost three months to add a further chapter to the rewrite of Khamsin – rather tragic, when I share that it’s beginning was written almost a year ago.

But it’s completed at last – an exploration of culture shock to bridge a chasm between two classic expressions of genre.

This one’s for anyone who’s tried to secure creative time against the demands of home, family and work. It’s for everyone who clings to a dream that ‘one day’ they will return to their chosen art – and it’s for everyone who’s woken up and gone ‘fuck it’ and dug their paintbrush out of the attic anyway.

It’s for the people who have helped me rediscover my confidence in this – particularly Mousewords, Teeg, and IAmKat. And it’s for words of encouragement from some unexpected sources.

My average word-count is worse than piss-poor.

But my imagination is awake and firing once more; images tumble, plot-lines weave, conversations develop. All I lack is time.

Learning how to write again is painful and an absolute pleasure... and I know that the more I persevere, the easier it will become.

The new chapter can be found here.