free markets, free culture

Archive for the ‘storytelling’ Category

DIY Days, a roving conference for those who create, comes to Philly on Aug 1

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DIY Days logo big

Feel less guilt about the Indienomics blog, as my time is going directly to an independent media conference this weekend. If you are in or close to Philly, consider checking out DIY Days this Saturday. It’s free and interesting 🙂


Written by @hellopanelo

July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

Gestalt advertising

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Frank J. Oswald’s latest Mental Shavings post is about the new Scientology commercial: Chocolate and Football Games

Frank notes: “Of the smattering of comments on YouTube, nearly all are positive, like this one: ‘This makes one of my friends cry every time. So beautiful and so true.’ ”

Filmmakers know that any sweeping montage of opposites — life, death, up, down, yin, yang — tends to have that tearjerker effect.

Or at least some kind of awe-inspiring, holistic, gestalt effect, like those commercials for multi-national conglomerates. These are the Koyaanisqatsi type clips of ships, airliners, wind turbines, planets… The viewer asks, “What does this company do?” The campaign says, “What we do is everything.” (Think Dow, GE)

Who doesn’t like a good, random collection of nouns? Shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages, and kings. I dare you to read one page of Adrian LeBlanc’s Random Family and not be spurred on to read the next 100 pages, just to see where all these nouns lead. Perhaps to chocolate and football games… roast beef, and trampolines.

Written by @hellopanelo

June 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Cloud computing

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Twhirl is a new app that lets you manage multiple Twitter streams at once. For example, I have a personal Twitter account, and a group one that I contribute to.

I realize, for some people, this is already 2 Twitter accounts too many! But if you’re one of the vocal Twitter evangelists, you’re using Twhirl to manage multiple brands on Twitter, or ghost-tweet for any number of celebrities. Twhirl is for this kind of 21st-century-PR multi-tasking.

After two days using it, I’ve noticed a lot more random thoughts entering my brainspace. With Twhirl, tweets come and go like thought clouds. Bubbly boxes appear on the screen for a moment, just long enough for you to absorb the message before it disappears… only to be replaced by the next set of thoughts by semi-random Twitterers.

Public thought clouds can rapidly increase the “You learn something new every day” phenomenon. Followed by rapidly forgetting where I learned that something new….

Attribution, authorship, plagiarism, ethics — it makes anarchy look pretty tempting, huh? Ideas just want to be free!

(Will Twitter die before I finish this post? The next “killer app” is supposed to be video + Twitter. The frontrunner is Seesmic)

Written by @hellopanelo

April 21, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Posted in likeminds, storytelling

The next Big Idea — the insaner, the better

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What’s a meta for?

Metaphor has scandalized philosophers, including both scholastics and semiotics, because it seems to be wrong: It asserts an identity between two different things. And it is wrongest when it is most beautiful.

– Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle

Like the artist with collage, the author who arranges a metaphor has to ask — will it blend? That is, will the two disparate concepts come together and create a metaphor of new meaning?

Shakespeare says the world’s a stage. Life, to Forrest Gump, is a box of chocolates. A dream deferred, says Langston Hughes, is a raisin in the sun.

Creating and marketing nonsensical products

Big Think Strategy — a book from marketing maven Berndt Schmitt — continues this line of reasoning. What are the seemingly unrelated ideas we can pull together to inject new life and meaning to a brand?

Schmitt likes to rip up magazines to mix the metaphors.

The Big Idea is a card game you can play for the same effect:


Game theory + chaos theory = idea generation

The deck of cards features nouns and adjectives. Mix and match the cards, then try to market and pitch the resulting wacky products — Erotic Chowder, Mentholated Shampoo.

Sumana H. — intrepid marketer when she wants to be, and a previous interviewee — brought my attention to this game, by way of her pitched ads for these nonsensical products:

  • Edible High-Priority Chowder, to cure anxiety of choice at the salad bar
  • Herbal Natural Chainsaw, strong enough for a logger but made for a hippie
  • Networked Beer, to ensure you never feel like you’re drinking alone [Ed. note: Isn’t that what meetups are for?]

Cheapass Games, the cheeky manufacturers of this boardgame, challenge your marketing wits: “Do you think you’re the marketing whiz who can talk the public into a Perforated Kilt? Then you’re ready to play The Big Idea!”

[Note: Cheapass Games is an indie-nomics enterprise on its own, noting that most games are overpriced and generic. Dice, pencils, plastic parts — “these generic bits and pieces can account for as much as 75% of a game’s production cost, and that cost gets handed to you.”]

Not just a game: wacky product/service combos in real life

These (seemingly) nonsensical products — and services — are the wave of the entrepreneurial future folks! Just scroll through the list at, a running tally of new business ideas just ridiculous enough to work.

Like this, my current favorite — a mashup of current obsessions:


Written by @hellopanelo

March 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Collage, and the art of marketing strategy

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illus. by Cristiana Coucerio


Collage: arranging disparate scraps into a meaningful whole.

In the hands of an artist, collage can be an artful blend of figure, type, annotation.

In the hands of Bernd Schmitt, collage can be a strategic business tool.

Schmitt — professor at Columbia’s B-School, director of its Center on Global Brand Leadership and, consequentially, Matt’s boss’s boss — sees collage as a tool that helps managers “encourage unusual connections in the brain.”

Combining the (seemingly) incompatible

Here’s an exercise Schmitt likes: rip up magazines and create a visual board of brands and business trends. Now, pair the two randomly.

Say you have a Coca-cola ad, and an article on the green movement. How would you design a campaign strategy around this combination? What are the challenges and advantages to the brand’s positioning?

“It is key to pair concepts that seem incompatible because they stretch people’s imagination and facilitate the formation of unusual connections.”

To read Schmitt’s full explanation of the collage exercise, search for the term in his book Big Think Strategy (2007).

Written by @hellopanelo

March 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Events roundup

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Spring (er.. snow… for the New Yorkers) is in the air…. it’s open season on open conferences!

1. Open Everything NYC

April 18, UNICEF House @UN

True to it’s “open” nature — and much like an unconference — this event is pretty much unplanned and up to the attendees. I’m a little skeptic of how productive these sessions are, so I’ll check it out, especially since the United Nations is sponsoring and hosting. What does the UN have to do with free culture and the open source movement? This statement from the website gives me a clue…

Let there be no confusion, Open Everything is not a tech conference. There is much more to ‘open’ than technology, part of the goal of the event is to bring the less known aspects of ‘open’ to the attention of the general public.

2. Open Video Conference NYC

June 19-20 @NYU Law School

Okay, it’s a conference at a law school, so all the big conversations will revolve around legal and cultural dimensions of online video.

However, this indie-nomics minded gal is interested in the “secondary programming” on DIY video creation and programming. I like to see how people can bring their creative expressions to life with $0 budget and a laptop computer.

In Nina Paley’s case, it took her 5 years but she created something that may not have existed had it gone through normal film studio production barriers: Sita Sings the Blues is an animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana… and set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.


“Dear Audience,
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.”
– Nina Paley

3. Ultra Light Startups: Monetizing Online Video

April 2 @For Your Imagination

Exactly what the title says. If you’d rather get straight to the $$$ and skip the philosophical discussions about free culture, this is your event!


* How to most effectively monetize online video and what revenues to expect.
* What are the most valuable online video properties right now? What content/audience niches are they serving? What are their revenue models? What technology are they using for marketing and distribution?
* What online video ad units are the most effective? Linear (Pre/mid/post-roll) vs. Non-linear (overlays, skins, etc) vs. display ads (alongside an embedded player). Interactive vs. non-interactve ad units.
* What are the most commonly used standards for video metrics. What determines the prices of video advertising and what are the ranges being paid now?
* What are the different video advertising networks and what differentiates them?
* What non-advertising revenue models have been tried for online video? Subscriptions/memberships? Product placement? Affiliate marketing? Live streams? Syndication? Which have been the most successful?
* What are the main video hosting/sharing websites and relative advantages/disadvantages of each for monetization?

Written by @hellopanelo

March 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Posted in DIY, Events, film, storytelling

Celebrate theft, embrace cliche, and go see Soul Samurai already!

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Talent imitates, genius steals. In the spirit of yesterday’s quote, here are 3 random picks from the
Cultural Remix Blender:

A) I Heart Wong Kar Wai

I ❤ Wong Kar Wai is a collection of short films in the visually-saturated, melancholic-love style of the famed Hong Kong filmmaker. “If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then these films are pure adoration.”
(Hollywood is the biggest recycler of them all, often to the point of formulaic mass appeal. Some directors strives for exact artistic replicas, like Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho, which remakes the classic 1960 Hitchcock film, scene for scene, shot for shot.)

B) Dutch-style portraiture

Hendrik Kerstens’ quirky portraits are an uncanny take on Vermeer… or any Flemish painting where the women wear odd headgear.

C) Soul Samurai

I’m not usually a play-pusher, a fangirl, or heck, even that excited about “live theatre” but I’m on a mini-campaign for this show since I saw it two weeks ago. Beyond WOM marketing and the standard social media blasts, I’m twitter-stalking the playwright and broadcasting the last shows to relevant mass email groups. I even nudged a freelance writer to pitch a review (accepted by!)

Soul Samurai is great on many levels: writing, set design, acting talent, multimedia storytelling.

But the strongest point was the genre-busting! It had comic books + Kill Bill + Shaft + smart sexy heroines + mixed martial arts + puppets + blaxploitation + live-action digital shorts + philosophical pimp wordplay + post-apocalyptic American Apparel outfits.

And breakdancing. Lots of breakdancing. It takes place in Brooklyn after all.

“All of that… in a play? I’m impressed,” says Cheryl Metzger, who has yet to see it. (Hint!)

“It’s like it was made of all these cliches,” says Catherine Chiong. “Familiar phrases, and things I already knew — but put together in a unique way.”

The force of cliches can be powerful in the hands of a gifted author. Literary critic Umberto Eco tells us that familiar cliches are the force behind films like Casablanca, which is “not just one film. It is many films, an anthology.” It’s love, it’s death. It’s music and seduction. It’s all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, and “we’ll always have Paris.”

Arielle Schiff, fan of the Vampire Cowboys theatre company (producer of Soul Samurai), notes their shows are “always so fun and funny, and then there will be a really poignant moment that is surprisingly touching.”

As Umberto Eco explains it: “Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us.”

Show ends March 15. Tickets on sale here, $20 with discount code VAMPFAN.

Written by @hellopanelo

March 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm