Gaping Void

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Capitalism won’t be replaced with Socialism, but with something far more trippy

2 hours 49 min ago

Everybody and their mother has been predicting the death of capitalism for the last couple of years, ever since the bankers screwed eveything up etc.

That might be true, it probably isn’t. But even if it capitalism were to bite the dust, it doesn’t mean socialism will take its place. I imagine something else would have to emerge instead, something that Marx or Lenin  could not possibly have foreseen.

This video explains the most likely scenario I’ve seen so far: Jeremy Rifkin on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things.

Basically, the entire economy will be Internet-connected: energy, logistics and information- and we’ll make our livings by plugging into it, somehow. i.e. The Internet Of Things. A triumpherate of computer coding, 3-D printing and renewable energy, as opposed to the broadcast, automobile and petroleum triumperate our parents grew up on.

Not sure where the average shmoe fits into this, or at least, the part where the average shmoe makes an OK living working nine to five in an office.

Maybe he doesn’t.

Maybe nobody does, except for a tiny elite at the top, with an obediant and effective military keeping public order. Game of Thrones, eat your heart out.

Categories: Buzz

How to affect corporate culture in a meaningful way

Wed, 2014-04-23 02:30


[Untitled drawing from 2003 etc.]

[N.B. Harold has a new book out, "Seeking Perpetual Beta".]

So I wrote a wee note to one of my favorite “Culture” thinkers these days, Harold Jarche:

Speaking of the ever-changing nature of work…

1. Culture is a HUGE issue for business now.

2. Most CEOs don’t have a frickin’ clue what to do about it, and it’s keeping them up at night.

Thoughts?

Howard kindly wrote back:

My view on culture is that it is an emergent property of all the interactions and behaviours in an organization. I think that if you want to change culture, you have to first change behaviour. Small things, like CEO’s accepting failure on projects, help to create a more open workplace. Changing daily practices, like working out loud, gets people to understand what others are doing. It’s kind of like blogging. We didn’t really become bloggers until we had done it for a while. Supporting communities of practice is another way to change culture. As I like to say, you know you are in a real community of practice when it changes your practice.

The challenge I find is that these changes all take time, practice, feedback & reflection. Few CEO’s have the patience for that. That’s why it’s good to do lots of small things around “culture change”. I like the notion of “trojan mice” which I think is similar to your change management work.

http://www.trojanmice.com/

Hope this rambling makes some sense

So there you have it: if you want to affect culture in a meaningful way, you’re going to do it by ceating a lot of *little* interventions, not one or two *big* ones.

Categories: Buzz

Why “Culture” is not just another business fad

Tue, 2014-04-22 16:47

This was a rather flippant cartoon I drew yesterday in my notebook, that actually makes a serious point about our business model, namely:

    1. Now that the ideas of “job for life” and “work-life balance” are well and truly consigned to the dustbin of history…

    2. Now that we’re expected to answer work emails at 11pm on Christmas Eve…

    3. Now that we’re expected to fly to Chicago in February, so we can get up at 6a.m. in time for a breakfast meeting and talk about nothing for five hours [This actually happened recently to a Geneva-based friend of mine]…

    4. Now that instead of getting business cards printed up like a normal person, we devour our so-called free time writing business books and trying to figure out how to get them published…

    5. Now that anything that is any good is overpriced and bleeding us white…

    6. Now that we consider ourselves successful, yet still spend four hours a day stuck in traffic…

    7. Now that the average adult’s life is governed by a level of FOMO that was traditionally reserved for insecure teenagers…

    8. Now that the rich are working longer hours than the poor for the first time in history…

    9. Now that a nice, middle class neighborhood in the big city is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    10. Now that the party is FRICKIN’ OVER…

i.e. The nature of work is changing. People’s relationship with work is changing. The changes to society will be vast.

And the companies that understand this better than the other guy will be the companies that win.

Which is why “Culture” is not just another business fad, but actually something REALLY important.

Consider yourself told.

Categories: Buzz

The Genesis Of The gapingvoid Business Model

Fri, 2014-04-18 15:58

1. THE VALUE CURVE

For those of you new to gapingvoid, I thought I’d tell you what the gapingvoid business model is all about, from my own unique perspective.

My background is advertising. I often noticed while working on Madison Avenue that the problems clients were asking us to solve weren’t really going to do much good, even if our agency was doing a stellar job.

What’s the use of doing an award-winning, attention-grabbing Super Bowl ad…if the product actually kinda sucks and nobody really likes it? [That happened a lot during the DotCom bubble, as we all know.]

And why was the client allowing itself to put out dud products that nobody likes? And why are they expecting their ad agencies to kill themselves trying to compensate for the fact the product is a dud?

To me, it seemed like a lot of wasted energy.

Clients expect their agencies to fix crappy problems. The crappiness began long before the agency ever got the brief. The crappiness began at an internal, cultural level.

So we figure that if we are allowed to intervene sooner with the client internally, we could create a lot more value than the agency model, a lot more quickly and painlessly.

2. THE CHICAGO INSIGHT

[An "All-Over" we did for Cisco etc.]

Back in my Chicago freelance days, my friend, the well-known advertising music director Ira Antelis (he writes jingles and does sound design from TV commericals), commissioned me to draw a poster for him. It was an all-over with a lot of advertising music in-jokes. It was a great little piece (I’m told there are still a few prints knocking around; I’ll try to get one from Ira later). People loved it.

Ira then got a couple hundred of the posters framed and gave them to every A-List advertising creative in town. Leo Burnett, DDB, Foot Cone; they were in all the corner offices all over Chicago, because they were just so damn cool (they were, trust me). Everybody wanted one for their office.

And so what happened when people walked into said offices?

“Wow. That’s really cool. Where did you get it?”

“Ira Antelis.”

“Who’s Ira Antelis?”

“You remember that guy who wrote that Michael Jordan jingle for Gatorade…?”

“I want one!!!!”

“Give Ira a call…”

Give. Ira. A. Call.

Just like that, Ira was being talked about (and contacted) on a daily basis, by pretty much all the people who mattered in the business.

3. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Fast forward to the present. Drawing on the preceding experiences from my time in advertising, in Chicago and elsewhere, plus everything we’ve seen happen in our work and on the Internet, Jason (my business partner) and I decide that the best way to create value for our clients would be using art to shift corporate culture, internally and in the right direction.

We create cultural change by using art to provoke the right conversations, the same way we did for Ira Antelis’ business.

Our timing could not have been better. As anyone who reads Harvard Business review can tell you, culture is now a hot button subject for business. Recent bestsellers like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness” (Tony is a good friend of ours, by the way) tell us that the secret to growing a great company is growing a great culture.

gapingvoid makes art that is totally aligned with that idea, working with amazing companies who concur: Microsoft, Rackspace, Cisco, HP, Roche, VMware, Hubspot, Techcrunch, to name a few. [Client page is here.]

We jokingly call it “motivational posters for smart people”, but at the end of the day, it’s serious stuff. It’s a superb business to be in, and we’re thrilled to be part of it.

If you’re in the culture shift business, we’d love to talk to you.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Buzz

The Antidote Economy: “Authentic” living needs lots of “fake” people in order to pay for it.

Thu, 2014-04-17 19:48

[Orignally posted at The Marfa Project etc.]

This cartoon represents the great #firstworldproblem of our age. We’re all just trying to do too much, and it’s wearing us out.

In a this *brave* new world of stimulus oversupply, we’re starting to see potential antidotes popping up everywhere, that besides providing gainful employment to our friends the hipsters, is becoming an increasingly important coping mechanism and necessary part of the overall economy.

I call it “The Antidote Economy”. Bed & breakfast weekends in Vermont, Zen meditation retreats in New Mexico, farmer’s markets, specialist coffee and tea shops, Shaker furniture, yoga classed, art galleries in Laguna Beach, artisanal pickles, hand made scented candles, and of course, Brooklyn. It’s an increasingly huge cultural phenomenon, simply because we need more and more antidotes to balance out our increasingly expensive yet frazzled quality of life.

Is embracing The Antidote Economy full-time a cure for all our ills? No, sadly, it’s just for some of us. To make a living in The Antidote Economy, you also need a fairly large, affluent chunk of the population to still remain on the outside looking in. You need enough stressed out, overprogrammed yuppy-scumbag types in boring, 80-hour-week office jobs that they hate, to ensure that there’s enough disposable income swishing around to fund your alternative, post-capitalist lifestyle experiment.

i.e. Brooklyn is only possible because Manhattan is never very far away. “Authentic” living needs lots of “fake” people in order to pay for it.

Categories: Buzz

An e-mail to cartoonist, Austin Kleon

Wed, 2014-04-16 22:28

Dear Austin,

I’m graduating from college next year, so after seeing your book mentioned online (I haven’t bought it yet, but I really am thinking about it), I thought I’d ask you some questions:

1. What kind of pen do you use? What kind of ink? What kind of pencil? What kind of paper? What kind of eraser? What kind of computer software? If I can’t afford that kind of software, what other software packages would you recommend? What books should I check out so that I can teach myself to draw professionally?

2. Can you introduce me to you publisher and/or agent? A book deal would be awesome; plus I totally bet I would crush it as a bestselling author.

3. I’ve done twenty cartoons so far (though to be honest, they’re still kinda rough). How many more do I have to draw before I “make it”?

4. How much does it pay? What do I do if I don’t think the publishers are offering me enough?

5. If I set up a Tumblr blog, can you tell your network about it? Would you mind publishing some of my cartoons on your blog as well?

6. Do you have any other famous cartoonist friends that you think I should also write to? Link?

I need these answers by Friday, so if you can get on it, I’d be really grateful.

Thanks,

Hugh MacLeod

Categories: Buzz

“Secular Prayers”

Wed, 2014-04-16 16:07

[© National Gallery of Victoria]

Using old Japanese “Zen” scrolls as an example, The Philosopher’s Mail inadvertently does a fabulous job of explaining the philosophy behind motivational posters:

By making words physically beautiful – through the elegance of the script and the soothing texture and proportions of the paper – a Zen scroll becomes a piece of decoration that helps wisdom become a part of us.

The world isn’t short of wisdom: it’s short of inventive techniques for making the wisdom we do have more prominent, and more readily available to us at moments of crisis.

On a similar note, earlier today I came across a lovely site called Be Happy, which sells cleanly-designed, hipsterish motivational posters and swag.

And then there’s the stuff I do; it’s all very related, of course.

It got me thinking, what do all of us have in common?

Answer: We’re all in the business of making “secular prayers”, in our own way.

People say prayers, not just because we’re hoping to get an omnipotent deity to intervene directly on our behalf, but because it also helps us concentrate our minds on the stuff that actually matters.

Whether we believe or don’t believe in God or Buddha or the grey-bearded sky fairy, art is still very good for helping us to “pray” to the deepest part of our own selves, of our own lives.

And if you can create work that does a good a job of helping do that for people, eh, it’s not  a bad thing to spend one’s life doing…

Categories: Buzz

“Secular Prayers”: What ancient Japanese scrolls and motivational posters have in common

Wed, 2014-04-16 16:07

[© National Gallery of Victoria]

Using old Japanese “Zen” scrolls as an example, The Philosopher’s Mail inadvertently does a fabulous job of explaining the philosophy behind motivational posters:

By making words physically beautiful – through the elegance of the script and the soothing texture and proportions of the paper – a Zen scroll becomes a piece of decoration that helps wisdom become a part of us.

The world isn’t short of wisdom: it’s short of inventive techniques for making the wisdom we do have more prominent, and more readily available to us at moments of crisis.

On a similar note, earlier today I came across a lovely site called Be Happy, which sells cleanly-designed, hipsterish motivational posters and swag.

And then there’s the stuff I do; it’s all very related, of course.

It got me thinking, what do all of us have in common?

Answer: We’re all in the business of making “secular prayers”, in our own way.

People say prayers, not just because we’re hoping to get an omnipotent deity to intervene directly on our behalf, but because it also helps us concentrate our minds on the stuff that actually matters.

Whether we believe or don’t believe in God or Buddha or the grey-bearded sky fairy, art is still very good for helping us to “pray” to the deepest part of our own selves, of our own lives.

And if you can create work that does a good a job of helping do that for people, eh, it’s not  a bad thing to spend one’s life doing…

Categories: Buzz

The Internet has made geography irrelevant? Since when?

Tue, 2014-04-15 15:35

Back in the 1990’s, “The Internet has made geography irrelevant” meme became huge amongst the cool kids.

Fast forward a decade or two, and here we’re finding a different meme altogether i.e. that geography is more relavant than ever, *actually*. Especially in places like San Francisco, where a lot of the aforementioned Internet stuff is created and the cool kids call home.

What’s up with that?

To find out answers, maybe you should check out a little Asian town called Edirne.

Close to the Greek border, Edirne is a small Turkish city (population: 141,000), that most of y’all reading this will probably not have heard of before; a town much smaller than San Francisco.

If a bus dropped you off in Edirne tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t think too much of it. Besides the occasional Ottoman monument or two, there’s really not too much to write home about.

Except that there is. Edirne was formerly know as Adrianople, and according to the great military historian, John Keegan, it’s the most hotly contested piece of geography on Earth. 16 major battles and sieges over the centuries.

The reason why Edirne has been fought over for so long can be explained in two words: “Trade routes.”

Edirne sits bang in the middle of the major historic trade artery
between Europe and Asia, just outside of modern-day Istanbul, a.k.a. Constantinople a.k.a Byzantium. It’s also sits bang in the middle of the Adrianople plain, the most optimal spot near the East-West fault line to field large armies for battle. Not only was it fought over during the Crusades and the First World War, the Goths also fought (and killed) the Roman Emperor Valens there in 378 AD.

Geopolitically, the pace was MADE for clashes of civilizations, nations, and kings to fight each other- Roman vs Goth, Christian vs Turk, Byzantine vs Serb, East vs West etc. So for the last two thousand years, that’s exactly what happened.

History has always been primarily made along trade routes. Human conflict happens when trade routes get blocked, or at least, altered without mutual consent. Edirne is proof of that.

And so, in a smaller way, is modern-day San Francisco. The whole Google bus brouhaha is not the result of Google employees being evil and non-Google people being paragons of virtue (or vice versa). It’s the result of new forms of geography and migration (spurred on by new forms of trade) forcibly disrupting traditional, local social contracts between people.

Not that long ago, San Francisco was a small, provincial city. It no longer is. Nor can it pretend to still be one, as much as their relatively radical politics might prefer it.

And we’re seeing similar geographic/gentrification tension pop up in other cities: London, New York, Shanghai, Austin…

We were promised that the Internet would change everything. Well, this is what real change looks like.

We’re already well used to the idea of the Internet getting rid of the brick & mortar that we *work* in, we’re not quite used to the idea of the Internet getting rid of the brick & mortar that we actually *live* in.

But this is the Internet we asked for, is it not?

Categories: Buzz

Who Are The Happiest Artists?

Tue, 2014-04-15 13:40


Who Are The Happiest Artists?

When I was ten years old, I was having a nice chat with my mother about what I should be when I grow up.

I suggested that being a rock star or famous artist would be kinda cool. Mom suggested I should be a businessman instead.

What’s so great about being a businessman, I asked.

Well, said Mom, whereas very few artists or rock stars make it, a lot of businessmen make it, if not the majority. She then cited this stat I never forgot: Houston, Texas (where we were living at the time) has only one or two famous rock stars and artists, but over 14,000 millionaires, most of them businessmen.

Even my little ten-year-old brain could do the math with that one. Fourteen thousand!

Of course, I never became a businessman. I became an artist, in spite of my mother’s wise words and my many personal misgivings (which I still have in spades, by the way). The Lord knows how to mess with our heads.

Though unofficially, I’m really a closet businessman. I think the happiest artists generally are.

Categories: Buzz

Innovation is Mindset

Mon, 2014-04-14 22:04

From today’s newsletter:

We get this a lot: big companies bringing us in to shake things up, because they want to be more creative, because they want to be more innovative, etc.

The one thing most of our clients have in common is that none of them suffer from lack of talent or money or great products. Their problems tend to be cultural.

Maybe they spend too much time in meetings. Or too much time watching their backs and playing politics. Or perhaps none of them even particularly like each other – I’ve seen this many times before.

No, I’m wasn’t saying my clients spend all their time going to worthless meetings, playing politics and hating each other’s guts. Still, within big companies it’s been known to happen, even in the very best of them. It’s the nature of the beast.

Which is why I went on to say:

So the next time you decide your business needs to be more innovative (don’t they all?), your first job is not to do a re-org or hire a bunch of outside contractors. Your first job is to change your mindset, change your culture.

It isn’t complicated: the companies who can create a killer culture have a HUGE competitive advantage over those who can’t.

Which is why “Culture eats stratgey for breakfast.” Indeed.

Categories: Buzz

Innovation is Mindset

Mon, 2014-04-14 22:04

From today’s newsletter:

We get this a lot: big companies bringing us in to shake things up, because they want to be more creative, because they want to be more innovative, etc.

The one thing most of our clients have in common is that none of them suffer from lack of talent or money or great products. Their problems tend to be cultural.

Maybe they spend too much time in meetings. Or too much time watching their backs and playing politics. Or perhaps none of them even particularly like each other – I’ve seen this many times before.

No, I’m wasn’t saying my clients spend all their time going to worthless meetings, playing politics and hating each other’s guts. Still, within big companies it’s been known to happen, even in the very best of them. It’s the nature of the beast.

Which is why I went on to say:

So the next time you decide your business needs to be more innovative (don’t they all?), your first job is not to do a re-org or hire a bunch of outside contractors. Your first job is to change your mindset, change your culture.

It isn’t complicated: the companies who can create a killer culture have a HUGE competitive advantage over those who can’t.

Which is why “Culture eats stratgey for breakfast.” Indeed.

Categories: Buzz

Innovation begins here

Sat, 2014-04-12 02:29



[Buy the print and/or the acrylic block here etc.]

Innovation is hard enough, even when you’re truly, madly, deeply in love with your work.

But if you’re not in love with your work, you’re going to find it very difficult to compete with people who are.

Because they’re the ones going the extra mile, while you’re staring at the clock, thinking about your golf game.

If you want to innovate, fall in love with your work, or at least, have more fun with it. Play. That’s the easiest way I know how. The other ways are far more difficult.

So now you know…

[Subscribe.]

Categories: Buzz