“Creativity is the ability to Play” – Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais talks about creativity and the ability to just ‘muck about for the hell of it’, experimenting, seeing what happens, making mistakes while just trying stuff out until you find the little gems you want to keep:

“The point of art is to make a connection. If people talk about it, it’s succeeded in a way. People have assumed that, because I don’t listen to critics, or take studio notes or whatever, that I think I’m perfect and have never made any mistakes. This could not be further from the truth. Making the mistakes is the point, is the fun, is the important bit. But they have to be my own. The writer Rita Mae Brown said, “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” The only difficult bit about this is getting final edit. So much creativity is stifled by people who “know better”, or by fear of failure, and before you know it, your goals have been twisted and you’ve forgotten what you set out to do.”

Read the whole post on Ricky’s website.

The #ASS of Kris Hoet

Okay, I’ll admit, Tom De Bruyne made me do it. About a week ago Tom and Astrid – founding partners of Sue Amsterdam – organized The Awesome Slideshow in Boom Chicago (Amsterdam):

“10 inspiring speakers from the creative industry share their favorite stuff they
found on Twitter. Get inspired in one afternoon with a top-selection of awesome
ideas, thoughts, actions and campaigns.”

Hashtag for the event: #TheASS. Here’s my presentation and underneath you will find a little bit of background with the video’s, why I chose them for this presentation. (Video’s are all in the presentation)

Do mess with perfection. It’s the campaign line of the new Ford Mustang (check out their app btw) and I chose it because it’s more in tune with the idea I have around experimenting than the often used “fail harder” line. Why? Because “fail harder” all to often seems to result in a mediocre output and I don’t think that’s right. Do mess with perfection does a better job at making sure you experiment but with the end goal to make something awesome. Not mediocre. What do you think “fail harder” would look like in Jeb Corliss’ stunt? Therefore the ‘Grinding the crack’ video.

Big data. I love data. Not like an analyst or a statistics guy but because of what you can learn from data… if you’re looking at the right thing. Data visualizations are very welcome in helping you understand data – and then I don’t mean all these 15.000 pixel long infographics that show up on a daily base. I used some examples in my presentation, once including a tool you can download here: IOgraphica.

Gamification. Not games. Not contest. But fun game inspired elements to deploy on real life. Like what they did in Chromorama with the London Subway.

Known + Unknown. What happens when you combine knowledge from offline shopping behavior with online analytics methods. Awesome this Shopperception video – again see presentation.

Hackable. Kinect showed us once more, almost all year long, that you’re better off making things so that people can explore beyond the initial purpose of what it was made for to begin with. It might inspire everyone.

Laughter from nowhere. Kevin Slavin learned us to look at second screen in a totally different way, too bad his presentation from last year’s Think Digital congress isn’t online where he talked about that. I used the example from Clik just to show that most of our second screen thinking is really too basic.

The world is our canvas. Although the example in the presentation is a quite literal example, the point I wanted to make was that there are no more limitations to what we can do, that ‘out of the box thinking’ has never been so valid as today. There is no frame, the world is our canvas.

DIY 2.0 3D printers, open source code, Arduino, … it’s incredible what people like you can me can make today. We already have more democratic ways of promoting ourselves – thank you web 2.0 – but today we also see the same principles being used to fund as well as fabricate ideas. And that’s awesome.

The last video – of Casey Neistat, yes the same guy that made that Nike video – because it’s fun and it reminds us that everyone with a good idea can get noticed.

Key take away – It always seems impossible until it is done. Something we remind ourselves of at the agency as well every time someone presents us with an idea that looks impossible :-)

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What the blog?!

Love/Hate. That’s the relationship I have with my blog these days. I still ‘write’ plenty of blogposts in my head, just don’t get to writing them down for real when I have the time to do it. And that annoys me a little to be honest. Although the blog is not the only part of my online presence anymore since there are also Posterous, Flickr, Twitter and numerous other initiatives it still is sort of central to all initiatives and I’m not ready to turn it off yet.

I still believe strongly in having a central landing page, for people and for brands, around which all the other initiatives gravitate so to say. I don’t agree with Steve Rubel’s view on the concept of the siteless web for that matter. It’s clear that sole focus on your own website is a bit short-sighted today, so extending one’s web presence in social for instance is crucial. What I don’t want to do is put the center of my presence on a service that gives me only limited control, that I don’t own 100%.  But hey that’s me.

So enough stuff to share, I’ll be making time again to write them down. Cheers.

Registration is easy, what about activation?

Something bugs me. Not a day goes by or new usage data (preferably in the form of an infographic) gets shared online about one of the favorite social media initiatives such as Facebook, Twitter, … you know the lot. Big data, big numbers most of the time. What I don’t get though is why we all seem to copy/paste most of that information on our own blogs without really trying to understand what the numbers tell us (and what they don’t tell us). Everybody who once worked in a PR related job knows that companies publish numbers in a way so they look good. They use absolute numbers when they are worth it, percentages when they don’t look good and so on and so forth. When I say visitors to this website using Android have doubled over the last week (+100%) that is sounds much better than if I were to say there are now 2 people using Android to visit this blog instead of one. You catch my drift, I would really like to see some more analysis on those numbers before publishing if that’s not too much too ask.

Something else bugs me even more. When making these ‘analysis’, infographics and what not, people are not comparing apples with apples. Nobody seems to find it a problem that we’re always comparing 500M Facebook users versus 145M Twitter users (and some even against the 300M Windows Live users). For Facebook that are registered users, and as such most likely unique users. For Twitter that are registered users, and most likely that means registered accounts – and not unique users. I’ve got one Facebook profile just like most people but do use 3 Twitter accounts (@crossthebreeze, @iblogmustang and @krishoet). For Windows Live however the 300M users mentioned are active users, active meaning that they’ve logged on to the service at least once during the last 30 days. You can discuss about whether that is a good measure for being active or not, the point I want to make is that although they’re all big numbers they all don’t really mean the same thing. And that makes it unfair to just compare them like they are in my point of view.

Especially the registered versus active users is something really important to think about. When promoting webservices such as the ones we’re talking about you can imagine that generating awareness is the first big task on the agenda just like any other company. But because they are webservices I presume once you get the attention needed, driving registrations is not the toughest part. Registering to an online service is easy, I’ve registered to hundreds of services by now but use only a percentage of those on a regular basis. Activating users/consumers is the toughest part. People show interest when the buzz is up, but what is it that you do to keep them interested? That’s a tough challenge, a challenge to which many services fail if you ask me.

And it’s not just webservices of course, same counts for apps etc. There’s a boatload of apps available for my phone apparently and still I find it hard to find a dozen decent ones to download on the device. So don’t just report on the big numers PR people give you, those don’t always mean much (at least not to me). And please compare numbers worth comparing, otherwise that makes no sense either.

There you go. Had to get that of my chest.

Lucky Counter: more tweets, lower price

Uniqlo has a new campaign out there, pretty simple as well. Tweet about an item on the page and it will lower the price of that item. It’s a win-win. Really simple and a nice way to get free promotion for no risk at all for Uniqlo (there’s a minimum price anyway). End at the same time it’s not much to ask to a consumer either (it’s just a tweet) to to get an immediate benefit.

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Like.

Been a while…

I know. Over the last few weeks every once in a while someone would ping me or come up to me and ask me if I had stopped blogging, if I had enough of the writing already and moved on. And of course, nobody needed to come up to me to realize the blogging was at a very low (to non existent) pace the last few weeks and months. And like I told the people who asked before I can tell you as well it is not my intention at all to stop blogging.

When you read some of my last blogposts you know my professional life has had a bit of a shake up (to say the least). I rather unexpectedly spent my last day at Microsoft in May, thus was forced to start jobhunting just before summer in what are probably some of the toughest economic conditions out there. And although some interesting leads came in quite rapidly, supported by some of you… it doesn’t really create the right setting to be thinking about much else than work, life and family. There were some things at that time I did want blog about but they were to closely related to the job interviews, so I decided against doing so.

Luckily for me I found a new home at Duval Guillaume where I was offered the right new challenge in what interests me most thinking about communication in all it’s forms. Next to offering me the right new challenge, DG also offered me a lot of work :) hence why getting back to blogging wasn’t on my immediate agenda either. Always when you start at a new company it takes you about 100 days to get to know ‘how they roll’ and how you can become a part of it. I’m exactly in the middle of that right now and it’s pretty interesting so hopefully I can share some of that during the coming weeks as well. Last but not least they’re all good people as well so it doesn’t feel like I’m alone in this either.

And let’s not forget it’s summertime so I’ve been on holiday for a while as well (like all of you I suppose), first to Umbria where I had one of the most enjoyable family holidays and just last week I went to the Provence for a few days with friends to climb Mont Ventoux with the racing bicycle, another memorable event :)

Does this mean I’m back? Well kinda. I still enjoy blogging etc. a lot but time will always be an important in making this happen. I used to write most of my posts the last few months and years while on travel for work, something I don’t really do anymore right now. Suffice to say I need to rethink when is the best time to write. I do think about a lot of posts I want to write while driving to work, but that’s kinda like playing air-guitar… nothing really happens in the end ;). I also want to change my blog to a more central place of everything I share online and not just lengthy blogposts: favorite videos on Youtube, links on Delicious, … you know the story. I have an idea of what I want to do to change this, now someone need to tell me it’s possible. Let me know if you can be that one!

What a ride!

The last 2 months have been kinda crazy. After my last day at  Microsoft, I started jobhunting right away, jobhunting new style that is – using my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, … and every other network that could help me spread the word. Interestingly enough it all became a bit of an experiment along the way as well, like when I introduced the #hirefriday tag, but nevertheless still a rather unpleasant reality of being unemployed during a crisis. Lucky enough for me things paid off rather quickly and 5-6 weeks after my last day at Microsoft I started working again.

My new home is Duval Guillaume, an idea-centric communications agency with offices in Antwerp and Brussels. Since 3 weeks you can find me in the Brussels office (photo below) as the new head of strategy there. But more on what I’m doing there in future blogposts.

What the office looks like

A lot of people have been very helpful during all those weeks and I’m very thankful for that. I realize I have been pretty silent on this blog during most of that time but we’ll be going to a more regular rhythm again soon. First I need to change a few things here, for one I should really get that self hosting thing going (yeah I know it’s not the first time I talk about this).

The Garden of Tweetdom

Since Marcus decided (on purpose!) to have his little event in London pretty much the only week I wasn’t in town…. just kidding, I will have to share the slides with all of you who have missed it just like me.

Watch what happened when God created Twitter and be the witness of the first conversations between Adam, Eve and the snake!

Here’s some video footage from the event.

What I got out of Twitter – Part II

About a year ago I wrote my first (and probably only) post about Twitter so far, it was based around what I had learned from using the service up to the time of writing. During a conversation I had last week I thought about this post again and decided to look it up again… only to notice that much of it hasn’t changed at all.

It still are the Twitter users that make the service better both in adding features, applications and services. Think about features such as hashtags, RT, … mostly incorporated into most clients now. Some of you will be using Tweetdeck, I still hang on to Twhirl (that new search ‘activate’ feature is a killer!) but there are many many others. And finally things like Twitter Remote or Mr. Tweet are really powerful services. The last service is also good proof it really is the community that makes things better here, have you ever taken a look at Twitter’s own Suggested Users Feature?

People still focus too much on quantity vs. quality with constant chatter about number of followers, number of tweets, … and I still believe like I said back then that you don’t make better conversations by following everybody back. It’s just not true… and it’s therefore not all that suprising to see that people like Loic are actually cutting back on that.

Has nothing changed then? Sure it has. We’ve started to re-tweet aka RT, something I like and then again not. Sometimes a RT is expanding the network on a good topic which is good, sometimes it feels like the sender just wants you to know they’ve seen ‘it’ as well. And often it feels like the Retweeter’s reasoning is more to make sure the sender of the initial message notices you versus you actually trying to share interesting stuff to your audience. Like an alternative to an @reply almost.

Another personal change is that I’ve now (via the Live Writer add-on) linked my blog feed to my Twitter account, something I said a year ago is not done. I guess I was wrong, although it’s mainly the notion that people start putting something like {blogpost} in front of such tweets that got me convinced there’s a right way in doing this.

What else has changed? We got spam, auto-DM’s and a lot more tricks that try and build audiences by following and immediate unfollowing etc. Not sure who thinks that stuff really works but just like many other popular services there are some annoyances that we’ll just have to deal with.

Still very much hooked, so that hasn’t changed at all ;)