Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gamification to Lamification in Less Than 150 Words

Although the gamification trend at this particular historical moment is unstoppable, it's so problematic in so many horribly obvious ways that we need more writers like Oliver Burkeman willing to dismantle the flimsy logic behind treating life like Pacman. Better yet, he does it in less than 150 words:
The current public face of gamification is Jane McGonigal, author of the new book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better And How They Can Change The World, but many of her prescriptions are cringe-inducing: they seem to involve redefining aid projects in Africa as "superhero missions", or telling hospital patients to think of their recovery from illness as a "multiplayer game". Hearing how McGonigal speeded her recovery from a serious head injury by inventing a "superhero-themed game" called SuperBetter, based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which her family and friends were players helping her back to health, I'm apparently supposed to feel inspired. Instead I feel embarrassed and a little sad: if I'm ever in that situation, I hope I won't need to invent a game to persuade my family to care.
 (Guardian link).

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Why Writing That Targets Humans Remains Cutting Edge

Thousands of digital marketers and gadget geeks will soon be descending on Austin, each determined to be personally responsible for overloading Twitter with their snapshot insights from SXSW Interactive. And while SXSWi has become a launching pad for exciting new technologies such as Foursquare and Twitter, the panel I’d most like to attend (if I were going) focuses on the apparently unhip technology known as the written word.

This Saturday (March 11), Kyle Monson, a content strategist at JWT, will talk about Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising. What is brand journalism? No one is quite sure. As Monson notes in a recent interview with Razorfish.com:
Brand Journalism is, in short, a method of engaging our audience in discussions about the brand. This is done by creating compelling content and messages as well as by incorporating the audience’s own viewpoints. We’re teaching brands to mimic publishers and journalists in how they produce content, and to mimic humans in how they communicate with their audience.
While Monson admits that brand journalism might just be a new name for the well-established practice of corporate communications and PR, his panel description notes that “we're still trying to teach big companies and ad agencies how to communicate like humans, how to listen, and how to use transparency as a messaging tactic.”

It’s strange to think that in 2011 this is still the case, but as this article about Groupon’s success demonstrates, some of the most forward-thinking content-driven marketing involves nothing more than harnessing the very basic and ancient technology of empathy, understanding and trust.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Einar Sneve Martinussen Makes WiFi Visible

This project, which makes wifi visible, is worth checking out. I'm captivated with it for a number of reasons, the most prominent being that my CFC media lab classmate Dylan Reibling thought of this idea a few months ago. Don't worry, his idea wasn't stolen – this is one of those cases when a good idea spontaneously appears in the brains of a bunch of different people around the world at the same time. Here's more info on the project and its creator Einar Sneve Martinussen.