Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CLab Hot Spot

CultureLab is now producing video blogs about the latest trends.

Check out our first one!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Media as a Direct Democracy: What political theory can teach us about Web 2.0?

by Devin Walker

There are two forms of democracy, indirect and direct. The difference between a direct democracy and an indirect democracy is that in an indirect democracy you have people that you elect to represent you and a number of other people who will have somewhat similar interest because of your geographical proximity, and therefore you will have some of the same problems on the local level. Examples of indirect democracy would be alderman, state representatives and your member of the House of Representative. But in a direct democracy every person who is able to vote (because of their vested interest) will vote on every issue that the government deals with, so everyone will be a representative: a representative of themselves. This is an idealistic way of governing in a democracy, but then we consider reality and its truths, a more pragmatic approach emerges. This is to have an indirect democracy due to the fact that the average farmer is not an expert on urban affairs, and has a bias for the agriculture policy. So we must ask ourselves how is social media a direct democracy?

Social media allows everyone who has access to the internet to express their opinions; it is analogous to how when radio first started. There were hundreds of independent local stations in our free market. The ones that were reflective of the ideas of a majority of people within their areas of broadcast, stayed on and got a larger following. Those that reflected the viewpoint of a radical portion of the population went underground or died out. The same is true with websites, RSS Feeds, and blogs. The good ones with time grow and become very popular and those that are poorly designed or have less than common views are ignored. These days instead of changing the dial, you change the web address. But difference is that people have more of a chance to interact and express their opinion than ever before.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The civil side of Blogging

by Devin Walker

Often times we see blogging as a local, regional, or national device of communicating opinions on work, current events, and niche topics. But there is an issue that is of great importance that blogging is taking on: human rights.

Whenever a conflict, populous uprising, or political shake-up occurs in a nation that has internet capabilities in it, the bloggers use their outlet to the world to update the rest of us on the conditions from their point of view, the most recent case being the election in Iran. The good people at UC Berkeley are at the forefront of chronicling and encouraging this.

2048 Project homepage:
Blogging human rights:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Funny Take on The Ubiquity of the Auto-Tune

Since Jay-Z has been in the news with "DOA-Death of Auto-Tune" we thought we would post this hilarious video.

Auto Tuning from Casey Donahue on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Project Natal = No more Gamers Thumb

By Devin Walker

This video is of Microsoft's innovative new game at the E3 conference.

Is this the future of the gaming experience? A truly interactive world, where you are literally immersed in the game, not as a gamer but as a character in the game? Now, you can save your thumbs for texting because with this new interactive game you can use of your own body as a controller since you don’t need buttons to play a game.

Of course, the next step is to add another dimension of reality. The logical step for Microsoft is to increase revenue by using product placements to increase brand recognition of other companies from the real world. It would be cool if I walked in the room, turned on a game and it recognized that in my hand there was a Mountain Dew. Just that degree of resemblance to a person in the real world would be astounding. This and more games of different genres on Natal have to be down the project tunnel for Microsoft and Project Natal. I like the things we are seeing coming out of this rabbit hole.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marketing to Youth In the Obama Age-Is Urban or Multicultural Still Relevant?

Recently, I was a panelist at the Y Pulse Youth Marketing Conference in San Francisco. The discussion was exploring the notion of whether or not "urban" or multicultural is still relevant in this internet age. It was a dynamic conversation, and people seemed to be very interested in what was being said. I have to give shouts out to Rolando Brown of MVMT and Neelanjana Banerjee of New America Media. As CultureLab we have been touting the fact that when it comes to marketing to young people, ethnicity is really a secondary or tertiary part of youth identity. Here is our POV:

Yes, Multicultural and inclusion are now more relevant than ever, however ethnic targeting from a marketing perspective is not that relevant:

What is important is a genuinely inclusive outlook and deep understanding of youth identity. Young people want to see themselves represented AUTHENTICALLY. Stereotypical and clich├ęd images will not cut it in this day and age. For marketers what is important is to create welcoming spaces for people and their identities.

Identity from my vantage point has to do with who you connect to, how you view yourself, your background, your geography,your social class, experiences, interests and racial background.

Understanding identity, the role of class, and connection is what is really important. For instance, a kid may be Hispanic, living in LA and his or her interest lies in skateboarding. The community of skateboarders, the fashion associated with it, and the indigenous language used by skateboarders have the biggest impact on that person’s identity, more so than the fact that they are Hispanic. Ethnicity is just one minor part of the mix.

Social class is also something for marketers to consider and be sensitive to. For instance we are seeing some class differences in the online sphere. My Space is the preferred online social network of the underclass. Whereas Facebook which first took hold on college campuses is now the preferred social network of the more affluent and educated masses.

Also social class plays into cultural tastes. Take a close look at kids who totally dig the hipster hop of Kidz In the Hall and those who are die hard devotees of T.I. you will find some pretty clear distinctions.

Marketers win by showing insights that connect to young people on a universal level. This generation just does not like to be singled out on the basis of race. However the problem with the advertising world is that due to the lack of diversity within many general market agencies, they have a tendency to default to stereotypes or images of benign benevolence by just showing a rainbow of cultures in their ads.

In my mind unifiers are the winners like the advertising agency, Wieden & Kennedy, the Nike agency. They continue to do a great job of unifying through universal insights. Heineken, Drink Responsibly is by far one of the most clever spots out there. They showed insight in a cool and hip way that humor is one of the things that this generation reacts most favorably to. The spot also treated hip hop in a non stereotypical way.

For anyone who is trying to target what we call the "inclusive" general market, here are some things to consider:

• Yes, inclusion of multicultural people is now more relevant than ever, however ethnic targeting is not very relevant in connecting to young people

• DO NOT default to Hip Hop to reach young people, the reality is that we are heading into a POST HIP HOP AGE

• Be genuinely inclusive: understand youth identity and create contextual spaces for people to connect to your brands

• Anti-intellectualism, particularly among Black and Latino kids, is over; smartness is cool

• Tribalism and the long tail are real. Marketers must know who rules these tribes in order to gain greater influence

• Build Relationships and Social Currency

• Frugality and Thrift are IN, consumerism is OUT-woe to luxury brands and non-necessities

• The youth generation ideal is “One Nation Under A Groove” - unifiers who rally their audience around their brands will win!

• Knowledge of cultural nuance and social class is key, as it dictates tone, style, and language

• Be consistent: this generation despises phonies