I haven’t really touched this blog for a couple of years. So much has changed since then.
I’m now a father (of Holly) and a director (of Large Blue).
I now live on a balanced diet of instagram and twitter.
I think there’s more to follow.
So much the new blogging me…
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Just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying Pitchfork’s top 100 this year. It’s uncanny how many of them I like. And an extra treat that I hadn’t heard loads of them before today (who is this so-called Lady Gaga?!). It’s also exactly the sort of thing Spotify was invented for. Being able to listen to the top 100 as a Spotify playlist is such a pleasure. Well, at least the 69 of the 100 that are on Spotify. This playlist will be my Pitchfork memento of the year and the other 31 tracks sadly won’t really exist for me.
Also, through listening to this playlist, I’ve downloaded 3 albums and a few songs through emusic today that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. See, record companies? Put your music on Spotify and I might still buy it (downloading through emusic counts as buying, doesn’t it?). Don’t put your music on Spotify and I probably won’t even hear it.
On a bus, between Waterloo and Elephant. It’s raining. It’s rush hour. The bus is full of people in wet coats. All the windows are steamed up. I’m standing near the rear doors, just behind the space for prams and wheelchairs. A man, probably in his late 20s, gets on and stands in front of me. Distracted, he looks around before fixing on someone behind me, looking over my shoulder.
The man (in a voice just loud enough to make himself heard): Excuse me – where do I know you from?
A woman (sitting on the raised seats, a couple of rows behind me, in a quiet voice I can’t quite make out): [Was it] … [?]
The man: No, that wasn’t it... (thinks) I know, it was that recovery centre in Croydon.
The woman (quiet, but just about audible): Oh, that’s right. How are you doing now?
The man: Really good, thanks.
The woman: Are you still [off the drugs]?
The man (breaking into a large grin): Nah, I’m completely loaded… Well, I’m getting off here. Nice to see you, anyway. (he turns towards the doors, before looking back at me) Got any change, mate?
Since leaving D&AD in the summer, I’ve mainly been meeting people, seeing what’s going on in the world, deciding what I want to do next and looking for someone who’ll let me do it. Ideally I’d be doing it by now, but there you go.
Having spent the best part of the last 10 years ‘doing digital’ from the client-side, I’ve been thinking good and hard about moving (digital) agency-side. Most of the people I’ve spoken to have been encouraging in principle.
But then I’ve spent the last 4 years working within the non-profit sector, and I’m aware that an end product that results in ‘good’ is pretty important to me. So I’ve been in a bit of a quandary.
I recently went to talk to an up-and-coming, exciting design and branding agency with a great roster of clients. They didn’t ‘do digital’ but wanted to. The interview had gone quite well, I thought. At the end, when it came to the inevitable ‘do you have any questions?’ bit, I asked: ‘Why do you exist?‘.
The ECD (and co-founder) didn’t really have an answer. I ended up feeling embarrassed for having asked. It wasn’t a premeditated question – I just thought of it there and then – and it wasn’t as accusatory as it might come across written down here. But at least it’s given me a marker for the sort of organisation I want to work for.
It’s quite an important thing, isn’t it? Existing for a good reason. I’d like to think that most organisations do, though maybe that isn’t the case. And, no, maximising financial profit alone doesn’t count as a good reason. That might be for another blog post.
So what, or who, am I looking for?
You can obviously be a non-profit or charity. Working to inspire political and social change is brilliant.
You can be a business. I’d love to work for a full-throttle commercial company that’s making or doing exciting things (in as sustainable a manner as possible). ‘New’ is fantastic, as long as it’s ‘new’ and ‘better’ at the same time.
You can be an agency. As Oliver Payne says: “The ‘problem’ with advertising is that it creates desire where there is none. But it’s the ability to create desire where there is none that could be our saving grace when it comes to persuading people to use less water to wash, or to walk instead of driving.” There’s definitely scope for agencies to do good. At least in part, most do. I’d love to help people do wonderful things by letting other people know about them. I haven’t worked agency-side before, but I think my skills would sit pretty comfortably within an agency framework.
I can do digital. I can do ideas, strategy and I can do a bit of creative. I can do getting things done. I’d like to think I ‘add value’. I’ll sit wherever you like.
Here I am on LinkedIn, for a full profile.
Anyway, if any of the above sounds like you or your organisation, and I sound like someone who could help you do what you do better, I’d love to talk.
You can email me at Steve at this domain name. Or DM meltingman on twitter. And please feel free to RT or in other way forward this to anyone else who might be interested.
Astronomy has always had a delicious appeal to me. If you love the Greek Myths and/or that feeling of absolute, crushing, personal insignificance under the weight of an infinite Universe, then the double joy of looking up and finding constellations is pretty hard to beat.
The only thing is, the practice has always been a bit more complicated than the theory. As a schoolboy growing up in North London, I had a loft room, a small pocket telescope and a copy of the trusty I-Spy in the Night Sky (how great those I Spy books were). But a combination of horrible orange street lights, a lack of patience and what I remember as the constant cloudy nights of my youth meant I never really tied up the bears and archers on the page with the faint, blurry lights in the sky.
A couple of years ago, I got myself a Patrick Moore astronomy book. A perfect camping book, I thought. It’s great for what it is, but trying to translate the static charts into what you might see in the sky at a particular time in a particular place is a bit complicated for someone who can only just about hold an OS map the right way up.
So before going on holiday last week I wondered, inevitably, if there was an app for that, and I found Star Walk. And it’s amazing.
Let it use your location and it’ll show you your exact night sky in real time. If you’ve got the iphone 3GS, it will show you your view as you move and tilt it, but even without the 3GS it’s easy enough to scroll around the sky (assuming you know which direction your facing). It’s all but Augmented Reality, the difference being it can confidently render what you’re looking at rather than show it to you through the camera.
Within seconds of pointing it at the Dorset sky, I’d traced across the sky from Cassiopeia to Perseus to Andromeda to Pegasus, with constellations coming into visual context on screen as they came into view. It was truly exhilarating. For the first time in my life I could read the stars.
Everything about it is beautifully conceived, like the ‘night mode’ which turns everything red so you don’t lose your night vision.
I won’t go on about all the features – they’re all on the app page – but if you’re in any way intrigued by the night sky, I really, really recommend it.
Never underestimate the power of colour and light. I’d never been in one of these things before, and it was great. An inflatable canvas world, populated by people in single-colour capes, lending the whole thing an air of Logan’s Run. The unnatural pinks and purples and the wandering saxophone troupe only added to the seventies sci-fi feel.
But really, it was a genuinely rich sensory experience. Almost too much colour.
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A personal list. You might have your own.
1. Stick it in the end pocket of a soft bag when you’re travelling and rest your feet on it.
2. Pick it up off the bookshelf late at night when you just want to re-read a chapter for old times’ sake.
3. Dog-ear a page (and then blog about it).
4. Get deliciously overwrought about bending the spine. Although attempting 1. might have a similar effect.
5. Waft across the pages and breathe in the dusty woodiness.
6. Use someone important’s business card as a bookmark in it.
7. Bend it ever-so slightly to fit in a jacket pocket.
8. Write your name in the front of it, so when someone else buys it in a second-hand book shop they can google you to get a bit of lovely insight into the book’s provenance.
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