Whether you’re in marketing, design, or business in general, it’s important to take time to think about new things — but it can be hard to get out of your day-to-day routine. You should go to a free Orangutan Swing event organized by Durham creative duo Akira Morita and Dipika Kohli. The regular “salon” is like “improv for ideas.”
At the “media and message” event yesterday, I loved hearing and sharing ideas with people from outside my usual bubble — participants included people in marketing, design, architecture, art, and more.
To me, the biggest themes were Tools (and Change), History (and the Future), and Communications. Below, I’ve shared comments that resonated most for me — what stands out to you?
Marketing Theme 1 — Tools (and Change)
1) On needing the right tools: We’re smarter than the tools we have. We need tools that can keep up with our creativity.
2) Computerization vs. doing things by hand: Although AutoCAD is computerized drafting software, it still uses the language of architects and engineers drawing by hand. To use the software fully, you really need to learn to draw first.
3) On the nature of change: When we switched from typewriters to computers, we had the opportunity to replace the circa 1870s QWERTY keyboard, but we didn’t because there was such a huge installed base. Change isn’t just flipping a switch.
4) Changing fast: Some change can be fast, like Steve Jobs decreeing in 1998 that there would be no more floppy drive. He was right — USB flash drives and cloud-based sharing are faster, easier, and higher-capacity than floppy disks ever were — but the radical change was annoying and disruptive at the time.
5) The phone in the iPhone: The actual “phone” on the iPhone is just another app.
6) Perspective on the speed of change: Today, things change so fast — but in the scale of history, they’re changing so slowly.
7) Triggering futurism: To brainstorm about real innovation, think 50 years into the future — what do we do today that would be seen as barbaric in the future? For instance, regarding medicine, just as leeches and bloodletting are now seen as foolish today — why do we still wait until people are sick to “fix” them, rather than healing people before they “break”?
Marketing Theme 2 — History (and the Future)
1) Kids today: Scientists are finding that kids’ neural pathways are re-mapping to reward transactional activities, rather than critical thinking. What does this mean for the future?
2) On retro photographer Ian Ruhter: He takes large-format photos using the collodion wet plate process from the 1850s. This approach wouldn’t have stood out 150 years ago because it was common then. But now it’s an unusual process. Everything old is new again.
3) On history and the present: There’s “not too much new under the sun,” but everyone lives in their own moment. Like steampunk, it’s all a matter of perspective and perception.
4) On the power of nostalgia: Were the “good old days” actually ever that good? Nostalgia is the ability to look at the past through rose-colored glasses.
5) Our visions of the future are limited by what we know today: In 2009, Microsoft released a video montage about the future — their version of 2019 was all about wirelessly-connected touchscreens you tap and swipe. It’s a fascinating idea, but it relies entirely on what we see as what’s possible today. We don’t really know what’s going to happen in a decade.
6) On the power of perception vs. reality: A participant mentioned the “history” video showing how historians in the year 3000 might mistakenly perceive The Beatles 1,000 years from now. It’s a topic that came up frequently at the roundtable — the receiver’s perception is ultimately more important than the transmitter’s intention.
Marketing Theme 3 — Communications
1) On your Facebook friends list: It’s not like the prototypical “small village” of the 1400s or 1800s, where everyone knows everything about you and you know everything about them — for better or for worse. On Facebook, you don’t know everyone, but everyone knows you.
2) When crafting messages: Sometimes you need to leave space for interpretation.
4) On remembering things: Plato said Socrates was against writing and the alphabet, because then people don’t have to remember things. I disagree with Socrates — recording in Google Docs and my Field Notes notebook mean I can remember more things. Of course, the philosopher might ask if we’re recording what’s truly important.
5) On communication channels: Certain media have more authority than others. But this evolves over time.
6) Science is just the backdrop in sci-fi: Science fiction is really about the human experience. For instance, Battlestar Galactica is not really about science, technology, or the future — it is about what it means to be human. For a fresh perspective on this, a participant recommended watching the movie Another Earth.
Though-Provoking Ideas — What Next?
The latest Orangutan Swing event was a great experience — thanks to Akira and Dipika for organizing it! Definitely worth getting up early on a Saturday morning.
Just as I’m intrigued that my job involves building intangible things (websites) in a former factory that produced [tangible] textiles, I’m intrigued that yesterday’s Orangutan Swing event met at the Liberty Arts foundry pavilion. We sat in a circle sharing and merging intangible ideas, next to a furnace used to melt and combine metals to create new tangible things.
Question: Which of the 19 ideas above do you most agree or disagree with? You can leave a comment by clicking here.