Cry havoc: Here comes (Oh) Nine…

2009: there are reasons to be cheerful (see footer for photo credits)
2009: there are reasons to be cheerful (see footer for photo credits)

So, yes, I shut down for a while.

Literally and virtually. I’ve had some time going with the flow with my family, for a while doing nothing but that. Wonderful.

Then, as Christmas passed, I switched on read-only mode. I read some literature in single sittings, a rare treat that only comes in holidays (The Road and On Chesil Beach – both wonderful and in their own way good at throwing even this grim present into cheerful relief, and making one do a Pollyanna blessings audit).

One other book – a personal favourite and major influence on my thinking – The Origin of Wealth pulled me back to its pages too. There was a chapter toward the end about the political and social consequences of the rise of Complexity Economics that made me shiver. It felt so absolutely aligned with the Us Now, Here Comes Everyone

Then, ever so gently, I eased myself back into the rushing river of RSS…

Now the lights are flickering back on. The only thing stopping me from writing is that there’s so much I want to write. So we’ll start with this, mainly because it is there and it’s making me smile – from a post called The Business Leader 2009: Chief Meaning Officer, by Tim Leberecht on design mind:

Consumption-driven wealth and status are being replaced by identity, belonging, and a strong desire to contribute and do something “meaningful” rather than just acquire things. Trust and reputation are no longer enablers for the exchange of goods, services, and information, they are replacing them. Values are the new value. Meaning is succeeding experience and customer satisfaction. “The job of leadership today is not just to make money. It’s to make meaning,” writes management consultant John Hagel. Out: Bottom-line-pragmatists and financial wizards. In: philosophers and ethicists.

It goes on to talk about “brands to transform themselves into arbiters of meaning” and

essence instead of luxury, free sharing instead of monetized scarcity, radical transparency instead of brand control, authenticity instead of image, empathy instead of focus groups, conversations instead of messaging, collaboration instead of dissemination.

Wonderful, although I admit I felt uncomfortable as I read the “arbiter” bit. Was this going too far? Were we drifting the wrong side of the Hicks-line that so torments many a marketing apparatchik’s conscience?

Well not really – everyone in the network’s an arbiter of meaning, to the extent that they choose to be. As long as we’re not getting lost and saying that brands are *the* arbiters of meaning, I think we’re OK.

A brand is like that thing we all started reminding ourselves of about “viral marketing”: an outcome, not a strategy. We’d be better off thinking about earning reputation than designing brands.

Anyway, now more than ever, revolution is in the air. Not the moneyed, dew-eyed hippy, let’s-all-get-along kind of revolution that 2004 – 2007 felt like. This is the real, tear-down-the-temples, raise-the-barricades, all-or-nothing stuff.

Umair Haque‘s ongoing commentary and provocations around the financial crisis continue to fuel a sense that now is the time to advance not to retreat. I feel almost a sense of duty, a moral imperative not to play safe, not to retreat and wait for the good old times to return.

They won’t and they shouldn’t.

We’ll continue to live with the severe consequences of the lies and venal mass delusions of this last boom through this year – but then comes reconstruction. And the planning and the genesis of that reconstruction start now, have started already.

It’s a time for boldness not for retreat.

I’m really looking forward to this year, even if it hurts. Good fortune to us all…

Cheer up - at least you're not the protagonist in The Road
Cheer up: It's not as bad as life on The Road

: : While looking for some images to break up the text of this ramble (think of it as a warm-up at the start of a cold year), I see that The Road is coming out as a movie this year.

The book, the text is so potent I left it lying on the kitchen table for a while like a smoking gun and just stared at it. It was so powerful it left me dazed…

The film’s starring Vigo Mortensen and is directed by John Hillcoat, so at least it’s got good pedigree and a chance of being as good as it can be. Make sure you read the book before you even see a trailer….

Photo: 2009 montage via Flickr Spell (yes, still love it). Today’s numbers are 2 by Holeymoon , 0 by mag3737, 0 by Leo Reynolds, and 9 by Adam Lawrence.

7 responses to “Cry havoc: Here comes (Oh) Nine…”

  1. […] to catch up on all of this..where can I get caught up on all the viral marketing for this movie? Cry havoc: Here comes (Oh) Nine… – 01/01/2009 [ 2009: there are reasons to be cheerful (see footer for photo […]

  2. […] funny how, like me, people have to caveat finding things to be optimistic about in 2009 with phrases like […]

  3. Echo your feelings on the Road. It has made me question so much, and search deeply. Am I the parent or the child? While yes I am the parent – and the book made me passionately, wildly aware of this – I am more the child. An optimist at heart, with faith in the general goodness of humankind. An amazing, amazing book.

    One of many quotest that sticks in my mind, very apt for this chilling winter: “By day, the banished sun circled the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.” Absolutely sublime.

    While I love all things Viggo Mortensen, I don’t think I could bare to alter my experience of the book by seeing the film. Def don’t see trailers or stills before reading!

    Antony – I have a question for you. I am preparing a paper on the future of government monitoring in the web2.0 era and wondered if you had any thoughts? The title question is:

    “How do you see the role of government monitoring developing, taking into account web developments and the changing media landscape?”


  4. Thanks very much for your comment – I utterly agree with your assessment of The Road. I’d be tempted not to watch the film (but I probably will)…

    On the question of government monitoring, do you mean monitoring of governments by the people/NGOs or of the web by governments?

    if you can let me know I’d be happy to respond…

  5. Ah yes, I wondered whether that was clear. It’s MEDIA monitoring of web and traditional channels output for people inside the government. You know, the media monitoring unit set up by Clarence Mitchell, spokesperson for the McCanns.

    And I will probably watch the film too. I can’t believe my neighbour thinks the book is emperor’s new clothes. I can’t understand it. A parent thing possibly?

  6. Hello Antony – did you have any thoughts? If so I’ll be relaying your insight to a panel of people TOMORROW afternoon!

    Attributed, naturally… :)

  7. Beg your pardon, Marisol, here’s some thoughts:

    “How do you see the role of government monitoring developing, taking into account web developments and the changing media landscape?”

    Like any other organisation, governments need to understand their networks and be able to listen to what people that are important to it are saying.

    Because online networks evolve rapidly this is not a simple thing to take on. Any methods/technologies need to be under constant revision and the “landscape” of the web needs to be mapped and remapped to understand how communities and conversations are changing.

    I would imagine most government departments would benefit from a semi-indpendent team that is doing the listening / filtering of content and conversations from the web and passing them to relevant decision makers in ways they can use quickly.

    Perhaps this should be the role of a department like the Office of National Statistics. I recall Churchill established this so he could get accurate data during the Second World War, because departments would distort stats that they sent him. The ONS gave him the closest information to the truth they could get, warts and all.

    The web is also useful to governments because they can get closer to what people really think and say about issues. Get closer to the people, really.

    Listening properly is also the first step to engaging with people in social media properly.

    Listening, not monitoring, mind…

    I hope that’s useful.

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