Gateway to the soul

Gateway to the soul
Originally uploaded by servantofchaos.

I read this post from Diana some time ago. It provides an excellent background on the Rosenhan experiment that looked at "being sane in insane places" … and showed how the relationships between subject and object are far more fluid than we would like to believe. (One of the things I love about Diana’s blog and those of other clever planners, is that they expose the depth and breadth of their thought processes in bringing to light the new visions of old ideas.)

Diana’s post reminded me of a time in my life many years ago. I was fascinated by Romantic poetry and just happened to have a relationship crisis (isn’t it always the way?) that tipped me over the edge. I didn’t sleep for four days, wrote and read poetry incessantly and slowly but surely felt myself slipping into a form of madness. One night, suffering from exhaustion, I reached a point where I felt I could surrender — just simply stop fighting, and allow my mind to freewheel. For me, I could see there was a choice, but I wondered also how many other people had come to this point and not been able to hold back.

And one of the things that struck me was the seductiveness of this madness … and also its proximity. I had come to the brink of madness in only a matter of days!

The writings that I had accumulated in this time are powerful … and some of the best and most harrowing of any of my creative works. The journey had allowed me to tap into a very strong creative stream, but it also meant potential danger and sacrifice. Even now, writing this, I can feel my heart pounding … remembering the excitement and the fear. I think, in marketing, we call this "authenticity" … but very few of us are able to creatively take a "message" to this deep and scary place.

Ever since that time, I have maintained an interest in the crossing point of sanity and madness. And somehow, after reading Diana’s post, I found myself here at a site called "My Topsy Turvy Life" by Letha who works in a "medium secure forensic unit". The crossover in Letha’s life becomes palpable when her work comes home with her … and she has to change her shopping habits because a patient is released and moves into her neighbourhood. There are many interesting episodes … but I particularly love this post about a patient who knitted Letha a scarf using lots of interesting knots and colours especially selected for her.

And while we can poetically consider that the eyes are the gateways to the soul, simple acts of kindness for those less fortunate … or even simple acts of humanity, reach far deeper. It is one thing to look — but quite another to DO.

Why Saturn Still Doesn’t Get It

  Originally uploaded by MJĀ².

I thought that this topic had died a natural death. I really did. I thought that enough was enough. Even poor Tim Jackson has given up on it all.

BUT then Joe Thompson found some of my posts on GM Saturn and decided to submit a trackback that links through to a promotion of the 2008 range. Now, OBVIOUSLY, Joe didn’t READ the subject matter of my post — BUT if he did, then really, it is just another form of COMMENT SPAM that aims to improve his site ranking.

As you know, one of my biggest problems with the way that the whole Saturn Saga played out was more to do with managing the LIFECYCLE of brand engagement for cars. It appears that once a car runs out of warranty that the manufacturer wipes their hands — leaving the owner of a "pre-loved" car holding the bucket. The thing is … at NO point does a "Saturn" cease the be a Saturn.

Anyway … I am now tracking back to Joe’s post. And hopefully those who read his blog will see my view of his beloved Saturn product line. Feel free to share your sentiments with him!

Tell Me About Your Mother

Freud_dollOK … this is in the totally weird category, but I LOVE it. This site has all types of weird gifts … and the standout for me is this one … the Sigmund Freud action figure.

How did I find this? Why am I talking about it?

Glad you asked …

It seems that the Z-list has TAKEN OFF AGAIN! I am seeing a lot of new links from a new wave of Z-listers. Truly astounding! I will try and seek out a big, long, updated Z-list and re-post it soon. Obviously Mack Collier has a lot to answer for … except, you may notice that the Viral Garden DOES NOT appear on many of the Z-lists.

Vegging Out

Sausages and veg
Originally uploaded by boozyjimcarver.

I don’t know about you, but there seems to have been a blog explosion at the start of 2007! There have been lots of new blogs that have come to my attention, a range of conversations spanning different bloggers and their sites and a bit of invective here and there to keep it all interesting.

In amongst all this, there have been a few things that I have missed … or more precisely, I have seen but not really understood. There is this whole carnivore project going on with some of my favourite bloggers going head-to-head on their favourite meat. This week, Kirsty shows her support for Kangaroo (though I would feel a little uncomfortable about eating our national emblem) when pitted against tofu.

As a vegetarian, I am pleased to see tofu get a run, but fear we are just fighting a losing battle — even if Emily is providing some strong resistance. AND while I don’t really understand what this is all about … I did find this absolutely bizarre range of … "gifts" and thought of you carnivores out there!

Buon apetit!

Machine Me

When I saw this from Greg Verdino via David Armano I knew it was going to be something special. Why? Because I trust their views. I respect their opinions. I know I am not wasting my time.

And as I am reading Citizen Marketers at the moment, this seems to be topical — especially given that the subtitle is "When people are the message". Mojiti allows you to create a narrative overlay to your videos … and also allows others to contribute to this. You WILL need to sign-up, but then you will be able to add your comments to this video.

And while the technology is cool … I particularly love the way that Michael Wesch has pulled together a compelling storyline integrating message and medium. The possibilities that this opens up for digital storytelling and brand engagement/promotion (in particular) is considerable. Of course, this will not be without risks … but then, neither is crossing the road.

Mindmeld with Mindblob … a kind of reading list

Originally uploaded by Precious Roy.

When our favourite bloggers suddenly close up shop it can come as a bit of a shock. Where are they? What’s going on? And as the time elapses, the questions become deeper — is there something serious? Was it something I said (or because I didn’t).

My good friend Mindblob has been out of action for a while … attending to the other things in life … like life. So to help him out, I have put together a little list of things that I have loved over the last few weeks. Feel free to chime in with others!

Blog ROI is the New Coffee

Blog the New Coffee
Originally uploaded by penmachine.

When coffee was first brought to Europe it caused a sensation. And as coffee houses sprung up across Europe, they became viewed variously as dens of iniquity and places of underhand dealings. Gradually though, coffee became respectable, and now I can hardly string two words together without a cup. Underlying this is, of course, a powerhouse global business that revolutionised the economies of the great trading nations of the 1700s.

Mario Sundar has a great post today over at MarketingProfs, talking about the ROI on blogging for businesses.

He draws on some very interesting analysis from Charlene Li at Forrester. Of course, when it comes down to quantifying the potential or real returns of blogging it is very difficult. Sure we can track user traffic, we can monitor the flow of users from a blog to other parts of a site and we can count comments, subscribers or feeds. But how do we measure engagement?

Mario’s view is that you start with an understanding of “ownership” … which is a great concept. But it presupposes that your corporate content is worthy or, or in a state ready, for sharing/co-ownership. However, it is a very interesting topic of conversation, and one that is many corporate and non-corporate bloggers are interested in — my friend Lewis Green recently started a conversation on exactly this topic.

And while Blog ROI is a great topic, it is just like a great cup of coffee — we know what we like and have a taste for particular brands. And while we may not know why some of the metrics make sense (we may even prefer to go with gut feel) … there is no doubt that the team that cracks this code will be worthy of the millions that will be bestowed upon them.

Always the Bridesmaid?

Andrewhowellscartoon_1 A friend of mine, Andrew Howells, has an entry in this year’s Bald Archies. For those non-Australians out there, the Bald Archies is an exhibition of paintings that parody Australia’s premier portraiture prize, the Archibald Prize.

Andrew’s painting depicts Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, as a bride, with his Treasurer, Peter Costello as the dejected bridesmaid. This reflects recent political events and neatly puts the situation into a typical laconic Australian context. Hope you like it!

Stripped Bare

striptease sur scene
Originally uploaded by _boris.

There can be something wholly seductive about writing. It can be so for the writer as well as the reader.

On the writing side, you are often unsure as to where your story will go. For example, this post, can at any time, veer away from my honest intention. I am in a constant state of anticipation and determination — desiring a certain word or direction but also perilously close to letting my ideas take a new, random way. Yet when I began this post, I knew where I wanted it to go … I just don’t yet know how to get there.

The writers I admire are brave beyond measure. They write with a ferocity that seers my eyes. They tell me the truths that others would keep secret. And they share the preciousness of their world in ways that invite us all in. Some of these writers are aware of the striptease that they invite us into; others work into it, becoming aware over time; and a final group play at striptease but become too self-conscious and laugh it off. But make no mistake. There is both art and desire in all these forms.

Though I am sure he would be horrified at the suggestion, Russell Davies is a master of striptease. His ideas flirt outrageously with the front row readers of his blog, hinting at something richer, more intense and just slightly out of reach. Suddenly, with a glance to the left, another thought careers across our line of vision and we are caught watching, gaping, panting. How does he do it? How does he sustain it?

Just take a look at his long work-in-progress posts on upcoming presentations. Watch how he starts slowly, drawing us in with provocation, gentle prodding and (what is that?) a purr … there are images, juxtapositions, finely arrayed graphics and a clever smile. But at the end, we find we get MORE than we bargained for … because for Russell, it is not just the tease, it is the full strip. He willingly pares down his ideas in front of our eyes. He shows the steps necessary to make it work. He shares, generously, the experience and ingenuity that has made him a leader in his field. And he does this with good grace.

This week, Russell’s openness and community spirit was put on trial. He was stripped bare at a time and in a way that was not of his own choosing. The nakedness hurt. But it didn’t stop him posting his reaction to it. And while I understand needing to hide for a while, I hope that he is soon back … feather boas and all.

Update: I forgot that my friend, Marcus Brown, is very angry about this. And with good reason … especially if these sorts of attacks become yet another way of censoring the ideas and collaborative efforts of others.