It might just be me, but I’ve been finding increasingly that the things that I’m drawn to don’t have a point to make, a specific purpose or an agenda. At the recent Planningness in Brooklyn, these included Chris Heathcote’s “How to do urban computing” presentation:
which really wasn’t a how-to as much as it was a compendium of interesting examples.
Another example was Sean Abrahamson’s presentation on “How to do social production,”
which again was less of an instruction, and more like a map of the various parts and pitfalls associated with
crowdsourcing social production.
I got the same feeling watching these presentations as I felt reading Russell’s post this morning, which are notes in search of a theme, and on which the only way to comment is to leave a trackback. I wanted to say that the theme is “themelessness,” so I have.
It was the same feeling of relief I saw in the eyes of one of our clients quite recently who gravitated immediately to the one idea that we presented that also lacked a theme.
I think things like this make us feel free, they give us space to breathe and think. But most of all they provide us with a way to understand some of the stuff we’re hearing and seeing, rather than just giving us more stuff to understand. Like maps, they don’t require action, but suggest various routes. They make connections and reveal relationships but stop short of making recommendations.
I think that “maps” like these are a structural form that can be applied to many kinds of content: film, music, stories, art, and because they are a breath of fresh air, I think we will see more of them.
Adrian is founding partner of Zeus Jones a branding company believing actions speak louder than words and that modern brands are defined by what they do not what they say. He speaks (and writes) regularly about non-communications based models for marketing & branding. @adrianho