Tag Archives: nodal points

Good enough to share: designing creative with nodal points in mind (2009 Trends)

26 Mar

Often we have seen brands approach the internet like hedge-funds playing the stock market. So many strategies are double plays that aim to have their cake and eat it, to win no matter what the outcome but have a side order of “social” to round out the meal or case study. The result is expensive and doesn’t reflect the reality of the net.

The internet lets the crowd raise-up the things it likes with links and tags and re-posts, and damn the things it doesn’t like with a pointed lack of attention. Old passive message, big idea, objective correlative creative with a big call to action, and series of key frame proof points doesn’t cut it anymore. There is too much noise: now things have to be good enough to share.

But just because something is good enough to share and inherently interesting doesn’t mean it will catch on and spread through the network. The work that is interesting must be structured for the network, as demonstrated by SharedEgg. It must allow the crowd to create nodal points within their part of the network. It must also contain an idea that can be reprocessed and played with, passed on and owned.

This gives us two key challenges, one commercial and one sociological: (1) how do we make things that are good enough to share, and good enough to create or contribute to nodal points; and (2) how do we use creative to help shape the network so that the nodal points it throws up in the future are useful and “the best for society”? I believe that Brand Reality Creative is one answer.

Next >> What is Brand Reality Creative?



A Nodal point is a (potentially distributed) collection of content, conversations and links that spread a meme/concept and cause the ideas and journeys around it to be reshaped and dragged just like a planet’s mass influences the passage of time around it. It is a key point in the narrative of the net.



This is part of “The Changing Nature of Interactive Creative” whitepaper.

5. The semantic web & social periphery (2009 Trends)

17 Feb

Of all the potential trends for 2009 I think Social Periphery is the most interesting. It effects everything we do and changes everything we will do. It influences the future form of interactive creative work as well as the way interactive narratives or campaigns should be structured.

It also encompasses another old favourite of mine –  the concept of nodal points.

A long time ago (well 1997ish) this was a subject that I once tried to debate with an interviewer at Andersen Consulting as a way of understanding and predicting internet narrative networks. I’d first encountered nodal points as a means of trying to reveal and analyse the often bewildering “narrative” of  Finnegans Wake and felt that if we were to treat the net as a whole as a hypertextual narrative then nodal points were a way of extracting meaning. Synchronously it was also just after Gibson’s Idoru where Colin Laney has a talent for identifying nodal points in social data and using them to predict the future.

Unfortunately the Management Consultants didn’t seem to think this interweb thing was going to catch on and rightly asked the strange babbling blonde chap (yes, it was a long time ago) to leave – but they did give me some good fencing tips, apparently they were after good fencers, must have had a team or something.

Anyway, I’m going to be exploring Social Periphery and nodal points in our next whitepaper but until then here’s a quick summary of some of the notes…

  • The semantic web means sophisticated personalisation of content – automatically finding and then showing only what is relevant to you.
  • It is a future with “web addresses” for content itself rather than content pools – a future of bitcast content where only the most contextually relevant bits are parsed to the end user.
  • It is a future that needs better filters/browsers and it is a future that is converging with location and mobile based services.
  • Location-based services start with a focus on fulfiling your immediate needs – finding stuff near you now. However, as they grow beyond this then the introduction of the concept of location to technology means increasingly focusing on your relationship with place AND people.
  • Loopt and Google Lattitute show that people are not afraid to post their physical whereabouts online if there is a social benefit. The potential is more than mapping where friends are, phonebooks that tell you who is available, e-mail that is smarter/semantic and can help prioritise (based on a person’s relationship with you). Sci-Fi? Not quite: The Obama iPhone app “Call friends” function organised contacts by swing state. The Google search app already returns geographically local search results (and can use voice commands). This has benefits beyond the frivoulous. Good web and mobile services allow people to create social objects (things around which either shared endeavors, processes or communities take place) that add value and enable connections. This is the potential of Social Periphery.
  • Social Periphery is about aggregating & serving data in socially useful ways. Location-aware mobile devices capture slices of reality you couldn’t before but there is the potential for too much data. The potential for data noise means that semantic technologies are vital to turn it into intelligence. This is means the two trends must converge.
  • Our actions leave traces on the web (manual & increasingly auto generated), we can use these traces to see what is happening next in our social lives ==> social peripheral vision semantically filtered from your feeds and delivered at the right time/place.
  • As the semantic web and social periphery converge we have a future where we can have as much peripheral information at our disposal as a World of Warcraft player…
  • In marketing terms this combination of the semantic web and social peripheral information changes our campaign signalling strategies and throws up the potential to create nodal points (narrative patterns in vast amounts of data). How do we detect/who will detect and use these nodal points? How will they affect our privacy?
  • Again in creative communications terms it affects the concept of the story beyond the article and how interactive campaigns really work and will need to be structured. Communications will become more complex and fragmented and we will need to design and create ideas accordingly.

2009 Interactive Creative Trends

17 Feb

Predicting trends can be notorious woolgathering for creative and strategy folk, often coming across as a mix of someone guessing the end of a detective thriller while taking a peak at page 400 in a choose your own adventure novel. But when you’re confronted with the annual “What’s next?” question it is a chance to alchemise some of the gold you’ve been thinking about into the base metal of Keynote slides.

Over the last month I’ve been sharing some thoughts about Interactive Creative – plus things we’ve been playing with and developing, as well as great stuff other people are up to – with our clients and other colleagues in the industry, and its been good to get some insight into what they think is going on.

Obviously the forthcoming “Second Great Depression” and the potential of +3million unemployed people is the elephant in the room.  Interactive can’t live in isolation and 2009/2010 is going to be extremely challenging; every day sees more pessimistic news that tends to render any predication optimistic.

Despite this there is the potential for great work to break through and enter popular culture/social currency – to effect real change. As the economic pressures increase and budgets get tighter, then the old faithful building-block plans of tired techniques can no longer be justified as effective. It becomes more vital that we create work that is not another microsite contribution to the marketing web.

The new work does require a confidence and realisation of how the web really works, and it is this work that I’ve been calling Brand Reality Creative. It is the work that will hopefully be the norm when we emerge back to growth in 2011/12.

But before I post again about Brand Reality Creative I thought I’d share some of my notes/slides about 2009 Interactive Creative Trends. Like I said, Interactive can’t live in isolation so I’ll start with some of the things from the “real” world…

  • Consumers trading down
    • But using brands & technology to provide access to the things and habits we traded up to during the age of excess. GDP down 3% and consumer spending down 2.6% as employees are “much more cautious” – stats and understatement from Ernst & Young Item Club
  • Cheap is in (not frowned upon)
    • Loyalty is not abandoned but based on rewards and value exchange rather than brand image
  • Home as sanctuary
    • Home entertainment, nostalgia and trust, “staycations” (a dreadful word that hints at local breaks rather than expensive trips), back to basics and security
  • Room/need for playfulness
    • As a relief but not excessive due to “the guilt & hangover”
  • Firmware/software updates
    • Not expensive hardware upgrades which can be put off but cheaper and more fun
  • Technology a source of escape
    • Fun and interactivity embraced by marketing as the added value rather than expensive extra features/materials. Playfulness means being hands on and having control…
  • People want to retrench & be in control
    • They see the trouble we are in as being caused by “other elites”, the bankers, politicians, and hedge-fundes they do not understand

In light of these wider world trends here are the 7 Philosophies/trends/technologies (and some examples of how they are already happening) that I think seem to offer the most hope and potential…

Seven Interactive Creative Trends for 2009

  1. Clouds and Crowds
  2. Further Convergence
  3. Play is social in the mainstream
  4. Sitting back with broaderband
  5. The semantic web & social periphery
  6. On is off/Off is on
  7. Augmented Reality/Digital Magic

The detail follows over the next day (and I promise I’ll fill in all the example links and pictures this time…soon)

Next… 1 Clouds and Crowds