Tag Archives: zeitgeist

A Rhetorical Question?

From the BBC’s website today…


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Welcome To The Precariat

The continuation of exclusion, by other means…

Last week, US unemployment jumped to an official level of around 6.8%. But, according to MarketWatch, when you include

…discouraged workers and those whose hours have been cut back to part-time — [the numbers] rose to 12.5% from 11.8%. The number of workers forced to work part-time rose by 621,000 to 7.3 million.

The difference between those percentages offers a glimpse of the scale of the Precariat — those workers with the most tenuous connection to the Experience Formerly Known as Employment. The term Precarity has been kicking around for a while now in leftie Academia and the anti-globalisation movement, to describe

…a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. The term has been specifically applied to either intermittent work or, more generally, a confluence of intermittent work and precarious existence.

Precarity is most commonly associated with outsiders who compete for low-paying retail and service jobs. Perversely, a similar state of uncertainty falls to the skilled, individualistic young, working their time with zero job security as digital freelancers in the post-industrial economies. A familiar scene at your local coffee-shop franchise is probably the closest the depoliticised members of both groups come to meeting — the one group toiling behind the tills, the other slaving against client deadlines on their MacBooks, making each drink last half a day.

Precariat, meet Digital Precariat. Help yourself to sugar over there, by the door. On the way out.

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New Words

New times call for new words and phrases. The list starts here.

First up: fear forward. As in ‘fashion forward’, but more (f)era-appropriate. For instance, those who are enjoying their ‘I told you so’ moment with regards to the current global recession, can be rightly described as ‘fear forward’.

With apologies and props to Word Spy.

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Fash-mags as economic indicator.

Fashion shoot on Bryant Homes building siteHot on the dangerously high heels of the ‘hemline index’, comes another economic indicator from the fashion world. A recent issue of the FT‘s How to Spend It glossie features a shoot in an alien-looking location. Fashionistas are even more notorious than ad folk when it comes to jetting off to the Maldives ‘for the light’, but this shoot is different. This fashionably sparse landscape doesn’t come courtesy of some desert or even Lanzarote. Instead, the photo credits include “Bryant Homes, new homes development, Oxfordshire” who are clearly diversifying in the absence of any houses to build. Times is hard.

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It’s that time of year again…

Yes, slow news and the heat getting to journalists’ brains means that it’s time to put together lists of the most influential/cool/powerful people in media. Folks in advertising and TV will be frantically scanning the Mediaguardian 100 — in particular for leads, mates, or (most importantly) themselves. Meanwhile, BigShinyThing was delighted to have got a namecheck on our friend Lisa Devaney’s renegade list on BrandRepublic which was MUCH more interesting than the Mediaguardian‘s (natch). Also worthy of note is The Hospital Club’s Top 100 which is sooo alternative and cool you have to be a member to read it. (Full disclosure: we write for The Hospital Club’s site.)

Now this is not just a pat piece about our mates (honest). There is — as The Hospital contends — a new world order upon us, and one in which the old heirarchies no longer apply. It’s very sweet and retro of newspapers to ply us with the Mediaguardian Power List and Observer journalists’ idea of what stands for ‘cool’ but we don’t have to listen to them any more. Besides, old media has always been obsessed with glorifying those who have already made it — those cronies who are already ‘in the club’. We’re much more interested in the renegades, the iconoclasts, the innovators… Generation Next. Some of them have been paid lip service — drag artist extraordinaire Jonny Woo gets a namecheck in the Observer cool list — but we suspect that’s just print journalists trying to look ‘with it’.

No, the new power networks are defined by all of us and not by them. And influence is no longer a numbers game dictated by salary, age, employees, readership, viewership … all of that is blown. The true influencers now exist in a long tail of cohorts: the clubkids, knitting circles, flash mobsters, gamers, bloggers, weirdos, geeks, freaks, kids … whatever. For instance, within the perfomance art cohort, Lisa Lee’s Underconstruction night has quietly helped launch the career of many a star of the current Performance Art explosion. And in street art, stencil originator Blek le Rat is finally getting his dues. And those are just in BST‘s little corner of the world.

With Generation Next, their influence is obvious: it’s in the clubs, in social media, on the bus, on the streetwhere it matters.

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RIP Old Sparky

Finally, an RIP that’s nice to know

On February 8th, the US state of Nebraska declared that execution by electric chair amounted to an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The US state was the only one still using electrocution as its sole method of execution and the move came after a condemned man, Raymond Mata, appealed against his sentence. In its nine-decade history, this particular chair had been used 15 times. old-sparky.JPG

Little by little, America is beginning to balk at capital punishment: the method rather the madness of it. The most popular method — lethal injection — is currently being investigated by the Supreme Court and Nebraska may struggle to find a replacement way of meting out ‘justice’.

Source: The Economist.

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The Day the Music (Industry) Died

A choice quote from The Economist

In 2006 EMI, the world’s fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.

Source: The Economist. Apologies to Don McLean.

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CSI Twitters

Zeitgeisty as ever, CSI explains the lure of social media

We are BIG fans of CSI: its noirish plots, zeitgeist-grabbing storylines (remember the Furries episode?) and general ridiculousness. This season, it has got the geeks gossiping about the use of Twitter in a scene and the attendant neat explanation of what drives people to live their lives online:

“Some people just don’t value privacy.”
“They don’t expect privacy, they value openness.”

Nice bit of transmedia advertising/storytelling too. Via Plasticbag.org.

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Wikis and Possums

Thoughts on social media and subjectivity

possum.jpgRecently we were discussing Wikipedia‘s anti-business bias: Wikipedians tend to find businesses ‘not notable’ and often dismiss entries about them as them as ‘advertising’. Whilst it is admirable to root out the many articles on Wikipedia which are barely-disguised pat pieces, just because Wikipedians don’t find business interesting doesn’t mean it isn’t. It’s as if the resurgence of the long tail has become its own kind of snobbery — a land where the entry for Anna Nicole Smith can stretch to several pages but where entries about famous businesses get deleted.

A similar debate has been going on on Cute Overload. Put simply: do possums make the cut? A Wiki ‘delete war’ can stretch out for weeks and hundreds of empassioned postings. Cute Overload — understanding the nature of social media, and therefore its community, opened and closed the debate within the space of two posts:

People, it’s tough at Cute O headquarters. We can never decide if possums are cute, or just horribly evil. (There is a fine line, and otters LOVE to jump back and forth across that line, taunting! always taunting!)

But I digest. Check out this dewd with this anerable paws. Don’t look at his schnozzle or ears tho. OK, you can look at his schnozzle.

Rebecca M. claims:

  • They RULE in the Moist Nosicle category.
  • They have a thumb without a nail on their back feet.
  • They have elaborate whiskers.
  • Their ears are pink when they’re babies and turn black as they grow up.
  • And let’s not forget they carry their babies in a pouch — North America’s only marsupial.

Wikipedants, take note. There should be a joke here about possums and long tails, but frankly we’ve got better things to be getting on with.

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The Way We Live Now: “Did you Just Make an IM Face?”

Proof of how ensconced emoticons have become in our day-to-day chitchat

Our favourite anecdote in the IHT article — which is well worth reading all the way through — is this:

Kristina Grish, author of The Joy of Text: Mating, Dating and Techno-relating, said she grew so accustomed to making the :−P symbol (a tongue hanging out) in instant messages at work that it once accidentally popped up, in three dimensions, on a date.

“When the waiter told us the specials,” she recalled in an e-mail message, “I made that face — not on purpose of course — because they sounded really drab and uninteresting. And the guy I was out with looked at me like I was insane and said: ‘Did you just make an IM face?‘ “

Prediction: the spillover of online behaviours, etiquette and worldviews into offline life is going to be big news over the next couple of years.

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