Posts tagged “brian eno”

The veneer of empathy

From this article about newsroom practices at USA Today

For Social Media Tuesdays, the staff must act as if there is no other way to get their articles except through sites likes Facebook and Reddit. That means USA Today’s journalists diligently place each of their famously punchy, graphic-rich stories onto various social media platforms. The purpose is to get them thinking like their readers, who increasingly get news through their Twitter feeds instead of the paper’s front page or home page.

“Think like your reader” is a generous framing as it highlights empathy, and who wouldn’t want their company, their products, their staff to be more empathetic? In fact, trying to get attention through social media is an exercise in manipulation (see Harry McCracken’s analysis/history of the “restore your faith in humanity” flavor of linkbait). That’s not empathy.

I’m not sure if this distortion was introduced by the reporter directly or whether they simply took what they were given at face value. Either way, that’s poor journalism (which is ironic in an article about the challenges facing the newspaper industry).

Now, the idea of taking what you know how to do and setting it aside, as a creative constraint, is a fabulous approach, like something from Oblique Strategies (See more about Brian Eno, one of the creators of Oblique Strategies, in this great article about his approach to art and creativity).

Long Now – Will Wright and Brian Eno

The other night we saw a LongNow event, featuring Will Wright and Brian Eno. As Stewart Brand writes (in that link) “In a dazzling duet Will Wright and Brian Eno gave an intense clinic on the joys and techniques of ‘generative’ creation. ”

Elsewhere on the web I found some great quotes from the event:

B.E. :: ‘ .. culture is everything that you don’t have to do, like choosing to style your hair in a certain way… what would it be like to be a person with hair like that? … the act of surrender is agreeing to live life under those values…’

W.W. :: on game design ‘… like a japanese zen garden, your garden is not complete until you cannot remove anything else.’

I was surprised no one mentioned Joshua Davis who does something similar writing algorithms that create art. Nice Wired piece here (the relevant-to-the-LongNow-event stuff is on page 2).

This was the best presentation I have ever seen. My brain was just ready to explode about a million times. The audio and video will be up on their site by the end of the week, and I’m definitely going to watch it.

There were a lot of Big Ideas, and the two presenters engaged each other in a wonderful dialog; they were smart, articulated, experienced (“well, when Bowie and I….”) and great listeners; building together. I’ve seen other presentations that try to accomplish this sort of thing but nothing has ever even come close.

I think one lesson for session organizers is that this stuff doesn’t come off spontaneously. If people are going to perform together (i.e. be part of a panel discussion), they need to interact, to learn about each other and each other’s work. I wish our recent Design 2.0 panel had done some of this; I’m sure our discussion would have been better if we had formed some sort of team ahead of time.


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