Category Archives: digimerssive_

Mobile drama

[via mobile marketing magazine]

"20:20 London, Incentivated and the COI
(Central Office of Information) have collaborated to launch ‘THMBNLS’,
an interactive, ad-funded mobile soap opera for the Department of
Children, Schools and Families. THMBNLS follows the lives of six
teenagers and raises awareness of sexual wellbeing. The 22 weekly
episodes will be available exclusively via the mobile Internet, and
will be free to download. 

Viewers register online via their
mobile browser at: Traffic is being driven to the site
via mobile banner ads placed across the six operator portals; 3, O2,
Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone. The first of the weekly
30-second episodes was  released at 7pm on Friday 9 January, with
viewers reminded to watch the next episode by text message or vCalendar
entries they have previously downloaded to their phone thereafter. The
‘vCalendar’ can be downloaded to activate the handset’s alarm function,
thereby avoiding the cost of additional SMS reminders."

I like the interface they've built to replicate the mobile experience online.

See the Future in Malmo


Unsworn Industries, maker of the 'Telemegaphone Dale' have just announced the launch of their 'Parascopes, Malmo' – site-specific "binoculars" that show not the present, but the future.  Specifically, the impact of a proposed urban planning effort.  Rather than put the plans on view in Malmo city hall, they built immersive viewers people can use to see the potential of the proposals in situ.  Nice.

Runs in the family?

My six-year-old wanted to make a birthday card for my wife.  He grabbed a pen and mumbled something about "doing a computer thing", then came back with this.  He informed me that the 'Happy Bir' is followed by "a blinking cursor, because I'm still typing".  He put on the 'Caps Lock' and though my wife uses Safari @ home, Daddy uses Firefox, and that browser made the cut.

Geek waters run deep chez Gleeson. 


Can't wait to see his Linux/Maemo version next year.

NIN: Lights in the Sky, PDX

Been a NIN fanboy since Pretty Hate Machine got me through college. 

"Lights in the Sky 12/7 PDX"?  Hellz yeah. The article in Wired only got me juiced.

All images and video courtesy of my ROCKING Nokia N96.



The guts behind the scene: 2 of 3 Moment Factory Linux workstations at stage right, with more processor power than NASA, stayed lit even when the lights went down:


The closing screen:


Vids –

And one more:

Our boy Trent puts on serious show.  VERY VISUAL – and damn serious.

From Wired:

"I'm not really a purist," admits Reznor. "If I'm in the studio working
on an album, I try to only please myself. But when it's a tour, it
feels a bit more like I have a responsibility to some degree to
entertain people."

These boys rocked CLEAN: no tats, no breaks, bottled water.  Adrenaline-fueled chest whomping crazy-ass bass.  Machine gun drum, vibraphone and…a cello?  More Lemur touch pads than you could shake a stick at.  And Trent tossed his tambourine.  A visua-musical mash.  Operatic.  Pandemonic.  Tech-ed to the gills and the roof.  Like Gattaca on crack, but with bass, sweat and oomph. [btw: Uma rocked that one.]

Trent says his next NIN tour will be as pared down as this was over-the-top. 

Ain't no way I'm missing it.

NIN Secret concert…finally

Maybe my favorite bit about the NIN Year Zero ARG was that damn concert that I had heard about but never actually saw documented.

The story went that players and fans were made aware of an 'Art is Resistance' meeting…then climbed into vehicles (I had heard buses, but apparently it was vans ok, it WAS buses) and driven to an undisclosed location in the LA factory district for a wild 'experience'. Sounded cool, but though I kept coming across references, I couldn't find documentation. Until now.

Karl Bode's WordSoup blog mentioned the concert back in 4/07, and though his video's been yanked, he links to one of the YZ websites 'Open Source Resistance' where the video still exists. bingo.

It's worth watching to see

  • the crowd reactions – they shift [frequently] between willing disbelief, outright disbelief, mild discomfort, wild euphoria and s–t scared. Just try to quantify the 'engagement metric' on that puppy, Holmes.
  • watching the intersection of realities between Trent and the actors/assistants with the fans – Trent is firmly embedded in the album's alternate worldview, and for once, the fans don't just imagine it after huffing airplane glue and cranking it up, they get to be there when the SWAT team bursts in. Shooting.

Trent and 42 Entertainment built the Year Zero roller coaster ride that turned music into a game you could play. And kudos to 42 Entertainment, but make no mistake: Trent has spent the better part of the last two decades doing the heavylifting of brand narrative world building. And with the dystopian foundation laid and the narrative arc in motion, you can subcontract/modularize the activation to map to technographic, demographic, and psychographic subsets. And net a solid selling album in the process. Yes, I am a NIN fanboy. Sue me.

For anyone unfamiliar with this year's Cannes Viral Advertising Gran Prix winner, here's the synopsis, from their entry:

"The ambitious Year Zero alternate reality game (ARG), a work of
cross-media art involving websites, emails, phone calls, album
packaging, tour t-shirts, thumb drives, music videos, murals,
interactive games and live concert events with the new music of Nine
Inch Nails at its core. Playing out over 10 weeks, the Year Zero ARG
engaged over 2.5M participants. It started with a message hidden in the
back of a concert t-shirt that lead to online websites, ultimately over
29 websites discovered over several months, 7.5M page views, 7M forum
postings, 2M phone calls and thousands of original art submissions."

Are you letting people play YOUR brand communications?

Technology – what does it really mean?

What is technology? "Technology is the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization."

Wikipedia: "Technology is a broad concept that deals with a species’ usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species’ ability to control and adapt to its environment."

Merriam-Webster, via Wikipedia, "[Technology] is mostly used in three different contexts: when referring to a tool (or machine); a technique; the cultural force; or a combination of the three."

Technology is not ‘other’ – it is us.  Check it.

Immersive Worlds (Hold onto your hats)

I had the opportunity to catch up with Ken Brady, gadfly and immersive world guru-type fella.  Now for a lot of  folks, conversations about immersive worlds goes ‘Second Life’ fast.  Between them, Hipihi, and metabirds, you cover a lot of ground.  And miss a lot.

Oh – and you lose everyone.  I mean c’mon.  Walk into a marketing department and say ‘Second Life’ and you may as well be selling Dutch tulips.  Or plague bandages.  Or dead, really stinky animals.  Or barf.

So for those of you who class immersive worlds somewhere near "Klingons vs. Furries Bowling", Ken had some interesting insights.  And there’s even a chance to win a prize somewhere in this entry.  Like at the end.

Back to Ken.

I asked him to share four important things everyone should know, here’s the knowledge bombs dropped:

1. Everything you learn now will change in two weeks.  Ken knew thirty new platforms in various stages of development, each with a range of strengths and weaknesses.  The platfrom-specific knowledge from an experience in any would, he suggested, have the shelf life of sushi.

2. Fast retreat = Community Backlash. In other words, don’t treat immersive world brand experiences like campaigns with a hard start and finish.  The social contract of entering an immersive world requires a real community engagement (read: committment) to earn the respect of the in-world inhabitants.  Hence the creation of the SLLA – originally formulated to resist marketing incursions (including "shooting" people entering SL American Apparel stores, though of late they’ve taken a political stance seeking in-world political rights…)

3. Own the IP and/or 3d models built to support your in-world efforts – otherwise you’ll need to rebuild them the next time you need them.  Also, the models may (and this is a big ‘may’) be cross-platform compatible, so while you may need to re-stretch some polygons, don’t pay twice for the wireframes/skeletons if you don’t need to…

4. Engage communities on their terms, not yours. A brand conversation in Gaia online (e.g., ‘The Last Mimzy’) versus a Second Life dialoge are different experiences entirely.  Before you can relevantly message or "plus-up" an in-worlder’s experience, you gotta know what makes the eco-system tick – what are the goals, rewards and social currencies (explicit and implicit) built into or minted in those locations?  How do you enhance what’s going on and provide real value?

As we talked, we also discussed the role of a community manager/virtual brand manager in virtual space, and the outsourcing of marketing functions by real world brands to virtual world teams.  This gets real interesting real fast.  To whit: Brand management as classically understood in the command and control systems of CPGs has to evolve to community management. 

With IP dissemination in virtual space (literally and figuratively) control is effectively gone.   (This is the irony of "UGC" – if your brand  is relevant to people, there is UGC around it.  The choice isn’t whether it makes sense, the choice is how to engage)

So you can fight the loss of total brand control in interactive space, or leverage it.

Virtual worlds, dealt with attentively and respectfully, have the potential to become crowdsourced brand forums where you can learn a lot about how your brand could better meet the needs of virtual customers and advocates – and the lessons learned there may well feed real world conversations as well.

Leveraging the power of those spaces means participating relevantly in the communities themselves and being a part of conversations around your brand – aiding and enabling, or correcting as needed. 

How’s that sound: "Brand guides, not brand managers."  Nice 2.0, 2.5 and 3.0 ring to it.

Or you can just bowl with Klingons and Furries.  But remember you gotta dress the part.  Who knows – they may even love you for it.   By the way?  disturbing number of SL sex forums with Furries.  One innocuous Google search netted this gem.   Jeepers, people.  I’m not saying, just sayin’.

furries klingons
Thanks to KenekeB for posting up a whole gallery of images from what looked to be a heartwarming communal gathering in ATLANTA.

Special Prize Opportunity:
First five people to post a mailing address in the comments section (if you don’t want to go public, email me at get a real world copy of the "Girls of Second Life" calendar. 

No, I’m not kidding.

Virtual Realities – San Francisco, New York, Dubai-land, Falcon City, Second Life, Cloverfield, oh for gosh’s sake

Some I’m going to apologize in advance for bad logic, poor application of social theory, bad understanding of the neurologic basis of memories and the like.  And I welcome any thoughts anyone has on the following.


I was talking with Penny Brough of W+K London about the Golden Gate Bridge.  I’ll admit, I was a little jet-lagged, but from what I recall, she was saying more folks know San Francisco through images of the Golden Gate bridge than will ever see the real bridge…so there are probably more virtual Golden Gate bridges traveling the world in folks heads than real memories experienced by folks who’ve actually seen it.  And the SF of the mind may be as real to the non-visitor as the real one is to folks who’ve been there.   And sometimes when you finally do see something, the real one isn’t as pretty as the cumulative virtual one you remember though you’d never really seen it, anyway.

Golden Gate Bridge from Renny's N95

Maybe, somehow, getting a gray day downer the first time you cross the Golden Gate is like when you meet a movie star like Tom Cruise, and find out he’s REALLY SHORT.  Or not.

The power of cumulative virtual memory, not Tom Cruise, may be part of the reason why NYC seems to keep getting blasted to bits in movie after movie – it’s a quick cheap "gimmie" for a filmmaker/storyteller to leverage the virtual NYC in viewer’s heads, built from postcards, movies, TV shows and commercials – to create an instant pang of connection. 

Below, does Lady Liberty get her head torn off so Cloverfield can tap the collective unconscious?


Side note – Lady Liberty gets the short end of the stick in quite a few movies – Planet of The Apes, The Day After, Escape From New York, etc. – she’s even in the movie posters for them all.)

A good storyteller, one who engages and moves an audience, weaves the most effective tale when they leverage their listeners’ cultural conventions, ideals, shared images, symbols, archetypes, creation myths, known characters and historical situations to create entry points – think Aesop’s fables, Grimm’s tales, Disney, Tolkien, The Apostles.  NYC, through the cumulative weight of visual imagery and narrative, has entered the world’s global memory bank.  It is a virtually ‘shared’ city, though few (proportionally to the globe’s population) have actually been there.  A terrorist attack there, then, became an assault on a real thing AND on our global collective virtual memory.

We’re familiar with taking a real thing (Golden Gate Bridge) and provide virtual copies (postcards) to create a virtual visual memory (of the card initially, but ultimately of the "Bridge").  Now we can personally create a virtual thing (an avatar) and create real copies (paintings, figurines, etc.) – like a 3-D printed ‘Spore’ figurine, a World of Warcraft figurine, or a portrait of your second life avatar.  In the former, shared virtual memory is gleaned from a representation of the real.  In the latter, real is distilled from virtual.   Is one of those more real, less real, or more virtual?

Something happens, anything, and if the experience makes it out of your short term memory into long term, you are left with an accessible memory.  Is the similarly accessible memory of a virtual experience  (say finally mastering and manning the turret guns in Gears of War – FTW!) somehow less real than the memory of a real experience? 



As worlds become truly immersive, the distinction between real and virtual is going to get awful gray, especially since you’ll be able to upload your brain to the data cloud by 2050 and get rid of that pesky meat-space interface we call a "body".

Second Life is a real thing, and a virtual place and a collective memory fed by its citizens activities and preserved by Linden Labs infrastructure. It’s a place where people can live out their fantasies (mundane and/or bizarre).  Players create real space (and value) in a virtual place, ‘real’ because it can be perceived by the senses, remembered accurately by the brain, bought and sold, and it adheres to a rule system that preserves and protects the reality it creates.  And players pay for the privilege of creating more value for others with each interaction.  Sweeeeet.

Dubai-Land is a real thing, too.  But it started as a (mind-numbingly expensive) dream, and is being forced, inch-by-terra-formed-inch, onto an incredibly inhospitable landscape.  Watch the video below and be simultaneously blown away and appalled…and not just by the "action-movie-voiceover" narrative with memorable quotes like "think eco-tourism, but BIGGER", or "watch your kids turn into adults INSTANTLY, and live out their DREAM professions", but by how much this promo video reads like the opening sequence for a soon to be released post-apocalyptic film riffing on the follies of man:


Falcon City of Wonders, my favorite part of Dubai-Land, is a land mass tastefully formed to resemble a falcon spreading its wings, and features scale reproductions of the Pyramids ("with retail space the Egyptians would never have dreamed possible!"), the Eiffel tower, Big Ben, and the Taj Mahal.  To keep this thing humble, the designers thoughtfully put in a jogging track around the scale Central Park in the form of a section of the Great Wall of China.


Falcon City of Wonders = big.  Tom Cruise = not as big?

Are virtual worlds creating new collective memories?  Yes.  Will Dubai-land create a new collective memory pool (before its overrun by nuclear/plague/ebola/alien infested zombies)?  Yes.  Is Master Chief the new Luke Skywalker?  Yes.  What happens when you can’t tell the difference between a virtual world and a real world?  When does the difference not matter anymore?