Creativity in a COVID era (Web 2.0 all over again?)

“You can find awesome rhythm in everything. People will hear certain breaks that I make and be like, ‘Where’d that come from?’ I’ll be like, ‘That was the part where dude was running down the steps in “Annie Get Your Gun.”‘” [Quelle Chris, producer, quoted in jason hirschhorn’s @MusicREDEF, Aug. 26, 2020] Quelle Chris was […]

This morning Twitter Kissed Culture Hard on the Mouth

Originally published on Medium, January 21, 2020 Recently the marketing team at Twitter put culture at the heart of what they do, in that most precious territory, the value proposition. This is great, I thought. A company as connected and powerful as Twitter using culture to describe what it does, that has to be good […]

American culture* in the digital space (case study # 3)

I This is a series of posts that examines how and why American culture matters to American business. The opening post was “American Culture* and the Harvard Business School discovery,” and you can find it here. I promised I’d look at several case studies in support of my thesis which is: American culture matters and […]

Fred Armisen is, like, so mean. So mean.

[this post first appeared in Medium.] A friend told me about seeing a freshman on a university campus in the UK. The kid was clearly in agony. And it was easy to see why. He had made a terrible fashion choice for his first day. Over the course of his first hour on campus, this […]

The Artisanal Economies Project, entry # 2: The Peacefield Farms interview

This is a clip of an interview of Kaelin Vernon of “Peacefield Farms” with Sam Ford, Grant McCracken and Josh Poling acting as interviewers. The interview was conducted in the second week of March some miles outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky. We spent several days traveling around the hills of Western Kentucky. The objective was […]

10 questions for world builder Gerry Flahive

10 Questions for Gerry Flahive Gerry Flahive is the creator of a fictional character, Bert Xanadu. You remember, Bert Xanadu? Mayor of Toronto in the early 1970s? Owner of Imperial Six Cinema? And complete figment of Gerry Flahive’s imagination. Gerry tweets in Bert’s name and some of this work is miraculously good. One example: @MovieMayor […]

Ken Burns, an anthropological portrait of an artist and the edge

[This essay first appeared in Medium. It has been lightly edited for presentation here.] In the world of documentary filmmaking, it feels like there’s the era “Before Ken Burns” (BKB) and the one that follows his rise to prominence. In the first, documentaries can be laborious, hectoring and blowzily imprecise, both too broad and too […]

The case for culture in business, as clearly and forcefully as I can make it

This is an abbreviation of talk I gave for the design firm Thomas Pigeon in early April. It puts the “case for culture in business” as forcefully as I can make it. (NB I’m not talking about corporate culture here. I’m talking about culture as in “culture creative.”) Here’s a summary: SECTION 1 00:25 capitalism and […]

Is music dead? (more evidence)

Here is Rich Cohen on Charlie Rose last night discussing his new book The Sun and the Moon and The Rolling Stones (with Jeff Glor sitting in for Mr. Rose.) I quote Mr. Cohen as a follow up to the post I did on Medium called Is Music Dead? in which I asked whether music as a […]

Spielberg: 1, Harvard: 0

Hollywood used to know what Americans wanted. Then came the new diversity of moving-going taste and preference. Hollywood was in trouble. In the words of Tom Hanks: “Nobody has any idea why people are going to see a movie. Nobody knows what’s going to be a hit or what’s going to be irrelevant. There are […]

How to save luxury brands (and American capitalism)

Elizabeth Segran has a nice essay in Fast Company: The Decline Of Premium American Fashion Brands. What Happened, Ralph And Tommy? As a teen, Segran admired ads by Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. That’s over. Today, at 33, none of these brands interest me. They conjure up images of outlet malls. The problem is widespread I’m […]

Craig Young: an interview in SF

I did this interview for a project called Automated Anthropologist.  (I went to San Francisco and let it be known that I was prepared to do anything anyone told me to do, within the limits of morality, legality, and being Canadian.) With the help of Maria Elmqvist (now a Strategic Planner at Perfect Fools in Amsterdam), I […]

Cultural Leaders and Laggards, the problem with beer ads

I love this ad.  How quickly bashful behavior gives way to full-on performance.  And how this disappears (when the woman enters the store). And then reappears (when it occurs to our singer that there is a small chance the strangers might actually come listen to him.) Funny. Human. With lots of little grace notes. The store is brilliantly cast. […]

Creator brands: Brands that make culture

At their most powerful, brands actually make culture. Creator brands, let’s call them. Nike changed the way we thought about exercise, fitness, bodies and diet in the 1970s and 80s. Most of us look different and feel different for the work that came from this brand and those brilliant meaning-makers at Wieden + Kennedy. A cluster […]

Secrets of digital celebrity: how to get famous the easy way

When Guy Kawasaki was asked how to get internet famous, he had discouraging news. There is no easy answer, he seemed to say.  You have to follow thousands of people. You have to reply to all your email and Twitter traffic.  Yes, he said, I’m “internet famous” but it took me 25 years to get […]