18 December 2013

What is the creative business of social media?

In a recent live chat hosted by the Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school), IDEO Founder and co-author of the book, Creative Confidence  - David Kelley - shared the anecdote that in the Tibetan language there's no word that directly translates the word "creative" - the closest association is the word "natural". He states, "You want to be more creative, be natural."

Keeping this in mind, Kelley's insight becomes very relevant when applied to understanding the purpose of social media today. What should be the business of social media? Those of us behind the scenes should be exploring ways to be more creative, to be more natural. There are people looking for quality, for a good online conversation. There are humans behind the tweets, shares, likes, and even those sometimes misleading profile avatars a.k.a. automatic RT bots.

I had the chance to discuss my role as C2MTL's Social Media architect in a recent interview with Beverly Macy, the host of Social Media Radio, where I shared what a privilege it is to be part of the team that curates the content and establishes the strategies deployed to creatively buzz about the business conference, Commerce + Creativity MontrĂ©al (C2MTL).

Beverly Macy asked me to share a bit about myself and my role as Social Media architect, but this wasn't the first time I had been asked to verbalize my current profession. When I'm asked what I do for living, I say, "I'm an architectural designer that renovates old buildings with my husband (also a practicing architect) and I do social media for a business conference." People often reply, "Wow, they are very different professions. Do you do social media as a hobby?" The first few times I responded with a generic answer, but then - in recent months - I started to really reflect why I do what I do. Is there a relationship between these two disciplines?

And the answer I came up with is a very affirmitive YES! I became fascinated with analzying the human element in both the physical "habitable world" and the virtual world. What if we start to imagine the social media ecosystem as a home? The different social media platforms as the different rooms in your apartment or house? Think about your bathroom, bedroom, garage, kitchen etc. All of these spaces invite us to act a certain way because of the layout, furniture, and functions each room fascilitates. Now think of the social media platforms as these different rooms: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram etc. They each have individual characteristics and functions that invite us to behave in a very specific way, due to the layout and tools provided by the designers behind these platforms. Think about it...

This analysis is ongoing and I look forward to observing and listening more closely to our behaviour, and how it is influenced by the social media trends continously changing everyday.

The essential common link is the human element. We live in both physical and virtual spaces simultaneously with the undeniable fact that the virtual world is becoming too much with not enough substance for many. The need to "unplug" is not a passing trend, but a definitive action already taken by many.

I will conclude with a quote from a recent interview featured in Australian magazine, Dumbo Feather of Virtual Reality inventor Jaron Lanier, "If you don't treat people as special, if you don't create some sort of a special zone for humans - especially when you're designing technology - you'll end up dehumanising the world. You'll turn people into some giant, stupid information system, which is what I think we're doing."

You can listen to my interview with Beverly Macy below.

New Entrepreneur Internet Radio with Beverly Macy on BlogTalkRadio

Photo Credits: (left) Jaron Lanier via Dumbo Feather (right) Detail of my desk at C2MTL by Sacha Cohen


05 July 2013

Susan Wojcicki: Stanford University, Lemons, Harvard and a Garage...the rest is history!

“If you had asked me as a kid what I thought I was gonna be, I probably would have said I was gonna be an artist…and in some ways that’s actually what I think led me to technology” – Wojcicki, MAKERS series

A few Fast Facts about Susan Wojcicki, SVP of Advertising & Commerce at ‎Google from MAKERS clip below:

1. Started a side business as a kid selling the neighbors' lemons to other neighbors.
2. Grew up on the Stanford Campus - Lucky girl!
3. Graduated from Harvard. Worked for a software company. Got an MA and MBA.
4. In 1998, she and her husband rented their garage to co-Founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
5. Became Google’s 16th employee as the first and only marketing person.
6. Launched Google video yet it eventually led to the purchasing of You Tube for $1.65 Billion.
7. Developed AdSense & AdWords and today, Wojcicki is responsible for ALL of Google’s advertising products, which make up 95% of the company’s revenue.

+ Part of the series: Topic No.2: A Curated Apprenticeship, Cosmo THIS!

Credits: Burning Man Google doodle, 1998 | Family from the San Francisco Chronicle article, "Bay Area's Wojcicki family honored" | Lemons flickr picture by honeypieLiving via Pinterest | Photo: Jeremy Goldberg via ADWEEK

01 July 2013


Mad Men Season 6 Finale ends with the song by Joni Mitchell, "Both Sides, Now"  | 1969
Joni Mitchell was inspired to write this song while reading Saul Bellow's, Henderson the Rain King and looking at clouds from a plane.  
Joni Mitchell fast fact via Rolling Stone: http://rol.st/12fzEZx  }

SAUL BELLOW: "Africa reached my feelings right away even in the air, from which it looked like the ancient bed of mankind. And at a height of three miles, sitting above the clouds, I felt like an airborne seed...And I dreamed down at the clouds, and thought that when I was a kid I had dreamed up at them, and having dreamed at the clouds from both sides as no other generation of men has done, one should be able to accept his death very easily. However, we made safe landings every time...and I kept thinking 'Bountiful life! Oh, how bountiful life is'".  - Henderson The Rain King, Chapter V


Rows and flows of angel hair   
And ice cream castles in the air   
And feather canyons everywhere  
I’ve looked at clouds that way    

But now they only block the sun  
They rain and snow on everyone   
So many things I would have done  
But clouds got in my way  

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now  
From up and down, and still somehow  
It’s cloud illusions I recall   
I really don’t know clouds at all  

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels  
The dizzy dancing way you feel  
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real  
I’ve looked at love that way  

But now it’s just another show
You leave ‘em laughing when you go  
And if you care, don’t let them know  
Don’t give yourself away  

I’ve looked at love from both sides now  
From give and take, and still somehow   
It’s love’s illusions I recall   
I really don’t know love at all   

Tears and fears and feeling proud  
To say “I love you” right out loud  
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds   
I’ve looked at life that way   

But now old friends are acting strange   
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed    
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained   
In living every day  

I’ve looked at life from both sides now  
From win and lose and still somehow   
It’s life’s illusions I recall  
I really don’t know life at all  

I’ve looked at life from both sides now  
From up and down, and still somehow  
It’s life’s illusions I recall  
I really don’t know life at all 

Credits: Top photo borrowed from Mad Men AMC archives / B/W Clouds photo found via Pinterest.