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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

America’s Most Awesome Car.

America F Yeah!

If you’ve never driven on the salt flats of Utah and Nevada, you may not know that it’s exactly like driving on the surface of the moon. I personally managed to drive my poky little Saturn on the salt flats, taking an ill-advised shortcut, and managed to drive in a straight line, as fast as I could, for hours, in absolute silence. It is an incredible feeling of spacelessness. Nothing moves. There are no signs. You have no sense of place. You could be anywhere.

Eighty years ago, someone did the same thing, and fell in love with the feeling. In the 1930’s, automobile racing was the Wild West. Anyone could do it, anywhere, anytime. And one man, living in Utah, drove his race car out in the middle of nowhere for days at a time, which gave him time to dream.

No sudden movements.

Out of this nothingness, this unknowable void, came one of the greatest cars in history, establishing the salt flats as the world standard for land speed records. One man designed a car with a car engine powerful enough to compete against airplane engines, which most people were using at the time. One man designed a body that was aerodynamic, so that the flow of air would help it achieve his dream.
This car would become known as the Mormon Meteor, and it is one of the most important cars still in existence. It defeated cars the world over. It put Utah on the map for land-speed enthusiasts. Epic films could be written about this car. Brad Pitt could play the lead.

Ab Jenkins

But you can find out about it on Tuesday night, on the world premiere of the “Mormon Meteor” on the new show, One of a Kind: Cars. It’s a show we created and developed ourselves. It’s the untold story about the most unique automobiles on the planet.

But it’s also about the people crazy enough to build and restore them, and hunt for them the world over. Please join us.
One of a Kind: Cars
9:30 Eastern, 6:30 Pacific
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One of A Kind Cars

One of A Kind Cars. Only on Velocity Chanel.

The premiere episodes of OOAK aired last night on Velocity.  SG had an amazing amount of fun filming these unique cars and developing these OOAK stories. Watch this space, we’ll be bringing more “behind the scenes” content and an inside look at the production process.

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In Defense of Content Farms

"I"m a pickin' and I'm a grinnin'"

Over the last two years, there has been a universal backlash against farmed content. Demand Media and Associated Content, among others, are generating millions of articles every month, swamping search results, driving traffic to their content so they can sell ads against it. Smart strategy. Might be killing the web. You never know.

As writers, content farms are just one more herald of the end of civilization. Being a writer is already a lowly, underpaid, under-respected profession to begin with. Now we’re swamped by literally everyone with a computer and an internet connection who knows how to put two words together. There is now so much information online that to compete for any eyeballs is like slogging into a mud wrestling tournament. You hate yourself, you’re unlikely to win, and you’re just going to get slimy.

Much of the derision directed at the content farms react to the low quality of said content. Associated Content has a three-page writeup on How to Turn On Your Computer, which seems mean-spirited, taunting the people who have a doorstop with a Dell logo and can’t get online to figure this out. Google has started fighting back, lowering the page rankings of the content farms, but it’s a losing battle.

What’s getting lost in the shuffle here is that content farms provide a useful function. We’ve wandered through the assignment pages at Demand Studios, curious as to what kinds of writing topics were available. And you know what? These assignments are typically geared toward the specific and mundane, stuff that ordinary humans will never think to write about. “How to Hook Up Gauges in a Ford Super Power Stroke.” “How to Obtain Power of Attorney for the State of Mississippi.” “Passive Solar Dwellings of the Anasazi Indians.” Weird, specific, arcane, and not terribly useful. Unless you need to hook up gauges to your Ford in order to drive to Mississippi and get power of attorney for your solar-dwelling Anasazi aunt. Then, this becomes the most valuable information on Earth.

Which is, after all, the point of writing. Writers, especially, always forget that. We have been living in an age where the amount of information we had was limited enough that we could spend time making it pretty. Poetry has been steadily dying for a hundred years for a reason: words are functional creatures. We’ve been making them pretty simply because they were available, universal tools that everyone could understand. Now, you can cut a video on your iPad and stream it to millions in seconds. Old tools die. New tools emerge. I’m sure someone loved hieroglyphics, too.

We toss around the phrase “information age” like we pretend to understand it, but one thing is clear: the winners of this era are going to be the ones who process data more quickly than anyone else. We don’t have time to make it pretty. And content farms are doing the grunt work in transforming data into information we can absorb and implement. As writers, we hate the content farms. As media experts, we realize the value of what is happening. And we are paying strict attention.

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Amazon Studios: Welcome Your New Entertainment Overlords

Recently, Amazon announced the formation of Amazon Studios, a new arm of Amazon that will solicit submissions for film and screenplays. Amazon Studios may produce these projects as feature films through a “first-look” agreement with Warner Bros. Pictures.

Response to this information in the screenwriting and film-making community has been histrionic. Many prominent industry bloggers, having read the fine print, think that Amazon’s 18-month free exclusive option on the film or screenplay is like indentured servitude. They’re freaking out about the “crowdsourcing” of the screenplays, which will encourage anyone to make a script better without the original author’s consent, in exchange for half the payday or more. And they are correct.

Yes, the terms are unlikely to make you rich. Yes, Amazon seems not to care about author’s rights, or intellectual property, or anything the Writers Guild of America has ever tried to fight for.

So what?

This is an open casting call for anyone who has ever tried to write a screenplay. Most of the scripts submitted using this process are going to be terrible. Typically, those who have the ability to make money writing movies are actually making money writing movies. So Amazon is banking on the few writers out there who can tell a coherent story  in 110 pages, and hoping that the lure of a $200,000 payday is enough to lure a story worth producing. That’s fair. That’s more than fair.

America is built on exploiting people. We started doing it the moment the first sucker from the Wampanoag tribe decided to teach the Pilgrims how not to starve, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Without exploitation, you wouldn’t have the cities of San Francisco, built on the dreams of people seeking California gold, or Seattle, based on the dreams of people seeking Alaskan gold. Without exploitation, we wouldn’t have railroads, cheap clothes, or reality television.

This is not exploiting people. This is taking a new approach to the insular world of filmmaking and placing a bet that someone can tell a story just as well. Most of these stories will be terrible, but can they be worse than Land of the Lost or Year One?

Sure, Amazon Studios isn’t paying WGA minimum, and they’re disrespecting the author by letting anyone improve on their work. But they’re giving writers and filmmakers a shot they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

If you really want to do the hard work to become a screenwriter, write a great script and find an agent. If you really want to do the hard work to become a director, make a film. Nobody’s stopping you. You can make one from your phone, if you want.

But if you want a free and easy way to get your ideas in front of people who might like them, and you’re not going to quit your job and go to Los Angeles to make it happen, then this is a gift. Six months from now, when the Amazon hype machine makes some writer’s dreams come true, you have no right to be envious. And when the walls of Hollywood continue to erode — and they are absolutely eroding — then Amazon Studios may someday be one of the defining moments in leveling the playing field. They’ll be the guys who recognized there were a nation of people who had gold in their eyes, and they decided to put up a storefront to start selling pickaxes.

Filed under: Uncategorized

DUMB WORDS! BANNED WORDS & PHRASES 2010

 

Her words are witchcraft and heresy. The very tools of the Devil!

 

Although by no means exact, rough web based estimates of the number of words in the English language put the total at somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million.  By any civilized standard this is too many! A million words! That has the sulfuric stench of the devil.  Here at super genius we’d wager that at least 40% of that is pure waste, and we’d like to do our part to cut that waste. On the heels of the infamous memo put out by Tribune CEO Randy Michaels (a memo we support by the way); we’ve decided to begin publishing our own list of words we’re banning in 2010 and invite crowdsourced (uh oh! spoiler alert on that one!) additions.  Now, a millions words is a lot for us to go through so as THE BANNENING continues and we add new words we’ll publish them in our twitter feed (there’s another one!) under #dumbwords. The real goal here, is to avoid using words that make you sound like a jargon drunk simpleton. By not using these words you enhance your reputation as a human being. And so:

BRAND PROMISE (yes we know, two words, but it’s combination that kills)

CROWDSOURCE (CROWDSOURCED)

TWEET

THE “CLOUD”

VAMPIRE

ALCOPOP (this was actually on the 2007 list but we didn’t publish that year)

BLOG (the term micro-blog has been added to our 2011 watchlist)

SOCCER

AKIMBO

Additional words will be published via the 140 character service known as Twitter under the hash #dumbwords. If you have words to add to the list please do the same. Cheers!

Filed under: advertising, Bad Ads, Self Help, skateboarding cats, Uncategorized, Vampires, , , , , , ,

FARMVILLE MUST DIE

crop blight has destroyed everything, time to sell your children

Farmville had over 70 million daily users as of last December.  70 million. That, as famously noted, was (at the time) bigger than Twitter.  Yep, over 70 million folks doing some fake farming And yet, it must die.  Why is the rise of ham fisted social gaming going to end in flames?  Is it the insufferable, overly cute Tokyo-pop graphic style? Is it the inherently limited appeal of a “game” about “farming”? Is it the Second Life style dead end of virtuality? Yes to all of the above.  I suppose Farmville is fine in a web 1.0 kind of way but it falls into an uncanny valley of being both TOO social and NOT social enough. No I don’t care about the sad-eyed Piglet you just found on your farm.  Yes I think a fake farm is a disconnect in a social network based on real world connections (yeah it’s diverging some now that it’s huge but we’re not interacting in some SIM land with purple skin avatars).

My grandfather was a farmer (sharecropper). He got up at the crack of butt every day of his life to wrestle a living out of a hundred acres of crops and two  hundred head of cattle.  Hey, there’s an idea, we’ll launch a competing social game called “Sharecropper” or “Dustbowl!”, with more realistic game play.  Sample updates would include: “Three of your fifteen children just got the bloody flux,” or “Your wife’s foot was just crushed by a plow.” Of course, this wouldn’t solve the real problem with these games (yes I realize they are hugely popular), which is how fundamentally anti-social they actually are.  The facebook platform manager posted recently about how the killer social game app has yet to be launched.  He’s right and whatever kind of game that turns out to be (that gets everyone playing) it will probably involve more real world engagement. Think Fourssquare or Groupon.  The opportunity is for what you do in the world of the game to have an “entertaining” or “meaningful” or “valuable” implication outside of the network. Kind of the Wii-fit premise.

Here’s where I’d bet my money. That the first person/organization to figure out social gaming 3.0 will either be a small fry app-style developer or a big brand (entertainment or product).  A brand could add the kind of value to the interaction that takes social gaming beyond an exchange of cartoon animals. “Rise Humans! Rise!”

UPDATE! Just watched a purposely provocative TED talk on social gaming and how it might be harnessed to address real world issues (hunger, homelessness etc.), and thought it worth an add to  this post.  At a minimum this TED talk tackles the idea of “how do we grow beyond” the sort of dumb and narcissistic type of social gameplay popular now?  Can a social game be about something bigger than just “hey look! I have a new cow!” Is her suggestion that we dramatically increase the amount of online gameplay (oooh! counterintuitive) reek of TED talk point scoring? Yep. But social gaming 2.0 is going to be about exactly this kind of linkage.

Filed under: brands, facebook, supergenius llc, Trend Spotting, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Twitter is Dead, Long Live Twitter.

tweety1We are slowly dying in 140-character bursts.

Twitter has gone from a precious little idea to a respectable mini-blogging service to a massive cultural phenomenon in a little more than a year. And I think a lot of us are looking around at each other, nodding, saying, yes, this is awesome, I get it, tweet tweet birdhouse tweetdeck rt @imsohip.

I think some people have a legitimate use for Twitter: comedians, technical support, and Barack Obama. I think the rest of us are fumbling around for a way to stay relevant on it. Because Twitter suffers from the same problem blogs, podcasts, and user-generated content does: most people either have something interesting to say but can’t figure out how to tell it, or don’t have something interesting to say and disguise that fact with wry observational humor that went out of style with Seinfeld.

Here’s the great thing about Twitter: you can only communicate in 140-character bursts, so if it sucks, it’s over. Here’s the crappy thing about Twitter: we haven’t learned how to create stories on it yet. What we’re getting is fragments, little tic-tacs of information that hit us like pellets and we pretend are refreshing and informative and clever, but what we’re leaving off is: for a tweet. As in, that’s cute. For a tweet. We’re grading on a 140-character curve.

That’s why most people who sign up for Twitter don’t stick with it: there’s nothing yet there to stick to. There’s no flow there. Say what you want about Facebook, but people have learned how to tell stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s a continuity. Not so on Twitter. Each tweet lives and dies like a fruit fly, leaving us not necessarily wanting more.

I’m not saying there aren’t uses for this sort of communication, but that they’re more limited than we think they are. If I am wrong — and I am never wrong — then maybe it works as a meta-communicator and tastemaker, directing your attention to bit.ly links. The Japanese are writing novels this way, but they’re not necessarily the sanest of nations, pop-culturally speaking. Pogue has decided to let others write a book for him, which is stupid, lazy and just like him. It’s nice when you have a question to pop it into the ether and get responses. And it helps to have a brand, a mission, and something worthwhile to say. Three times a day. Every day.

We’re tweeting, we follow other tweeters, so we’re biting the hand that feeds us. But it feels like the Twitter phenomenon, like billions of “Margaritas! WOO HOO!” tweets themselves, has a shelf life, until something better comes along.

Filed under: social media, supergenius llc, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

5 Minute Futurama: Hosted Micro-Blogging

5minutefuturamThis is post one of a new feature on Black Match, where, like Nicholas Cage in Next, we peer just a few minutes into the future.

Hosted (even branded!) micro-blogging. Think Twitter w/a purpose – cooler, faster, stronger.  How about a private “tweetspace” where volunteers or contributors speak up about or around a particular event.  Or how about a public tweestpace that’s branded/customized to a particular company or cause, where tweets from anyone who cares or contributes shows up.  Imagine if ESPN created a private micro-blogging platform for their fantasy leagues: 140 characters + trash talk = gold, jerry! gold! What a powerful way to track cause engagement (and btw brand engagement.)  Yes, Twitter has already been engaged to drive charity, but social technology that helps brands and their causes both benefit is still virgin territory. There are a couple of horses entering this race: twitteronia and status.net.  Of course, this has worlds of possibilities for regular users, just like those who have made wordpress and ning successful; but as a marketer I’m really excited about the possibility for brands.  And the really cool thing is that could integrate your regular tweetstream into your private tweets (so you’re not running back and forth between two places.) Those brands or groups that seem to inspire or form natural communities are a no brainer for this kind of functionality. Think moms! for instance or Big Ten fans or skiers or, hell, even WOW players. You add some kind mobile accessibility of top of this and *shazam* you got yourself some of that nitroglycerine kids. For more future-peering, reading of entrails and general brand astrology we can be reached @ www.supergeniusllc.com.

Filed under: social media, twitter, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Peanuts, by Charles Bukowski

peanutschuckThis amuses us.

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Pinch Media Data Shows The Average Shelf Life Of An iPhone App Is Less Than 30 Days

sadiphone1Pinch Media Data Shows The Average Shelf Life Of An iPhone App Is Less Than 30 Days

You mean “iFart” isn’t an indispensable part of your iPhone usage? Two words, people: BE USEFUL.

Posted using ShareThis

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About

Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." William Gibson

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