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The Future of Digital Part 1: the future IS digital

General Assembly partnered with Mashable to co-present The Future of Digital, a day-long festival with over 20 speakers sharing ideas on technology, design, digital trends and the future of work. These are some insights that we gained from throughout the day...

The future of digital = the future IS digital.

http://www.ryojiikeda.com/project/testpattern/

http://www.ryojiikeda.com/project/testpattern/

What is digital? Digital is 0s and 1s. Digital is any system that uses a code of digits to store and transmit information. These digitals can be displayed at pixels to create text and images. When we talk about digital, we are talking about IT- Information Technology - tools that we use to communicate information. Computers and mobile phones. The Internet. 

Mike Biggs from Thoughtworks said it is taking over and supporting everything we do in life and I don't think anyone can disagree. Mike explained that digital is the fabric of the design process. It allows us to design everything- interfaces, products, experiences, business models, etc. We are using it to design everything around us and as a result of this process digital becomes not just the fabric of design but also the fabric of our lives.

Joel Turnball from General Assembly gave examples of how the lines between the digital world and the physical world are becoming blurry. Money is being replaced by digital currencies, traditional physical transactions like shopping are being moved online, even relationships. With new technology like 3D printing, digital is evolving from not just a mediator but a creator within the physical world as well.

Unlike people born into this digital world (the digital natives) some of us can still remember a time before the internet, before smart phones, when our lives were not lived through these digital tools. There was a time when information was more static, when it moved slowly and it's reach was limited. Tom Uglow from Google Labs explained that the future of digital is when information reaches a level of fluidity that it is taken for granted by everybody, like electricity!

Damian Damjanovski from Common Ventures pointed out that those of us living in the future of digital are going to require knowledge and training to keep up with the rapid pace of technology. Joel Turnball believes that understanding digital code is now important even if you are not going to write it. In a digitally dominated world, the better your 'software literacy' is, the grater control you will have. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/3010541/a-is-for-app#8

http://www.fastcompany.com/3010541/a-is-for-app#8

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Top take-outs from UX Australia's 'Redux'

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Top take-outs from UX Australia's 'Redux'

UX Australia recently hosted Redux - a 'UX Australia lite' - or condensed version of the UX Australia conference held each year. The event featured some of Australia's biggest names in user experience (UX) design.

I'm new to the practise and absolutely fascinated by the impact that design thinking can have on event production. It was fantastic to hear the stories and experiences of experts in this field.

These are my top 5 take aways from the day:

1. KEEP YOUR PURPOSE IN MIND

When you are performing research always use the purpose of the project as your driving force. This asset will guide you through the complicated ensemble of tasks/interconnections/issues that will arise along the way. Ash Donaldson from Tobias & Tobias talked us through his experience collaborating with Hello Sunday Morning in discovering the culture around alcohol in Australia. A complicated research project on the community of users of HSM gave the team to an enormous amount of data, allowing them to understand who their users are, how to help them and how to implement relationships between members. What kept Ash and the team focused during this highly engaging project was the force of purpose - change your relationship with alcohol, one Sunday at a time. So stop focusing on the product - think purpose!

 2. RE-FRAME THE PROBLEM

Steve Baty from UX Australia opened the day by inviting all participants to think differently. When a problem arises, you decide how to solve it and it's up to you to re-frame an obstacle. Be creative about it, be bold and commit yourself to thinking freely. UX designers articulate new ways of thinking and look at things through other people's eyes. Re-framing means that your whole project will benefit from new ideas, new perspectives and new ways of communicating. The impact of your work will be limitless. See Steve's slides about re-framing the problem here.

3.  EXPAND YOUR IMPACT

Whoever said that UX is only applicable to the digital world is wrong. Limiting UX to digital channels restrains the potential impact of your work. Iain Barker from Meld Studios is an advocate of applying UX skills on a more strategic level. During his 20 minute talk he invited UX practitioners to challenge themselves by designing outside of their familiar channels. Expand your impact by applying your UX skills to non-digital challenges, be brave and dare to leave your comfort zone.

4.  LOOK AFTER YOUR DIGITAL AURA

Did you know that by owning a smart phone you are emitting information about yourself into the digital world? This means that your information is out there for anyone to access, it can be taken without permission and used to tailor experiences specifically for you. Katja Forbes clearly illustrated how our digital aura gets harvested by the digital matrix to personalise our digital environments. Scary from a personal point of view, but I must admit I'm amazed by the ability technology has to transport and share information.

5.  BE A GOOD LISTENER

How would you define a good listener? You might consider it to be someone who can maintain eye contact and explore the "whys" and "whats" in a conversation. For UX practitioners listening is a vital part of the job. Listening is a constant and continuous process. One tip that was shared by the engaging Nova Franklin from Meld Studios was, when talking to someone think: this person has something really important to say. Magic happens when you really start listening to others.



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Creative Disruption at the 5th Annual Women in Focus Conference

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Creative Disruption at the 5th Annual Women in Focus Conference

This interview by Natalie Candarakis was originally featured in the Women in Focus magazine.

What are your top three takeouts from the conference?

1. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

I found the conference quite challenging in some ways because it booted me out of my bubble and forced me to engage with the mainstream business world. It had been a while since I'd been in a room where I knew almost no-one and I was surrounded by people with very diverse backgrounds and reasons for being in business. It was a challenge to communicate what I do to people outside my own industry (sustainability, social impact etc), but I have become much better at it as a result. The 'comfort zone' idea was brought home again by stories of women who women who had pushed through their comfort barriers in terms of their skills, what roles they thought they were capable of and the business ideas they were going 'all in' on. 

2. The importance of placing a 'gender lens' across all aspects of work and life

Julie Abram's discussion of gender equality and the statistics around professional women in Australia was a real wake up call. Gender inequality is still a rife and ingrained, and largely because of subtle (and often unconscious) gender bias. To counter this bias, Julia's advice was that we need to put a gender positive lens across all of our work and life - and therefore enact the mantras:

1. profile a woman entrepreneur
2. mentor a woman
3. fund a woman's business
4. recommend a woman
5. inspire a woman (tell your own story)

3. 'Digical' experience

The incredible Dr Catriona Wallace introduced the conference to the concept of the 'digical'. That is, where the real world and digital meet, a term coined in a report by Bain & Company. It was reassuring to hear the language of digical as well as human-centred design on stage because at Wildwon we have been working with these concepts for some time, but as they're so new, they can be difficult to define and explain. Catriona was speaking our language and it was wonderful! These are powerful concepts for the future of business that it was fantastic that she brought them to the main stage of the conference.

How will you take what you learned and experienced at the conference and incorporate it into Wildwon's work in the future?

I was bursting with ideas while hearing from the incredible speakers at the conference, and the change I will incorporate will be around implementing more of these ideas - even if it's in a small way. I think this is a powerful way to seed innovation in your company - knowing that many ideas will fail, many will be mediochre, but some will have an extraordinary impact. The more you test and experiment, the more chance of these runaway successes. I was reminded by Denise Meyerson from MCI of the need to have a 'Yes AND' culture in our business - rather than a 'Yes BUT' culture - when discussing ideas. The idea here is that an idea is never shut down, only built upon and explored for its full potential. I'm sure the ideas and energy that the conference provided will give me a whole year's worth of motivation to turn ideas and action so watch this space!

What was a highlight of the conference for you personally?

A highlight for me was hearing Karen James speak about her insights into business and life - and later connecting with her. Karen now runs KBSN and I believe was one of the instigators of Women in Focus while at CBA. Karen spoke about her approach to business and community with so many clever insights and gems like:

- "the heart of the matter is always a matter of heart"
- lessons on how to live an "extraordinary ordinary life"
- the need to reframe issues ("the poor aren't the poor they're just people who have less cash than me!")
- how to create an effective 'third space' - a nurturing community space that is not home and not work
- how "nature has all the answers" and she gains wisdom from nature
- the power of the ripple effect

Karen was just one of the many incredible women I met at the Women in Focus Conference who I know will come to have a profound effect on my business and career - thank you CBA and Women in Focus!

Read 'Sustainability as the way forward for business' Women in Focus feature on Wildwon.

Read Creative Disruption winning competition entry (ie. why I ended up at the conference!)

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Confronting our Consumerism

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Confronting our Consumerism

CONFRONTING OUR CONSUMERISM

 

We attended 'Confronting our Consumerism' put on by the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF). The public lecture hosted Proffessor Tim Kasser as the keynote speaker followed by Chris Reidy from ISF and Mark Chenery from

Values were the main topic of conversation, more specifically, how materialistic (extrinsic) values underpin our consumer culture and how we must confront them in order to achieve greater wellbeing and a more sustainable future. This is Tim's thang. He is best known for his book 'The High Price of Materialism' and you can check out this fun little video which sums it up pretty well here

 

THE PROBLEM WITH MATERIALISM

Tim measures materialism using a values 'pie' that shows the relative importance of extrinsic values in comparison to instrinsic values. We all possess both sets of values. We all have material needs and desires. He is not saying that materialism is evil and admits that it has played a role in our success. The problem is that the materialistic 'piece of pie' is too big!

DEALING WITH MATERIALISM

Tim thinks there are two strategies to best tackle this problem. 1) To challenge the causes of materialism. 2) To foster intrinsic values. By doing so materialism becomes a smaller piece of the pie but may still be incorporated into our lives.. much like sugar in a healthy balanced diet. This balance is very much aligned with the ideas behind Wildwon's B-Corp certification- that a business can be both profitable and have a positive impact on society.  

 

THE ROLE OF ADVERTISING

Advertising is obviously a large cause of the materialism fuelling our consumer culture. We can challenge this factor at an individual level, by educating individuals with the tools to resist the influence of advertising and make better choices. We can also challenge advertising from a structural level, by putting policies in place that limit the influence of advertising in our lives.

Tim suggests that advertising to children is a case that can be fought and won.  In the words of Lilly Allen 'I am a weapon of massive consumption and it's not my fault it's how I'm programmed to function'. We are raised to identify ourselves and others as consumers rather than civilians. Our early learning years are crucial for our development, imagine the space available for our intrinsic values to grow if advertising were eliminated from those years.

Read more about the ethical debates in advertising

 

INTRINSIC VALUES & POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE

Tim's research illustrates that intrinsic values are the key to happier people, a more civil society and a sustainable world. The good thing is that our values are easily invigorated- yay! Tim's experiments prove that 'priming' subjects by indirectly exposing them to intrinsic values made them more likely to think and behave intrinsically. His research also shows that our intrinsic values are a stronger motivator over extrinsic values. Campaigns that appeal to extrinsic values may work momentarily but are counterproductive in the long run. It is the campaigns that appeal to intrinsic values that have a more powerful response and are truly successful. To continue with the healthy diet metaphor- materialism is like sugar- it only gives you momentary happiness and fleeting energy.

This is what Wildwon are about- we create positive experiences that help foster people's intrinsic values to promote longer-lasting social change. If you would like to chat to us about this please contact us here

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Benedetta!

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Benedetta!

Bi at the Sydney launch of B Corps in Australia

Bi at the Sydney launch of B Corps in Australia

Around six months ago we were introduce to a wonderful human being by the name of Benedetta Nissotti. And about two weeks after that, 'Bi', as we've come to know her, joined our team - and we're extremely glad she did.

Benedetta is a gifted producer and communicator with brilliant ideas, killer taste (!) and an amazing way with people. We feel lucky to have her extensive experience and contagious making our projects even more awesome.

She's also passionate about ocean conservation, volunteering with Sea Shepherd Australia and managing an online community 'Be Blue for the Oceans' (which you can find on Facebook and instagram). 

From Yvonne Lee: the 'three things that stood out' when we met Benedetta were:

1. Her passion backed up by hard work

"It really struck me that she wasn't your standard variety of enthusiastic, she was passionate but clearly backed it up with hard work"

2. Her strong sense of ethics 

"Bi makes me question my choices and having travelled with her, she challenges me on a daily basis to live my values - which is a good thing."

3. Her attitude to new things

"Bi is a super fast learner, but even more importantly her attitude that everything can be figured out and nothing is unachievable."


So you can see why she was a great fit.

Not to mention we've also benefitted from a delicious dose of Italian culture, food and a delightful accent since she's been with us!

Welcome to the team Benedetta and we look forward to doing some amazing things together.

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The Ethics Lounge at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas

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The Ethics Lounge at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas

The Challenge

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) is an annual event presented by the Sydney Opera House as part of the 'Ideas at the House' program. Over a weekend, leading thinkers, scientists and cultural figures from all over the world, take to the stage to bring contentious ideas to the fore and challenge mainstream thought and opinion.  

St James Ethics Centre are the co-curators and co-presenters of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, but this was a little-known fact to many festival-goers. In 2014, the St James Ethics Centre came to us to help them make a lasting impression through an activation and animation reel at the festival.

The Idea

Having attended the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in the past, we knew that it can be a struggle (but worth it) to get out of bed on a cold Sydney morning and and head down to the Opera House. Your brain buzzes the whole weekend and we wanted to enhance that feeling of having a weekend to immerse yourself entirely in ideas. There are also long breaks between sessions, so when you're seeing more than one talk - which people often - you're often at a bit of a loose end.

We wanted to create a space where FODI crowds could relax, get comfortable, have a morning coffee, wait for people they were meeting, and start immersing themselves in thinking and ideas. We came up with 'The Ethics Lounge' which would be a branded space hosted by the St James Ethics Centre, where we would provide festival-goers with complimentary coffees in exchange for their email subscription to the St James Ethics Centre.

The Ethics Lounge

We got together with industrial designer with Glenn Stephenson to create a set of modular tables which let people interact with various questions and concepts relating to ethics. We also created a wall installation which added additional interest and cohesive branding to the space.

The lounge:

To read: copies of New Philosopher magazine and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas program.

To do: explore ethical dilemmas and contrasting concepts at your coffee table and on the wall

To drink: coffee from these custom made, thought-provoking and St James Ethics branded cups.

Wildwon worked with us to develop a plan to grow our community and awareness across FODI 2014. They created a welcoming space with a fit out that belied its modest budget. Over the weekend, the ‘Ethics Lounge’ gave FODI-goers a space to relax with a coffee between sessions and gave us the opportunity to tell the masses about what we do. Their efforts allowed us to grow our subscriber base by close to 1,000 and awareness of the Centre’s role as co-curator increased to over fifty per cent – no mean feat from a previously very low base!
— Sarah Munro, St James Ethics Centre

The animation

We also produced an animation that would show before each talk and throughout the foyer of the Opera House. Some shots of the animation in situ, and video below.

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Women in Focus Creative Disruption competition

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Women in Focus Creative Disruption competition

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be attending the 5th Annual Women in Focus Conference on behalf of Wildwon after winning a creative disruption business ideas competition.

To win an all expenses paid trip to Port Douglas to attend the 4-day conference, the brief was as follows: 


Choose a business, then tell us in 150 words or less, how you’d disrupt it.

Be brave, be different, challenge conventional thinking.
 

I chose Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) and wrote the following:

The companies of the future will be those that solve real world challenges on a local and global level. CCA has an opportunity to do just that.

Their current business model will degrade rapidly in the medium term due to:

  • The contribution of single-use plastic bottles to global environmental issues

  • Water security concerns in the localities of their bottling facilities

  • Their contribution to a growing worldwide obesity epidemic.

The disruption model I propose consists of:

  • Ocean plastic recovery and recycling, to be used in production of containers

  • Facilities that accommodate non-standardised refillable bottles

  • Water desalination to ensure long-term supply of drinkable water

  • Better utilisation of worldwide logistics capabilities to deliver new product lines (eg. health supplies, fresh produce, water)

If CCA should work with local communities in emerging markets to do this, they will at last be genuinely bottling and selling ‘happiness’.


Thanks very much to Women in Focus for supporting truly disruptive ideas and also supporting a positive business like Wildwon to attend the conference. I'm really looking forward to it!

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Five talks to catch up on from The Conference, Sweden

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Five talks to catch up on from The Conference, Sweden

So.. 'The Conference' is this amazing (no, really... AMAZING) event that happens each year in Malmo, Sweden. I came across it through a couple of friends - Lauren Anderson and Fabian Stelzer - who've spoken there in recent years. Lauren was lucky enough to go back as a participant this year, and filled me in on the incredible experience she had. 

We've collected some of the best images from across social media as a case study on the fabulous curation and experience design that the team at The Conference have done such a beautiful job of. Have a look at our Storify here.

Luckily, all the talks are also online, so you can catch up in your own time and (sort of) feel like you were there. So here are our top five.

1. Jill Nussbaum - Barbarian Group

The Craft of Storytelling (Storytelling stream)

Designer Jill Nussbaum takes a closer look at storytelling from a design perspective and discusses how stories can be a framework to help imagine the future of products and services. In this talk she coins the term "design fiction" - a kind of idea prototyping, will help to inspire and imagine the future.

Go to video.

2. Ed Cooke - founder of Memrise

An Hour on Time (Time stream)

Memrise is an online learning platform that crowd sources mnemonic devices and memory tricks to provide powerful memory training. Memory techniques teach us how to use our imagination to store information more powerfully, making our memories last longer. Ed explains that he himself is a Grand Master of Memory. 

Go to video.

3. Erin Moore - UX Design at Twitter

'Don't underestimate what one second can do' (Time stream)

Erin Moore of Twitter speaks from her experiences in UX design, concluding that in order to design for time, we need to design for efficiency, simplicity, access and delight.

Designers are the new clockmakers, and we need to make sure that the seconds we design for actually matters.

Go to video.

4. Masakazu Takasu - technical evangelist at teamLab

Masakazu takes us on a journey through Japan's unique methods of combining of using technology, design and science. teamLab combines these disciplines to create innovative digital solutions often with physical elements of interaction. He demonstrates this attitude to play and experimentation with a prototype of cat ears that respond to the wearer's brain waves.

Go to video.

See the ears road tested below!

5. Juliana Rotich - Ushahidi

"It is in sharing that we create value" (New Technologies stream)

Out of the need for better media coverage, Ushahidi was born. Co-founder Juliana Rotich explains why this new technology is a dooropener to create a more transparent and better world – not only in Africa, but also on a global scale.

Go to video.

Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi 

Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi 

 

 

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Why write a manifesto?

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Why write a manifesto?

Stating your values.

Examining your motivations.

Clarifying your beliefs and policies.

This is not something we are often asked to do as human beings.

I was reminded of this during a recent discussion with our wonderful client St James Ethics Centre about personal ethics.  It seems that - although our beliefs and values impact every decision we make (big or small) - it's rare for us, as people, to write them down and hold to them.

Yet, we are absolutely asked to do this when we start a company.  Especially one which claims to be values-led and prioritise purpose over profit, which we do.

Yvonne and I are lucky enough to be like-minded and what I call 'like-hearted'.  Our guts usually tell us the same thing about what is right or wrong, which is what makes us work so well together as founders.  Sometimes we disagree, but the really important decisions are easy and our reasoning is often shared.  When it's just the two of you, your values = the company's values. 

But you can run into trouble when your team grows.  You can no longer assume that a head, heart or gut understanding runs throughout the entire team.  Yes, some people will have a natural affiliation with you and your values. But how do you make sure of this good fit?  And how do you communicate those values that are most important to you?

Writing down your purpose, beliefs and motivations helps you check yourself against them - ensure you're staying true to them and to your own North Star.  It also helps other people check themselves against them.  Some people will not want to work with you, others will throw themselves your way.

Some people will not want to work with you, others will throw themselves your way.

So writing these down makes sense.  However, when it comes to doing this, the things you're typically asked to write down are: Your values. Your purpose. Your mission statement. 

We tried this - and in fact we were guided through this process by our brilliant business mentor at the Creative Industries Innovation Centre.  But, despite being, as mentioned, like-hearted and like-minded, the words Yvonne and I came up with were incredibly different.  The meaning and importance we ascribed to certain pieces of language varied enormously.  And it felt as though we continued to come out with staid, vague, language that could have applied to any company, rather than to our very unique one.

This didn't work so well for us.  But what would work for us as a company?

We started playing around with 'design principles'?  We often create these to guide us through a project - created alongside a client and then held up as a way to know what to say 'yes' or 'no' to, and to remind everyone, at all points throughout the project, of the ultimate vision.

Then we started to feel as though perhaps we needed to write down 'value statements' rather than 'values'.  Things that implied how someone might act, how they might approach a situation, things had more grit and direction and less compromise and vagueness.

Eventually we landed on the idea of.. saying some things.  Saying some things that felt good to say and we felt were important.  Many of them were pieces of collected wisdom or tried and tested life lessons.  Others were our stated aims, others were policies.  One thing was certain - if these words didn't feel right to you, or perhaps worse, didn't mean anything to you - then you weren't the right fit to work with us.

The year before we had been inspired by the 'imperfect manifesto' written by Cloth Fabric's Julie Paterson at Design your Day Job.  When we looked around, other companies had what they called manifestos too.

So we've ended up writing the Wildwon Manifesto.  It sure is a nice feeling to have it out there.  And an even nicer feeling when clients, friends and strangers mention that they like it or relate to it.

Have a read and let us know what you think.

And for further reading, or if you are inspired to write your own, here are 5 of our favourite manifestos.

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Breaking and entering with Wanderlust Projects

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Breaking and entering with Wanderlust Projects

Wanderlust Projects is a design collaboration who make intimate experiences in unusual places. So unusual, in fact, that if you are attending one of their events it's more likely that not that you are trespassing and are at your own risk of being arrested. To date, they have held events in:

- abandoned factories
- observation decks
-a 70's honeymoon resort
- a luxury hotel
- subway tunnels
- an island
- and they ran a bar in a water tower for 2 months...

The two founders of the company, Ida C. Benedetto and N.D. Austin, comment on the line they walk taking risks in order to audiences' insatiable appetites for new and unique experiences.

Says Austin: "Our lives are full of boundaries.. any time you cross those, the transgression of doing something you're not supposed to be doing heightens all of your senses, and you are experience everything much faster and more intensely than you normally would".

And Ida reflects on the risk involved in their innovative business model: "Companies take risks all the time but it's for the sake of profit, not for the sake of discovery, or or bringing value into the world". 

Ida again on the relationship between experience and learning: "Exploring the Domino sugar refinery helped us understand how manufacturing has changed. Understanding that through actually encountering the defunct machinery is thrilling. And that visceral understanding is what we're going for in all of our events. When you feel it, when you live it, you don't forget it".

These comments about risk certainly ring true for anyone who has tried to organise an outdoor or small event in Sydney that's an alternative to the big festival-style annual events in Sydney, often at their own risk. The importance of a visceral experience in learning as well as behaviour change is something we at Wildwon focussed in on when organising the Ride On Lunch and Reel Food Nights for the Youth Food Movement, as well as engaging people with history and historical properties on the Eat Your History series for Sydney Living Museums.

Ida C. Benedetto and N.D. Austin speak about 'transgressive place making through adventure and intimacy' in a video created as part of Fast Company's 'Innovation Agents' series.



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