Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brad Bird and the Shared Experience at the Heart of Movie Magic

Readers of the Social Business Insights blog already know the power of sharing. Sharing information leads to efficiency; sharing expertise unlocks innovation; sharing data yields insights. In his TED@IBM talk “Dreaming Loves Company: Tomorrow’s Cinema,” Academy Award-winning writer and director Brad Bird explained how the shared experience lies at the heart of the magic of cinema. He was preaching to the choir as far as I, an avid movie-goer, was concerned, but it was fascinating to hear an expert articulate what’s so unique and captivating about seeing a movie on the silver screen, especially when the theater gets it right.

Take Star Wars, for instance. When Bird saw the original on opening day and Darth Vader came on the screen, the entire audience hissed, as if some “dormant villain-hating DNA … had been suddenly awakened” in them.

image I had a similar experience during Star Wars Episode II: when Yoda battled Count Dooku and started flying all over the place like a hyper two-year-old on a sugar binge, the crowd went completely nuts. It was a moment of shared exhilaration and joy that is impossible to re-create in a living room. It remains one of my all-time favorite movie-going memories. So somewhat paradoxically, when you have a great, enthusiastic crowd with the members feeding off each other’s energy, it can make the moment more personal.

This is true of any special moment we share with a community, even online, but it is difficult if not impossible to simulate the energy of a live audience in a virtual setting. And movies differ from sports (for example) in the expectations of the audience. As Bird said, "a movie audience enters a theater agreeing to surrender control to the storyteller. It’s a group dream, shared with a ‘one time only’ mix of strangers. Collectively, a single audience has thousands of years of hopes, dreams, hurts, experiences ... a gold mine of emotions waiting to collide in the dark.”

During his riveting talk, Bird had much more to say about what makes the cinema experience magical and how theaters have lost their way. I still love going to the movies at modern theaters, with all their flaws, but Bird’s talk left me with the hope that more establishments will follow the lead of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and others, and put in the effort to create experiences that are worth leaving the house to share with strangers.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lisa Seacat DeLuca: Inventing the Future

Every kid knows it: inventors are cool. It’s one of the things we want to be when we grow up, right up there with firefighter, ballerina or astronaut. But as we get older, we realize the improbability of having “Inventor” on our business card.

Thankfully, Lisa Seacat DeLuca never gave up on that dream. In her TED@IBM talk, “An Inventor’s Vision of the Future,” she told us about her first invention, a full-length umbrella she not only designed but prototyped with a plate and shower curtain when she was just seven years old.

When she created that umbrella, she was identifying and addressing a current need. Another role for an inventor is to gaze into their crystal ball and anticipate future needs. A third is to use that same crystal ball to look not at needs, but at possibilities. Do we need our toilet paper to reorder itself when the roll is running low? Do we need a hanger that glows red when you haven’t worn the shirt in six months, with a suggestion that you donate it?

No and no, and those particular inventions might not even be your cup of tea, yet still they are cool, and more to the point, you can imagine what else the technologies behind them might make possible. “The speed of invention in the future,” said DeLuca, “will be as fast as we can dream up ideas.”

DeLuca reminded us that as great as these inventions might prove to be, they won’t fundamentally change who we are as human beings. With all of our faults, some might consider that a bad thing. DeLuca, I believe, sees this as a positive, and I agree. After all, one of the greatest parts of our humanity is creativity, the very thing that allows us to reimagine our world and all it could become.

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Google Hangout Replay: A Social Business, Cloud, Mobile and IBM Connections Conversation

A new post on SocializeMe:Last week I had the opportunity to try out Google Hangout On Air. It's been something that I've wanted to try for a while and with the latest cloud release of IBM Connections last week, it would be a good time to try it out.

Joining me is Luis Suarez (no, not the guy who bites), an independent social business advisor and Simon Vaughan, an IBM Champion and one of the organizers of Social Connections, the IBM Connections User Group.

The whole thing was very informal, and again, it's something that I did to play with the concept and understand what's possible and what's not, while at the same time having a great conversation with subject matter experts on the other side of the ocean.

The result? I have to say I really enjoyed the conversation (it's all about my favorite topics so what's not to like!) and got me wondering if something like this is something that we should try to do on a regular basis (perhaps as a complement to 5 minute tips on IBM Connections).

Check out the replay of the Hangout:

What do you think ? Is this something that we should do more of ? Tell me what you think!

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