Super Duper SAD Fixer 5000
Medium: 26″ x 13.5″ plexi LED filled box with vinyl graphics applied (wall mounted)
With the evolution of modern medicine has come the ability and, may I say, obsession with finding a diagnosis for just about every uncomfortable feeling / stress / mood / uncontrolled aspect in life. Some of these driven by medical practitioners and others self assessed and prescribed. One such diagnosis is Seasonal Affective Disorder or “SAD”. Equally as fascinating as a disorder brought on by the changes in the seasons typically manifesting itself in depressive mood swings, is the antidote… a desktop LED light.
On considering these lights as the prescription for depression I was struck by many observations… first and foremost the ridiculousness of everything surrounding the disorder that seeks to provide it framework; from the fact an entire medical system made up of thousands of smart, highly educated professionals could create and validate a name for the disorder that purposefully represents the acronym SAD. That the antidote is a desktop light and how a google search will reveal a host of light suppliers that appear more as “as seen on tv” healers than a serious prescription for a disorder affecting people en mass. What’s also funny is many people place the light right beside their computers as if a glowing computer screen is somehow different than the healing light.
Almost without exception, everyone I know who has and uses one of these devices is someone I would consider “creative” in ability and occupation; considering the target audience, it is especially curious these devices are non-descript, ugly, and lacking any aesthetic value IMO – this fact provided the inspiration for the project.
The Super Duper SAD Fixer 5000 works are a collection of seasonal disorder antidotes. They represent a design exercise to bring aesthetic beauty and credibility to a purposeful device all with a hint of satire. The device is customized to bring people to their places of refuge. The LED filled boxes emit healing properties of electric light energy while also symbolizing beacons of hope for a brighter day to follow (they do nothing it is just a box filled with LED’s). The act of showcasing the piece on a wall itself provides healing properties… breaking down the secrecy and shame often accompanying depression this act puts it on display offering the feelings / disorder / stress up as a statement of artistic beauty to be considered and appreciated. The name itself a rebellious response to the disorders name and pokes fun at the marketing machine that now surrounds the diagnosis.
The collection asks several questions about our culture. Why do we feel the need to diagnose everything? Why is it that we are not ok with changing seasons and adverse feelings / moods that may be associated? Why must we “fix” this feeling / mood? Why must all seasons be equal – both physically and metaphorically? Why must we name everything? How many of our antidotes are sold products or services? What does it mean to be SAD? These are just a few examples.
*please note, my intention is not to undermine the notion of a seasonal mood altering disorder, nor to offend those who carry this diagnosis, it is more to poke fun at the marketing / design that surrounds it and use the works to ask questions about human struggle.
Love Google Zeitgeist… here is their 2010 in review video:
I’ve been reading the book “I live in the future and here’s how it works” by Nick Bilton… Great book, the kind you are so aligned with you feel like you could have written it (at least that’s how I feel)… I am just over 1/3 in and have had an epiphany I had to share.
For a few years now I have been arguing for the coming age of the digital native vs. The digital immigrant and the tipping point when the former will yield tremendous power and influence over the latter to which the latter will never catch up… For the need to build a “following” in preparation for this moment and not just for the pride of early adoption… But it has just become abundantly clear how truly significant this is in a whole other way.
You see, at the same time, I (along with everyone else with any sense) has been preaching the power of search and the need to make “google juice” an imperative in your marketing mix and brand strategy… For if google can’t find you then you don’t exist. And now, in a jarring “a-ha” moment the two ideas have collided in my head and a very scary reality has surfaced…
As social has become the norm and curator of choice for the information overload that is the Internet and as google and others work harder to personalize search and look to networks as the mechanism to do so… We will be faced with a world, an Internet, which is customized by our social network… Every search result will be ordered by the relevance and positive referral of our networks. If you search on a restaurant, only those that friends in your network have liked, commented on, checked in to, or linked to will appear in your results.
So now consider for a moment what will happen in the future should you not have any “followers” of your product or service… No one to validate you…. No digital referral…. No curator including you in their selections… No google juice. You could be extremely keyword relevant, geo-targeted, with the biggest cpc budget in the world, but if you have no friends you won’t exist.
In a world where the youngest billionaire in the world is exactly that for the number of “friends” that he has, building a digital trail of friends might just be the most important investment you will make in the coming years. I suspect to those that will get this idea already, I will be preaching to the choir, and to those that won’t get it, the significance of something so simple will be lost. Either way, it was an important enough moment for me that I felt I should put it out there… I time stamped reference point of what I was thinking and when… Man I love this digital age 😉
Now I’ll get back to my book.
In response to hearing the comment “those people have way too much time on their hands” with regards to the social media outpouring over the GAP’s new crappy logo, I find myself both annoyed and pensive about this statement.
The statement itself suggests that…
1) using social media for the purposes of commenting on unimportant topics is a “waste of time”
2) it takes time to make comments
and it might insinuate that…
3) people who use social media are “time wasters” and concern themselves with unimportant things
4) social media is stupid as it is only used for wasting time on unimportant things
Regardless of how one feels about the 4 statements above or the fact that 3 & 4 are likely the trigger for my annoyance, I think the comment drastically under represents the most important points, which to me are…
a) social media takes NO time… about as long as it takes for people to think… social media is just an immediate verbalization of what is in people’s heads… it is now, real time; thoughts, place (via geolocation), significance (via the amount of influence people have). Social media is NOT a waste of time as it requires NO time at all… it is the exact reflection of what people say, think, do, be and have been doing for years… it is just that it is now an immediate public record. This is an incredibly important point if you hope to understand and / or leverage the tool.
b) holy crap, the general public has the ability to assemble around an opinion in a large enough way, quick enough, and with enough authority to create the influence necessary to make a multi-billion dollar company change their direction within 2 days – HARDLY INSIGNIFICANT… this is extremely significant! Especially when you consider it was a “silent launch”, it showed up on their website and that was it and all hell broke lose thereafter. Consider for a moment how much time it would have taken some marketer to gain the influence to be given the authority and approval to start the process of changing a 20 year old logo for a multi-billion dollar organization… and then double back to the fact it was unraveled in just 2 days. That’s significant. For those working in the GAP’s marketing department right now it is likely the most significant event assembled by a bunch of people “wasting time” in the history of their careers.
If you are not a marketer nor in an occupation where understanding how people think / socialize / act is important, then feel free to chalk this post up to just another blog about unimportant topics blown way out of proportion… but if you are a marketer or in a career where customer behaviour matters and you have not given a second thought to the events surrounding the GAP’s crappy logo then I highly recommend you take a moment to reflect on what’s just happened… the future of how you do your job depends on you seeing the significance of this.
Just read a fantastic article on Leadership via @harvardbiz and wanted to keep / share it so I’m posting it here…
Today I was directed to a blog post entitled “Ummmm…. You’re Not Even Doing the Bare Minimum [An edgy conversation]” by Dan Waldschmidt (via @shanegibson) and I was reminded of a conversation I had with Murray Martin – Chairman, President and CEO of Pitney Bowes Inc. – where I asked him two questions…
1. What is your favourite thing about business?
2. When you hire someone, what is the single most important thing you look for?
His answers were simple and ones that have stuck with me throughout my career.
1. I like to win.
Who doesn’t like to win? This statement reminds me that business is supposed to be fun, competitive, involve team, requires training and exercise, should be taken seriously (professional sport serious, not life-and-death serious), and the goal should be to win some. In Canada we are all very cordial in our competition – especially in British Columbia – but the truth is, it IS a competition and to stay sharp, to push forward, and to be the best, it’s okay if somebody wins.
2. Hard work vs. smart work.
Everybody and their brother has a university degree and an MBA, smart is the “Bare Minimum” as Dan Waldschmidt suggests, but most people I have met who talk about “working smart” are usually just lazy. As Murray explained to me early on, there will be many times throughout your career where what it takes to get ahead, to win, is just hard work…. you don’t necessarily have to be the smartest, the most innovative, the most cutting edge, but the one who wins is usually the one that worked the hardest for it.
On a personal note, I have the pleasure of working for a company that models this everyday. Our culture is such that often we get ridiculed by our competitors for not being the most creative and for being “cookie cutter”… but there is no other company I have seen in our industry that works as hard as we do… that has a culture where just plain “hard work” is valued… we don’t take random days-off midweek, we arrive early and stay late to get things done and we build and sell more homes than anyone else in our trading area. As another friend once said to me, “Have you ever met a CEO who didn’t work 60 hour weeks at least at some point in their career?”.
Food for thought. I’m not advocating becoming a work-a-holic, but a 60 hour week now and again probably wouldn’t hurt either.