Thursday, August 20, 2009

Designed in Australia, Made in China, From Australian Fabric

This is what it says on the tag of Bonds underwear. And I'm still trying to figure out what Pacific Brands, the owner of Bonds, wants us to feel when we read this.

As far as I'm aware the only thing a manufacturer is required to state is the country of manufacture. So it would be that Pacific Brands, has made a conscious decision to tell the customer it's designed in Australia and uses Australian fabric.

To me, a cynical marketer, it says that, "we (Bonds) like to design our garments in Australia and Australian fabric is good quality so we'll use that, but as for manufacturing, well any old shmuck can do that so we'll get it cheap as chips in China."

Pacific Brands has a responsibility to its shareholders, I can't disagree there, but with all the devastating news of textile factories closing continuing, to have this written on the tag of Bonds clothing is a bit of a slap in the face to all the previously employed Australian workers. It says that labour cost savings is the only reason they're out of a job.

I see it happening more and more, brands trying to eek out any bit of Australian connection left in their multi-national businesses. I just wonder if the nationalism is wearing a little thin (sorry about the pun).

What do you think Pacific Brands is trying to say with this tag?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Imagine a subversive world delivered via augmented reality

This just blew my mind with the possibilities.

From the Digital Urban blog...

A new application from Metaio is taking the concept a step forward allowing users to leave tweets, messages, web pages and 3D models in a real space for other users to view or pick up when there are in the vicinity.

An example Digital Urban gives is the opportunity for augmented reality graffiti. Wow, the possibilities for a really subversive world hidden from reality, open only to those with the right key... wow.

Overcoming the dis-embodied brain

Recently a colleague has had to work from home for extended periods. Today's technology is amazing in that it is wholly possible to do this and still work productively. With remote access to work and email applications via Citrix, diversion of office phones to mobile phones, and the use or web based wikis, IM and twitter there is no impediment to seamless remote working.

But there is a down-side. It pyschological more than anything else. It's dis-embodiment.

After a period of working with my colleague in a remote manner, the image of my colleague is fading and being replaced with the direct image I see during our converasations - a conference phone, a computer screen. It's crazy, I know, but he is turning into a dis-embodied brain, a god floating in the ether.

But there is another way. It may be a little data intensive and some options are down-right mind-blowing in their cost, but there should be no restriction in today's technologically capable world from not have visual and audio connections in remote locations.

Here are just a few options organisations can and should consider for employees working remotely:

Online video calls
Google and Skype both offer free one-to-one video calls.

Virtual worlds
Not as silly as it sounds, virtual worlds are promising to deliver the next generation of remote conferencing and offer unlimited flexibility in communicating with life-like representations of colleagues. Workplace virtual world examples include Forterra, Rivers Run Red for Second Life and some organisations are even trialling PS3 Home as a virtual communications medium.

TelePresence is something that Cisco has championed and the innovations coming out of Cisco really do show where remote working is heading. Life-sized imagery broadcast over digital lines is pretty amazing.

And just to show you there is always something way out there. The video below show's the next next generation of teleconferencing - Princess Leia style - holography in the boardroom.

Home offices and SMEs are perfectly positioned to leverage free online video technologies such as Google video and Skype. Larger organisations should consider distributed telepresence. I say distributed because I believe that having a system locked down to office-to-office video calls misses an opportunity to link in staff at home, customers and suppliers that all have webcams that could link in.

These are our best options for really tangible and meaningful connections via remote locations, we should embrace visual connections as much as possible and shun the dis-embodied soul.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's baby steps for Sony with online content

Ok, ok. Last post I may have heaped praise on Sony for doing the right thing by Jill and Kevin on YouTube. Maybe it was a little premature.

Today I read in the Guardian Rhodri Marsden has had a take-down notice from Sony slapped on one of his videos. Turns out Sony doesn't like it when their artists are put up in a humorous light.

The video Rhodri describes highlights the somewhat bizarre ramblings of young up-and-comer Ray Gun. I can see why Sony would have slapped the take-down notice on the video if it doesn't show Ray Gun in a good light, but you can't blame Rhodri for trying.

If Sony are going to go ahead and profit off videos such as Jill and Kevin then they should be willing to let others that might be a little left-of-centre go online too. The very least that can be said is that by profiting off a select few user-generated videos Sony has given implicate permission to all online users to use Sony content whenever they want.