September 12, 2008

Are you part of this, or just a reflection of it?

The thing about social media is that you have to be, ahem, social. That means you have to be in it, not anti-social by ignoring people or trashing others' work. It's a shame that one of the largest ad agencies out there, McCann Erickson, feels the need to rip-off others' work, without even a casual link out to the people they're attempting to copy.

Common Craft have for years now provided the web with superb, short, witty videos explaining the most complex areas of the live web. They have been viewed millions of times, blogged by thousands. They're part of the currency of the web, appearing on Governmental and company intranets and external sites. Why, then, have McCann repackaged/stolen the idea and produced something that's mediocre at best, plain boring rather than plain English? Their version of Web 2.0 in Plain English is presented by someone with a clean corporate accent, the images used tarnished by the polish of corporate graphic artists.

Any company or organisation stands to gain a heck of a lot more linking out to the talent that's there already, employing it if it needs something more specific than is currently provided. Fair enough, McCann's corporate customers may not be connected (yet) into the world of Common Craft, but McCann are in a position to create some real change by introducing them to the real literature, rather than the York Notes version of it.

Update: Having met a nice chap from McCann the other day, the video's inspiration has since been added. Good job, guys! :-)


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Cutting edge always ends up copied and watered down into the mainstream. C'est la vie :-)

It's such a shame that Common Craft have stopped producing their vids for clients - presumably saw the writing on the wall. Would have been interesting to sit in on the pitch: "We've come up with this great new idea..."

Its not even a decent attempt at "hommage" it looks a bit cheap and nasty and not very informative.

I like open source and the open source mentality because as Josh Davis(Flash Guru) once said in a workshop I attended... Why do I give you all this code to use? I can give it all away, because the only important part can't be given away. It's not the code that is the essential part. It's the vision, the sweat that comes from working that vision, it's the time and the energy and commitment. I didn't give you that. If someone has all of that behind them, they'll rise with or without the code so there's no harm in giving it away. There's simply nothing to fear."

He's right. This case is a perfect example. The essence and soul of the work remains with the originators. Nothing of value has been stolen.

And in classic fashion there's nowhere on that page to leave comments on the video - so no-one can call them out on their shameless rip-off job.


Ewan as discussed we were inspired by the CC vids. We used them as a basis for training our junior staff in digital and we asked them to use the approach to make films and learn editing skills. They are being used to spread knowledge internally. Thanks for spotting our glaring omission.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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