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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Post-Frankfurt Daze

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I must appologise for things being a little quiet on the DownsideUpDesign front.

At relatively late notice I was fortuitous enough to gain press accreditation (yes, I’m now a fully accredited journalist with the IFJ) for the Frankfurt Motor Show, known in German as the IAA, or Eeeee Ahhh Ahhh (which always sounds vaguely pornographic).

So while you, dear reader, have been wondering weather I’d left the mortal coil to pilot that great big Espada in the sky, I was wandering hither and thither around what is possibly the worlds largest motor show. Sitting on a site 1.2Km long by .5Km wide, if it weren’t for the press cars and their beautiful drivers, I’d have legs like Arnie.

Three 7 am starts and 2 am finishes later I can safely say I conquered it. What have I got to show for it? Well apart from some fabulous discussions with designers, PR types and general good guys that I hope to elaborate on here and elsewhere, I managed to amass around 4,000 photos and my first ever videos. Rather than bore you with all of them (I do get a little carried away at times…) I’ve put together a small selection of 384 piccies on my Flickr page. It’s a bit of a random bunch and the analysts amongst you will be able to tell far to much about me than I care to know. Nevertheless, take a look and let me know how you found the show through my eyes.

Updated: Dirty Slickness: Make Her Say with Kanye, Common and Kid Cudi

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Time for some gratuitous (and somewhat NSFW) video content.

I’ve been bobbing my head to this mighty fine take on Lady Gaga’s Poker Face for a while now, but I’ve only just come across the beautiful, cinematically slick film clip thanks to NewWork. It’s almost Felliniesque (massive call, I know) in that you could grab most frames and they’d be beautiful images in their own right.

Totally made my morning. Now, if only somebody could tell me what the the lovely turbine-lamped cabriolet is, my day will be complete. Over to you, fellow carspotters…

[Update: The killjoys at YoutTube won't let me embed the video, so click on through to watch it there]

[Update 2: Thanks to @michaelbanovsky (you can read his excellent auto writing here), we've now solved the mystery of the sweet blue cab. It's a Dodge Dart GT, a '64 by the looks of the grille. I can sleep easy now!]

[Update 3: Thanks to the industrious @bjkraal who actually emailed some mates in the States (pow!) and then found a lovely brown Dart on the BrownCar blog. I'll take one brown and one blue please...]

Ferrari 599? Not so much. Ferrari 599 in matt black? YES!

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Having enjoyed a lovely lunch with the even more lovely Lady Nogrady in Marylebone, we set off to find a place for a coffee.

Low and behold, parked with impunity in the Baker Street bus lane, was this wonderfully sinister Ferrari 599.

Normally not much a fan of the new Fazzas (has there been a truly poetic stallion since the F355 or 456?), this machine drew me in like a moth to the matt black flame. No mere wrapping job, this appeared to be a full re-spray. It was also fitted with a (relatively) subtle carbon fiber body kit for good measure.

Seems the traffic cops were similarly attracted, judging by the growing pile of parking tickets under the wiper.

E is for "Eh?"

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There was a time when Mercedes-Benz built the ultimate premium (not luxury, old Mercs could never be considered luxurious) cars. They were engineered to a standard and the price was set accordingly.

PorschebenzfrontMy client’s neighbour is the proud owner of an early 90s 500E, a performance saloon (again, old Mercs, no matter how powerful, were never sports cars) produced at the peak in Mercedes’ unwavering dedication to excellence in the automotive art.

The price of entry was a staggering DM134,000, or around €100,000 today, taking into account inflation. Yet because of the design and engineering integrity that all that cash purchased , after more than 20 years and 300,000 kilometres the only major work that needs doing is a reconditioning of the gearbox.

That Mercedes’ determination to build the world’s best cars was so dogged that it lead them to the brink of bankruptcy cannot be ignored. Yet the subsequent, wholesale dilution of their core value of integrity in the chase for bigger margins exacted a heavy toll on their brand image.

Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook owns your soul (and your photos too)

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The more I read, the stronger my fears grow. Call me paranoid, but the latest storm brewing in Facebook land had the hairs on the back of my neck dancing a merry jig.

Two weeks ago Facebook made a change to its terms and conditions regarding ownership of posted content. As far as I can glean, the new conditions stated that Facebook becomes the owner of all uploaded personal content (photos, videos, comments, notes and the like) and this ownership continues should I decide to delete my account. So even if I wanted to opt out, I couldn’t.

I say couldn’t because upon logging in this morning there was a message stating “…we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.” Damn straight you’ll resolve them. Whether it’s for our benefit remains to be seen. Here is the paragraph at the centre of the furore:

 

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. 

 

What’s most galling is that these changes were introduced on the sly. I challenge any of my readers to have noticed this transfer of ownership being communicated through Facebook itself.

I’ll admit that have been a willing participant in the Facebook phenomenon. My patience is being sorely tested, however, as the broader implications of my online presence become more obvious. Put it down to the benefit of 20:20 hindsight. If I lose ownership of my content it will be the last straw.

 The problem is, as a person who deals in new cultural trends and observing society’s reaction to the world at large, if I lock myself out I lose this valuable stream of information. As with so many of my generation, I want to have my cake and eat it too…

Play safe people and make sure you go through your Facebook security settings and lock it down. Apparently it’s the only way you have of clinging on to your data.

Renault Laguna Coupe: Satisfyingly Simple

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I intend to write a longer piece about this car over the coming week but I wanted to share some of my pics of the car with you.

As I’ve gone back over the shoot and my memories of driving it, one word kept coming back to me: Simplicity. And it’s not simplicity in a cheap, cut-price version of something else kind of way. This is satisfyingly simple.

To be continued…

Photos with Character: CameraBag for the iPhone

With the death of Polaroid (or is it a resurection we’re about to see?) there’s been a hole in the market for cheap, evocative, instant image makers. Tomy’s Xiao is close but a price of $us370 and Japan-only availability ensures it gets no cigar.

SwissMiss, however, has alerted me to this new app for the iPhone that allows you to add that sometimes indefinable thing, character, to your happy snaps, something that used to have to be achieved with patience and Photoshop plug-ins. CameraBag is available now from the App Store.

swissmiss: CameraBag for the iPhone.

Half a Lambo + Desert Vista = Special Moment

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As I start working more and more with automotive photography as part of my job (both as photographer and editor), I’m starting to gain an appreciation for the remarkable skills that the professionals posses.

Crap outdoor press images are a dime a dozen (Japanese manufacturers tend to be particularly bad, I’ve just edited a collection where a certain manufacturer’s new C-Segment hatch was shot in what looks like a strip mall in suburban L. A. …). Something like the image above, on the other hand,  demonstrates a level of sophistication and artistry that, to my mind, elevates these often nameless photographers to the level of the Liebowitzes and Newtons of the “art” photography world.

Click on the pic to make it nice and big, settle back and open your eyes. I can almost guarantee your mind will be putting you in the driving seat within seconds…

Now that’s what I call emotional marketing.

(Image: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.)

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Seren. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I host an event called Rising Minds, at Shoreditch House.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.