27 October, 2011

White Night Brighton Saturday Oct 29

Marwoods FINAL.pdf Download this file

I'm excited to be part of the amazing White Night event, which lights up the streets of Brighton all night this coming Saturday, partly to acknowledge the Autumn Equinox, when the clocks go back and we get an extra hour to enjoy the hundreds of events… and partly just to connect and be fascinated by a wealth of happenings, performances, installations and (in my case) café talks. There's a parallel event in Amiens, and they share a strong theme around sound, which is why I'll be there. My talk is about the future of sound and listening. Come along to Marwoods café at 2230 if you'd like to learn how to transform your listening and just possibly to change your reality.

Check out White Night here. And here is a flyer for the Marwoods café talks. See you there!

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

25 August, 2011

Teaching listening

More suggestions on practical exercises to teach listening skills are in a nice blog post from Teacher's Tonic.

I am in the process of investigating the best way to set up a web resource for educators to share with each ideas, experiences and suggestions so that we can establish a body of evidence and some best practice guidelines. At the moment we're thinking a Google Group. I am trying to capture email addresses for all the educators who are contacting me through my blog, email, Google+, Facebook, Twitter... quite a task but it will be well worth it! Email me at julian.treasure@thesoundagency.com if you'd like to be involved.

02 August, 2011

Listening games

Listening Games.pdf Download this file

Jazz musician and teacher Huw Lloyd has sent me this set of fun listening games taken from the world of improv theatre. He uses them to help musicians listen better, but we can probably all use them! I think some of these would nicely leaven the rather more serious listening exercises I have already posted here.

Keep 'em coming!

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

01 August, 2011

Teaching listening in schools

Following my TED talk on conscious listening and why it should be taught in schools, I've had enquiries from educators about how this can be done. Here are some practical suggestions. There are many more ideas and I would love to hear what people all over the world come up with. I plan to start a new web resource for listing in schools, probably a blog where people can post their experiences and ideas.

Help them to experience this possibly for the first time in their lives. Teach about it (take a look at my blog on silence for some ideas) and then work up from short shared silences - maybe one minute to start with - to longer ones. This will be very precious for them, but also very challenging. Ask them to write or share their experience of these silences, and what silence means in their lives.

Take them to rich aural environments (start inside the school) and have them pair and log all the sound sources they hear. If you have the resources, let them experiment with multichannel sound.

Give them a multi-day project to notice sounds and bring their three favourites in to class to share. If you have the resources (eg own a Zoom H2 digital recorder or similar) do this one small group at a time and have them record the sounds to play to all. You could do the same with sounds they dislike.

Listening positions
The most powerful of all. Pair them up and have A say what they had for breakfast while B listens from different positions (for example 1 I'm bored; 2 I want to be friends with this person; 3 I'm in a hurry; 4 what can I learn from this - please make up your own also). Have the As share their experiences at the end, then the Bs. Swap and repeat. If they get the principle that you can change reality by listening from a different place, that will be a great gift.

RASA (receive, appreciate, summarise, ask)
Practice each element by pairing up again and have listeners turn each element off and on while listening and then both people share their experience. Have them share about their general experience of being listened to at home, in school and elsewhere (especially by adults), and how it affects their own listening to others. 

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

30 July, 2011

Conscious listening

My short TED talk on conscious listening went up on the TED website on Friday July 29 – one of the first from TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, and my third talk on ted.com. I'm honoured, and the reaction to this talk has been wonderful already, as I write just a day later. Views on TED's site are at around 70,000 in just 24 hours (which means double that on the web as a whole) and I have had a lot of great connections from teachers, psychologists, academics and businesspeople who are going to use the five exercises and support the vision of teaching listening in schools.

Here's the talk. Please take a look (and a listen) and pass it on if it resonates with you. The practice of conscious listening will make a real difference in the world.


Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

27 July, 2011

The Four Golden Rules of Sound

Whenever sound is deployed in a commercial space, I recommend that it should always be created in accordance with the following four Golden Rules of commercial sound.

 1. Make it optional
The backlash against piped music (with consumer groups like PipeDown to the fore) is partly fuelled by the resentment that arises from being given no choice. Research shows that people’s irritation with noise increases dramatically when they have no control over the sound source. It follows that we must try to give people a choice about any sound we inflict on them.

 On the web, this means starting with sound off and offering it as an option (with an omnipresent control to toggle sound on/off). Obviously it's more difficult to make sound optional in a physical space – though not impossible. A range of rooms or spaces with different soundscapes is one practical solution, as educational establishments with silent reading rooms have long understood. If we can’t offer soundscape options that way, the next best thing is to target sound as carefully as possible, so that we upset the smallest number of people. For spaces with a very tight demographic and psychographic user profile, this is not too difficult. Some shops, bars, clubs and restaurants know exactly who their customers are and what they like; in many cases the sound (usually music) acts as a filter, attracting the ‘right’ people and warning the ‘wrong’ ones to go elsewhere because this is not for them. Buddha Bar and Abercrombie & Fitch are two good examples.

 This approach can work in more generalist spaces if music is used as part of an overall zoning policy. For example in a large mall there might be zones for younger and older customers, and sound or music could be a form of signposting to help nudge people in the right direction.

 The problems arise for generalist spaces that can’t or won’t operate this kind of zoning. One person’s signal is another person’s noise, and nowhere is this truer than with broadcast sound in public. Whatever you play in a mass-market space, you will upset someone. I strongly suggest two actions. First, err on the side of caution: it’s better to inject no sound that the wrong sound. There is nothing at all wrong with the sound of people shopping! Second, research carefully before you deploy. Do not assume that your customers will naturally love smooth jazz and r&b classics, because they just might loathe them. Use focus groups to ascertain attitudes, and create pilot sites where you run proper quantitative tests that measure the effect of the soundscape on people’s behaviour (see Golden Rule 4).

 2. Make it congruent
Music is not the only (or even the best) type of sound to deploy in commercial spaces. After all, it is made with the strong intention of being listened to, so when it's played in the background there is a conflict of interest. The visual equivalent would be covering every inch of your walls with works of art. 

Intention is very important with sound, so start with silence. It's a much-underrated sound, and it may just be your ideal soundscape. One step up from silence is generative sound. These soundscapes are made with the intention of being aural wallpaper, so they may create a more harmonious environment than music. Our own Ambifier™ system delivers exactly this kind of sound. Only with good reason (such as the filtering mentioned above) should you go to the next level and choose music, at which point please seek professional advice to style it and deliver it legally. Whatever you do, try to avoid repetition, for the sanity of your staff if no other reason. Three CDs in a shop for a year is a recipe for stress. A playlist should contain at least double the volume required for the time to be filled, ideally three times, so that you won't hear a song twice in any time slot, whether it's a full day or your two-hour peak time evening segment.

 Please, please do invest in a sound delivery system that matches the quality of the rest of your branding. Don’t leave loudspeaker and amplifier choice to IT, M&E or facilities people! Your sound delivery system is a vital part of your brand experience. Take an interest; choose quality; and avoid hotspots by creating good coverage with decent speakers – which means avoiding systems that have a separate subwoofer. That may work at home, but in a commercial space it create nasty variation in the sound, including pools of strong bass for anyone unlucky enough to be standing under the woofer.

 Once you’ve defined what sound would work best for your brand and worked out the most effective way for its application, you will have no trouble in making sure that all the sound you inject into your spaces resonates with your own organisation, brand, products, values, image, practices and so on. The first test of congruency (aka appropriateness) is to ask: is this sound right for us? You should be able to close your eyes in any branded space and know where you are.

 The second, of course, is to ask: is this sound right for its context? This is where we consider environment (including acoustics, noise sources and intrusive noise); the people in the space (psychographics, demographics, tastes and fashions); the function of the space (for example if conversation or thinking are key, music is probably not the best choice). Whatever we design must fit all of these factors. Often that means changing the sound through the day. At The Sound Agency we generally recommend a converging strategy: playing calming sound when places are busy, and stimulating sound when they are emptier. If you can afford autogain to automatically maintain the perfect headroom over ambient noise levels, use it. Inappropriate volume is one of the commonest sins with commercial sound, and it loses sales.

 3. Make it valuable
There are far too many commercial spaces playing music because they do it next door. I suspect that the world would sound rather different if they all asked the question: how can our sound add value to our customers?

 Sound can be hugely valuable. It can warn us of danger (smoke alarms); it can inform us of events or of opportunities (radio news; in-store announcements of special offers); it can reduce the boredom of mundane tasks (music in factories); it can entertain, move and inspire us (music in films); it can guide us (zoning; travel announcements); most of all, it’s our primary connection with other humans (conversation).

 When designing your soundscape, start by going into the space, closing your eyes and listening. Ask yourself, how can our sound add value to our customers? That question may lead you to start by removing some noisemakers or installing acoustic treatments to reduce reverberation time and create a calmer ambience.

Once you're happy the environment is optimal, ask: what extra sound will add value to our customers? If you can't answer, silence is golden. And remember, perking up bored staff is not a reason to inflict pumping music on your customers, who may need just the opposite. That’s why it’s usually a bad idea to let you staff play their own choice of music: their interests are very different from those of the customers. Fast music entrains people to move more quickly – and leave more quickly. If you do believe that music is the solution, follow the tips above to make sure you get music that's congruent as well as effective and valuable.
4. Test it and test it again
When it comes to measuring the effects of sound, it’s what people do that matters, not what they say. This is particularly true when the sound in question is music, because everybody has an opinion about music. In designing soundscapes, we can use both qualitative and quantitative research. Focus groups of customers (or, for larger audiences, customer segments) help us understand what sounds they like, and what they dislike. Auditory ‘mood boards’ and specific sounds and music tracks can be used as stimulus material. Then we can survey large samples with traditional questions or small samples with neurological and physiological measures to check the psycho-physiological effects (what psychologists call 'affect'). In large group research, the questions should be focused on measuring what we’re actually interested in – for example brand affinity, emotional state, general satisfaction or purchasing intentions – and not on what people think about the sound. What people say they like and how they behave due to sound are two very different things.

 Once we have designed a soundscape or playlist, we can test the effects by alternating our proposed soundscape with no sound, or the old soundscape, again by measuring the differences in KPIs such as sales, dwell time, footfall, brand affinity and customer satisfaction, not asking people if they like it.

 These rules might appear obvious, but it is surprising how many businesses fail to observe them in their application of sound, damaging their brands and revenues in the process. 

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

22 July, 2011

The Sound of Brands

All businesses are making sound; most just aren’t controlling it – and the effects of this random noise are lost sales, undermined brands and lost customers.
Well over a thousand billion dollars are spent worldwide every year on how brands look: the brand books describing visual identities can be as thick as telephone directories for the world’s most famous and complex brands. They are intended to cover every possible aspect of branding… so it’s strange that I have had the following conversation many times:
Me: “Do you have a brand book?”
Marketing director: “Yes, of course we have a brand book.”
Me: “How many pages are about sound?”
Marketing director: “Er, none.”
Sound is probably the last great unexplored country for the marketing profession. Sound branding is a virtually virgin territory, rich with resources, that’s been behind us the whole time. Of course, sound is not the only sense we’ve been ignoring. The other two primary senses (smell and taste) and the range of touch, or haptic, senses (pressure, texture, temperature, balance and so on) are important too. Using the traditional Aristotelian five-sense model (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste), marketing guru Martin Lindstrom proposes ‘5D branding’ in his book BRANDsense. His extensive research showed that less than 10 per cent of the world’s top brands have a sensory branding platform (though this is forecast to increase to 35 per cent within five years).
I fully support the 5D approach, and commend Martin’s book to every marketer. However, sight and hearing must be considered the twin major senses for two reasons. First, they can both carry specific messages: we can say exactly what we want in either vision or sound. Smell, touch and taste can convey a large number of moods, feelings and ambiences, but not many specific messages. Second, sight and hearing can both be broadcast, and they are therefore the only two mass communication senses. So far, nobody has found a way of broadcasting smells or tastes.
We know that sound has four profound effects on people: physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioural. The right sound can increase retail sales by up to 38% – but sound that’s incongruent with visual messaging will undermine impact by over 80%. From this perspective it’s clear that the marketing profession has always given too much weight to sight compared to sound. This may be because the mass communication media were sight-only (press and posters) for much of marketing’s formative history. It may also be that marketing’s whole strategic paradigm has been focused on the brand as promise (‘image’, a purely visual word); brand experience, which natural occurs in all five senses, is a relatively young discipline.
But as we know today, every brand is both a promise and an experience. Sound can play a major a role in both these aspects, though how major depends on the specific product, brand, market, territory and customer base. At its most potent, sound can make or break a brand. It must always be considered.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

23 April, 2011

Sodcasting: more prevalent, and more serious, than you thought

I was interviewed this week for a BBC Radio 4 programme on sodcasting (the programme will be broadcast in the UK on Tuesday June 14 at 1330) and it's made me think more deeply about the issue.

Sodcasting is defined by the online urban dictionary as "the act of playing music through the speaker on a mobile phone, usually on public transport. Commonly practiced by young people wearing polyester, branded sportswear with dubious musical taste".

I think we need to widen the definition from the much-berated hoodies on the bus genus (let's call this form territorial sodcasting, because it's very akin to dogs and lamp posts in its motivations) to include all thoughtless inflicting of noise on other people. One person's 'dubious musical taste' (aka noise) is another person's delight. It's well documented in field trials that those same teens who enjoy tinny renditions of N-Dubz or Eminem find the public playing of classical music unbearable enough to move away from it, which is why it is deployed at over 100 London tube stations and in many other places around the UK to move them on and to reduce vandalism. So is that state sodcasting

This wider definition brings in some many other perpetrators; though far less obvious than the gang at the back of the bus, they can be equally annoying to those around them.

I tweeted the other day in real pain from a quiet airport lounge where around 30 people, all modestly and sensitively minding their business and controlling their noise, were forced to listen to one end of a phone conversation from a man who clearly thought he had to speak loudly enough to reach the UK from Germany without the help of modern technology. While most people murmur into their phone in public, dismayed by the very idea they could be overheard in an unintended bond of intimacy with those around them, there is a breed (is this perhaps genetic?) who unashamedly broadcast like this without a shred of awareness of their imposition on their neighbours. I think we can call this white collar sodcasting. (One even more irritating refinement of this behaviour is pacing, especially with a wired headset: the unwanted conversation swells and fades with predictable frequency, so that the dread of its certain return compounds one's simple irritation into a sort of exquisite torture.)

Then there's in-car sodcasting (or should that be ex-car sodcasting?), a practice taken to the extreme with insane 20,000 watt car stereo systems, but sadly perpetrated all over the world by enthusiastic amateurs who confuse their ability aggressively to dominate other people's soundscape with their self worth. These are not the same thing, guys. Please get some therapy, grow up and enjoy your music in private, with the windows up.

And there's more... what about mechanical sodcasting? In my book I quote the estimate from the EU noise mapping project that one noisy scooter driving through Paris in the middle of the night can wake as many as 200,000 people. That's a major piece of sodcasting! Its less impressive but far more widespread relatives include leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, power tools and the like.

We're not done yet. Domestic sodcasting, aka neighbour noise, is a major social issue, and it kills people. Not the noise itself, but the ensuing arguments, which (especially when added to alcohol and firearms) have all too often ended in murder. Just last month there was the tragic case of a man who strangled his own daughter in a row about TV noise, but there are so many of these sad events, including the famous 2008 case of the Cleveland fireman who shot dead three people because of firework party noise. Duration, repetition and intensity are all aggravating factors in these disputes.

Which brings us to the big one: commercial sodcasting. I don't mean sodcasting for money: thankfully I don't believe there is any money to be made by imposing unwanted noise on people. I do mean commercial organisations thoughtlessly broadcasting noise of all kinds. That's thoughtless as in completely unconscious (noisy vehicles, chiller cabinets in supermarkets and corner shops, squeaking trolleys, checkout beeps) – and equally, thoughtless as in conscious but unconcerned with the consequences (mindless music in shops, restaurants and other public spaces). I have blogged elsewhere about the commercial pressures for this latter practice: the music industry is desperate for the cash and public performance is a rare revenue growth area. In most cases, shops play pop music for no better reason than that every other shop does it too. It's become a meme.

Fortunately for pressure groups like PipeDown and their high-profile proponents such as Daniel Bahrenboim and Peter Maxwell-Davis, the science shows that companies can make more money by designing appropriate, pleasing soundscapes for commercial spaces (just like aural wallpaper, and including careful acoustic design) than by playing pop everywhere. We can therefore hope that the mindless music meme will die out soon.

The motives for these various forms of sodcasting may differ, but there are two necessary factors in all cases. First, lack of listening. As I have recently said in my TEDxDanubia talk, people are losing the habit of listening to the world, and especially to other people – and if you don't listen, you simply are not so conscious of the effects of your own noise on others. Second, lack of empathy. In my view this is directly related to the first factor: if we don't listen to one another, we won't understand one another's realities and so we can't empathise so well. I suspect it may also be a by-product of the modern, Internet version of connectedness: we choose to care about the friend we're on the phone to, while ignoring completely the effects of our loud conversation on the people sitting right next to us. Perhaps our empathy is becoming selective and routed through the web, instead of naturally being bestowed on the human beings around us.
The solution? Legislation is not the answer, and nor is citizen power, as anyone who has ever approached a sodcaster to ask them to stop will know all too well. I believe the heart of the solution is in teach listening skills in schools. If we teach our children how to listen properly to the world, and especially to each other, they will understand the consequences of their own sound and be far more responsible in making it. Sodcasting is a symptom of societal deafness. Let's collectively open our ears and start being responsible for our sound environment.

13 April, 2011

Wind pain?

Whilst renewables are clearly essential in so many ways, it's vital that we understand all their effects, positive and negative. Giant wind turbines have three downsides, of which potentially the most serious is noise. 

The first downside is visual. Anyone who's visited Denmark can testify to the visual blight huge turbines create. This can of course be overcome by offshoring or placing in sensitive locations - though wind does usually demand prominence.

The second is ecological. I am not an expert but I believe some birds are being killed (though at the moment the numbers appear to be small compared to, say, deaths from domestic cats), and it seems likely that ecosystems are being disrupted in other ways. This is not my field but I'm sure there are effects and that people are investigating them.

The third downside is aural. The noise of those giant blades can be loud and can travel a long way from the turbine: people living up to 2 km away have reported disturbance, with predictable effects on sleep and elevated levels of stress and annoyance. The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology regularly has discussions of the topic for anyone interested - you can join here - and there is also a growing body of academic research. An expert panel review in 2009 (sponsored by the wind turbine manufacturers) found no adverse health effects though it did admit that annoyance results – rather disingenuously the panel concluded that 'annoyance is not a disease'. This ignores the findings of the WHO that long-term exposure to noise, working through the mechanism of stress and annoyance produced, does lead to increased incidences of many diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, gastric issues, depression and more. 

The evidence against wind turbines is patchy, maybe because the big bucks from industry are all paying for evidence that supports wind energy. Dr Nina Pierpoint's book Wind Turbine Syndrome may have been based on a small sample, but we should not dismiss collections of individual, qualitative evidence, and it does seem that she is becoming a magnet for a growing, though still small, number of personal testimonies of major negative noise effects from around the world. I know from my years studying the effects of sound that in general very few people complain about noise: for example, noisy shops could claim (just like the wind industry does) that nobody complains, implying that there is no problem – and yet many retailers are losing up to 30% of potential sales as people leave the store faster or don't even enter, often without being conscious of the reason for their behaviour. We have become used to suppressing noise, so it should come as no surprise that there are few complaints about wind turbine noise. This does not mean there are no adverse effects.

Giant turbines, especially the older ones, create two sounds in my experience: a tearing sound as the blades rip through  and also a thumping bass sound, both of which are not constant and therefore are probably as irritating as a dripping tap (though much louder) and as hard to ignore. Research shows that sound we can't control, and particularly regular, intermittent sound like this, is the most annoying and affecting. There is also the possibility that infrasound (ultra low frequency noise) is in play, though the jury is out on this whole topic. Much more impartial research is needed to defuse the current pro v anti posturing, where individual campaigners like Dr Pierpoint claim devastating effects and industry consultants like Dr Geoff Leventhall dismiss any negative effect at all. I suspect the truth, as so often, lies somewhere in the middle. It would be odd if high energy, low frequency vibrations did not affect human beings in some way given that we're entirely composed of vibrating matter, though probably some people are more susceptible than others, just as with audible noise. Dr Pierpoint wants a 2 km gap betwen turbines and people's houses. This may be on the high side, but from my experience I can say that I would definitely not want to live close to one, and certainly not within 1 km, whatever the pro-wind research says.

For wind turbines, the phenomenon of super-additivity (cross-modal effects where one sense multiplies the effects of a stimulus in another) seems to be in play, and is an issue which has not yet been addressed by any of the research I have seen. The visual pollution seems to be making people more sensitive to the aural; the annoyance factor seems to vary with the context, for example the profile of the location, with rural areas and hilly or rocky terrain increasing the likelihood of annoyance.

It's a balancing act of course... each energy source has its pros and cons, but it is important we know what they are before diving in head first, as the Japanese experience with nuclear power has just shown: industry experts were categorical that Fukushima was earthquake-proof when it was constructed, and they were wrong. In the UK there are now such large incentives for farmers to erect turbines that it pays for them not to farm land and instead to lease it for wind power; once erected, these things are not so easy to remove. The noise effects are as yet unclear, so I do believe we urgently need to know far more about this before we cover our countryside with wind farms.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

04 April, 2011

My Thinking Digital talk

Last year I had the great pleasure of speaking at Thinking Digital, Herb Kim's brilliant tech visionary conference in Newcastle (or to be more precise Gateshead). It was a fantastic experience and I realise that I have never posted a link to the video. I hope that the embed code inside this post will give access here. Just in case that doesn't work, you can see the talk on the Thinking Digital website here.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

01 March, 2011

Mark Rock (Mr AudioBoo) interview

Turning Japanese

Download now or preview on posterous
帯ありnew.pdf (559 KB)

Very excited to receive the cover design for my book Sound Business in Japanese. Yamaha Music Media are publishing it in Japan and it's just goner to the printers! I hope top be able to visit soon, as the Japanese are intensely auditory in their history and culture... who else in the world designs garden sculptures that are buried underground in order to make random soft clunking sounds that require silence and careful listening to be perceived at all? Or gather together in a ceremony to hear a flower opening each year? I hope they enjoy the book, and that it makes a difference in the modern urban soundscapes that have all but replaced these subtle engagements with the world of sound.

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13 January, 2011

Breakfast for the brain

I hugely enjoyed taking part in a Wf360 Inner Circle™ breakfast hosted by TBWA in London this week. The cast was stellar, with luminaries from banks, logistics, airline, technology and entrepreneurship. The topic was innovation, and a very thought-provoking two hours it proved - particularly coming on top of my session a few days earlier with Professor Semir Zeki on BBC World Service's The Forum. Semir is a top neuro-aestheticist whose view is that creativity springs from dissatisfaction, and this same view was proposed about innovation at the breakfast. But does it - and are creativity and innovation the same thing?

Taking the second question first, I suggested at the breakfast that innovation is channelled creativity. My friend Andy Hobsbawm put it very succinctly: creativity is necessary for innovation, but not sufficient - in other words, you can't be innovative without being creative, but you can be creative without being innovative (the advertising and fashion industries were suggested as examples of this state). 

I also think there are two kinds of corporate innovation: doing what you do in new and better ways (like mobile boarding passes) and doing something completely new (remember Virgin Cola? and will Facebook really become a credible bank?). The second is obviously more dangerous, and you could argue that it was banks dabbling with this form, rather than staying in the safer waters of the first kind of innovation, that brought our economic system to the verge of collapse. 

The core issue is knowing what you are really doing, which is where innovation can be structured: it's vital to ask the question "what value do we really add?" from many different perspectives, and continuously. That's how you discover that you're a top global logistics expert not a courier (UPS), a superb ecommerce service not a bookstore (Amazon), or a service provider not a box shifter (IBM). Many companies have gone to the wall by getting attached to one perspective on what they do, and not seeing their own full value.

And what of the question of dissatisfaction: is creativity just scratching an itch? Does the artist have to be tortured? I think there is more than one dimension here too. Many musicians I've met speak of the music coming through them, of effectively being a channel for a force which is not of them; they are almost involuntary in the moment of creation. There is a strong spiritual dimension to creativity like this, and I don't think it has anything to do with dissatisfaction. Also I strongly believe that creativity is a basic human quality (though we educate it out of our children - see Ken Robinson's famous TED talk on this); given reasonable circumstances, we're naturally creative - and in fact if this natural state is denied the result so often is destructive behaviour.

So while a creative solution certainly requires a problem in order to come into being, and while there are many itches that get creatively scratched all over the world every day, there are also a vast number of creative acts that spring from some sort of muse (the spiritual path) or just from the joy of creating. Maybe the best companies have discovered the trick of nurturing the joy of innovating, and well as being good at problem-solving.

Wf360's founder Susan Willet Bird has blogged about the breakfast and my work here, and Wf360's Inner Circle™ program is described here

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

05 January, 2011

Mobile Madness!

I just recorded a show for the BBC World Service. It's called The Forum, and I was honoured to be on with Charles Simic and Semir Zeki - eminent company indeed, and a fascinating discussion about creativity, perception and language ensued. The programme will be broadcast on the World Service and Radio 4, and also will be available as a podcast from the Forum's website.

They ask me to rant with a controversial soapbox-style idea for 60 seconds. No problem ranting - but just for a minute? That's tough! Anyway I thought it might amuse you to have the rant posted here, since it's one that will resonate with many who care about sound. So here it is:

(rant starts)

We have licences and laws governing the use of our cars. There should now be licences and laws for the public use of mobile devices so that the weight of society is aligned to make inconsiderate people change their ways.

I'm talking about behaviour such as
   * causing a breach of the peace (especially in confined public spaces like buses and trains) by talking loudly on a mobile
   * irritating fellow travellers with music overspilling from headphones
   * playing distorted music through the inadequate loudspeakers of mobile phones in public places ('sodcasting')
   * street offences such as stopping short or causing an obstruction on a busy pavement while texting
   * holding loud and pompous conversations on mobiles (especially with headsets, and especially while pacing up and down in airport lounges and similar)
   * playing games with the beeps turned on
   * disrespecting people by having intimate or embarrassing conversations and thus effectively denying their existence and feelings.

At the moment, if someone is brave enough to complain, the result is often verbal or sometimes even physical abuse. We need to align the power of societal consensus so that just as jumping a red light is universally unacceptable, so are behaviours like sodcasting.

Penalties could be a range of device confiscation periods (just like losing your driving licence) and corrective educational courses. This would require mobile police (in every sense of the phrase) which could be a voluntary force much like the Guardians on the New York subway. But the weight should be on educating people, ideally starting in school, to be thoughtful, considerate and mindful of the consequences of their behaviour on others. That may be idealistic, but without a consensus and some way of enforcing it we are heading for a digitally connected but physically divided society.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous