Tag Archives: podcast

We only want to be answerable to our audience

Hookturn Launches with a Ding

Josh Kinal and Michael Williams engage in pre-show shenanigans by interacting with a stuffed pheasant

Josh and Michael Williams engage in pre-show shenanigans

Last week we launched our brand new media label, Hookturn.

It was a joyous affair with drinks and food and people meeting each other, talking about ideas and the future of media.

Ross Floate, in his address to launch the label, spoke about the business’s plan to expand Hookturn into producing publications in addition to its current stable of podcasts.

“We wanted to develop a platform for experts to express ideas and engage in discourse,” said Ross, “so that we further produce our own style and respect our thought leaders.”

The goal, though, is to earn money from Hookturn’s audience and avoid advertising for as long as possible. As Ross said on the night: “The only people we want to be answerable to is our audience.”

We’ve had amazing feedback from the community and we’re turning to the audience for financial support. It’s like Kickstarter but even more independent.

On the evening, Ross revealed a goal of 200 financial members by the end of the year. Reaching that goal would open up the opportunities to move Hookturn from a largely volunteer concern to a professional one.

“We understand that the best way to encourage the best out of people is to pay them,” he said.

Audience members watching the Nudge, live.

A very engaged audience.

After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, I had the chance to interview The Wheeler Centre’s Michael Williams about their #discuss campaign. That interview was recorded as proof that the crowd enjoyed it and also to be released as a future episode of The Nudge podcast.

More information about Hookturn memberships.

More photos from the night are available to view on the Hookturn Facebook page.

Breaking our own rules, and self-doubt.

When we started The Nudge, our vision was to do something here in Melbourne that was as good or better than what we’re all so keen to consume from abroad. It’s the idea that started us on the road to creating Hookturn.

Over time our thoughts have matured, and we’ve spoken with people from around the world – most notably when Josh went to the United States and interviewed Debbie Millman, Jeffrey Zeldman, and Ethan Marcotte. But up until now, our rule has always been that we needed to speak to people face-to face. It’s a large part of why we created the Hookturn studios.

This week we broke that rule. We’ve just released a special episode of The Nudge where Josh Kinal and I talked with the incomparable Merlin Mann about self doubt.

We think it was as worth it to break the rule as it was to make it. We hope you enjoy the episode.

This week on ‘This Australian Life’

I grew up in Australia in the late seventies and early eighties, so it was natural for me to think that someone else’s culture was more valid than mine: The TV shows we saw were mostly imported; The local content was news or soap or procedural cop dramas; Australian children’s television was always solid, but as kids we were already given the sense that things that were made for us were of less consequence than things created for adults; And shows for adults that had a sense of quality came from the US and UK.

Is that how you remember it? It’s definitely the way we, as a culture, talk about it—especially when we have the inevitable "Why can’t we produce good comedies" discussion we love to have.

To believe that requires excluding the comedies like Auntie Jack, which led to Norman Gunston, without which we would have never had Let the Blood Run Free or The Games.

There were also the Kennedy-Miller mini-series, the way for which was paved by Crawfords productions, which eventually led to Simpson-Le Mesurier productions and the excellent Good Guys Bad Guys in the early nineties.

Australia is a giant country with a relatively small population. Our two most populous cities (only the second smallest distance between two capital cities in Australia), are almost as far apart as Paris and Berlin. We feel isolated from each other as well as the rest of the world, and as a result there is an insecurity in our actions.

Recently a friend told me he wanted to start a podcast festival in Melbourne. His intention was to invite Marc Maron and John Hodgman, and their presence would encourage other big names to come.

He never mentioned an Australian podcast he would like to invite.

So, why do we look externally for validation?

When I went to my first Webstock conference (realistically one of the best-run events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending), I was disappointed that a New Zealand-run event didn’t have any antipodean speakers.

I thought about this for a bit. Should we blame the organisers? (They are lovely people and work very hard.) Maybe they had evidence to show that local people weren’t a big enough draw card. That’s definitely what other attendees had suggested to me.

If this is what attendees think, based on just attendee-to-attendee discussions, then it’s probably true enough market research.

But this problem doesn’t happen with other countries or cultures. The aforementioned US and UK both host plenty of web-design conferences that draw huge crowds.

Do we just accept out cultural cringe and live with it, or do we fight against it?

This is a design problem. This is a problem of getting people to accept something they unconsciously reject. Its a problem of changing minds and behaviour.

But is it a problem worth solving? What are the costs associated with building antipodean pride?

There is a very real possibility that we fear realising our already perceived irrelevance—that, despite everything we have already given the world (wifi, bionic ear, ova freezing techniques), we still never think we’ll be listened to when we talk. And there’s nothing worse than an irrelevant body pretending it has validity. How embarrassing!

There is, however, the contrary position. If we are supportive of our own work and push ourselves to produce better products, then maybe it won’t matter what others think. Maybe we will develop a confidence to be content with our own attention.

This is not about local design for local people. It’s about holding our own work to an international standard, supporting it when it reaches that level and encouraging efforts to surpass it.

We can only do that one step at a time. It’s going to be tough, too, but relevance is demanded, not requested, and that takes grit.

Empathy for The Devil (or, why we do The Nudge).

Empathy is a powerful word, and a strong emotion. It’s the ability to understand what someone else might be thinking. It’s being able to understand how someone else might feel, or how they might respond to a given situation. It is rarely one’s first response; it requires a certain spark of selflessness.

And it’s fundamental to the way that we view design. To be able to do great work, we need to understand and empathise with our audiences, the users of the products and websites we design, and importantly, our clients.

We at Floate think that learning to better empathise with people who are not designers is a path to growth as designers. That’s why 18 months ago, we started what we think is an unusual design event – one where it’s not designers telling other designers about how annoying their clients are.

The Nudge is an on-stage conversation with someone who works on the client side; it’s a chance for clients to tell us what challenges they face, and for designers to find out what goes on behind closed doors. This way, we can get an understanding of how and why the decisions that affect our work are made.

The on-stage guests are never Floate clients. This isn’t a showcase for us. We do this because we want designers, including ourselves, to understand the context that we work in, and to start to empathise with what clients experience on their side of the project. In a sense, The Nudge is the antidote to the poisonous attitude that gave rise to Clients from Hell.

We’ve also expanded our reach a little and created a podcast where we talk to non-designers about their experiences working with designers, and listen to their views on subjects designers could know more about. We’ve spoken with Marketing Professors and sex workers, and a range of people in between. Even founders of startups. Through it all, we find we learn the most when we ask non-designers what they think designers ought to know about their world.

Tomorrow night (September 25), our guest is Sean Hall. Sean is the General Manager of Brand Marketing at Telstra –– he’s going to talk to us about what it’s like to work on a rebrand as large as Telstra’s, and the challenges that can arise when working with external design teams. We’re very grateful he can join us and hope you can come along. I’m buying the drinks.

 

You can RSVP to the event at Eventbrite.

 

The Nudge is also a podcast. Maybe you’d like it.

Officially announcing The Nudge podcast, and a call for guests.

The Nudge Podcast

Now that we’ve posted our second (or third depending on how you count these things) episode, it’s time to tell you about our podcast, The Nudge. Way back when we started The Nudge events, we wanted to be able to share the ideas behind them with more than just those people who were able to attend on the nights.

So we recorded the events.

And then we started thinking about a podcast where we talked about being a better designer (and making the world a better place). And the result is the Nudge Podcast. On our podcasts Josh Kinal, Jerome Lebel-Jones, and Ross Floate grapple with the issues related to being a better designer, and we ask special guests from around the world for their perspective as well. What kind of issues? Issues like inspiration, trust, being wrong, and the nature of responsibility.

As we continue to present our events, we’ll keep including the audio from the live interviews as special episodes to our podcast – you can hear Elise Peyronnet from Melbourne Music Week on Episode 0.

Future episodes of the podcast (yes, they’re already recorded and in the can) include Ned Dwyer from Tweaky.com, Chris Clarke (now of Black Pixel), Brad Ellis of Pacific Helm, Jayne Lewis of Two Birds Brewing, and Associate Professor Peter McGraw of the Humor Code. You can listen to the podcast at the websitefollow via rss or you can subscribe on iTunes.

Are you interested in being a guest on The Nudge? Do you have something you’d like to hear discussed? We’re all ears. Drop us an email, or let us know in the comments.