jason oke

If you’re not in awe, you’re not paying attention.


If you’re in Toronto and looking for something to do this Friday morning, the first likemind of 2008 will be happening.

It’s coffee & conversation with a bunch of marketing types. But you don’t need to be a marketing type though. Or like marketing types. Or even like marketing (it’s ok, I don’t like it much either). And now that I think of it, you don’t actually need to drink coffee. You just need to like conversation. It’s simple, really.

Friday January 18, 2008
Over Easy, 208 Bloor Street West
8am (ish – I get back from a trip at midnight so I might be a bit groggy and running late)

Filed under: Coffee, likemind

The pretty picture divide

I’ve always kind of hated looking at pictures of myself. I’m one of those people who is always surprised by how awful I look, and think “it must be the lighting” while simultaneously trying not to notice that every else in the picture looks exactly like they do all the time. I probably have some unconscious self-perception that I look like Robert Downey Jr, when in reality I look closer to a disheveled Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (And as an aside, go see Charlie Wilson’s War – it’s quite good and PSH steals the film.)

Today I was chatting with Barry, our head of design, and he has a theory that helps rescue the tattered shreds of my self-esteem. He’s noticed an age-related gap on social networking sites like Facebook in personal photo quality – anyone under 25 looks really good in all of their pictures, while the rest of us look pudgy and a bit stunned. His theory is that it’s because those of us of a certain age grew up with pictures being taken mostly on special occasions like birthdays and holidays, and usually with some warning of “say cheese.” We never really learned how to have our picture properly taken. But with ubiquitous casual digital photography, the young ‘uns grew up being used to taking and seeing many more photos of themselves, and have learned to quickly throw a pose in any situation. They are photo-literate.

So that’s why I look so awful in pictures. It’s because of the digital photo divide. At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Filed under: Pictures, Social networks, solipsism

Energy 2.0?

Talking to sustainability experts over the past month, I was introduced to the idea of distributed power generation. This is hardly a new idea, but I’m new to all this stuff. The idea is to move from how we currently generate electricity – big centralized industrial plants – to generating from many small, local energy sources, like a solar panel on your roof.

People have been putting solar panels on their roofs for a while to try to reduce their power bills or go ‘off the grid’ but this is different. It involves not only generating power for yourself, but also being able to supply excess power back onto the grid (and receive money back from the utility for it). This would turn the electric grid into more of a web – you could both take power from the grid, and provide power to it.

Making most of our power in centralized industrial sites as we do has the advantage of producing a lot of power quickly and cheaply, but clearly has big problems. One is that centralizing power encourages the status quo: the economics of big centralized sites tend to work much better for a coal plant than for renewable energy sources. It’s currently expensive and complicated to make a big solar array or a big wind farm.

Another is stability & security – centralized power means the risk of losing power to large areas if part of the system fails (as happened in both North America and Italy in 2003).

Also, centralized generation means electricity is often transported long distances through power wires to get to you, and much of it is lost during this transportation. Your electricity bill probably contains a line for “Loss factor adjustment” – your bill is actually marked up to compensate for this lost power.

All of this means the current system is incredibly inefficient – we make power in environmentally harmful, unstable ways, and then lose lots of it before it even gets to us.

Distributed generation addresses all of these issues – putting power generation in your neighborhood means no power is lost in transportation, means the system is insulated from local failures, and tends to make the economics of renewable sources work better. There are still many challenges to it (most power companies don’t allow you to put power back onto the grid yet).

What I find really interesting is the obvious parallel with how the internet is also shifting media power away from centralized industrial production (media companies) to small, local, distributed production (cute videos of cats). The fact that change has happened so quickly in media gives me some hope that it could happen just as quickly in the world of energy.

image via

Filed under: sustainability, Uncategorized

Politics & the herd

The current US election cycle makes an interesting analogue for learning about brands and communication, because we get to see in a very short period of time a system with substantial advertising, quickly evolving candidate brands, and the ultimate measurement system, a public vote.

As an op-ed piece in the NY Times points out today, the outcome of the Iowa primaries a few days ago had little to do with the level of advertising spend. Mike Huckabee won the Republican vote over Mitt Romney, despite having been outspent 6 to 1 in TV advertising. John Edwards finished a close second despite being outspent 3 to 1 by the winner Barack Obama, and more than 2 to 1 by the third place finisher Hilary Clinton. The op-ed writers (political pollsters) conclude that advertising is less important than – wait for it – personal conversations: “we have to recognize the power of individuals to influence one another.

The writers make it sound like this is some huge discovery, which is kind of amusing. Someone should send them a copy of Herd. Still, if anyone is struggling with clients who still default to heavy TV spending it makes a nice soundbite for your next media planning discussion.

Filed under: ads, Current Affairs, Trends

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These are my views. Do I even need to explain that? They're not those of anyone generous enough to pay me money. They're just mine. Unless maybe they're yours too. That would be nice.