Ashton Kucher and his company, Katalyst, recently teamed with Intel to hold a 48-hour IdeaJam. The concept was to get 48 people full of ideas and put them into six teams and give them 48 hours to each come up with a new project. The process was filmed and includes Kucher's introduction about having big ideas and what makes a project go viral. His enthusiasm exceeds the amount of content so in the interests of saving you time, let me summarise his points for you:
1. We are not thinking big enough in terms of how to use the new media. The technology is available and cheap, and now the ideas have to be more ambitious and executed better.
2. The elements that make a project go viral are
(1) celebrity or expert participation;
(2) humor or music;
(3) Personalization. For this he used the (to me, less than compelling) example of the Old Spice man as a broad example in which a commercial challenged or provoked men to answer back that they were as manly as the Old Spice guy. A better example was an Arcade Fire video in which you provided the address where you grew up and got back a film in which a man wakes up and looks around and what he sees is your old neighbourhood. This was done using Google maps street view. Now that's personal! The same director invited people to draw Johnny Cash and then made a film made up of all these images.
(4) Thrash. Something that makes waves, something that creates conversations. The key to this is polarity--something that makes people take sides. However, it's important not to try to be shocking just for the sake of it.
Since Intel was paying for this, they were looking for "entertainment vehicles that the brand has inspired." Kucher says the artist has to meet the patron (company) in the middle.
The participants each had 30 seconds to pitch an idea that involves social media. They picked the top ten, then the top six. Those six teams came up with projects and a judging panel chose one winner who received $20,000 to work with Katalyst to develop the idea.
The actual pitching of the ideas is on video as well, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgSuj7KTd8w&feature=autoplay&list=ULfUE2nCIGf5k&index=6&playnext=2
You'll see some good examples there of how to pitch--and others of how NOT to pitch. Is it my imagination or did I see Ashton wilting from time to time at some of the worst ideas? I have to say if these are the best and brightest, the output was disappointing. Here are three of the finalists:
Crash@MyPad - "Mr Social" has no money, no place to stay--everything he needs must be provided by strangers he meets via social media and his adventures are shot on video. Test was for 24 hours in Los Angeles.
MatchMyFriend - people use social media to match-make and viewers can watch a live stream of the resulting dates.
Flame Court - an online court for settling online disputes.
I think the IdeaJam concept is great. As for the results--I'm underwhelmed. MatchMyFriend sounds like another in an endless line of dating shows. Flame Court sounds more novel, although maybe not if you've watched Judge Judy. And when I stop and think about what it would be like to have two geeks shouting at each other about who's right about which was the best Star Wars movie I can feel my will to live slipping away. CrashMyPad--the winner--sounds like a tired reality show.
There was another IdeaJam this month, this one on creativity and technology in the classroom. I haven't checked that one out yet but I'm hopeful it was more productive.