Connect 4

Ideas March 23, 2011 8:49 pm

Remember that game Connect Four?  Sure you do- it’s about as simple as it sounds: connect four checkers in a row. Or I used to think the game was simple until I played it a few weeks ago with a friend. Let’s just say I got smoked. Completely smoked.

(if you live in NY, check out Common Ground in the East Village for a bar that offers tons of old school board games to complement your Friday night drinking)

Why did I get stomped? Turns out Connect Four isn’t quite as ‘simple’ as it looks- when you play the game as an adult there’s actual strategy involved.  While I was laser-focused on connecting the four checkers in just one (and the most obvious) way–a horizontal line– my friend was connecting the checkers horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.  And embarrassingly, it took me quite a while to figure out that this was why he kept winning- because he was looking for the not so obvious connections and playing multiple moves ahead.

So taking a cue from Connect Four- let’s connect another group of four: Ad Age, Twitter, Deeplocal, and JustAllie.

Ad Age– a leading global source of news, intelligence and conversation for marketing and media communities.

Twitter– a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting.

Deeplocal– a post-digital shop that helps brands create remarkable experiences that bridge the online and physical worlds.

JustAllie– uh… research nerd?

Hmm. So how are these four things connected?

Let’s start with some obvious connections: Ad Age, Deeplocal, and JustAllie are all on Twitter.  Ad Age, Deeplocal, and JustAllie have all interacted through Twitter.   JustAllie has read about Deeplocal and Twitter in Ad Age…

Ok, so hopefully you get the point- it’s easy enough to make connections when you’re only looking for the really obvious ones.  But what happens when you open yourself up to thinking in a less ‘obvious’ way? What kind of ‘wins’ can you create when you’re ready to connect things in less of a ‘horizontal’ line (aka when you think outside of the box)?

So here’s the less obvious connection (and win story) between Ad Age, Twitter, Deeplocal, and JustAllie:

Connection 1: When I first started using Twitter, Ad Age was one of the first accounts I started to follow- since I’m interested in advertising trends, this is perhaps quite the obvious connection- why wouldn’t I want the day’s advertising headlines delivered right to my twitter feed?

Connection 2: Last October I was going about my usual morning Twitter scanning when a tweet from Ad Age caught my eye- and while I don’t have the exact tweet, it was something akin to: Ad Age is giving away 20 free tickets to the 2010 Idea Conference. Shazam! I’d been dying to go to the Idea Conference- like I’ve said many times on this blog- although I’m a researcher, I like to consider myself a creative thinker- and I’m always looking for ways to challenge my thinking.  I’m a strong believer in the power of critical thinking- the more you challenge traditional ideas and force yourself to look at things from multiple angles/povs, the more informed decisions you can make and the better your work can be.  I had found out about the Idea Conference earlier via Twitter (obviously) and was amazed by the incredible lineup of speakers– but I was in despair about how to actually get myself to the conference.  A researcher at an innovation conference?  (please don’t laugh too hard at the irony) How was I ever going to justify my attendance- there was no way I could afford the conference on my own, and I knew it would be a hard sell to justify my attendance as a ‘business expense.’  Just when I had given up all hope at being able to attend this amazing conference… I read about the Twitter contest.   And let’s just say I probably drove Ad Age crazy with all my tweeting and pestering because they finally gave in and awarded me a golden ticket.  Now, since the conference was free, I could more easily justify my attendance as a learning opportunity- the chance to challenge my creative thinking- and thankfully, I have an amazing boss who saw the benefit in this creative challenge and let me attend.

Connection 3: The day of the Ad Age Idea Conference.  Just check out this list of speakers and try not to salivate.  Rana Sobhany, the iPad DJ.  Tony Calcao, the creative director of CB+P, the leader behind the recent Dominos turnaround campaignAnd Nathan Martin and Eamae Mirkin of Deeplocal. Hearing Nathan describe some of their recent projects, Chalkbot, ‘Write Your Headline’, and then seeing Eamae demonstrate how talking into a cellphone could control the speed of a fan- mindboggling. And inspiring. Let’s just say I was in love- and immediately started following Deeplocal on Twitter so I could keep up with their projects.

Connection 4: When you’re in love, you just want to shout it to the world.  And I did- to anyone and everyone who would listen to me yammer on and on about how cool of a company Deeplocal was… and how we should work with them.  My love grew over the holiday season when I found out about a new Deeplocal project (through Twitter, obviously) – a holiday themed game called NogPong, where computer users controlled a robot ‘to fire ping-pong balls into cups of eggnog. Real robot, real ping-pong balls, real eggnog. A live video feed on let users watch and interact with the game in real-time via a robot.’  Needless to say, I sent several (uh, very professional) emails proclaiming my love for Deeplocal and how ‘cool’ it would be to work with them. (like I said, very professional) And I got crickets.  But a few months later… I finally got a response… our digital team was possibly interested in working with Deeplocal.

Twitter+AdAge+Deeplocal+JustAllie. It’s time to connect these four for the ‘win story’-  Mission Expedition– a collaboration by Deeplocal and The National Geographic Channel for NGC’s upcoming Expedition Week.  That’s not to say that Deeplocal and The National Geographic Channel wouldn’t have made a connection without the circuitous path described above- but the point is to illustrate that when you’re willing to look for and make less obvious connections/think outside of a traditional path, some pretty great things can happen!

More about Mission Expedition:

Visitors to Mission Expedition control a robotic camera train through a miniature ‘world’- replicas of Papua New Guinea, the Himalayas, Victorian London, and a Gladiator Collesuem (all related to Expedition Week shows).  Visitors try to find miniature artifacts hidden within the ‘world’- and when they think they’ve found an artifact, they take a picture of the scene.  If they did, in fact, find an artifact- they get the real (life size) version mailed to them:


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