Bearded man predicts future, sees trip to NZ in tea leaves

Designers, animators, advertisers, marketers and possibly even a few hip accountants don’t have too long to wait until the 2010 edition of Semi-Permanent starts squeezing some creative juice. And Nicolas Roope, an all round digital and design ideas guy from the UK who set up Poke London, retro phone company Hulger and this cool t-shirt blog, is venturing to New Zealand to speak at the event. He took time out from his busy schedule of coming up with awesome things (and from being the UK’s Webby ambassador, a member of the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and a member of the UK Coolbrands board) to have an e-chat with StopPress.

1. Who the hell are you? And what have you been up to recently?

I’m the founder and creative director of Poke, a London-based creative company with an internet focus. Recently we broke the record for the most tagged image on Facebook after we got 8000 people to tag an image of a crowd at Glastonbury, the big UK music festival.

2. What are your three favourite pieces of work, either your own or someone else’s that you wish you’d done? And why are they so good?

The globalrichlist.com is my favourite piece of Poke’s work. Pretty old now but it still works and still brings in a million people a year who come because it’s still relevant seven years later. My favourite work from elsewhere would be Google search. People forget how radical it is in its approach. Most businesses would never have the guts to be so simple minded, whilst of course they’d love to slalom down Google’s mountain of dollars. Finally, I would say the iPhone app store for unleashing so much creativity by sorting out all the dirty details behind the scenes.

3. You obviously like the internet. How has it helped (or hindered) society? And how do you think individuals and companies will be using it in, say, five years?

I think for the most part the internet (so far) has been very liberating. The connectedness and openness has created a meritocracy, that allows the good to float to the top in a way it couldn’t before. That obviously harms the entrenched old guard which is why sparks tend to fly around the subject. Over time though, new establishments form and will limit this new freedom. Five years from now? I hope that in five years businesses have finally realised that the internet is as core to its interests as individuals already have. For most businesses today the internet is still a peripheral concern and doesn’t attract the attention and investment that it should. For individuals, the biggest change will be the extent to which their internet use will be across a number of devices, to the point that they won’t even be conscious they’re using it.

4. Is it hard to be original these days? Or has all this new technology and connectivity actually made it easier?

It’s a lot easier to make a new thing these days, but just as hard as ever to have an original idea.

5. Is the moving picture killing the word and still graphic, or just enhancing it?

Video didn’t kill the radio star. The radio star just had to get a bit better looking. No media has ever killed another one. Every one has a role to play. It’s why I still love the old fashioned term “multimedia”.

6. As far as marketing and branding goes, what companies or agencies are impressing you at the moment and why?

I like the cool guys on the block who are mixing things up. Anomaly, Droga 5 et al. Also Crispin Porter is an old favourite (although it depends what happens now that Alex [Bogusky] has jumped ship). On the branding side, I’ve not seen anything for a while that really gets me excited. Too much clever clever stuff with too little depth.

Here’s where you buy your tickets. Don’t be shy.

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