Excuse me while I kiss this guy.
Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan during the 80’s meant that I was subjected to a lot of dodgy TV advertising from affiliate stations in Spokane and Fargo. Most of it was about used cars, furniture, or pancake restaurants, none of which were particularly interesting to my Flashdancified little imagination.

I remember that my parents bought a brand new TV (without a remote) for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. I think this might be when my love affair with commercials began. My younger sister and I would recite or sing them word for word at bedtime. Those days led to a lifelong fascination and appreciation for the medium. Imagine my excitement at 16 when our local campus theatre would run The World’s Greatest Commercials, which were largely comprised of extremely witty and clever award-winning campaigns from European and especially British agencies. No making out ensued during such screenings. I was rapt.

Iconic commercials are part of our cultural fabric, serving as a complementary soundtrack to our phases and ages. That’s why when Jimmy, being British, brought this 1989 Maxell campaign to my attention, I pretty much said “ooooooh!”, stopped all activity and watched in a glow of nostalgia envy. The British make the best ads. I wish we’d had these:

The Maxell ads brilliantly capture a completely relatable phenomenon – the misheard lyric. Combined with the recognizable and undeniably cool flipping card technique made famous in Bob Dylan’s video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and excellent songs, these ads are everything successful marketing should be. Simple. Memorable. Emotional. You’ll never hear these songs the same again, and you certainly won’t forget that Maxell gave you 30 seconds of pure enjoyment. And they sold you a lot of blank tapes, too.

The campaign was created by defunct British agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, and won lots of fancy awards at Cannes, as one does.

It’s time to go and bring out my collection. Who wants a mix tape?

Night Flight to Venus?
Resolutions. Oft-pondered, yet frequently tossed aside like a bride’s nightie a few months in as new information is processed and new priorities emerge.

SpaceRace is a very small business. We like it that way, because being small lets us concentrate on the things we’re good at (creative strategy-making, web development, hare-brained ideation) and avoid the things we stink at (babysitting, delegation, accounting). Taking stock of our business goals has never involved seeking ways to get bigger. We have a strong stable of collaborators whom we respect and trust, and a manageable client base whom we feel we can truly serve with the rocket power we possess. Our utmost goal is to be happy, and for that we have to love what we do. Every year our resolution is to love it just a little bit more, and we do that by looking ahead to what’s possible and pointing our rocket belts in that direction (see image at left).

But just because we’re ok with our size doesn’t mean we don’t have active learning goals. And the dawn of a brand spankin’ new year is a great time to take stock of what we’ve learned and what we really want to learn and experience next.

For me, that’s a giant 365 day slow-cooker of skills, books, events, discussions, and socks.  It’s the SpaceRace HOT LIST for 2013, and this week (January 2 – 6) is dedicated to telling you all about it:

A book:

Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human
He’s one of my favourite authors because, for the love of Pete, he makes so much sense! With an emerging focus and interest in advocacy work, I am eager to hone and spit shine my techniques of persuasion. He’s also been particularly clever about pre-marketing this much-awaited new title – inviting pre-ordering folks a chance to participate in a New Year’s Day webinar (it rocked), providing cool workbook templates, offering signed bookplates, and putting out a lot of other really great content to support the book. These “First Mover” opportunities have helped build value in the ideas of the book, generated excitement, and created a tribe of pre-selling Pink fans. Book marketers, take note.
Here’s a particularly clever review from NPR.

A skill:

I defer to the talented SpaceRace Jimmy in most matters of design and image manipulation. Although I’m often the critical eye – because I know what I like and what I like is usually good (usually), I am too easily frustrated to develop a solid skill foundation in Photoshop. It pains me to no end, as I was the kid who cut out heads and photocopied them on to other people’s bodies, and I did it often and well. Yet any attempt I’m made to become proficient at PS has resulted in tears of agony and childish fist-banging. In 2013, that’s going to change. How do I know? Not even 2 weeks ago a friend asked me to paste their colleague’s head on to Astroboy’s body. And I did it. The time is now.

An event:

It’s really hard to nail down the event I’m most looking forward to in 2013. I’m headed for SXSWEdu in March, based on last year’s experience being completely positive. And fun. And game-changing. And I love Austin. This year I’ve extended my badge so I can also take in Interactive and Film.
I avidly follow EdSurge, and look to their event listings as a premium guide to all worthy ed-tech happenings around the globe. Beware – it’s guaranteed to give you a severe case of FOMO.
But the events I’m looking forward to the most are the ones I’m hoping to launch in my own backyard: a Creative Mornings inspired motivation series for early risers in my awesome mountain town, and a series of Ignite-style province-wide events to bridge the communication barriers between schools and parent communities.


These ones.

A Discussion:

I registered for Alec Couros’s EdTech MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) partly because I wanted a first-hand MOOC experience, but also because I was excited about the topics that will be discussed with a promising cohort of interesting people outside of my current circles. #ETMOOC will cover and converse about social/participatory media, blended/online learning environments, digital literacies, open education, digital citizenship/identity, copyright/copyleft, and multimedia in education. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? There’s time to register, if you act quickly.

And in the interest of the ultimate resolution – BALANCE – it’s time to grab the kettlebell (thanks Kasie!) and head upstairs for some Soviet-inspired exercise. (and get better sleep)
More of the 2013 Hot List tomorrow. What’s on yours?

I came across this spectacular video by Keith Melton and Plot Point Productions a few days ago. I immediately loved the idea of the helmets. The space guys and gals. The music (the MUSIC!) and the pacing….

That was a few days ago. I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I’d give it the big share and ask a few questions.

1. What does an astronaut do if s/he needs to scratch his/her nose?

2. How could an astronaut remedy a stray piece of spinach or cilantro stuck in his/her teeth?

If you know any astronauts, please ask them to call me.

Without further ado:

These are a few of my favourite things.

The Canadian Education Association (CEA) are running a really cool blog series on innovation in public education. CEA President and CEO Ron Canuel asks a thought-provoking and (it seems) controversial question: why do we need innovation in education?
CEAThe answers come from a variety of contributors, including Andrew Campbell, Bruce Dixon, and yours truly. I was asked to contribute from the parent perspective, and my thoughts are here. Cue Sir Mix-a-lot. 🙂

Writing the post gave me pause for thought as I struggled to say something nice, but to also get the point across that I am frustrated by the lack of innovation in the Canadian public system. To balance it out – since I’m trying to be all about balance these days (I’m sitting on an exercise ball as I write this. Whoops, I fell. Ok, now I’m back on.) – I wanted to quickly point to some edtech action that points to shiny and bright. And awesome. (more…)

Ahhh… the dog days of summer. Lazy afternoons slurping on Slurpees, following boys around at an air-conditioned mall, and completely forgetting everything you learned during the last three months……

Or not.

Or not even close!

How about a week of cracking the code behind the coolest websites, field trips to Google, and creating games that you probably can’t play at the cottage (unless you have wifi)?

This summer, the luminaries behind Toronto’s Ladies Learning Code will run a series of summer camps for girls aged 9 – 13. Ladies Learning Code works to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-friendly technical skills in a social, collaborative way. Toronto parents are spoiled for choice when it comes to camping options, with options ranging from high art to high performance sports. New to the mix is Girls Learning Code, which immerses keen young females in the technology arts through mentorship, hands on learning, and building skills that tranfer to all manners of self-expression. (more…)

Conference booth
I can hardly wait for your free lanyard.
My, how things have changed. I attended my first education conference in 2004 as a sales representative with a big publishing company. It was my job to cajole teachers to stop at our booth (or lure them in with a big bowl of chocolate bars), and give them a 5 minute elevator pitch on some groundbreaking yadayadayada, then invite them to enter a draw for which they’d only be selected winner if deemed influential enough.

These, my friends, were the days before random winner generators, online entries, and the power of quiet influencers with more followers than the Pied Piper using social tools to share their expertise. Biggest school in Ontario? Pssssssshhhhh. How about the elementary teacher from Armpit, SK, who has built a digital program for her students that gives them reach for their ideas that they’ll benefit from for years to come, and tweets her experience to 5000 like-minded followers? I’d rather learn about the platform that makes that notion of global collaboration possible for kids, as opposed to who’s bought (and wasted the most money on) the biggest gargantua of a conference booth (check out the eco footprint too, yo).

But at SXSWedu, there was no vendor showcase. Companies had to be sneaky and infuse their sessions with clever product pitches, sessionbomb by planting product-focused operatives during question time, or be not so sneaky and incur the deserved wrath (Hi, I’m a #conferencehashtag. People use me.) Teachers are getting much better about standing up to the disruption of their learning. They pay out of pocket to come to these things. It’s not cheap. Don’t invite them to a session about innovations in critical thinking applications and pitch your app.
Amway called. They want their strategy back. Ugh. (more…)

My spry and busy 62 year old Dad had a heart attack in October while playing tennis in the Senior’s Games in St George, Utah. Were it not for the decisive and immediate CRP he received  from another player in the tournament, I’d be writing this through a very different lens. That’s why I loved seeing Ken Jeong (of Hangover fame) pop up in my Facebook feed this week – he’s the face behind an awareness campaign from the American Heart Association. The campaign is nearly a year old – debuting in June 2011, which makes it not new, but new to me, okay? And a year on, are you familiar with the latest best practices in CPR? If not, please share this.

The message is simple: performing CPR is as easy as keeping the beat to Stayin’ Alive…it’s disco, baby. What makes this spot so effective is it’s inherent stickiness – Stayin’ Alive is a powerful earworm if ever there was one, and to link of the action of CPR to the song’s beat is really brilliant.  I probably won’t hear it again without performing involuntary chest compressions. So beware if you invite me over and plan on spinning some BeeGees.   The AHA have created something so memorable in it’s zaniness, familiarity, and sheer simpleness of message- something certainly worth sharing for it’s important content and entertainment factor.
It’s hard to get it right – but when it works, it really works.

Another great thing: (more…)

Geek in Toque
Once again, this is not a listing of places where I quaffed magic mushrooms in a field (that’s a totally different blog). Instead, this is my weekly round-up of the best of the interwebz, painstakingly curated by spending probably too much time online. In my defense, we were pummeled/blessed with about 5 feet of glittery white snow this week here in our mountain hideaway, so I had a lot of time to ponder the awesomeness that came through the channels. In no particular order:

1. Blogchat A rolling stone or Twitter chat gathers no moss, but it certainly gathers smart participants and endless pearls of bloggy wisdom every Sunday evening at 8 pm Central. Hosted by the inimitable Mack Collier and featuring a changing roster of learned pros, Blogchat moves faster than a speeding torrent and is a source of great connections and tips for making the most of your online presence. You can participate through a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or HootSuite by creating a search column for the term ‘#blogchat’. New tweets with the #blogchat hashtag show up in your column. Or if you want to follow #blogchat on another site, you can try TweetChat or WTHashtag – Learn more here.

2. 20ThingsILearned.com – is lovely new HTML5 e-book from the developers of Chrome. It’s a stocking stuffer for the geek in your life. An anonymous tip for your clueless boss. Every “thing” is shareable. Delicious illustrations from Christoph Niemann add to the playful vibe. Love this.

3. Meet Up – Having relied on MeetUp to connect with like-minded peeps and discover helpful IRL events, this week I started a group. Hiding away in a mountain town is a spectacular experience, but I do miss the opportunities to network that living in a tech hub like Toronto afforded me. I’m very keen to connect with other Geeks in Toques, and love the usability, choice, and promotion tools that MeetUp offers. Support is amazing and I loved having to promise to take it offline – because most of us have the online network of our choice all sewn up and we do need to reach out and touch each other (with permission, of course) every once in a while.

4. When Bad Websites Happen to Good People We’ve all seen it. That company with a remarkable product and remarkable people with the GeoCities 1995 web presence. The site you want to use, but can’t, because it’s as prickly as a porcupine’s hiney. That opening autoloading video that makes your teeth gnash every time you drop by. “Nascent blobs of regurgitated brochures” (Tip 2). Involved in a site refresh or critical overview? You should read these 10 little nuggets of plain-spoken sense, and share them, and comment on them, and add to them, and tattoo them on your forehead.

5. My lady friends? You need to read this blog. Often.

Have a week to end all weeks. Be awesome to each other.

Grab your glowstick.
In the spirit of all that is righteous and rockin’ about Fridays, I’d like to introduce a new feature on the SpaceRace blog: Raves! This ain’t your teenage son’s glow-sticky, Lords of Acid-y, baggy pants-y rave. This is a weekly celebration of the best of the web, where we’ll chat about the most amazing things we’ve seen during the preceding week. And we’d love to know what you’ve seen too.

This week’s raves:

GOOD looks at 30 great places to work. This post highlights some of the most rewarding companies to work for, but what really impressed me is their breakdown of the 10 criteria used to create the list. Factors such as a genuinely progressive mission, a culture of love for employees, and a commitment to using smart technology smartly can create an enviable work environment that breeds loyalty and impacts service in every way.

Petra Neiger’s 4P approach to social media engagement pays homage to Kotler, yet repositions the key tenets of marketing for the digital age. Best of all, Petra’s first P is People. She articulates the importance of the marriage between execution and content, and making two-way conversations essential and meaningful.

What’s your bookprint? Scholastic’s You Are What you Read community is a creative and crafty consumer preference tracking platform that functions as place for people to share their emotional connection with great literature. Celebrity contributors provide a high interest factor (imagine a spotty, teenaged Bill Clinton encountering the ghosts of Shakespeare’s Macbeth), while the act of choosing 5 can really take you back to the literature that had an impact on your life. The kid’s version is very cool too.

If you’re an education nut (aren’t we all?), you’ll want to keep an eye on the Education Computing Organization of Ontario’s annual conference on November 11 and 12. This year’s theme is Inspire, Connect, Learn, and this is one ed-tech conference that really practices what it preaches. With workshops and sessions from renowned 21st Century education leaders, an online planner that supports delegates in managing their sessions, and a rousing Tweet Up, ECOO is the place to be. Follow #ecoo2010 on Twitter to connect with some impressively tuned in teachers.

Have you come across something worth raving about? Let us know!


The full report is ready for download. So are other local government action resources.