Monday, May 31, 2010

Cognitive surplus and why people like wikis....

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Preface: If introductory economics bored you to tears, I can assure you I've done my best to take the dryness out of the subject. I myself was never drawn to harsh economic subjects like econometrics. Instead I soaked up behavioural and information economics. Both of which are very relevant to online media and the change in the way we now consume news.

It may not come as much of a surprise to you, but I am somewhat of a geek. I studied economics for five years and worked as an economist for the QLD Treasury once I graduated. Becoming a co-founder of a wiki has not really helped my cause, although I hope the fashion side of that has at least redeemed me a little.

One of the most fascinating things with economics is its ability to explain the way people behave. Why do they contribute to one forum and not the other? Why do people tweet? Where did all the wikipideans come from and why do they while their hours away editing pages?

After coming across Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus", it jogged my memory about intrinsic motivators and the idea that one is not enticed by external factors such as money or rewards. Instead people are far more motivated to complete tasks due to the warm and fuzzies they feel once they are done. Curiouser and curiouser, if a person were offered an extrinsic reward for something that satisfies them nonetheless, they are far more likely not to complete the task.

Clay talks about a person's cognitive surplus, basically this is a fancy way for saying, one's spare time. He explains that with the rise of consumerism in the 1920s and the subsequent adoption of television, people's cognitive surpluses were once spent mostly on staring at the black box.

With the rise in online media, twitter, facebook et al, cognitive surplus has now evolved into participatory surplus. People now have choices, while TV is a one way street, the internet can be akin to getting lost in New York. It's a busy hub, an avalanche of information is thrown at us everyday. People are not only consuming this information, but they are now sharing it, discussing it and adding it to wikis. There is no shortage of ways in which you can disperse of information.

Due to the sheer volume of information that we are exposed to online, we are seeing a shift from professionalism to mass amateurization. A group of people learn bite size pieces and add them to the the puzzle. The social networks that are now popping up, have brought down the barriers to entry, allowing everyone to share and produce a higher aggregate value. This slow pull away from consumerism is changing society and will in the long term create a higher production value.

Technology is causing a fundamental shift in society and dissolving the dichotomy between professionals and amateurs. Anyone who is interested or would like to learn something new regardless of their education or skill level can join in on the conversation. That's what's so fantastic about technology and online media, it endorses the "more the merrier" notion.

This is exactly why I created Wikifashion, with so many barriers to the industry, fashion is in a sense the last of the impenetrable fortresses. Almost impossible to peek inside, one has to "pay their dues" before being invited to the party. I am hoping to bring down the walls so that those who simply like to flick through Vogue once a month can edit alongside those who write for Elle magazine. Anyone is welcome and we certainly believe the "more the merrier".

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spot the difference: Betty Autier v. Zara

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The rise of blogging and its influence on our sartorial choices has meant a swift change in the way fashion houses and brands are doing business. Pandora, Betty, Jane and Alix have all witnessed the beauty of Coco Chanel's Parisian apartment, once closed to the public it is now open to a select few who are the new muses of fashion.

While some brands are openly transparent with bloggers and the projects that they work on together, others seem to skip over them all together, forgetting the key to many blog's success- involvement in their communities, open discussion and acknowledgement that our opinions count.

This morning I stumbled across Betty Autier's post, trawled through 250 comments all of which were utterly dismayed by Zara's lack of courtesy. This is quite similar to the uproar that started on IFB a few weeks ago surrounding Payless Shoes and Chictopia using member's photographs without permission or credit.

It seems to me that a quick telephone call, or email would have sufficed and even worked in Zara's favour. Now, I'm no blogging it-girl, I've never had Chanel inviting me to sit on Coco's steps, but if a company such as Zara called and said, "hey Lola we want to put a cartoon of your ever so gorgeous mug on our t-shirts" I would have been absolutely flattered. I may have even whipped up a lovely little blog post and all of those 250 comments and rising may have translated into a little pot of t-shirt gold.

Instead, the company has most likely risked any future cross promotion with Miss Autier and alienated a fair chunk of their targeted demographic. Not such a smart move when most of us no longer look to magazines for style inspiration but Betty et al.

What do you think? How should companies deal with situations like this? Sink their heads in the sand or try to understand the dynamics of the blogging economy a little better?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chanel Cruise 2011 collection

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I spent the morning uploading the Chanel Cruise 2011 collection to Wikifashion. You can view the entire collection here. This dress really struck me... I adore the swirly pastels. It reminds me of rainbow ice cream that I loved as a child.

In a magical land, I'd buy this gorgeous floaty dress and wear it while strawberry picking. I'd then indulge in fresh crepes and strawberries washed down with a vanilla milkshake. A little ostentatious? Yes. But this is imaginary after all....

Which piece from the collection would you wear and where would you show it off? (just mention the file name or blog about it with the pic)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Startup Monday: Whiteboards and retro phones...

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Today I realised that the official birthday of Wikifashion is fast approaching! On July 12th, a few days short of my 24th birthday, my burgeoning site will celebrate being one years old.

Throughout these ten months, I have basically breathed Wikifashion. It has consumed my thoughts, I dream about it and spend my days typing furiously away at Miss Mac. All the while pursuing marketing, organising our lovely interns, creating content and helping new visitors navigate their way.

Some days I find it hard to keep going, when traffic takes a dive or someone gives up with the sometimes difficult syntax. It is always easy to do this, but the one thing I remember is that people who fail are the ones who give up too early. I have never been one to give up, I keep on plugging away and trust that my hard work will eventually pay off.

It's the little things each day that keep me going, here are my little mood lifters...

♥Purchasing a new whiteboard with crazy crayola markers. I mentioned in an earlier post that I am mad for making lists. This board should help me do just that...
♥Every few hours I like to give myself a break and browse net a porter. I like to plan pretend outfits for pretend events. Maybe this is a little weird, but I like to think of it as window shopping.
♥I like to browse tripadvisor and look at photos from 5 star hotels. The very first goal I had when I started Lola and Wikifashion was being able to go back to Tokyo in December 2011 and stay at the Tokyo Park Hyatt Hotel and sip cocktails at the New York Bar every night. This sounds so frivolous, but I am a big big fan of Lost in Translation. Anyone who has seen this movie will understand.
♥Finding a gorgeous retro phone on ebay (look above)... she's a lovely meringue colour. I think she and Miss Mac would get along swimmingly! What do you think, should she join my little office?

I'd love to know what little things you do to encourage or motivate yourselves throughout your careers....

Friday, May 07, 2010

RAFW on Wikifashion.....

Thank you so much for all of your lovely comments in my last post! Sorry for the lack of posting over the last two weeks. Things with Wikifashion have been very hectic. Without further adieu here are a few picks from Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. Click on the links to see the entire collection.

Obviously I'd wear pants with this outfit. I just adore the colours and the cardi is such a vivid blue!

This might not suit my figure, but I love the mix of pastel pink with orange.

I definitely couldn't get away with this. But I love the colours nonetheless. Hopefully they come out with a more hip friendly bikini in this shade.

If Cinderella were around today, I believe she would wear this to the ball. No pumpkin needed, she'd probably ride home in an Audi R8. (My dream car....)
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