Friday, 25 April 2008

No Reaction Magic for Catalyst

Catalyst, Catalyst, Catalyst, where do I begin?
Having arguably the most respected Journalism course in the Country, I sure did expect more from this 'pamphlet'.

Catalyst is the Student Publication of RMIT, Melbourne.

Unfortunate for Catalyst, I've only really had exposure to Student Media in the form of Farrago (The rag of The University of Melbourne) - a witty, political, relevant and intellectual masterpiece which is of course entirely dependent upon who is in office at the time. I remember Farrago having great insightful content with a great mix, some heavy some light in the early years.

The same cannot be said for Catalyst...

Perhaps I should start with the Editors, since it is they who are responsible. It takes three of them to put Catalyst together but I should be more lenient as one of them is actually an 'Advertising Editor' - which to me is actually a bit of a schizophrenic role. How can one be an Advertising Editor?! They both have different interests at heart - one works with words, the other works with clients and artwork. An Advertising Coordinator is perhaps a more appropriate title. Anyway this person actually allowed a booking of numerous half page colour ads from The University of Melbourne. Yes that's right, advertisements from a competing institution trying to take students over to the 'dark side' (or light side from whatever way you look at it). I'm sure Prof. Margaret Gardner would be more than happy to endorse the possibility of losing students from within!

In the first issue for 2008, another Editor actually took to defining the meaning of editorial whilst a third confused the word meet with meat in this month's edition. They are desperately advertising for additional writer's but as they have as a disclaimer stating that they won't publish hateful, spiteful, defamatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, or deceitful work I doubt if they'll have much luck. So you see where is the fun in that? It's called opinion and free speech which makes for an entertaining read.

Formatting throughout the publication is psychedelic with fonts coming at the reader from all different sizes, sans serif, serif, over capitalisation - you name it! Forget sub-editors! When you have the power of cut, copy and paste - why bother! Who cares if you mix between one form of English language to the next. (Which happens to be largely American English due to the large number of International Student submissions). Don't even get me started on the content or lack of it. Think sports reports, music and festival reviews and a token VSU article.

Regarding the covers... I can just see them all in a brainstorming meeting:
"Anyone got any ideas for this month's opening cover?"
"Urm Yeah - how about a sepia, photographic art, totally 'cool', subculture one?"
"OMG what an awesome orginal idea!!!!"

I must be getting old because everytime I go to pick a copy up, I have to ask myself if I have already wasted five minutes of my life by reading it. This publication is destitute if it does not generate some much needed cover diversity!

I think in largepart the problems stem from the fact that any Tom, Dick or Harry can become Editor of Catalyst since most challenges for office positions at RMIT remain largely uncontested.

A link to Student Union Magazine homepage can be found here.

(Apologies for the lazy image cropping)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Great Creative Debate

Recently it has become aware to me the increasingly important role of creativity in business.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Sir George Cox speak at the 10th Annual International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI) Conference. Cox was responsible for an independent review of Creativity in Business in the UK in 2005. Full PDF files of the review can be found here.

He made some great recommendations to build on the UK's strengths in relation to the increasingly competitive Global Market, especially with the advent of offshore manufacturing. His speech was relevant to Fashion Design and Australian Design in general, in the way that ideas and innovations need to be commercialised and exploited to other areas traditionally not concerned with 'the creative'. As more manual jobs go overseas or immigrants are brought in to fill these roles, a point of difference must be had to maintain competitive. Take Europe for example, no longer does it have the capacity in a spatial sense to compete in conventional practices like China, India & Russia now do, but it is increasingly renowned for being the centre of Design, Art & Culture.

To breed creative business leaders, innovative education pathways should be sought. Customarily a MBA is the widely held and respected degree for management level but in an article from Harvard Business Review for Breakthrough ideas for 2004 (ok not really a timely reference), the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) was becomingly increasingly popular with employers as an alternative. Often this involves a complementary education allowing peripheral vision using both sides of the brain.

It reads... businesses are realising that the only way to differentiate their goods and services in today's overstocked competitive, materially abundant marketplace is to make their offerings transcendent - physically beautiful and emotionally compelling.

With examples such as the Apple Macbook Air or Designer Collaborations for Target (which sold out within hours) representing a competitive advantage through design, is it evident the results creativity can provide to business...
(Image courtesy of Gray's Anatomy)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Another day in paradise...

Whilst visiting the Lower East Side Tenement House in Manhattan last year I got these fabulous vintage-inspired postcards from the museum shop nearby. They are almost too good to send! For US $9.95 a pop I thought they were well worth it and oh how so true!

(The pixelation is due to the texture on the cards.)

They are available from Chronicle Books by Anne Taintor Inc.

Where On Google Earth is Wally?

I thought this was a great idea:
Melanie Coles from Vancouver has painted a large Wally (or Waldo as the American's label him) on top of a mysterious rooftop location and has put it out there to people to locate him using Google Earth!
More information about the project can be located here.
My guess, looking at some of the publicity stills, is that it would be in an inner-city industrial area in Vancouver.

On the topic of Google Earth/Maps - I have just discovered the Google Street View function (I'll leave privacy issues at the door here). As a die hard fan of the real estate virtual tour, I am for this technology. You see it is like a virtual tour of the whole world - you will be able to zoom in on any city and "walk" around and explore just as though you lived or were travelling there.

It just happens that the next place I have on my ideal travel agenda is San Fransisco and as that's where Google have their renowned innovative Mountain View H.O., they have pretty much photographed everything there already. So until I get the time to actually visit in person, in the meantime I can pretend I'm there.

Just take a look here at down town San Francisco - (if this is actually the downtown area)!

Or perhaps the Painted Ladies?

Or if you were riding along the Golden Gate Bridge?

It's coming to Australia at the moment and I can't wait until it gets to England. Here are the cities its currently available in...

(Image courtesy of

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Mag Nation's "magdentifier"

Playing around with Mag Nation's magdentifier - a quiz which selects the most compatible mags for you - the following came up:

  • The New Yorker
  • Vogue UK
  • Australian Anthill
  • Lula
  • InStyle UK

  • I would say the first two are fairly accurate although The New Yorker is a bit of a "when in Rome..." thing for me. The rest however are a bit of a mystery. I have viewed
    anthill online but never purchased, have no idea what Lula is and wouldn't bother with the celebrity focussed InStyle.

    On the topic of Mag Nation - as a frequent visitor I often wonder how such a fabulous concept could in reality make a living. People seem to treat it like a library, spending hours reading all their favourite mags in one of the chairs only to then dump a man-handled pile on the floor and leave, perhaps buying a coffee or two on the way. Is this sustainable? I know as a purchaser and mag hoarder I prefer to buy an unread copy complete with no rips!

    So the first post, oh what pressure!


    I might just jump straight into it and leave this at...