“The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.”

Oren Harari

Futurist and science fiction writer Bruce Sterling tweeted out his Anticonventional Objects Venn Diagram over the weekend, a graphic he shared at the Maker Fiare in Italy back in 2013.

It’s his take on Hugh Dubberly’s Successful Product map (finding the perfect intersection of: What do people desire? What will sustain business? What can we build?) and instead lasers in on the types of objects that lie outside of those ideal parameters.

We spend so much time thinking of how to make the perfect product or campaign or idea, it’s also important to think through those that are not perfect — on purpose.

Bruce Sterling


Per BoingBoing:

For instance, things that are profitable, but not desirable or buildable, include speculation, embezzlement, frauds, hoarding, theft, vaporware, and hoaxes.

Things that are desirable, but not buildable or profitable, include fantasies, speculations, the magical, and the mythical.

Things that are buildable, but neither profitable nor desirable, include trash, pollution, and entropy.

Things that are buildable and profitable but not desirable include niche products, hobby gear, long tail objects, weaponry, and criminal hardware.

I love this way of thinking. Sometimes the best ideas won’t check all the boxes, and that can be purposeful.

But considering that Snapchat is responsible for popularizing the vertical video format experts said that Spectacles were likely to catch on. Vertical video has always been preferable on mobile phones, but never before did a social network prioritize it, said Greg Swan, vp of brand innovation at space150. It was Snapchat that made it the gold standard.

“If this popularizes as fast as vertical video, we could expect to see my-eye-view video permeating not just Snapchat, but starting to come into other social channels and even TV production in the coming year,” he said.

Plus, it also has a cool and hip vibe, and is at a much lower price point than Google Glass in the past.

“While Glass was call-and-response, like ‘open maps’ or ‘take a photo,’ Spectacles are social — they are additive to the user’s social presence and not dependent on it,” said Swan.

Source: Marketers like what they see in Snapchat Spectacles – Digiday

Greg Swan WCCO space150

We all have friends who have announced, unceremoniously and often emotionally, that they are taking a break from or quitting social media.

Especially in this post-election spin cycle, more people than ever before are considering taking a break from the always-on newsfeed.

Why is it hard to let go? 

For starters, it’s important to remember that modern social media is more than 10 years old. It’s no longer a nice-to-have distraction, and instead it’s often our 1) primary connection to others, primary source of news and entertainment, and 3) our opportunity to have our voice heard. And thanks to the anytime mobile web and our smart phones, we have 24/7 access.

But the truth is that we share less personal information on surface (public) social than ever before. Personal social sharing on Facebook is down 15% this year over last year, which means a lot of the content you’re seeing in social media isn’t about your friends. It’s more often comfort content click-bait or political-fueled news.Much like how we used to get our news primarily from late night shows or The Daily Show, now it’s more from social media headlines that inform our notion of what’s happening in the world. And of course, fake news sites have contributed to the burnout, especially if the people in your network aren’t thinking critically about what they’re sharing.

So what should we do about social media fatigue?

For starters, please don’t declare you’re taking time away from social media like you’re going to be missed. Just do it.

Greg Swan space150 WCCO tv

Here are three ideas:

  1. Turn off notifications on your phone — lesson the constant reminders and distractions
  2. Delete social networking apps on your phone — check via desktop only
  3. Take a digital detox. I personally take an unplugged week every single year. You should, too.

I was interviewed by our local CBS affiliate this week on the topic. Here’s the story…


Over the past few months, you may have heard friends declare, “I’m done with social media.”

Then they post again the following day.

So, why is it so hard to quit?

Our feelings about social media can span a range of emotions. Some may feel it is too political, too negative or too polarizing — while at the same time see how well it allows for connection and access to information.

“First, we have to think about the benefits of social media,” says Greg Swan, a vice president of public relations and brand Innovation at Minneapolis advertising agency space150. “Why do we want to be on social media?”

He points out three major benefits: connections with other people, a way to share your voice and a popular vehicle for getting the news.

We are sharing fewer cute kid photos every year. Personal social sharing is down 15 percent year over year, making way for more news and commentary online.

Sixty-two percent of people now say they get their news from social media.

“You think about why you can’t quit social media? That’s where you get your news in 2016,” Swan said.

Cornell researchers looked at some of the reasons people who quit Facebook were drawn back in. They studied surveys of people who chose to take in the “99 Days of Freedom” Facebook challenge by stepping away from the social media site. Not everyone could stay off Facebook the entire 99 days.

They found four major reasons for returning back to the site. First, people who think it is addictive are more likely to fall back into the habit.

Second, people who use Facebook to influence how other people think of them had a better chance of not completing the challenge.

Third, good moods kept people off the site for longer compared to bad moods.

And fourth, people were more likely to stay away if they still took part in other social media platforms.

Swan says the ubiquity of our smartphones also plays a role.

“There’s more technology in this phone than what sent the first person to space. It’s no wonder we can’t put it down,” Swan said. “That said, it doesn’t take a lot to set them down and walk away.”

He suggests taking a social media break if you think you need it by unfollowing people or groups you believe to be toxic, deleting the apps from your phone or stopping for a short period of time.

He locks his phone in a safe for one week every year.

Watch the segment here:
WCCO Why Is it So Hard to Quit Social Media?

(cross-posted from the space150 blog)

This week Snap launched the much-hyped Spectacles with a single, subtle vending machine in Venice, CA.

We immediately ran over and grabbed a couple pair. And Adweek wrote not one, but two articles about it…

We got 🕶 today! Follow us on Snap to see what we'll do with them.

A video posted by space150 (@space150) on


As we said in Adweek, these glasses are poised to reset expectations and expand the boundaries of how we share social video today. More simply put, everyday consumers can now see what it’s like to look through their best friend’s eyes — and maybe DJ Khaled or Kim Kardashian’s soon.


Snap learned three key lessons in the three years since the launch of Google Glass: 1) Focus on fashion. 2) Factor in privacy. 3) And leverage scarcity.

Google Glass prioritized utility over looks. Spectacles’ color palette pulls from the hottest colors of 2016.

People wearing Glass were dubbed “glassholes,” in part because the general public never knew when they were recording. Spectacles has an unmistakable recording light.

Glass cost $1500 and launched through one-on-one tech demos in frosted glass offices targeting technology nerds, like myself. Spectacles launched through a whisper campaign launch of a vending machine in Venice Beach and cost $130.

Spectacles have really one use, and Google’s Glass Explorer program was designed to expand the boundaries of the technology. They are simply different, in a very simple way.



Although Spectacles are intended for Snapchat-only, marketers should pay close attention to Snap’s overall impact on video production and consumption trends. There are leading indicators here worth noting.

Snapchat popularized the vertical video format, which caught many by surprise. Yet just this September brands began prioritizing vertical content for Facebook.

Vertical video has always been preferable on mobile phones, but never before did a social network — including YouTube — prioritize vertical video. But Snapchat made is the gold standard.

Now Snap is introducing first-person point-of-view through vertical social video — with no head-mounts or Go-Pros required.

If this popularizes as fast as vertical video, we could expect to see __{blank]____-eye-view video permeating not just Snapchat, but starting to come into other social channels and even TV production in the coming year.


First-person point-of-view content is some of the most compelling content for three reason: subject, location, and experience.

The old saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” is now possible. Whether it’s your best friend, a celebrity, athlete or someone with an amazing job, we can now easily see what it’s like to be them. Marketers should rethink their spokesperson strategy immediately and get POV video options into their contracts.

Advertising often uses jaw-dropping locations to inspire, and now anyone can be transported there as if we are actually there. Marketers who are just now getting used to 360º perspective need to be thinking POV now, too.

POV experience is the golden ticket here. The opportunity to share a POV perspective when skydiving, firefighting, skateboarding, or baking a pizza is now just $130 away. Marketers should rethink story boards to bring viewers the experience of not just being there, but being that person.


Apple isn’t behind Microsoft and Hololens. They are just being Apple. Moving slowly and deliberately toward something huge. And there’s a reason Tim Cook has brought up mixed reality in every major interview recently.

Here’s some tech news that backs this up…

Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent detailing an augmented reality mapping system that harnesses iPhone hardware to overlay visual enhancements onto live video, lending credence to recent rumors suggesting the company plans to implement an iOS-based AR strategy in the near future.

Source: Apple patents augmented reality mapping system for iPhone


The Pioneer Press interviewed me about the last 6+ years traveling with Batman. Here are some quotes….

Greg Swan used to travel for business much more than he does now, and it was tough on his 4-year-old son Grant… and on him.

So one day in 2010, just before a trip, “I asked Grant if he would like me to bring something… along to keep me company,” Swan said. “Batman was the toy of choice.”

Swan, a onetime St. Paulite now living in Chaska, began taking shots of the “Batman: The Animated Series” action figure during his trip. In his spare moments, he’d pose the toy with tourist-y backdrops as if the superhero were on a trip of his own, and send the pictures to his kid.

He never stopped, using the action figure as a photo prop on trip after trip, and the toy has since become a bit of a social-media sensation.

“Next month marks six years of carrying (the toy) on business trips and then sending photos home,” Swan said. “Batman has seen The White House, Space Needle, Alcatraz, Disney World, Mount Rushmore, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Strip, The Pentagon, the Hollywood sign Fort Knox, Louisville Slugger Museum, Chicago Bean, Santa Monica Pier, Fenway Park and the Empire State Building.”


Swan was in a similar bind, with hundreds or thousands of miles separating him from his family, and feeling his trips wear on him. Batman was — and still is — a big help.

“I’ve traveled a ton for work, 400,000 airline miles, and with that comes a lot of sacrifice,” Swan said. “Having the Batman figure causes me to pause a busy day, think about my family, seek out an experience, take a photo and share those moments” with the loved ones back home.

“In effect, it makes my travel life better,” said Swan, who now works at the Minneapolis-based Space150 advertising agency (a job that has him traveling less often than his previous one at the Weber Shandwick public-relations agency).

The Batman toy “has traveled to Puerto Rico, Honduras, Belize, Jamaica, Canada, Alaska and Mexico, and dipped his boots in three different oceans,” he said. “Many notable figures have met Batman, including NASA astronauts, Smokey the Bear and Donald Rumsfeld.”

Batman + Rumsfeld

He recalls that Rumsfeld’s bodyguard “was not impressed” — but the former U.S. defense secretary was a good sport in posing for a photo.

“You should see the looks I get at the airport,” Swan said. “Just a grown man with a pocket full of toys taking pictures and selfies for his kids. Nothing to see here.”

His many social-media followers, on the other hand, are ever on the lookout for Batman and chide Swan if he posts travel photos that don’t include the Dark Knight.

The Caped Crusader now has company.

“Grant is 10 years old now, and I can text photos to him directly, So fewer of them end up on social media,” Swan said. “But now his little brother and sister are in on the action. Which means just last week, on a trip to New York, I was carrying Batman, Cinderella and an R2D2 in my pocket – seeking out special places and moments to share with the entire family.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: Travel toy photography: Yes, it’s a thing

Meta Batman 2

Meta Batman 1

See more pics from Batman on this blog here.

Not only did I get to hang out with a number of cool folks from Magic Leap (the mysterious augmented reality/mixed reality/hologram visor maker) at Future of Storytelling last week, we now see they have  applied for a patent on “Virtual or augmented reality headsets having adjustable interpupillary distance.”



It’s way sleeker than Microsoft Hololens, although won’t have an onboard computer, so can be.

Source: Magic Leap Says Dev Milestones Met, Patent Shows Sleek Form Factor

Google says this isn’t for consumer release, but they are hot on the heels of Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap in augmented reality/mixed reality visors….

“Google’s invention focuses on a system for providing a virtual reality (VR) space or headset that has the ability to interact with an Android smartphone for game play and other needed controls. The mobile computing device can be configured to execute a VR application, and provide content for display on the screen of the VR headset in the VR space.”

“The VR headset can further include a position detection device configured to determine a position of the mobile computing device. The position detection device can be a camera.”

Source: Google is working on a mixed reality headset, a new patent reveals

(cross-posted from space150’s blog)

Dating back to 2010 and our Forever 21 AR Billboard in Times Square, we’ve been excited about the prospect of augmented reality (AR) for space150 clients. At that time, we had to hack together military facial recognition software to bridge the physical-to-digital divide. But today, PokemonGo has helped bring AR utility to the masses — unlocking the digital layer on the physical world through a lens like your phone.


The first generation of augmented reality (AR) visors is coming to a face near you. Although not quite ready for mainstream applications, we’re starting to see some entertaining experiences drop for AR consumers.

For example, this is a short video we made this week using HoloFriends new app, The Floor is Lava and our Microsoft Hololens.

It’s a reimaginging of a game we all played as kids:

Last week, our spaceLab team spent time with the Meta 2 team and some hands-on workshop time with Lorraine Bardeen, who leads strategy and partnerships for Microsoft HoloLens at the Future of Storytelling Summit.

Our discussions with these technology leaders focused less on the limitations of the technology today (limited field of view, cost, battery life vs. tethers) and more on the possibilities of storytelling using mixed reality tools like AR visors.

Imagine mapping your living room by simply looking around, then watching as your walls are painted, furniture is reupholstered, spiders crawl out of your windows, and a hologram police chief sits on your own couch and briefs you on a murder case you need to solve. This already exists.

AR visors and holograms offer yet another tool for immersive storytelling in our toolbox for brands. What will you make?

Interested in discussing how AR could work for your brand? Hit me up -> spacelab (at) space150 (dot) com.