Language-Based AI: The Photoshop of Knowledge Work

Adobe stock. Seemed only fair.

All analogies are flawed, but some are useful.

Language-based AI is like Photoshop for the rest of us. 🖥️💃⚡

Hear me out… (less than 2-minute read)

In the world of graphic design, there was a time when only the most skilled designers could create high-quality visuals. It required many years of training and was a time-consuming manual craft.

But then, a tool emerged that changed everything — Photoshop. Suddenly, everyone with a computer could create stunning graphics, and the speed of production increased exponentially. This tool democratised the craft of design, making it accessible to the masses.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud approached 30 million paid subscribers last December. 🤯

However, despite this democratisation, not all designers were suddenly equal, nor will they ever be. Just as it is with many types of skills and tools — equal access doesn’t guarantee equal performance, let alone greatness.

But wait, there’s more to this analogy. 🤓

Photoshop was more than just a tool for making graphics. It also enabled designers to experiment with new techniques (that in the wrong hands scream “photoshop”), create unique styles, and push the boundaries of what was possible in design. And they still use real-world materials and inspiration.

Do designers have to keep up with the evolution of Photoshop? Most of them do. Or you can find your comfort zone and stay there. But unless you’re amazing, it comes at a price. Or you can decide you’re a 100% old-school craft artisan or let someone else import your work into Photoshop. There are implications for that too.

The arrival of AI in knowledge work is like Photoshop for the rest of us. AI is transforming the way knowledge workers operate, automating tasks we didn’t think could be automated, speeding things up exponentially, and providing new possibilities previously impossible.

But like with Photoshop, AI still requires human expertise to use effectively.

You are the designer, not AI.

Education, talent, and hard work still count. Hard work beats talent sometimes, but only up to a degree.

The power of AI lies in the hands of those willing to keep learning and adapting to the technology. But just because you have access to AI tools doesn’t make you a master of your field.

And downloading a pirated copy of Photoshop doesn’t make your nephew a top-tier graphic designer.

But maybe he could help you with that lost dog ad or retouch your dating photos.

Speaking of which, have you tried using it for job applications? It’s a game-changer. 😅

Finally, word processors that can actually process words.

But that’s another analogy…

“Brand strategy reconstructed”, a series of lectures at the London College of Communication

I’ve been invited to lecture at the LCC, one of London’s finest creative education institutes.
Starting next Monday, I’ll be giving a series of six lectures/talks (with view to extend them if it all goes well) to postgraduate students across the different disciplines. This adventure was sparked by prof. Ian Noble while collaborating with his “Graphic Branding & Identity” students on a Brandinstinct pro-bono project.

I’ve always rejected the myth of the suits/creatives split. Have always maintained a common language between marketing, design and other media is important and empowering to everyone involved. Hopefully, I can introduce some useful concepts and break some myths.

(And in case it doesn’t come through: OMG!!!!1! I’m so bloody psyched about this!)

Brand strategy reconstructed
How marketing lost the plot
and how it might find meaning again

Marketing is a discipline in crisis. For the last decades it has become evident to practitioners and scholars alike that many of the trusted old methods were just not cutting it any more. Worse, it now seems some of them weren’t valid in the first place. This series of contemplative talks brings together ideas from narrative studies, semiotics and cultural theory to drive design thinking in solving the challenges of postmodern marketing. Numerous examples will be given from actual projects, popular culture and recent marketing cases.

The first six talks:

1. Marketing, meaning & decadence: an introduction to the sophistication of marketing sign-systems and their tendency to degenerate.
2. Suspicious minds: the myth of “a consumer subject”.
3. On branding and meaning: can a simplified theoretical tool-box cut through buzzwords and hype?
4. Advanced narrative marketing: the untold story of brand stories.
5. Marketing plots: cultural pattern-recognition as a strategic tool.
6. Embracing the mess: how clients and agencies are changing their work culture and methods to encourage more sustainable marketing strategies.

Mondays@17:00, Starting May 18th, excluding 25/5 (bank holiday) and 8/6 (prior obligation).

To my non-UK readers: London College of Communication, formerly London College of Printing, is the largest constituent College of the University of the Arts London, Europe’s largest university dedicated to art, communication, design and related technologies.
Two graduates Israeli readers will know are David Tartakover & Alex Livak.

Things which are everywhere

Which way to go? (Rorschach Test Version) by Thomas Lieser Here are things that are everywhere according to Google. A side effect of working late on a talk about Marketing and meaning (like most of my talks are, as Life is always about something & meaning) taking place in Tel Aviv, this Tuesday, in Hebrew (otherwise it probably wouldn’t have been on Christmas eve):

Recovery, Java, Latency, Change, Art, RSS, Socialism, Elvis, Economics, Rotis, Analog, Location, Design, Snackr, Diversity, Violence, Prishtina, Enterprise search, Music, Elvis (again!), Prishtina (again), Matter (duh), The Pentagon (shiver), Elvis (lives!), Evolution, Ingrid Michaelson (lucky lady), Wildlife, Firefox, Elvis (never underestimate him ever again), Corruption.

End of page three, but it stays interesting.

There’s a web art installation waiting to happen here somewhere.

In the meantime – happy holidays and a happy new year.








(good night and good luck)

5 Principles for the Agency of the Future

Messiness by RI Pizzo This post is a "sound bite version" of a more elaborate piece, based on a talk titled "Emerging practices in Branding".

This blog has been dormant for a while, and I expect it will stay low frequency. I still hope this will get some attention, as it summarises so much of my work and thoughts of the last years. Not a very web-like time-scale, I guess…

On September 25th, I gave a talk at the Strategic Branding forum in Romania. I was asked to speak about "The Future of Branding". I used the opportunity to bring together some of Brandinstinct’s and my ideas about how branding should be practiced. This is stuff that has been dominant in the way my team(s) and me do things over the last couple of years. These are also trends I recognise increasingly among leading members of the creative industry.

The full article deals with 5 important aspects of branding work (methodology, relationship, culture, identity and engagement) and, "to put money where my mouth is", uses examples from some of the Brandinstinct projects I managed (From the projects used, the Sohar project is the only one I didn’t lead.). In this short version, I’ve left the examples out and focused on summarising the principles.

Continue reading

Getting through: Communication, Communities & Marketing (presentation)

I thought of sharing this presentation a while ago, then realised its visual nature meant it will eat all my bandwidth even if only a couple of hundred people will watch it.

You can quickly flick through it on Slideshare, or if you want the fully annotated PPT file, get it from esnips.


Vincent’s photo by Calos Luis
This presentation was given as part of Tinylove’s distributor event in Koln (Cologne), Germany, September 2006.
It was not modified for the web or this blog. Only the annotations were made more elaborate so people can understand more or less how it went and what it tries to say.
The annotations is not the exact script. There isn’t one.

Some parts may seem obvious or too “educational” to some of you out there. If they are, I’m sorry, this was to help the audience follow the ideas.
Also, note that this is a “fun” presentation as the distributor event is largely an evening “recreational” event. To avoid being “the heavy bit”, I did my best to make this presentation light and engaging.
I still tried to bust some viral marketing myths along the way, which is a part some of you may wish to skip to.

Tinylove, are a client of mine who create meticulously designed developmental toys for babies. Their main target audience is parents, specifically “Generation-X parents”. The focus of my work with them was how to better reach this audience through the web. It covered their site, SEO/M, community marketing and more. The implementation of those recommendations is currently still a work in progress and is, obviously, much wider and deeper then the aspects mentioned in this presentation.
Their blog is here.If this presentation is absolutely useless to you, maybe it be can useful to someone you know. Or – at least you may enjoy the work of the talented flickr photographers used to make it.

Anyway – enjoy the show.

CC (on the textual content only) – some rights reserved.

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