Welcome to Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football, Burning Man, the Ford Fiesta Movement, Rube Goldberg, NFL Films, Wordle, Two and a Half Men, a 10,000-Year Symphony, and ROFLCom Memes Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas
A Culturematic is a little machine for making culture. It’s an ingenuity engine.
Once wound up and released, the Culturematic acts as a probe into the often-alien world of contemporary culture, to test the atmosphere, to see what life it can sustain, to see who responds and how. Culturematics start small but can scale up ferociously, bootstrapping themselves as they go.
Because they are so inexpensive, we can afford to fire off a multitude of Culturematics simultaneously. This is evolutionary strategy, iterative innovation, and rapid prototyping all at once. Culturematics are fast, cheap, and out of control. Perhaps as important, they fail early and often. They are the perfect antidote to a world where we cannot guess what’s coming next.
In Culturematic, anthropologist Grant McCracken describes these little machines and helps the reader master them. Examples are drawn from NFL Films, Twitter, the Apple Genius Bar, Starbucks, Ford, SNL Digital Shorts, Restoration Hardware, UNICEF, J. Crew, Pie Lab, USA Network, and the GEICO gecko.
For the traditional producers of culture—the creators of movies, design, advertising, publishing, magazines, newspapers, and corporate R&D—this book will inspire new innovation and creativity.
For the emerging producers of culture—the digital players—this book will serve as a practical handbook. Culturematic: our app for creating the world anew.
Anthropologist, author, and corporate consultant McCracken (Chief Culture Officer) has coined a new buzzword, "culturematic," to describe how, in this era of widespread cultural unpredictability, various concepts, events, products, services, and even ad campaigns cut through the clutter to capture hearts and minds. He defines a culturematic as "a little machine for making culture" that will "test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value." Although abstract and circuitous at times, McCracken's lively exploration of how media experiments, rule breaking, and parody can expose culture and move it forward proves fascinating and provocative. He explores the random origin and viral explosion of the Burning Man festival, the unexpected paradigm of Apple's Genius Bar, the creation and rapid spread of reality television, the growth of fantasy football culture, and the food truck revolution all examples of culturematics because they "punch their way out of conventional wisdom and existing cultural forms" and "reshape the categories in our head." Conservative thinkers may find culturematics to be inscrutable enigmas, but adventurous marketers, product designers, forward-thinking leaders, or students of culture are sure to find it a riveting spur for even greater innovation.