Egotist Briefs: MDavid Low

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MDavid Low is Eleven's new Creative Technologist. What is a Creative Technologist? What does a CT do? How do they help the creative process? If you're wondering any of those things and more, we talked to MDavid and got the answers.

Our readers have probably heard of a creative technologist, but can you explain a little more what your specific roll will be at Eleven?
My main job is to further drive digital solutions across multiple projects. So I also help oversee the planning, concept development, and design of digital projects. I work as a sort of liaison and translator between the design and development teams, while overseeing creative on digital work and ensuring the right technology is used to achieve the best solution for our clients.

Where in the creative process do you come in? Do you start at the beginning and make a traditional 2-person creative team a 3-person one?
I spend most of my time in the concept and prototyping phase of projects, ensuring that digital aspects of the project are considered early and planned for accordingly. As projects evolve, I work to ensure the digital components of the campaign or platform align, and tell a cohesive story with all other brand communication efforts.

The Bay Area seems to be such a hub for both creativity and new technology. What companies are merging the two better than anyone else?
Startups and the smaller/scrappier companies are my favorites. Currently really digging the local SF output of Posterous, Voyurl, Obvious Corp. (lift.do), SFHeat, Kicker Studios, Adaptive Path and Method. I really enjoyed the piece Odopod did recently for Tesla motors. The entire interactive display store experience was really crisp and translated very cleanly online, creating a complete experience for the fledgling electric car brand. Juxt Interactive has also been putting together some tight transmedia packages. I found their project “The Hunt” particularly interesting. IDEO and Frog Design are always a great source for inspiration as well.

Why Eleven? What made you say “This is the team I want to join”?
Independence and culture. At Eleven both are a huge part of who they are as an agency. The culture at Eleven is very open, receptive, and eager to learn. For a creative shop, that’s rarefied air.

Personally, what’s your approach to creativity? How do you like to operate?
Be contextual, keep moving, and constantly try to dismantle my perception of the problem. I like to listen and watch. You can learn infinite amounts about a problem or situation if you just shut up and listen.

What recent idea makes you say, “Damn, I wish I’d done that.”?
A couple of great examples come to mind: Frog and Intel’s work on shopping experiences, IDEO simplified banking, W+K’s live response campaign for Old Spice, TheJohnnyCashProject.com, VW Fun Theory, Jay-Z’s Decoded project with Droga5, and I absolutely LOVE the Mini Getaway.

What are your thoughts on new advertising technology like Foursquare or Augmented Reality? Is it an exciting thing or are we in danger of falling into the technology-becomes-the-idea trap?
I think it’s a super exciting time. New tech gives us new forms of communication, but we should never ignore the fact that the consumer is in full control of adopting the new forms. Tech should never drive or create the idea; it should be a core part of the communication structure, but not what the communication is based upon.

What’s the one technology you’re dying to incorporate into advertising for a client? What untapped tech has the most promise?
I think the best new tech on the horizon is near field communication (NFC) devices. When mobile devices have wide spread adoption of NFC capabilities it will really change the way we can interact with, and learn, from the consumers. Imagine a shopper being part of a stores membership program. As they enter the store, that shoppers’ phone becomes aware of inventory in the store (new to the shopper since their last visit), and is able to push out personalized suggestions and incentives to the shopper.

For current creatives or current tech people who are interested in becoming a creative technologist, what advice do you have? What should they be thinking about and learning?
Get hungry. Creatives: learn to program, learn the tech. Technologist: start drawing, building, making. Both: get involved. The CT role is a hands-on role that has to interact with all aspects of a project. Be a jack-of-all-trades.

Give us three tips that every creative could benefit from.
Take the time, do the research, make it contextual.
Look for the clichés and blind spots in the problem.
Remember that sometimes the seemingly unbroken aspect of a brand or problem can hold some of the most ample room for improvement, change or innovation.

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Photo Credit: Nicholas Wray

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