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Archive for August, 2009

  • Designing for a quarter billion people – Design at Facebook

    28th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in awesomeness, design, social media

    The firehose that is the social web pumps out thousands of links, articles and potential insights every day and we often find ourselves missing strong, provocative thinking.

    This is something we stumbled across in the last 24 hours which is worthy of yanking out of the river and saving (if I was going to stretch the analogy I’d say ‘saving in our little Labs lake’ but I’m not prepared to say that).

    It’s a fantastic short piece about the design process at Facebook. Simply called: ‘Design at Facebook’. We found it compelling not only because of the insight it provides into the design process of such an important interface as Facebook, but also because it’s not about theory, about speculation, about supposition . . . it’s about doing.

    The four key hypotheses outlined by the author, Luke Wroblewski, are as follows:

    1) Designers need to be there start to ship: from strategy to launch. This is different from other companies.

    2) Share early and share often. Sharing with the team and users helps make the design better.

    3) Get your hands dirty. Important that you understand how Web code works. All designers write a bit of HTML, CSS, and maybe PHP.

    4) Don’t fall in love. Software is impermanent –it is always changing and you need to accept that.

    Resonating with us and challenging us right now are the following additional points Wroblewski makes:

    - There is no creative director at Facebook (we find this particularly challenging, and wonder how processes work with the speed they clearly do without the focus that a decision-maker provides).

    - There is a culture of continual internal sharing between and across the group, and they utilize software to help this happen more smoothly and inclusively.

    - In his view, Designers tend to err on side of over simplicity. Engineers tend to err on side of more functionality.

    - The culture sounds exhausting: ‘More than ever our work is never done’.

    Excellent stuff, plenty for us to learn from. Have a read of the full post at: Design at Facebook.

  • From Art to Apps: Data Visualisation finds a purpose

    27th August 09

    Posted by Patricia McDonald

    Posted in creativity, data, design, guest

    Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

    I recently attended an excellent Made by Many event hosted at BBH which featured a re-presentation by Manuel Lima of his 2009 TED talk on data visualisation. Manuel is the curator of visualcomplexity.com and is an eloquent, modest, charming pioneer in this fascinating field.

    As a novice myself, I could not help wondering why we are all so immediately and instinctively attracted to the best of data visualisation.To start with, I’m sure there is some fundamental truth that for most of us data become meaningful only when we can see scale, change, patterns and relationships. Seeing is understanding.

    It’s also very reassuring to discover that complex, seemingly chaotic data sets and networks can be expressed as elegant, colourful, ordered maps and models. Perhaps there’s something akin to what the Enlightenment scientists felt as every new discovery revealed the endless beauty of nature.

    Indeed the best examples of data visualisation have their own aesthetic beauty. (I felt a nostalgic pang as I recalled time spent with spirograph in my bedroom as a child.)

    Like spirograph, but better: Email map by Christopher Baker

    Like spirograph, but better: Email map by Christopher Baker

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  • Is LEGO the world’s coolest ever toy?

    24th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in awesomeness, creativity, music

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    We’re major fans of LEGO here at BBH Labs. In fact, we spend far too much of every day actually playing with it.

    This is great. 1500 hours of investment to deliver 3:49 worth of joy for LEGO lovers of all ages. Truly awesome.

  • GOOD Magazine crowdsources world-changing ideas

    13th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, crowdsourcing, culture

    We like this, and look forward to seeing what comes from it.

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    GOOD Magazine are asking people: “If you were to invent anything to push the world forward, what would it be?”

    The jury’s still out on whether collaborative creativity can provide a viable business model (high enough quality; low enough costs) for creative businesses, but this seems to us to be a smart way of focusing the minds of artists, inventors and other thinkers on some of the more important questions.

    We’ll watch with interest – what would your idea be?

    (Thanks to John Winsor of CP&B – @jtwinsor – for the heads-up).

  • Crowdsourcing Clients – Where Agency Nil Went Next

    11th August 09

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in transformational change

    At the end of May this year we got pretty excited and the debate got fairly heated about the launch of Agency Nil – the agency with the convention-busting business model that ‘will work for all it’s worth’. In other words, they’ll do the work and you pay them what you think you should.  Unorthodox, audacious stuff whichever way you look at it, we were impressed.

    Since launch they’ve been approached by both clients and talent and, inevitably, as they started work on live projects (including clients with food products and online services, not to mention a pitch for a large software company’s NPD launch), one of the toughest questions facing any agency arose: when were they going to find time to do the work brilliantly AND keep scouting for new business? Clearly a conventional solution wasn’t going to cut it at Agency Nil, which is when they came up with this ultra simple, ultra ‘on brand’ idea:

    Agency Nil announces their Spotter Program

    Agency Nil announces their Spotter Program

    Catching up again with Agency Nil’s founders, they explained the concept a little more:

    “If a person connects Agency Nil with a business that would be interested in our services and they become a client within a year, Agency Nil will give the person who refers them 10% of the first payment they receive (from $100 to $100,000 or more…).  This person is called an Agency Nil Spotter.  All it takes to become one is an email to Agency Nil introducing the potential client (with the client cc’d, of course). Then the Spotter’s referral is documented.  When Agency Nil get paid, the Spotter gets paid. Simple.”

    We love the idea of an agency experimenting with new business in this way.  A smart move that painlessly exploits an era where networking and sharing useful information has never been easier.  What’s more, it’s in keeping with the spirit of their launch which, as they put it at the time: “It’s a win/win.  And that’s the kind of business we like to be in.” Agency Nil also draw attention to the fact they’re putting into practice a simple way for talented individuals to profit from their connections: “Isn’t it about time people started to get rewarded for the networks they’ve built?”

    Of course this isn’t the first time an agency has used crowd sourcing to find prospective marketing clients.  Who knows, will people really refer a hot prospect?  How reliable will the connections be?  Will it tend to be for small projects only, or will Agency Nil land a multi-million dollar account this way?  They may hit some bumps in the road along the way, but to us this approach looks like a natural next step for them and a dead simple, innovative solution to an age old problem. So again, we say hats off to Agency Nil and good luck.

    If you want to sign-up as an Agency Nil Spotter, send an email to Spotter@AgencyNil.com.

  • The Enduring Power of a Story Well Told: The Man Who Walked Around the World

    10th August 09

    We’re super proud of our friends at BBH London who’ve produced something very special for Johnnie Walker. “The Man Who Walked Around the World” is a six-minute piece of storytelling that features Robert Carlyle walking through the Scottish Highlands. Carlyle tells the story of the brand’s birth, growth and development via some dazzling copywriting from BBH’s Justin Moore. This alone is an achievement – to keep the viewer listening intently for six-and-a-half minutes in a world where 140 characters constitutes ‘engagement’. Clearly Carlyle plays a huge role here as well.

    What’s even more impressive, for us, is that this was all achieved in one take, with no editing done afterwards. Apparently there were 40 takes in total, and this was the last, completed at 8pm on the last day of the shoot. When you see how finely timed this is you’ll see why we’re in awe of the production.

    There’s a great interview with the Director, Jamie Rafn, on the Shots site which goes into detail about how the piece was shot and some of the considerations that affected how it turned out. Definitely worth checking this out. Rafn took on a challenge many others thought impossible. As Mick Mahoney, BBH London Creative Director of the project told us:

    “Every director we spoke to told us that it wasn’t possible to do what we wanted. That we would need concealed cuts and so on. Which would still have made a good film, but it’s the undertaking, the commitment, of doing it all in one take that makes it.  Jamie Rafn was the only director who felt the same. Getting Robert Carlyle to do it then just took it up a gear. He has exactly the screen persona that we wanted. Tough, uncompromising, enigmatic.”

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  • (Un)classes – community powered learning

    10th August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in crowdsourcing, culture

    We just stumbled across (Un)classes (thanks to Julius Solaris | @tojulius).

    A potentially strong application of collaborative intelligence . . . with a twist.

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    (Un)classes starts with the premise that everyone has something to teach, and much to learn. But, pragmatically, few of us are going to sign into formal programs. Casual learning (as they frame this form of education) is aimed squarely at people who lead hectic lives but still want to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.

    (Un)classes is thus in effect a marketplace for matching interests with passion, simply connecting people who’d otherwise have few ways of directly collaborating in this way. It’s deliberately informal, with few rules and none of the stuffiness that could surround what is in effect a ‘learning’ service.

    (We’re also reminded of the campaign BBH New York helped create for one of BBH’s clients, NYC & Co, around using one’s skills, passions, and willingness to help address some of NYC’s most important issues: What’s Your Blank?)

    The depth of the (Un)classes offering seems quite shallow at the moment, but as people sign up, and choice and quality deepen, it will be interesting to see whether the idea takes off. We wish them luck.

    More details at: http://www.unclasses.org/about

  • “Big is easy, small is hard”: Print is Mobile

    3rd August 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in crowdsourcing, design, mobile

    Author: Adam Glickman

    Following our piece looking at journalism (a review of the transformational change at the Telegraph Media Group) and fiction (interview with Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher at Penguin), our interest in the profound changes occurring in the publishing industry continues with this look at the opportunities in mobile.

    We often talk about the future of mobile media and what it will all look like, but what about the future of the mobile media of the past? The notion of carrying around your reading as reams of inked paper might disappear, but the written word certainly won’t. So it seems a very natural progression for print publishers to move from paper to digital by simply reformatting for small screen mobile devices. But the considerations are vast. And more importantly, how much do people really want to use their phones as reading devices anyway?

    We recently met a company called ScrollMotion, a New York-based iPhone app developer that is hard at work answering these questions. The company have been steadily creating a suite of new tools for traditional print media companies to better engage their readers via apps on mobile phones, and in the process, quietly making publishing deals with a wide range of top-notch publishers. Their growing client list is impressive and includes Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc., Tribune Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Wiley.

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