Archive for April, 2012
30th April 12
Posted in Uncategorized
As promised in our follow-up post to Homeless Hotspots, we wanted to keep everyone updated on how those learnings- and open conversations- are being applied to try to help fight homelessness at scale.
We’re quite proud to say we’re in active dialogue with both the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) and the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) working out how to help their members (150 or so papers across the globe) address some key issues they face in a modern media landscape. We’ve begun by working on a key pilot program: StreetWise in Chicago. We came to meet Jim LoBianco, who runs the paper (and broader organization), after he wrote this post during Homeless Hotspots. Upon speaking with Jim, it was clear he has a track record of innovation fighting homelessness, and that the organization is dealing with a number of issues familiar to papers around the world, including:
- Digitizing payments options for street vendors working in an environment in which fewer people are carrying change
- Offering digital services to accompany a print offering under pressure
- Ensuring vendors have a clear set of tools to earn income and offer something of commercial value
- Do all of the above without eroding vendors’ ability to engage with mainstream society (this is good for both parties, and is the key issue that blossomed into Homeless Hotspots originally)
If we can collectively address these issues for the largest North American street paper, we’re optimistic we can help other interested street papers evolve with the changing media and mobile landscape.
We’ll continue to keep everyone posted on progress. We appreciate the exceptional level of support you’ve shown for the participants and the shelter throughout this process. In fact, it may be worth heading over to the Front Steps Facebook page to say congrats to Hotspot Manager Jonathan who raised enough money from Homeless Hotspots to put him over the edge and move out of the shelter and into housing!
If you’re interested in helping us with any of these efforts, please reach out.
26th April 12
Posted in makings
Author: James Mitchell, Strategist, BBH & BBH Labs
Every once in a while at Labs, we like, no, need to get our hands dirty. Oily, even. We like to make stuff that we can learn from – learn from the making of and learn from the interactions with. Robotify.me is one such experiment. And unlike most of our output, we’re going to share its whole gestation with you. Partly because we’re too excited not to, partly because we want you to shape the product.
Product? Yes. With robotify.me, we want to put a personal digital robot into the hands of every person who wants one.
Of all the companions you could make, why a robot? Why not a plant, an animal, even a pet rock? Because of the line robots walk (or fly), between the artificial and the human. They are not alive, but in the way the act we try to give them life. And this has bearing on the other half of the project.
Since our first aol email addresses, our first Second Life avatars, our geocities and myspace profiles, our first (and second) anonymous twitter accounts and our weavrs, we’ve been talking about the difference between a person, and an online persona. Is there one? We hope robotify will tell us, because the other trick is this: the characteristics and features of your robot will be determined entirely and exclusively by your social network data. So if you post lots of pictures on instagram, your robot might grow a telephoto lens in its belly. If you click lots of odd links, you might develop tank tracks – negotiating rough digital terrain, you see.
That’s the simplest version. Gradually we want to progress to a version with a robot that changes and grows as you do – a living marker of your data journey. We’re even hoping that, over time, robots will be able to interact. Robosociety, if you will. But that’s the nature of the agile process we’re using – aside from the vision, there are lots of assumptions layered on top of each other, and we’d like a willing army of beta pioneers to help slice through these assumptions and get to the robotify.me that you want.
At the same time, we’d like to experiment with a slightly altered way of communicating – so for the 50s radio-style version of the Robotify story, just slip on some headphones and click play.
Hang on. You said something about beta users?
Yes, labs reader. That’s you. We’re making the beta right now – signup at http://signup.robotify.me. If there’s anything you want to see, anything you’ve always wanted to know about your social data, or anything else you think we should look at, let us know below…
19th April 12
Earlier this month we released a nifty little iPhone specific web app for the connected set. While we were off building it, (you see what we did there) we decided to produce some quirky promotional films to support the app’s launch.
We crafted short narratives that extended the comedic tone of the application, and helped explain the usefulness of While You Were Off through a series of possible situations may have kept you offline and away from the glorious Internet. Watch them all on our Youtube Channel.
5th April 12
Makers gunna make…
Anyone familiar with how we run Labs knows we make a concerted effort to learn by making. The thoughts published here and elsewhere, as well as the community’s feedback, often spark ideas that we bring to life internally for no reason other than a love of doing. For us, our curiosity was both in what we did and why we did it the way we did. Today, we’re announcing the latest output of that addiction.
While You Were Off is our venture into developing a mobile specific web application. We created it to learn more about the staged process of creating such an app in an MVP-minded way. It’s especially important because more and more often, applications are running free of the device and powered by cloud services. While You Were Off (#WYWO) embraces this idea as it serves you the content you missed while your phone was offline. It features two feeds: 1) a World Wide Web (WWW) feed that taps into a curated list of APIs that we feel best represent “internet culture” and 2) a personalized Your Wide Web (YWW) feed that runs the same algorithm to display the “most interesting” content from your specific social networks.
Determining the need…
A common feeling most of you are familiar with is the pseudo-anxiety one feels awakening your dormant mobile device after it’s been offline. It’s that “post Airplane Mode tingle” we’ve admitted to one another while traveling together. We all scramble to quickly catch up immediately on email, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We felt a need for a mobile tool to quickly reconnect and get back up to speed with the internet with one click of the WYWO icon.
So we built it. And what better place to start than the beloved pink While You Were Out corporate memo pad? We even tried to pay homage to its charming name and anachronistic style. The difference is this version of the pad is specifically built for iPhones.
A model to vet native app development…
Native application development can be a costly risk. Although we have no revenue or brand expectations, we see this as an opportunity to explore a model a client may find useful. We saw an opportunity to use modern web application development as a way of vetting an application’s value by putting it in the audience’s hands first. This method allows us to test in the wild.
We can optimize the experience based on consumer behavior and use that data to inform a future build, be it further web app development (including an Android version), or an eventual native app. We’ve focused on building this simple application in a way that lets us easily track performance and usage to bring about the natural parallel behaviors between web & native apps.
Pull out your iPhone and point it to http://wywo.me to give it a whirl. Once you play with it, we would love your feedback on what you like, how we can make it better, and how you are using it. Use the comments below to send us your thoughts. Thanks.
May 1st 2012, #wywo claims the Mobile Site of The Day @FWA