Over 50 years ago, Arthur C. Clarke established three ‘laws’ of prediction through the writing of his essays. The genius of his foresight in his future-facing assertions is perhaps only now coming to be truly recognised, as an ever increasing number of technologies, products and experiences continue to astound us.
Indeed, it is with a worrying pace how quickly we accept new technologies – today video chat is no longer a Star Trek exclusive and next year everyone will wonder where they were without their wearables. 5 years ago who would have thought Nike would be measuring every calorie you burn, Burberry would put you in the front row of their fashion show or Axe would be taking you to space?
Here at BBH London we’ve delved into the detail of Clarke’s 3 Laws to expose some of the behind the scenes development of our latest digital project, Mentos Fresh News, the world’s first video news channel all about you:
Law 1: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
Fresh News was the brainchild of one of our “distinguished but elderly scientists,” Pablo Marques – he knew the idea was possible and was almost certainly right. The only thing that Pablo said was impossible was actually making the project to the level of polish we wanted – producing a bespoke premium piece of content based on your Facebook behaviour that seamlessly stitches together multiple video edits & relevant scraped data with millions of potential combinations to create the experience of a personalised news channel. Pablo was wrong, we just needed to discover how to do it.
Law 2: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
Facebook personalised experiences have been produced before. We looked to the previous “possibles” of The Desperado’s Experience and Intel’s Museum of Me to see what we could learn and how we could create something new and groundbreaking. Previous experiences had scraped and displayed Facebook data – we wanted to add a layer of intelligence & polish on top that creates the illusion of an “impossible” news show. Here’s the background tech on how we did it:
Law 3: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
The wonder of Mentos Fresh News is in the ‘aha!’ magic moments – the moment you see yourself in an actual News program. You don’t see yourself as the produce of a number of behavioural rules. You don’t see the whirring of the machine. You don’t see any of the above happening. All you do is click a button and all you is see is you as the star of the show. All you see is the magic.
I wouldn’t like to say if Arthur himself would have appreciated what we made enough to share it on his Facebook page, but hopefully he would appreciated the behavioural scientific discipline and technological craft behind the magic.