Archive for the ‘coding’ Category
3rd September 13
This week we’re cross-posting some of the monthly tech columns we’ve written over the past year for Marketing magazine. In part so we keep a record of the topics that are vexing and/or getting us going here at Labs, but mainly because some of these topics keep resurfacing and seem worthy of on-going discussion. As always please let us know what you think in the comments below.
First up, a piece published in March this year on code and creativity.
A biography of Beatrix Potter published last century may not sound like it warrants a mention in a column about technology. Yet when a friend sent it to me recently I was surprised: as a child, Beatrix had conceived her own cipher or code for use in private journals that she wrote well into her late twenties. 200,000 words in total that were only successfully decoded two decades after her death. So why did she write in code? And why was there such baffled curiosity that a creative writer did this?
The thoughts Beatrix encrypted were neither controversial nor particularly personal. The biographer speculates that she was a lonely, if intelligent child who sought refuge in her own imagination. Described as a peculiar act of creativity to escape an otherwise colourless childhood, if you will.
Reading it, I was struck by how little fundamental attitudes to writing code have changed in decades. In our industry, as in others, there’s positive intent and considerable uptake of courses designed to teach the basics of programming languages, sure. But reading and writing code is still not a part of the fabric of life the same way learning a language, sport or an instrument is. Many still see code as intimidating, or the preserve of the solitary (male) computer science geek.
Even as we grasp how code and the role of different languages are transforming marketing output and our ways of working, still too many of us step back from getting to grips with code directly and personally. That’s for newcomers to the industry, right?
Yet it’s no more complicated than anything else we learn over the course of our lives and it’s part of the day job: we already know the Internet has been the biggest advertising sector in the UK for the past four years (IAB data) and that it will register double digit growth every year for the next four (PwC’s Global Media & Entertainment Outlook for EMEA, 2012-2016).
So what now?
Perhaps we don’t all itch to shape the way the web develops, but let’s embrace the fact that, at its simplest, code is how things get made on and for the web. Much as Beatrix Potter understood a century ago, code is creative. Of course there’s much to do here: if code in combination with its older siblings, art direction and copy, is to grow up faster, better, stronger it needs leadership at every level. We don’t all need to learn to code necessarily, but we do need to know what code can do.
Time to get with the program, people.
More on the topic:
A series of experiments launched at the start of the year designed to re-imagine advertising, reflecting the triumvirate now at the heart of commercial creativity.
Code.org and their video ‘what most schools don’t teach’ featuring Zuckerberg, Gates and a host of other geekarati championing code. If I were Secretary of State for Education, I’d make it mandatory for all girls in secondary education to watch this.
Decoded – http://decoded.co/. The original “learn to code in a day” training course. You may not emerge a fully fledged developer, but you do leave with a good grasp of the history and roles of different programming languages, plus an app you built yourself. Intelligently designed course, highly recommended.
Teaching kids the basics of code through a parent-child physical training session where the parent is the ‘robot’ and expected to respond to specific commands: “How to train your robot”. Every small child’s dream.
And as a counter-point: Learning to Code is a Waste of Time (Forbes)
3rd October 12
It is quite obvious that we here at Labs are huge fans of both the open source community, and idea of social-coding platforms. It would go without saying that being fans of such a community is not enough, one would argue that we should not only be an observer, but also a participant. That being said, we looked at a few of the internal projects and experiments we have worked on and felt that at this point we should share bit of code with the rest of the Internet.
What began as an exploration in Processing quickly became a prototype and finally a solid bit of code that is a complete application. We called it The GIF-A-MATRON, and it is a processing application that interprets the brightness of the webcam’s image and translates it to dots that scale based on that image creating abstract interpretation. In the background the application detects a vistor’s motion and secretly captures three frames, two seconds apart and creates an animated GIF. The GIF is then send via PHP to a destination tumblr site for all to see.
Once we showed it around to a few folks, people instantly liked it. The next logical step was to release it as source for others to build upon, and interpret into what ever they see fit. It’s primary function is something like a animated gif generating photo booth, but we are interested to see where it goes from here. Feel free to grab the source from our Github page. If you do add a twist, let us know, we would love to see what you do with it.
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
1st July 11
Last Friday in Cannes, BBH’s own Sir John Hegarty gave the following speech co-authored with co-founder Nigel Bogle (Nigel was unfortunately unable to join him due to illness).
The premise of their speech is powerfully simple: growth needs space. Space needs difference.
Of course we could simply have put the video of Sir John’s speech here on the blog, alongside the slideshare. However, as @jeremyet puts it: ‘given the opportunity to celebrate the power of difference, we wondered whether we could develop something fast that would give the viewer of the filmed speech a different and enhanced experience. Cue vidazzl, which brings to life relevant keyword searches from across the web as you watch the speech.
We’re planning on making this a platform where anyone can upload a speech and display it in a, well, vidazzled version, but for now you can view Sir John’s speech from the Cannes Festival here and, of course, let us know your thoughts on the talk, on the presentation and on the difference.’
Gabor (Creative Technologist) adds a note on the choice of technology and the time frame:
Jeremy Ettinghausen – Creative Director
Gabor Szalatnyai – Creative Technologist
Nick Fell – Strategist
Felipe Guimaraes – Art Director
Lambros Charalambous – Copywriter
Adam Oppenheimer – Art Director
Joe Oppenheimer – Copywriter
Eric Chia – Head of Digital Design, Addictive Pixel
Keith Bone – Digital Designer, Addictive Pixel
Romy Miller – Team Director
12th November 10
Posted in coding
Just as it is very easy to have an opinion about art without knowing how to draw, it’s very, very simple to talk knowledgeably about ‘digital’ without knowing anything about coding – the logic underlying every website and digital product we’ve ever used, tweeted about and, often, criticised.
So as part of Internet Week Europe and with Google Creative Labs we held a Coding for Dummies workshop which was an opportunity for 40 or so people to learn at the feet of some true coding ninjas and take their first, shaky steps along the path of geek enlightenment.
The afternoon didn’t finish with the class able to recreate We Feel Fine or launch an alternative blogging platform. But what it did was give everyone the confidence to go and have a look at a webpage’s source code and the beginnings of understanding why things on the web look and behave the way they do. A bunch of people can now go and play with code, launch a page onto the internet, tweak it, break it and maybe even fix it again.
Below are @tomux’s slides and at the end of them we’ve added a few of the pages that some of the dummies-no-longer created. We enjoyed ourselves so much (and still have so much to learn!) that we hope to do this again some time – keep an eye on our twitter for details.
We know code-fu.