26th January 10
Posted in crowdsourcing
“New tools give life to new forms of action…eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination… We are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups.” Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, 2008
One of the things that caught our eye last year was a blogpost from Len Kendall sharing the plan for a simple, yet audacious lifestreaming project. Every day for 365 days, Len and co-founder Daniel Honigman were going to get a different person to write about their experience that day. If you will, a crowdsourced diary for 2010: the3six5 Project.
Just under a month in and c.250,000 site views later, the project is growing into something with real currency AND potentially long lasting value. Before we get into the interview with Len and Daniel, here are a few early thoughts on why we think the project is turning out to be so interesting. As always, we’d love to hear other points of view, so please let us know what you think.
1. Currency: the3six5 mashes up three communication themes – crowdsourcing, curation and lifestreaming – neatly in one idea. (At the same time it’s a simple journal. The combination is very seductive: it feels experimental and familiar at the same time).
2. Cultural value: if the entries continue in the vein set down so far, it’s a time capsule of intensely individual thoughts. One year seen through 365 different minds, gathered in one place.
3. As communication models go, a continuous, virtuous circle. Fresh, surprising content, which in turn its originators & their supporters want to promote and propagate.
4. Great content: none of the above would mean anything if the words didn’t leap off the page. And boy, do they. A lot of writers have taken Daniel & Len at their word and taken risks, others have brilliantly evoked the day and their state of mind, often to profound effect.
5. Success or failure depends on the community: The project has the chance to go wrong at any point, all it takes is a missed post. If we’re honest, that adds to the frisson around the project. It also proves yet again that crowdsourcing is no cop-out for the curators. As wonderful as everyone is, we suspect it can still feel like herding cats at times. As one of the contributors so far, I can also testify to a what-if-you-fail-to-come-up-with-anything? feeling in your gut as you sit down at the end of the day to write a post to an immovable deadline.
We caught up with Daniel and Len, to hear how it’s going so far from their perspective, as well as their hopes and expectations for the rest of the year.
Read full post
22nd January 10
Posted by Fran Hazeldine (@franhazeldine), Planning Director, BBH London
‘Myspace is dying’. How many times have you heard or read that in recent months? It’s not a hard conclusion to reach from recent visitor trends.
But speak to some of the guys here at BBH London and they’ll tell you a different story. For the past few months they’ve been working with our Myspace clients on the UK relaunch of Myspace Music. It’s a revolutionary platform for the stream and share generation, and they’ve created some really smart and engaging work to promote it. Will that be enough to kickstart a turnaround? Only time and data will tell. But it’s a good excuse to share some wider thoughts on the kind of work we get excited about at the London office.
The campaign started back in December, when 9 artists revealed the music they love in a series of interactive films showcasing the new music player. The idea was to bring fans closer to their favourite artists, reinforcing the core Myspace offer of music community.
Building on this idea, the team have created a new set of films starring Fiddy, Florence, Furtado – and you. Visitors to Myspace.com/fanvideo can create a playlist of videos, log in with Myspace ID or Facebook Connect, then sit back and watch as the artists take turns to make a personal dedication. If you’re feeling friendly, you can also give a load of your Myspace / Facebook pals the super-fan treatment.
Sure, most of us have seen personalised video apps before. But I do think the Fan Video app moves things on a bit. In fact, I think it’s made with three fresh ingredients that will be part of the mix in most of our best BBH London work this year.
1. LOVEABLE MAGIC
Agency types get very excited about whizzy new technologies. Apparently, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. And boy, do we love magic. It’s what our clients pay big bucks for. We spend countless hours trying to conjure up little bits of it. So when ACME Tech serves up another massive blob of ready-made magic there’s a rush to give it a branded twist. AR bog roll? Awesome!
Problem is, some of this pure techy magic is losing its allure. Out in the real world people are suffering innovation fatigue. They’ve seen a thousand tech firsts and the give-a-fuck bar is iPhone high. You can dress that bog roll up in in AR magic clothes, but it’s still just bog roll. Where’s the good stuff? The funny, emotional, cool stuff? What’s there to LOVE?
With the Myspace Fan Videos, the magic isn’t in the tech. It’s in the moment when 50 Cent hangs a picture of you on his wall, or Alicia Keys sings you a song. Sure the magic is tech-fuelled, but it’s the twisted cultural content, the playful reference to things I love or hate, that really makes it. Tech is the means, not a magical end in itself.
Tech magic is out. Loveable magic is in.
2. COLLABORATIVE CRAFT
One of the things we’ve become more and more sure of as an agency is that we can’t do everything. Not on our own, anyway. And certainly not to the ‘best in class’ standard our clients demand. We’ve got bags of creative talent in the building, but to make truly awesome, loveable magic, we need the help of great craftsmen from outside BBH. These aren’t just suppliers or production companies. They won’t settle for a white label. These are creative partners who respect the vision, shape the execution and share the credit.
I spoke to Dom Goldman, the BBH Creative Director on this project, and it was refreshing to hear him say that the Myspace Fan Videos couldn’t have been made without Pulse Films (who shot them), Absolute Post (who did the post production), and Domani Studios (who built the application). More importantly, they couldn’t have been made without genuine collaboration between that network of partners. Let’s call this process ‘collaborative craft’.
If you watch the Alicia video carefully, you can see the reflection of your Facebook profile pic in the glossy piano surface. That isn’t off-the-shelf tech. That’s collaborative craft. Dom’s creative team obsessed over those art directional details. Absolute advised on special filmic effects. And Domani coded away until they were subtlely, perfectly achieved.
3. SIMPLE SOCIAL
We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that people can’t wait to participate in marketing, and will happily jump through branded hoops.
Most personalisation apps I’ve used in the past have asked me to answer several questions or find and upload an image. Sharing has tended to mean entering lists of email addresses or choosing from lists of buttons. Those are pretty big demands at every step of the experience.
By focusing on the simple and specific request for your Facebook Connect login, the Myspace Fan Video app makes that experience faster, simpler and more spreadable (auto-post your fan video to newsfeed, batch-create fan videos for your friends). The use of Connect also amplifies the magic. You don’t know the app has scraped your Facebook profile image until you see it spinning round on David Guetta’s turntable.
Stepping back from the content, it’s just very cool to offer Facebook login for a Myspace promotion. That’s confident, user-centric behaviour. It makes my life a little more convenient. It says “we’re not trying to replace Facebook, we’re different”.
And isn’t that all Myspace need to say, really?
Check out the work here and let us know what you think:
20th January 10
Posted in mobile
Posted by Peter Sells (@sellsy), Head of Mobile, BBH London
Ed: We loved Peter’s winning talk on mobile for the UK APG’s Battle Of Big Thinking (#bobt) at the end of last year so much, we managed to persuade him give us a little more background to his thinking. For the slides and unmissable video of his presentation on the day, please go here.
18th January 10
Posted in Sustainability
We need your help.
Aside from reading this (60 seconds) we also need just 10 seconds of your time.
If we can persuade enough people to give us 10 seconds and one click, we’ll help achieve something extremely worthwhile.
Read on . . .
In between some fairly insanely busy day jobs, a few BBHers from our New York office have been busy on a project called ‘Pencils of Promise’ (PoP), a startup non-profit organization dedicated to building sustainable education in the developing world. PoP is one of one hundred organizations participating in a $1MM competition (sponsored by Chase) called the Chase Community Giving Program. The competition is being run through Facebook as a voting contest, and the organization that receives the most votes will receive a $1MM grant. The five runners up will each receive $100,000. Voting ends Jan 22nd.
PoP is (as of today, Sunday morning ET) in 9th position, but only 1000 votes off the top 5 and 20,000 votes off top spot. Most of the organizations participating are leveraging massive databases and established relationships with celebrities to spread the word. Fair play. PoP doesn’t have that, so BBH Labs is attempting to activate our extended network of friends, bloggers and tweeters to spread the word today and activate some votes.
Pencils of Promise is also well-placed to make an immediate impact in light of last weeks horrific events in Haiti. With a commitment to sustainability and on-the-ground impact, the organization has committed, should they win the grand prize, at least $100,000 to youth focused projects in Haiti; they will personally oversee and develop these. That seems pretty awesome to us; once the immediate emergency aid is up and running it’s clear that the young people of Haiti are going to be central to the recovery. In it’s modest way, this should help.
Please help PoP and do two things . . . ideally right now:
1. Vote for PoP on Facebook: http://bit.ly/4DYKIV
2. We don’t usually ask for RTs at Labs but we think this is an exception, so please retweet the tweet that sent you here, or cut and paste this into Twitter:
We need your help with ‘Pencils of Promise’: ten seconds, one click is all it takes: http://j.mp/8naMZJ (please RT)
One click, ten seconds.
Brad Haugen (BBH NY; @hoogs), Michelle Keith (ex-BBH NY; @michelleakeith), Ben Malbon (BBH Labs; @malbonnington)
For a 99 second intro on YouTube: youtube.com/pencilsofpromise
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
Pencils of Promise is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that builds sustainable schools, partnerships and solutions to enable basic education for under-served children in the developing world. Pencils of Promise is a passionate community of individual volunteers dedicated to empowering each person regardless of status or position to make a positive impact on the world.
Founded in October 2008, PoP uses for-profit business principles and non-profit ideals to work to empower Western youth to use their skills, abilities and networks to participate in the nonprofit process in a meaningful way. With more than 75 million children in the world without access to a preschool education, PoP helps bridge the gap of inadequate educational resources for the world’s most impoverished children.
In 2009, the organization’s first year of operation, Pencils of Promise raised over $150,000 in donations through fundraising events and donor support, built three schools in Laos, and established a presence in more than 20 cities and college campuses throughout the country. In 2010, Pencils of Promise has goals to attract 5,000 new supporters across the globe, to build seven more schools in committed villages in Laos, Haiti and Nicaragua, and to continue to identify additional areas of impact around the world.
More information about Pencils of Promise is available at pencilsofpromise.org.
17th January 10
Posted in UncategorizedThis is a 92-slide *taster* from the full-blown report (which seems to have around 1000 slides).The general thrust is summed up in the final slide, as follows (I particularly like the last phrase):Here’s the 92-slider.Just vast amounts of data and insight to munch through.
29th December 09
Posted in BBH Labs
What a year. Here within the BBH Labs team we’ve had our ups and our downs. But we’ve been facing only forwards. We thought today might be the one day of the year we allow ourselves a sneaky peek backwards. In particular in regard to our little blog.
This blog’s grown from nothing, through embryonic to, well, at least something approaching pre-pubescence. Whilst we’ve not shared as much as we had hoped in these pages, since launching on April Fool’s Day 2009 we’ve managed around 70 posts.
Looking back through the content it’s reassuring (at least to us) that we’ve managed a fair degree of consistency in terms of the topics we’ve posted on, with some key themes emerging as core areas of Labs’ interest. We didn’t plan this when we started, it just happened. (We outline these themes – with links to example posts – underneath this list of our Favourite 10 from 2009.)
What made most of the posts even remotely interesting to start with was the commenting and opinion shared on the blog in response to them. We’d like to thank all those who took time not just to read but to improve our thoughts. We massively value your contribution, and we always look forward to reading your input, however challenging or provocative.
More than anything, even more than the 900+ comments on these posts, what we’ve taken out of this first eight months of Labs blogging are some great new friends, partners & teachers. Long after the frothy excitement around this app or that platform recedes, and even after the buzz around great work might fade into Awards annuals, it’s this side of the blog that we will value most highly.
Happy New Year. See you in 2010. Mel, Pats, Ben
* * * *
So, we thought we’d fish out ten posts that we either particularly enjoyed putting together, or that triggered a debate from which we learned a lot (often, it was both). Here they are, with links (via titles) to the originals & original comments.
The onset of increasingly ‘perfect’ information would suggest that the content we are served is ever more relevant, the choices we make are ever easier, and our levels of satisfaction should never have been higher (think the ultra relevance of Netflix, Fresh Direct, SatNav, Amazon recommends, Facebook suggests, Google search). We argue here, however, that this rise in relevance amounts to nothing less than the ‘end of surprise’, and that comes with a cost (think The Truman Show meets Minority Report). We focus on the opportunity: a role for genuinely inventive, interactive and surprising content and experiences in an era where the rough edges are too often being smoothed away.
24th December 09
2009 undoubtedly has been the year when the ‘crowd’ really came into its own. As the year drew to a close, it seemed like it might be a fun (okay, also possibly foolish) idea to attempt to create the world’s first crowd-curated holiday playlist.
Whilst I’d tinkered with this in fairly samizdat fashion at the end of November, the idea properly came to life when Maria Popova (@brainpicker) – the undisputed queen of online cultural curation and author of, amongst other things, Brain Pickings – got in touch. She suggested we create an audio tumblr together and see if we could find 31 people to curate one, great, vaguely seasonal track for every day in December.
So far, 24 days and around a 1000 plays later, it’s a fairly diverse collection of music and commentary: by turns happy, nostalgic, darkly funny, triumphant, moving, warm, sad and – if you ask us – all of it pretty downright wonderful.
We hope people have had as much fun as we have getting involved and watching it unfold. Maria and I will say thank you properly to everyone when the project completes at the end of the month, but in the meantime please keep checking out the site, listen to the smorgasbord of tracks we’ve had in so far and read what the curators have had to say about the music they’ve chosen.
For more about Taped Together, check it out here.
The full and final playlist will be made available as a download to anyone who’d like one, please check out the site for details at the end of this month.
Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone.
22nd December 09
We need your help.
We’re after a big room, studio or small stage in NYC for three days in January (14-16th). We’re trying to find a space where we can re-create the Chrome Features short films we’ve just made for Google.
For a start, we want to have a little party, and January seems like a good time to be doing that. But we’d like to open it up to anyone who wants to come along and have a look at how they were made.
The space needs to be around 60 x 40 ft, with – ideally – some good height to the ceiling. If you have somewhere you can lend us, or you know someone who might, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
THANKS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS
Here are the films:
And here is a film about how we made them:
18th December 09http://www.vimeo.com/8217311
We were stopped in our tracks by this concept video from the design consultancy Berg for Bonnier R&D. There is a fluidity and beauty to the design that suggests a significant step forward from the first generation, ‘push button’ e-readers. We particularly liked the fact the prototype (which makes its debut around 1 minute in) suggests it has been designed to create a better reading experience, as opposed to recreating slavishly the experience of reading a magazine. Not that this has been ignored: Berg make the point that magazines still arrive in separate issues, for the simple reason that “people like the sense of completion at the end of each.”
You move through the magazine by scrolling articles placed side-by-side (they call it a ‘mountain range’) and whilst they were aiming to create a “a space for quiet reading. It’s pleasant to have an uncluttered space”, you can heat up the words and pics to share, comment, and to dig into supplementary material. It certainly seems a logical and neat way to resolve the oft-discussed need to balance our thirst for more, more, more information, with the requirement to concentrate on one thing from time to time.
If you’ve been following the fortunes of e-readers, none of this may sound particularly radical. The bit that’s impressive is the execution. And, in their own words, Bonnier are interested in “sparking a discussion around the digital reading experience in general, and digital reading platforms in particular.”
That discussion is certainly happening. Aside from the general rants and evangelism, there are more balanced points of view on the topic, not to mention an excellent follow-up post here from Tim Maly at Bookfuturism that examines the operational, production process piece missing (possibly inevitable at concept stage…) and why it’s important. Well worth the read. There’s clearly huge scope for development: our own Richard Schatzberger notes the multimedia opportunities haven’t been looked at deeply enough. “The move to magtabs will start to break down the barriers between web broadcast and print. Live news playing inside the article about the same subject, your friends opinions connected to the content, live audio conversations about the story as you read it (like being in a coffee shop and hearing everyone talk about an article in the times).”
Either way, we liked the concept and we look forward to seeing where Berg and Bonnier take it. One thing is for sure:
“Ebook readers will be completely different in 2020. And paperback books will in all likelihood still be very much around, and pretty much the same.” Comment from tcarmody on Bookfuturism’s “Nostalgic Myopia” post
17th December 09
Posted in transformational change
Boulder Digital Works at the University of Colorado (BDWCU) is a cutting edge new school designed to create ‘the leaders of the future’ in the design, tech and creative industries. Sounds great, but what do the first intake of students really think about it, so far? And what are the ‘works’ that actually go on there?
Some background first.
There are already a number of (very cool) dedicated digital programs in the US but they tend to focus on individual specialties, such as advertising, business, design, or technology. The starting point for BDWCU was how things actually work in practice, once the student leaves school. It’s a whole lot messier than a school syllabus, that’s for sure. At advertising and digital agencies, start-ups, and software companies, business, creative, and technology people work in much more of an integrated and fluid setting and are expected to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers. So BDWCU sets out to be a more broad-based educational program that covers the full spectrum of digital disciplines and media.
The program is impressive – take a look here. (I only wish I could attend.)
I was honored to be asked to sit on the Board of Directors and have got to know the program and the set-up a little. What I think is the coolest thing about the school is that the program they offer is live, so is constantly changing to reflect what matters today and tomorrow (not what mattered yesterday) and is led by leading practitioners in key industries such as advertising, design, interactive, and innovation, as well as entrepreneurs and academics. The team led by David Slayden, Michael Lightner and Allison Kent-Smith have done an awesome job of gathering some exceptional faculty to bring genuinely leading edge content and insight to students.
So, yes, as I said before, it all sounds great, but what’s it really like? What do the students think? And how are they finding it?
The initial intake of 12 twelve trailblazers in the first Boulder Digital Works 60 Weeks Program finish their adventure in December 2010. To mark the one year pre-anniversary they have created the 12/10 Project. This short film takes stock of what they’ve learned so far, considers their hopes and plans for the upcoming year and sees them explore their dreams, goals and predictions more broadly. It is essential viewing for anyone in a creative business who has an eye on the talent pool of the future. It’s people just like these guys whom we will all by vying to hire.
It’s striking that for many the reasons they went to the school in the first place are not always the reasons they’re staying.
(It’s available in HD on YouTube).
Follow the 12/10 Project as it unfolds over the next 12 months. You never know, you might spot a rising star in the making.
The 12/10 blog is here.
If you’re interested, here’s a little more about BDWCU.