Posts Tagged ‘google’
28th August 14
Posted in Rants
I am happy that I’m not going to indadvertedly click a link on twitter and find myself watching a video of the beheading of James Foley. But the removal of this video and other content from Google, Twitter and Facebook raises important questions about media, freedom of expression and control of information.
In the digital age, we are nearing the point where an idea banished by Twitter, Facebook and Google all but vanishes from public discourse entirely, and that is only going to become more true as those companies grow even further.
As is pointed out here, this is not a question of censorship. Rather it is an editorial decision, made on perfectly reasonable moral and taste grounds and at the request of the family of James Foley. And while we might completely agree with the decision in this instance, are we happy for Facebook to delete content created by Syrian dissidents? Or not remove videos of other gruesome actions that do not involve Western journalists. Or allow the publication of live tweets of IDF military actions against Hamas? These complex religious and geopolitical issues are throwing up new moral, social and editorial challenges for technology companies. But as these companies morph into not just media companies, but media itself, it is becoming important to ask what precedents are being set? What actual policies are at work?
We have no rights beyond what the companies give us in their terms of service, where quaint ideas like the First Amendment have no application.
The huge centralized web services such as facebook and google, the Stacks as Bruce Sterling calls them, are making these editorial decisions because we’ve both asked and allowed them to. They are incredibly useful services and incredibly convenient services and incredibly free services to use. We might not pay with our wallets, but instead we pay with our views, our content, our shares, likes, retweets and our profiles. If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold. We know this. Facebook and Google and Twitter ultimately can decide what goes through their pipes – if we don’t like their decisions we can take our cat photos elsewhere, however inconvenient that might be.
So, if we’re the product, who are the customers? Brands, obviously, who love the convenience and the scale and the data and metrics they get from their paid-for relationships with The Stacks. And brands too, make sacrifices when they embark on these relationships. The world of brand microsites was one of variable quality, but vast variety. Today’s uniformity of branded voice and imagery, the identikit, out-of-the-box formatting solutions provided by tumblr and facebook and youtube can almost induce nostalgia for the visual assault of the World Wild Web. Again, google and twitter and facebook have the right to design their pipes their way – if brands don’t like the formats on offer they can take their content elsewhere, however inconvenient that might be.
I am relieved that my kids can watch youtube without clicking on a thumbnail and seeing James Foley’s horrific murder. But I am also telling them that if they want a place on the internet where they are not the product, a place where they are the editor, where they set the precedents and make the policies, a place that is theirs, then they will have to own it and pay for it and make it. They’ll have to buy a domain and manage some hosting and create some content and establish their own digital identity. And they’ll have to deal with the inconvenience and freedom that comes with it.
7th June 13
Author: Nick Fell, Strategy Director
Last week we launched the Storytime Hangout app for Google+. Built in collaboration with Penguin, it allows families to share the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff over a hangout, whether they’re at home or away from one and other. Not only that but everyone participating can become characters in the story with masks overlayed onto their faces.
It’s early days but the app seems to have caught people’s imaginations and we’re excited about the potential to adapt further stories to be read in this way.
The project was driven forward with unwavering determination by a team of people at BBH and Penguin. We’ve also had great support from the team at Google.
We wanted to share with you our experiences of developing the app and highlight three things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Proactive projects require a laser-focus
We developed Storytime Hangout without an official brief. A small group of us at BBH had been discussing the massive potential of Google+ Hangouts to bring people closer together in some new and interesting ways. We were all passionate enough about the opportunity to spend some of our own time exploring ideas that would augment the experience of a Hangout even further. Storytime Hangout was the best idea of a long list. Proactively developing, building and launching an app in the spare moments in our days has been even more challenging than we expected. We’ve learned the hard way that to succeed means getting behind one idea early and be ruthless with the feature set.
2. Insight before tech
With such a wealth of technology at one’s disposal, it’s never been easier to create and launch an idea. The trap is to build something just because you can. What makes one experience more successful than another still comes down to an understanding of people; their hopes, dreams and behaviour. In our own experiences and in talking to other parents, it was clear that story time was one of the most enjoyable and important moments a parent can share with their children. The problem was that distance and other distractions often got in the way. It’s early days, but we’re hoping that a focus on problem-solving and not tech experimentation alone will encourage people to keep coming back to the app on Google+.
3. Stick by your principles
Technology is transforming publishing. Books are being bought and read in new ways and publishers have to adapt to how they market and distribute their intellectual property. Children’s literature is a particularly dynamic industry. Parents now have access to a wealth of content, apps and games to keep the kids entertained, much of which gay porno is freely available on the web. In adapting a children’s story for consumption online we wanted to ensure that we promoted the magic of storytelling. This informed our entire approach to developing the app. Words are central to the experience and we have tried to use technology in a way that augments, not distracts from, the reading of the book.
5th March 13
Posted in culture
Watching this film a couple of weeks ago, Google Glass all of a sudden made all kinds of sense. Being able to record experiences in the moment unencumbered by a camera or phone, share them in the moment, navigate through a city without reference to a map (digital or paper), augment real live experience with the power of search – all these things seem to be requirements of living a frictionless digital duality. While I’m not sure that using a mobile to access the web is exactly ‘emasculating‘, I do think that Google are tapping into an important behavioural realisation – experiencing the world through the screen of a phone is not optimal living. As Sergey Brin says, “You want something that frees your eyes.”
But, inevitably, now that the application date to become a ‘Glass Explorer‘ has passed, some reasonable, inquisitive voices are raising questions about whether Google’s version of ‘documentary vision‘ is as desirable as it first appeared to be. Steve Mann, a pioneer of wearable computing, asks whether Google have learnt from his experiments in augmented vision – he raises important practical concerns about the design and safety, short and long-term, of Google’s solution. He also touches on important privacy issues, asking whether this technology will ‘turn us into so many Little Brothers’.
The privacy issue has huge implications, not just for societies already coming to terms with near-ubiquitous surveillance, but for individuals living in those societies. ‘Google Glass will live or die solely in the experience it creates for people,’ says Steve Hurst. But the people Hurst worries about are not the users, but ‘everyone other than the user‘, everyone viewed and potentially sendesik porno recorded, snapped, reverse image searched, Googled, by a Glass wearer. This is, obviously, a big deal. There are rules about how surveillance camera footage can be used. Google itself has had to modify streetview imagery according to national privacy laws. How are we going to legislate for Glass? Will social norms keep up with the march of technology? Who do I send a takedown notice to if I don’t know that I’ve been recorded and who that recording has been shared with? As Hurst says, ‘The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.’
Any new tech idea comes with caveats and warnings, sometimes reasonable, other times hysterical linkbait. At Labs we’re incurable optimists, and it feels, from here, that this is something big and important. Admittedly our excitement for the possibilities of Project Glass is tempered with plenty of unknowables, not least when we’re going to be getting our hands on a pair. The current $1500 pricetag and clunky design doesn’t change the fact that Project Glass, in some form, in some timeframe, is coming. As The Verge say in their positive ‘eyes-on’ review, ‘the question is no longer ‘if’, but ‘when’.
20th July 11
Posted in Friendship
The launch of Google+ brings once again the opportunity/chore to categorise our real world and digital relationships into some sort of meaningful schema. It’s the social media equivalent of copying out names and numbers into a new address book (remember those?) and analysing the probability of ever needing that contact again.
Is the person I spent a night with drinking at a conference and discussing our children a friend, an acquaintance or a co-delegate? Where do colleagues fit in on my relationship map? And what about the person who I’ve never met in ‘meat-space’ but correspond with regularly in conversation on twitter/flickr/facebook? Do I need to worry about circling someone as a ‘Social Media Maven’ rather than a ‘person who does cool stuff? (Answer: Yes)
“Create around one at least a small circle where matters are arranged as one wants them to be.” – Anna Freud
It will always be hard to put people into broad categories because, well, we’re all special and unique flowers, man. But questioning the nature of online friendship is an exercise worth revisiting every now and again. As the lines between online and offline blur we’re going to need to find new ‘friendrank’ algorithms. So, while code can reveal to us who we communicate with most often, it can’t tell us who we care for. Right now I’m categorising ‘friends’ as people I am genuinely pleased for if something good happens to them and ‘acquaintances’ as those whose news I am merely interested in.
This is as far as I’ve got with my Circle Schema and is subject to change – I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments below.
14th June 11
Posted in Film
Author: Alice Bullimore, Integrated Producer, BBH London
What would happen if you asked everyone in the world to take a video of their life on the same day?
Well, it’s happened. The day was July 24th 2010 and people from 120 countries uploaded over 80,000 videos. Life, in a Day.
The raw footage itself is powerful. As Alexandra Coghlan comments in her great review, “what is perhaps most extraordinary and exciting about this project are its leftovers”, and on the ‘explore’ tab at youtube.com/lifeinaday the guys at Google have made all this footage available for us to filter and view, the many stories untold.
But then there’s the film.
Kevin MacDonald & Ridley Scott at RSA undertook the ambitious curatorial job of creating their story of the world, Joe Walker took on the crazily gargantaun mission of editing.
Over 4500 hours of footage reviewed, complied and cut into a coherent 90 minute film.
The film’s not bad either.
It was well received at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW film festivals, Total Film have given it 4 stars and it currently enjoys a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But what was it like laying down this challenge?
What if no-one had entered anything?
What if most of the crowd sourced footage was unusable?
With so much footage to go through, how do you choose what story to tell? An individual’s? The world’s? The editors’? Just whose agenda is at work, and what are the implications of a film like this?
Well, we’re privileged to be able to get a bit closer to some of these answers with a preview screening & live Q&A with the editor, Joe Walker, at BBH in London this wednesday 15th June at 5.00pm.
If you would like to ask Will and the team a question of your own, we have a limited number of tickets available for you & a friend to join us.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a free pair of tickets. First come first served.
We look forward to seeing you.
You can also upload questions for Kevin MacDonald and Life in a Day contributors here, by 2pm UK time *today* in advance of the UK premiere. The film is on national release in Vue cinemas on Thursday.
12th April 11
“Here’s to living forever. That’s not just a salutation in our family”
~ Sonya Kurzweil
“This is of mythical proportions. We have to deal with it, even if it turns out not to be true.”
~ Kevin Kelly
Regular readers of this blog will know we have an abiding fascination with what technology may bring in the far flung future (see our The Coming Age of Augmentation post and, most recently, Greg Anderson on Asimov’s First Law).
So it’ll be no surprise to hear we got *extremely* excited when an invite arrived, courtesy of Google, to attend a screening of Barry Ptolemy’s Transcendent Man at the Science Museum in London, followed by a Q&A with the director and the film’s subject, the futurist, author and engineer Ray Kurzweil. Read full post
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.
28th May 10
Posted in online video
We enjoyed the new spoof of BBH New York’s / Google Creative Labs ‘Speed Tests’ films for Google Chrome.
We particularly like the casting of two ‘Scandinavian’ looking gents as the main protagonists; perhaps a gentle reference to our own ECDs on the project, Calle and Pelle Sjoenell.
Here’s the original, in case you missed it.
And here’s our film about how we made them.
Finally, a few snaps from the shoot.
19th May 10
Author: Heidi Hackemer (@uberblond), Planning Director, BBH New York
We just went through recruitment for our upcoming internship program, the BBH Barn, and since we announced our six interns from the 150+ applications we’ve received a lot of questions about our selection criteria.
Whether literally or figuratively, the candidates that made the cut had a two-column resume. In column A, we saw an interest and understanding of advertising and/or consumer and brand interaction. It doesn’t mean that these interns are advertising experts by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that they have an appreciation for it and may know a bit of their way around our world. 98% of the applications checked off this column quite well.
The second column is where things got interesting: we also looked for candidates that had a bit of “mess” in their resume, i.e. a curiosity, a drive to think about and do things beyond pursuing the perfect advertising career. As a result we have filmmakers, activists, dancers and a guy that has worked in third world development.
We believe the mess is just as important as the “proper” education and inputs: advertising is one of those fields that should collaborate not only internally, but with culture at large – to be relevant and human we should inhale the world around us, circulate it in our lungs a bit and then exhale our response. The minute that we get too obsessed or spend too much time focusing on what happens within our walls or the minute the great love in our life becomes a widget or :30 second idea is the minute we lose the oxygen that we need to make great work.
Let’s face it, the people that are purely obsessed with advertising (and we all know them and have phases in our own lives where we’re guilty of being one of them) aren’t the people that contribute much to a truly sparkling dinner party or a stupid fun night out or bring a perspective that really changes things. So we wanted to make sure our Barn was filled with the dinner-party-rockers of the future. We think it will make for a more interesting summer and better work.
So here’s where it gets cool:
We were thinking of the above criteria, that we applied externally, and we thought we’d check internally how well we were doing. We asked BBHers in the NYC office to send along their personal, out of office, projects. We had a whole bunch of stuff submitted. Some highlights included:
Calle Sjoenell @callesjonell wanders around new york and puts up basketball nets where there are none. http://www.flickr.com/photos/callesjonell/sets/72157621869375075/
Harper Reitkopf @itsharper pretty much lives at the honey-space gallery to help artists do their thing http://honey-space.com/
Dane Larsen @dlarsen is documenting the life and times of his Brooklyn backyard this summer http://bklynbkyard.com/
Brad Haugen @hoogs throws his passion into being the Director of Marketing and Brand for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that helps build schools in third world countries http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/blog/2010/04/bring-out-lead-forth/
Zach Hilder keeps an awesome blog of his drawings and photographs http://deathfrom.blogspot.com
Kris Chu @kris_chu documents his struggle to banish cable from his life: http://suckitcable.blogspot.com/
Colleen Leddy @colleddy blogs tips about being the impeccable bridesmaid http://holdthebouquet.squarespace.com/
Kenji Summers @kenjisummers gives time to the Marcus Graham Project, a network of diverse advertising, marketing and media people @MGProject
Kirsty Saddler @keava has taken her personal passion for corporate social responsibility and started a think tank/action group within BBH called the Hive @BBHhive
Chris Araujo @cornfedchris is working on a soon to be unveiled project that’s all about making the world a better place and that’s all I can say about it right now upon fear of death.
Miranda Kendrick @mirandakendrick has two culture grabbing blogs: http://workingitatwork.tumblr.com/ that shows off the beautiful people of BBH and http://nyink.blogspot.com/ that shows off the beautiful tattoos of the world.
Hal & Masa have been busy working on the follow up to their Webby-winning music video for “Hibi no Neiro” (Tone of everyday) by “Sour” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfBlUQguvyw (watch this space)
And me? I’ve started the Wilhelmine Project, a mini-gallery that is hosted in the display window of my converted storefront apartment in the East Village http://thewilhelmineproject.com & @wilhelmineprjctThe most striking thing about all these projects is that people just did it. Google have their awesome and rightly famous 20% policy; we don’t have that at BBH, at least not formalized. So what makes the above particularly cool is that people just went out, made time and did. No one told them to, no one asked for the time. No hard porno permission was sought, or given. We think this is emblematic of the kind of creative business we strive to be, that the energy, thinking and output from these personal projects explicitly and implicitly makes BBH a more interesting and smarter place professionally.
So our question today is, what’s your 20% project?
Are you busy waiting for permission?
Or are you busy just getting on with it?
Let us know what you’re up to. You never know, there might be some common ground; we could collaborate.