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Posts Tagged ‘SxSW’

  • BBH went to SXSW and this is what we found

    11th April 14

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in Events, interactive

    Author: Ben Shaw, Social Strategy Lead, BBH London

    giphy

    Last month, BBH London sent 11 lucky people to Austin to discover the latest innovations that tech, film and music had to offer. Amongst the BBQ, beer and banter, they managed to find a bunch of insights about the advancement of the human race. Topics like this may only truly be delivered under a desert sky with smoked meat and a pale ale, but in an effort to distribute our learnings to a wider audience we’ve tried to distil them down into some slides (below). We looked at three topics that we think are vital to our future – as an agency and as human beings. Enjoy.

    TECHNOLOGY
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    CREATIVITY
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    PEOPLE
    412


  • A tech boy in Austin

    26th March 13

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in sxsw, technology

    Author: Alex Matthews, Head of Creative Technology, BBH London

    Nao_Robot_Performing

    As a tech boy I am always less interested in marketing per se than I am in marketing through services – solving problems and creating something useful –  and this is what I was hoping to find on my first visit to SXSW. Initially though I found myself in a Comedy in Technology talk where the little fella above did five minutes of standup – he’s been created as part of the drive to make robots more human, using comedy as a barometer for their humanness – pretty impressive, but still some work to do.

    The Beyond Mobile talk was a great example of what I hope is a trend towards a “less is more” mentality, suggesting we need to stop making everything ‘smart’ and instead have one or two smart devices and create many interfaces into them. Also suggesting that devices need to get ‘dumber’ is right up my street. The best solutions are not always the ones that add a million buttons and an Android OS to your microwave – instead just make your microwave remember the time after a power outage (after all, for 99% of the time we only use out microwaves as a clock).

    In the same vein was a talk by Golden Krishna (who recently joined Samsung) about his premise that The best interface is no interface. In his paper he discusses the 13 steps that are demanded by car-door unlocking apps now coming to market. Is this really a more efficient system than a key? Or a better system than the non-app solution developed by Mercedes ten years ago?

    The Robot in your pocket: AI powered applications talk from Gravity‘s Amit Kapur and Xobni‘s Jeff Bonforte also ran on a similar theme (and is well worth listening to here). Phones have 14 sensors typically – all of this data is available to us and to developers and yet we are still not using it to its full potential. For example, asking Siri to “call Chris” pulls up a list of the Chris’s in your address book. With your behavioural data at its disposal, surely Apple should know that most evenings at 6pm the Chris I call is Chris Smith as I try and organise a quick beer after work?

    Although there were quite a few relatively pointless apps on the trade stands I must big up one app that I found – Speakerfy – it allows you to simultaneously and synchronously play a song from your phone or laptop to multiple devices that also have the app. Basically, it creates a multi-speaker system on your and your friend’s phones. It’s going to make bus journeys with school kids even more noisy I’m sure.

    Finally, I have to mention the Google Glass presentation in which they live-demoed Glass and launched their Mirror API. The API seems quite open, simple and developer friendly using all the usual standard technologies, though they’re not sure yet how people are going to subscribe to apps for their Glass headset. Aside from the big question which is “will any normal person actually want to wear these?” and the fact that we’re all already entrenched in a behaviour pattern of checking updates on our phones, the demos they gave (New York Times, email, photo, sharing etc) were not all that amazing.

    Personally, I think Google is in a limbo state with Glass at the moment – they’re getting people interested, providing APIs but there’s no way for the masses to try out Glass, which does leave that “will anyone really do this” question rather open. There’s a lot of talk and hype from futurology types about Glass, but I’m not convinced they’re going to change the world overnight – going back to my original points, you have to ask the question “what is the business or user problem that Glass is trying to solve?”.

     

  • Cows in Space: a question of sustainability at #sxswi

    19th March 13

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in strategy, Sustainability

    The second of series of reports from Austin, by a few lucky BBH SXSW survivors.

    Author: Helen Lawrence, Strategist, BBH Labs & BBH London

    The most recurring topic of conversation in Austin during SXSW isn’t the future of technology, it isn’t the principles of responsive design and it certainly isn’t what makes something viral. It’s meat. What meat to have in your breakfast taco, what meat to choose for your lunchtime ribs and what meat should top your dinnertime hot dog (I can’t believe Tim didn’t mention this in his SXSW reflections!). This is a town dominated by BBQ joints and smoking shacks. I fear that after five days there I may have the incredibly sexy combination of scurvy and gout:

    Helen goes to a rodeo http://instagram.com/p/WyTwazGhJY/

    Helen goes to a rodeo http://instagram.com/p/WyTwazGhJY/

    However, we have a problem. One hundred thousand years ago humans still needed 2000 calories a day to function. Back then, to produce that 2000 calories we’d get through 1800 to find and produce something to nibble on. Fast forward to today’s brisket loving era and it takes 200,000 calories to produce those same 2000 calories. Our food production habits are screwed up. We waste everything: energy, resources and it even the food itself once we’ve got it to that juicy, edible point. It’s not at all sustainable. We’re messing it up, and we’re doing it quickly.

    So – who is the obvious person to turn to in order to solve this problem? An astronaut of course. Nothing beats an astronaut. Ahem.

    The 100 Year Starship project is using the question of interstellar space travel to get to an answer:

    “We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth.”

    If we’re going to have to consider exploration outside of our solar system we’re going to have think a little beyond a simply bigger rocket. One self sustaining pod hurtling through the sky; it has to keep a bunch of humans alive for a century, stop them killing each other and prevent them from getting hungry.

    The space race in the 60s was a tangible one: getting to the moon is a challenge that could be imagined and solved. The 100 Year Starship Project wants to set a challenge that trickles down solutions into our own fuzzy planet in the same way. The space race has given us some of the biggest everyday technologies we use now: scratch resistant lenses, GPS and water filters for example. By posing some of the biggest societal and sustainability questions out there and considering how we’d achieve them to last 100 years in space, we can hope for properly realistic solutions to the things we’re messing up at the moment.

    Image via 100 Year Starship Project

    Image via 100 Year Starship Project

    Meat is a big one, clothes are another. It’s a terribly energy intensive hobby. We make too many, we own too many, we wash too many and we don’t recycle nearly enough. 100 years at our current clothing rates would need a lot of wardrobes up on our space ship, not to mention cotton fields, plastics factories and silk worms. We can’t take clothes to space, despite them being such a core part of our creative identity as humans – one solution put forward by the 100 Year Starship project includes reusable sheets that we project clothes onto, allowing us to change them whenever we like.

    Back to the bovines. As much as I love the idea of cows in space, wearing little cow shaped astronaut helmets, it just can’t happen. ‘Fake meat’ companies are popping up all over the place, even Twitter co founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are investing. That’s one possible solution for our 100 Year Spaceship. What else is there?

    I like the 100 Year Starship project. It frames a problem into a great story. Mae Jemison, a brilliant astronaut, told the SXSW audience that we should tell better stories, ones that inspire and ones that can bring about social change. The project neatly frames sustainability into something we can picture. There are no cheats when you’re somewhere outside of Alpha Centauri. So many of our so called sustainable solutions aren’t that at all. We feel we’re doing well when actually the problem is just popping up somewhere else. You can’t do that on a spaceship.

    This makes me ruminate a bit on brand strategy – we talk a lot here about strategy being the art of sacrifice. What would you sacrifice in your brand armoury if forced to focus on the essentials? And would your brand get a spot on the starship in the first place? Is it ducking and diving, pushing superfluous issues elsewhere? Perhaps not being quite as sustainable or transparent as it could be? Whack it in a bubble and put it in space: it’s a good way to test it.

    I’m excited about the 100 Year Spaceship. The hippies and the astronauts are getting it on. And damn, it’s even sexier than gout.

  • Homeless Hotspots: Year End Update

    13th December 12

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in BBH Labs, Creativityforgood

    As you hopefully recall from our last update, we’ve been working with StreetWise, the street paper of Chicago, to apply our learnings from Homeless Hotspots. StreetWise’s issues felt most appropriate to tackle not only because of the organization’s innovative mindset (see their recent launch of Neighbor Carts), but because solutions that work at scale in Chicago can likely work in most other cities. StreetWise is a member of both the North American Street Newspaper Association and the International Network of Street Papers, organizations that cover the majority of street papers across the world and ensure the best ideas at any single paper scale.

    One of the first issues we’ve tackled together is digitizing the transaction. As of this week, people can use their mobile device to PayPal money to participating StreetWise vendors in a public beta. Similar to Homeless Hotspots, a visit to the vendor’s unique short URL will provide their personal story. This was a critical step in the process, as street newspapers play a much bigger role than employment for homeless individuals; they offer a chance for meaningful connection across socio-economic boundaries. Assuming a successful beta, the program will rollout across Chicago in January.

    Street papers are the most valuable tool homeless populations currently have to step out of invisibility. We see the digitization of that process as a critical first step (as do a number of other street papers we’ve been talking to– they’re testing everything from QR codes to mobile issues). However, there’s a long way to go. It’s why our other ongoing project with StreetWise will involve piloting a more fundamental evolution of their offering. It’s a big undertaking, but hopefully it sets the stage for a new model, scalable across large cities around the world. The premise behind the idea is rooted in our learnings from Homeless Hotspots. As always, we’ll keep everyone posted on progress once the pilot has been completed.

    We’d also like to give a special thanks to PayPal Labs. They’ve worked with us to create a custom offering to ensure mobile payments are seamless, secure, and free to the vendors to use. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

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    As always, feel free to reach out with questions or comments. We don’t edit our blog comments unless they contain offensive language.

  • Dreams from the land of Geektopia

    23rd March 12

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in sxsw

    or

    How I went to Austin expecting to learn about browsers and came back wanting to change the world.

    Author: Agathe Guerrier, Strategy Director, BBH & BBH Labs


    I went to SXSW for the first time this year, with the firm intention to learn about UX, data visualization trends, and new, exciting browser features. As I landed in Austin, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the native vs. web-based apps debate.

    In reality, although clearly there WAS a lot of talk of browsers and coding languages and apps, I  found myself confronted with a much more fundamental subject: that of meaning and purpose. More than acquire new knowledge, I was filled with new enthusiasm (and a little bit of concern) about the task that lies at hand – basically, redefining the rules of our economic, political and societal framework. Rethinking the world. Yup. Something that we need (the creative and tech community) need to take part in for two reasons: because the last 10 years have demonstrated the need for a new paradigm, and because the growing importance of technology in our world, means it now intersects significantly with world views, beliefs, and ethics.

    Take the “Skynet vs. Mad Max: Battle for the Future” dual session (by our very own Mel and Jeremy). It drew a parallel between the small, apparently benign technology choices we make today as consumers, and the future of the human species. Who imagined that buying an iPhone represented a leap towards a world where individual identity would be reduced to one login, one identity, one self, the scary simplicity of this system ultimately leading to totalitarianism? It’s removed, but not far-fetched.

    Tim O’Reilly, in his fantastic “Create More Value than you Capture” discussion with Andrew Mcafee, made a powerful case for embedding social good and genuine value(s) in all businesses. He pointed to a brilliantly obvious truth: it’s enthusiasm and passion that fuel creativity, not greed. For the sake of the social equilibrium that it depends upon, the objective of a business can not simply be profit, it has to create value for society at large, as well as for itself.

    Ben Silbermann (CEO and co-founder of Pinterest) took part in a Q&A session with Christopher Dixon and kept surprising us with disarmingly candid answers to “hard-nosed” questions. When asked what product feature he was most excited about developing, he answered it was his team, because “your team should be the most interesting product you’re building”. A few minutes later, brushing away a question about whether he was concerned by the various attempts to copy or rip off Pinterest, he explained that their effort went into improving the product and making it the best it could be, not preventing others to imitate it. In his eyes, success comes from putting all your efforts into making your product and experience brilliant, and if others copy you, it probably means you’ve got it right.

    And finally, against a backdrop of high risk, economic worries and general breakdown, I was surprised at how optimistically confused Bruce Sterling’s Ultimate talk left us all.  He forecasted a move away from the chaotic “internet” and towards vertical stacks or platforms like Google, Amazon, or Facebook (more organized, less messy – an echo to the Skynet vs. Mad Max talk and its crowd-sourced prediction of Skynet’s victory)… but also the ulterior demise of stacks.

    He didn’t say what they would be replaced with, but this legendary cynic seemed pretty optimistic about the ability of the interactive community to make sense of the “augmented, ubiquitous, post-stack future”.

    In building this uncertain “new world”, we might find inspiration in community-based, generous value creation models like Kickstarter, Airbnb, or Task Rabbit (which were unanimously praised as the most inspirational things to have happened in the last 5 years).

    But there is still a lot of work at hand, especially for our industry, in translating the inspiration from Geektopia  into actionable ethics for the world of brands…

    In the spirit of starting small, here are three things I’m going to start or do more of:

    1. 1. Get rid of any obsession with single-mindedness, and make sure to respect people’s intelligence by recognizing that “There is not one You”, as Christopher Poole pointed out
    2. 2. Broaden the definition  of “Business objective” to entail the creation of value and values for consumers and society at large, not just profit for the company
    3. 3. Behave more generously everyday, by building great teams and empowering them to create and make even greater things
  • SXSW 2012: What BBH is Planning & Why We Hope We’re Worth A Vote

    17th August 11

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in awesomeness, sxsw

    Photo by @saneel via @instagram, SxSW 2011

    Although it seems insanely early every year, it’s time to start voting for panels at SxSW. Instead of spamming our professional and personal feeds with requests for support, we’re continuing a tradition we began last year of consolidating all of our potential panels into a single post.

    So, if any of the below seems mildly interesting, we’d greatly appreciate a vote. All of the summaries below click-thru to the appropriate panel picker page at sxsw.com. Regardless, we’re quite excited to attend to hear what others have to say. We value the experience every year, and as always we digest everything with the benefit of context you all as the loyal Labs community provide us.

    Skynet vs. Mad Max: Battle for the Future

    In this session, our own Mel Exon (@melex) and Google’s Tom Uglow (@tomux) will discuss two possible futures of the web:

    1. A highly controlled algorithm-driven web where people and brands are matched perfectly via formula and AI, in a spam-free nirvana.
    2. An ongoing battle of people and brands seeking to be discovered, creating an open web with neutral techn partners and real-world spaces where tech doesn’t penetrate.

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.


    Chief Innovation Officers Defend Their Titles

    The topic of this panel was born of conversation frequently discussed on our blog in 2011: do agencies really need someone to run innovation? In this session four innovation leaders, including our Saneel Radia (@saneel) and Labs founder (now client at Google Creative Lab) Ben Malbon (@malbonnington), will answer hard questions about the value of such a role, what it actually entails, and what makes a good candidate to play the part. The panel also includes Edward Boches of Mullen (@edwardboches), Dave Armano of Edelman (@armano) and David Erixon (@dexodexo), founder of Hyper Island.

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.


    The South By Shark Tank: Pitch Your Big Idea

    This panel features Neil Munn, Global Head of BBH Zag, along with other ad industry investment professionals. In this session, the audience is invited to present their elevator pitches and receive high-level advice on how to prime the proposals for investment. Press coverage for the most attractive investments is built in via our friends at PSFK (@psfk).

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.


    Game My Brand

    BBH planner Tim Jones (@timjonestweet) will outline “gaming brands,” an approach to brand strategy built on gaming principles. This approach represents a fundamental shift from building brands as message transmission devices, to building brands as behaviour change systems. This talk will feature new material built on content Tim previously covered in his TEDx talk of the same name.

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.


    Your Story Sucks! Saving Story in the Digital Age

    In this session, three BBH storytellers (including @jamescmitchell, @writingstudio, and @depechetoad) from different backgrounds share the results of in-field storywriting experiments from standup to novel-writing to radio plays to alternate reality games. They’ve tried it all, and are going to try and explain what works. This is not a panel – think of it as a three-man show. This is a theoretical session, with practical homework.

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.


    My Mom Plays That: How Women Game-Change Gaming

    As women play casual games in ever-increasing numbers, this session will examine what this means for the development of casual and traditional games. It will specifically look at how the psychology of women influences the psychology of game developers. The purpose of this presentation by BBH social media manager Claire Coady (@claire_coady) is to examine how women are influencing the seismic shifts underway across the gaming landscape.

    Find out more, vote and add your support here.

  • Keep Austin Weird

    1st March 11

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in BBH Labs, sxsw

    So in 10 days we’ll be relocating the BBH Labs experience to Austin, Tx for the annual geek jamboree that is the South by SouthWest Interactive festival. I last attended three years ago, when I was an earnest book publisher and before advertising folk had descended in force and totally harshed the vibe, man.

    This year I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of likeminds and seeing where, if anywhere, the paradigm has shifted and intend to follow @katylindemann‘s guidance of not going to see anything I already know anything about already, which makes for a pretty packed itinerary.

    Given that the web based scheduler is, imho, ‘not very fun to use’ it might be that twitter or sitby.us prove to be more useful discovery tools for the good stuff, providing of course that wifi and/or 3G are in operation. We’ve hacked together a rough list (with agile development and rapid iterations built in!) using the web interface, the recently launched official app, an old fashioned contacts book (yes, friends and family are represented at SXSW) and have uploaded it to sitby.us where you can find it here.

    Ping us if we’ve missed anything vital, if you want to hang out and, most importantly, to let me know where I should go for breakfast tacos now that Las Manitas has closed down!

    See you there.

  • The Joy of SXSW

    26th March 10

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in awesomeness, interactive

    This post is adapted from an article written for Campaign magazine (25.03.10), available online at campaignlive.co.uk next week.

    SXSW banners outside Austin's conference centre (image by Ben Shaw)

    SXSW banners outside Austin's conference centre (image by Ben Shaw)

    South by Southwest, or SXSW as it likes to be referred to, has celebrated emerging film and music for over two decades, but 2010 was the year the Interactive component of the conference shifted up a gear and gained critical mass. Last week around 15,000 people descended on the city of Austin in Texas for 5 days of neck-deep immersion in progressive digital culture.

    Despite its mind-blowing scale, a few key themes emerged for us from SXSWi’s smorgasbord of panels and presentations. Read full post