I saw Mark Earls talk at Planningness in Brooklyn: How to understand and create social influence, and since then I have found myself thinking a lot about the video of the dancing man at the Sasquatch Music Festival that he showed us.
Mark's talk was about Social Learning. The basic premise, people learn through observation - a phenomenon he was able to demonstrate with an eager audience. Mark has described this type of open social 'copying' at a group level as:
The engine by which stuff gets pulled through populations, from technology to health habits
And the point he makes about the Sasquatch dancing man is how it's NOT about the intervention of influencers, but rather it's about everyone reacting to the growing crowd in a kind of cascade. The video made me think more about the way we should try and design social spaces to be more open - possibly open enough to allow people to lose themselves in the crowd. It seems to me that being able to lose even a little a bit of your 'self' within a semi-chaotic social experience is a type of primal joy that everyone - everyone except the lone nut - enjoys.
Back in the summer when we were shaping our new site, we talked a lot about openness and collaboration. Agencies tend to be fairly private about the work they want to do and the things they think are interesting. To a point, this makes sense, but it can also be a bit of a curse: by keeping discussion in house, you miss out on hearing what other people think and learning from their experiences.
So we figured... why not use the new site as an opportunity to turn this old model around?
I recently wrote a post about HTML 5 and whether it was ready to use -- surmising that it certainly was and that we in fact built our new site using HTML 5 and associated technologies. When using the latest development techniques you still have to take into account older browsers, making sure that your code works in an acceptable manner for all of your target audience.
There are two common practices when trying to achieve this: graceful degradation and progressive enhancement:-
Trends research and consultancy company PSFK has a huge audience: 800, 000 readers a month, and growing considerably since their launch as a blog in 2004. Their consultancy business is on the rise too. They bring out reports on issues of the moment periodically; their most recent one was inspired by a conversation with UNICEF on challenges in health, which served as the creative brief and focussed on the Future of Health.
In a world where publishing attracts more attention than it used to before, I thought it would be interesting to have a quick chat with Piers Fawkes, one of the founders of PSFK, to get his thoughts on publishing in a Web 2.0 world, and what he thought was the business model of the future. By his own admission, he's minced no words in saying what he thinks, reflecting his stand as someone with a strong point of view on the topic of publishing today, being so involved in it himself. Here goes:
Our friends at Mint Digital hosted an entertaining evening at Conway Hall last Thursday with some super smart folks talking about the phenomenon of the second screen and its relationship with TV viewing: 2Screen - Make an event out of TV.
Illustration credit: "Split Attention", Dar Freeland, http://www.faceupstudio.com/blahg/
Last weekend, buried and long forgotten at the back of a very dusty drawer, I found a piece of my design history. A collection of sketches from my first job, including the sketches from the first project I ever worked on. I'm not sure how they've managed to survive this long (10 years seems like a long time for an ultimately highly disposable stack of layout paper) but looking through them I was struck by how much the way I work has changed since my first job. Every project still starts off with pen and paper, but there the similarity almost stops.
Whatever people say it is, gameification isn't about games.
Mind you, enough people are saying it's not about games already. So I'll tell you what gameification is about, and it's called community building.
Amy Jo Kim wrote Community Building on the Web a good few years ago. Enough time has passed for those lessons to have been incorporated into a lot of the more successful websites of the last boom, and clearly enough time has passed for those lessons to have been forgotten.
Now that everyone is on Twitter and Facebook, we've forgotten how to build communities on our own. We've out-sourced authentication to anyone with a big enough social graph, and in doing so most websites now import your friends into their service, losing the knowledge of why people visit and why they tell their friends.
At the Nesta Serious Games conference the other morning, Anjali and I listened to Mary Matthews from Blitz Games and Alex Fleetwood from Hide & Seek discuss the application of games that make a difference. Her post, The business of games is an excellent read that covers pretty much everything that happened, so here's my take on the idea of serious games and the rising requirement for everything to be playfully interactive.
Philippe Le Hegaret, an official with the World Wide Web Consortiumn (W3C) responsible for SVG and HTML specifications, has told InfoWorld:
The problem we’re facing right now is there is already a lot of excitement for HTML 5, but it’s a little too early to deploy it because we’re running into interoperability issues
Apparently the crux of the issue is getting HTML 5 to behave the same in different browsers and using different video devices. Now forgive me if I’m wrong but hasn’t that always been the case with HTML?! He goes on to say that the HTML 5 specification may not be "feature-complete" until mid 2011.
This morning, Duncan and I went to ‘Serious Games’, a talk at NESTA about how games can create lasting change in fields such as education and collaborative problem solving. Mary Matthews from Blitz Games and Alex Fleetwood from Hide & Seek presented their views on the subject (in short, Mary’s central thesis was that all games should have a purpose, and that they should be part of a larger plan in order to create impact, and Alex spoke about the increasing prevalence of pointsification and badgification as distinct from the much-discussed concept of gamification; more about that on the Hide & Seek blog here).
The NESTA site already has an excellent collection of resources that were mentioned or discussed at the event, for those who are interested, so I’m not going to re-cap the event per se. I’d like to focus instead on a few key things that I got to thinking about afterwards: