"Some of what you are about to hear might not be true - but it will be accurate" @tomux tells it like it is at Coding for Dummies #codefu

Thu Nov 11 13:58:58 +0000 2010

@BBHLabs BBH Labs

First things first, this post is going to out me. Despite working at a digital agency, one that calls itself a "social technology" company no less, I don't know a whole lot about coding. In fact until last Thursday's Internet Week event Coding for Dummies hosted by BBH Labs and Google, I didn't know my <p> tag from my padding. Luckily for me, it turns out I'm not alone...


Internet Week Europe

Last week marked London's first Internet Week Europe. It was a week filled with inspiring talks, creative showcases, and good old networking. Attending all the events scheduled for the five-day festival would have been a coup for anyone, but they'd probably have gone a little mad. As Katy said to me on the final day, by which time we'd both probably attended at least a handful of events, it was time for Offline Week!
Jokes apart, I wanted to chronicle the events I went to, so that I could put down the truly inspiring bits.

Facebook domination in 2 moves

There's a bit in the original film Karate Kid, when Daniel, almost crippled by blows to his leg, assumes the iconic Crane Kick stance and kicks his opponents chin in and knocks him out cold. Brilliant. 

That's basically what Facebook's could do to Google in two really sweet moves. Admittedly, performing those two moves could take a couple of years to pull off, but bear with me for a moment.


Freedom, the press, and freedom of the press

RTS, Belgrade

I recently attended an ICA debate called Paywalls, Ebooks and the Death of Print. It wasn’t so much a debate about whether print was dying, but a discussion about how the institution of news could be saved, and who should save it.

The usual suspects here are industry, technology and philanthropy. But on this occasion, panelist André Schiffrin brought another contender to the table: government. Whoah now. Government?


Design for swarmability

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.


Our new experiment – signals

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?