As some of you know, we’ve been working with Skype on Skype in the classroom, a community for teachers and educators, for a few months now. In the time since it was launched formally in April, it has grown by leaps and bounds: we now have more than 16,500 teachers who are collaborating on more than 900 projects across the globe.

Yesterday, we released the most recent set of new features to the service, which we are very excited about.


5050 - Project Update

Well, we're about half-way and we've got over 30 projects - with more coming forward every day, and now starting to launch 'live', public sites.

Please have a look through the SlideShare deck below. Check out the projects from individuals and companies all over the world. We still need 17 projects (and we're obviously not going to suddenly stop at 50). The hard work of raising a million quid starts in just over two weeks...


Customer development is *not* a substitute for creativity

A while ago, Nicki was preparing a presentation for SheSays and she asked me for my take on where good ideas come from.

Tough one to answer given there is never going to be one right answer to this question (how boring would it be if there was?) but I replied:
Working with potential users introduces an element of chaos into the creative process. By bringing in this foreign element you set the scene for serendipitous discovery.
Lately this has been bothering me. Very few people seem to see customer development as an approach which can fuel creativity and good thinking. In fact, worryingly, some even view it as a replacement for these vital elements in the product development process.
I have a hypothesis that people who do this are focused on solutions not problems.

We should all do a start-up project and change the world

A wonderful debate is raging. Can agencies make stuff? Stuff like products and services, that is, instead of ads. Or put another way, as London-based freelance mobile UX designer Murat put it:

“Do clients and agencies want to keep creating branded fluff or do they want to build temples?
Murat wrote this on his personal blog, Mobile Inc, and the title of his post was actually, “Can The Next Instagram/Hipstamatic/Klout/Angry Birds Be Born Within An Agency?
It's an interesting question, kind of.
I'm sure it's *possible* that the next smash-hit social platform or game might come out of an agency, but don't hold your breath. Perhaps we should set our sights a little lower? Do we really need to create the next blockbuster success to feel the undoubted benefits of making? Going straight in at number one all feels a bit, well... 'advertising'. 
Making something - anything - together, that’s not for a client and not an ad, but is meaningful, playful, useful, fun... well, that’s what we’re really talking about isn’t it?

Shameless SXSW PanelPicker Voting Request

I'm not going to beat around the bush pretending that I'm just telling you about some talks.


Honestly, I'd really like it if lots of people voted for these two panels that I'm hoping to be part of March at SXSW Interactive 2012. They're both really fascinating and relevant topics and both should appeal to a broad spectrum of people who are interested in making more successful and engaging digital products, services and experiences.

Do read on...