• Working Out How The Internet Works

    On: April 13, 2016
    In: design, media, rivetings, technology
    Views: 2722
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    I did a wee talk at the fabulous IAM 2016 conference in Barcelona. In it’s second year, and conceived and run by Andres & Lucy of Wabisabi Lab, it’s the kind of weird experimental conference that London was great at a few years back, but seems less so, now, I think?  Something something gentrification something something.

    (actually, maybe that’s another blog post for another day – the lack of joy in NeuLondon, in all forms of work and play)

    I spoke about Metamechanics, and working out how the internet works. Or, indeed, not, because that isn’t the point.

    There will be a video some time soon I believe, and at the time, I did a simultaneous Periscope of it (but ‘you had to be there’ as they say, given how Periscope streams expire after 24 hours or something…)

    ….but until then here are the slides, and two pics Scott sent me afterwards where it looks like I’m showing people who big the internet a) was and b) is now.

    JVW at IAM16 - 1 JVW at IAM16 - 2 Read More
  • Computer, remember this…

    On: January 26, 2015
    In: making, media, technology
    Views: 3052
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    I’ve been retelling an anecdote from IBM’s speech-to-text experiments recently, and couldn’t remember where I’d got it… and indeed, I couldn’t remember if it was even true, as happens when you retell teh same story again and again…

    Searching for combinations of things like “speech-recognition”, “IBM”, “faked test” and so on wasn’t getting me anywhere. But I’ve finally found a source: Jeremy Clark’s Pretotyping@Work eBook.

    I’m posting the main bit of the anecdote here for two reasons. Firstly, I think you might find it interesting, and perhaps useful. Secondly, now that I’ve put it on my own site, using the aforementioned search terms which are the ones I clearly use to look for it, I’ll find it easier to find in future, hopefully…

    “In the 1980’s, IBM was in discussions with several important customers about a radical product idea: hardware and software that could turn spoken words into a text on a screen. The fundamentals of the technology were still years away, yet customers seemed very enthusiastic: many declared they would pay generously for such a solution.
    Traditionally, IBM would have launched an R&D effort to develop the algorithms and electronics necessary to demonstrate a prototype. In the case of the Speech-To-Text idea, however, a team member had an intriguing alternative suggestion: they should pretend to have the solution, to see how customers actually reacted to the capability.
    What the team did was to create a movie-set like testing lab, in the form of a typical office space of the day. Customer subjects would be briefed on the Speech-to-Text solution, then seated in the space. The subject would speak into a microphone, dictating a variety of office correspondence, and would almost immediately see their words appear on the screen on the desk in front of them. What the subjects didn’t know was that the electronic output was being produced by a typist in a nearby room, listening to the dictation through headphones.
    What the IBM team learned was that, in practice, customers didn’t like the solution, not because of flaws in the product (the transcribed text) but because of a host of hitherto-unseen environmental challenges: speaking taxed the subject’s throat, there was concern for privacy surrounding confidential material that the speaker would not
    wish to be overhead, and so on.
    Actual exposure to the essence of the proposed solution completely reversed the earlier customer enthusiasm.”

     

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  • What It Takes

    On: January 23, 2015
    In: making, media, work
    Views: 1818
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    I’m hooked on the new Sleater-Kinney album, “No Cities To Love”. If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably guessed that this week. Sorry. You’ve probably unfollowed me already.

    I’m calling it as the album of 2015. Already. Really.

    I mean, listen to this:

    Or this:

    I started wondering why this album has made such a deep impact on me, like no other has in years. This is a band who’ve not done anything for ten years, but who I loved and followed back then. But it’s not a nostalgia thing. Because they’ve not done that terrible thing of playing 157 gigs playing ‘the hits’, before going in to the studio to strangle their muse one last time.

    If you watch this interview (and you should, the whole thing), you’ll get an idea of the craft, dedication and vision that they put into the process of making this album:

    They started it in May 2012… that’s nearly three years ago. They canned loads of earlier songs… they just weren’t good enough. It’s almost as if the process of going through those songs were more about discovering how to work, rather than being about the work itself. They didn’t tell people. It was so secret that the first anyone really knew about it was when a track was released in the box set remasters of previous albums in October 2014. That’s two and a half years of quiet, committed, focussed creation.

    It seems quite counter to how a lot of records, no, a lot of projects of any type, are created now. Maybe this is what it takes in some cases. There’s no one right way to make the best work. There’s just the best way for you.

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  • Crowdfunded Media Buying

    On: October 15, 2014
    In: media
    Views: 1276
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    This is fascinating, from change.org… sign a campaign, then you’re asked if you want to donate money to place an ad to show to it to more people (and a very specific amount of people) who might also then sign it.

    How long until there’s a “design your ad” feature on there too?

     

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  • Flow Engines vs. Fracking

    On: September 30, 2014
    In: artefactcards, design, making, marketing, media, work
    Views: 2324
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    I ran an innovation session yesterday for The Network One, to a group of owners and CEOs of various nimble, independent agencies. I was going to just explore some of the ideas in Fracking The Social Web, but given it was an afternoon session I tried something new.

    (Also, as a rule of thumb, just talking in an afternoon slot isn’t as good as getting people to do things. I can’t remember where I first heard this theory, but it’s always worked for me. Mornings are for heads, afternoons are for hands.)

    By using the Flow Engine approach to set up ‘different ways of working’, and using Artefact Cards as went, we moved through three steps.

    Firstly, I asked people to write on a card the biggest issue for them in bridging the gap between traditional marketing structures and the more fluid, granular approach needed for working on the social web. In their groups, they then shared these in the centre of the table; some would be similar, some different, but what was interesting was the conversation betwen the teams about the different issues.

    Secondly, we then used the Fracking themes to think about why agencies need to work differently; as I went through the themes and examples, the participants in groups would be noting down things on cards (either direct points, or ideas set-off by the thinking), so that in small groups they could start addressing the points in the centre of the table, building out a map of the territory.

    Finally, I asked people to looking at the map and just write down a final card for themselves on what they would change tomorrow when they got back to the office, taking inspiration from the map they’d created together.

    The slides are up here, so you can get an idea of the session. In hindsight, I think I tried to do slightly too much in the allocated time, it’d have been nicer to have some extra reflection time.  Apart from that though, it seemed to work pretty well – thanks to everyone there for throwing themselves in, and thanks again to Paul, Victoria and Doug from The Network One.

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