A review of 2013 projects – part 1

Well, wouldn’t you know it, it’s time to review the three Smithery Projects for 2013; to explore audio by creating a regular podcast, to create 40 or so quick videos to explore new forms of sharing ideas, and to create a platform through which people could share Artefact Cards.

These aren’t, of course, client projects per se (though they proved to be very useful for such), but areas for exploration all centred around one theme, which in the case of 2013 was Media.

Let’s just look back on the premise, and then address the projects specifically in a second post (which I’ll put up shortly).


To set out my stall, I used the following three defining metaphors of media, and throughout 2013 and they proved very useful in harness together to frame ideas…

Media is the Connective Tissue of Society” – Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, 2010

Media is a Vehicle for Knowledge” – Cesar Hidalgo, MIT Media Lab, 2011

Now, nothing is all-digital any more than it’s all-physical.  Media is hybrid, just like buildings, devices, spaces, events etc.  Dan Hill, 2012


Taken together, they helped form a rough approximation in my head of what I was creating with various projects that I’d undertaken during the year, where I would think of media as:

Connective Objects
Transfer Knowledge
Time and Space

I talked about this at Playful in October 2013:

To paraphrase TS Eliot, “the past will be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past”.

There is no order; the only constant is the reordering.

All the media created around something (a project, a brand, an ideology) is in an unending state of interplay and interaction, so much so that it becomes of paramount importance to capture as much of what happens as ably as you can.

The point of this year’s projects were, of course, to start capturing things around projects in different ways – here’s how I laid it out in the setup in January:

“…as device storage gets bigger, broadband, wi-fi and mobile signal gets faster, and the costs gets lower, the capacity is there for richer forms of media to be shared with increasing regularity.

So I’ve been wondering if there’s going to be a new phase in the creation of audio & video by  people who’ve been taught that media doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be up.  You can worry about making it great later.”

Two things stick out here.

Firstly, by ‘richer forms of media’ (specifically video) I think we’ve seen a big shift this year into video – from Instagram Video as a response to Vine as a way to share quick videos through your mobile, to the news that 40% of YouTube traffic now comes from mobile devices.  People are watching, and creating, a lot more video all the time.

More and more great programmes and apps for doing this are emerging weekly; my personal recently favourite is Diptic Video, which lets you take videos from your phone, and mix them together in a fifteen second clip, over a song that you also pull from your phone… here’s a recent one I did in the middle of Helsinki:

All in all, there is a lot more media around, pushed by our innate creativity into the space the technological advancement continues to open up.

Secondly, by using the principle that it “doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be up”, we can work out what is appropriate afterwards by working off the inbuilt feedback loops of internet things.

We’re really good at being able to what’s working, and adjust.  Data is really useful as telemetry, rather than a predictive or creative force.  But we don’t get any of that goodness if we don’t get things out there, exposed to the wide world.

Not only is there a lot more media around, but we’re in a place where we do not, and perhaps cannot, know what is going to work (if in fact we ever did).  So we must set things free and see what happens.

Mike Krieger of Instagram had a delightful phrase for it a few years ago – “A day in the wild is worth a month of guessing”.

On that note, continue reading with Part 2, about how the three 2013 projects fared when let loose in the wild…



One response to “A review of 2013 projects – part 1”

  1. Not heard of Diptic Video… Thanks for the intro…
    Look forward to part 2