The Roundup #3 — Way Overdue edition

Greetings from Jam3. And welcome to another Roundup, our occasional collection of a few interesting things we’ve found lying around the internet recently.

We haven’t been able to put this out in a really long time because, well, it’s been busy around here.

Like, really busy.

Apologies for the delay, but we’re going to try like hell to get back on track for more regular publication.

Given the long delay, we decided to focus on stuff we’ve all been hearing about for a while, but seems, finally, to be rearing its head in the public arena. It’s an overdue piece about overdue things. So meta.

People of earth, please put your hands together for the Way Overdue edition.

An overnight sensation, 50 years in the making

To the uninitiated, it can sometimes feel like a buzzword that came out of nowhere, but Computer Vision, the field dealing with getting computers to “see” pictures and video, has actually been percolating for at least 50 years. (See? Overdue!)

The latest offering from Google’s Nat and Friends takes a look at this history, noting that various projects have actually already had a profound effect on our lives, by way of everything from bar code scanning and fingerprint recognition to advanced VR and AR.

But if all that stuff’s been around for a while, it’s only quite recently that we’ve started embracing the larger Computer Vision umbrella moniker by name. Which is kinda funny, because “Computer Vision” sounds like…well, like a name somebody came up with 50 years ago.

Anyway, watch the video. It’s pretty rudimentary, but then that’s kind of the point.

Update: at I/O, Google has just announced Google Lens, which basically puts an AR layer on the whole world.

“Mobile first” is finally here. Just in time to rethink it.

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of a startup you might have heard of, arguably kicked off the era of “mobile first” when he famously declared:

Mobile first in everything. Mobile first in terms of applications. Mobile first in terms of the way people use things.

In 2010, Schmidt’s call-to-arms inspired lots of clients to include the words “mobile first” in their briefs. Almost a decade later, it’s starting to look like a lot of them are actually starting to mean it. Hey, it’s about time, right? Overdue, even?

Maybe. But maybe not. “Mobile first” is a great mantra, but mantras can paint you into unexpected corners.

This last observation seems to be at the heart of “Mobile First, Desktop Worst”, a solid rant by Metalab Creative Director Oliver Brooks.

I’ve got your mobile strategy right here.

Whether or not you agree with everything he says — and boy, there’s a lot — it’s hard to argue with much of his analysis, and especially his closing statement:

This isn’t about Mobile First, or Desktop First. This is about putting Function First and allowing form to follow.

We’d make that our mantra, but weren’t you listening to what we just finished saying about mantras?

Bonus content: Brooks references an amazing article called The Web’s Grain by the always-interesting Frank Chimero. Get at it.

Speaking of mobile…

It seems Google is developing a brand new, from-the-ground-up mobile OS codenamed Fuchsia (because after years of research, they couldn’t find a harder color to spell).

Details are pretty vague so far, but FreeCodeCamp speculates that one key consideration for the update is that Android wasn’t built for VR/AR, whereas Magenta, as an all-new OS, can basically start there.

Speculating whether the color fuchsia will be cool in 2020.

There’s no development or release timeline yet, but based on past history, ArsTechnica guesses a consumer version might be ready by 2020. Which means it makes sense to put this, preemptively, on many peoples’ Long Overdue list right now.

Advertising is (still) dead. Or dying. Or alive and well.

To close things out, here’s a pretty nice rant from Colleen DeCourcy, global CCO of Wieden+Kennedy.

Entitled “How to Catch Lightning in a Bottle” and first delivered at the AD+D Festival late in April, it asks some tough questions of advertising and about how to do great work in this ongoing era of mutating media landscapes, shrinking budgets, and lately, the shift from external agencies to in-house teams (something the folks at Pepsi may be soul-searching about as they cut another instalment cheque to Kendall Jenner).

Consider the perils of in-house agencies

Considering De Courcy was presenting to a bunch of advertisers at one of the industry’s biggest events, her talk didn’t exactly start out as the feel-good story of the year:

For 15 years we’ve been talking about the disruption of the advertising industry, but I’ve never felt it more than I feel it today. I look at a lot of the work here and I feel like we’ve become confused about what the job is.

We’ll leave the full ins and outs of lightning and bottle logistics to the full talk, but here’s the jist:

Powerful creative ideas that change hearts and businesses require a leap. They require a leap in the minds of their makers, who make connections that no one else thought to make, and, crucially, they require a leap from the marketers who back them. Not blind, not reckless, not uninformed, but a leap nonetheless — a willingness to recognize that creative breakthroughs often seem improbable, until they become inevitable.

This formulation makes good sense in today’s climate for two reasons: first, it acknowledges that doing great work doesn’t simply mean doing crazy/unexpected/expensive shit.

Second, it means working closely with clients to figure out what’s really, really going to help drive the results they want — and then working really hard to get there, with the shared understanding that it might explode, or it might fizzle, all the while understanding that this is the risk of working in popular culture.

Co-creation with clients is not a completely new idea — it’s the central tenet of service design — but it’s been undervalued and underexploited in the hat-and-rabbit world of advertising.

Give DeCourcy full credit for expressing it so forcefully to a huge room full of peers, many or even most of whom definitely didn’t want to hear it.

Way overdue.

Parting shot…

Where has this little gem been hiding all our lives, and how did we live without it?


The Roundup was compiled by @jam3 Creative Director Greg Bolton (with a big assist from Annie Bedard). Opinions are his alone. Heart it if you heart it, friends.