Welcome to this week’s pick of the top digital stories that have got us talking here at Brass, including the father of the C64, Jack Tramiel, a deeper kind of social networking from Cowbird, the Spotify Play button, Facebook’s Groups for Schools and Google Maps for zombies…
Simon Marshall, Digital Account Director
I remember when MySpace was popular (yes, I’m that old) and it was commonplace to be able to add music tracks to pages to share your, often terrible, music taste with unsuspecting visitors. Well now you can do the same (almost) with Spotify play lists, thanks to a handy iframe embed feature on their developer pages. It’s not that straightforward (nothing ever is) because you need a Spotify account to listen to the tracks. Clicking the link launches Spotify if you have it installed or asks you to download if not; a clear move to get new users to sign up.
Whilst the customisation isn’t very flexible (you get a few size and two colour options) you can embed a link to any play list or song you want, as long as it’s in Spotify’s ever growing database (10,000 songs a day are added). So what are you waiting for? Share those new loves and old embarrassments… your blog will never have sounded so good.
Here’s our (very random) Brass play list… Hey don’t blame me, I just work here.
Leah Kayles, Social Media Editor
Now I’m as much of a fan of Facebook and Twitter as the next woman, and when Pinterest first caught my eye, I pinned like crazy for at least a week. But then the novelty wore off. Am I looking for something with a little more substance? Something that offers more than a fleeting moment of Pinning, Tweeting or updating a status? Perhaps.
And so a story in the Metro about storytelling social network Cowbird caught my eye as I travelled to work this morning. Cowbird creator Jonathan Harris is trying to “build a community that is dedicated to a deeper, slower, longer-lasting kind of self-expression than you’re going to find anywhere else on the web”.
Stories are submitted with pictures (but not videos, as these defeat the object of using the imagination and drawing your own individual conclusions from stories) and can be as short as three words and as long as you like, but the ‘sweet spot’, as Harris puts it, is two to three paragraphs long.
Looking at a couple of the stories made me feel something that Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook certainly don’t. They give you a much more meaningful insight into the human condition than someone Pinning a picture of flowery wallpaper or linking to a funny cat video does, that’s for sure. But it won’t be for everyone, as it requires time, thought and effort to get involved, which is pretty much the opposite of how microblogging sites such as Twitter work, where it’s all about the speedy sharing of quick links and easy access to information.
It’s a bit like food: sometimes you want a quick and easy snack that you know won’t fill you for long, but hits the spot for now, other times you want a nutritious and well-prepared meal that might take a bit more effort, but will be much more satisfying in the long run.
And that’s the beauty of the internet of course: there’s room for both the fast fix of Pinterest et al and the more satisfying slow burn of a site like Cowbird.
I’ve requested an invite, now it’s just a case of finding something meaningful to say. Eek.
Alex Heaton, Senior Digital Account Manager
If you ever played 1942, Gauntlet, Ghostbusters, Ghosts and Goblins, GI Joe, Winter Games, Summer Games or Street Fighter you’ll have fond memories of the Commodore 64.
This week sadly sees the death of Jack Tramiel, the father of the C64, as it was affectionately called. So it’s perhaps fitting that we spend a few moments thinking about the amazing C64: a machine that changed the computing landscape.
Commodore made its first computer, the VIC 20, in 1977, the same year Apple introduced the Apple II. Mr Tramiel had already established his firm’s focus on low prices and the VIC 20 became the first PC to sell more than a million units.
The Commodore 64 followed with more memory than the competition, colour graphics, and an aggressively low price point. It was an instant hit and went on to sell an estimated 17 million units worldwide.
Unlike the Apple II and other PC rivals, it could be be plugged into a television, making it a viable alternative to a video games console for many. Classic titles such as International Karate, Ghosts n’ Goblins and Commando ensured the Commodore 64’s place in gaming legend.
“Jack Tramiel is really the man who brought the average person into the computer industry,” Michael Malone, a Silicon Valley historian and author told the LA Times
“Everyone remembers Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple, but in those early years the war hadn’t been won yet by anybody.”
“You basically had Apple first, then you had Commodore, Atari and later IBM. And for the first five years of the personal computer industry – 1976 to ’81- it was a crapshoot as to who was going to win.”
Jack Tramiel, 83, died of heart failure on Sunday.
Sally Barr, Online PR and Social Media Manager
It seems that Facebook is throwing itself back to the good ol’ days of its launch in 2004 by providing colleges and universities with specific private communities. Groups for Schools will only be accessible by those with an active email address associated with a educational institution.
It will allow members to chat, create smaller campus specific groups and share files up to 25MB. Still exclusive to the US, it will be rolled out worldwide in the not too distant future.
This may provide a large proportion of Facebook’s members with a real need to log on to Facebook everyday if schools/colleges/unis start to use the groups as an essential part of course admin. While Facebook groups could always be used by institutions, these new specific groups could allow more tailored functionality which could in turn replace the intranet system that many UK universities use for sharing internal news.
Claire Stanley, Online Media Director
Now, I’m not a fan of zombie movies. I find them a little dull and samey, albeit apart from Shaun of the Dead, but I’m sure some people would argue whilst brilliant, that’s not a proper zombie movie.
I digress, my belief in zombies ever roaming the world has been, and still is, non existent. However, should they appear, and you find yourself cowering in the corner of a deserted street with many burnt out cars nearby, (always apparent in zombie films) help is now at hand!
Digital agency Doejo has pepared us for such an apocalypse with a ‘map of the dead’, which shows, via a creative use of Google Maps, where our nearest Tescos, radio towers and all-important gun stores are.
Phew, thanks Doejo, we can all feel much safer and well prepped now, should our dead friends decide to try and eat our brains.