This week’s pick of the top digital stories, as selected for you by the beady-eyed Brasscals. Read on for Vint Cerf, ZX Spectrum, descriptive cameras, online display and Spotify in the rich list, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments bit at the bottom.
Paul Mallett, Managing Partner
This week saw Vint Cerf inducted into the Internet Society’s Hall of Fame. No great surprises, but I think, really timely.
The technology news agenda is becoming increasingly dominated by patent squabbles and the consumer version of the internet by Apple’s proprietary walled garden.
None of this was ever meant to be.
What always appealed to me (and the rest of the world) about the internet was its freedom, its lack of walls, its built in democracy. It enabled anyone, anywhere, to have a voice, a point of view. It enabled anyone to be a star, a revolutionary, a diplomat, a journalist. And it did this by being free and open.
Vint Cerf was one of the chief protagonists of this viewpoint. He and his colleagues were born from US counterculture and, funded by the military and the space race, invented a new age, equal in importance to the industrial revolution and the ability to replicate words through printing.
And they always said it should be open and free. As Vint himself said:
“We said we’re not going to patent it, we’re not going to control it. We’re going to release it to the world as soon as it’s available, which we did.”
This spirit lives on in the Open Source world of Linux and Android, but is being continually eroded by the closed systems of Apple and the patent squabbles of the tech giants.
Me, I prefer the world of Vint – the Godfather of Cerfing (I’ll get my coat)
Andrew Brown, Creative Director
The ZX Spectrum was the most important home computer ever made. After two years of prodding the touch-insensitive keys of the black and white, low res 1k ZX81, the Spectrum exploded into our homes with seven colours, one channel of sound, 16k of memory and a high resolution 256×192 pixel screen. It. Was. Awesome.
It’s often cited that the importance of these Sinclair machines was that they taught a whole generation to code. By sitting for hours inputting line after line from magazines we learned BASIC and grew up with a grounding in the principals of computer logic. But what really distinguished the Spectrum from its nuts and bolts predecessor wasn’t the code we created ourselves. With the Spectrum we had our first taste of APPS. And APPS have tended to be the killer reason every other home computer innovation has survived or failed ever since.
Ask people to talk about ZX81 games and they might cite 3D Monster Maze and maybe a couple of others. Ask people about Spectrum games and you’ll be lucky to get away as aficionados wax lyrical about Jet-Pac, Ant Attack, Manic Miner and countless other games which were bought on cassette tapes and loaded by audio into the machine.The App(lication) was born, came of age and grew up fast on the Spectrum. Small companies like the critically acclaimed “Ultimate” (from Twycross in Leicestershire) made small fortunes and grew into big companies. Ultimate later became Rare which in turn became part of Microsoft Studios and currently release games such as Kinect Sports.
Alongside the big hitters, public domain software grew, as tapes with games programmed by school children were copied on double cassette recorders and passed hand to hand in the playground.
The internet, social media and smartphones have each brought a new wave in casual games and, 30 years after twelve year old boys first took over the world, we can now say – everyone’s a gamer.
Leah Kayles, Social Media Editor
News this week that the creator of Spotify has entered the Sunday Times Rich List.
With a personal fortune of £190 million, Daniel Ek takes joint 10th place with Sir Mick Jagger. At the age of just 29, the Swedish entrepreneur has managed to achieve in a few short years the same position as it took the Rolling Stone until the age of 68 and is now worth as much as the Beckhams.
What’s most interesting about this story though is that, despite being valued at £1.2 billion, Spotify has yet to turn a profit.
Set up by Ek in 2006, Spotify has concentrated on building up its three million paying subscribers and a catalogue of tracks that it would take more than 80 years of continuous listening to get through. The site’s success looks set to continue following its integration with Facebook and launch in the US last year. So it surely won’t be long until Spotify is turning an impressive profit to match its estimated worth of £1.2 billion.
Ally Manock, Head of Digital Strategy, Planning and Insight
It’s not really. It’s just evolving. A recent AdAge article said that display ads’ days are numbered because everyone’s attention is switching to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
The very clever boys at RAAK don’t think online display’s days are numbered and neither do I. RAAK point to this article, which argues that, because of the blurring between ad units and shared content on these platforms, it will require a shift in skills towards ‘content’. Today’s online media planners and buyers will have to have a nose for a story and a finger on the pulse of what’s going down on social platforms.
Sally Barr, Online PR and Social Media Manager
Matt Richardson has created a camera for part of his course at New York University that, instead of taking a photo, gives you a text description of the image. He uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (if you haven’t heard of it, check it out), which is a service that pays real (yes, real) humans to do tasks that machines cannot do.
Talking to the BBC, Richardson said “I was picturing a time in which cameras could possibly capture more useful information that can then be searched, cross-referenced and sorted.”
image credit: Вени Марковски Veni Markovski