A trip on the East London Line with Made by Many
This afternoon, digital product and service design agency Made By Many took LBB, Internet Week-goers and a number of confused looking commuters on a Journey Through the Connected World.
The journey involved five people giving quick-fire speeches aboard an East London Line overground train as it trundled from stop-to-stop. Talks began as doors shut at each stop and ended as they re-opened – a sot of on-board PechaKucha.
First up was Made by Many co-founder Tim Malbon, whose ‘wild card talk’ wasn't so much a talk but an Instagram task. Having a Blackberry and the imminent lack of apps that go with it, I couldn't participate, but he set listeners a number of online games that involved history, art and even ‘lazer cats’. Yep, we were tasked with documenting our journey using only ‘ginger lazer cats’… you tell me.
Creators of Echolocator, Jason Clarke and Pedr Browne, then took us through their iOS app. Echolocator invoves the recording of seven different music artists busking on and around London’s Regent Canal between Angel and Broadway Market. App users have to travel to seven locations along a map route to access each piece of footage to unlock that and another record. The result is a full 14-track album. Of the journey, Clarke said: “Each performance is of its time. Kind of like a low-tech version of augmented reality.”
Taking us further into London’s East End was Contagious magazine’s Dan Southern. He opened by declaring his love for the East London Line. It makes commuters look up at the world around them, he explained, before launching into his talk on geolocation. Swedish agency Forsman and Bodenfors created an app for Gothenborg’s tramline to encourage tourists to use its services instead of expensive tour operators. The result was an app that was downloaded an incredible 10000 times in its first week of release (most apps are downloaded 1000 in a whole lifetime). I then learned of the genius invention of Dominic Wilcox – the creator of the ‘No Place Like Home’ shoes. I need to get me some of these for after a heavy night out – a dapper pair of Wizard of Oz-inspired brogues that direct you home using neon lights and GPS – though not until you've given your heels a good flick, of course.
Collyn Ahart, brand strategist to clients that include Rapha, BskyB and Royal Mail stood next to share her thoughts on the social role of brands and products. She declared that “social Media isn’t social” and “social campaigns generally have nothing to say”. However, Ahart believes that some brands use social media as a fantastic tool – almost an addition to the brand rather than a tool for campaigning. It was likened it to her favourite social product – the friendship bracelet. “The friendship is not about the brand, but the brand should be very proud to be a part of the friendship.”
Finally, things took a turn for the strange. Literature enthusiast and digital consultant Tim Wright demonstrated how old stories can be taken for a ride, using the help of modern day technology. Reading a twist-laden story as we neared our final destination of Forest Hill, he appeared in two places at once, checking in on Foursquare. He dramtically declared that the box he was holding could be full of toxins. A doppelganger of Wright, sat on a station platform, later revealed that the box contained pickles. Said man mysteriously collapsed as we pulled away. Eventually, we were invited to alight the train to be greeted by another accomplice carrying yet another box. It was filled with suspicious looking bottles that were declared potentially life saving if we drank it. But not before we had exchanged it for a witness statement that “could prove useful should we become hard to find”. Was it a life saving antidote? Was it a deadly liquid that will strike me down before the night is over? Heck, was it some tonic water injected with food colouring? Let’s just hope I make it back into work tomorrow…
Marking one of Internet Week Europe’s more quirky events, the train journey through London’s East End was a bonding experience for the motley crew attendees. And in that respect it certainty was a ‘connected’ journey.