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Reasons to be Creative

Take some time out to read the first in our two-part review of the ‘Reasons to be Creative’ design event hosted in London on Friday 28th February 2014. One of our senior front end developers, Chris Williams attended with our designer, Lauren Kelly and what follows is his ‘techy’ commentary. Lauren’s article (from a design standpoint) will follow shortly.

Jake Archibald aka @jaffathecake, JavaScript guru and Developer Advocate for Google Chrome, was the first of the speakers to present. His talk involved lots of audience participation revolving around the different behaviours of the four main browsers; Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. The main focus concentrated on how the different browsers pre-parse and parse HTML in order to determine which files should be downloaded. This was of particular interest to anyone building responsive websites, as he highlighted several gotchas and quirks that could effectively mean increased download times and bandwidth usage for mobile devices.

Karsten Schmidt’s presentation, entitled “Coded Language”, explored the ideas of language usage through the medium of code. Karsten delved into the basis and origins of language; where at its core, it is used to convey thoughts and ideas. He made an important point, the more complex the language, the more the translations of those thoughts and ideas can be lost within the translation. He noted that coding was a humbling experience because if anything was wrong with the program, it was invariably his own fault. His felt it was his failure -he had in some way, failed to convey his thoughts and intent to the machine - which had no pre-conceptions or ability to misinterpret his code.

Karsten went on to discuss his work, currently on display at the DevArt exhibition in the Barbican, London ( It is a collaborative experiment allowing people to propose and vote on structures that would be built each day on a 3D printer – to be then installed and displayed in the exhibition along with the details of all those who collaborated. He asserted that this was based on his principles of natural processes as well as being open-source.

Jon Howards’ experience with the CBBC and CBeebies brands has shown that internet-capable devices are everywhere, and their use is expanding at an incredible rate. It has also shown that children have more access to those devices and are willing to use those devices to attain a more interactive experience. This was backed up by an experiment CBBC ran with a fully interactive TV series (Ludus: It demonstrated a 50% uptake in users compared to a maximum of 5% uptake from more mature audiences on shows like The X-Factor.

The BBC also embraces a fully iterative development process, with very regular testing and feedback sessions with their target audiences. This has enabled them to define a full set of parameters for their games and interactive elements which not only provides the best interactive experience possible to their target audience but also to inject learning into them without losing interest. Success in this area can be seen with their most recent App (CBeebies Playtime App:, which hit the most-downloaded spot in all the app stores, where available.

Jon concluded that it is innovation that has kept the BBC at the forefront of entertainment, but that for such a large organisation this can be far more difficult to manage than smaller, leaner organisations.



Lauren Kelly



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