Monday, 19 November 2012

Tweet, tweet, I'm hungry

While feeding birds pork fat through the winter in Latvia, Valdemars Dudums decided to have a little fun. The fat was carefully arranged onto a keyboard which allowed the birds to construct tweets on Twitter. The account @hungry_birds has over 10,000 followers. Additionally, a live webcam was set up to prove it really was the birds constructing the tweets. On an average day the birds produce 150 tweets.

It might sound like a silly concept, but isn't their a lot of nonsense on twitter? Personally, I'd rather read a tweet that is made by some cute birds eating pig fat, than about what some random person is eating today.

Watch the tweeting birds here:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A love letter from a stranger

Sometimes you just feel in need for some positive attention. And sometimes it doesn't even matter if it is from a close friend or someone you barely even know. It could be a hug, a compliment, a pat or some kind words to hearten someone. Wouldn't it be great to receive warm hearted words at a moment and in a way when you least expect it. Hannah Brencher is such a person that believes in the power of pen and paper, and has started a global initiative that encourages strangers to exchange love letters.

More love Letters

Hannah Brechner has always loved that her family communicates via handwritten letters. In October of 2010, she began writing love letters intended for strangers and tucking them away in libraries and cafes across New York City, for people to randomly discover. Soon, she offered on her blog to write a letter to anyone who needed one. Over the next year, she mailed out more than 400 hand-penned letters. Today she runs The World Needs More Love Letters, a letter exchange dedicated to connecting strangers across the globe through the art of letter writing.

Old-fashioned loveIn addition, Brencher works as a copywriter and creative consultant, helping brands inject human touches into their communications plans. This way she responds to the trend 'Random act of kindness' that describes our need for qualitative attention for eachother and giving and receiving pure old-fashioned love being more important than ever, since we live in a world where we don't often relax and where we focus on likes & status instead of quality of life.

Watch Hannah Brechner perform a TEDtalk about her initiative here:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

4 steps & 8 tips to make a qualitative app for children

How do you make a good childrens app? That's the question with which I went to Amsterdam with Thursday, October the 25th. Cinekid and Mijn Kind Online were organizing an expert session about apps for children in the 'KunstENhuis' in Amsterdam. There is a steady increase of children who use mobile applications. How can we encourage the potential and the opportunities of mobile apps for kids in a positive way?

Step 1 The Objective

Eline Kwantes from Dromenkroon speaks of the different steps you need to take to develop an app. Eline showed us  an example of an app she's developing right now, with the KidsVitaal foundation. 'An app always starts with a goal', says Eline Kwantes, 'the goal of the app we are working on is: awareness and behavioral change among children in terms of a healthy lifestyle. 

Stap 2 The idea

A logical way to achieve a healthier lifestyle among children would be banning advertisements of fast food restaurants like MacDonalds or candy manufacturers like Haribo. The commercials of such brands are always very well conceived. But wouldn't it be nice if, instead of prohibiting the fast food commercials, we could make an even better commercial to acclaim healthy food? Wouldn't it be nice to bring vegetables to the attention in a very positive way!


The app 'Groentemans', which basically means greengrocer, that Eline Kwantes is developing with the KidsVitaal Foundation, is based on the children's book ˜De Buitengewone Opmerkelijke Dagboeken van Gregor Groentestein", which means; The extraordinary remarkable journals of Gregor Groentestein". A book about a boy inventor and that transforms his vegetables into living friends.

Stap 3 The budget

Holland is a small country with a grant culture which allows us to realize great initiatives. However, with a small amount of money we can also achieve great things if we use our creative minds. With a limited budget we look for creative solutions that help us to realize great ideas.The app 'Groentenmans' has been lucky enough to have found a great sponsor: The 'Fiep Westendorp Foundation'.

Stap 4 The Strategy

When developing the app Eline Kwantes has worked together with several parties. But the main party is of course the children themselves. The foundation Kids Vitaal visited a group of children and asked them the question: How can we make vegetables exciting? Without telling the children that they already had designed some of the concepts for the app, including a variety of funny characters around the different vegetables, the children started drawing their first ideas.

Miss & Mr. Carrot

The ideas of the children confirmed the suspicions of KidsVitaal and the designs they were working on. Almost all the children had come up with characters like Miss and Mr. Wortel, baby sprouts and so on. Eline says that, by involving the children, she got the right insights to know how to make vegetables as exciting as possible for children. Also she learned that she has to take into account that it is important to ask the same amount of boys as girls about how to make vegetables exciting, because they have very different ideas. 'If you want to reach both girls and boys you do have to take them both into account', says Eline Kwantes. 

Creation, experience, implementation

It is clear that the app must focus on humour, because a serious story about eating vegetables is something no child would want to read. The app should be fun to play with and it should remain challenging. This way children are more concerned with vegetables in their heads and they will think of vegetables in a more positive way. The app 'Groentenmans' starts with the creation: the children can customize a vegetable of their choice. After that a bit experience is added: you can bring your vegetable to life and check out what it does. What it does depends on the accessories you put on your vegetable character. The third aspect of the app is the implementation: here you can read recipies you can cook with the different vegetables. This way KidsVitaal hopes that children will also use the app in the kitchen to cook healthy meals.

Tips in a row

1. Always start with the formulation of an objective.
2. When you focus on humour a usually boring topics (like vegetables) a lot more fun
3. Always involve your target group in developing your app
4. Be creative with the budget you have at your disposal
5. Use the knowledge and expertise of your partners
6. Don't immediately show your own ideas to the target group. First ask them how they would approach the target. 
7. Think of the target group beyond just children and a certain age. There is a huge difference in interests between boys and girls.
Always inform the parents so they what the app is about and what their children can do with it. This way you create awareness and parents can stimulate their kids to use the app. 

Originally I wrote this blog for Jong & Je Wil Wat, I translated it especially for this blog.