“I don’t have to know anything about technology because I know that whatever I think up there’s always someone who can build it.”
I’ve heard this statement, or a variation thereof, proffered by copywriters, art directors and creative directors. And it’s true. Chances are that no matter what you conceive – experience, installation, interactive film, video game, touch-screen, augmented reality – there is a team of developers somewhere who can bring it to life.
There’s just one problem. Without some knowledge of technology, social media, API’s, HTML5, LBS, etc. you probably won’t think up the very coolest of ideas.
The last time someone shared this sentiment with me I agreed, as I always do, but then asked a series of simple questions. Holding up as an example Google’s Arcade Fire video, Wilderness Downtown, I asked if he could have thought that up. I showed him Breakfast’s Instaprint and asked the same question. Ditto as I reminded him of Wieden and Kennedy’s Old Spice Twitter campaign, Garmin’s Garmin Connect and Mr. Youth’s spinoff action platform Crowdtap.
I don’t have to tell you what the answers were.
But if we believe that storytelling has changed, that agencies need to build things and create utility, yet that it still takes creativity to distinguish the best ideas from the also rans, then all writers, art directors and creative directors need at least a cursory knowledge of today’s digital technology and all that it enables.
Shit, they might even have to learn something about data, at least the personal kind that inspires the likes of Garmin Connect.
You don’t need to take a lesson in writing code. But you may want to make friends with the nerds and learn a little bit about what they can do before you bring them your next ad like object and ask them to make something digital out of it.