The Humanoids Who Killed Don Draper

Don

I should introduce myself. My name is Marc and I began to work for Codegram at the end of 2011. In these two and a half wonderful years I’ve gained (so it seems) their trust and I became something like their marketer.

We decided to diversify the content of our blog a bit, so here it goes something about (my) sector and how it affects to (your) sector.

As you’ll be able to read between lines, I'm quite a fan of the AMC’s series, Mad Men. All advertising students (just as me) should take their time and watch this series very carefully, so they’ll discover what are not going to live in their future professions. In that golden era, there was a clear and visible way for you and your company to have success. You just needed a magical mind to create catchy ads (an spanish Don Draper) and advertisers came alone, everything was fine.

I remember with special affection a scene of the first episode of the first season. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean, the one where Don sells the slogan "It's Toasted" to our friends from Lucky Strike. Now this appears to us an atrocity, but by then, the advertisers were able to convince an entire health system to sign a paper certifying that Lucky Strike was good for your throat (I’m not dreaming this up, really happened this way, as it is). So, a compelling guy and a slogan, and the work was done. No matter if your product was good or bad, indifferent or mortal, it was going to sell by the divine grace that enveloped the entire sector. If you are curious about which was the original Lucky ad -not fictional-, you can find it at this link.

But then, the storm approached. Just when our colleagues were beginning to enjoy cigars, “carajillos” first thing in the morning and the rockstars’ way of life, the advertising world changed, it seems that forever.

The Mad Men lived with 4ps marketing strategies. Don’t be scared, I know your teachers still teaching it at the college and they say that's what it takes now, but it really doesn’t matter too much if you remember them. Even then, the "P" key was the Promotion. Now this "P" so magnificent and omnipresent in the past, it has been deflated, it has lost magic. Consumers have asked the sector for a divorce from promotions. They have awakened from their slumber and realized that they deserve something better.

Don’t get it wrong, I’m not blaming the customers and clients of this change, they just woke for our fault. We became them into cynical machines with our overdone promises that were less realistic than the poor man who tried to fly by jumping from the Eiffel Tower. The changes in communication, such as reducing the relative distances between people (see I speak of people as potential customers), have also had their share of blame.

However, the change in capital letters has been Internet, which includes websites like social networks, driven by user-generated comments. These users have changed from a passive to an active role, where every of your actions has a major impact on your brand image.

If I had to define the current situation in one sentence, it would be something like this: “Customers don't give importance to what you can say about your brand unless it matches the brand experience they, their friends or any trustworthy person have had with it”. In fact, the will rather believe the opinion of a blogger, a total stranger, than your company's communication strategy.

At this point, you may be wondering what’s the relation of all of that with a technological company. This situation leads to an evolution from the 4p’s to a stage of three factors that will decide if your message is going to be trusted or used as toilet paper:

  • Humanoids employees (using a futuristic approach): The importance of people who "humanize" your business and interact with customers, either directly or indirectly.
  • Humanoids relatives (futuristic, yeah): Those people who your customers know, listen and trust in their personal life.
  • Humanoids from the Internet (I know I'm tiresome): People who develop their opinions on Internet communities. Remember, your customers hear and trust their points of view.

The world is a bad place, full of twists and turns. I know it's scary to go out there, I understand.

But guys/girls, this is our world, a world where the people, my dear humanoids, are the only ones who say something about our brand or company. It is a grim and scary place for marketing professionals. Advertising has less credibility than a "0% fat" slogan in a McDonald's' commercial. However, no matter how hard we mourn and cry at every corner of our offices, it’s the world where all companies must operate, without crossing the line. They'll be watching. If you fail, not even the best product implementation in the world could save you. You will lose their support, and, with it, the chances of creating a successful company.

I find ironic how this state of terror has changed hands. The customers are no longer afraid or seduced, deceived and/or cajoled by vendors with questionable morals, this is no longer working. The brands, if they aren’t dumb as a post, are the ones who live now terrified by customers. Hey, and with good reasons. The trends leaded by humanoids are dangerous up to unsuspected and sometimes curious levels -more if we continue with the mentality of "let's change something and see what happens, probably end up going well."

Well, before you call me a heretic and come to my house with pitchforks, stakes and torches, here comes the good news: we have a chance to change and improve.

Just be sure that humanoids are saying nice things about you, because bad ones spread out, at least, as fast. Remember that they are very dangerous:

They killed Don Draper.

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FutureJS - the future happens on May 2014

FutureJS

As you already know, we are the people behind the amazing Barcelona Ruby Conference, with two very successful editions so far (2012 and 2013), and yet one more coming this September.

What started as an exploratory concept -- building a conference -- soon began to be a very serious commitment for us. We never had had so much fun before hanging out with all the people at BaRuCo and building an intellectually challenging, safe, fun space for both attendees and speakers.

But waiting a whole year between BaRuCo editions wasn't fair to the great people we had met nor to us. So we decided to run a second conference every year, this time focused on the front-end and its future.

And so FutureJS was born. A new conference focused on the future of JavaScript on the browser, fresh ideas and what's to come next. And it's happening on the 1st-3rd May this year in Barcelona. As we did with BaRuCo, we took special care in crafting an amazing speakers roster, and introduced a few new ideas as well -- hands-on workshops where you get first hand experience on bleeding-edge topics such as WebGL, HTML5 games, single-page apps, ClojureScript, browser performance... you name it.

We are so excited about this event that we think you will be too. After already selling out the first batch, we just opened our second batch today, as well as student tickets. Go get yours while they're hot! :)

Also, Barcelona in May is GORGEOUS. Gorgeous enough that I'll fly all the way from Berlin. So there's that.

See you all there :)

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Reviewing Pull Requests from Vim with vim-codereview

For quite some time I've been frustrated with much code reviews interferred with my normal workflow. Whereas I usually do everything from the terminal and Vim, in order to review my peers' code I had to open the URL in a browser, use a web interface and even use the mouse at times.

Once I was looking for a way to improve this, and I found a nice Vim plug-in called patchreview. It was good to review patch files, but that was definitely not convenient for GitHub Pull Requests.

So I went on and spent a few Fridays building a plug-in for this: vim-codereview, and oh what a delight! It uses the patchreview plug-in to do all the diff heavy lifting, and it interfaces nicely with GitHub.

What you can do with it is essentially reviewing the code in a nice vimdiff-like interface, commenting on a whole Pull Request and commenting on specific parts of the diff.

I set up a brief demo screencast for you to see how to use it :)

Happy reviewing!

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RailsGirls: A Summer of Codes

If you haven't heard about the RailsGirls Summer of Code, you're missing out big time! At Codegram we are very committed to the RailsGirls movement, and not only we sponsored the first RailsGirls workshop in Barcelona very recently (in the context of the Barcelona Ruby Conference), but we sponsored the Summer of Code as well.

The RailsGirls Summer of Code is an amazing 3-month project where women from all over the world work full-time on Open Source projects. And we're so proud to support it!

What I'm most excited about is that Dirkjan Bussink (from Rubinius fame) and I are mentoring one of the projects. The amazing and hard-working Nicole Felhösi and Laura Wadden are creating their own programming language (Lani) on the Rubinius VM and writing a tutorial about it. They even have a blog and a twitter account where they share their day-to-day experiences.

To help them with the project we meet once a week in the SoundCloud offices, where they work from. I'm also very happy to have met the SoundCloud folks, who have been very committed to the Summer of Code since the beginning, not only with their sponsorship but with lots of resources and enthusiasm as well.

In conclusion, we're really happy to be part of this. The summer might be over, but the RailsGirls Summer of Code will continue to make the tech world shine a bit longer!

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Distributed Codegram: New Horizons

New horizons

Codegram has changed a lot in the past 10 months.

The team has grown from six to nine people, so we moved to a bigger office in Terrassa. We also established a partnership with El Cocu, an awesome music and video production team, who now work at our office. They are the folks behind Barcelona Ruby Conference's awesome trailer!

Speaking of which, we have also been really busy preparing a truly awesome Barcelona Ruby Conference for this September. Check it out if you haven't yet.

One of the coolest changes though is that we are now present not only in Barcelona, but in Berlin as well. Last year I moved to this great German city! Berlin is home to many new tech startups, and it's attracting more and more talent from all around the world. Personally, I also think it is the best city to live in Europe, but that's just my opinion :)

Expanding to Berlin allowed us to be able to work with some of the coolest names in the startup scene. I had a great time working for half a year on Wunderlist 2 by the lovely folks at 6Wunderkinder, many of which are almost like a second family to me. We helped build the new API currently serving 6 different platforms. Early this year we moved on to a new project at Wimdu, where I'm having a lot of fun as well. In a city like Berlin, who knows what's next?

If you're in Berlin and you haven't met me yet, come say hi! You'll find me at the local Ruby user group, struggling between parentheses at random Clojure meetups, or just hanging out among friends and beers at the Landwehrkanal.

And if you couldn't make it to the inauguration of our new office in Terrassa last month, check out our flickr album about it! :)

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