Making Things: Just Because

Ben Eckerson, Former Senior Digital Strategist

Article Category: #Strategy

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One of the topics I heard discussed a lot in digital agency circles this year was "making things." It’s ambiguous, vague even, and yet I find it oddly inspiring — like a random chant from college freshmen.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some talented folks over the years, and I’ve helped make a lot of “things.” From silly audio recordings or quirky videos to crazy online ideas. Some things were for clients, other things were just for folks inside the company, and then there were the things “just because.” A nebulous phrase just got more equivocal — “Make things just because.”

As questionable as that sounds, so many of the projects that were “made just because” are the ones I’m proudest of. I think all too often we try to draw meaning and purpose in these made things — What is the point of this? — yet we all can point to things we enjoy (or this) that have no real purpose.

Sure — you could pretend we are in a ninth grade creative writing class and paint a metaphor as to what the cats bouncing about the browser represent (again here), but someone made it just because.

So why make things (just because)?

Is it about the end product? About the process — the adventure along the way? About the team coming together — camaraderie? The curiosity? Or for your own personal satisfaction?

Yes to all of the above.

It's the "just because" projects that allow you to further stretch your imagination, take greater risks, and bring together a group of people who are really excited about an idea. These are the aspects that you constantly learn from on any given project — and some of the biggest factors that drive innovation. More importantly perhaps, they are what make a project memorable.

One of the things that drew me to Viget earlier this year was the concept of Pointless Corp., Viget's approach to supporting internal projects that are fun and/or useful, giving us a chance to experiment and learn in ways we can't always do with client projects.

In our latest Pointless project, we’ve learned quite a bit (that I’m certain we’ll share later) about Arduino, LAME, node.js, and of course the importance of caffeine — it’s not all technical. It’s about a passion to pull something off, to make something — together.

We made Jinglebots because we were curious about the technology, excited to work as a team on the idea, and hopeful that the wider community would have as much fun with it as we have.

But also "just because.”


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