Introducing "Meanwhile"

June 25, 2012

I came to my Branding Farm internship an expert coffee-cooker. I had a degree in paper shuffling. I could color-code filing cabinets. I was more than ready to be abused and disrespected. Then the bossmen had the audacity to gather us interns and ask us to do something meaningful. Can you believe that? I wanted to be an office slave, dammit!

So, to spite the tyrants, we punched out an awesome little project called Meanwhile so that we could get all get back to our comfy little spreadsheets.

The team:

Olly Jones, development intern. A code-crunching prodigy with a stunning ability to make strange sounds with his mouth.

Haley Weisberger, design intern. Typography maven and voice of reason.

Dennis Keen, copywriting intern. Yours truly. Widely despised.

The task:

Put our heads together and make something neat.

The idea:

It was really just a kernel, grown from a recurring thought. When I would finish reading my latest U.S. News and World Report every week (fantastic mag, btw, paper is the future), I would find myself reflecting not just on what I had read, but on what I had not read. Why did they stop covering the Haiti story? Whatever happened to those protests in Greece? I understood perfectly well why the coverage had disappeared. My precious newsmagazines had only so much real estate, and new developments inevitably pushed out older stories that seemed less relevant.  But where could I turn for answers? God knows I wasn't going to slog through a wikipedia article.

So what I dreamt of was a place to catch up, a place where you could follow the history of a current event and track its forgotten progress. I brought the idea to the team, and they agreed that it fit the task. It sounded neat. We set out to make it alive.

From inception to prototype, it took us four months. Olly was the workhorse, chugging data and spitting out html. Haley put out some pretty designs fast, sent them to Olly, and let him do his magic. I sought out those forgotten stories and did the research. Every week, we'd roll our office chairs to a neutral territory and plot out our plans, or we'd sit on the patio and hash out our troubles. There were days when I longed for the internships of yore, when all I wanted to do was shine some shoes. But slowly it grew on me. I liked this whole creativity thing. It felt good to dream something and see it made real. Maybe that's what this whole business is about, I thought.
What we came up with, in the end, was not all we had hoped for. It was not a full-fledged resource or research tool, but a prototype. That was not the point, though. In the name of interns everywhere, we had made something we were proud of.
Dennis Keen
Dennis Keen
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