Every story has a beginning

From the beginning of time — sitting around the campfire or from a grandparent to a child — people have told stories to share what matters. What we brought home from the hunt to the cave. What we’ve learned. Who we are.

We still tell stories. They’re how a CEO explains her business. How a nonprofit raises awareness around a cause. How an eighth grader shares what she learned last summer. And for the first time, one story, told by one person, can quickly spread to persuade or inspire millions of people.

But it’s hard to show a great story. You have to be a writer, artist, photographer, video editor, animator, musician, audio editor — and you have to have a lot of time.

What if there was a better way? We could break down storytelling into little building blocks for people to have fun playing, experimenting, and iterating with. We could let people use the most familiar storytelling tool — their voice — to make their message personal. And we could take care of production details to let people focus on what matters: their story.

And then everyone could show the stories that matter to them.

That’s the story we hope to tell, starting today. Meet Adobe Voice.
We can’t wait to see the amazing stories you tell.

Learn From the Birds

The New York Times profiled a fascinating study on animal intelligence that reveals lessons for human learning. This is how we learn.

Scientists have discovered that crows can learn abstract concepts — and apply them to solve new problems that young children can’t. Their experiments also highlight one factor that determined whether or not the animals could learn: immediate visible feedback. Human brains might not be bird brains, but it’s a great reminder to consider how important real-time feedback is to learning, interaction design, and play.

In the experiments, the scientists put floating food into thin tubes of water, at a level too low for the crows to reach. But then the birds learned to drop sinking stones into the tubes of water until they could raise the water level to get the food. In other words, the crows learned the concept of fluid displacement — and then applied it in a new way to get tasty treats. It’s an understanding of cause-and-effect that rivals that of 5-7 year old humans.

But when the scientists covered up part of the tubes so the birds couldn’t see them, they didn’t learn. They needed to see the intermediate impact of their actions before they could learn the new, abstract concept.

Watch a kid grin as they push a Matchbox car down a ramp, topple over a line of dominos, or solve a wooden puzzle for the first time. Seeing the instantaneous results of their actions, they learn the rules of complex systems effortlessly. And it explains the immediate understanding the most well-designed apps offer us: effective interactive transitions, like a nuanced page flip, give real-time feedback on the results of our actions.

Video games are maybe unmatched in teaching us new interactions quickly: compare the immediate feedback in any successful game’s walkthrough to a passive lecture. As the creator of the hit game Plants vs. Zombies advised designers, “Once they see the results of their action, that’s often all it takes for them to understand that action.” It’s a familiar idea to the bird researchers. Do something. See what changed. Learn. Driven by fast feedback loops, games win.

So if you’re a designer, product builder, or educator, you have one more reason to insist on delivering fast feedback to your users or students: intermediate feedback that people can see drives learning. It’s a lesson that’s not just for the birds.

Play time begins.

A good life can involve many things. Like connection, success, learning, and joy. And it’s no coincidence that great products and the best design aspire to enable the same things — at their finest, they work to make our lives better.

Where else do we find these things?

Seeing kids playing in the sandbox, building their castles and fortresses with their hands, and building whole new worlds with their minds. We see success, connection, learning, and joy whenever we see play.

Psychologists have long recognized how critical play is to human development. Play teaches creativity, structure, adaptability, sociability, and critical thinking. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who pioneered modern thinking in childhood development, studied it to defy the then accepted view that children are constrained to fixed stages of development. He found that a child’s ability could be expanded through interaction and play with others. And, especially, “In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.”

Play allows us to become better versions of ourselves.

This is a blog about creating great things. It reflects how playfulness — and the adaptability, motivation, empathy, and new thinking that brings — can help people design and build better products. It’s about how we can bring play to build our worlds better.

So let’s get our toes in the sand. We’re gonna make some fun.