Rich Liferay Applications using Backbone.js and Jersey (Part 2)


In part 1 of this series, we described how Veriday builds rich Liferay portlets using Backbone.js. If you missed the first part or are unsure how to integrate Backbone.js into your Liferay then it will be helpful to read Part 1 first.The approach we describe in part 2 allows your team to be highly efficient and iterative by nature while building Liferay portlets (or any web-based software in general). On Digital Agent, we break our teams into groups of 2-3 developers. Usually the ratio of front-end to back-end is 1:1, but in some cases it could also go to 2:1, depending on complexity.

How does this approach improve our team’s agility and efficiency?

This approach will allow both front-end developers and back-end developers to proceed with their work in parallel with zero time wasted waiting on each other to finish their portion.  This allows the other developer to begin working on their section.

JSON as an interface

This requirement is important because it allows the whole team to proceed with their work and tackle each challenge in the most productive way, rather than stitching some scaffolding for the purposes of the development team being able to build.

The first step is for the team to agree on the JSON contract between the front-end team and the back-end team. Here we answer questions such as: 1) what data is needed for this interface and 2) what should the data look like? We always start with what the end product of the front-end experience should be and then work on how to get that data returned in the format that the JSON contract specified.

The Backbone Model & Collection

Below is a code snippet from one of a Backbone model for a “Store”.

define([.. ],
     var Store = BaseModel.extend({
         urlRoot: "/stores/",
         getOwner: function(){
               return this.get("owner");

From the above model we can see that the end point for this model is “/stores”. The corresponding stores collection is:

        var Stores = Backbone.Collection.extend({
            model: Store,
            urlRoot: "/stores/",
            initialize: function() { ...

The Jersey End Point

The corresponding collection for stores also has the same endpoint “stores”.

    public class StoreWebservice {
        @Resource(name = "storeService")
        private StoreService storeService;
        @PreAuthorize("hasRole('Store Owner')")
        public List<StoreDto> get(@Context SecurityContext context) {
            List<StoreDto> result = getStoreService().getAllStores();
            return result;

The Jersey web service above defines the corresponding “/stores” endpoint that our Backbone.js model and collections points at. You can also see that the StoreWebservice has access to a “storeService”. This is where different business services can be injected into our JSON API. These other services can also be Liferay services, if needed. A typical pattern we use is to not directly call Liferay services from our web services. We typically wrap Liferay services within our own utility service to ensure Liferay service calls are contained instead of being present all over your application. We also follow this pattern in the front-end where we wrap Liferay Javascript methods with our own JavaScript utility object that contains these calls.

The list of “StoreDTO” that is returned is basically the POJO representation of the Backbone.js model Store.js we showed above.  The JSON object behind Store.js and what represents is your “JSON as an interface” contract that our front-end and back-end developers agree on before proceeding.

So, how does this increase team productivity?

At this point, our application is nicely broken up into layers in which people can work in without having to wait for others to complete their section. After agreeing on the JSON interface, a typical sprint will progress where the developers working on the back-end can proceed with implementing the new services and data access methods that will extract the required data. The front-end developers will proceed with creating the Backbone.js models, collections (ex. Store.js and Stores.js), Jersey Webservice (ex. Stojrewebservice) and the Java DTOs (ex. The front-end developers will even stub out the different methods of the Jersey Webservice, even just hardcode a valid response.

 @PreAuthorize("hasRole('Store Owner')")
 public List<StoreDto> get(@Context SecurityContext context) {
     List<StoreDto> result = new ArrayList<StoreDto>();
     StoreDto store1 = new StoreDto();
     store1.setName("My Store");
     store1.setAddress("5450 Explorer Drive, Mississauga");
     store1.setHours("8am-5pm every day except weekends");
     StoreDto store2 = new StoreDto();
     store2.setName("New Store");
     store2.setAddress("100 Main Street West, Hamilton");


     return result;

At this point, our team can proceed with building out their own areas of the application with little dependency on each other’s components, early in on the sprint.  We push the integration towards the end of the 2 week sprint where we now have iterated a few times over the front-end and back-end and have ironed out any unforeseen challenges. At this point, what is left is for our developers is to wire up the methods that the front-end team defined, in their Jersey classes, to the actual business services that were implemented.

The approach is not perfect but it definetely helps productivity from day 1. The approach allows us to have developers who are passionate about the front-end focus on the front-end, and those who love working on the back-end focus on the back-end. Even our full stack developers can take full advantage of this approach.

Being able to build applications in this style is also a testament to Liferay’s flexibility. Don’t be afraid to bring your own experience to your Liferay stack!

4 Secrets to Writing Effective Value Propositions for Financial Advisors


As both a marketing and sales professional, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to create and articulate in my career has been either my own personal or my company’s value proposition. It’s definitely not a feat to be underestimated and it is something that is often over engineered to a point that can be confusing to some readers. I reviewed many value propositions for financial advisors and provided advice and consulting to a number of advisors looking for more differentiation.

Typically, the value proposition lives on the home page of a website, your Twitter profile, LinkedIN company page, your company’s brochure and practically anywhere where you expect to acquire exposure to an audience who knows nothing about who you are or what you do. The primary goal of your value proposition should be to convert your reader. What do I mean by convert? Well, it means converting your reader from being a complete stranger to someone who is willing to take another step towards trusting you and eventually spending money with you (which is the ultimate goal). This could involve clicking on something else on your website, flipping the page of your brochure, scrolling down the rest of your Twitter feed, or reading an article that you either shared or published. These are all considered conversions.

With that goal in mind, here are 4 common areas I tend to talk about surrounding value propositions for financial advisors at the point when advisors are either creating it or considering re-writing it.

Is it relevant to your target audience?

Many value propositions for financial advisors tend to have too much of a focus on the actual advisor or firm. It’s important to describe who you are and what you do, but realistically, that comes at a later step. Keeping in mind the goal of capturing and enticing the reader just enough to convert, the first few words of your value proposition should contain some information as to how you help your reader solve problems. It’s always good to remember that your business exists because it helps solve your clients’ problems. Some questions you can ask yourself to help get you thinking of a reader focused solution statement:

  • What are the top 3 problems you are helping your clients’ solve?
  • If you left your clients tomorrow and never replaced you, what would happen to them in a month, 6 months or a year?

How does your audience benefit from using your products or services?

Another key component to your value proposition should contain one or more key benefits that you provide. A lot of people writing their value proposition statements for the first time tend to fall into the trap of writing about features vs. benefits. For example, the statement, “We provide families with sustainable investment strategies” is a features statement. A “sustainable investment strategy” is a service or an offering. It’s not quite a benefit in the context of the example I provided. How about this one? “We help families achieve financial freedom”. This is clearly more in the direction of a benefits statement. “Financial freedom” isn’t something you can offer “out of the box” but you can implement specific strategies that can help families achieve that goal. One exercise I like to use with my clients to help them with a benefits statement is a fill in the blanks exercise:

  • Fill In The Blanks: The greatest challenge I solve for my clients is __________. By solving this challenge they can __________.

Tip: After writing a benefits statement, ask yourself the question “Why?” until you get to a point where the answer to the question becomes almost philosophical. Let’s take the previous example:

  1. We provide families with sustainable investment strategies. Why?
  2. So they can save enough money. Why?
  3. So they can achieve financial freedom. Why?
  4. So they can live without worrying about debt. Why?
  5. So they can live happily ever after. <– philosophical point of achievement!

Can your audience easily understand your communication style?

There’s many reasons to use common language in such a key part of your marketing material. For websites, using common language will help with your search engine results. Why? Because if you’re using language that your clients or your target audience don’t commonly use, chances are, they won’t be using that language to located your website. The reasons why you would use common language from a marketing and writing standpoint is very analogous. The system and combinations of words we use is how we communicate with other people within our circles of influence. Using words that are not typically in your audience’s vernacular can cause you to lose their attention.


As marketers, one key consideration of any attention grabbing content is our audience’s attention span which happens to be 8 seconds. Keeping your value proposition short and simple are key to a successful conversion.

If you’d like some feedback or help on your existing value proposition, drop me a line!

Question: What are some of the best or worst value propositions for financial advisors you’ve ever read online or seen in your daily life?



Responsive Website Design: You are losing business without it

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The game has changed. Consumers now expect their online experience to be consistent no matter what device they are on.

Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics. With the increasing amount of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it has become clear that responsive design is no longer a trend, but a must for any website.

Need reasons why responsive design is a wise investment for your business and all businesses, of any size, and any industry? Look no further…

Mobile Web Growth

The world is going mobile and so are our websites. Imagine if movies were only available in the dimensions they played in the theatre.  How would this affect your experience watching a movie at home?  The same can be said for a user accessing your website on their mobile if it is not responsive.

Worldwide, mobile traffic has doubled between 2012 and 2013.  Hubspot reports that in 2014, mobile devices will account for 25% of global Internet traffic and by 2015 mobile Internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage.  Not only are people using their mobile for social networking, checking and sending email, and surfing the website, they are also making purchases from their devices.  By 2016, revenue from mobile content is predicted to reach $65 billion.

Your website is likely receiving a high portion of mobile users and given it isn’t responsive, nor has a mobile version, that’s a lot of visitors who are receiving sub-optimal experiences.  According to Hubspot, if a user lands on your website on their mobile and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there is a 61% change they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor).

Mobile is growing and isn’t going to slow down any time soon.  If you don’t have a responsive website design, you are losing business to someone that does.

Recommended by Google

Google is the main search engine for many users, and has 92% market share in mobile search engine. Pierre Far, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced that Google recommends responsive web design as the primary mobile configuration. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to index and organize one version of the site (Hubspot, 2014).

If Google is recommending something that is sure to help with your SEO, I’d say it’s probably a wise idea to listen.

Increase sales with a better & faster user experience

An effortless online experience is key to a visitor coming back.  Responsive design allows your visitor to browse your website with ease placing emphasis on designing for the user.

Responsive website design provides users with a better and faster user experience. When a user has to wait for a page to load, there’s a high change they will leave your site before it opens on their mobile phones. Responsive design eliminates the need for site redirects, improving the overall speed of the site, allowing users to get their information quickly.

Responsive design removes some of the barriers that having multiple sites can present such as performance and consistent look and feel. It allows your website to adapt to the visitors’ screen automatically, presents your content in a user-friendly format and does a better job of converting visitors into customers.

Ready for current and future devices

A responsive website will automatically adapt no matter what new technology is thrown our way, whether it be a new screen size or new tablet dimension.

Responsive design is one of the most effective ways to ensure every visitor has the best possible user experience.  It offers visitors an optimized experience regardless of their choice of device.  If you don’t have a responsive website, you are losing business to someone that does.


It is still an emerging practice, so it’s natural that you may have some questions, and that’s what we are here for.  We are always happy to discuss, just drop us a line.

Has your website been converted to responsive design?  If you haven’t, what is holding you back?  If you have, have you seen benefits from the change?  We’d love to hear about your experience.

6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design Part 3: Not doing an audit of your existing site


Mistake #3 of Hubspot’s 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design is Not doing an audit of your existing site.

If you are redesigning your website, make sure you take the time to examine your current site to see what is working and what is not. If it’s working, keep doing it. If it’s not, this is your chance to figure out where the opportunities lie to help your site rank better in search engines.

There are many reasons why you would conduct an audit of your existing site. Maybe you are not getting as much traffic as you hoped for. Or, maybe you are getting traffic but visitors don’t seem to be engaged in what you’re selling them. Perhaps your website is old and neglected and you need to identify what pages need to be totally revamped, or removed. Regardless of why you are redesigning your website, a properly conducted audit will help you to identify what content delivers better results and what content may be hurting your website. The audit will help you to establish how popular your content is and if it is meeting your visitor’s expectations. For example, a high bounce rate or low time spent on a website might indicate that visitors aren’t engaged with your content, and leave your site right away.

Below are some key metrics you may want to consider when auditing your website:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time visitors spend on your site
  • How many new vs. returning visitors does the website achieve
  • Top performing keywords (in terms of rank, traffic, and lead generation)
  • Number of inbound linking domains
  • Total number of total pages indexed
  • Total number of pages that receive traffic
  • Top landing pages
  • Content review – do the main pages of the site have enough content? Which pages are receiving the most traffic? Which pages are visitors spending the most time on?

A website audit is the first step in the path to redesigning a website. This process will provide you with the insight and context you need to make informed design decisions. An audit is not necessarily about finding what is wrong with your site, but rather to find a list of things that can be changed to help make your site rank better in search engines.

Looking to redesign your website but aren’t sure where to start? That’s what we’re here for!


6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design Part 2: Not thinking about SEO from the start

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Let’s dig a little deeper into the first of Hubspot’s 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next (Re)Design. In case you missed it, here is a refresher on What is SEO and why do I need it? One of the biggest mistakes you can make during a website redesign is not thinking about SEO from the start. Many people treat SEO and web design as though they are two separate entities. But, every good developer knows that you must connect both, from the beginning, in order to create an effective website.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

SEO needs to be ingrained in your (re)design strategy from the very beginning. Throughout the process, keeping SEO in mind will allow you to create a site that meets your design and functionality needs, and also excels at SEO. A site designed with SEO in mind will be better indexed and ranked by search engines, which ultimately increases visitor traffic and revenue.

It is also important to understand who your clients and prospects are during the process because your website should be structured and written for them. Creating a website with your end users in mind, and combining web design practices with SEO practices will result in a win-win.

So, what aspects of my website should be developed with SEO in mind? The answer is simple. All aspects. The structure and design of your website, URL foundation, navigation structure, heading tags, the meta description, images, relevant keywords, organized and targeted content, internal and external links, social media integration…to name a few.

Many people are too focused on the look and design of their website.  This is important, but if you are not generating enough traffic to your site, then the design and usability doesn’t really matter much.  Don’t spend time and money to build a website that no one can find.

Still not sure whether the trials and tribulations of SEO are really worth it? Not sure how to infuse best SEO practices into your website (re)design? We’d love to help! Get in touch with us today!

The Healing Power of Coffee


We can debate the health merits of coffee and tea but there is no doubt that its availability and consumption is connected to employee satisfaction, culture and, to a lesser degree, performance. The office coffee ecosystem is simple and sometimes appears way too vital to the daily operation.

Like many companies we have a coffee service that keeps our shelves loaded and these days delivers almost every week. We have grown to trust that just as the boxes start to empty and all that remains is the decaf and green tea supply (no offense to those who subscribe to those flavours). The next day, our trusty coffee vendor will arrive with a fully loaded shipment to fill the shelves once again.

These routines for most of us are so entrenched that significant disruptions and distress is most noticeable when our coffee supplies are low, and we all forgot that Helen was on vacation. You see Helen has assumed the unofficial responsibility of coffee orderer for our office. Even though she is a talented developer and a very senior member of our team one of her most critical connections to our organization is the coffee monitoring work that she does. Our team unknowingly depends on her to keep a close watch on the coffee pod inventory so they can maintain their morning or hourly routines.

Active monitoring and business continuity planning are a key component of our service delivery model that we provide to our customers. We have actually developed the same technique to provide coffee in the event of us forgetting that Helen is away. You see we have a secret stash of coffee and generic pod system that provides 3 days emergency rations so we can survive while one of us manages to place an urgent order with our supplier. So, while not a perfect system, it preserves a critical piece of our operation.


Alternatives to SharePoint


Collaboration is key for any business or operation.  In order to run a business in today’s economy, there is a need for collaborative technology.  Collaborative technology is the foundation for aligning business goals with technology, in order to facilitate effective communication and improve productivity.

SharePoint is a collaboration suite used by many professional services and firms. It is a family of software products developed by Microsoft that allows businesses to store, access and share information among members of their organization.  Although SharePoint offers many robust collaboration features, it certainly isn’t the best fit for every business.

There are a number of Sharepoint alternatives in the market today with similar collaboration functionalities.   Which alternative you choose depends entirely on what tasks and objectives you are looking to accomplish with your collaborative platform.  Let’s take a look at some solutions for alternatives to Sharepoint:


Alfresco is a robust and scalable content management platform that is built on open source technology.  Alfresco is designed to enhance business’s productivity and workflow, by focusing on collaboration.   The solution encompasses similar functionality as SharePoint, but at a much lesser cost.  This free platform enables organizations to collaborate more effectively across cloud, mobile, and on-premise environments while also interacting with team members through Alfresco’s miniature social environment.  The platform makes communication among different organizations simple using message boards, individual and group calendars and more.  Alfresco offers mobile app integration, making it easy to edit projects from anywhere, at any time.


Liferay is the leading open source portal and social collaboration software.  When it comes to providing collaboration features to facilitate effective communication and improve productivity, Liferay is one of the leading technologies for businesses.  Liferay provides an easy-to-use interface that allows you to work collaboratively using the right tools for sharing knowledge and communicating.  With Liferay’s collaboration tools you are able to assign tasks, create meetings, share knowledge using built-in calendaring, task management, wikis, blogs and more. Unlike SharePoint, Liferay’s open source platform is built to ensure it can support and extend the application to grow with the business and brings collaboration into your daily routine without requiring extra steps.


Huddle is a cloud-based enterprise collaboration and content management platform, which allows people to connect, share and work together easily.  It is designed to enable people to collaborate in Huddle’s cloud via their Microsoft Office tools.  Users can save files into their Huddle workspaces directly from Microsoft Office applications, with a Huggle comment stream alongside it.  Huddle supports mobile applications and allows employees to track project deadlines and completed tasks, reassign projects, and easily manage and exchange information or projects with others.

Collaboration Solutions Software (IBM)

Collaboration Solutions (formerly Lotus Notes) is IBM’s flagship product for enterprise collaboration and can be used to collaborate internal and external information.  IBM’s online communication tool offers immediate online collaboration with colleagues by means of instant messaging, web conferencing, shared content libraries and social networking capabilities.

Google Apps

For smaller-scale organizations with multiple locations, Google is another free alternative to Sharepoint that provides many capabilities for collaborating.  Google Apps offer simple and efficient ways of collaborating, allowing businesses to organize day-to-day schedules, projects and files securely.  Google Apps allows employees to simultaneously and securely work on Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint.

There are hundreds of collaboration tools available in the market place.  It can be tough to determine which one is best for your particular needs. Choosing the best collaboration tool for your organization depends on your business goals and strategies.

Still not sure which solution is best for your business?  We can help to empower your organization to work better together by improving the way they collaborate and communicate. Contact us today to discover the untapped power of collaboration solutions.


10 Revealing Website and Social Media Statistics for Financial Advisors

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Are you still convinced that having a website or social media presence isn’t worth your time? Are you wondering whether your prospects interact with advisors, like yourself, on social sites?

Consumers are looking to make informed decisions, which means they are tapping into all resources available to them, most of which are online. Let’s face it. If you don’t have a website or social media, you’re losing business to someone that does. And here is the evidence. Below is a list of 10 revealing statistics that reiterate the importance of having an online presence.  These stats speak loudly to financial advisors and what their prospects are doing online:

  • Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. Each day, there are over 3.5 billion searches which translates to 1.2 trillion searches per year. (Internet Live Stats, 2014)
  • 89% of consumers conduct their product research using search engines. (PR Newsire, 2014)
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Search Engine Journal, 2014)
  • Nearly two in three of mass affluent consumers take action after using social media to discover and consider financial products and services. (The DigitalFA, 2014)
  • Two-thirds of millionaires surveyed said they would like to use electronic media with their advisors.  (The DigitalFA, 2014)
  • About 90 percent of mass affluent consumers use social media. Of that 90 percent, 44% engage with financial institutions on social media. (LinkedIn, 2013)
  • Companies that increase blogging from 3-5 times a month to 6-8 times a month almost double their leads. Companies that blog only 1-2 times a month generate 70% more leads than those that don’t blog at all. (Hubspot, 2012)
  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing. (Groove Digital Marketing, 2013)
  • Google says there are more searches on mobile than on desktop (Google, 2015)
  • Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Times, 2013)

It is important that Advisors continue to adapt to the needs of their prospects.  Don’t get left behind in the digital world. Get started on building an effective online presence today.


3 Reasons Advisors Need Calls to Action on Their Website


Having “calls-to-action” on a website is a way to increase the effectiveness of what your website can do for your business. Surprisingly, 70% of small business B2B websites lack a call to action (, August 2013). A call to action (CTA) is an instruction to your visitors to perform an immediate action. Some examples of a call to action could be:

  • Subscribing to an email newsletter or regular email communication
  • Scheduling an appointment or consultation
  • Downloading a whitepaper or some kind of content offer
  • Requesting a quote

Many beginner or novice marketers or sales people over look the importance of having a CTA and are thus achieve limited results with their digital properties. Not having a CTA on your website is analogous to ending a phone or face to face meeting with a prospect or client with no next step or follow on activity. Needless to say, it’s a critical component for every advisor’s website. Here are three key reasons on the “why”:

It helps to remove the “dead ends” from your website

When prospects visit your website for the very first time, there’s a high likelihood that they came to your website by entering a search term, such as your company name or perhaps some keywords that match an article or blog post that you wrote. If the content you’ve authored is useful and relevant, the visitor will take the time to read the content and learn from you. So far so good. Once the visitor has finished reading your content, they may have a desire to continue to engage with you, because, after all, the content was useful! Not having a call to action or a way for them to continue their journey with you will most likely cause them to leave. Pages on your site with a high number of hits and a high bounce rate is a good indicator of a dead end on your website. Avoid this trap by placing a call to action at the end of every one of your blog posts. If you’re not blogging yet, not only should you consider starting, simply place a call to action on each page of your website. It could be as easy as placing a small form to subscribe for updates.

Enhance your website’s user experience by using calls to action and remove those dead ends!

Provides visitors with a way to increase their level of engagement with you

If you’re an advisor who has built your practice from scratch or is in the process of growing your practice you’ll be familiar with the concept of a marketing and sales funnel. The marketing and sales funnel is a way to visualize what is effectively a qualification process that you follow to manage, strategize and execute against in order to generate new or repeat business. There are higher volumes of prospects at the top of the funnel than there are at the bottom of the funnel (hence the word “funnel”) and at each stage, different activities are used to manage a prospect from the top to the bottom and eventually a paying customer.

In a digital sense, your website, is one vehicle that can be used to qualify create separation between individuals who are just shopping around and individuals who have problems that need to be solved now. A technique commonly used amongst marketing professionals is the use of calls to action. A CTA can be used as a gateway to further qualify a lead. For example, when a new visitor comes to your website and signs up for updates they are starting a somewhat passive relationship with you. They want to learn more about what you have to say but they aren’t ready to speak with you directly. In this example, the visitor has separated themselves from those who are simply browsing your website. They aren’t a fully qualified lead just yet, but they have taken their level of engagement with you to another level by providing you with their email address (and possibly their first and last name).

Allows you to test the effectiveness of your content

We often hear advisors ask about whether their content is working or not. A big part of a successful digital marketing engine is, in fact, the data but this can be a time consuming task and many advisors are too busy to even write the content for their website and other digital properties. One way to test the effectiveness of one’s content is, you guessed it, the use of CTAs. We’ve all heard the term “Content is King”. Content is not only a way for advisors to connect with their prospects and clients, but it is also a way to establish trust and to demonstrate value. If your visitors find your content useful and educational, then it is logical to assume that they will want to continue to stay in touch with you and engage with you. As mentioned earlier in this post, using CTAs is a great way to provide that next step of engagement.

Just remember, useful content incentivizes higher levels of engagement which leads to increased trust and eventually revenue. Use CTAs to escalate engagement and measure the effectiveness of your content!

Do you have a question about content marketing? Still wondering how content can be used to generate leads for your business? I want to help. Get in touch with me using our contact form or simply email me directly!

The top 10 Innovations of all time


The means to make Fire

Let’s not kid ourselves. This is the big one. Without this, nothing. While not truly a human invention (more of a discovery) controlling fire is one of the cornerstones of what separated us from the animals. It lit our nights. It kept the predators away. It cooked our food, helped us cure meats, and kept us warm.

The Lever


“Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it”. One of the original ‘six simple machines’ as defined by the scientist of the Renaissance era.  The Egyptians were known to use it as far back as the 3rd century BC; often to move blocks weighing up to 100 tons.

The Plough


When humans made the big switch from hunter-gatherer to simple agriculture, the Plough lead the revolution. Well, when I say ‘lead’ what I really mean is followed…from behind an ox.



More than just an inspiration for a great song by Jethro Tull, bricks allowed humans to build. And build we did. The earliest known bricks have been found in the region of what is now Turkey, and have been dated to 7500 BC.  As you can see, each invention brings us closer to an ideal. Fire kept us warm, the Plough kept us fed. The brick let us build everything from simple huts and houses to pyramids.

The Wheel


It’s inception is placed in about the 4th millenium BC, in several areas.  It’s impossible to determine who invented it first. The wheel is thought to have brought us not only the beginning of transportation, but also Industry. From water wheels and mills, to chariots and tires, the wheel is roundly (get it?) considered to be a pretty big deal.



The beginnings of written and recorded information date to around 8000BC Mesopotamia. Today, we consider writing to be the very identifiable distinction between history and prehistory. Written communication is, by and large, what defines us as species. It’s how we exchange our ideas, hopes and dreams. It’s also the basis of how we attempt to influence those around us.



The first evidence of this extractive metallurgy dates from the 5th and 6th millennium BC and was found in the archaeological sites of Serbia. As in many of the previous inventions, Metallurgy wasn’t an end in itself, but was generally an improvement upon what came before. Prior to this invention, we still had arrows, axes, and other tools.  But, with the introduction of metallurgy we are now able to produce superior tools made of metal.

Gutenberg’s Press


Johaness Gutenberg began working on his breakthrough invention in approximately 1436. We know this because he was subsequently sued. Ah…Innovation. Within a few short decades, there was a huge increase in the circulation of books, as printing presses began popping up in every town. As production increased, the unit costs fell, which gave rise to inventions like the ‘Newspaper’.  Suddenly the masses at large had increased access to news, information, and advertising.

The Harnessing of Electricity


When Ben Franklin went out to fly a kite in a thunderstorm little did he know what would follow. Simple advancements such as public Gas lighting making way for electric light made a huge improvement in the lives of millions of people. Suddenly the turbines and engines of the industrial revolution were being turned by electric power, and not the spindly little arms of Oliver Twist. Which is all to the good. Little Oliver never deserved that sort of thing.

The Computer / Internet


And here we are today. The Computer allowed humans to figure out math equations and logistics at a previously unheard of rate. Coupled with Moors law (which states that computer performance would double every year), we went from computers that were the size of a grocery store to slick little laptops that are as thin as a magazine. Along side (almost parallel) is the development of the Internet. Now that we have all of these personal computers, tying them all together seemed like the logical next step. Then Tim Berners-Lee developed the protocols to build what we call ‘websites’. Now, here we are in what is certainly a new golden-age, the age of the world wide web. People around the world not only have access to the web (and thus the combined human knowledge of all time) but the means to communicate with each other 24/7 despite geographical location. At first the barrier to entry was the ability to write computer code to create your own websites but now, thanks to programs like Digital Agent, anyone can build and write a well designed website of their very own.