About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Digital R&D Fund for the Arts Glossary

Demystifying and defining words, concepts and tools that have been important to the R&D Fund projects:

10 Basic Terms

  1. Analytics is the discovery and subsequent communication of meaningful patterns in a set of data.
  2. App is a software application which is interacted with through a particular piece of hardware.
  3. Coding languages contain all the linguistic elements which are used to write software with different languages used for different platforms and/or objectives.
  4. Code or program denotes any set of instructions which comprise a piece of software or when used as a verb is the ability to write software.
  5. Development is a general term for the process of making a software or hardware product.
  6. Data is a general term to denote any kind of information that can be represented in a digital format.
  7. Hardware is the general name for any of the physical components of a computer, device or indeed any intelligent or connected system.
  8. Interaction refers how a human being engages with a particular piece of software or hardware.
  9. Platform is a foundational piece of technology which can be used and re-used for a number of different purposes.
  10. Software is the general name for the programs and other operating information that run on a computer or device.

10 Concepts

  1. Augmented Reality is the ability to add layers of digital information over our view of the physical world, perceived either through mobile devices or heads-up displays. Different to Virtual Reality which places the user in a fully computer-simulated environment.
  2. Cross-platform applies to when a project, product or service can be experienced across a range of platforms such as mobile, web or even physical devices.
  3. Crowdfunding is the use of web platforms such as Kickstarter to source finance for a project and is now available to fund startup companies.
  4. Hackdays are intensive and often playful events where digital and other talent work together to create new prototype projects
  5. Haptic technology works to evolve our relationship with technology beyond keyboards and touch screens by bringing more dimensions to our sense of touch.
  6. Open source generally refers to how a piece of software’s source code is provided freely available under licence for usage, modification and extension.
  7. Open data is the practice of providing third parties open access to proprietary data under licence, increasingly common in the cultural context.
  8. Platforming refers to the creation of reusable infrastructure as part of a project build so that these elements can be re-used even if the initial project is over.
  9. The Internet Of Things describes how all kinds of everyday objects can be connected and share information. Also known as pervasive or ubiquitous computing.
  10. The Maker Movement is term to cover the hobbyists and professionals involved in making hardware products involving technology which also includes new fabrication technique such as 3D printing.

10 Methodologies

  1. Action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action in order to help them improve their own practices, which in turn can enhance their working environment and the working environments of those who are part of it.
  2. Agile is shorthand for a group of software development methods based on the principles of adaptation and iteration. Agile is in contrast to more linear or stage-based development known as waterfall methodologies.
  3. Co-design is the process of involving the end-users of a product, service or experience in its design phase and allowing their genuine input rather than just feeding back on your existing plans. Related to user-centred design in which user needs are prioritised.
  4. Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
  5. Gamification is the usage of game mechanics, points and achievements in non-game contexts.
  6. Insight Journalism is a design methodology which blends journalism’s storytelling and critical/investigative capacity with the skills of designers and makers to result in bespoke solutions.
  7. Lean Startup is a popular evidence-based methodology in which products are iteratively developed using customer feedback so as to use resources efficiently while maximising value.
  8. Participant observation is a method where researchers take an active engaged part in a process such as product development rather than acting as a hands-off, neutral agent.
  9. Webnography (or netnography) is the use of ethnographic techniques when studying online communities and their cultures.

10 Acronyms

  1. API. An application programming interface is the means by which your data source can be used by a third party in a managed way e.g. embedding Google Maps data on your own website
  2. CTR. Click through rate is a core metric for assessing the success of online advertising campaigns and other web analytics.
  3. HTML5. Hypertext Markup Language 5 is the fifth version of the fundamental language used for structuring and presenting content for the web, and increasingly used for cross-platform projects as an alternative to native mobile apps.
  4. JFDI. One of the most effective ways of cutting through the barriers that innovation projects face.QR. Quick Response codes are a square matrix-style barcode which when read by a device most commonly push that device to a specific website.
  5. NFC. Near field communications allows smartcards, smartphones and other devices to transfer data when in close proximity. This is the technology used in contactless payment systems and is closely related to radio-frequency identification.
  6. QA. Quality assurance is the set of processes and standards to verify that your software meets business objectives and that code is relatively bug free prior to release.
  7. QR. Quick Response codes are a square matrix-style barcode which when read by a device most commonly push that device to a specific website.
  8. SAAS. Software as a service is a model by which users software and associated data on the internet, so that the relationship is more like rental or subscription than purchase.
  9. SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a set of tools and techniques for improving the visibility of your website or content in a search engine’s results.
  10. UX. User experience and user experience design are all the considerations related to how users engage and relate to a digital product.

10 Other Project Terms

  1. A hybrid app combines elements of the native and web experience, and look like a native app but are served through the browser.
  2. A native app is a mobile or tablet app that is written in the device’s base operating system such as Android or iOS (Apple).
  3. A web app is a software service that is provided through the browser, be that on mobile or desktop.
  4. Bandwidth is a measurement of how much data can be served to you at any time – either upload or download. The more you have, the more you can do.
  5. Discovery refers to the ability of people to find your content, and is often a challenge for marketing apps within the various App Stores.
  6. Freemium is currently the dominant business model in large-scale mobile games where the main product is given away for free and there are in-app or in-game purchases.
  7. Live streaming refers to content delivered live over the internet and is often called live broadcast if the stream is to cinemas.
  8. Responsive websites automatically adjust their display according to the user’s screen size, to help improve the user experience.
  9. Re-playability is a key metric for many apps since the vast majority of mobile apps are deleted after one usage or even less.
  10. Second screen refers to the use of a laptop or mobile device to add an interactive experience alongside another content experience, such as engaging on Twitter while watching Sherlock.

10 Project Tools

  1. App Annie is also an app analytics tool with great associated market insights and provide tracking of downloads, sales, revenue and review of your apps with detailed geographical breakdown.
  2. Balsamiq Mockups is a desktop application which provides all the elements you need to create a wireframes and prototype interface for your mobile, tablet or desktop projects.
  3. Blossom is a powerful project management service made for teams using agile methodologies.
  4. Buffer allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts in advance through a single system and also provides tools to maximise engagement
  5. Flurry is a detailed analytics service for how people are using your mobile apps. Their large user base also means they provide powerful market intelligence.
  6. Github is a web-based code repository which allows remote teams to work together and also provides a platform for publishing or using open source projects.
  7. Hipchat is an instant messaging tool increasingly popular for quick group or one-to-one communication in co-located or distributed teams.
  8. Launchrock is a quick and simple service for putting a website for forthcoming products and projects with associated services and tips for growing a community of users.
  9. Trello is a task-based online project management designed specifically for distributed teams.
  10. Typeform makes visually appealing online surveys that your audience may even enjoy completing.

Compiled by Athina Balopoulou, Andrea Bocioaga, Eleanor Turney, Tandi Williams, Rohan Gunatillake and their friends at Google

Image courtesy of flickr user Pixel Fantasy


Rachael Bull

Rachael Bull

Rachael Bull

Programme Manager

Rachael was the Programme Manager for Arts & Culture Finance.

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