Codestories Newsletter #109: Meet the Hidden Heroes

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Nat Chrzanowska

Apr 21, 2022 • 6 min read
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Codestories Newsletter is a regular dose of news, insights, and inspiration for technology enthusiasts, delivered every two weeks. You can subscribe here.

There are fascinating people behind ideas that revolutionized our lives. Today we take it for granted that we can communicate with our peers worldwide, buy things online, and pay with a single tap of our phone.

We do give credit to all the companies that turned these ideas into businesses – we should. Yet, we mustn’t forget that there are computer scientists, internet pioneers, programmers, and digital designers behind these amazing concepts who shaped the world we live in today.

Together with Steven Johnson, the bestselling author of 13 books who in his work has been trying to understand the real roots of progress and innovation and society, we want to pay an extraordinary tribute to those people.

This is why we’re launching Hidden Heroes – a digital collection of stories about the people behind modern software and design.

Nat Chrzanowska,
Content Team Leader

⭐ The concept

Hidden Heroes is a tribute to innovators who set the foundations on which we build vital solutions for the modern world. Their inventions make the world run, but their stories remain hidden. Until now. Hidden Heroes uncovers unexpected connections between great human stories and technologies and ideas that are widespread public phenomena today. Go to the Hidden Heroes website to learn more!

🔥 The first Hero

Pattie Maes, a Belgian-born computer scientist, was inventing the core principles behind the social media age when Mark Zuckerberg was still in kindergarten. Some of the most valuable companies in the world like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon are predicated on recommendation algorithms Pattie developed with her team, but in the mid-nineties she had a hard time convincing anyone that this could be a viable platform for a business. Read the full story

✍️ About the author

Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of 13 books, including “Where Good Ideas Come From,” and the “Ghost Map.” He's the host of the PBS/BBC series “Extra Life” and “How We Got To Now.” He's a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine and has written for Wired, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. His TED talks on the history of innovation have been viewed more than ten million times. Check Steven TED talk on where good ideas come from.

📹 The trailer and creators behind it

The Hidden Heroes trailer is one-and-a-half minutes of uplifting energy that will inspire you to do great things! It was created by two talented women: Mary Achinger, the master of words and Monika Jangrot, a motion picture artist.

Watch the video on YouTube

👩‍🎨 Heroes who designed the stories

I want to give special thanks to the team who supported the concept and helped take it live. I invite you to check out their work.

  • Giulia Guglielmetti
  • Michał Jarosz
  • Mateusz Jankowski
  • Luka Bendić
  • Ceri Looker-Evision
  • Piotr Swierkowski

🖼 Illustrating Pattie Maes’ story

Patryk Hardziej, who is an author of the unique illustrations for the Pattie Maes story, is an international, multidisciplinary illustrator, graphic designer and researcher. He is a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and founder of the Art of Design courses and Karol Śliwka Foundation. He created and curated The Second Polish Exhibition of Graphic Marks, an international exhibition of Polish design held in six countries. Hardziej is also the author of the “CPN Logo, Identity, History.” You can check out his work on Instagram and his website. To see the first story illustrations check out her story.

🙏🏼 A tribute to Heroes behind the Hidden Heroes

Special credit goes to all the people who worked tirelessly to make this concept happen (the whole crew can be found here):

  • Radek Zaleski for the idea and helping bring the vision to life
  • Ola Prejs and Tomasz Grynkiewicz for paving the way for the initiative
  • Marzena Szkolak, Filip Połoska, and Paweł Stremski from NOWY®ŁAD for taking the vision to the creative concept
  • Rafał Sałak, Magdalena Klimko-Aydin, and Agnieszka Kukla for making the world know about the Hidden Heroes
  • Natalia Szajowska-Tomczak for fighting on all the fronts and structuring the work
  • Kasia Parzonka and Zofia Musiał for throwing a kick-off event
  • Agata Porowska, Przemysław Fryc, Vlad Levun for finding strong partners

🎙 Quote of the week

“The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.”

Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation


This is the issue 109 of Codestories Newsletter – a bi-weekly dose of latest Tech insights. You can learn more and subscribe here.

If you have any comments or feedback, feel free to contact the Codestories Team: [email protected].

Photo of Nat Chrzanowska

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Nat Chrzanowska

Creative Producer at Netguru
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