I was trolling through the hundreds of Safari bookmarks I have collected over the years, hoping to organize and purge a bit. I came across these two sites, Strange Maps and Radical Cartography. I’m not sure why I bookmarked them in the first place. It may have been as simple as the fact that they’re just plain-old interesting. Who new cartography could be so cool? Now, I’ve seen some good-looking maps, and some that just work better than others. This is something entirely different. These maps provide insight. They transcend simply giving you a sense of size, distance and proximity. They tell stories. They shift perspective. You leave them with a sense not only of place, but of meaning.Take the Hungry Gulf Crocodile, seen above. More than just being a map, it tells you somthing fundamental about that place. The Persian Gulf can be a dangerous place, but risk hazard becaise that’s where the oil is. Granted, it has a distinct Western (American) bias, but that’s fine. This isn’t intended to be journalistic fact, rather op-ed rhetoric. In any event, it makes its point.
Archive for the ‘account planning’ Category
I just finished reading Outside Lies Magic, by John R. Stilgoe. Stilgoe is a professor of landscape history at Harvard, and as word has it, his courses are among the most sought after at the university. He must be relatively popular, since I first heard about him via a 60 Minutes profile back in 2004.
This is an amazing little book about the beauty and complexity of the ordinary world. Early in the book, Stilgoe describes himself as an explorer. Not an explorer of faraway places, but of the ones we see every day. His mode of exploration isn’t characterized by focusing on the rarely-seen, but on the oft-overlooked. He takes us through urban neighborhoods, suburban strip-malls and country roads with the intent of instilling within the reader a renewed curiosity about the world around them. The book meanders, but in the best possible way. It reads like a travelogue written by someone so curious and observant that they never felt the need to leave their hometown. You ultimately find that there is tremendous detail and history behind the ordinary environments we float through every day.
Another major theme is un-learning what we assume we know about the world. Stilgoe isn’t trying to educate you concerning matters of history and fact about landscape of the built environment. He is attempting to invigorate your sense of perception and curiosity that has been flattened by television, computer and the automobile.
Discovering bits and pieces of peculiar, idiosyncratic importance in ordinary metropolitan landscape scrapes away the deep veneer of programmed learning that overlies and smothers the self-directed learning of childhood and adolescence.
Anyone whose work involves intellectual curiosity or observation of the human condition (basically, everyone) can benefit from reading this book. At just under two-hundred pages it is a quick read. Thankfully, Outside Lies Magic provides a framework for looking at the world that resonates well beyond its pages.
Found this very observant little article by Christopher Hitchens over on Slate called The You Decade. In short, Hitchens brings to our attention the overuse and misuse of the word “you”. The anecdote about Rite-Aid is perfect:
I suppose I started to notice it about two or three years ago, when the salespeople at Rite-Aid began wearing dish-sized lapel buttons stating that “YOU are the most important customer I will serve today.” It was all wrong, in the same way that a sign hung on a door saying “Back in five minutes” is out of time as soon as it is put in place. It was wrong in other ways, too, since it could be read from some distance (say, from 10 spaces back in a slow-moving line)…
His argument seems semantic and rhetorical, but I wholeheartedly agree with him. That sneaky little pronoun will henceforth be the bain of my existence.
Those of you who know me personally know that I have spent the last two years at the University of North Carolina pursuing my master’s degree in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. As of last Friday, I am officially finished. I defended my thesis and handed in the final manuscript. While I don’t get my diploma until May 13th, my academic requirements are complete.
I want to thank my friends and family for all of their support during these last two years. I also want to thank my colleagues at both McKinney and Modernista! for putting up with with me as an intern. And to my classmates and professors at UNC, just know that I would not have been able to do this without you challenging me every day.
I was watching the movie Network recently, and I realized that it is the finest satire ever made. I’ll tell you why.
The definition of satire is “Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.” (American Heritage Dictionary) At its best, satire toes the line between the realistic and the fantastic. It leaves you partially unable to discern the difference between the two. It turn something we see every day and tweaks it just enough that we begin to see just how silly it actually is. The absolute best satire is so rooted in real life and so incisive that it actually has a predictive quality. It brings to light a situation that, if not remedied, becomes reality.
Unfortunately, Network, high satire when it was released in 1976, has now come true. Most people know the movie Network based on this one scene, the “Mad As Hell” scene. It basically won Peter Finch an Oscar. (The movie was nominated for 10 and won 4.) There is another key scene, another of Beale’s rants, that is even more prescient. Just watch the YouTube video above an tell me that this isn’t a precise description of the media landscape thirty years later.
Oh, if you haven’t seen Network, put it in your Netflix cue today.
I came accross this great article by the great Bruce Nussbaum at Business Week. It’s the transcript of a somewhat provocative lecture Mr. Nussbaum gave at Parson’s a few weeks back, a call to arms for designers to start thinking about what it means to be a designer in the 21st century. While much of the text dwells on being green and sustainable, there is a bigger theme concerning simply being aware of the world around you and challenging assumptions.
For what it’s worth, I think this speech is a must-read. My favorite passage…
…Design has evolved from a simple practice to a powerful methodology of Design Thinking that, I believe, can transform society. By that I mean Design, with a capital D, can move beyond fashion, graphics, products, services into education, transportation, economics and politics. Design can become powerful enough to be an approach to life, a philosophy of life. But it can do so only when Design by Ego ends and Design by Conversation begins.
When I heard this story about a new application of military technology to advertising on NPR today, I couldn’t wait to get home and see it. I was trying to imagine what it would look like. Glows in the dark? Blackhawk helicopters? Holographic? I mean, it sounds kinda cool on the radio.
Well as it turn out, it’s just and another example of urban spam, and in my opinion, a more egregious example than most. Why? Because it had the potential to be cool. This electroluminescent technology is visually interesting, but a ReMax ad hardly does it justice. It’s the same lame ad they run in the daytime, just tarted-up for the evening. There are plenty of brands that could use the technology as a part of the creative execution, not just as a bell and/or whistle. I’d love to see that trippy Lunesta butterfly glowing around town. It’s just a shame that my first exposure to it had to be so banal.
Let’s just hoe that Atlantans don’t mistake it for a bomb.
Came acrosss this great article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal about the plan for a kindler, gentler US Census in 2010. In the past, the Census has become bloated to the point that it had lost focus on its main objective—to count how many people live in the US and who they are. The article details the effort to streamline the process to meet these ends. The result is an utterly simple, six-question census questionaire that is almost fool-proof.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here about basic survey research. It’s easy to lose sight of the questions you’re trying to answer by trying too hard to answer them. Sometimes the best tactic is simplicity. It’s clear that these six well-designed Census questions will be far more accurate in painting a picture of the US poplulation than the dozens of questions they asked in the 2000 Census.
Ultimately, it doesn’t take the little details for granted by bogging the questionaire down with superfluous bullshit like How many telephones are in your home? or What type of vehicle do you own? It’s mission is clear; How many of us live here and who are we?
An ad-centric spoof of those Monster.com ads from a few years back. Enjoy!