Saturday, October 29, 2005

Recommendations to start the week

Recommendations from my wireless perch at La Prima Tazza.

1) Scrabble. Never gets old. Just played a quick game with some folks at LPT's communal table.
2) The new Nada Surf album, "The Weight is a Gift." My friend Joel was raving about it last night and surprisingly, the album is even better than Joel's beer-buzzed accolades...which brings me to number 3.
3) Stella Artois beer.
4) Julia Peterson and the Breaks. I've known about this Lawrence singer/song writer for a little while, but just downloaded tracks from her new album this week and can't stop listening.
5) Matisyahu. Hasidic Jewish reggae artist. His songs are religiously and politically charged, and exhibit a mastery of the the genre.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Telling the raw data story

Unfortunately, it isn't our industry's practice to add a sidebar note to a media results report that says, "This above-the-fold story was placed after two months of weekly phone calls to the rudest, most preoccupied editor the world has ever known. Multiple staff members camped out in front of said editor's apartment to capitalize on a prime door-to-train-station pitching window, just to secure dialogue."

Oftentimes adequate time is not taken to explain the process that led up to the results. We assume that data will make sense. We assume that our audiences will connect the dots between information, neglecting the important space between and the story that accompanies the process.

Data deserves a story. Information requires context. Fast Company has an interesting article on how "information architects" are working to add meaning to data and relevance to information. They employ design and storytelling tactics to help audiences make sense of info.

The stand-out quote that all should heed, whether relaying raw data or explaining processes:

The endgame: storytelling, communication, and connecting. Information is the destination, and design -- color, line, typography -- is how we arrive there. That process always starts with a question. If you're designing an instruction manual, the question may be "How do you drive a car?" -- which is a different question from "How do you drive a car in a rainstorm?" If you're sitting in a car in a rainstorm, you need to know how to turn on the windshield wipers. You don't want that information to be buried on page 94 under "Dashboard."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Adopting a brand's story

I got to thinking about how the public - the marketplace - adopts a brand's story while at the local tea shop this morning. Much discussion is focused on creating and disseminating a brand's story, but that story won't make its brand successful unless it is adopted by the marketplace.

I created this path to illustrate the process from a story's creation to adoption. If you're viewing in Bloglines, you must open this post to view.

An example of what a blog is for

I've been reading the branding shop Brains on Fire's blog with intrigue. Great blog, written by multiple employees on everything from personal experiences to industry news. On October 20, Robbin Phillips, president of Brains on Fire posted an apology for all the 'Net world to read.

What Brains on Fire is apologizing for is irrelevant. What's relevant is the power that this post holds. Brains on Fire combined two remarkable concepts, the blog and honesty, to produce a response that turned an error into a admirable show of character.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Inbox inspiration

When I arrive at work I do three things before I begin the first task at hand.
1) Pull a cup of coffee.
2) Read a daily Bible verse delivered to my inbox from Zondervan.
3) Open my Bloglines and read's word of the day.

"Word of the day" has become my horoscope of sorts. I read into the word and what it might mean in relation to my day. Rediculous? Sure, but not as rediculous as a horoscope. Plus, I learn a new word.

Today's word is tocsin: a warning.
Yesterday's word was pelf: money; riches.

You get the idea.

My friend and fellow blogger Dave posted about the band Blue Merle (check out the Web site - awesome design). I purchased the album from iTunes yesterday and have spent the time between then and now ingesting Blue Merle's great songwriting and sound. In true viral piracy style, the disc has been imported into my colleagues' iTunes. Buy the album "Burning in the sun," or come by and grab the disc if you are in the area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A list to start the week

A list of things I'm enjoying this week.

My Moleskine notebook. Traveled all weekend and used it for everything from jotting down reminder notes to press phone numbers to poetry.

Rogue Wave. I'm listening to "Out of the shadows" right now, and awaiting the band's new album, "Descended like vultures" on Oct. 25.

The new iTunes 6. iTunes' new "Just for you" feature recommends albums that mesh with past purchases and gives a swift kick in the pants.

The resurrection of my favorite watch, purchased from the Andy Warhol Museum during college.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Telling the story through collaboration

I used to have dreams of being a published author. I spent my junior and senior years of college bow-elbowed to my clunky PowerBook, pecking away at what I hoped might be the next big piece of short fiction.

I grew frustrated by being bound to one form of expression, though. I wanted to include a soundtrack with each short story, complete with page-by-page cues to play a new song or cut to a certain chorus right after the conclusion. The written word, as powerful as it is, lacks the opportunity for its audience to have a multi-sensory experience. Movies, songs, theater, etc. all can employ multiple storytelling devices. I dug the possibility of combinations, collaborations.

Recently, our company hosted a creativity symposium. One and a half days of inspiration from creatives blurring the lines. I was captivated. One speaker especially resonated with me: Gabe Kean, founder of

Born Magazine takes poetry and short stories and combines them with original music composition, design and interactive Web functions to create an original, collaborative, multi-sensory story. It's like an online datin gsite for great artwork. Amazing. Play "Part of the Old Brick Chimney Still Stood" as an intro into this incredible effort.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My new desktop image

I've had this image on my computer desktop for a while now, and decided to change it up. The picture is of a scupture installation by an amazing Japanese ceramicist and friend, Katsuyuki Sakazume. The pieces are arranged on a snow covered golf course near the dormitory I lived in while in Nakajo, Japan. I love this image and it takes me back to my time working with Sakazume and living in the beautiful area.

I changed my desktop image yesterday and am getting a real kick out of staring at it. This picture was taken
at the Shibuya (Tokyo) crosswalk made famous in Lost in Translation. I was perched with my friend Lisa in the Starbucks above the crosswalk to snap a picture. It was part of an embarrassing morning quest to photograph various scenes from the movie.

Anyway, this image is blown up to fit my desktop and I have caught myself staring at it, looking down on these people's days, thoughts, stories, wondering where they came from and are headed, who they are with or planning to meet, etc. It's quite addictive.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Recommendations to start the week

Here's what I'm ingesting.

Gary Jules
My friend and respected DJ Caroline pointed out Gary's 2002 album, "Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets." It's amazing.

The Beautiful Girls
If you like Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and Simon without the Garfunkel, you'll like The Beautiful Girls.

I picked up The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas while in Chicago. Proved to be perfect selection of short stories for a delayed flight and weeknight. Written by Davy Rothbart, the founder of Found Magazine.

Toothpaste for Dinner. Funny. Offensive.

Right place, right time: front page

You're eye-witnessing the latest news-making event. What's the first thing you do? Most of us would pop a picture with our photo phone, send that photo to our address book and then make some calls. Let's call that the old media reaction. The new media reaction? Send your photo phone picture to for cash, and a chance to scoop pros for placement above the fold.