Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

:: getting personal ::

So it's Saturday, and Sarah (my wife) and I are in Williamsburg, at William & Mary. Really, it's the best college ever. And I'm updating Pure Content, doing some behind-the-scenes maintenance. I've changed the code, so you should be able to resize the text (assuming you're using Internet Explorer, go up to "View," then go to "Text Size" and then select bigger or smaller text, depending on your preference). (If anyone cares, I changed the stylesheets in the TD and TH classes from 10px; to .65 em; ... at least, that makes it look correct on this monitor. If it looks way wrong on your screen, please let me know.)

Since I've got a little bit of time, I'll do a quick review of some of the content sources to which Pure Content features links.
Sadly, Ben Domenech will be on Spring Break for the next week, so his political commentary and football analysis will be updated less frequently, meaning he'll sculpt his messages more before he posts them. More wheat and less chaff. Personally, I like the chaff.

Dan Pink links to an article from Fast Company from the February issue, about businesswomen and their mentors. Although I like Dan and a lot of his commentary, I don't see eye-to-eye with the article's author (Harriet Rubin). I have a mentor—someone who has been where I am and is where I want to be—and I've found my time with him to be quite valuable. Personally, I think that she wrote the article with the intent of it being a part of a larger context, and the larger context never materialized.

Heath Row exhibits an amazing knowledge of underground music, with reviews ranging from hardcore punk to free jazz to indie rock. Also, he links to an article in The Boston Globe about a fee that might be enacted, forcing internet-based radio broadcasters to pay .14 cents per song per listener. It could even be retroactively applicable to all songs broadcast since October, 1998. Although I don't think I have ever listened to Internet radio stations, I think the fee is a terrible plan. Clear Channel is bad enough as is. Give the kids a break.

I think memepool has slowed down lately, but I'm not sure. There's still some neat stuff being posted, and their archives are simple, subject-sorted, and searchable (eh? alliteration? five points for me.). By the way, in case you don't know, "meme" isn't pronounced "me me" (like Mimi on the Drew Carey show). It rhymes with "seem," and it means "the basic building blocks of our minds and culture, in the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of biological life." (that was from Meme Central). A photon is a packet of light. A meme is a packet of information. Check out Malcolm Gladwell and his writings about social epidemics.
Okay. It's time to buy a book for my mom for her birthday, and then to grab some dinner with Sarah. I'll be back, of course, on Monday.


:: article of the week [02.25 - 03.01] ::

For the archives, the :: article of the week :: for this week was Samuel Mockbee: A Design for Life in Fast Company. Samuel Mockbee was an architect who worked with students from Auburn University, in rural Alabama. "There, he and his students, who stayed for at least a semester at a time, immersed themselves in the community in order to find out what the residents needed. Then—using natural or recycled materials, proceeding one building at a time, paying as much attention to artistry as to function—the students gave it to them." He did some amazing things, and we awarded him with our Redrubberball Award, an award we give for creativity. Sadly, he passed away in December, due to complications from Leukemia. We wanted to share his gift one more time. If you haven't yet read the article, check it out.


:: (im)pure content ::

In case this internet ad is still up when you see this posting, consider the fact that it gets in the way of the content of the page itself. Awful. I've seen other ads that get in the way of content, and they always annoy me. The MSN butterfly flapped across the page. Some car (Volvo? I forget) raced across the top of the site. In this case, Next Day Blinds covers up the top of the article. Every time, it makes me want to use their products even less.

I've just found this site. It seems like it has some good thoughts on ad / site design. Simple and clear.


:: more ad issues ::

With devices like Tivo and Internet pop-up ad screening programs, it’s getting tougher for companies to advertise their products. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take an advance in technology. It just takes an involved community.


:: bioinformatics, I guess ::

Imagine you’re trying to preserve information for 1,000 years. That’s a long time. What kind of time capsule could you build? One guy suggested encoding the information into the genetic structure of cockroaches—creatures who have survived for millions of years with the same basic genetic structure. Although it was a spoof, it’s inspired some real research in the field.


:: intelligent ::

Just found this, while preparing tomorrow's creative share. It's a working paper on creative thinking. Just wanted to share with the creative community.


:: one creative's philosophy scores ::

If anyone reading this blog cares about this, here are my top 5 aligned philosophers: Augustine (100%); Aquinas (87%); Ockham (68%); Plato (66%); Spinoza (62%).


:: observational creativity ::

Speedo wanted to increase swimmers' speed. Over the years, they've tried different methods to make swimmers faster. New materials. Sleeker designs. But they wanted something big. The problem is that humans really aren't that hydrodynamic (they don't cut through the water like fish do). Scientists noticed that sharks aren't that hydrodynamic either. And yet they swim efficiently. Why? Patterns of v-shaped ridges on the shark's skin minimize drag, allowing it to slice through the water. So they mimicked this on the FAST.SKIN, using a resin to recreate those ridges. The result? A swimming suit that cuts swimmers' times by as much as 7.5%. And in a sport where milliseconds count, 7.5% is a major competitive advantage.

What can you observe in the world around you and use to further your creativity?


:: ads for ads ::

Advertising is a funny animal. Recently, the American Advertising Federation, confident that advertising works, has run ads for ads. Some people think this move smacks of desperation, as seen in this Slate article.

In the copy for the ads for ads, they claim “Advertising: The way great brands get to be great brands.” The Slate article’s writer, Rob Walker, questions that, suggesting that innovation and quality product offerings have more to do with brand development (at least with Intel and Coca-Cola, the brands mimicked in the ads for ads). It’s an interesting debate.

Obviously, if advertising didn’t work, groups like Adbusters wouldn’t be so eager to jam them. But hype doesn’t a good brand make, as seen in the flameout of marchFIRST, which spent $30 million on advertising shortly before it imploded.


:: 2MBR ::

Well, it’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time for a Two Minute Book Review.

Most of you have probably read it. If you haven’t, you need to. Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. In sociology classes in college (Dr. Dan Krier, William & Mary), we read articles by Gladwell. I had no idea I was reading such incredible stuff. Back in November, my friends leant me The Tipping Point, and I started reading it at 11:00, intending to fall asleep. I got so into it, I stayed awake, reading it, until I finished it at 3:30. Wow. It’s good. Especially if you’re interested in social movements, change, memes, or the like. Get it. Read it. Love it.


:: a simpler way ::

Ananova reported that a Berlin businessman has started a rent-a-sheep business for city dwellers, in an attempt to return to the land. Will it work? Maybe.

Some of the sheep keep lawns trim. Others accompany people on walks around the city. Play set up something like this a couple of years ago, in our Sheepwalk campaign for Woolmark, when we had models dressed in elegant wool clothing, walking around NYC with sheep (like trendy fashionistas walking expensive dogs). It got a lot of press (solidly in the "millions" of media impressions), but the models didn't get to keep the sheep.


:: daily happiness ::

“Moodstats is an application that allows you to quickly record & rate how your day has been in six different categories. … After you've entered at least three days of data into the program, Moodstats springs into action and begins to generate ... graphs & statistics showing you exactly how your moods have been over the last week, month, two months, six months or year.” A fascinating concept, especially when you realize that if enough people sunscribe, they can graph happiness in different geographical areas and under different conditions. A blend of subjective and objective metrics. Emotional software. A database chronicling the world's collective happiness.


:: creative shares ::

On the 1st and the 15th of each month, Play sends out an e-mail with creative thought, called Playshares. Whereas Pure Content is mere nuggets of creative thinking, Playshares is the whole chicken. If you want to receive Playshares, send us an e-mail.


:: radio free america ::

One of the best hours of my week is spent on Sunday morning, as my wife and I drive out a little country road, en route to our little country church, listening to a little radio show called This American Life. It’s truly the best show—tv, radio, or otherwise—being broadcast today. At their Internet site, you can listen to their archives, like last week's brilliant show, when they focused on “Superpowers.” Sadly, my computer at work doesn’t have speakers. But if yours does, check it out. Or check out broadcast times and stations.


:: a sense of wonder ::

Ten years ago, stickers started popping up all across the country proclaiming “Andre the Giant has a posse.” There was no message behind the stickers. Shepard Fairey, the artist behind this project, described it as an experiment in phenomenology, about which he writes: ”The first aim of phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one's environment. The Giant sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings.” Now replace “phenomenology” with “creativity.” Reawaken a sense of wonder about your environment.


:: realities and possibilities ::

I used to think Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City (in Star Wars, of course) was one of the coolest places ever. But a city in a cloud? Could that ever really exist? In Star Wars, you saw the possibilities. Now see the reality.

And if you have access to the NY Times, you can check out an article on it.

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
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