Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

:: article of the week [03.04 - 03.08] ::

For the archives, the :: article of the week :: for this week was They Have a Better Idea ... Do You? in the August, 1997 issue of Fast Company. Pulling from minds at Nike, Ideo, Pentagram Design, 3M, and Harvard Business School, it investigates the questions "where do good ideas come from?"


:: what's the connection between hackers and junk food? ::

Back in 1971, a guy named John Draper used a whistle found in a box of Captain Crunch to tap into the phone lines and make lots of long-distance calls. Now, Pringles cans are being used for hacking into wireless networks.


:: culture in a box ::

In a recent poll in Great Britain, the Simpsons were voted more popular than the royal family.


:: feedback loops ::

I want to thank everyone who's been sending me e-mails with thoughts about Pure Content, and those of you who have commented under the postings. If you've wanted to get in touch to share your thoughts, but need that last little nudge, let this be it. Send me a quick message with your thoughts: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In response to your requests, we should have a "search" function and an e-mail subscription service up by Monday. Thanks for the input.


:: chaos theory ::

It's a crazy time. Some would say that it's impossible to know what's around the bend. But an Australian psychologist thinks that it might be possible for some people to predict the future, when chaotic systems emerge. New Scientist has an article about this psychologist's theory and the tests that he and his colleagues are performing. There's a subtle distinction between "random" sequences and "chaotic" sequences, but I'm still trying to discern between them. According to their tests, up to a quarter of those tested could predict the immediate future (at least ... the next few numbers in the chaotic sequence).

Groups like the KaosPilots teach their students how to navigate through chaotic times. But to be able to forsee those currents? That takes it to another level.


:: I'm such a nerd ::

I know that most of you weren't Religion majors in college, because I know most of you aren't dorks. However, I was one (a Religion major), and I am one (a dork). Having said that, I found this really funny. But be warned: it's stupid Religion major humor. (Thanks to Ben for the link.)


:: science. fiction? ::

I remember staying up late one night when I was twelve, because The Time Machine was on. I loved it, and for a while, it was my "favorite movie." As you probably know, there's a remake coming out tomorrow. I might go see it (Guy Pearce is fantastic). I'll probably wait for it to come out on DVD (I'm cheap). Anyway, it's sparked some interesting discussion around time travel. Here are two articles about it. One, from Popular Science. The other, from ABC News.

To plug The Dancing Wu Li Masters again, the author has an interesting analogy for space-time unfolding, using a drop of ink in a glass of water. Even if you don't get the book, and even if you don't see the movie (until it comes out on DVD) check out those articles.


:: the color of the universe (redux) ::

You might have seen the report from scientists saying that the color of the universe (if all light was blended) was something like this text. It turns out, it's actually more like the color of this text (that's a beige-ish color, although I know it looks white). I know that has wide-ranging repercussions, but I hope you can deal. Here's an article.


:: Pure Content to go ::

I was looking at Pure Content's site statistics, and I saw that 1% of the readers of the blog read it on a Palm VII browser. If you're one of those (the few, the proud, the squinty), I would love to hear from you, about what it's like. Do the dark colors create a problem? I'm curious.


:: radical sabbatical ::

In the Feb. 2002 issue of HOW Design, there's a great article about a graphic designer in NYC, Stefan Sagmeister. He took a year off (Oct. 2000 to Oct. 2001), where he took on no client projects, and just gave himself time to think and experiment. He started off without a structure, but found that he was wasting his time. So he ended up putting together a plan that was even more rigid than his normal work schedule. He ended up coming up with some neat concepts. Although HOW doesn't feature its articles on its website (grrrr), you can click here to see some of Sagmeister's work. Or here for some more. Or here for an interview at Adobe's site. Also, you can always head on over to your local bookstore / magazine rack and pick up HOW.


:: got the 143 for the 411? ::

If Epistemophobia is a fear of knowledge, does that make me an Epistemophile? (thanks to memepool for the link)


:: indie rocks (yuk yuk) ::

In the 90's, small, independent music labels started popping up, releasing interesting, proocative, and raw music that large labels wouldn't publish. Two of the more successful ones (Simple Machines and Dischord) were in my hometown. Recently, indie publishing has stepped up as a rising trend. Check out No Media Kings or Peace Hill Press for two takes on it. NMK has more of the indie attitude. PHP would call itself a "small press," but it's not that drastically different. Also, check out some projects that Heath works on, at Soft Skull Press and Highwater Press.

In related news, a chap named Brian Taylor is working on an indie film called Rust Boy. It's made with his home computer, a little bit of money and a whole mess o' ingenuity. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.


:: 2MBR ::

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

In college, I took the physics class for non-scientists—the one where you take apart a lawnmower engine and talk about how it works. It was a cool class, but I still came away thinking physics was complex, boring, and beyond my comprehension. Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumble across a book that discusses quantum mechanics, relativity, particle physics, and other aspects of "the New Physics," and find myself fascinated by it. It's called The Dancing Wu Li Masters, and it was written in 1979 (a very good year, I might add). It's amazing. Essentially, he looks at the Chinese word for physics, "Wu Li," which means "Patterns of organic energy." Due to the nature of the Chinese language, "Wu Li" can also mean "My Way," "Nonsense," "I Clutch My Ideas," and "Enlightenment." Gary Zukav (the author) dissects each of those definitions, uncovering incredible wisdom—which applies to physics, business, and life in general. He goes into what would normally be considered complex, obtuse subjects, and makes them readily understandable.
[Physicists] wonder what the universe is really made of, how it works, what we are doing in it, and where it is going, if it is going anyplace at all. In short, they do the same things that we do on starry nights when we look up at the vastness of the universe and feel overwhelmed by it and a part of it at the same time.
I would quote more, but then this would go on beyond a Two Minute Book Review. So I'll end it here. Go forth and read.

(Postscript: When I first tried to post this message, something fried, and I thought I lost it. Oooh. I was mad. When I re-logged in, I got a pop-up saying that Blogger had saved my post. I love you Blogger.)


:: hot books ::

Scenario: Imagine setting up a site that keeps track of sales at Amazon.com. Authors could see how well their book was doing, and what else people were buying along with their book. As a side benefit, people would buy books and CDs on the site that looked promising. In the first eight weeks, you'd have enabled $70,000 of sales at Amazon.com. You'd get 5% to 15% of the sales, because you referred them. That's $7,000 in the first two months. Wow. Too bad Philip Kaplan's already done it. Check out this article.


:: useit ::

Most of you probably know Jakob Nielsen. If not, all you need to know is that he criticizes most Web sites. With colleagues, he performed a few tests on how people view content on the Internet. Here are their findings. If your attention span is as short as they claim, you'll just want to see the summarized abstract.

Of course, the site isn't really pretty, but that's not really the point.


:: it's time to play the music ... ::

First, I aligned with Augustine. Now, I align with the Swedish Chef. I was hoping for Kermit. Oh well. Maybe next time.


:: with your powers combined ... ::

Some companies are trying to develop technologies that would let them control the weather (see 2.75°c). Some people believe the US government can already do that.


:: a digital codex ::

Illuminated manuscripts presented Biblical narratives in an enriched context of visual and textual interpretation during the middle ages. the-mount.net is a 21st-century rendition, with a slight twist. People around the world can now illustrate and discuss the Sermon on the Mount.


:: shoutouts ::

Just wanted to take a second to recognize two members of Play's creative community, Olga Nunes and James Weissman. Olga helped us add comment boxes, so you can converse with us (and each other) more easily. James suggested that we change the font to make it resizable. Done and done. Thanks for the help. Community represent.


:: how do you brand an open source product? ::

Two weeks ago, we talked about Open Source development. We looked at shoes and soda, but the model for open source projects is really Linux. When you have a system that relies on a completely decentralized network for product development and R&D, how do you get the word out to potential customers? Check out this article, with a suggestion on how to go about it. "Maybe, just maybe, what Linux needs most, right now, is a group of people whose job it is to tell the world about Linux, and to tell the world why they needn't be afraid of it. In other words, a marketing department."


:: more memes, more branding ::

We talked last week about branding and the efficacy of ads. Take this little test, and see what brands / memes / elements of pop culture you're aware of. It leans more heavily on the pop culture end of the spectrum, so there are plenty of logos and icons from things like Atari, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and Microsoft / Mac. It can get pretty eclectic and obscure, however (It ranges from Commodore to Amnesty International to Einsturzende Neubaten to Judaism). What memes infect you?


:: mind over matter ::

In 1998, scientists investigated the healing power of prayer, when they saw that people with heart conditions had statistically significant fewer problems when people prayed for them. Scientists have recently begun to investigate brain activity during religious experiences. In this BBC News article, scientists mapped the brain activity of Buddhist monks while they meditated. "In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness. Dr Newberg explained: 'During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw.' "

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis analyzes morality and then uses that investigation to describe God's nature (and his thoughts on the appropriate response). Anyway, at the beginning of his analysis, he writes, "we have not yet got as far as a personal God—only as far as a power, behind the Moral Law, and more like a mind than it is like anything else."

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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