Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.


When it first came out, MTV revolutionized the way people saw television. Aimed at drawing in intense, hip, young people, it resonated with them. When it first came out, the XFL bombed. Also aimed at drawing in intense, hip, young people, it resonated with nobody, and lasted all of ... what ... a season? There's a new cable network that's about to launch, called G4, "covering everything and anything that is game." (This might be old news ... I've been away from my computer all day.) Anyway, I'm curious to see how it does. My prediction is that teenagers, with already-truncated attention spans, won't want to simply watch the channel. Why watch other people play video games when you can play them yourself? I give it two years. Then the novelty will wear off, and it'll fade into the background. But who knows? Maybe it'll explode. Here's the channel's site.


trend watch (industrial evolution)

I can't believe nobody's pointed this out yet. But I haven't seen it yet, so I'm going to share it and claim it as my own.

Fashion styles come and go. But one that has been on the rise in the underground, and that is making an appearance in the mainstream, is the rise in industrial labels. Urban Outfitters has been popular for a number of years. But it, honestly, is at the more "mainstream" end of things.

Carhartt, which has existed since 1889 as a provider of hard-core workwear, clothing "the hardest working people in America." A few years ago, Carhartt launched a fashion line under the technical name "Carhartt Europe," but with the street name "Carhartt." They have a website, but don't bother going there yet. It's awful. Nonetheless, the brand is doing remarkably well. While the parent Carhartt brand sells heavy canvas workpants and jackets, the fashionable and euro-trendy spin-off sells brushed cotton and fluffy sweatshirts. Their old website pays homage to the old style ... "With a century of American history, tradition, quality and reliability in the production of work wear, Carhartt has provided the world with durable and reliable clothing. Carhartt Europe has adapted these simplistic and an essential principal to forge their own identity with street wear and fashion in a Carhartt brand that is effective and functional in all inner city environments."

"Carhartt has emerged as one of the quality street labels from Europe and continues to provide people with flavor, style and a freestylin attitude. Contemporary people dig Carhartt as it is a label that is multifunctional and minimal is design. Principally, young people are wearing Carhartt as it provides comfort, practically and endurance from scene to scene. Carhartt is involved with artists from across the continent who are experimentalists and pioneers in BMX, music, art, skating and snowboarding, graphical design, surfing, painting, photography, urban art and expressionism. They all recognize and accept the Carhartts exceptional quality style and associate nature. As a fashion, Carhartt is chilled, laid back and relaxed wherever it may be lounging or surveying. More and more creative and active young people are choosing Carhartt to wear, as it is a comfortable material with a mobile street wear appeal."

The truth is, anyone who buys old-school Carhartts would NEVER think of them as "chilled, laid back, and relaxed." Contrast that statement with the claim from the American (old-school) Carhartt webpage: "Rugged. Hard working. Reliable." Quite a difference there.

Also note the rise in popularity of CAT brand shoes and backpacks. Originally the high-name-recognition brand of heavy machinery (backhoes and bulldozers and whatnot), Caterpillar has moved into the realm of "trendiness." In 1999, CAT began selling its own merchandise. They even have a store, outside the CAT headquarters, in Peoria, Illinois. The most recent number I could find placed their annual sales at $900 million for merchandise. That doesn't even include the heavy machines. Ignore the stupid pun, but that's a brand with a ton of power behind it.

Finally, take a quick look at Diesel. Although Diesel never had the brand associations of CAT or Carhartt, it had a rough-around-the-edges image from the beginning, and the name certainly implies "industrial." They're also one of today's trendiest brands.

If you know of any articles that touch on this information, please let me know. Or if you want to add to the discussion about this stuff, comment below.


afb (acronyms for blogs)

Ed Murray, responding to John Hiller's article about blogging as the rise of the amateur journalist, proposes more categorization of weblogs. Yes, we all know about warblogs. But do you know about mogs? or togs? or grogs?

So what's Pure Content? creativity + blog = crog? clog? Hmmmmm. Needs some work. Submit thoughts below.

Update: John Hiler is not John Hiller or John Hiller or John Hiller.


copyleft / the gift economy

Sal Randolph is an artist in NYC who's behind the Free Words project. He printed up 2,000 books that he (and an army of volunteers) places in bookstores around NYC and around the globe. "The text of FREE WORDS is a list of 13,000 words which has been placed in the public domain. “No Rights are Reserved,” declares the copyright page. The artist has been accumulating this list of words for the past ten years and is now making it available to anyone for any use whatsoever." This is the merging of a few concepts: the "copyleft" and the "gift economy" (initially discussed by French sociologist Marcel Mauss and recently brought back into fashion with discussions around the new economy's alignment with the gift economy) with a little bit of phenomenology thrown in.


fun for mathletes

Whole books have been written about the history of the number "0." There's more than just that. Pure Content reader Arturo Elenes sent in this link, which gives the historical significance of various mathematical symbols. I'm still looking for the Fibonnacci Sequence, which I've been into ever since I saw it on Mathnet on Square One.


too busy for my own good

I've been really busy lately, and I apologize to everyone who's been coming by Pure Content lately. We've got a lot of stuff in the works, and I'm excited that you're going to get to see it soon. First off, we're redesigning the look and feel of the site. I've been extensively tweaking one of the Blogger templates, and I'm excited with how Pure Content's going to be displayed. Second, in the next week or so, Pure Content is going to become a multi-person blog. Although I've loved maintaining the site (and I'll continue to do so), I thought it would be better for you if I opened up the floodgates at Play. I work with a team of people called the Wallpaper team (we cover everything). We're the team that facilitates creative thinking for our clients and with our clients. Since I'm just one-seventh of the team, I figured Pure Content would benefit by utilizing their brains as well. Shortly, I'll be joined by Courtney, Geof, Geoff, JB, Robert, and Sean. They gather their content from totally different places than I do, so it should spice things up. As they start posting, they'll do a quick autobiography so you'll know where they're coming from and where they're going.

To make up for the less-than-frequent posting of the last couple of days, I'm going to try to post more than I normally do. We'll see how it goes. Check back in soon.


3-D Monitors

Deep Video Imaging recently released a new type of monitor. Using two LCD screens, it simulates three dimensions. The possibilities for this technology are huge, especially in military and medical software. Here's a discussion thread from Slashdot. Although they're expensive (I think I read $6k?), the cost will decrease before too long, and the technology will improve with time. I'm excited to see how it develops. Of course, people went nuts with 3-D glasses when they first came out, too.

Thanks to Mary for the lead.


blogs and marketing

Microcontent News is about to release a couple of articles on blogs and marketing. "It's an interesting time: blogs make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like Usenet used to back about ten years ago. Blogging is a decidedly non-commercial medium right now... but with weblogs capable of turning ideas into an epidemic, it's only a matter of time before businesses start paying attention." They're not up yet, but they should be soon. I'll let you know when he posts them.


Thief and Doctor

Dan reports on the Tool Lending Center. It's a service in San Francisco that takes the principles of a library and applies them to a gardening / construction equipment supply company. You can borrow the tools (everything from a plumb bob to a chainsaw) for three days, and if you return them on time, they're free. If you're late, there's a fee (which varies according to demand for the tool). This is a brilliant concept, as it greatly benefits the community as a whole and enables individual homeowners and community members to get involved. It destroys the barriers to community involvement that would normally stand in their way.

A quick search on Google yields some similar services in other places. This one, for example, which lends more sophisticated equipment, which can be used to run diagnostic tests on your home's efficiency.

Where else could this principle (community sharing) be applied? Know any other examples of it? Comment below.


Ad Center wisdom

There's a killer grad school for advertising called the Ad Center. They released a book a couple of months ago called "Sixty Weeks." It's a review of the program, featuring photos of some of their projects. Although the book isn't sold in bookstores (as far as I know), it has some great content. Like this: "MASC 640/assignment #1: Sitting at a restaurant, you spot a stranger sitting alone. You somehow know that this person could be the love of your life. You have one chance to capture this person's attention: Five words written on a napkin." (below this copy is a photo with 24 bar napkins with different responses) "Would you consider an adventure?" "Marriage or elopement? Let's discuss." "Too bad this's considered psycho." "Please don't be my cousin." and "We will always remember this."

Wish I'd had assignments like that in school.

You can also see a little bit of their thinking by looking at the application for admittance.


how could there not be 12 good books a year?

Bizquick mentions that Oprah's dropped her monthly book club. The CBS Market Watch article he links quotes her as saying: "It has become harder and harder to find a book on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share." That's weak. I know she's busy, but she must have people working under her who can suggest titles. In the past, I've criticized her book club, thinking that it was simply an easy way for her to advance author friends of hers. And I've never read a book because she recommended it. But I'd rather that people read books she suggests, rather than not read at all. As far as community-building efforts go, her book club was solid. It's a bad move to dissolve it.


:: 2MBR ::

For some reason, last Wednesday's Two-Minute Book Review has disappeared. Thanks to my Bloglet subscription, though, my e-mail had a copy of the post. So here it is:

Finally, I've got my hands on a copy of A Pattern Language. We've looked at a number of books in the short time that we've been doing these Two Minute Book Reviews. Today's book blows all of those others out of the water. Written by a team of architects, sociologists, urban planners, and some other social scientists and engineers, A Pattern Language is a set of guidelines that can help you design and develop a house, a business, a neighborhood, a city, or any other physical place of dialogue. Using simple drawings and conceptual diagrams that build off of one another, they follow a system: (1) outline a problem, (2) discuss the issues and thoughts around the problem, and (3) explain their resolution of the problem. So in that sense, it's like a collection of 253 white papers.

It was written in 1977, but the points it makes are of crucial importance today. Instead of describing it more, I'll just quote from it. Because we talk a lot about business and culture at Play, I'll excerpt a bit of the book revolving around "work community."

"If you spend eight hours of your day at work, and eight hours at home, there is no reason why your workplace should be any less of a community than your home.

When someone tells you he "lives," he is always talking about his house or the neighborhood his house is in. It sounds harmless enough. But think what it really means. Why should the people of our culture choose to use the word "live," which, on the face of it applies to every moment of our waking lives—that part associated with our families and houses. The implication is straightforward. The people of our culture believe that they are less alive when they are working than when they are at home; and we make this distinction subtly clear, by choosing to keep the word "live" only for those places in our lives where we are not working. Anyone who uses the phrase "where do you live" in its everyday sense, accepts as his own the widespread cultural awareness of the fact that no one really "lives" at his place of work—there is no song or music there, no love, no food—that he is not alive while working, not living, only toiling away, and being dead."

The sequences contained in A Pattern Language are incredible, and they apply to far more than the design of individual houses, universities, and other structures. The principles involved could be applied to any discipline. E-mail me for more about the book. Or you can just buy it. It's a remarkable work.

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
Comments by: YACCS