Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

Playshare- The Dance of the Cranes

Because tomorrow's the 15th, we've written a Playshare to go out. We're not sending it until Monday, but because we've got a soft spot in our hearts for you, we're going to post it here right now. If you want to sign up to get these "nuggets of creative thought" every two weeks, send us an e-mail. If you'd like to get an e-mail with the previous day's posts from Pure Content, enter your e-mail address in the box to the right. Free subscriptions! Who can beat it? Here's the Playshare:

Berlin is a city on the move. Ever since the Wall fell in ’89, the city has been growing exponentially. If you visit, you’ll see a mass of scaffolding and cranes sticking above the city like a swarm of locusts’ legs. With thirty or forty buildings going up simultaneously, the city is bursting with potential. Unfortunately, a lot of people see this activity as a nuisance. The cranes, they say, are an eyesore. An urban blight.

However, a group of visionaries in the city has fought that perspective, recognizing construction not only as future potential, but as a manifestation of the city’s existing beauty. These artists and activists asked the question “how can we celebrate the beautiful chaos of the building process, rather than waiting to enjoy the final result?”

Their answer was the Dance of the Cranes.

This group orchestrated an evening where crane operators, composers, lighting technicians, and city planners choreographed the cranes in a complex ballet set to music and dramatic lighting. Amid the chaos of Berlin's construction projects, they sought out and expressed the inherent, unseen elegance. All across the city, citizens watched as the cranes spun, twirled, raised and lowered in a beautiful, unified dance.

Creativity is mental construction. It’s sometimes confusing, it’s often messy, and it’s usually time consuming. But that doesn't mean there isn't beauty in the process as well as the solution. Rather than fight the chaos, join the dance.

let's play.


kick start your creativity

The man, the myth, the legend Rich Schaffer, who is Pure Content's honorary Street Team leader, has sent us another link to check out. HOW Magazine, which is usually read by designers and graphically-inclined types (types! ha!) is a great read. Rich passed the web site on to us, to pass on to you, dear readers. Here's their main site: HOW Design at Work. Inside their most recent issue is an article, with a "calendar" of things to do to think more creatively. Kick Start Your Creativity. It's pretty good, with about 50% of the ideas being solid, idea-producing exercises. Some are a little fluffy. It's a quick read, though, and worth a two-minute scan.


signal corp

After missing an exit that was maddeningly unmarked, LA artist Richard Ankrom, took public awareness into his own hands. An artist and sign maker by trade, Ankron, worked for two years to plan, assemble, and execute his plan. Ankrom scaled the transportation department sign that extends over the Harbor Freeway in LA. He added an interstate logo and the word "North" both in the same font and scale as the other directions on the sign. Now drivers would be aware of the exit that was previously unannounced.

How many times have you been astonished by the poor quality of highway, street, or parking signs? This guy took matters into his own hands, performing an act of rebellion, that is truly an act of public assistance. I think I might throw on a reflective orange vest and some safety goggles and start conducting traffic on one of the many congested intersections where I live.

yours in public welfare


a novel approach to fundraising

In France, movie and sports stars contributed cameras with 24 undeveloped pictures to a fundraiser which made $47,000 for a journalists advocacy group. What a cool idea! The stars are going about their day, doing what they do, and they take random photos. Then fans bid on these cameras. The fundraiser doesn't even have to pay for the film's development.

From the article: "As one of the photographers, I can tell you it was like a lovely dream, because there was always something funny about imagining who would end up with this camera," said the star of the films "Chocolat" and "The English Patient."

Brilliant. Here's an article: Fans Buy Up Stars' Amateur Snaps at Charity Auction.



If you haven't read it yet, mental_floss is, in my opinion the coolest magazine to come out in the last couple of years. It's on par with The Week or the redesign of Popular Science. Here's a short article about the magazine, from "Magazine," a magazine about magazines. Here's the mental_floss site itself.

They recently released the Spy Issue, which we have on tap at Red Chair, our new unconventional meeting space.



More on this when I get back. But for now: Creative Generalist is the blog and community for curious divergent thinkers who appreciate new ideas and the wide mix of sources- including architecture, fashion, advertising, graphic design, animation, industrial design, interior design, travel, writing, film, music, theatre, etc. - needed to generate them. What inspires you?


new Malcolm Gladwell

I'm heading out to give a speech. Rock.

Here's a new(ish) article from Malcolm Gladwell. Enjoy. Blowing Up How Nassim Taleb turned the inevitability of disaster into an investment strategy


a new brand world

Sorry for the cliche'd title. Comment from an unnamed friend: "This sounds a lot like marchFIRST to me." He's referring to this: PwC Consulting to be ‘Monday’. Or you can see the company's new site, here: Monday.

I must say, though, their business cards look sharp.



Technology is driving a new approach to aid in the world's second poorest country, Niger, where the adult illiteracy rate is 80% and the average life expectancy is 45 years. The technology is the radio. The new approach to aid is helping the people of Niger to better communicate with each other.

Unlike past, high-tech development projects in the country, such as sophisticated computer systems that were grounded without parts or knowledgeable technicians, the system of community radio stations are cheap to operate and maintain. The stations are fueled by solar power and cost about $15k to equip and build. More importantly they give local citizens the power to communicate with each other. The radio transmissions reach areas of Niger that the Internet can't.

Above all, the stations are a catalyst for communication in the local languages that are vital in attacking problems such as AIDS. The idea for the stations came about from a UN aid worker's visit to a village to assess a food shortage. He asked some women of the village what they needed. They said they dreamed of the day that they could have a radio station. The radio would enable them to be in touch with neighboring villages.

Effective communication is one of the most direct and powerful ways you can bring about change. From semafore to email, people want to know what's going on. LL Cool J said it best, "You know I can't live without my radio!"


logo madness

Logotype has nearly 50,000 corporate logos that you (yes you) can download and manipulate, after getting proper clearance from the authorities, of course. McDonald's. Gap. And, of course, Coca-Cola. There are also some foreign versions of logos, like Israeli (I think) Coke and McDonald's in some Arabic script.


comics biz

In somewhat related news (see below), check out Telescope Comics. Telescope Comics, apparently, makes comic books that help communicate issues within companies and organizations. If you have good eyes, you can read a couple of pages from King Arthur, CEO (Communication and Leadership in Camelot).

Your employees can learn:

• How communication depends on perception
• How continuity between expectations and realities establishes stability
• How participation enhances understanding
• How transferring responsibility for decision making encourages growth
• How shared experience creates cohesion
• How using the language of the people ensures comprehension

Be careful that you use the right "language of the people" ... I doubt middle managers want to hear you say "We will come to Camelot under cover of woods. We will employ your traps and use your stealth skills and take Morgana's forces unawares."

Note. I'm not endorsing this ... just pointing it out.


who are you people? (2.0)

Somebody stumbled upon Pure Content while looking up "ari fleischer action figure" on Google. Do any of you know anything about this? Thanks for stopping by ...


old friends

If you've been reading Pure Content for a while, you've seen Foundry DX before. Sun Yun, the guy behind Foundry DX, uses Legos to make models of giant robots, like in Gundam, or Transformers, or Five Star Stories. The pieces he makes are incredible, and he recently redesigned his site. He received a "redrubberball award" from Play (our recognition of people using creativity in business, government, education, culture, etc.). Because of the site redesign, and because he mentions the RRB on his "about page," we wanted to share his site with you again.

The pieces he makes are remarkable. The one below is freestanding and has 19 points of articulation.

robot + legos = wow

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