Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.

well, i'll be hog-tied

I saw in a Reuters report today that Smithfield Foods (producer of a world o' pork) has just announced that it will invest $20 million to build a facility that converts swine waste into biodiesel vehicle fuel. "Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that can be made from any fat including vegetable oil and used cooking oil. About 15 million gallons were used in the United States last year." Most biodiesel comes from soybeans, and the use of biodiesel has increased thirty-fold since 1999.

Pretty impressive, especially for an industry that so famously produces pretty horrific waste. Like the Zoo Poo way back when--good thinking by the higher-ups!

If you're interested, here is the Reuter's report and here is the company press release. And there's more about biodiesel at the National Biodiesel Board.



big ha

If you're into bicycling, check out Big Ha. It looks like a really cool company and a really cool product. "Big Ha stands for the important principle of "Why not?". Why not try something new? Why not think of things a little differently? Why not change the status quo? The greatest journeys begin with these questions. The answers are always surprising."


I found an interesting quote that relates play (the concept) to Play, the creative group who runs this most interesting of information update blogs.

"Shell's Arie de Geus says that organizational learning occurs in three ways: through teaching, through 'changing the rules of the game' (such as through openness and localness), and through play. Play is the most rare, and potentially the most powerful. Microworlds [computer-simulated scenarios] are places for 'relevant play.' There the issues and dynamics of complex business situations can be explored through trying out new strategies and policies and seeing what might happen. Costs offailed experiements disappear. Organizational sanctions against experimentation, either implicit or explicit, are nonexistent. Reflecting on our own and our team's learning skills can be enlightening and 'lightening' (as in 'lightening up') because this reflection can be separated from the risks and pressures of real decision making." -- From Peter M. Senge's "The Fifth Discipline".

This epitomizes the work that Play (the group) does for organizations across the country. Through their nothing-is-too-out-there mind-stretching activities, exercises, and advice, they are catalysts to innovative thinking. The open the door to the impossible and the inconceivable to reveal that the "doable" is just through the doorway. Many a business has come to organization-changing revelations because of their work with Play. Play affirms de Geus' assertion that "Relevant play" can indeed be a very powerful tool for creating change and improvement.



Anyone else wondering why major news outlets haven't picked up on the 64 people who have died from Ebola in the last month-and-a-half?

I know that has nothing to do with creativity / innovation. I was just ... curious.


happy birthday ... part two

I know that a bunch of you have already subscribed to Pure Content. For those of you who haven't, please consider doing so. Every once in a while, I make this plea, and it would be a great birthday present for Pure Content if you signed up. Or if you signed up a friend. We're not picky.

How to sign up: It's easy. There's a box on the right side of the screen, at the top of the right-hand column. It reads "daily dose." If you just write in your e-mail address in the white box and hit "subscribe," you'll be automatically signed up to receive the latest updates from Pure Content in your Inbox.

Why you should sign up: You're a busy person. You've got a lot on your mind. Wouldn't it be nice if someone made your life easier? That's what signing up does. You get the previous day's posts sent to your Inbox. You can read them there. If you want to read more, you can click on the links in the message, or you can head over to Pure Content to read the initial post and any comments that have been added. It's free. It's fast. It's easy. And you can unsubscribe at any time. Finally, it's our birthday, and it would make our day if you signed up.


the philosophy of creativity

In response to Andy's quote below, I received the following message in an e-mail. The author of the piece, a gentleman named Eric who works at the University of Richmond, agreed to let me post it here. Feel free to build off of his ideas. Know that this was a first draft ... a "get it out there" piece. If you want to get in touch with him, e-mail me, and I'll pass your message along. Many thanks to Eric for spending time and energy on this.

{His stuff begins ... now.}

When I read the quotation, a couple of thoughts bubble up. First and foremost, that "creativity" to me isn't a product, it's a process — or better yet, that it's a kind of frame of reference. More on that in a moment.

I figured I would start by examining Andy's first claim. If creativity isn't a function of time, then what is? My mind immediately snaps to high school physics--speed, that's something that is a function of time: distance/time = speed.

So could we cast "creativity" in a similar light? My first thought was to say creativity might be defined as change over time. But change itself might be defined as "difference over time" (i.e. things were one way in the past, different than that today, and different yet again tomorrow--that's "change.") So if change is difference over time and creativity is change over time, then creativity is to change what acceleration is to speed. (*Whew*)

[As a nifty aside: If difference over time does equal change, we might say that "change towards a goal" is "growth." And I note that the Latin root of creativity--creare--is related to the Latin crescere: to grow.]

But then, I don't think my formula is even remotely right--because I think my first definition of creativity above (change over time) is basically wrong and misses the essential nature of creativity. Creativity isn't simply about "change" as in mere alteration. And like Andy, I *don't* think creativity is a function of time, which helps throw all (or most) of that "equation" right out the window.

Instead, when I think about creativity as a concept I'm taken back to childhood when, as Play puts it, thinking was unbounded and fueled by play. And unbounded thinking--whether by a child, an artist, or a business person--isn't dependent upon time (except inasmuch as deadlines can add to the creative pressure-cooker). It isn't, to use Andy's phrase, a *function* of time.

But creativity does have a certain relationship with time. We all experience it--when we're caught up in some idea or activity that holds us completely spell-bound, that is the focus of all our energy, time dilates. We have no sense that time has passed--we start in on it in the morning, and we might not even think to eat lunch.

And the dilation of time--well, that's straight out of Einstein's special theory of relativity. :)

"We live in a Newtonian world of Einsteinian physics ruled by Frankenstein logic."
-- David Russell

Science fiction fans are familiar with the notion (sorry if I'm addressing something you already know well). If I hopped on a rocket ship (or let's get cooler: say I hopped on a solar-sail vessel) and worked my way up to something close to the speed of light, to you as an observer on earth, time appears to pass more slowly for me than for you. You may live into old age, but when my ship returns from the far reaches of the galaxy and I furl my solar sail for good, I may only be a few weeks older. And from my perspective, time went faster for you than for me.

But to each of us, our local perception of time went on as normal--I ate, drank, slept, and played my Atari for a few weeks while jaunting across the galaxy. You went to work, got married, had kids, and had grandkids before I got back.

[And if you could watch me during the trip through a space/time viewer, I'd look like I was going in slow motion; if I looked at you through the other end of the viewer, you'd look like you were going in fast motion.]

So it is with the people who are caught up in the throes of creative pursuits--to an outside observer, they're revved up, frenetically throwing ideas up on a white board or splashing paint on canvas while the observer plods through her dull day of old coffee and statistical abstracts. But from the perspective of the creative folks, their day is just going normal speed--and yet, when they resurface, they realize the whole day has already passed.

The key here is the perspective, or frame of reference. Within each frame of reference, the laws of physics are the same and time seems to pass the same for each--whether you're on earth or in the HMS Admiratio (as I have just christened my solar-sail vessel). But things appear different if a person in one frame of reference observes somebody in a different frame of reference.

So given this approach, you might say: Creativity is in fact *not* dependent upon time. Indeed, just the opposite: time itself depends on creativity! :)

And beyond even that, the frame of reference that you all are dealing with--that of "creativity"--has different rules and principles than the frame of reference in which most businesses operate (though happily, that's changing). The realm of creativity involves valuing innovation, revolution, non-standard approaches to problem-solving. The old business approach valued hard work for hard work's sake, pattern repetition, and conservative (in a non-political sense) thinking.

John W. Gardner of the Carnegie Foundation said, "The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept." The creative frame of reference makes that approach possible.

It is this frame of reference revolving around creativity that sets the very notion of creativity apart. Creativity is the conceptual framework that allows people to bring "that which was not" into "that which is."

Creativity as a notion, then, sets up the parameters--the laws of physics, if you will--that allow people to operate in a particular fashion and with these new approaches. It nurtures what Einstein called "the holy curiosity of inquiry." Creativity is, to return to Andy's phrase, an overarching philosophy of thinking.


happy birthday, Pure Content

So ... this is exciting. Pure Content is one year old today. Birthday gifts and well-wishes are, of course, accepted with glee. To celebrate, here's the first Pure Content post ever:

open source
How do you connect with your core target audience? How interactive is your production and design process? Check out these two examples: Open Cola and John Fluevog shoes. By setting up a forum through which their biggest fans can take the company’s product and improve upon it, these companies create a more tight-knit community and also end up with a better offering. How could your company / organization do the same thing?

It's been a good year. We laughed. We cried. It was better than Cats.

In all seriousness, this has been an exciting experiment, and I want to thank all of you for coming back to the blog, time and time again, for e-mailing me with articles and ideas and suggestions and tips, for posting your own pieces as the Street Team, and for your encouragement and support throughout. I'd particularly like to thank Rich Schaffer, David Dec, Ben Domenech, Arturo Elenes, Armistead Booker, and the entire Play team, especially Courtney, Robert, and all of the interns, for their particular contributions to this project. An extra big smooch goes out to Sean.


Corky Siegel is a musician who has blended blues and the chamber orchestra to create the Chamber Blues, a unique musical genre. In Nov. 1999 he wrote: "From a tiny place in one's heart *blossoms* an offering. It's purpose is to uplift - not be forced into the small space of another's imagination...like trying to squeeze a tree into a seed. The reason I say this is because creativity is an intimate process. It is not so much about the object or idea that many times finds itself consumed by the opinion of others. Objects are a side-effect of creativity and are there to behold. But the critical mind moves the focus away from the beauty of the creative process into the world of opinion and fashion. This serves to frighten individuality, dishonors diversity and intimidates one's faith in inspiration, which is the essence of creativity. We need to have more faith in our own inspiration, our own individuality, and our own creativity. Defining creativityt in a way that brings the attention away from judgment of the object toward the understanding and compassion for the process is therefore a very useful tool for me as an artist. So...
"Creativity" --- the intimate process that begins with a degree of awareness of the beautiful, ecstatic, and powerful energy that lies within. The recognition and the experience of this energy by an individual is known as an "inspiration". The inspiration is filtered through the mind and cool things pop out!
In this way, the universe speaks to the world. The object of creativity, in line with inspiration, and true to the heart, will uplift one's life and the world."



"Creativity is not a function of time but a philosophy of thinking." — Andy Stefanovich


knowledge isn't always free. but now it's cheaper.

I received an e-mail from a chap named Ori who has created a new site. For anyone loking for books out there, check it out: www.fetchbook.info. It looks like a bibliophile's Google, scanning different booksellers' sites to find the cheapest version of whatever book you're looking for. It also looks handy in finding obscure titles, as it searches for you. I'm going to e-mail my Dad about this right now.

By the way ... I just came up with that tagline (the "knowledge isn't always free. but now it's cheaper" one). Thoughts?


bright eyed. bushy tailed.

So ... I don't know if it was the day off I had yesterday (thanks to the "wintry mix"), but I woke up this morning at 3:45 and couldn't get back to sleep. We had company stay over, so I couldn't pad around the house. So I came in to the Play office. And now I'm blogging at 4:51 am. If you read this before 8:00 and feel like talking, give me a call. 804.474.3564. You can help me put together the next Playshare. Or I can teach you how to do a Bootlegger's Turn in the snow.


This is a short film (cut and paste link to view) chronicling the short sad life of an advertising idea. Anyone who has to sell creative concepts to a client should find if amusing:



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

04/27/2003 - 05/03/2003 04/20/2003 - 04/26/2003 04/13/2003 - 04/19/2003 04/06/2003 - 04/12/2003 03/30/2003 - 04/05/2003 03/23/2003 - 03/29/2003 03/16/2003 - 03/22/2003 03/09/2003 - 03/15/2003 03/02/2003 - 03/08/2003 02/23/2003 - 03/01/2003 02/16/2003 - 02/22/2003 02/09/2003 - 02/15/2003 02/02/2003 - 02/08/2003 01/26/2003 - 02/01/2003 01/19/2003 - 01/25/2003 01/12/2003 - 01/18/2003 01/05/2003 - 01/11/2003 12/29/2002 - 01/04/2003 12/22/2002 - 12/28/2002 12/15/2002 - 12/21/2002 12/08/2002 - 12/14/2002 12/01/2002 - 12/07/2002 11/24/2002 - 11/30/2002 11/17/2002 - 11/23/2002 11/10/2002 - 11/16/2002 11/03/2002 - 11/09/2002 10/27/2002 - 11/02/2002 10/20/2002 - 10/26/2002 10/13/2002 - 10/19/2002 10/06/2002 - 10/12/2002 09/29/2002 - 10/05/2002 09/22/2002 - 09/28/2002 09/15/2002 - 09/21/2002 09/08/2002 - 09/14/2002 09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002 08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002 08/18/2002 - 08/24/2002 08/11/2002 - 08/17/2002 08/04/2002 - 08/10/2002 07/28/2002 - 08/03/2002 07/21/2002 - 07/27/2002 07/14/2002 - 07/20/2002 07/07/2002 - 07/13/2002 06/30/2002 - 07/06/2002 06/23/2002 - 06/29/2002 06/16/2002 - 06/22/2002 06/09/2002 - 06/15/2002 06/02/2002 - 06/08/2002 05/26/2002 - 06/01/2002 05/19/2002 - 05/25/2002 05/12/2002 - 05/18/2002 05/05/2002 - 05/11/2002 04/28/2002 - 05/04/2002 04/21/2002 - 04/27/2002 04/14/2002 - 04/20/2002 04/07/2002 - 04/13/2002 03/31/2002 - 04/06/2002 03/24/2002 - 03/30/2002 03/17/2002 - 03/23/2002 03/10/2002 - 03/16/2002 03/03/2002 - 03/09/2002 02/24/2002 - 03/02/2002 02/17/2002 - 02/23/2002 current

see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS