Week links, #07

 

ETC

A new theory claims Homo sapiens beat out Neanderthals because of art
A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture proposes that our ancestors’ skill at art, as well as hunting, was essential to their ability to thrive. The study’s author, psychologist Richard Coss of the University of California-Davis, says there is “a causal relationship between the evolved ability of anatomically modern humans to throw spears accurately while hunting and their ability to draw representational images,” which is tied to the development of the parietal cortex in the brains of Homo sapiens. In other words, the art of hunting forced the evolution of humans.

Drawing May Have Helped Humans Develop As A Species
A new study suggests that for early humans, the hand-eye coordination necessary for hunting was the same that was needed for drawing.

How to start managing your energy levels instead of your time
The amout of energy you have should determine what you do

Writing Your Autobiography: What It Means to Truly Love Yourself
The stories that shape us shouldn’t define us

How Businesses Can Best Use Content Marketing to Generate Leads
New research on B2B companies highlights an effective way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.

The Curiously Elastic Limits of Endurance
In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Outside’s Sweat Science columnist explores the brain’s role in setting our physical limits.

Stay excited every day – Sairah Ashman on staying happy, and staying put.
Over the next few months, we will be chatting with some of the speakers who will be joining us at Collision. We’re joined today by Sairah Ashman, who will be speaking at creatiff. Sairah was recently promoted to CEO at Wolff Olins, the creative consultancy famously described by a McKinsey Partner as “the perfect blend of maths and magic”. We caught up with her to talk about how staying in the one company has its benefits, how tech and sociology overlap and why we should embrace AI with caution.

99 Reasons to Kill Your Dream? Accept the 1
You’re never going to be original, but that doesn’t matter anyway.

What I Look For
If you’re looking for a job at IDEO.org, read this.

ADVERTISING

WHY THE BREAKDOWN OF CREATIVE SILOS WILL SAVE MARKETING
Once upon a time, there was a creative industry with three different disciplines: marketing, advertising, and design. For a long time, these industries were happy. They were able to live in their own little houses, do their own thing, and occasionally talk and work with each other but then go back to their own private spaces and talk their own talk.

10 reasons why pitching is the biggest illusion of the 21st century
When I read an email with the line “you are invited to our pitch…”, or see more ‘refined’ phrases such as RFP or RFQ, I immediately assume that it’s going to be an intellectual stick-em-up. Created by an army of purchasing and pitching consultants, selling fake certainty to brands by approaching every collaboration as if they were buying Biros. Or worse: asking agencies for retainers and even kickbacks in case they are rewarded a loss-making contract after a long and expensive pitch process.

The end of the beginning of the end
Reacting to “the death of the ad agency” with some thoughts on creation, maintenance and destruction

Further gloom & doom…

It’s the End of Agencies As We Know It. Here’s Where We Go Next
Brands want streamlined partners who help them build trust

DESIGN

Why Joy is the Best Protest
Earlier this year, [IDEO] moved [their] Cambridge-based studio into a building in Central Square. We wanted to personalize our new home with some public art, but were uncertain about what final expression it should take, so we got started by slapping on a new coat of paint—transforming it from an oppressive gray brutalism to a welcoming white canvas. Then, a local connection, who shared our desire for more street art in Cambridge, suggested we look up Elton.

10 Laws Of UX, Illustrated
A handy guide for remembering Fitts’s Law, Jakob’s Law, and more.

Week links, #06

CREATIVITY

Who Is Robert Cialdini? Meet the Master of Influence and Persuasion
Dr. Robert Cialdini is the mind behind Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the great and enduring works of social psychology, along with a number of other books, including Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Cialdini’s work is among the world’s best resources on how we persuade others and how we are persuaded.

New study reveals why some people are more creative than others
It’s not just your ability to draw a picture or design a product. We all need to think creatively in our daily lives, whether it’s figuring out how to make dinner using leftovers or fashioning a Halloween costume out of clothes in your closet. Creative tasks range from what researchers call “little-c” creativity – making a website, crafting a birthday present or coming up with a funny joke – to “Big-C” creativity: writing a speech, composing a poem or designing a scientific experiment.

The One Thing You Need to Generate Great Ideas
A drawing is worth a thousand words. That’s my version of the age-old adage. When it comes to expressing the functional and emotional merits of a new idea, I firmly believe you have to make it visual.

ADVERTISING

Check Out Adweek’s Instant Reviews of Every Ad in Super Bowl LII
See all the spots again, plus our thumbs up or thumbs down

It’s Time to Stop Devaluing Creativity
TBWA Worldwide’s CEO reflects on how tech is creating more room for big ideas

IAB CALLS BLOCKCHAIN ‘NATURAL FIT’ FOR DIGITAL VIDEO ADVERTISING
The IAB says blockchain technology “is a natural fit for the digital advertising supply chain” with potential to increase efficiency, reduce costs and eliminate fraud. Blockchain can also significantly reduce the number of queries that ad-tech systems need to make each second; ensure that premium video inventory is bought and sold reliably; reduce the number of suppliers and increase transparency, according to the IAB.

Far Too Many Creatives Are Wasting Their Energy on Drivel
Need I make any additional remarks?

INTERVIEW: Dave Trott
As far as creatives were concerned GGT stood for ‘someone beginning with ‘G’, Someone beginning with ‘G’ and DAVE TROTT’.

BUSINESS

The Future of the Chief Procurement Officer… Is already here.
CPOs (Chief Procurement Officers) is the function in charge of leading this transformation. Many leaders within the procurement world are ready to realize the change that lies ahead. This much is clear after hearing about the CPOs that praised coming disruptions and transformations within procurement at DITx. This is a new breed of CPO.

DESIGN

Becoming a More Thoughtful User Experience Designer
The difference between creating good experiences and amazing experiences often comes down to how thoughtful we can remain during the design process.

The ultimate guide to user experience
The secret to a good UX is not to make users have to think about what they’re doing: it should come naturally to them to find what they’re looking for and interact with your site. In a web design agency, user experience may be the responsibility of the team as a whole or a specific UX designer. There are even entire firms that specialise in user experience consultancy.

Interview with Barry Katz, IDEO first Fellow, on Design Thinking.
Barry Katz is IDEO’s first Fellow and Professor of Industrial and Interaction Design at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and Consulting Professor in the Design Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Stanford. He is the author of six books, including (with Tim Brown) Change By Design, and most recently, Make it New: The History of Silicon Valley Design (MIT Press, 2015).

Future of Print: How Design Brought it Back from the Dead
When we were sitting on our family computers in the basement of our parent’s Midwestern homes, downloading music from Napster, Limewire, and What.cd, we had no idea we were part of a revolution—a way of getting and hearing music that would fundamentally change the industry forever. We eventually quit because it was illegal and not worth the viruses, but not before that fundamental shift occurred. Nearly twenty years later, we don’t even bother with owning digital files, we stream them from various services. And we collect vinyl.

ODDS & ENDS

We Are Our Own Typos
As Wired summarized the problem a few years ago: “The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” They go on to explain that one of the great skills of our big brains is that we build mental maps of the world, but those maps are not always faithful to the actual world.

Quick side comment about typos: I accidentally left a typo in an article I posted on LinkedIn last weekend. It made me eternally happy when I got a note from someone notifying me of my mistake. Someone actually read what I wrote!

 

A long story about brothers & the choices we make

Judd Apatow made a beautiful documentary that aired on HBO recently called May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers. I am a fan of both Apatow and the Avett’s. 

Seeing the brothers away from their music, leading their lives in North Carolina roused some distant memories.

I am a brother of Pi Kappa Phi, and in the fall of 1988, I moved into the fraternity’s house on 19th Street, across from the Texas Tech campus. This was my senior year in college. 

Pi Kappa Phi’s Founding fathers from the College of Charleston. I am a founder of the chapter at Tech, initiate #13.

I lived on the second floor of the house with seven other brothers. Being an upper class man, I was given a small room in the corner at the top of the stairs, all to myself. No roommate. Two of the four walls in my room were windows. The southern windows opened unto the roof, which I could climb out the window and sit out there under the stars on pleasant west Texas evenings. For all the noise and chaos of living in a frat house, I look back on that time fondly. 

My room was packed tightly with my bed, a bookcase and my drawing table. I also had a portable drawing board leaning against a wall that I had bought from the architecture department a couple of years earlier. This is back in the days when we hand-painted out comps. While one was drying you could be working on another – you needed two boards. 

In the spring of 1989, I was heading towards my final portfolio review. The big one before graduation. My room was covered with boards, drawings, pieces being cleaned up, 4×5’s that still needed to be mounted. A beautiful mess. 

The Pi Kapp chapter had worked hard to raise funds and awareness for the Lubbock State School and our efforts had paid off. Our national board had granted the School a PUSH unit. PUSH stands for “Play Units for the Severely Handicapped”. These units are installed in schools to give handicapped children sensual stimulations that engage them in ways that help lead to better lives. It’s a great cause and I am proud of our efforts. 

The Pi Kapp National Board and Executive Director flew to Lubbock to meet with the State School, and of course, meet the chapter that had led the charge to get the installation. We had scrubbed the house to make it more presentable to our guests, but as mentioned, my room was a disaster. 

I was upstairs at my drawing table plugging away when these gentlemen popped their heads in. I got up, introduced myself and seeing the disarray, they all asked what I was doing. I told them I was a Design Comm major and I was getting ready for my senior review.

Most of the board members raised an eyebrow, scratched their heads and moved along. Generally speaking, Pi Kapps study business or engineering, rarely are they art majors. 

One board member stayed behind. He came into my room and started looking at the posters, books, spreads and other bits covering on my bed. He introduced himself as Jim and asked me a few questions. I was distracted and barely listening to him, doing  just enough to to be polite so that I could quickly get back to work. 

He said he’d never seen a book like mine. He also said he ran an ad agency back in Charlotte, and that if I’m ever out that way to look him up. I don’t recall what I said, but he left to continue the tour of the house and I got back to work.

A few weeks later, the brothers got together for our weekly chapter meeting. Our chapter advisor happened to be attending. As the meeting was winding down, Bob, our advisor, had a quick announcement. 

Bob stood up and said that he had a round-trip ticket to Charlotte, where the national office is, that he could not use. He was supposed to fly over to meet with the council, but had some local business to attend to so he could not go. The tickets were paid for, all you had to do is go.

Suddenly, Jim’s words from a couple weeks earlier came to mind. “If you’re ever in Charlotte, look me up…”. I thought about it for a bit, but didn’t say anything and to this day I have never been to Charlotte. 

A couple of years go by. I’ve graduated and am living in Houston, working at a small design studio. Like all good young designers, I spend my spare time studying graphic design. The latest issue of Communication Arts had come in mail and I get busy devouring it. Turning the pages, I come to the feature on an ad agency and who do I see? 

LKM did these beautiful, clever series of tourism ads for North Carolina back in the 80’s and 90’s.

Jim Mountjoy, of Creative Director of Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy. A fraternity brother. This guy who is being featured in CA had been standing in my room, looking at my book and had told me to come see him. My head exploded.

This is a long story about choices. And paying attention. And taking action. Watching the documentary the other day and seeing the beautiful North Carolina countryside made me think about what my life would have been like had I taken those plane tickets, or had the wherewithal to ask for a business card from Mr Mountjoy. 

Where would I be? I’m pretty certain I would not be married to the woman who is my wife nor would I have my three children or sitting in my living room thinking about a day from almost 30 years ago. Life would have been very different. Not better or worse, just different.

We all make choices and do lots of things, but how often are we aware of things that go on in our lives. 

I’ve gotten to the point where I get so annoyed with interviews of designers, entrepreneurs and the like. I’ve read and listened to them for years, but cannot stand them anymore because more often than not, everyone credits luck to getting the big break that made their career. Mountjoy might have been a lucky break for me but I did not realize it at the time. 

How much of success is luck and how much of it is paying attention to the world around you?

Week links, #05

 

ADVERTISING

What’s a brilliant example of defensive creativity?
“The whole fun in our game is being the underdog”

Advertising has lost the art of showing, not telling
Dave Trott reminisces about the bygone days of advertising when copywriters vividly brought products to life – and when all ads did not look the same.

How Advertising Blew Its Biggest Chance Since the Mad Men
Or, Why Media Flaming Out Isn’t Tech’s Fault — It’s Advertising’s Fault

DESIGN

Then and Now: The Bauhaus and 21st century design
Paper written for the centennial of the Bauhaus School for a special issue of a magazine series for the Bauhaus Association (In Germany). They changed the title to “Why we Need so Much More Than the Bauhaus” and made mine the first article, but not listed in the list of “Contributions by” on the cover, not in the “Contributors” Photos and biographies list at the start of the magazine, and not in the Table of Contents. Very creative of them.

Thinking Design
On trusting your gut, and other lost arts.

10 Reasons That Explain Graphic Design Company Is Your Next Place to Invest
Vibrant workplace needs a flawless flow of design. In need of addressing the challenge of steady design flow, we need to find the perfect balance between ease and positivity. One of the Graphic Design Company In Ahmedabad has excelled in the field. Here is a list of reasons that makes design as an utmost important factor for any business aspiring to reach success.

A DESIGN HISTORIAN EXPLAINS WHY THE CLEVELAND INDIANS’ OFFENSIVE LOGO SURVIVED FOR SO LONG
Soon, baseball fans won’t have to bear with Chief Wahoo.

Design Discourse Is In A State Of Arrested Development
A dearth of thoughtful design criticism has dire consequences for the profession–and society at large, writes Adobe’s Khoi Vinh.

ODDS & ENDS

Why I Write in PowerPoint
When writing business documents (aside from emails), most people turn to word-processing software. That’s not the only option. You can do everything — outlines, drafts, revisions, and even layouts, if you’d like — in PowerPoint or similar presentation programs.

and…

Our love-hate relationship with PowerPoint
Blamed for a rise in passive behaviour, and a decline in curiosity among young people, this software is divisive – loved by some, hated by others – but has it had its day?

Screw Emotional Intelligence–Here’s The Key To The Future Of Work
This Y Combinator alum and former IBM Watson strategist believes the market value of one particular capability will soon outpace EQ.

The network effect
Being a good networker pays off — but it requires skill as well as shamelessness

How to keep productivity from killing your creativity
When you think about your favorite day of work, what comes to mind? Was it the day you answered 80 emails in an two-hour sprint? Or was it the day you discovered a new way to solve a problem you’d wrestled with for weeks? Chances are, you remember the day you did your best work better than the day you did the most work.

Creating value with less noise
Lately, I’ve noticed more cars with after-market upgrades that make them significantly noisier, but little else. A similar thing happens at work when extroverts drown out introverts in meetings. In Texas, all hat and no cattle describes things and people that generate significant noise without creating much value in the end.

Teaching — It’s about Inspiration, Not Information
Teaching is really about inspiration, not information. Effective teaching focuses on why and how, not what. The goal should be to spark each student’s imagination, to find a hook in their heart and mind so that they feel a need to learn the material. The rest is easy, because the student then drives his or her learning. My role as a teacher is to ask provocative questions, and to help the students make a path toward the answers. If they are motivated to find the path, they will carve it themselves. If I have to pull out a mental machete to expose the path, then I haven’t done my job.