Frankly Anything


A blog about, frankly, anything

Storytelling circa 3024

This is what I imagine storytelling evolving to in a thousand years or so.


Industrial design meets the Brothers Grimm

Slagsmålsklubben – Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.
(found via Flowing Data)

Mia Culpa/About The Blogroll

So, this is a bit embarrasing. 14 days after kicking this blog off and there’s still just that same mediocre first couple of articles. I’m a firm believer in cause and effect however and so there’s good cause involved here. Chiefly, that school and work have joined forces to keep me a safe distance from the blog. But it’s early on a Sunday morning and both school and work are still sleeping so I’ve snuck away to dash this off. Unfortunately not only do they keep me from simply doing the actual writing but they keep me from being able to even do a lot of thinking about what it is I want to say. So, while I have a number of ideas I want to write about, I’ve not had the time to really flesh any one of them out just yet. And because I don’t want this blog to be something half-assed, I’m not going to try to hastily hammer out something here.

Instead, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss the blog roll over there on the right. Specifically, why I chose these links in particular.

CounterKnowledge – Having been raised in an environment where I was surrounded by people who pretended to know things they didn’t know, I’ve become almost maniacal in keeping an eye out for claims that aren’t’ supported by evidence or reason. This site is a good resource for separating the real from the imagined. Are there others? Share them in the comments.

Data Evolution and Flowing Data – In addition to sunsets, landscapes, portraiture and the other usual artful suspects, I’ve always thought that the numbers, symbols and expressions employed in math and science shared a similar aesthetic quality.  When I moved into consulting and discovered Tufte that appreciation evolved into the visual representation of data. The New York Times does a particularly excellent job of this and there are a number of sites out there where you can learn to do this better. I’m still learning.

First Look, NYTimes Developers Blog – I plan to dedicate an article to what the NYT is doing digitally generally. For now I draw your attention to their developers blog here as they’re doing some really interesting and progressive things (not just for a newspaper but for digital generally) that deserve our attention.

KONIGI – My entire professional career has been devoted to user experience. When I worked in audio post-production it was all about using music, sound effects, dialogue and the techniques of mixing the three to evoke a response in the viewer or listener. The 10+ years I spent honing that skill greased the skids quite nicely for my transition into digital media. KONIGI is a site I stumbled across a few months ago and read regularly for inspiration.

MBV – Along with this site is the place to go for the latest in indie/alt rock. Another great one is but Matthew from fluxblog also works on MBV, so if you had to choose just one (as I chose to) choose MBV.

The Bitstream – Always one to champion the little guy, I’ve added the blog of a longtime acquaintance, Oliver Masciarotte. Oliver and I met each other when he was at Sonic Solutions and I was in still doing audio, using the Sonic Solutions toolset. Oliver’s responsible for taking my forensic audio chops to another level.

Wanted: A New Kind of Agency

Advertising, being a form of communication, is tightly coupled with media. One way to look at the history of advertising is as an evolution of our mastery of media. e.g.:

It started with printed copy. Then good printed copy.
Next came printed copy and images. Then good printed copy and images.
It evolved to spoken copy. Then good spoken copy.
Next came spoken copy and moving images. Then good spoken copy and moving images.

With digital, the smart ones figured out early (late 90s/early 2000s) that good copy and still images, combined with some utility, made for good communication and helped build brand equity. Want to learn about a product? Want to ask questions about a product before buying? Want to get support for a product? Want to find a community of others who’ve bought the same product and share tips or criticisms? Web1.0 enabled that.

Lately though (i.e. the last 5 years), it seems that advertising online has been more about entertaining, as opposed to communicating. It’s been about games and videos and, frankly, fluff that links tenuously, at best, back to the brand. Worst, it’s questionable to what degree it effectively delivers on its raison d’etre of entertainment. And digital agencies are usually stocked with graphic designers and Flash developers and architects who excel at creating games and animations and other kinds of entertainment.

But the agency of the future (and perhaps I’m really describing the creative director of the future), is someone who understands how to apply good copy (written and/or spoken), images (still and/or moving), interaction and data. It’s someone who can look at a brand, take the fundamentals of what that brand stands for, and using the data, APIs and open source frameworks available, build a tool that users of the brand find useful. By implementing best practices in terms of human interaction and design, along with creatively integrating visuals and copy, the use of that tool is elevated to an experience.

We need to find the technologists who understand the resources (the data, the APIs, the technologies that transform) and have new ways of thinking about how different technologies can plug together or have new ideas about new kinds of “glue” to build, and marry them with “creatives” (I hate that title) that know how to tell a story in a way that’s compelling, while at the same time delivering something useful to the consumer that connects with the brand.

Try to find an agency that embodies these characteristics and you won’t fine one. At least I haven’t (if you know of one shoot me an email or leave a comment). Or are we really talking about a new kind of marketer? One who can balance brand marketing, technology, psychology and social networking – a “technopologist” in the words of the WSJ.

Now It Begins

i’ve started and dropped a number of blogs over the past several years. With Franklyanything I’m going to take another stab at it. I’m feeling optimistic about this time as I’m nearly finished with my MBA and there’s a lot of stuff happening worth writing about.

In the spirit of kicking this off in the right way I’ll start by quoting something I found earlier this evening that seems apropos:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles, Ted Orland

Here’s to quality via quantity.

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//02/25/2010 - added Tynt tracking code to try out Tynt