Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Another Week Gone By

Guess what folks? It’s the time of the week where I throw out the stuff I read and found interesting this week. Just out of curiosity, would you prefer if I wrote up these as short entries as I read them, or are you cool with me putting it into one big entry at the end of the week? Anyway . . . on with the show.

Design

  • I got pointed to an old Digital Web Magazine interview with Joshua Davis. When asked, “What would you say is beauty in design?” Davis replied, “Being able to justify every pixel.” That’s a damn good definition.
  • On the other side of beautiful design is Scoble, who talked about the success of sites with ugly design. He wrote, “It’s amazing how few corporate types get that the quality and engineering thought behind your HTML matters more than whether your site is pretty or not.” Arghhh.
  • Luckily, Luke Wroblewski of Functioning Form was there to defend design explaining, “Many sites with a poor visual presentation remain popular on the merits of their content alone. But does their audience enjoy bumping through the site’s awkward graphics and hard to read labels? No, but the personality of the content (it could be high quality, funny, worthwhile, and more) makes the rest bearable. Would their audience be happier if the personality of the presentation matched the personality of the content? Of course.” I agree with Luke, design is a reflection of your personality. But underdesign or overdesign should be a design choice. A deli, for example, probably doesn’t want to go with a sign that makes it look too elegant because that doesn’t properly reflect who they are and what they sell. Beauty is just one aspect of design. Unfortunately, it’s the thing people most often focus on.
  • Mike Hosier at Speak Up describes the classic advertising agency battle between account and creative. In it he tells the story of a fired creative director who fought back against hearing what the client wanted, saying, “They don’t know what they want. That is our job. It is what we do. We figure that out.” This seems to be one of the great conundrums of the advertising industry: Companies hire agencies to create work for them and then dictate the work that the agency creates to a point that they might as well have done it themselves.

Marketing

The last link seems like a nice segue . . .

  • Gary Stein on the need for agencies to embrace new media: “‘Placing media’ is a symantic holdover from the offline-only world. As are insertion orders and even the concept of premium inventory. They all speak to the discipline of putting a message in front of someone and hoping for the best.”
  • I don’t read Seth Godin a whole lot, but he has some interesting things to say about the need of businesses to develop edges. An edge is a product or service outside your core realm (he calls it a cluster). It’s a way to make yourself unique. He gives the example of a bar that begins selling hot chocolate. Or, on the flip side, of Pan Am airlines, for whom “First-class long-haul travel was a great sweetspot . . . but when the world changed, they got hammered.”

Sports

  • Bill Simmons, the sports guy, had a two part email exchange series with Malcolm Gladwell that’s worth reading. My favorite bit was when Gladwell explained why he’d be a better GM than the despicable Isiah Thomas: “Would I have traded for Curry? Are you kidding? All I know is that Chicago is scared of his attitude and his health, and Paxson knows way more about basketball — and about Eddy Curry — than I do. Trade for Jalen Rose? No way. One of the few simple facts that basketball dummies like me know is that players in their early thirties are pretty much over the hill. And Jerome James? Please. I have no idea how to evaluate a player’s potential. But I’d look up his stastistics on NBA.com and see that’s he’s been pretty dreadful his whole career, and then I’d tell his agent to take a hike.”
  • In other sports news, has there ever been a more boring or worse presented Olympics than this years? NBC just did a horrendous job with it and The Nation took them to task for it.

Final Thought

  • On his Connectivism Blog, George Siemens writes about “how significantly [teaching and learning] have changed due to the internet’s affordance of connectivity.” In explaining why he doesn’t use textbooks in his courses, he writes: “I don’t view content as something that learners need to consume in order to learn. As I’ve stated before…learning is like opening a door, not filling a container. Content is something that is created in the process of learning, not only in advance of learning.” All I could think is that’s why I have this site. This is a place where I learn by writing. I work through ideas and present them to the world with the hope that I will get some feedback. Hardly any of the writing here represents my conclusions, but rather it’s the thinking behind them. I’m working through issues in front of an audience and having a damn good time doing it. I’ve learned more and thought about a wider variety of topics since starting this site than I can remember at any point in my life (including school).

    Thanks for coming along for the ride . . .

March 10, 2006