"We should envision ourselves as the inevitable architects of future revolutionary systems of communication."

– Lester Beall (learn more here).

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Could You Ruin Everything In Just One Day?

If I were a bolder and dumber person, I’d try an experiment. I’d try to take myself down.

I got to thinking today about just how many channels of communication I enjoy and how often they connect with people I’ve mostly never met. There’s this site for my business. There’s Twitter for everything. There’s Facebook for a few things. There’s my sports site The Loss Column and there’s Gentlemanly Means Pursued for thoughts on culture, creativity, Americana, and etc. Through these and other efforts I have, over the years, gained an audience.

What if I picked one day and just went nuts? Indulged every crazy idea, got snarky and angry and gave in to every bad impulse? Said out loud all the things I’ve thought privately? Could I ruin everything I’ve built? Maybe. But maybe not.

It’s a question of attention. Whenever I post something I try to stay aware that it reflects on who I am and what I do, each piece playing a role in defining and cementing my identity. Many people “know” me only through these channels. And yet…

So much information gets traded in the ether that there’s no way the vast majority of it ever registers. We have large audiences in theory. So what? The question is, who is actually listening? Probably not as many people as we’d like to think.

The hard truth is that much of the audience just happens to be there. They like us well enough, probably. On the whole though, good or bad, they can likely take it or leave it. That’s the new reality and the quicker we come to terms with it the better.

The strategy, then, is to formulate the things we say with an eye to either the folks we know are listening or to folks we’d like to turn into listeners. One size should not fit all.

The whole audience is important to a point, but most of them won’t be there when it counts. Most of them aren’t actually “there” at all. 


New Work For Yahoo! and Wired Magazine

If you head out and grab a copy of the latest (as of press time) copy of Wired Magazine you’ll find contained therein one of my latest projects: a collaboration with longtime partner in crime Daniel Krall to produce a comic book-style advertising piece on behalf of Yahoo! and their suite of mobile apps.

To see it you can download a pdf here or visit this site.

This was an awesome project to work on. The assignment went like this: come up with a modern superhero story that integrates Yahoo!’s products in a fun, interesting way. We had three pages to work with — one splash page for the front and two panel-based pages from there. 

I sat down with Daniel and we brainstormed for a couple of hours before settling on an approach. From there I wrote the script, which Daniel and I then discussed and revised. After that we submitted it to Wired, then we all collaborated with Yahoo! to make the pieces fit.

We had to act and think fast. Daniel, in particular, put in effort above and beyond anything that I thought a single man could accomplish. Lots of late-night emails and revisions and discussions and phone calls. Lots of strategic back-and-forth. Lots of balancing acts as we all worked toward the same goal. That’s how it goes.

Eventually, we got there. The finished piece both meets the client’s needs and speaks to the intended audience in a way that we believe to be both effective and interesting. Which is, after all, the whole point.

I could repeat this process again and again and be happy each time. There’s nothing better than collaborating with talented people and seeing it all come together. Awesome.


For the Type Geeks and Mad Men Fans

I got curious last night while making a second run through the Mad Men Season Four premiere. “What typeface,” I wondered, “did they use for that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SDCP) office signage?”

My wife and I brainstormed, debated, surfed the web, and here you go. Mystery solved.

Akzidenz-Grotesk (Bold Extended weight), a precursor to Helvetica. More info at Wikipedia and Typophile


Food For Thought, Circa 1970

(quote from Jerry Della Femina – source)


For Your Enjoyment: New Project, New Post

Last week I pulled the veil back on a new project that I’m fairly excited about: Gentlemanly Means Pursued, a new blog at Charm City Current (an offshoot of the Baltimore Sun’s publishing efforts). Here’s the description I provided for the site:

Gentlemanly Means Pursued is an attempt to curate modern life in service of those who seek to live it better. Among that which you’ll find here: substance, style, handmade and/or artisanal goods and services, thoughtful approaches to complex problems, an appreciation for fine artifacts, and worthwhile dispatches from culture both high and low.

I’d been looking for a place to do some more arts/culture writing but was wary of starting up another site. When Nancy from the Sun approached me about writing for Charm City Current, promising that it could be about “pretty much whatever you want,” the pieces all started to fit.

I’ll probably post links here to a lot of what I do there, but I’d also ask that you bookmark it and/or grab the RSS feed. If you do, you’ll always be one of the first to dig the new stuff. Such as today’s post, Writing Tips For Modern People. A sample:

Don’t get too cute.
Use exclamation points sparingly. Use emoticons very sparingly, if at all. If you’re older than 22, start to weed out phrases like LOL and OMG. Keep your sentences on the short side.

I’m planning on having some fun with it and I hope you’ll join me.

More announcements soon…