Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘media’

29 NOVEMBER, 2010

LoudSauce: Crowdfunded Advertising for Causes


What bus shelters have to do with civic engagement and Marshall McLuhan.

The key folly of cause marketing can be reduced to low awareness and an unconvincing voice — weak, creatively uncompelling messaging that fails to reach a sufficient number of people and fails to engage those it does reach. Or, to frame it in Marshall McLuhan‘s famous medium/message paradigm, an insufficient medium carrying a toothless message. We’ve previously looked at how UK nonprofit DoTheGreenThing is solving the creative merit problem by borrowing talent from the traditional ad industry to reshape the message. Now, startup LoudSauce is borrowing, quite literally, media space from the traditional media industry to reshape the medium.

Dubbed the world’s first crowdfunded media buying platform, it does for causes what Kickstarter and other platforms do for creative projects, allowing fans and supporters to microfund media space for the causes they’d like to support who couldn’t afford it on their own. Part civic activism, part socialist capitalism, LoudSauce aims to give ideas that matter the share of voice they deserve, help bring smart projects to life and, ultimately, create a new market for conscious creative ad content.

Our vision is to transform the medium of advertising from one that primarily drives consumption to one of civic participation. What if we had more power to shape which messages were promoted on our streets? What if our billboards inspired us toward a future we actually wanted?” ~ LoudSauce

LoudSauce already helped Green Patriot Posters raise $3,200 to get beautifully designed sustainability PSA posters onto San Francisco’s bus shelters. This week, they’re helping Brain Pickings favorite The Story of Stuff microfund a teaser to reach 2 million people during A&E’s show about hyperconsumption, Hoarders.

If you have or know of a cause or pro-social message that needs to reach more eyeballs and eardrums, LoudSauce would like to hear from you. Meanwhile, browse the current campaigns to microfund and keep an eye on the site as it continues to grow — we think it’s a winner, and that’s our two-cent microcontribution.

Our only hang-up with LoudSauce is that, for a project that aims to up the ante on creative engagement in marketing communication, it suffers from tragically low production value and creative merit on its meta-communication, from the site design to the videos promoting the campaigns being microfunded. We wish they’d do a LoudSauce campaign for LoudSauce itself, getting funding to hire a good designer and a good microdocumentary filmmaker. We’d certainly contribute.

via TBD

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings — the blog, the newsletter and the Twitter feed — over which we could’ve seen 53 feature-length films, listened to 135 music albums or taken 1,872 trips to the bathroom. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right.

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08 NOVEMBER, 2010

Designing Media: Lessons from Today’s Greatest Media Innovators


Design titan Bill Moggridge has formidable credentials — designer of the world’s first laptop, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, co-founder of design innovation powerhouse IDEO, and celebrated as a pioneer of interaction design.

His new book, Designing Media, is exactly the kind of ambitious, compelling volume you’d expect from his reputation.

The book explores the evolution of mainstream media, both mass and personal, looking closely at the points of friction between old and new media models and the social norms they have sprouted. From design to civic engagement to the real-time web, Moggridge offers a faceted and layered survey of how our media habits came to be, where they’re going, and what it all means for how we relate to the world and each other.

To be fair, Designing Media isn’t exactly — at least not only — a book: The tome features a DVD containing 37 fascinating interviews with some of today’s greatest media innovators, including This American Life‘s Ira Glass, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, prominent New York Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn, Twitter founder @Ev, statistical stuntsman Hans Rosling, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The laws of narrative are the laws of narrative. What engages us is what engages us.” ~ Ira Glass

Designing Media is out via MIT Press this month and atop our must-read books list this season.

via @HelenWalters

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29 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Journalism in the Age of Data: A Film


What bad writing has to do with war casualties and traffic over North America.

It’s no secret we have a data visualization fetish, but that’s not just because we like looking at pretty pictures; it’s because we believe the discipline is an important sensemaking mechanism for today’s data deluge, a new kind of journalism that helps frame the world and what matters in it in a visual, compelling, digestible way. Stanford’s Geoff McGhee, an online journalist specializing in multimedia and information design, tends to agree. His excellent Journalism in the Age of Data explores data visualization as a storytelling medium in an hour-long film highlighting some of the most important concepts, artists and projects in data visualization from the past few years.

Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?”

The film features many Brain Pickings favorites you may recognize: Aaron Koblin, Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas, and many more.

I think we’re still in the early stage. I think a lot of the artists and journalists are still very much exploring what the capabilities of data visualization are for communicating both the context and the narrative elements of a story.” ~ Jeffrey Heer, Stanford University

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the film is the distinction it draws between data visualization as smart storytelling and data visualization as an aimless aesthetic playground.

I think that ‘data visualization’ is becoming a phrase that doesn’t mean as much as it should do. All it means is looking at numbers, which is what a lot of information graphics are, as far as I’m concerned. Now, it seems, ‘data visualization’ means visualizing a whole lot of data. And that’s given rise to a trend that I think is damaging. Because you can do beautiful things with computers and lots of data that look very, very nice and are almost completely incomprehensible.” ~ Nigel Holmes, Information Graphics Designer

I think there very much is a craft in this field. And if you do it wrong, you can get very bad results, just as there’s a lot of badly written stories out there.” ~ Martin Wattenberg, IBM Research

If you enjoyed McGhee’s film, you’ll most certainly love the ambitious anthology Data Flow 2 — we highly recommend it. Another interesting companion is this Nieman Lab piece on how The Guardian is pioneering data journalism with free tools.

via Infographics News

UPDATE: The Guardian has just published an excellent guide to how to be a data journalist.

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