Brain Pickings

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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Launching the Brain Pickings Shoppe!


What double rainbows have to do with the holiday spirit and the life of the mind.

Consumerism may be the downfall of civilization, but we believe curation is its saving grace. Because life is better with a good book and a few thoughtfully designed objects. So we’ve sifted through mounds of stuff to bring you, excitedly, the Brain Pickings Shoppe — a carefully curated collection of goodies we love and think you might, too.

The collection currently features 63 hand-picked items across 3½ thematic categories: design + eco + quirk, featuring everything from a hand-crafted bamboo keyboard to recycled circuit board coasters to Jane Austen action figures, books (divided into art + design + photography and life + work + mind), and tea lovers, because we love tea and wanted to share our favorites in case you do, too.

The books featured in the Shoppe have been previously reviewed here — you can find them in our book archive or simply plug a specific title in the search box at the top right to see what makes that book so special.

We’ll be adding to the collection over time, but wanted to get it started in time for gift-giving season — because who doesn’t have a friend that could use a solar-powered double rainbow maker?

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Thank You.


Pause for appreciation, or what your inner child has to do with B. B. King.

It’s Thanksgiving in the US and, wherever you are in the world, we’d simply like to thank you for your support, be that in the form of your continued readership, attention and love or the kind donations that are making Brain Pickings possible. For that, we say THANK YOU and smile.

Meanwhile, from our recent archives, here are three ways to celebrate gratitude:

  • An Awesome Book of Awesome Thanks! — from illustrator Dallas Clayton, an utterly delightful little book that will tickle your inner child awake.
  • The Moment Jars — this digital repository for people’s most monumental moments is a lovely record of gratitude and of being human.
  • On Gratitude — 51 moving micro-essays by famous writers, artists, musicians and other public figures, from B. B. King to Ann Rice to Francis Ford Coppola, who recount the things that make life worth living.

Enjoy your holiday if you’re celebrating or just take a moment to appreciate all that’s good in the world. And, once again, thank you.

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Philippe Halsman’s Iconic Jump Portraits


Legendary Latvian-born American portrait photographer Philippe Halsman is one of the most innovative photographers of the 20th century. Over his lifetime, he shot 101 LIFE magazine covers, including the most famous photograph of Albert Einstein of all time.

But during the 1950s, he started a side project separate from the serious world of magazine cover photography: He began capturing some of the era’s most iconic artists, writers, actors, politicians and other public figures in a setup that defied the expectations of both their stature and the portraiture genre: Jumping. From Salvador Dali to Marilyn Monroe to Richard Nixon, his unmistakable, surprising and delightfully dynamic portraits survive in the form of a rare book plainly titled Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book.

When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears” ~ Philippe Halsman

Though the book is sadly out of print, you can score a used copy on Amazon or, if you’re lucky enough, your local library may carry it.

For a closer look at the iconic photographer’s creative process and quirk, we also highly recommend a companion read: Unknown Halsman, a fascinating exploration of Halsman’s lesser-known but remarkable work, including private and experimental photographs, decontextualized advertisements, and outtakes from famous photo shoots, many never before seen.

via But Does It Float HT @praxis22

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