Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

24 AUGUST, 2010

News21: Next-Gen Storytelling for the Multimedia Age


From frontlines to bylines, or what the future of journalism has to do with a countryside ranch.

A few weeks ago, Neil Burgess, former head of Magnum Photos, caused quite a stir by declaring photojournalism dead. While his argument had a handful of strong points reagarding the economics of photographic storytelling, it was held together by a rather narrow and traditional definition of photojournalism as a genre within print and news media. Today, we look at an inspired project that holds promise for the future of photojournalism in a way that makes Burgess’ argument crumble.

News21 is national education initiative pushing for new forms of investigative reporting and multimedia storytelling. Led by a dozen of America’s leading research universities and backed by the Carnegie-Knight Task Force, the project aims to approach journalism education from all angles — curriculum, policymaking, hands-on experience, cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Since 2006, News21 has been initiating annual projects grouped under umbrella themes that change every year — Liberty vs. Security in 2006, Faces of Faith in America in 2007, What’s at Stake around the 2008 Election and Changing America in 2009. This year, the project tackles a complex, multifaceted and highly controversial issue: War.

In late May, 10 journalism students spanning the entire spectrum of print-online, broadcast, graphics and photography staked out in a bunkhouse ranch in northeastern Washington state, where for six weeks they tasked themselves with getting to know the area’s thriving community of war veterans. The team set out to explore the consequences of war — from PTSD, to divorce to criminal activity to suicide — through the rich human stories of the veterans.

From an infographic map of veteran population to an interactive gallery bespeaking the diversity of a group so often addressed as a lump-sum monolith, the results are brimming with beautifully crafted photojournalism, meticulously edited multimedia storytelling, and thoughtful art direction.

One hidden yet priceless piece of the project we’d like to point you to is the Innovation Lessons section, culled from News21’s experience-gleaned insights. From the dynamics of team reporting to the importance of visual thinking to the intricacies of non-linear storytelling, the section is a deluge of invaluable practical guidance applicable to any loosely defined journalist, from the professional magazine editor to the blogger to the photojournalist.

Follow @news21 on Twitter for updates on the project and an altogether excellent feed of next-gen journalism.

via NPR

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29 JULY, 2010

Garmz: Goodbye Fashion Industry, Hello Designers


From concept to closet, or what multipurpose bags have to do with democracy.

We’ve seen how the web has democratized creative entrepreneurship and revolutionized the production and distribution of music and art. Today, we’re looking at a new project that aims to do the same for fashion design.

Garmz is an effort to empower young designers by disengaging them from the bureaucratic, corporate world of the fashion industry and allowing for their creative voices to be heard — and bought. In an industry that makes it near-impossible for new designers to break through, one that uses trend dictatorship to shape mass taste and dismisses creative deviations, Garmz offers designers a platform for taking their designs from idea to wardrobe, showcasing, funding, producing and distributing them to a worldwide audience.

The way it works is simple: Designers submit their designs and users vote on them. Once a design reaches a set level of votes, it moves into production — Garmz works with the designer to get a prototype going, then produces a full batch of 150 items in their fashion studio in Vienna. The garments are sold through the Garmz webshop and shipped to customers worldwide with Garmz handling all backend issues, including warehousing, shipping and returns.

So, basically, Threadless for fashion.

While Garmz makes money via revenue share, designers keep the vast majority of profits, determine their own price point and profit margin above the fixed costs, and maintain 100% of the copyright on their designs. All in all, Garmz offers a promising model for the decentralized, democratic propagation of fashion, giving today’s emerging merchants of style not only a platform of self-expression but also a viable business model.

via @Thomas_Wagner

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23 JULY, 2010

Paola Antonelli on Design & Innovation


Design as a systemic solution, or what an octopus has to do with democratizing innovation.

MoMA curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli is among our biggest cultural heroes. Arguably, she has done for design in the past decade what John Szarkowski did for photography in the 1960s — create a cultural dialogue beyond aesthetic appreciation, crafting a space for design as social commentary and problem-solving rather than a fixture of form fetishism.

Last month, Antonelli spoke at the excellent Creative Mornings event series organized by our friend Swiss Miss. Among other compelling insights, she shared one particular notion that hits particularly close to home for us: Antonelli sees her intellectual life as a “curious octopus”, reaching into and grabbing from a wide spectrum of disciplines, from design to architecture to science to technology. Which resonates deeply with what we’re all about — harnessing cross-disciplinary curiosity to create a rich intellectual and creative resource that allows for the cross-pollination of ideas, in turn spurring deeper creativty and innovation.

This idea of innovation belonging to [design or technology] is so moot. Innovation demands everybody. It’s called ‘disruptive innovation’ because when it’s only in the hands of scientists and technicians, it can’t be used by people. Designers are the interface. Sometimes designers are the innovators, sometimes the innovators are artists. Innovation is much more complex than a light bulb going off.” ~ Paola Antonelli

On a final note, the Talk To Me exhibition Antonelli mentions is an absolute must-see, exploring the relationship between people and objects in a compelling way that really peels away at the social significance of what some have termed “the Internet of things.”


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