Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Education

I found this absolutely perfect chart on this great blog post about education:

The post is a criticism of the way we teach math/science/engineering, but, really, I think the criticism applies to our general approach to teaching. Having worked as an educator before, I have been incredibly dismayed at how critical thinking and imagination have taken a back seat to memorization, "problem-solving by recipe," and cramming. My students were completely at a loss when there wasn't a predetermined "right answer."Scary for our future and frustrating for generating genuine enthusiasm for learning.

I love how this blogger calls on computer scientist, Alan Kay, and his advocacy for a liberal arts education because it teaches metaphors and ways of thinking which Kay argues become useful later in engineering. In fact, he/she says that according to research done by Jacques Hadamard, mathematicians use the symbols, equations, and formulas they learn merely as tools to communicate the real work that they do--conceptualizing, problem solving, intuiting.

Now, it may be that this chart and thinking resonate with me because I such a geeky dreamer who loves to sit around and muse about hefty symbolism and meaning constructs...but it also seems to me rather ironic that both marketing strategists and mathematicians are looking for the exact same qualities in their future stars. Perhaps this begins to prove that this is the best groundwork for educating our future leaders regardless of discipline (I hope).

Two last quotes from this interesting blog:

From Jason Fried:
"Hire curious people. Even if they don't have the exact skill set you want, curious, passionate people can learn anything."

And from Jacques Hadamard:
" Logic merely sanctions the conquests of the intuition."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tea Party! A New Tradition!

Okay. Let's face it. I suck. I have had not had time to blog since the ignominous date of my birthday. The fact is, when you have lots of bloggable stuff going on in life, you just don't have time to blog.

BUT I do have to share these wonderful little snippets of jokes that my bff, Tai, and I sometimes share. Okay. Honestly, I just send them to her and hope they make her laugh. It's just fun with stock photography. Find a stock photo and give it a funny caption.

It's going to be my new blogging tradition. So even when I don't have time to tell you I just got nominated for a People's Choice Award (I didn't. Yet.), I can still share a little something. ;)

First in the Stock Photo Fun series:

Tea Party

"We're laughing because that's the same look Daddy got on his face when he caught Timmy playing Barbies!"

**on a side note: GettyImages is wonderful, amazing, the best. I pray to Getty everyday. You should always pay for GettyImages pictures. They're the best in the world. Please don't tell on me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gamepocalypse: Best Thing Ever or Should I Jump Off a Cliff Now?

Fair friends, lately I have been missing the hallowed halls of academia. It's true. Corporate America, even with the MTV veneer of advertising, can be fun, but it could use a little more ivy, wool cardigans, and musty books.

Thankfully, my wonderful friend and teacher, Cam, invited me to this great seminar/lecture, Gamepocalypse (please see slide show below). It's part of a lecture series from the Long Now Foundation, which apparently is dedicated to long-sighted solutions and thinking. How effing awesome is that? It's like my shrieking battle cry to 21st Century decision-makers.

So the slide show doesn't do the lecture justice. Jesse Schell is an incredibly funny, insightful, and smart speaker. Even when talking off the cuff, I was really impressed with how quick he was and how much he had clearly already thought through the issues. They should have a video up soon, so you can catch all of the amazing goodness for yourself.

He made some pretty spectacular predictions about the future of gaming permeating every aspect of our lives (particularly thanks to life-sucking marketers like myself). It makes sense in a lot of ways, as games become more interactive, it's less about Pac Man and more about user experience (UX) and augmented reality. I was most excited about the possibilities he laid out for really good voice recognition. It will really change everything.

Most of all though, I appreciated his insights into human nature and why/how we love games/interactivity:

--People love games because they don't HAVE TO play them. The minute you make a game mandatory, it loses its appeal.

--External incentives kill a game. People lose engagement quickly. Crafting an experience that is intrinsically fulfilling and engaging creates longer, deeper engagement and passion. *Beautiful point. I REALLY want to see some hard data to back this up!

--Digital is ruining the natural human/societal capacity to forget, which tied in beautifully to a recent Times article I read that does a great job of showing how disruptive this is to natural rhythms.

--People love games because they offer a sense of progress, the possibility of success, clear feedback, and engage curiosity (see slide 20).

Jesse also left me with another slew of books to add to my list of must read books, including: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kahn, The Chronicles of Narnia (re-read), and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I know! I know! It's ridiculous I haven't already read it, but Scott Card always struck me as one of those weird Mormon writers, so I stayed away).

I am so glad I went, and I think I would like to find more lecture series to attend in the city. It's a great way to learn (like a podcast but without the earbuds!) and its inspiring. Thanks, Cam, for a great experience. Thanks, Gareth, for letting me steal the links to the presentation from your blog.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daily Dose of Inspiring Beauty

This is a truly amazing display, an ingenious use of new media, and it really makes me miss figure painting...especially how whenever people asked me what kind of painting I did, when I answered "figure painting," I would almost always get the incredulous response of "finger painting??"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free At Last!

You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. I have been a sucktastic blogger. There is no question.

Allow me to explain why. Ad agencies are notorious for working their employees crazy, long hours. Grad schools are known for doing the same to their students...what do you get when you combine the two? A nervous breakdown about every other day, otherwise known as my life for the past few months.

I have had the wonderful pleasure of working as a full time strategist at BBDO West (mostly on fun dog food brands) and also participating in some really cool capstone classes at the Academy of Art.

Finals were over a couple of Fridays ago (the last finals of my academic career! Hooray!) and Memorial Day weekend came just in time to offer some much needed reprieve.

Shane and I decided to get the hell out of the city and get back to nature with a camping trip. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in California. Finding an impromptu campsite was impossible...until we fell upon this little gem:


Sara, Jon, Anna-you guys remember this? New Brighton State Beach! A cliff of eucalyptus groves overlooking a beautiful beach. Somehow, in my memory it was so much more romantic. Our reality this weekend was more like...we paid a fee to rent a backyard for a weekend of backyard camping.

It was still great. We got lots of sun, gorged on rich foods, and laughed late into the night by the campfire. It was also Finn's first camping trip! Apparently he sees it as an indignity to endure only because we love it.



I can't wait to go on a real hike and camping trip soon. Just as soon as I undo some of the damage that my veal pen...ahem, I mean desk job, has done to my muscle tone.

(Full set of pics on Flickr)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Presentations for the Future! (For Now)

UGC (or user generated content) has been the fuel of the social media revolution. It started with simple blogs and comments and has morphed into our present landscape cluttered with social networks, fan videos, and microblogs. All of this activity online has shifted the digital consciousness from the software and hardware that lives in your computer tower to the collective consciousness of cloud storage and exchange.

What has allowed this social media revolution message to really take off is that people have been armed with increasingly easy-to-use tools to create compelling multimedia on their own PCs. One human being can literally be a production house unto themselves. This means that people can create videos, websites, photo albums, etc. worthy of others' attention. Our sophistication as media consumers has thus increased significantly. We demand slick graphics, an appealing layout, and engaging imagery.

This demand for visual sophistication doesn't just exist in the realm of online entertainment, but has been running simultaneously in the world of business. Replacing pages of dry reports is the behemoth PowerPoint and decks of dry bullet points...augmented with animated transitions and easy-to-use color schemes, charts, and image importing.

PowerPoint has encouraged people to...think more about visual presentation and has become de rigueur in business communication. In fact, there was recently an article in the New York Times on the rampant use of PowerPoint by our own U.S. military.

Recently, a friend of mine tipped me off to Prezi.com. It's a web-based software program (that wonderful cloud-computing we were talking about before) that lets you easily create very dynamic Flash presentations.

Below is my own first attempt at using the software:

My own presentation is rather limited. I kind of cheated and uploaded a large pdf, but that has created pretty blurry text. You can create text, add images (but maybe not use an entire image as your presentation), embed video, zoom in, zoom out, rotate your view, determine whatever path you want the points to follow. It's pretty great. It allows lots of personal control and at the same time is pretty simple to use.

You can store your presentations in Prezi's cloud (much like the currently popular SlideShare, you can share your presentation via link, embed it, or download it to your hard drive for an offline experience.

As a potential business communications tool, I think it shows genuine promise. It offers greater visual control and flexibility than PowerPoint. It is a web-based application, which means its very friendly to netbook users (but not necessarily iPad/iPhone users since it is a Flash-based application).

What really excites me about Prezi is that, rather than fracture an idea into bulletpoints one slide at a time (creating weak arguments and oversimplification of complex issues), the Prezi platform requires that you structure the narrative of your argument before you start using the program, that you look at the over-arching thesis of your argument and how you want to travel from point to point to point. Because of its zooming capabilities, it also becomes easier to take a step back and look at the "big picture" of an argument or zoom in for more "granular detail" (text/image points that were not previously visible in the presentation).

Angelie Agarwal does a much better job of showing in a simple way, some of the potential of Prezi (particularly for our Armed Forces):

I would encourage you to check out Prezi's brief demo video to get a better grasp of how you might be able to begin to use it in your own communications/UGC/thank you cards to friends:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Mems the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments on Animaniacs of yesteryear?

Ah, yes. Those were the good ol' days. Well, that segment was exactly what came to mind when I got this friend request on FourSquare:

Get involved in FourSquare, as a business/brand. It's a great way to interact with passionate consumers, you can incentivize check-ins and broadcasting, you can offer geo-specific, game-like promotions. I love it when brands get involved on FourSquare.

Friend request someone you don't know, who has never been a patron to your establishment.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Nashville on a business trip. I stayed at the very lovely Hermitage Hotel. Loved it. I never went anywhere near the Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel.

Having long forgotten, Nashville, Loew's friend requests me out of no where this week! On a social platform where I broadcast my every movement. Why on earth, complete-stranger-business, would I want to give you the same license to cyber stalk me that I would give me to my close circle of friends on FourSquare?

Your friend request left me feeling creeped out. And not in the good way.

Develop a best practices guide for your social media managers before diving into a territory you don't fully understand.

Tirade over. Friend request denied. I think I will go to my much-loved BiRite, now, for some stress-eating indulgence

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Titanic Error?

OK. It's been too long since a post. Good reason, I swear. I have been busy doing the work that I love. More on that next blog post.

For now:

While I was at work researching great examples of love, I, of course, came across that great love story of the 90's--Titanic.

This seemed like a ready example that many people could identify with. This movie moved millions of people across the world to go the theaters again and again, form fan clubs, and shed tears. Great. Easy story for me to share...until I realized I have NEVER seen this movie. I don't even know the plot points (other than that the ship goes down and Leonardo DiCaprio probably dies).

So, I turned to my bestie, Tai, hoping she could give me the low-down on this great love story:

The fact is, I never wanted to see it as a teenager, as a sort of act of rebellion against all things blatantly pop culture. I now listen to Britney Spears with barely a hint of shame.

So the question is, now that I am over my adolescent distaste for trite should I bother with this movie and Netflix it?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glenn Beck: My Latest Frenemy

I think Glenn Beck hates me because we used to be besties when I was Mormon.

It's sad. He can't let it go.