Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where I've Been - Number 7

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On the eve of 2010 I'm leaving you just a few goodies from around the 'nets. Enjoy!
  • Parachute Journalists Poster - a gorgeous poster designed by the brilliant Jeff Finley of GoMedia.
  • Google in 2009 - a full review of all that Google was up to in 2009. They really are going to take over the world. Them or the Chinese.
  • Great Designs of "Coming Soon" Web Sites - a great round up of "coming soon" page designs. My favorite is the Love Freelancing site.
  • Beautiful Dust Storm Photographs from Sydney, Australia - these amazing photos were taken during a recent dust storm in Sydney. The color is just amazing.
  • The Noughtie List - Jenni Leder has taken up assembling a run-down of "Best Of" lists for the 2000's from across the web over at Kottke.org. A rather daunting task but so far it looks like they've got quite a few already filed. If there's a subject of culture that you want a "Best Of" list from the Aughts there's a good chance they've got it here.
  • Analog Co-op - Jon Tan and several other designers and developers have started a design agency co-op. Besides the intriguing organization of business they've put together, their new one-page site has lots of little hidden gems. Like HashGrid (a fun javascript plugin for a design grid overlay you can toggle on and off) and some cool GeoIP trickery. If you're a web nerd you'll want to check it out. I promise you'll enjoy!
  • OmmWriter - I haven't played with this application much yet but so far it looks very cool. It's essentially an uber-minimalist word processor. OmmWriter is focused on allowing a writer to, well...write. There's simple, intuitive navigation, a soothing writing space (with background image) and minimal formatting options to keep you from getting distracted. It's all about writing. Only one downer—it's for the Mac only right now. But if you've got a Mac I'd recommend checking it out.
That's it kids. Have a great New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010: Looking Forward

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I'm not really sure the reason, but we human beings love to make the turning of one year to the next a time to resolve to do things differently, as if somehow the passing of one wintry day to another will make for change.

The proven facts are these: we are creatures more of habit than change. We love the status quo (even when our personal status quo is to oppose the status quo of others).

But there does come a time when change must happen in all of our lives, whether by choice or circumstance. And sometimes a new year is a great time to start new habits to produce long-term changes.

I say this as I have been pondering several issues and tendencies in my own life, things which I hope do change in some way, to some degree or another. Some are things that need to be reversed, to change from one spectrum to an opposite. Others merely need a slight tweak, a minor adjustment. While others I desire to see change through growth and proliferation. And so now, while it is yet still '09, I want to state resolve for several items I want to focus my attention on for 2010.

Love
I deeply desire to be a more loving person.

I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ and the Bible—I am a Christian, changed through the power of Jesus in my heart. And this power has proven already to produce more love for both my Savior and for the people around me. But I know that there is far more room to grow in this. I want to focus much attention in 2010 on what it means to love Jesus and the people I meet and live with and how I can best pursue and grow this passion in my life. I'm not quite sure yet how this will flesh out practically but I know for sure that it will require me to become far less selfish than I am and focus more on humbly serving others through the amazing power of Jesus in my life.

Focus
If there's one thing 2009 has taught me it's that I am too easily distracted.

I don't necessarily mean that I keep my attention on a task at hand but that I tend to spread myself too thin. I love doing things and helping others with my skills, talents and knowledge. And I have countless passions and interests. All this mixed together means I end up pulled in a lot of different directions to the detriment of the people and projects I am most passionate about.

I desire that 2010 would be a year of intense focus as I look to hone in on the things that really matter, that I'm truly passionate about, and lovingly pass on the rest. I'm already very aware that this is going to be a challenge. Much of what takes up my time are good, even great things. But I know that some need to be put aside and some need far less attention than they currently get. This is going to take some sacrifice on my part and some guts to just say no when I'm given an opportunity that doesn't fit my true passions. I need to zero in.

I also want to see the projects I do take on come to completion. As well as picking the right projects that fit my passions, this also means setting realistic expectations and time lines up front and staying disciplined throughout the process. I want 2010 to be a year of focused completion for every project I take on.

Finances
Like so many, 2009 has been a real learning experience for myself and my wife in regards to finances. Going to one income due to the economy has shown us that our spending habits and financial priorities need some revision and I'm hoping that through 2010 we can continue to hone these habits and even be able to see some of our financial goals met.

Reading
My reading list in 2009 has dramatically grown but unfortunately I have not been able to invest as much time reading as I have in the past. I desire to focus in 2010 on reading a lot more and with more intentionality. I've never been a big note taker when I read books but I want that to change. I want to read with the intent to retain what I learn and even be able to share the new-found knowledge with others through this blog and other places.

Art
I desire to do more personal artistic endeavors, not constrained by the parameters set by a client. Even if this just means completing a pen-and-ink doodle a week I'll be happy. I've let this side of my creativity flounder through much of 2009 and I don't want this to continue for much longer.

Writing
I desire to write more. I've already made a concerted effort in the last part of this year to keep this blog fed with more posts and I plan to continue this in the new year. As well, I've started writing for Humanitas Remedium. I hope that both of these projects will continue to push me to write more.

Also, I'd like to be writing more creative pieces, preferably poetry. I used to write a fair amount of poetry but have not done so in the last year or so. I'd like to focus on completing one poem every month or so in 2010, if at all possible with the intention of spurring on creativity through the process.

Conclusion
After reviewing my desires for 2010 it seems that a few over-arching themes standout: love, passion, focus, and creativity. I want for myself 2010 to be defined by these items throughout my relationships, work, projects and endeavors. I know some of these may not happen as I plan but I hope that through the process of trying I can better see where the right path lies. Here's to a wonderful new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: Looking Back

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Wow. 2009 is just about over and as I think about all that went down in my life I'm blown away. Here's just a quick recap of some of the highlights:
  • My wife and I bought our first house...and payed our first mortgage payment.
  • I helped start a business with 2 other local creatives (David Cosand and Jeff Watson) named Re:sound Creative Media. I've been wanting to be an owner and decision-maker in a start-up creative company for some time and this has been an amazing experience so far. I'm really looking forward to what 2010 has in store for Re:sound.
  • I helped my band (Sunday Morning Drive) release our first album.
  • I've been able to help my dad's business of 14+ years, Spectrum Building Maintenance Company, develop their first brand identity, including their first logo and website. (The website's still in progress but the final version is due to launch here soon in January.)
  • I was able to attend and even participate in the first ever Phoenix Design Week. I was thoroughly privileged to be able to help out with some of the pre-event promotions including being able to compete in the first-ever Phoenix Layers competition.
  • I was asked by my good friend Russ to join his blog, Humanitas Remedium, as a writing partner along with several other bloggers from Grace Bible Church. I'm also making plans to help re-brand the blog and design a brand-new theme in early 2010. We've already seen some great things happening with the blog since we added new writers and I'm eager to see how things progress in the next year.
  • I started a photo project called End of Days where I take photographs of the western skyline from my work each day as I leave and post them to the site as a sort of photographic journal.
I know there's tons of other things that happened this year but these were definitely the stand outs.

2010 is shaping up to be just as exciting and eventful and I'm looking forward to seeing many of the things I started this year continue and grow. Bring it on.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Where I've been - Number 6

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a few highlights of my internet wanderings as of late:
  • Lost Boys' Christmas Mobile Mobile - what do you do with some 50 or so leftover cell phones when your company upgrades? Make a really cool Christmas mobile where each phone plays a single note and arrange them to play holiday tunes. And then make it into a video holiday card for your company. Reuse some tech trash and marketing genius all packaged into one great idea.
  • Real Time Google Spam - I posted a few days ago about Google's new live search results that pull in real-time results from Twitter. After making a comment about it on Twitter I was sent this article that talks about the dark side to this new feature—the ability for people to spam up these new search results. Not so cool. But I think Google will figure this out fairly quickly and make sure spam is minimized. They've done a pretty good job everywhere else in their technologies. I think they'll get it figured out here too.
  • 8 Faces Magazine - Elliot Jay Stocks, the brilliant web designer, has a new project he's working on called 8 Faces—a magazine dedicated to typography through interviews of typographers. Sounds awesome and I can't wait to get on the subscription list.
  • Jazz Loft Projects post at Grain Edit - Grain Edit, a blog that focuses on designs of the 1950's–1970's, posted a series of jazz album cover designs that blew me away. Some great inspirations. (Big thanks to Andrew—@courdek—for sharing the link.)
  • Seth Godin Defines The Brand - "A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer." A great definition.
What great stories, videos or thoughts have you found recently?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When Are You Living For?

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Seth Godin recently posted a question: "Most of us assume a single range of focus that we care about. And it's usually right around the corner, or even closer. Is that the place to be focusing your brand or your business or your life?"

This got me thinking: When am I living for? Today? Tomorrow? 50 years from now? Eternity?

Living for today or tomorrow alone could lead to dire ramifications for the rest of your life and even beyond. Smoking just one more cigarette might sound like a good idea to get the edge off in the here and now. But what happens when you think about the next 30-50 years instead? Will that cigarette still sound like the best idea?

And it's not just cigarettes. There's tons of momentary pleasures screaming for our attention right now. Do we really count the cost every time we bow to them? When are we living for?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas to you and your family!

I hope that the true reason for this holiday (Jesus Christ's coming to earth to redeem people from sin) would impact your mind and heart amidst all the other good things happening—family, friends, giving, and eating.

On a sidenote: I really wanted to do another Christmas illustration to follow up last year's but things have really gotten away from me these last few months. So sorry for this. Hopefully I can plan better for next year and have something ready in time...and also not have a CD release, a website design, and countless other smaller projects all due in December! Such is the life of a designer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where I've Been - Number 5

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Here's a few choice finds from my journeys into the internet recently:
  • Graphic Designer Favors Poster - found by @StephanieHorn, this humorous poster pretty much sums it up for us graphic designers: "92% of our time will be spent on unpaid favors."
  • Polluting Pets: the Devastating Effect of Man's Best Friend - an article shared with me by my good friend (and great designer) Sean Rice on a new study revealing the environmental impact of our pets. It's not looking good for Fido and Whiskers.
  • Jacques Barbey - this guy is an amazing photo illustrator...and he's from the Phoenix area! You can also follow Jacques Barbey on Twitter if you're so inclined.
  • CityShrinker - this little site is a project by New Zealand photographer Ben Thomas focused on creating images with extremely limited depth of field to create the illusion of minatures out of everyday scenes. Some really amazing and incredibly unique images.
  • Papyrus Watch - no I'm not talking about the ancient precursor to paper.  I'm talking about the dreaded Papyrus font. This site is dedicated to posting photographic sightings of Papyrus in everyday context. This font is probably hated by designers only slightly less than comic sans; both for their frequent usage out of context.
  • Seth Godin from his recent post, Why It's No Wonder They Don't Trust You: "You can play along [with the lying game], or you can be so clean and so straightforward that people are stunned into loyalty." I have no idea how this guy can so frequently nail it on the head but he does. Time and time again.
  • Compete.com and Quantcast.com - two sites I found (via Seth Godin) for web site metrics and analytics. Type in a web domain and get tons of stats on that site and compare to other sites. Both feature premium accounts with added features and metrics but even just the freebie versions are fun to play around with. A great way to get indicators of competitors' sites' traffic stats and market. These might be a good companion for Google's Analytics tool with your website marketing.
Have you found some interesting things lately? Let me know. I'd love to check them out.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    What is Twitter? (or How to Waste Your Life)

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    In a post from a week or so ago I mentioned I should do a post dedicated to explaining Twitter and I've also noticed recently that I mention this communication tool fairly often on this blog. So, I decided now's the time to write up something about Twitter.

    So what is Twitter?
    Twitter is, in its simplest form, a social communication tool, similar to a blog or Facebook but much simpler in most respects.

    Blogs are generally used for posting longer thoughts or articles while Twitter functions much more like a mini-blog as you are limited to no more than 140 characters for each "Tweet" or post.

    In this respect it's similar to Facebook's status updates however Twitter lacks much of the network aspects of Facebook, like full profiles, fan pages, groups, photo albums, or the countless other 3rd-party applications. Like Facebook and other social networks, Twitter allows you to connect with other users by "following" their tweets and others can follow you. Unlike Facebook and many other social networks, interactions you have on Twitter are public (for the most part). And this is the real value behind Twitter—most everything you do (and everyone else does) is public and searchable. This allows people from all over the web to find your posts and profile, connect with you, and start following your updates, making Twitter a great asset for marketing and personal branding.

    So how does Twitter work?
    After signing up for Twitter you're left with a blank profile. You can fill in some limited info like your name, location, website and a brief bio or description (you're limited to 140 characters).

    From here the best thing to do is start following a few people. You can usually find a few friends to follow who are already on Twitter (like me @jerrythepunkrat) and many people who blog or write on the web will have an account as well. Just check out their "about" or "contact" page on their site and they'll usually have a link to follow them on Twitter.

    Also, many companies, news outlets, websites and other organizations have their own twitter accounts where you can get updates, news, and even some giveaways and freebies just by following them. For instance you can follow updates from my band @smdband or from another blog I write for @humrem (Humanitas Remedium—a blog on theology, culture and politics).

    As you start following people and organizations you'll find their tweets filling up your main page on Twitter (similar to the news feed on Facebook). As you follow more and more people you'll find it harder to keep up with every single post.

    Don't.

    The beauty of Twitter is the ability to get brief snapshots across a wide variety of sources like friends, news, and other special interests you might have. It's much like a running river of cool water: step in and get wet, grab a drink, or just sit and watch for a while but don't expect to catch every molecule of H2O that rushes by.

    Lists
    You can organize the people you follow by creating lists. For instance I have a list of all the guys in my band that are on Twitter. This way you can create a sub-section of your overall followers if you want to keep a closer eye on some of them.

    Also, as you surf around others' profiles you can check out the lists they build and follow their lists as well. This is a great way to find new people that might be of interest to you. For instance I follow a list called PHXDC (Phoenix Design Community) that includes many people here in the Valley of the Sun that work in the design industry. I've been able to create some connections with quite a few people via this list.

    What to "Tweet?"
    This is probably the biggest question of all when it comes to starting out on Twitter. Here you are following a few friends, organizations and maybe some other big names from around the web, and in return maybe a few are following you. But what to post?

    Start simple.

    Post what you're doing at that moment (a status update) or where you're headed next. Maybe send out a link to something cool you just found on the web with a brief snippet about what you like about it. Or, if you're witty, post something funny or thoughtful. And posting about things you are passionate about is always a great place to start.

    But whatever you do, be yourself.

    Twitter is not a place to create a new you or try to make yourself out to be someone that you're not. The web is already full of these people and generally others are savvy to it. They're not going to follow you or pay attention if you're not being real with them.

    In general, though, what you post about is dictated most by what you're using Twitter for. Are you looking to connect with other professionals in your industry? Are you out to find other like-minded enthusiasts for a hobby or passion of yours? Are you using Twitter to market your business, web site or blog?

    I've found the best way to get the most out of Twitter is to take one or two main passions and follow those people and post about those subjects. Trying to chase everything and everyone will only overload you.

    There are a ton of other tools and tips for maximizing Twitter that I will try to get to in a future post, so stay tuned.

    Be sure to let me know your thoughts on Twitter, why you use it (or don't use it). I'd love to hear from you!
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    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Word Cloud: Seth Godin's "What Matters Now" Free PDF

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    I posted last week a word cloud visually displaying the prevalence of words in the lyrics from my band's new Album, "Sunday Morning Drive." I thought of another one that might be fun.

    This word cloud is taken from Seth Godin's recent free eBook release called "What Matters Now," a collection of short essays from people making waves and causing change across the web and the world. Visually, here's what they are speaking most about:


    Not surprisingly considering Godin and the other contributors to this work, several words jump out: people, make, world, important, author, difference, blogs...

    On closer inspection several words actually surprised me a bit. "Respect" and "family" both were larger than "money" or "businesses" (though the word "business" still outweighed all of them). And interestingly, "fear" showed up rather large as well. "Work" shows up in tiny yellow at the upper right. Apparently, "work" is not the word first on many of these authors' minds. Or perhaps they've repackaged it into a more pleasant thought hidden amongst all these words.

    If you're curious, I used the online application, Wordle.net to create this word cloud. You can plug in any text or link to a web page and it will generate a word cloud based on the content. Check it out and let me know if you make any word clouds of your own!


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    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Where I've Been - Number 4

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    This one may be a bit massive. I've pretty much stored up all the things I've discovered online in the last few days and am dumping them all into this one post. Got your seat belt on? Good. Let's go!
    • thereisnopagefold.com - for years marketers, designers, and developers have battled it out over how important it is to have all your content "above the fold" on their websites. (For all you non-webbies, "above the fold" is a term borrowed from the print industry to mean content that appears on a web page within the main browser window without having to scroll down.) This site succinctly puts it all in perspective. There is not page fold (on the web).
    • Forty Agency 2009 Coffee Table Book - Forty Agency is a small but mighty marketing agency hailing from Chandler, AZ. They are masters at social media marketing and their employees are known all over the place due to this. This book was put together by James Archer of Forty Agency for each of the 4 members to commemorate their year of antics, errr...I mean, work. And now everyone and their mom wants to work at Forty...if they didn't already.
    • Google Alerts - Basically, Google Alerts allows you to take a search term or phrase and have Google alert you when that term or phrase gets indexed by Google. It's a great way to keep tabs on when other people mention stuff about you/company/product/band/blog/website. I knew about this nifty application but never really got into it. But then I found out you can push the alerts to yourself as an RSS feed instead of the traditional email alerts. I'm now hooked. I've set up like 10 alert feeds in the last week and there's many more to come.
    • Identifont - I hit this site up pretty regularly as I often need to identify a specific font from it's appearance as I work on design projects. This site has been invaluable in this process. I just type in a word or phrase that is set in the font I'm trying to identify and then I walk through a series of 20-30 questions about the physical characteristics of the font. At the end I get a list of about 20 fonts that most closely match my description. Success.
    • YeeHaw Industries - This one came courtesy of my graphic designer uncle, Mark Donaldson, of Tennessee. He's always passing me links to awesome inspiration and articles about design and this is definitely one of the best. YeeHaw Industries, despite its name, is not a cowboy boot manufacturer nor George Bush's next oil-seeking venture, but a small letterpress shop in Tennessee that creates gorgeous fine art prints, commemorative and promotional posters, stationery, greeting cards, invitations and and announcements. I highly recommend checking out their Etsy store for some great artwork for your wall or as gift ideas. hint. hint.
    • Motoi Yamamoto Salt-Art Installations - this Japanese artist might just be more obsessive-compulsive than me. Barely. His labyrinth-like salt art installations are incredible both in their detail and size. Some cover the floor of several large rooms. And every installation is site-specific. Ridiculous.
    • "The ABC's of Branding" Poster - a beautiful letterpress poster, silver ink on a black cardstock, of various famous logos, spelling out the alphabet. Visually delicious. [Edit: @tonepoems pointed out to me something I totally missed the first time around with the poster—they used the Target logo for the "O." Not cool. The Target logo does not actually utilize an "O."]
    • Menu Mind Games - New York Magazine's restaurant section posted a great article, breaking down the design and strategy behind menu design. Now I know why I always go for the high-priced stuff.
    Still with me? I know that list was a doozy. Thanks for making it all the way through!

    By the way, what's your take? Too many links? Not enough? or just right? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Where I've Been - Number 3

    Keep up to date with me: subscribe to my blog or follow me @jerrythepunkrat.

    (After the previous of these posts on where I've been on the web I realized I'll probably never get these posts written and posted before the same day is over. So I'm switching to just numbering these posts rather than saying "Today" or "Yesterday.")

    So, here we go—a list of sites and things I've recently found on the web that I found inspiring, profound, cool, or fun:
    • HTML graph - this is a wonderful little web application for displaying the code behind a web page as a graph. A very interesting way to visualize the data behind a page. I ran it for the home page of The Semi-Daily Dose and it blew me away with just how complex this seemingly simple site is. I ran a few other sites that I actually coded and proved to myself that I build fairly simple sites. This graph also reminded me of a personal art project that had thought of a year or so ago that involves using the html code behind sites. I need to get on that!
    • Continuity Web Game - I stumbled on this simple yet fascinating puzzle game through a link shared on Twitter. The controls are very simple but subtly clever. It's proof that you don't need to wow people with crazy graphics or even an incredibly deep storyline for them to be engaged by your game. You just need to make them think...but not too hard.
    • Does Print Size Matter? - a good post discussing the issue of print size in art photography. I've never really thought much about it but found it interesting the variety of factors that can determine the size at which a photographer decides to output (and sell) their photos. The link comes courtesy of an amazing local photographer—Tyson Crosbie. I highly recommend checking out his Flickr account—especially his fine art photography—to get a sense of his incredible talent. By the way, if anyone is feeling especially generous, I would love one of his photos hanging on my wall.
    • Gift Ideas for Adobe Illustrator Lovers - I just can't resist posting this one. I'm a huge illustration fan (and dabble a bit myself) and so anything related to Adobe Illustrator usually catches my eye. So if you're looking for the perfect gift for your beloved digital illustrator this might be a good place to start. There's 15 good ones listed here.
    Hope these can keep you busy for a few minutes. Maybe more if you get sucked in the Continuity game like I did!



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    Friday, December 18, 2009

    @Issue on the Issue of DoubleSpeak in Marketing

    Keep up to date with me: subscribe to my blog or follow me @jerrythepunkrat.

    @Issue (the online blog of the Journal of Business and Design) posted a great article discussing the issue of doublespeak (creative lying) in marketing. They've also posted a useful list of common words and phrases used in marketing and advertising to hide negative facts.

    Here's a few highlights:
    • "Pre-owned" = used
    • "Unfriend" = drop
    • "Full-figured" = fat
    • "Constructive dismissal" = laid off
    Check out the article for the whole list.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Toys, Tots, Napoleon Dynamite: Fun with Venn Diagrams

    My good friend David Cosand (@resound on Twitter) posted this humorous tweet about Toys For Tots, tater tots, and Napoleon Dynamite.

    I decided to have some Venn diagram fun with it.




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    Where I've Been Today (or Yesterday) - Number 2

    Here's my next installment in places on the web I discovered (yesterday, by the time I got this written up and scheduled to publish).
    • The making of the CONNECTED Poster – this is a great, detailed explanation (including several videos) of the design, illustration and production of a poster for a short film. The poster was designed and illustrated by Anders Baden Nielsen and Joaquim Marquès Nielsen of Barq, a design studio out of Denmark.
    • 6 Twitter Types by Guy Kawasaki – I stumbled on this interesting article by Guy Kawasaki (of AllTop.com and formerly Apple) where he distills Twitter users into 6 different categories: the Newbie, the Brand, the Smore, the Bitch, the Maven, the Mensch. His system might be a little over-simplified but I think I fall somewhere in "the (personal) Brand" plus "the Maven" camp with a little sprinkling of "the Mensch" here and there. If you follow me on Twitter, what's your take? Where do you fall in the 6 types?
    • 2009 Online Annual Report Report ("free" PDF download) – a report on the state of design of online annual reports by Eisenman & Assoc. Graphic and Web Design. It's not exactly free—you have to give them your email address—but may be worth it if you need to do some annual report designs (as I do very soon).
    • Brilliant advertisement copy for coffin manufacturer – (this link comes courtesy of my friend—and great designer—Melissa Balkon, who posted the link earlier today via Twitter) The ad is proof positive that most times the copy speaks volumes more than your design. I'm not thrilled with the variety of fonts used in this ad concept but the copy more than makes up for it. Just plain brilliant copy. I'm sold...and I'm not exactly actively planning my burial any time soon. Maybe I should.
    • The State of Charity Giving in the US via Mint.com – A thorough, visually-engaging, and eye-opening series of facts, stats and charts on charity giving in the United States. Here's some highlights I found interesting:
      • Americans give $300 billion a year to charities
      • Public charities in the U.S. require over $1.3 trillion dollars per year to operate
      • "7 of the 10 largest donations were given to the donators own charities"
      • Religion (however that's defined) gets 35% of all charitable donations in the US
      • Conservatives are more likely to give and give more than liberals, even in blood donations.
      • Religious people give more to secular causes than do secular people.
      • Event spending is one of the least effective ways to raise money for charities. Some even spend $50 for every $1 they raise through fund-raising events.
    If you want to keep an up-to-the-minute update of the links I find and enjoy around the web be sure to follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/jerrythepunkrat
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    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Word Cloud: Sunday Morning Drive Lyrics

    I've been playing around a bit with Wordle.net lately to make some word clouds. Wordle.net is a cool little web site where you can import text from a web page or RSS feed or just copy and paste it in and the application will spit out a word cloud based on the number of times words are used. It's a fun way to visualize the usage of words.

    Here I've posted a couple word clouds built from the lyrics from the new album my band, Sunday Morning Drive, just released. Thought it'd be cool to see what words get used the most in our lyrics.

    This first version has common English words filtered out.



    This second version does not have common English words filtered out.


    I plan to do some more of these in the near future including a study of word usage in this blog. You have any ideas for word clouds? Post 'em in the comments and maybe link to your own word cloud you make at Wordle.net!

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Where I've Been Today - Number 1

    I follow a few people's blogs who post a summary of where they've been around the web each day. I probably won't post every day (or even on the day I found the places) but thought I would add this to my schedule. Not only to do you get to check out some (possibly) interesting links but I get to store them somewhere I can refer back to later.

    So here we go:

    artinmycoffee.com
    - this was a fun little gallery site that users can upload pics they take of cool latte art. Some pretty impressive works can be found here.

    TeuxDeux - I actually stumbled on this site last week from a recommendation on Twitter. TeuxDeux is a very simple web application for making and organizing daily to-do lists. So far I've found it really helpful and easy to use. Oh, and the minimalist site design is brilliant. It so fits the designer in me.
    Vesper Font - found this great font today. Looks great for setting lots of small type (i.e. a book or pamphlet).


    Le Grand Content video - a humorous video I found on YouTube presenting seemingly random items of life through infographics (charts, tables and other means of comparison). Brilliant.

    Volcano Choir - I love Bon Iver and just about anything else Justin Vernon is—or has been—involved in so it follows that I should love Volcano Choir, one of his side projects from this last year. And I do love it. A lot. Which only means that you too should check it out since I have such wicked taste in music.


    What Matters Now (Free PDF) - the brilliance of Seth Godin never ceases to amaze me so when I see he has a download-able PDF on his site I can't help but snag it. Especially when it takes Twitter by storm this morning. It was good (though not great). Essentially he's collected brief snippets on various topics from almost 80 thinkers, bloggers, writers, and do-ers who have recently or are releasing soon books that he supports. It's worth at least a skim through. However, this all makes me wonder if he gets any kick-back for making such a huge PR storm for these people's books.

    What great web places did you discover today?
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    Friday, December 11, 2009

    "I'm a Night Owl Calvinist" and The Charting of Random Persona Facts

    Based on a public conversation I had online through Twitter last night with @iamchanelle, @BenJammin noted that both of us were late-night people and Calvinists—or at least he assumed we were since we both go to churches that hold to Reformed doctrine.

    (By the way, for all you non-Twitter users, the "@" symbol simply denotes a user name. For instance my username on Twitter is @jerrythepunkrat and so when people converse with me through Twitter they use that name for me. But I digress. That's another post for another time..."What's Twitter? or How to Waste Your Life.")

    Anyways, back to the story. Ben's response got me thinking about how I might chart these two random persona characteristics: that I prefer to stay up late (and not get up early) and that I believe in much of the Reformed doctrine promoted by John Calvin.

    So I charted two axes, one for sleeping preference (Early Bird vs. Night Owl) and one for theological doctrine (Jacobus Arminius vs. John Calvin).

    Here's the result:

    Clever? Maybe. Useful? Not really. Regardless I think I may try to do more of these charts looking at the intersection of seemingly random characteristics and personae.

    Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas for my next chart. I'd love to hear from you!


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    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    The Internet Is Not the Economy You Though It Was

    Everybody knows it. Nobody admits it (okay maybe a few marketing spammers admit it).

    The internet is an economy.

    But it's probably not the economy you think it is. It's not the economy of Target.com or Amazon.com or Etsy.com or any other online retailer. Yeah, it includes those guys (and all the little one-person shops littered across the web landscape) but they're becoming only a slice of the growing internet economy pie.

    The ever-correct and all-knowing Wikipedia defines "Internet Economy" this way:
    The Internet Economy refers to conducting business through markets whose infrastructure is based on the Internet and World-Wide Web. An Internet economy differs from a traditional economy in a number of ways, including: communication, market segmentation, distribution costs, and price.
    But Wikipedia is wrong. This is the old internet economy, where transactions were still made with money (virtual now but money non-the-less). The old internet economy was just like the IRL traditional economy but with a new infrastructure of sending and receiving money and marketing your wares. With the advent of blogs, social networks, and social communication tools like Twitter the internet has changed forever.

    Why? The currency changed.

    We're all on the internet and most of us individually don't really spend all that much online. (We only spend what we have or can borrow and that isn't any different than before we bought everything online). Or do we?

    We sure do spend a lot of time online. I know I do. And we all have a profile of sorts, don't we? We all have an image we maintain (to some degree or another). And we all have a network, right? C'mon, I'm punk 25-year-old and I've got over 300 'followers' each on Facebook and Twitter. And every time you give someone else some of your time, some of your attention online you're building their profile. We all have the ability with an internet-connected globe to get our profile in front of literally millions of people which means every hit counts.

    But then you have something besides just attention to trade with one another, don't you? You've got the ability to promote others. You can post a link.

    It used to be that to post a link in order to share with the world at large you had to have a website. And websites were always a hassle to setup, maintain, and get people to find.

    And then there were blogs.

    Yay! Blog sites made it really easy to post stuff and maintain your blog. But you still had to get people to show up at your blog and actually read it. Ugh.

    And now social networks and Twitter have shown up.

    Holy crap, YAY! The internet gods made not only posting info and links really easy but but they've made connecting your profile with others and pushing your content to them so ridiculously easy you can do it on a tiny 2" square screen.

    Now we can all share with each other every bit of info and link we stumble on. And here in lies the rub. We don't transact in cash or credit any more on the web. We trade in links and PR. We give each other virtual handshakes and hi-fives in front of hundreds, thousands and even millions with the simple push of a link out to our network.

    We all have a profile and network. We've all got something to hype. That's internet economy.

    Thursday, December 03, 2009

    The album is almost here!


    It's finally (almost) here—the album I and the rest of Sunday Morning Drive have been writing, recording, mixing and producing for the last 2 years. And we want to share the moment with you.

    We are hosting two very different events this coming weekend to celebrate the release of the album and to thank our friends and fans for all of their support over the years.

    The first event is on Friday, December 4th starting at 7pm at Roosevelt Community Church in downtown Phoenix, in conjunction with First Fridays Artwalk. This event is a casual affair with the chance to hang out with other fans, hear the CD for the first time, enjoy some live improv via Blackbox Improv! and, of course, live music by SMD—with a twist. We'll be taking requests from our album and back-catalog of original songs as well as create and improvise new music on the spot! This free event is one you won't want to miss. For directions and all the details check out the event page on Facebook.

    The second event will be a doozy! The real deal. A real kick-in-the-pants. It will be a real rock-fest with blazing guitar licks, soaring vocals, and some wicked drum beats. We'll be playing a rocking 2-hour set at Bogey's in Tempe on Saturday, December 5th at 7:30pm. Be sure to bring your ear-plugs and of course your singing voice so you can rock along with us! All the details are on the event page on Facebook. Be sure to RSVP! (And the show is free—you know we treat you right!)



    Of course, both events will have the new album available for sale as well as t-shirts. If you can make it to either show we would love to have you celebrate, rock-out and just generally hang with us as we put up our rock fists for our greatest achievement yet!
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