Thought You Should See This, June 15th, 2012

This week’s Thought You Should See This update for my colleagues at Doblin and anyone interested in innovation and design.

Top marks this week to Larry Keeley, whose pearls of wisdom form the foreword to a new book on mobile interaction design. As Larry writes, “With mobile devices, we are today where automobiles were when the Model T was the hottest thing on wheels.” Be sure to check it out.

Brooklyn Castle is a documentary, the tale of a school in Brooklyn whose students generally hail from below the poverty line. However, this isn’t your usual hand-wringing, doom and gloom-style documentary. IS 318 boasts 26 national chess titles—more than any other junior high school in the country—and the documentary focuses on the hopes and dreams of some of the chess club’s young participants. It’s simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking.

Pixar artist Emma Coats put together a great list of advice on how to tell a good story. My favorite: “Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.”

American Pain: The Largest U.S. Pill Mill’s Rise and Fall tells the story of Christopher and Jeffrey George, twin brothers who opened their first “pain clinic” in Fort Lauderdale in 2008 and both of whom are now in jail for racketeering conspiracy. It’s a fascinating, sobering tale of an industry whose denizens pushed the boundaries of the law as far as they’d possibly go, and then pushed them just a little bit further.

Sarah Caddick is the Neuroscience Advisor to David Sainsbury and a senior advisor to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation—a big funder of scientific research, based in London. I spoke with her about her thoughts around the brain, our impressions of it, and how we need to turn what we think we know on its heads.

For a little light relief, check out the stop-motion animation promo for Delta Heavy. Although what the director has against classic games like Hungry Hippos and Connect 4 is anyone’s guess.

Geo-strategist Parag Khanna outlines his idea of the “hybrid economy,” arguing that we all need to boost our TQ, our “technology quotient.” “Start saving as much for physical enhancement as for education and retirement, he writes. “Get familiar with virtual currencies. Invest in a persuasive avatar, even, to represent you online. And welcome to the Hybrid Age.” Quick read, worth the effort.

Jonah Lehrer’s new book on creativity takes a beating from The New Republic, which wonders why we all pursue story-telling as our preferred means of communicating difficult topics.

And finally, six international artists take on an interesting brief… redesigning the tequila bottle. The results (shown top) are punchy, funky, graphic and really quite beautiful.


In praise of Mara Carlyle

Totally biased post, what with having known Mara since we were 12 years old and we first discovered our mutual love of talking twaddle and laughing like loons. But delighted to see this piece about her in yesterday’s Guardian. One thing the commenters on the decline of an industry often fail to consider is how very, very painful said demise can be to those experiencing it firsthand. So while from the outside it sure looks like the music industry is rank with inefficiency and ineptitude and might as well be razed to the ground, it’s still tough for talents such as Mara who are left to twist in the wind. I suggested she Kickstarter her way into releasing her most recent album, but despite having wrested it back from the maw of EMI, there are still royalty agreements that make such an idea effectively a nonstarter. Shame, because it really is the most glorious piece of music. And despite my bias, I really wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it.

Anyway, in honor of Mara on this Friday afternoon, here are the IKEA ad and Vaughan Williams-inspired piece that are mentioned in the Grauniad piece, and a couple of cracking videos from days gone by.