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Posts from July 2006



Over on the lovely Pink Air, Jeffre Jackson remarks upon the popularity of gel buttons on the intermenet. He believes they have become ubiquitous because they contain all kinds of reality triggers. To steal his beautiful phrase:

They're artificially supersaturated with visual reality, so they're especially fascinating in the arid, 2-D environment of the web savannah.

All of which makes a lot of sense. But I think there is an additional factor that explains their popularity: affordance.

To steal from the Wikipedia:

An affordance is a property of an object, or a feature of the immediate environment, that indicates how to interface with that object or feature. The empty space within an open doorway, for instance, affords movement across that threshold. A couch affords the possibility of sitting down on it.

So inherent in the image of a button lies the means by which you interact with it, which is a remarkably useful quality when attempting to build navigation into a web page.

How does the button communicate this function? It must be using some kind of  language.

By understanding how objects communicate their affordance we gain a better understanding of how people parse the world around them. If we can understand this language we can build tools , and brands, that explain their own function.

Floating Bed

I have a theory that we are rapidly approaching a point where current technology is going to hit science fiction levels - I call this the "Future is Now" theory, an expression I have clearly stolen.

Personally I can't wait. It's going to be very cool and very scary. If I were to make a vague attempt to make this relate to communications then it would be something about the consumer using technology to control how advertisers communicate with them, as MSN have just discovered.

But really I'm excited since I think Now has just become now.

This is the floating bed. It uses magnets. True it currently costs over 1 million Euros but it exists. It's real.

Even keeping in mind Amara's Law:

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

I still can't wait for the hover boards.

The Perfect Brief

I'm trying to construct the perfect communication brief.

I remember reading somewhere that MT Rainey built an IDEA brief template - the requirement not being for a creative or communication solution but for a BIG IDEA.

Not sure exactly what a BIG IDEA is but I  know that I sometimes find myself frustrated with the briefs I receive - too long or too short, too much detail or not enough - so I thought I must have an idea, a Platonic ideal if you will, of what the perfect brief is.

So I've been trying to construct it. It's harder than I thought. I'm trying to make it really simple:

What's this all about?
Why are we doing it?
Who do we want to communicate with?
What do we want them to do?

And all the standard, practical stuff. The problem is that it's not very inspiring - and I think that this is the point.

Having lots of information is great and necessary. But I think what I've been looking for are briefs to make me smile and whir and flash and bang and crackle and pop. Briefs that are inspirational. Briefs that communicate something about the task beyond the information.

So I'm trying to express things in different ways and make it look different - not just boxes on a page.

So far I've got coloured boxes on a page.

Any better ideas?

City Beach


I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon at the beach.

Sun, sand but no sea as this beach is just off Brick Lane, round the corner from the Big Chill Bar.

If I was thinking of developing a brand experience, this wouldn't be a bad place to start - surprising, simple and offering some real value to the kids and kidults of East London.