This is how rockstars write creative briefs…


This letter has been getting a bit of press lately, due in part to it’s recent sharing at a digital storytelling conference.  Pretty self-explanatory, but Mick Jagger was writing to Andy Warhol about doing the artwork on The Rolling Stones greatest hits album Through The Past, Darkly.

[via Phaidon]

Time Lapse Earth


Another inspiring short compiling footage from the International Space Station.  Made my day.

[via High Snobiety]

The World As 100 People


Love this infographic from London-based Jack Hagley. Click to access an enlarged version.

Why food has eclipsed art as the highest form of culture


I read this great piece from Michael Wolff at GQ UK about the trials and tribulations of New York City foodies. In the piece Michael describes how restaurants rule the social social scene for urbanites while lapping up more than their share of the cultural bandwidth, dictating the haves and have-nots through the reservations they can or cannot obtain. In summary:

I don’t think it is possible to overstate the dominance of restaurants in urban life. They are the cultural focus and reference, eclipsing sports, art, literature, entertainment, music, drugs – and sex. You likely wouldn’t have sex with someone who took you to the wrong restaurant (or at least wouldn’t be happy about it). Restaurant reviews are like theatre reviews used to be, defining a cultural consensus. Certainly people talk more often and more passionately about restaurants than they talk about politics, movies, or even real estate. Restaurant talk may be the highest form of cultural sophistication and Zeitgeist connection. You’re a bore and rube if you haven’t eaten where everybody has eaten – or at least if you’re not shaking with excitement about getting there soon.

The piece is fantastic.  You should read the entire thing.  But, what’s really interesting to me is the rise of Foodism to the top of the cultural pyramid. Didn’t the pinnacle of high culture used to belong to art?

I’m sure there’s many deep and insightful reasons to explain this progression, but the one that stands out to me is that food is a far more social endeavor than art.  It lends itself towards the broadcasting habits inherent in the digital age made known through check-ins, and the now widespread act of “foodstagraming.” Even the young couple can extract intimacy from the experience of sharing the kitchen for a few hours a week, toiling over a delicious recipe, that before sites like Epicurious and Allrecipes, was hidden to the amateur.

Innovators have taken note.  Today we have television networks boasting 24-7 programming that admittedly doesn’t suck.  Some of the most widely read books of the last decade have been about food; see: Omnivore’s Dilemma. We have food trucks, underground supper clubs, plated dinners on subways, pop-up restaurants, pop-down restaurants, event sites like EatWith, that serve as a sort of Travelocity for eating in strangers homes.

It’s almost as if food has become a gateway towards something else…

But, the real question then is, can food deliver on the same level of intellectual, expressive or emotional depth as that of the fine arts? I’m not sure I have the answer to that.  But, even as I write this, I’m struck by how fundamentally different each is and how unfair it may be to compare the two as equal components of culture.  Food or the act of dining provides a sort of forum and playing field for stimulating conversation, socialization, and the sharing of ideas.  It sets the stage and enhances the connection we have with others.  A fine Italian burrata can stir the emotional and mental faculties as well as an inspiring lecture, although perhaps in a more subtle way.

However, I think food succeeds where art fails in it’s apparent self-confidence with being the backdrop or conduit for something bigger and more substantive, namely connection with other human beings.  It would be arrogant for a chef to assume that your dinner conversation should revolve exclusively around his or her culinary works.  And, in today’s hyper-social, experience-driven world, maybe food is just a better fit.

Image via: laurenlemon via Compfight cc

Wealth Inequality in America


Over the past three decades, American companies have gone from below average profits to the highest in history, meanwhile paying the lowest employee salaries on record, both as a percentage of the overall economy.  Make no mistake, business is booming, but 90% of this country isn’t reaping any of the benefits [Source].

Income inequality is the central issue facing America today.  There is nothing more crucial to our future success and security; not the deficit, not gun violence, not the environment, not unemployment, nothing.

Sever the ties between our government and big business, and you deliver this problem a devastating blow that frees up politicians to pass legislation that benefits the majority rather than the minority.  It is that simple.

Shane Koyczan: “To This Day”



“By turn hilarious and haunting, poet Shane Koyczan puts his finger on the pulse of what it’s like to be young and … different. “To This Day,” his spoken-word poem about bullying, captivated millions as a viral video (created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators). Here, he gives a glorious, live reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment by Hannah Epperson.”

[via TED]

The Overview Effect and Our Search for Truth

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

Planetary Collective created this short documentary addressing the profound experience astronauts have when they first look down at the earth from outer space.  In 1987, author Frank White coined this The Overview Effect.  More specifically, it describes how the literal change in perspective of looking at the Earth from above can effect one’s cognitive perspective and associated belief systems.

Edgar Mitchell, astronaut on Apollo 14, eventually compared it to savikalpa samadhi, a non-dual state of awareness in which the subject becomes one with the experienced object, and in which the mind becomes still.

The result is often a shift in worldview that involves a sudden concern and appreciation for the fragility of the planet coupled with a deeper connection to mankind.

As someone with a deep and somewhat inexplicable interest in space exploration, astronomy and cosmology, I’m moved and fascinated by this.  My experience has been that we’re always chasing ourselves throughout life; our beliefs, our values and points of greatest connection to the world.  Astronauts have this incredible opportunity to move so far beyond themselves in the literal sense that I think it actually allows them to reconnect with their truths in a very immediate and inspiring way.

Space exploration, at it’s core, is a search for our deepest truths – how and why we are here.  The faithful individual searches for these answers in scripture and religious doctrine while the scientific, quite literally, looks up towards the heavens.

Ironically, the focus during the Apollo missions was always about where we were going and what was ahead of us.  This idea of, literally and figuratively, turning around to look back on ourselves, as pointed out by David Beaver could have been the most important reason for going to the moon.  It, in a sense, confirmed that the answers that we seek throughout life, were both inside and among us all along, but that it required a significant journey to reveal them.

Big thanks and congratulations to the Planetary Collective of the creation of this film and thanks to Christian for his selfless sharing of this piece.

Adobe’s Global Creativity Gap Study


The State of Create Global Benchmark Study from which this infographic is compiled sought to assess the attitudes and beliefs surrounding creativity in (5) of the largest economies in the world: U.S., Japan, France, U.K. and Germany.  I think the results are important. A couple things to note:

The increasing pressure to be productive and get things done at work was found to be one of the largest barriers to coming up with creative solutions and ideas.  This tension is always going to be present.  Making time to be creative in the workplace is something that takes it’s own set of novel solutions from the individual.

What is of greater concern to me is that our education system does not see creativity as an important aptitude.  Or, perhaps more accurately, the system is not designed in such a way as to nurture it among America’s youth.  Globally, 52% believe education systems are taking creativity for granted, compared to 70% in the United States.

Sir Ken Robinson, puts it best in his response to the study: “One of the problems is that too often our educational systems don’t enable students to develop their natural creative powers. Instead, they promote uniformity and standardization. The result is that we’re draining people of their creative possibilities and, as this study reveals, producing a workforce that’s conditioned to prioritize conformity over creativity.”

Surveyed Americans are not aloof to this issue, as 82% expressed urgency and concern that the country is not living up to it’s creative potential.  And yet, math and science still sit at the top of school’s priorities, because we (and our government) believe that these skill-sets, when applied to our economy, will create more growth.

I don’t disagree with this.  Math and science are extremely important aptitudes, but when taught from the standpoint of factual memorization and the following of predetermined protocols, are virtually useless.

We need to drastically reduce the standardized assessments that control our teacher’s curriculum and restructure them to allow for more critical thinking, open problem solving, and creative exploration. The context – math, science, writing, fine arts, etc. are secondary.

Head here to download the entire study.


Univ. of Colorado: Harlem Shake


From Thursday’s win over 9th ranked Arizona.  Had to post.  Go Buffs.

Ron Howard on How ESPN Could be Improved


Well said. Howard’s point applies to good storytelling in all of it’s forms.

I found this clip in a Grantland article that uses Joseph Campbell’s comparative mythology work on the Hero’s Journey as a template for redesigning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.  Not sure I’ve ever seen a blog post that melds two things this unrelated into such an interesting and useful commentary.

Hero’s Journey x Dunking = Awesomeness

[via Grantland]


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