graphic communication

Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row

What should bloggers know about copyright law?

copyright-symbolQuite a bit, it turns out.

As a blogger, content marketer, writer, designer, course creator, you are constantly generating valuable intellectual property assets as you build your business. You really want to protect your key content. Your proprietary content is found in self-published books, infographics, online courses, workshops and speeches should be protected from copyright infringement.

from copyblogger:

When you federally register your copyright, you obtain the following advantages over common law copyright:

  • You alert the world that you are the creator and owner of the work, which makes it hard for infringers to claim they didn’t know the work was yours.
  • You obtain the right to bring a federal lawsuit; registration gives you the right to file a claim of copyright infringement in federal court.
  • You get to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in that lawsuit — the infringer has to pay all of your lawsuit costs.
  • You have an easy and official way to sell your ownership of the work.

How to avoid this mistake
Register the copyright for all of your prized content — namely, your work that makes you the most money, like your online courses, self-published books, and award-winning copy.

Registration is fairly easy and inexpensive. You don’t even need an attorney. You can register online by submitting some basic information and uploading a copy of the content to the U.S. Copyright Office website.

The fee is either $35 or $55, depending on what you register. You can also register multiple pieces of content at once, such as all of the articles you’ve posted on your blog since 1998, or the epic writing course you launched last year.

THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE mentions other legal moves you should be aware of. Check it out and make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row!

WEB-ducks-in-a-row1

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Fonts These Days!

This Chart gave me some laughs…

click for larger image

But seriously, fonts these days!! For us old-timers, we’ve lived through pixelated, then Postscript fonts. Then came utilities to help us manage the technical and artistic confusion: Suitcase and Adobe Type Manager.   TrueType and OpenType came along trying to simplify how software and printers processed font data.

Today we have Google fonts and all their digital cousins, and an open-source bonanza of new fonts, free and for hire.

How do you manage your fonts?

Here’s an article that reviews a number of options from Spoon Graphics. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these in more detail.

I have been relying on Font Book for a while now, and longing for something that would let me use a limited set for every day but ‘go shopping’ for styles and font faces by category when I needed them. I plan to try the free version of Font Explorer to see if it might help, and I’ll report in.

But I really want to hear from you. Let me know what font managing solutions have worked for you, or if you try any of these recommendations, how they work out.

 

Visual Information: Impact of Vacinations

In a clear and compelling illustration, these charts of disease incidence before and after the introduction of vaccines show dramatic decline in illness from measles and polio.
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.44.31 AM

This data from Project Tycho and the Center for Disease Control shows the numbers of infected people by state and year, (at the scale is cases per 100,000 people.) When the vaccine is introduced there is a brief lag and then marked decline in cases.You can see more examples HERE, including hepatitus A, rubella, whooping cough and small pox.
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.47.44 AM

Communication Takes the World Stage

I give you but a few of many thoughts on the mediasphere since the terrorist acts in Paris of last week:

Artists respond to the attack on Charlie Hebdo:

Former Nun asks “What Does this Serve?

Terry Nicholetti, actor, author and founder of Speak Out Girlfriend has worked in women’s empowerment and human services since leaving the convent years ago. She’s a dear friend of mine and woman of deep compassion and love for humanity.

As we discussed the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she asked: “what purpose does it serve to publish a cartoon that deeply offends and outrages the religious sensibilities of the largest religious group on the planet?” It’s a good question.

My answer is that the purpose is satire, for stimulation of debate in the public sphere. Terry was persistent in her concern is that publishing material known to be outrageously offensive is going to have predictable, and devastating, results. Does the presenter of such speech bear responsibility for the dreadful result?

Indeed, Pope Francis spoke to this very idea during his trip to Manila on Thursday:

“You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” the pontiff said. “Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending.”

“People who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others are provocateurs,” Francis said, and went on to draw a parallel to his friend insulting his mother. “He can expect a punch. There is a limit.”

To those used to America’s free speech tradition, which champions the freedom to give offense over the right to be protected from it, Francis’s statements may sound uncomfortably similar to victim blaming. But they are actually very close to many European countries’ positions on the limits of free speech. [from VOX] 

While I am most likely to take the side of the artists in this instance, another

A Feminist Muslim’s take on Charlie Hebdo

Steph is a writer who as a teenager was a forced convert to Islam and live under as she describes it religious mysogyny. In her post on the Charlie Hebdo shootings, she speaks about the burden of those silenced by radical religious ideology enforced by violence.

I spent a good chunk of life controlled by a radical religious ideology, and another chunk too scared to talk honestly about it. My experience, and the experiences of many who are marginalised, controlled, and silenced by radical Islam, is that the figures of authority responsible for spreading the rhetoric of terrorism do indeed have power and privilege. They aggressively tout misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic dogma, and they control individuals, families, communities, and sometimes whole states through fear. So, personally, I find living in a society where I’m free to ridicule terrorists who want to dictate the terms of free speech, and have me stripped of my autonomy and my right to laugh and poke fun, a very comforting thing indeed.

You can read her entire fascinating and provocative post at her blog,  ReImagining My Reality.

 

The West Should Examine its Conscience

In an article on CNN.com, noted philosopher Noam Chomsky challenges the eWest to examine the hypocrisy of our outrage, considering a string of reprehensible acts such as the 1999 NATO attack on Serbian media and the US led ‘War on Terror,’ which Chomsky called “Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby.”

Read the entire op-ed piece at CNN.com here.

 

One Last Thing…

The Gift of Typography

jensong-giftWe lately herald our digital culture with much pride; well deserved, it is a  significant achievement. I recently saw The Imitation Game, a film which will give you a great appreciation for the dawn of our data-driven age. But there is another powerful and under-appreciated media, and it’s right under your nose every day.

That marvel of human ingenuity would be roman typography: a standardized letterform for written European language. A mere 550 years ago, all of your books and papers were hand-scribed in precise blackletter calligraphy by highly skilled scribes. The first printed books including Gutenburg’s bible were printed with blackletter fonts that mimicked the blackletter style.

Biblia latina, with handwritten Lombardic capitals in red & blue. Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1471. Image courtesy of Austrian National Library

The first known Bible printed in roman type is at left, from 1471. Not until early in the 16th century when the Reformation took hold were roman-print Bibles produced in any quantity.

‘Roman’ type is the first font family designed specifically for printing technology. It was derived from the inscriptions on Roman architecture, and, with the development of lowercase letterforms and refinements for readability, became the alphabet we consume today, and take for granted as written language.

So this holiday season, if you read the Holy Bible (or anything for that matter!) take a moment to appreciate the futurists of the 1400s who brought us the printed book. They laid the groundwork for your Kindle and this very blog.

The Eyes ARE the Brain

I’m a lifelong fan of the power of the visual mind. An artist since I was a child, the power and richness of imagery has always captivated me.

Although we seem to value text and numerical data over mere ‘pictures,’ over 90% of all information processed by our brains is visual. Since we perceive the world in rich, colorful moving three-dimensions, a great deal of processing is required to sort all of that data into information we can make sense of. That’s why over half of our brain is dedicated to visual processing.  The retina and optic nerve are actually extensions of the brain itself, conducting massive amounts of image processing.

The near-instantaneous speed and broad bandwidth of our visual thinking is what gives advertising and movies their mesmerizing power.

Here’s a section from a cool infographic from NoeMam Studios that does a great job of telling that story:

imageprocessbrain

Click on this image to see the entire Infographic

 Why is this important?

If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article on the miraculous visual nervous system and how it takes the raw data of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (what we call ‘light’), collects it, and assembles it into the coherent visual world we take for granted. It really gives one a profound appreciation for the sheer processing power at work in our very own grey matter.

Stop and See the Roses

Take time to appreciate what your visual cortex does for you today, when you notice the fall colors, enjoy your child’s smile, or find your attention captured by an advertisement or book cover.

And don’t neglect to harness this awesome power in your marketing.

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If you’d like to talk about custom infographics for your business, please get in touch.

The “Selfie” Phenomenon

While the self-portrait has a long and venerable place in the history of art, the democratization of media in our young century collided with our first-world self obsessions to create a robust trend.   Chosen by the OED in 2013 as Word of the Year, “selfie” has charged into the English language with remarkable vigor.

The first recorded use of the hashtag #selfie took place on Flick in 2004, but the word didn’t really catch on until 2012. Since then, the use of ‘selfie’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has exploded, growing by over 17,000 percent.

Consider these stats:

selfiestats

Click on the above to see the whole graphic, which is chock-full of amazing selfie info!

Now we have smart phones specifically designed for taking selfies, including this one from SONY, who created the info graphics in this blog.

And feel free to post your favorite selfie in the comments below.

Here’s my latest favorite:

I grow broccoli, therefore I am.

Great Advice from an 60’s Adman

George Lois “Great ideas can't be tested. Only mediocre ideas can be tested.”

“Great ideas can’t be tested. Only mediocre ideas can be tested.”

George Lois  is the guy who created the “I want my MTV” slogan and invented the concept of Lean Cuisine. Now  81, the  graphic designer/art director/copywriter may be best known for his 92 cover designs for Esquire magazine from 1962 to 1972, which have been exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art.

When asked about the hit TV series Mad Men, Lois dismisses it as a soap opera, and also notes that it missed the real story:

…ignoring the dynamics of the Creative Revolution that changed the world of communications forever…That dynamic period of counterculture in the 1960s found expression on Madison Avenue through a new creative generation—a rebellious coterie of art directors and copywriters who understood that visual and verbal expression were indivisible.

Lois is responsible for quite a few books over the years including The Art of Advertising and Sellebritythe most recent of which is  Damn Good Advice, which is nicely profiled in this article at Fast Company:

7 Pieces of “Damn Good” Creative Advice from ’60s Ad Man George Lois:

BREVITY ROCKS

“I want my MTV” became a generational battle cry after Lois, a pioneer in exploiting celebrity cachet, persuaded Mick Jagger to appear in a TV commercial delivering the line.

LISTEN

Lois says, “When people talk to you about their business and you listen hard, there’s a good chance they’ll say something and you go ‘Son of a bitch, that’s it!’ Then when you show your idea to the guy, he doesn’t even know he gave it to you.”

GO TO THE MUSEUM

“Museums are custodians of epiphanies, and these epiphanies enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind.”

FIGHT ADVERSITY WITH CREATIVITY

Lois shot a TV commercial showing a toddler making photocopies. When the FCC objected that the ad misrepresented the machine’s ease of use, Lois shot a new commercial showing a chimpanzee making photocopies. He invited FCC staffers to attend the shoot.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE ZEITGEIST

When it comes to pulling concepts out of thin air, “It’s about understanding what the hell’s going on around you,” says Lois, who spends an hour each morning poring through the New York Times.

TRUST YOUR GUT

“Ad agencies do all kinds of market research that ask people what they think they want, and instead you should be creating things that you want.  Trust your own instincts, your own intellect, and your own sense of humor.”

WORD FIRST, VISUAL LATER

Lois believes in “writing the idea” rather than trawling randomly for visual inspiration.  “A big campaign can only be expressed in words that lend themselves to visual excitement.”

read entire article

Depicting THE GLOBAL FLOW OF PEOPLE

Having worked with demographic data for years (as a writer and artist) I have acquired some ability to manipulate and read spreadsheets in order to derive meaning from them. Full time demographers and other researchers have honed the same skills, but for most of us, nothing can compare to the near-instantaneous glance that visual display can provide.

To provide a beautiful example check out The Global Flow of People,  an intereactive infographic that depicts the migration of humans to and from world regions,developed at the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.   Researchers Nikola SanderGuy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer  working with designer Elvira Stein used color and shape to create a powerful display of complex data.

Origins and destinations are represented by the circle’s segments. Each region/country is assigned a colour. Flows have the same colour as their origin and the width indicates their size.

So many stories can be told from this one elegant piece of work, representing volumes of data presented it for our minds to readily digest. Here’s just one: the changing patterns in emigration in South Asia by 5-year increments.

SouthAsia

This timeframe spans the ‘War on Terror’ as well as the rise of India as a competitive economy. There are dozens of insightful relationships to inquire about, just from this one slice of the data. Why is there an uptick in emmigration to Iran from Europe in 1995-2000 and from the US in 2000-2005?  Who are the South-east Asians who are moving into Bangladesh?

Visit the interactive master post to experiment with  the original interactive graphic where you can which will examine a single region, break out by country, and show data from four different 5-year time frames.

 

True Password Strength Needs a Story

I’m sure many of you are frustrated by managing passwords, I know I am.  Security concerns are rising as major retailers have been hacked. I’ve had a good system for some years but it’s beginning to fail as the requirements for secure passwords increase.

Along comes comic xkcd to save the day! This is the best explanation and example I’ve seen to cut the confusion!

I’m guilty of using the base word & numeral method. I figured my great vocabulary and intelligence could outwit hackers. LOL. It’s not the hacker you have to worry about, its the machine and it’s speed.

Seeing the diagram of ‘entropy bits’ and the formulas for decryption made it abundantly clear that my old system was fatally flawed.

Notice how the recommended method requires telling a story! Clever humans, we’re still smarter than the machine, especially if we think about the ways we really shine.