All posts for “Explanation”


Client Video: Windows

Posted by: leelefever on November 18, 2008- 4:00pm

Categories: client work, Explanation, microsoft, ourwork, paperworks, plainenglish


Common Craft was hired by Microsoft to help explain the new Windows  We were so excited to work with a local organization on a project that highlights a new direction for the company. Share this video with this code:

What is an Explanation?

Posted by: leelefever on November 12, 2008- 4:00pm

Categories: Explanation, feedback, openthread, ourwork, thisite


Sachi and I been talking about this and we're curious what you think.  What is an explanation? What are the skills required to be a good explainer?  What makes a good explanation?

The Demand for "Explainers" and The Giant Pool of Money

Posted by: leelefever on August 18, 2008- 5:00pm

Categories: Explanation, journalism, news, ourwork


Jay Rosen has written article that I could quote 1000 times.  It's called National Explainer: A Job for Journalists on the Demand Side of News.  It focuses on the huge success of an episode of "This American Life" called The Giant Pool of Money, which serves to explain the US mortgage crisis. This episode has been downloaded 50,000 times more than any other episide.  Why?  Because the producers (Ira Glass and Alex Blumberg) focused on explanation instead of information. When we talk about... Continue Reading

Interview for IT Conversations by Jon Udell

Posted by: leelefever on July 31, 2008- 5:00pm

Categories: buzz, Explanation, interview, podcast


Recently I spent some time with Jon Udell for an episode of IT Conversations.  Jon posted the interview today.  I just listened to it and nothing I said made me cringe, so I thought I'd share it here with you. :) We talked about the evolution of the Common Craft format, different learning styles, off board brains and explanation problems, among other things. Have a listen or download it on the IT Conversations blog post.  Thanks a lot for the opportunity Jon! I think it came out really well...

Funny: Rockwells Retro Encabulator

Posted by: leelefever on March 25, 2008- 5:00pm

Categories: Explanation, fun, humor


The yin to Common Craft's yang: I wish I knew more about this, the YouTube pages offer little info. Thanks to Paul Ingram and Ryan Turner for the pointers. Updated:  Here it says "This is a hoax video produced by Rockwell for a sales meeting. See also: Turboencabulator" Thanks Bill! 

Interview with Nora Young on CBC Radio's Spark

Posted by: leelefever on March 17, 2008- 5:00pm

Categories: buzz, Explanation, interview, podcast


Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Nora Young, host of the CBC Radio Show Spark, which is described as "smart and unexpected trendwatching." The show airs tomorrow at 11:30 EST and 4pm EST on CBC Radio One. Nora has been exploring the world of how-to videos and came across Common Craft. We talked about the elements of good explanations, why technology needs them and what's driving the growth of online how-to videos. Plus, she asks for an ad hoc explanation of podcasting (live... Continue Reading

Internet Power - A 1995 Video Explaining the Internet

Posted by: leelefever on March 17, 2008- 5:00pm

Categories: Explanation, history, humor, video


Via Laughing Squid and Andy Baio at, who is creating digitized version of old VHS tapes.   This makes me wonder if people, 12 years from now, will look back at our videos and laugh, saying "Hah! Can you imagine?  That's what they thought blogs and RSS were all about! Sheesh!" 

CBS's "Fast Draw" Whiteboard Explanations

Posted by: leelefever on February 17, 2008- 4:00pm

Categories: Explanation, television, video, whiteboard


CBS is starting to integrate whiteboard-based explantions into the news.  We first heard about it  being used on the show Sunday Morning, where I imagine the lighter content seemed more appropriate.  Thanks to Ron for the pointer to this video. Just recently, the same team of Josh Landis and Mitch Butler were paired with Katie Couric on the Evening News to explain the superdelegates.  You can see the video on this post. It will be interesting to watch how the mainstream media reacts to these... Continue Reading

Discovering the RSS Explanation Problem

Posted by: leelefever on January 22, 2008- 4:00pm

Categories: conference, Explanation, explanationproblems, rss


I remember the exact moment when it first became apparent to me that there was such a thing as an explanation problem.  I was at a small conference on Silicon Valley in early 2004.  There was a CEO of a start up there and during his talk, he mentioned RSS.  Someone raised their hand and asked the question "What is RSS?" This CEO's responses to the question, and I'm not kidding, was "RSS is an XML-based content syndication format." As you might expect, this was met with a look of bewilderment.... Continue Reading

Data Portability For Non-Geeks

Posted by: leelefever on January 15, 2008- 4:00pm

Categories: Explanation, video


If you look at, it's obvious they have an explanation problem. I'm not likely their target audience, but "Turnkey Reference Blueprints" don't exactly make me want to get involved. That's why I like this video by Smash Cut Media - it focuses on the pain of having to keep up with data across mutiple web sites - and how the Data Portability workgroup is helping to solve the problem.  It's a bit flashy, but effective and fun to watch.  Check it out: DataPortability - Connect... Continue Reading