All posts for “Explanation”
When people ask me who is doing the best explanatory work these days, I often point to public radio and podcasts. The radio format, while not visual, can be incredibly engaging and effective in packaging complicated ideas into explanations. One of our favorites is NPR’s Planet Money podcast which has the tagline “The Economy Explained”. The podcast got started with an episode of This American Life in May of 2008 called the Giant Pool of Money. This hour-long show explained the mortgage... Continue Reading
A while back I noticed that an organization called Newsbound posted a job opening for an "Explainer-in-Chief", a title I love to see. Curious, I followed Newsbound and eventually met Patrick Sharma, the person who now fills that role. He's been kind enough to answer a few questions and share a remarkable format the company is using to package explanations. 1. Tell me about Newsbound and your role there. What's the company's mission and story? Newsbound is a San Francisco-based digital media... Continue Reading
Our video "Zombies in Plain English" is surely responsible for saving millions of brains over the last few years. But it's time for an update. For this Halloween, we're debuting a REDUX - with a new ending. Be brain-safe this Halloween! Our library of other videos are also helpful for brains, but for entirely different reasons. Check them out. And if you're interested in becoming a better explainer, we wrote a book just for you. Here's the original Zombies video.
This time of year, politics is everywhere, and so is confusion. Electing the US president is a complex subject with lots of moving parts. That’s why we chose to explain it with a simple, non-biased video that uses visuals to make it understandable. It’s one of my favorite videos in our library and I hope it will be helpful to you and people you know. Please feel free to share it. Looking for more videos like this? Check out our library of video explanations. Or build your own explanation... Continue Reading
A few weeks back I had coffee with Kalid Azad, who runs Better Explained, a blog and book that focuses on the use of intuition to understand “gnarly” subjects like math and programming. His tagline is “Learn right, not rote”. I love that. Kalid made a point that day that stuck with me. Here it is from a blog post called “Developing Your Intuition for Math”. Our initial exposure to an idea shapes our intuition. And our intuition impacts how much we enjoy a subject. What do I mean? Suppose... Continue Reading
Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, in my view, was remarkable because of how he chose to explain ideas. Politics aside, it was an great example of explanation at work. Last night we saw more evidence, via an interview with Jon Stewart, that explanation was his specific intent. Here's the video. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart A few key quotes: "I was determined to get the facts right and to simplify the arguments without being simplistic, I didn't want to talk... Continue Reading
Today we’re announcing a new video explanation: Big Data - Explained by Common Craft What it Teaches: Incredible amounts of data are produced every day, so much that we can’t use it all. Big data is a term used to describe the tools and processes that seek to make this data useful and productive. This video uses the example of traffic data to teach: Where big data comes from and how it’s collected Why special tools are required to use it The three big challenges: Volume, Variability and... Continue Reading
Seattle investor and “startup guy” Chris Devore recently wrote about four categories of effort that will help founders show that their startup is growing and healthy. There are four important categories of effort that every startup team needs to keep in mind. Too much -- or too little -- weight in any one of these areas can lead to disaster when it comes time to raise the next round: The first three categories are: Product Sales / Distribution Recruiting All important points, but it’s the... Continue Reading
Late last week I got a text message from my politically-conservative brother in North Carolina that said “Has there ever been a better political speaker than Bill Clinton?” Indeed, wherever you stand on the political spectrum, it’s difficult to deny the effectiveness of Bill Clinton as a speaker. E. J. Dionne published an opinion in the Washington Post where he said: Bill Clinton is typically described as the empathetic, feel-your-pain guy. But his greatest political skill may be as a... Continue Reading
I don't often look to bathrooms, much less camping toilets for great communication, but this is an exception. In many state-maintained campgrounds in Washington State (and elsewhere), there are "vaulted toilets" with no running water. Like an outhouse, everything ends up in underground pit that must be maintained. This presents a problem. Campers sometimes use the toilet as a trash can, which makes for a difficult situation for the people who need to remove the waste. Inside these toilets... Continue Reading
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