All posts for “Art of Explanation”
My nephew Jimmy LeFever made this woodcut version of me and Sachi. We think it's pretty cool.
Recently Ian Tucker sat down with a group of the world’s top science writers at the Royal Society’s annual book prize event in London. The results of the interview are filled with gems of insight and humor that frame how these writers think about explanation and making ideas easier to understand. The first addresses a question I hear often - how do you explain something without talking down to people? Tucker asks the question in this form: When you are writing where do you set the difficulty... Continue Reading
Step 1. Forget about your audience’s needs. Their needs don’t matter. Your job isn’t to help them, it’s to make yourself look smart. This is all about you. Step 2. Make tons of assumptions. Assume everyone in the room knows exactly what you know or more. Find ways to save time by skipping the big picture and context. Head straight for the details. Step 3. Use lots of jargon and unfamiliar words. Since everyone in the room knows what you know, you can feel free to be loquacious in your... Continue Reading
QR codes often get a bad rap these days. The ugly little boxes appear everywhere and to many, they seem to be a waste of time and space. But the reality of QR codes is like any tool - the value is determined by how it’s used. When used effectively, QR codes bridge online and offline worlds by making it easier to use a mobile phone to visit a webpage, for example. This three-minute video explains QR codes: Email readers can watch the video here. QR Codes in Books - Why? My book The Art of... Continue Reading
Boing Boing pointed me to this beautiful animated video by a German studio called "finally". From the description with the video: Music is a good thing. But what we did not know until we started with the research for this piece: Music is also a pretty damn complex thing. This experimental animation is about the attempt to understand all the parts and bits of it. Have a look. You might agree with our conclusion! Email or RSS readers can watch the video here. I think this is a great example... Continue Reading
Dear Common Craft friends and fans, I’m writing to humbly ask for your help. The Art of Explanation, my new book, recently became fully available in bookstores and online. And now, it’s up to us to get the word out - and I’m hoping you can help. First, I hope you’ll consider buying the book. It’s meant for everyone and especially professionals. If you’ve already purchased and read it, please consider writing a quick review on Amazon or your website. There a number of other ways you can... Continue Reading
Today we're announcing a new Common Craft website that is focused on one thing: sharing short, snarky and useful explanation tips. The site exists in two forms: Explain That Sh*t (Not-Safe-For-Work, Language) Explain That Idea (Work-Safe) Along with providing a way to learn about explanation, the sites are meant for sharing explanation tips. You can click the Twitter icon on any tip and the site will copy that tip into a tweet for you. Here's the site on computers and phones: Backstory: A few... Continue Reading
I think we’re at the very beginning of a huge transformation that will change how we think about books. Thanks to new devices and publishing platforms, books are becoming more interactive and multimedia. One form this is taking is the "enhanced" ebook. To understand the enhanced versions, let’s start with normal ebooks. “Normal” ebooks are essentially digital versions of regular books that are usually read on devices like the Kindle, iPad and Nook. For most of their history, ebooks have... Continue Reading
The story below is based on ideas from my book The Art of Explanation, now out in print and ebooks. Perfect airplane reading! You’ve been there before. You sit down to gorge yourself on turkey when the questioning starts. Sitting across from you is Uncle Henry. He’s spry at 65, but is not so knowledgeable about technology. He asks, “So tell me again what it is you do for a living?” Your Mom hears the question and tunes in. “Yes, do tell!” she says, attracting the attention of everyone at... Continue Reading
The word "GIF" is in the news recently thanks to being named the Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year. Today I saw a video that's part of the PBS series Off Book, which explores the history and usage of the animated GIF. The video is included below, but before we get to that, I want to point out an explanation problem. At about 30 seconds into the video, Patrick Davidson of MemeFactory appears to answer the question "What is an animated GIF?" Here's how he did that: An animated gif... Continue Reading
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