All posts for “Explanation”

We Are All Just Drooling Dogs

Posted by: leelefever on May 2, 2013- 8:49am

Categories: animation, Explanation, pavlov, science, teded, video

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The blog It's OK to be Smart pointed me to this animated TedEd video that explains how humans are not that different from Pavlov's dogs.  Like a dog that is trained to salivate when a bell rings, we too learn to react to events and stumuli. We may not drool, but may fall in love.  Watch: Email Readers can watch here. More about the genius of dogs at Brainpickings.

Video: Explaining The US Election Process

Posted by: leelefever on October 10, 2012- 12:29pm

Categories: election, Explanation, Explanation, politics, video

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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

5 Trends Behind the Growing Shift to Video Explanations

Posted by: leelefever on January 23, 2012- 11:24am

Categories: Explanation, history, media, youtube

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It’s easy to look back at Internet history and spot the points of major change. A famous example is the Web 2.0 era which spawned products like Twitter, Facebook and other lasting features of the Web. Some would say we're in the cloud era now, with nearly everything we do on computers being moved to off-site servers.  Within these big, tectonic shifts are smaller shifts that also make a difference.  YouTube was a big shift that kicked off online video in 2005 and in the years since, we’ve seen... Continue Reading

Guest Post: What Communicators Can Learn from a Highsticking Penalty

Posted by: leelefever on January 16, 2012- 12:45pm

Categories: Explanation, hockey, sports, video

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This is a guest post by friend of Common Craft, Darren Barefoot. He's a writer, marketer, Canadian and a big hockey fan. During a hockey game in March, 2010, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara drove Montreal Canadians forward Max Pacioretty into the stanchion that separates the player's benches. Nearly a year later, it still looks like a brutal hit as Pacioretty 's head bounced off the corner of the boards. Chara received a five-minute penalty and ejected from the game. Pacioretty was sent... Continue Reading
I grew up playing soccer and over the past few years, Sachi and I have become bigger fans than ever, especially for our hometown Seattle Sounders.  The rules of soccer came pretty easily to Sachi who didn't play as a youngster - with one huge exception: the offsides rule.  I tried to point it out at matches, explain the idea, etc.  Eventually, visuals did the trick and now she's the one throwing her arms in the air. Indeed, the offsides rule has a serious, worldwide explanation problem. It's... Continue Reading

Explanations Lower the Cost of Figuring Something Out

Posted by: leelefever on November 18, 2011- 11:53am

Categories: Explanation, politics, technology

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  Recently Jay Rosen published a fascinating article on his PressThink blog that focuses on politics and how the parties have learned to exploit an “electoral blind spot”.  As Rosen puts it: The blind spot is the point at which voters stop paying attention because the costs of figuring out what’s really going on are too high.  It’s a fascinating article, and I really love this idea of “costs of figuring something out”. The article is about politics and the press, but I think the idea applies... Continue Reading

The Truth About Ladders

Posted by: leelefever on March 27, 2011- 5:00pm

Categories: advice, Explanation, story, tip

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I’m sure you’ve heard the superstition that it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder. Like many superstitions, it’s rooted in a real-world consequence.  The truth is, walking under ladders has nothing to do with luck - it’s just a bad idea.  It could fall, paint could splatter on you, or you could cause someone to fall off of it.   But those points are almost worthless. You could promote the risk of walking under ladders until you are blue in the face, but no one will care.  But, add a story, a... Continue Reading

The White House Goes Whiteboard

Posted by: leelefever on September 29, 2010- 5:00pm

Categories: Explanation, Explanation, government, politics, whiteboard

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A while back I was a part of a panel with Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin and one of his big points during the session was the use of visuals in politics.  This was in the middle of the healthcare debate and he wondered why no one, Obama, Republicans, members of congress, etc. were using visuals to make their cases. I agreed whole-heartedly. Glenn Beck seems to make it work, why not put visuals and whiteboards to work for serious policy discussions? Today I saw that the White House... Continue Reading

Ira Glass on the Building Blocks of Storytelling

Posted by: leelefever on May 11, 2010- 5:00pm

Categories: Explanation, ira glass, storytelling, tip

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We're big fans of Ira Glass and the This American Life radio show/podcast.  We listen to every show on the podcast and there are few broadcast storytellers that I respect more.  Via an older post on the Explainist blog, I found these videos of him describing the process of researching and crafting stories from back in 2006.  He names two building blocks of storytelling and how they work together. Really great perspectives that you can hear in every story he tells. The video above is actually... Continue Reading

What Pitchman Ron Popeil Can Teach Us About Explanation

Posted by: leelefever on March 2, 2010- 4:00pm

Categories: Explanation, howto, marketing, ourwork

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If you've been reading for a while, you've seen us write that a secret to a strong explanation is putting the subject in the context of someone's life.  Don't just talk about what it does, talk about how it fits into their world - how it takes away pain or makes something easier, faster, better. Recently I've been reading the Malcolm Gladwell book What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, which is a collection of his past articles from the New Yorker. One of the articles is called The Pitchman and... Continue Reading

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