All posts for “Explanation”

Explanation

In The Art of Explanation, I tell a story that put me on the path to writing the book. I was at a small tech conference and a CEO was asked "What is RSS?"  His response was "RSS is an XML-based content syndication format". Yikes. That answer was the first time I saw a problem that plagues the technology and startup world.  We call it an "exaplanation problem" - and a lots of great products and services have it. In a guest post at GeekWire, I tell a story about a startup founder who learns to... 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

What is an "Enhanced" eBook?

Posted by: leelefever on November 25, 2012- 2:01pm

Topic: Art of Explanation

Categories: book, ebook, Explanation, publishing

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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
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

Interview with Patrick Sharma, Newsbound's Explainer-in-Chief

Posted by: leelefever on October 24, 2012- 12:54pm

Topic: Explainer Profile

Categories: Explanation, journalism, news, politics

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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

Zombies Explained - The REDUX

Posted by: leelefever on October 22, 2012- 9:13am

Topic: Zombies

Categories: Explanation, halloween, humor, video

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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.

Video: Explaining The US Election Process

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

Topic: Explanation

Categories: election, 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
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: Explanation is More Important than Eloquence

Posted by: leelefever on September 21, 2012- 10:13am

Topic: Art of Explanation

Categories: Bill Clinton, Explanation, packaging, speech

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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

New Video - Big Data Explained by Common Craft

Posted by: leelefever on September 19, 2012- 8:24am

Topic: New Video

Categories: big data, data, Explanation, technology, video

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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

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