The Common Craft Blog

This blog is where we announce new videos & talk about the power of explanation & the change it can create. 

New Video: Intellectual Property

Posted by: leelefever on June 4, 2015- 10:19am


Topic: Common Craft Video

Categories: creative, intellectual property, laws, legal, music, photography, rights

This video hits close to home. Like many of you, we depend on intellectual property laws. They are essential tools for helping creators build their careers and own the work they create.

Unfortunately, the meaning and intent of the laws can be difficult to understand. We made this video to help others understand the basics and why the laws matter.

Here are the highlights:

About This Video

This video follows the story of a creative and talented woman named Candice who plays music, invented a new instrument and created a new business. Using copyright, patent and trademark laws, she learned to how to protect and build a business from her creations. It teaches:

  • Why intellectual property is different from physical property
  • The risk of not establishing and protecting ownership
  • Why copyright law matters in selling and managing your creative works
  • Why patent law matters in protecting your inventions Why trademark law matters in protecting your brand

How to Use This Video

This video is designed to introduce and explain intellectual property laws in about three minutes. It's designed to get students and up to speed quickly regarding an essential part of creative life. 

Watch it now

Thing Explainer: A New Book By Randall Munroe of xkcd

Posted by: leelefever on May 13, 2015- 11:40am


Topic: Book Review

Categories: book, constraints, language, rockets, science, up-goer, xkcd

What if you had to explain something very complex, like a rocket, and only use drawings and the 1000 most-used words in the English language?  

That's the constraint that Randall Munroe made famous a while back when he explained a Saturn V rocket. For example, because the word "rocket" is not in the 1000 words, he called it an "up-goer" and that became the informal name for this kind of communication. You might remember a guest post by Sally James on this blog about the idea.

Mr. Munroe, whose work you may have seen on the web comic xkcd, is set to publish an entire book called Thing Explainer that explains "Complicated Stuff Using Simple Words". In fact, it's only drawings and the 1000 most-used words. I think this kind of constraint is a brilliant idea. It simply eliminates jargon and provides a new (and often hilarious) way to think about complex ideas.

Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).

Here's an example of the Mars Rover:

Mars Rover Randall Munroe - Thing Explainer

Want to test your skills in using the 1000 words? Try it here.

Here's the cover:

Thing Explainer Book


Find out more about the book.

Thanks to Kottke.

With our latest video, we’re geeking out a bit and explaining a popular way that software is developed. 

Our focus here is a process called Agile Methodology that has changed how many software projects (and a lot of other things) are structured. 

Here are the highlights:

Common Craft Agile Gif


About This Video:

Using an analogy of two road-tripping teams, this video highlights how Agile Methodology offers the chance to reach better than expected outcomes.  It teaches:

  • The two basic approaches to software projects: Agile and Waterfall
  • The role of continuous iteration and cycles of development
  • Why the final destination is not always known in Agile projects
  • How Agile projects can produce unexpected results

Watch it now

How to Use This Video

This video is designed to introduce and explain the basics of agile methodology in about three minutes. Whether you need to educate students, customers or prospects this video can help you set the stage.

Make it Your Own

If you would like a version of this video with your organization’s branding, we can help. Just contact us.

Recently Published Videos:

We’ve released a new video and it’s not an explanation of hot new technology. In fact, it’s easy to assume that this subject hasn't changed in 100 years.

Our new video is about libraries, and specifically, how they have evolved in the Internet Age.
Here are the highlights as an ExplainerGIF:
Common Craft Library

About This Video:

Many of our wonderful supporters are libraries and librarians. In talking with them, we discovered that one of the biggest challenges they face is one of perception. 
To many, libraries are relics. In the age of Google, Amazon and Wikipedia it’s easy to think that libraries haven’t changed; that they are from a by-gone era. But the truth is, they have evolved and this video explains how and why. It teaches:
  • Why information is the real focus of every library
  • How the Internet has impacted libraries
  • Why more information isn’t always better
  • How libraries and librarians help us navigate information
  • What you are likely to find in libraries today

How to Use This Video

This video is designed for use by libraries, librarians and anyone who has a stake in their success. Our hope is that it can be used to introduce patrons and the public to why libraries matter more today than ever before.

Free, Shareable Version: 

We've created a free version of this video that ANYONE can use. This version of the video is Creative Commons licensed and available for embedding or downloading.