Explainers to Watch in 2009

If there is one prediction I have for 2009, it will be that our world will become more complex.  We will all be confronted with new products, services, ideas and concepts that will confuse the majority of us.  And this adds to what confused us in 2008 and years before.

We're convinced that the rise of all this complexity is creating new demand for new kinds of services. Individuals and organizations will find business models in helping people deal with the complexity. The biggest opportunity we see is for people who are good at explaining - at taking an idea and packaging it so a maximum number of people can understand and act on it.  Below are some companies and individuals who we think will be making a real contribution in 2009.

Explainer Network Members -
Video producers listed on the Common Craft Explainer Network page.

Claytorials - Claytorials is a new-ish project from the folks at Invoke Media. Their videos use colorful clay and stop motion animation to explain all kinds of products and services.  Recent projects include videos for Tagga.com and More2Girls.com. See Claytorials.com for more.

Say It Visually - Say It Visually is a collaboration between Matt Dunn and Jordan Schaffel.  One of the first videos I saw of theirs was the ambitious "US Financial Crisis for Kids".  Since then, they've done custom videos for clients like VOIS and Survey Sampling International.  See their portfolio for more. 

Switch Web Video - Switch Web Video dove head first into the explanatory video world and it's great to see them grow. Andrew Angus runs the show at Switch and has big plans for his business.  Check out their latest work for Neurogizers and Car Heaven on their Our Work page.

Video Producers:

Joshua Gunn - Josh runs Nutintuit Studios and creates explanatory videos "In a Nutshell".  He used to live in Seattle and we met over a year ago when he was just getting started. Since then, he's moved to Boston been hired by clients like Brooks Running Shoes and Netgear.  Josh also did a great explanation of the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken. "

Michael Pick - I first met Michael through his explanatory video "DataPortability - Connect, Control, Share, Remix." He runs Smashcut.tv and is currently employed by Automattic, making sense of Wordpress in video form.  We had the pleasure of spending an evening with Michael and his wife Takako in Sapporo, Japan about a year ago.

- Xplane has been in the explanation business for over 15 years.  Dave Gray founded the company and has really made explanation a skill and science over the years.  While the company has traditionally worked in the print world, they are making moves in the video world too.

Blogs and Podcasts:

Planet Money - One of the best explanations of 2008 was "The Giant Pool of Money" on This American Life. It taught millions (including us) about the source of the housing crisis. Now many of the same producers are hosting a podcast called Planet Money which has become a favorite of ours.

- Explainist is a blog that I discovered recently.  It focuses on explanations of all type, written by Dave Coustan and Tom Harris, formerly of HowStuffWorks.com.  Since they've been back in action, I've been a consistent reader.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog
- As a burgeoning weather geek I was so happy to find Cliff Mass' blog.  He's a weather expert and author based in here in Seattle.  Some of the content is pretty technical, but he also takes the time to explain some of the basics of weather in an understandable way.  Recently he posted an entry called Inversion 101.

Do you know companies, websites or individuals who are good explainers? Tell us about them.