Lynn Hill is a legendary female rock climber. In the 1980s she helped define sport climbing in the United States, most notably by being the first person to make a free ascent up the Nose Route on El Capitan in Yosemite. Like any experienced, well-seasoned person whose passion speaks all the words they need not say, Hill’s climbing is fluid, graceful and timeless.
See Hill in action here:
As a cyclist, a skateboarder and, in recent years, a boulderer, I always seek out finesse over tactlessness, fluidity over rigidness and a strong line over a technical zigzag. In cycling, it’s called souplesse — the rhythm of one’s legs and spin. In skateboarding, it’s the smoothness of a line of tricks and how you piece them together to be cohesive and explosive, like a song that builds to a climax.
There’s a parallel in my mind between these aspects of the physical things I like to do and the craft that I spend doing on a screen. The similarity is narrative. Telling a story in your output. In that video, Lynn Hill spins together a solid structure of a story that shows you her journey — you can actually see her thinking, figuring it out in her mind as she goes along the route. In bouldering, routes are called problems. And the act of topping out (reaching the summit) is called solving a problem.
Sounds like design or development, right?
The work we do — identities, websites, applications and bridging the gap from desktop to web to mobile — is a story we need to tell cohesively and with the utmost consideration.
It shouldn’t be janky. It shouldn’t be abrupt. It shouldn’t be awkward. It shouldn’t be over the top. It shouldn’t be x for x’s sake.
It should be measured. It should be cognizant. It should be aware. It should be respectful. It should be everything that needs to be there and nothing more.
Restraint is more impactful than showing power.
The tendency in our industry is to flex muscle from the outset when truly we should adopt a quiet, internal strength that simmers and stews, building momentum over the course of a narrative.
Be smooth, be strong, be quiet.
This post first appeared in January 2013 on The Pastry Box Project.
This is a great talk by Brad Frost on CreativeMornings Pittsburgh. Brad’s speaking style reminds me a touch of Aaron Draplin’s. Or maybe it’s the sentiment. I agree with a lot of what Brad had to say.
I’ve become extremely reliant on Rdio and my social network on it to enable me to discover music that’s really worthwhile. When I see an artist or album constantly in Heavy Rotation, there’s a weird skepticism that happens with me. I’ll see it, but not listen to it for weeks, even months. And then eventually, my curiosity, or rather, the dogmatic consistency of seeing that particular album just there in my Heavy Rotation begs me to listen to it. And I do. It’s a weird filter — that I need to be sure that it’s been vetted for long periods of time before I decide that yes, if my friends dig it, then maybe I should be listening to it.
And so it was that way with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. I’d been hearing about their album, The Heist, for a while and I finally gave it a spin. I was instantly hooked. And like any smitten music listener, I delved into the modern day version of liner notes — a Google search to bring up their Wikipedia page. I haven’t heard as impressive of a rap/hip-hop album in many years. Not one that dug its claws in so deep and reflects the current times we live in lyrically than this album does. A huge kudos has to go out to Ryan Lewis, who gets equal billing, in his deft production skills and homage to the past beats, but modern songwriting. It’s an album, top-to-bottom that considers the world we live in. A classic undoubtedly.
Enough poetic waxing. Better you catch the infectious grooves by checking out this awesome KEXP performance of Can’t Hold Us:
The aforementioned project involves The Goodwins — Daize, Aamion and their children, who take off from homebase in Kauai, Hawaii to travel across 15 countries to explore life on a different path. The trailer is stunning and gives me a similar vibe to 180º South, a film that resonated deeply. I can’t wait for this to come out. The website is a beaut too.
I was honored to be their first guest, and today, colleague and friend, Greg Storey has his story available for you to listen to. Go have a listen to both.
I like to think of British gentlemen as blokes. It’s a form of affection, undoubtedly. It’s the former Anglophile in me — having spent the first decade of my life in London, certain colloquialisms have stuck. Before the new year, I’d heard from Ted Pearlman, who has an interesting vocation: he’s a connector. He brings people together.
He emailed to tell me that a colleague of his, who he’s working with, Mike Reed, a well-established British copywriter, was headed to the States to break bread with many a good folk, a few of whom I knew. And, would I care to do the same with Mike?
If anything, I’m always open to meet new and interesting people. In mid-January, Mike and I managed to have a good ol’ conversation over the ever-excellent coffee at SightGlass (thanks to Ted for taking care of that, by the way). Topics ranged across the board about our experiences, both professional and personal. Mike’s doing interesting things across the pond and I was keen to hear about how the digital landscape has evolved in the UK.
My favorite thing to hear was that they have a Silicon Roundabout. I laughed when Mike mentioned it, because it’s absolutely fitting.
I’d go on, but Mike has a far better write-up on his engaging and excellent US-travel blog. Suffice to say, I had a great time and am interested to see what Mike gets up to over yonder.
I am very, very fond of Rivendell and the approach to cycling that they have. They’ve inspired S240s (one, two) and a less race-oriented approach to cycling than I have had in the past. They’ve balanced my love of cycling out. This is a fantastic film, not just because of what makes Rivendell who they are, but of course, the people.
My first thought of 2013, about a topic I’ve thought about a lot, is up on the site for your reading pleasure.
I’ll be contributing an article every month for 2013. I hope you read along.
Online identity and ownership have been proliferating my thoughts of late. The surge of networks, platforms, mediums and context has shifted from a singular experience to a veritable sea of content afloat, hoping to rear in a big catch. As content generators, we are fish looking to swim from a pond to the ocean.
Having published various forms of content on my own sites for many years and more recently a bit on other sites, there’s a bit of experimentation here.
Things to think about, each affected by the preceding item:
I don’t have an answer yet. In fact, I don’t think this question should be answered for you — it’s certainly one, that like a shoe, will fit after trial and error. If it fits, keep on walking.
I tweeted a few thoughts on this earlier today, and some thoughtful articles resurfaced. I’ve read all of these before, but they’re worth reading again to contemplate. They hit points from one extreme to the other, with coverage also on the middle ground.
Congratulations all round!