Content Detecting Patterns

Spotting patterns is fun. Addictive. And as it turns out, professionally useful.

Especially if you’re a content strategist.

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Street Art, Tel Aviv

Literature & Interpretation

In a literary sense, patterns and themes are woven into texts. This is the type of stuff that non-lit fans claim is “looking too deeply into it”. I feel like you can’t look deep enough, when it comes to analyzing a well-written work of literature as long as you’re in a classroom with a great teacher, or are surrounded by people who know at least as much as you do about the author/topic and are open-minded.

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In college, my whole world changed with one literature class – “Comp Lit 333: Psychoanalysis and Literature”. We examined the appearance of certain themes and symbols with psychoanalytic applications, in a wide range of classic and modern literature. Specifically symbols related to narcissism and Ovid’s myth. Ever since this class I cannot help but look twice everytime a mirror or a fountain appear in a love story, or a protagonist refers to his lover’s eyes as pools.

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Content Curation & Content Strategy

In the world of content strategy, the ability to notice patterns is huge. A topic that keeps popping up, or a behavior that emerges and suddenly becomes so popular you don’t even notice it anymore. Recognizing these phenomena and calling attention to them is something a content curator like Brain Pickings does. You collect a bunch of something worth sharing, and organize them together under an interesting headline. Other people thank you, for said collection and neat packaging.

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I love it.

Here’s an article in The Content Strategist with a slightly more professional explanation of the topic: http://bit.ly/t8It0z.

I think my college literature rofessors would be proud that I’m beyond content detecting patterns.

“The best art makes your head spin with questions. Perhaps this is the fundamental distinction between pure art and pure design. While great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clearer.”

– John Maeda, Laws of Simplicity

“Become a light bulb instead of a laser beam…You can either brighten a single point with laser precision, or else use the same light to illuminate everything around you.”

– Nicholas Negroponte

BOOK REVIEW: Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

Laws of Simplicity

This was my first read on design theory – the title, subtitle, cover design and author of Laws of Simplicity all appealed to me at once. The book presents a convincing case for the importance of simplicity and user-friendliness in the field of product design.

The author, John Maeda, is a digital artist and computer scientist. He’s a former Associate Director of MIT’s media lab, and currently the President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
The 10 Laws of Simplicity – Put Simply

There are 10 “laws” of simplicity – each presented as a chapter. My personal favorite is the # 1 Law: Reduce – “The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.

I even found a nice desktop image of the Reduce law, by the author/digital artist:

Laws of Simplicity - John Maeda - Desktop Pattern

This blog post does a nice job of summarizing each law one by one. They’re pretty straightforward and although I read this book almost a year ago, I only recall the 1st Law causing me to pause a moment in consideration; the rest are sort of common sense presented in style.

Simplicity of Product Design

Apple is constantly referred to throughout the book, for creating consumer products with an emphasis on usable and attractive design. The iPod stands out as a prime example of a product whose form factor contributes significantly to the overall appeal. It’s not just a way to carry music; it’s an attractive, sleek & simple way to carry your music. There’s a discussion of the successive generations of iPod, with improvements made to the physical interface for improved usability. Remember the circular trackpad? Sort of a precursor to gestures.

I especially loved Maeda’s analysis of the iPod’s reflective mirror-like backside, as a way to make the device look and feel even smaller and lighter.

Noteworthy Mentions:

  • Raymond Loewy = Coke bottle, 1930s. Concept of “streamlining”
  • Wolfgang Weingart = master of Swiss typographic design. Repetition breeds simplicity.
  • Paul Rand – logo design for ABC, IBM, UPS, Westinghouse
  • Jonathan Ive – Apple
  • Ikko Tanaka – father of modern Japanese graphic design
  • German design: gestalt. Design fits perfectly with the mind’s idea of what it should be. (e.g. Audi, BMW, Braun)

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