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Monday, May 24, 2010

This is One Time Being Number Two Ain't So Bad

I guess it's official. It's on the web, so it must be. We, as in the proud city dwellers of Washington, DC and its' surrounds, are second in the nation when it comes to "living the good life." So says Portfolio.com: We lead in four categories: "with the largest concentration of management and professional jobs, the highest share of big houses, the best percentage of college-educated adults and the lowest poverty rate for families.

I wonder about that last one. Living in Capitol Hill, I see people living in poverty hovering around the fringes of affluence. But obviously also a great number of the educated and accomplished. Not to mention the area's cultural and ethnic diversity, and the explosion of the arts and music, theater and restaurants that define a great city.

So, I'm delighted with our new designation.. Considering how, not too long ago, we were known as the murder capitol of America, a city many people found sketchy even during the daytime, it's a real coup to be number two.

And having an educated, accomplished population means continuing economic vitality and innovation. Which is probably the best news of all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dreaming of the Circus

I'm sure a lot of people have shared this fantasy, some time in their life: "If things get really bad, I'll just run away and join the circus."

Maybe not so much anymore, but once in America, when the circus came to town, everyone lined up for the parade. It was a very big deal. Well, the flavor of that era was captured by a great unknown photographer, Frederick Glaiser. He photographed circus people for over thirty years, and perhaps because they all knew and accepted him, the photographs are quite revealing. There is a very natural, unromantic style to his work as he raises the curtain that separates the circus folk from the rest of us. Or maybe he just captured images from a more innocent era. What ever the reason, I love looking at those frozen moments from a distant America.

His work is featured at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Florida. And the NYT wonderful Lens Blog gives you a quick overview of his work. And you can buy a book featuring his work from Eakins Press.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

creativity in the digital world

Advertising has always been a magnet for the creative mind. And in the old days, you'd often find an art director paired with a copy writer to dream up the next big thing. But a recent NYT article describes a much more integrated approach for the world of digital media. A new program at the University of Colorado, Boulder addresses the need for the next gen "creatives" who must possess technical, business and creative skills.

The pace of digital media work is much faster as technology and formats continue to evolve. So Boulder Digital Works has designed a flexible project-based approach to match the ever changing digitocracy. I'll let them speak for themselves:
There are only a few dedicated digital programs in the US and they tend to focus on individual specialties, such as advertising, business, design, or technology. In real life — at leading advertising and digital agencies, start-ups, and software companies — business, creative, and technology people work in an integrated setting and are expected to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers.

I really like that concept. So many people who work in the creative milieu are only really comfortable within their limited skill set. Which puts them at a disadvantage. To be a good editor, you need to think like a producer. To be a good producer, you need to think like a good writer. And so on. To become successful collaborators and do our best work, we need to understand our client's needs, what they're trying to accomplish and why. That gets translated to the project's goals and underpinnings...what are we doing and why are we doing it. The big picture. Everything flows from that.

It took some serious mentoring on my own professional journey to help me understand all that. So I'm happy to see that world view being taught to the next gen. I guess that's what progress is all about, right?