Friday, October 29, 2010

Being Inspired by Two Teachers

I've been messing around trying to get a grip on a few ideas. As is my habit, I mouse around known places of quality but also dip into the other; things that have a kinda sorta relationship to what I'm trying to do. In a roundabout way.

I was watching a TED video of a musician/teacher Benjamin Zander. I'm not sure how I got started watching the video but once I shut up the critical voice I was taken on a journey. I learned about musical impressions, reminded about the joy of learning, and a new perspective about a piece of music I had heard for years. I was also in the presence of a master teacher.

You know you are in the presence of a master teacher when you wake up the next day and you remember and can apply what you learned.

So I'm grazing on this bit of info, that web site and then I check in at the Yahoo Videoblogging Group and Marguerita mentions a link to Before and After magazine.

I'm not a graphic designer. But I do need to learn some of their techniques about visually presenting information. I don't think video has to fill up the whole screen all the time. What if there is a video graphic design language that hasn't really been discussed among those of us outside of the traditional video education sphere?

This is kind of hard to explain. We know and don't know. We have ingested thousands of hours of media consumption. We know when we like a movie or video but appreciate the design aspects as well.

Design should never overtake the message or story. Take a look a media products designed for teenage boys for current examples. A good video design can help support your message.

It doesn't have to be fancy or special effect heavy. My take away on John's video is that we have choices on how we position subjects in our videos. The use of white space or space in general can help to focus views on the subject.

The second thing I learned is that I was hooked. I watched the rest of the videos and was impressed by the clean presentation and the fact that as a non-designer I got what he was demonstrating.

This lead me back to the web site and seriously considering purchasing a pdf copy of the magazine. I read letters from current and past readers and they are passionate about the magazine.
  • You’re back! You’re back! It’s like getting a letter from a old lover. I have missed you.
  • Thank you for allowing me to learn and expand my knowledge through you.
  • My deepest thanks for helping me to constantly analyze design and put communication before decoration. Each new article contains another relevant idea, an "aha" moment.
I'm not trying to sell the publication. They don't need the help. They don't even advertise that they have a magazine.

The readers do that for them. Unless they are trying to keep it on the down low that they have been cribbing the inspiration.

So yeah, there is something about this social media thingy.


  1. Oh Gena,

    I just finished one of John's books and I just can't recommend it highly enough. One book changed how I SEE everything. No kidding! If it's out of your budget, I'll mail it to you if you promise to return it, even if it's via media mail.

    I need the book for some upcoming projects, but it will change your world and I really want you to see that.

    The book that I have is called "How to Design Cool Stuff" and it is worth it's weight in platinum. If you are super lucky, your library might be able to round it up for you via the lending library programs.

    I really love your blog and the info you share, so I'd do this for you! Also, if you want to delve deeper into some design, look at Robin Williams's book "The Non-Designers Handbook" another GEM :)

  2. I have Robin's book - I was interested in desktop publishing when the wave was amping up so I bought her book. Still have it some place in the pile.

    I can't take the book. If you saw how many books I have you'd call the sanity cops on me. I'll track down the book one way or the other. I should get a subscription.

    He really impressed me with the simplicity of his videos and from what I could tell of the pdf articles this is the kind of instruction skills I'd like to develop.

    I think I'm looking at his work from an instructional designer/education point of view. How do you convey information that does not talk down or over an adult's head. It is such a delicate balance;

    I'm not fooled, not many people can't do what Benjamin and John can do. There is a great deal of passion, skill and profound teaching skills masked in a comfortable package.

    I get the warm fuzzies when I see a good teacher in action.

    Thanks for the kind words.


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