Archive for February, 2016

February 16, 2016

Magic Word

Abracadabra

Dennis Nedry

Magic words are words which have a specific, and sometimes unintended, effect. They are often nonsense phrases used in fantasy fiction or by stage prestidigitators. Certain comic book heroes use magic words to activate their super powers. Magic words are also used as Easter eggs or cheats in computer games, other software, and operating systems. (For example, the words ‘xyzzy,’ ‘plugh,’ and ‘plover’ were magic words in the classic computer adventure game ‘Colossal Cave Adventure’).

Examples of traditional magic words include: Abracadabra, Alakazam, Hocus pocus, Open sesame (used by the character Ali Baba in the English version of a tale from the collection popularly known as ‘1001 Arabian Nights’), Presto chango, Shazam (used by the comic book hero Captain Marvel), and Shemhamforash (used by Satanists). Craig Conley, a scholar of magic, writes that the magic words used by conjurers may originate from ‘pseudo-Latin phrases, nonsense syllables, or esoteric terms from religious antiquity,’ but that what they have in common is ‘language as an instrument of creation.’

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February 15, 2016

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

electric sheep

blade runner

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war. Most animal species are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning, so that owning an animal is now a sign of status and empathy, an attitude encouraged towards animals. The book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film ‘Blade Runner.’

The main plot follows a single day in the life of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter hired by the San Francisco Police Department to ‘retire’ (kill) six escaped androids. A secondary plot follows John Isidore, a driver for an electric-animal repair company, who is a ‘special’ (a radioactively-damaged, intellectually slow human whose status prohibits him from emigrating). In connection with Deckard’s mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids are claimed to possess no sense of empathy.

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February 11, 2016

Shabbat Elevator

kosherswitch

A Shabbat elevator is an elevator which works in a special mode, operating automatically, a way to circumvent the Jewish law requiring observers to abstain from operating electric switches during the Sabbath. In this mode, an elevator will stop automatically at every floor, allowing people to step in and out without having to press any buttons. They are found in Israeli hospitals, hotels, and apartment buildings, and in some synagogues.

The Israeli Knesset passed a special Shabbat elevator law in 2001 ordering the planning and building of all residential buildings, and public buildings which have more than one elevator, to install a control mechanism for Shabbat (Shabbat module) in one of the elevators. In 2009 senior haredi rabbis, led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, published a religious injunction forbidding the use of Shabbat elevators on the grounds that even in Shabbat mode the user is indirectly violating Shabbat.

 

February 10, 2016

Aquafaba

bean cuisine by Meredith Blumenstock

Aquafaba [ah-kwuh-fah-buh], or chickpea brine, is the liquid from canned chickpeas, used as an egg substitute because of its function as an emulsifier, leavening agent, and foaming agent. Vegan baker Goose Wohlt coined the term aquafaba (‘bean liquid’) to describe the substance, which French chef Joël Roessel discovered could be used as substitute for egg whites in recipes. Aquafaba has been used to create meringues, macarons, nougat, and other products that normally require the use of eggs, making them suitable for people with egg allergies, vegans, and lacto-vegetarians.

There is currently no scientific consensus on the chemical properties of aquafaba and why it mimics egg whites so effectively. Seed proteins, including albumins and globulins, as well as soluble fibers, sugars, and glycosides have been proposed as contributing to the similarity. Roessel purports that the most likely agent that causes the liquid to foam are saponins, plant molecules containing a combination of hydrophobic (fat-soluble) and a hydrophilic (water-soluble) components.

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February 9, 2016

Ma

shigeo fukuda

alan fletcher

Ma is a Japanese word which can be roughly translated as ‘gap,’ ‘space,’ ‘pause,’ or ‘the space between two structural parts.’ It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form, similar to the concept of ‘negative space’ in graphic design. Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. Therefore, ma can be defined as experiential place understood with emphasis on interval.

In his 2001 book ‘The Art of Looking Sideways,’ graphic designer Alan Fletcher discusses the importance of exemplifying ‘space’ as a substance: ‘Cézanne painted and modelled space. Giacometti sculpted by ‘taking the fat off space.’ Mallarmé conceived poems with absences as well as words. Ralph Richardson asserted that acting lay in pauses… Isaac Stern described music as ‘that little bit between each note – silences which give the form’… The Japanese have a word (‘ma’) for this interval which gives shape to the whole. In the West we have neither word nor term. A serious omission.’

February 8, 2016

Helmut Krone

think small

Helmut Krone (1925 – 1996) was a pioneer of modern advertising. He spent over 30 years at the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach where he was the art director for the popular 1960s campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle, which featured a large unadorned photo of the car with the tiny word ‘Lemon’ underneath it. He was also responsible for the series of ‘When you’re only No. 2, you try harder’ advertisements for Avis, and the creation of Juan Valdez, who personified Colombian coffee. His work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian. Krone’s ‘Think Small’ advertisement for Volkswagen was voted the best campaign of all time in Advertising Age’s 1999 ‘The Century of Advertising issue.’

Krone was born in Yorkville, on the upper east side of Manhattan, which was at that time a German neighborhood. He attended Public School 77 in Queens before enrolling at the School of Industrial Art, where he hoped to become a product designer. When he was 21, he took his first step towards advertising, working with designer Robert Greenwell doing freelance advertisements for magazines. He followed naval service in World War II with postwar classes with Alexey Brodovitch and stints at ‘Esquire’ and ‘Sudler & Hennessey.’ Then, at the age of 29, he began to work for Doyle Dane Bernbach.

February 6, 2016

Super Bowl Ads

bud bowl

AutoHopper

Super Bowl ads are commercials run during the National Football League (NFL) championship game, among the United States’ most watched television broadcasts, with Nielsen having estimated that Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was seen by at least 114.4 million domestic viewers, surpassing the previous year’s game as the highest-rated television broadcast in US history. As such, advertisers have typically used commercials during the Super Bowl as a means of building awareness for their products and services among this wide audience, while also trying to generate buzz around the ads themselves so they may receive additional exposure, such as becoming a viral video.

Super Bowl commercials have become a cultural phenomenon of their own alongside the game itself with some viewers reporting that they are more interested in the commercials than the game. In 2015, Dish Network went as far as allowing the ‘commercial skipping’ features on its Hopper digital video recorder to function in reverse and allow users to view a recording of the Super Bowl that skips over the game itself and only shows the commercials.

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February 5, 2016

Adaptive Unconscious

Miyagi Wax by rubyred

lizard brain by  Deanna Halsall

In cognitive psychology the adaptive unconscious is thought to be a set of mental processes that influence judgment and decision making in a way that is inaccessible to introspective awareness, and thus linked to the unconscious mind. It is different from conscious processing: it is faster, effortless, more focused on the present, but less flexible. In other theories of the mind, the unconscious is limited to ‘low-level’ activity, such as carrying out goals which have been decided consciously. In contrast, the adaptive unconscious is thought to be involved in ‘high-level’ cognition such as goal-setting as well.

The term ‘adaptive unconscious’ suggests it has survival value and hence is an adaptation which was strongly selected in the past. Indeed, for much of vertebrate evolution, all mental activity was unconscious. No-one supposes that fish have consciousness. Thus our consciousness is added to an already-existing set of mechanisms which operate but whose operation is normally not felt by us.

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February 4, 2016

Rebranding

bp

altria

Rebranding is a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders. Often, this involves radical changes to a brand’s logo, name, legal names, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. Such changes typically aim to reposition the brand/company, occasionally to distance itself from negative connotations of the previous branding, or to move the brand upmarket; they may also communicate a new message a new board of directors wishes to communicate.

Rebranding can be applied to new products, mature products, or even products still in development. The process can occur intentionally through a deliberate change in strategy or occur unintentionally from unplanned, emergent situations, such as a ‘Chapter 11 corporate restructuring,’ ‘union busting,’ or ‘bankruptcy.’ Rebranding can also refer to a change in a company/ corporate brand that may own several sub-brands for products or companies.

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February 3, 2016

Forehead Advertising

Everly Bustos by Hyoung Chang

Forehead Advertising is a type of nontraditional advertising that involves using a person’s forehead as advertising space. John Carver and his London Creative Agency, CUNNING, is credited with inventing the concept in 2003 with ForeheADS. In a 2004 CUNNING campaign, forty young adults were paid $11 per hour to wear temporary tattoos on their foreheads for a 2004 campaign promoting the launch of the Scion tC for Toyota. A short lived startup in Rhode Island, Headvertise, offered up to $150 per week for wearing a temporary logo tattoo on one’s forehead. It was last reported that 64 students had featured ads on their foreheads for companies such as Roommates.com.

Forehead advertising made headlines in early 2005 when a 20-year-old man, Andrew Fischer, auctioned his forehead for advertising space on eBay. The winning company, SnoreStop, bid $37,375 to display their logo via temporary tattoo on his forehead for 30 days. Later that year forehead advertising moved beyond temporary tattoos. Kari Smith auctioned her forehead for advertising space on eBay for an asking price of $10,000. GoldenPalace.com, a Canadian Internet gambling company, paid $10,000 for Smith to permanently tattoo ‘GoldenPalace.com’ on her forehead. GoldenPalace.com has also advertised its logo via temporary and permanent tattoos on the backs of boxers, bellies of pregnant women, women’s legs, and the chest of a swimsuit model.

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February 2, 2016

Catvertising

st john

Catvertising is the use of cats in advertising. The tongue-in-cheek portmanteau was coined in the late 1990s, and enjoyed a spike in popularity beginning 2011 as a result of a parody of commercialization of cat viral videos by the advertising agency st. john in Toronto.

The video was part of a series of spoofs beginning with ‘Pink Ponies: A Case Study,’ then ‘Catvertising,’ and finally ‘Buyral’ (a blend of ‘buy’ and ‘viral’). A University of Arizona marketing team competes under the name ‘Catvertising.’

February 1, 2016

Survivor Guilt

sophies choice

war by leif parsons

Survivor guilt is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. It may be found among survivors of combat, natural disasters, epidemics, among the friends and family of those who have died by suicide, and in non-mortal situations such as among those whose colleagues are laid off. The experience and manifestation of survivor’s guilt will depend on an individual’s psychological profile.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines it as a significant symptom of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Characteristic symptoms include anxiety and depression, social withdrawal, sleep disturbance and nightmares, physical complaints and mood swings with loss of drive.

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