Monday, December 31, 2012

Photo of the week: San Francisco Rings in 2012

Photo of the week
From America's most photogenic city comes this postcard-pretty holiday shot of City Hall taken on New Year's Eve 2011-2012. A photo stroll around the city's neighborhoods and tourist vistas of the annual New Year's fireworks led to a photoset that made for a perfect Youtube holiday bauble.

(On a personal note, when making the video for youtube, I tried to think of the most massive, monumental piece of symphonic music imaginable to accompany the fireworks fantasia. 

Immediately my mind went to a classic Stan Freberg radio satire about a man whose search for the perfect audiophile stereo system led him to turn his entire house into a speaker . Then he and his wife were forced to move out of the house and into the garage.  

Listen to it here and see if you recognize the "blow out the speakers" music at the finale of the sketch!)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Overgram App Adds Text Effects to Iphone Photos

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Cult of Mac

Link to article:
Overgram Brings Beautiful Typography to your Iphone Pictures

Instagram has become a huge breakout star among smartphone apps, allowing users to apply arty filters to pictures taken on your phone and publish them to the web.  Now Over and Overgram take those tasks one step further, allowing you to add arty text and effects as an overlay to your phone photos.

Excerpt: "The first thing you’ll notice about Overgram is its fluid user experience. A rotary-style dial lets you customize your typography layout, and the whole process is very straight forward and easy to learn.

'With its smooth and intuitive interface, Overgram allows users of any skill level to easily customize their photos with the message of their choice,' said Aaron Marshall, designer of Overgram. 'Whether using the original Over app, or the new free Overgram, we know that anyone that takes photos with their mobile device will love being able to send friends and family truly unique photos with a personal touch.'

Overgram gives you access to 10 fonts and text alignment. A small watermark will be on all of your photos until you pay a $1 in-app purchase to unlock or buy Over. The full version of Over, which normally sells for $2, offers 225+ fonts, including some additional backgrounds."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Enable Line-End Hyphenation in Your Web Pages?

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Exercise Better Web Typography with CSS Hyphens

Miss the old print days when long words were split at a syllable break and hyphenated at the end of a line?  If you are one of the few who do, a new implementation of CSS specs can enable exactly that across all the major browsers for your website pages.

Excerpt: "It’s true; while we were sleeping Firefox, IE 10 and Safari all implemented the CSS hyphenation spec. In fact, Firefox has had hyphenation support for over year (starting with version 6). Sadly, Chrome doesn’t support hyphens just yet, nor does Opera. Still, if you’d like to do something really simple that will vastly improve the readability of your text for Firefox, IE 10 and Safari users, add this to your site’s stylesheet:

1 p {
2 -webkit-hyphens: auto;
3 -moz-hyphens: auto;
4 -ms-hyphens: auto;
5 -o-hyphens: auto;
6 hyphens: auto;
7 }
Right now the -o- prefix isn’t doing anything, but it future-proofs the code a bit for when Opera adds support. The only catch to hyphenation is that not only does the browser need to support it, it also needs to have a hyphenation dictionary for the language you’re using. The Mozilla Developer Network has a good rundown of which browsers support which languages.

There’s no real need for a fallback since the web has never had any hyphenation. Browsers that don’t support the CSS hyphens rule will simply render the page as they always have, but those that do will now be a bit more readable."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lankershim Becoming Grand Boulevard of Revitalized Valley

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Lankershim Boulevard Rides to Prominence in the Valley

A decade ago, Lankershim was an unlikely candidate to become a Broadway of the Valley, cutting diagonally across a vibrant city and attracting nightlife and culture to its orbit. Now the phenomenal success of the Metro Red and Orange Lines  has made North Hollywood into the Valley's bright, shiny "capital city" and Lankershim into its new grand boulevard.

Excerpt: "In the 1990s, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, or CRA, began investing heavily in North Hollywood, financing real-estate development and subsidizing renovations by a number of theater companies along Lankershim.

With the 2000 extension of the Red Line into the Valley, with stops at Universal City and in North Hollywood, those investments began to pay off. A CRA-aided project called the NoHo Commons, begun in 2003, brought new shops and apartments within a few feet of the Red Line.

In 2005, the opening of the Orange Line rapid-bus route, running east-west across the Valley from Warner Center to the corner of Chandler and Lankershim, provided another boost. It carved out a 14-mile-long dedicated right of way, part of which once moved Southern Pacific trains and Red Car electric trolleys, for extra-long Metro Liner buses.

Extended over the summer north to Chatsworth, the Orange Line now carries 30,000 passengers on an average weekday, significantly outpacing early projections. Much cheaper to build than rail, the rapid-bus route is the clearest success story in the great Metro expansion of the last two decades.

Today the sidewalks in front of the new Laemmle movie house just south of the Orange Line-Red Line junction are often crowded. In the evenings so is the Federal Bar in a restored brick building across the boulevard. Actors mumbling their lines hurry to auditions as groups of martial-arts students spill out of karate and tae kwon do studios.

'We've seen this little stretch of Lankershim really blossom,' said Bill Brochtrup, co-artistic director of the Antaeus theater company, which moved into a 49-seat space in North Hollywood in 2007. 'It's becoming a walking destination and a pedestrian zone. Five years ago I didn't see that as much. It was a little dicey.'

Now that the Red Line runs until 2 a.m. on weekends and the Orange Line even later, Brochtrup added, theater and improv companies and comedy clubs can try out later curtain times. 'Like Melrose, downtown, these other hipper neighborhoods, we can do these late-night events.'

'I almost can't believe I'm saying that about Lankershim,' he said. 'But we're proud Valleyites now.'

Monday, December 24, 2012

Comcast Adds NBC Peacock to Logo

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Brand New

Link to article:
Comcast Takes NBC Peacock Hostage

In a corporate branding headscratcher, Comcast (owner of Xfinity AKA Comcast Cable, Comcast Ventures, and NBCUniversal, among others) has quietly replaced its longstanding logo with a new one that prominently features the NBC peacock logo on top. The lowercase typeface of the former logo is replaced with all caps, and the new custom font is a bit of a mishmash itself, the letters starting with rounded ends on top and finishing at the bottom with flat ends. And the several brands of the Comcast corporation feature several different versions of old and new Comcast logos. Maybe eventually it will be streamlined into one corporate brand?

Excerpt: "In an extremely surprising move, Comcast has adopted the NBC peacock as its own logo. This is mind-blowing for a number of reasons. (1) When NBCUniversal redesigned, the decision was made that this corporate mark should have neither the peacock nor Universal’s globe; a decision I commended and still do; and now you have a corporate name that doesn’t even include the word NBC and there, like a crown, it sits on top of Comcast. It’s impossible to look at the peacock and NOT think NBC, forcing you to read the logo as NBCComcast. (2) Moving the peacock into corporate territory where it now becomes an ambassador for a technician making you wait at home for a window of 4 hours to repair your cable or internet connection is absolutely counterproductive: The NBC peacock logo should stand for television entertainment alone and focus on elbowing its way back into its equally iconic networks logos and their ongoing rivalries.

Diluting that brand — which stands for Today, the Olympics coverage, The Voice (hey, I don’t make the ratings), Parks and Recreation and all the way back to Seinfeld and Friends — in favor of corporate appearances feels like a mistake. And (3) just look at the Comcast logo and name line-up below: This is one of the most confusing brand architectures where names and logos are crudely interchangeable — it makes Mr. Potato Head look organized."

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Malls Reflect Changing US Demographics

Dia de Los Muertos at Latino-focused Panorama City Mall
Hunter Comunications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Shopping malls cater to shifting demographics

The recent US elections demonstrated the growing power of shifting US demographics: Latinos and Asian Americans proved crucial in winning elections.  Now mall and shopping center developers are building or retooling malls to appeal to those burgeoning demographic groups.

Excerpt: "A small but growing number of real estate owners and developers are tapping into the same demographic change U.S. politicians have begun to recognize.

Two ethnic groups - Hispanics and Asian-Americans - are expected to see their population and buying power soar in the coming years. And several demographic experts project that non-Hispanic whites will be a minority nationally by 2040 or 2050.

If mall and shopping center owners fail to adapt to the changing demographic make-up of the country, they risk seeing their properties become mausoleums of a less-diverse American past.

'It's a bunch of guys trying to build for a (white) world that's no longer growing. But there are those individuals out there that are seeing the growth in different ways. They're picking it apart and making some big money off of it,' said James Chung, president of strategy and research firm Reach Advisors.

Many developers focusing on ethnic shoppers have come to the rescue of dying malls and shopping centers throughout the United States."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Cheesecake Factory Solar Installation Saves Cash and CO2

Rooftop solar installation saves $ and CO2 for Cheesecake Factory
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Foodservice Magazine

Link to article:
Case Study: The Cheesecake Factory's Solar Installations

The Cheesecake Factory is already known for its commitment to social issues such as reducing hunger in America. Now a new test project uses rooftop space above the restaurant to reduce or eliminate the need for hot water heater use, saving restaurants money and also reducing their carbon footprint.

Excerpt: "When consulting with the chain, Sun Light & Power investigated both solar hot water and solar electricity options, says Gary Gerber, president and CEO, who founded the firm in 1976. A limited amount of roof space, however, limited the restaurant to a solar hot water versus full-fledged solar power.

'It's not unusual for a restaurant to already have a lot of equipment on the roof; with all the refrigeration and HVAC and ducting, it's often hard to squeeze the solar panels in,' Gerber says.

'One hint is if you're doing a remodel or anything involving the roof, give some thought to leaving as much open space as possible because that roof real estate is very valuable,' Gerber says.

At 40 square feet each piece, these collectors are not tiny, but they are powerful; 1 square foot of solar panel can heat about 1.5 gallons of water. In the case of The Cheesecake Factory, for roughly 800 square feet, 850 gallons of water can be pre-heated using the sun, Gerber says. 'But there's no reason why you can't put in a smaller system with six or seven collectors.'

The solar water systems work by collecting sunlight using insulated panels outfitted with an aluminum frame to deflect wind. Creating a greenhouse gas effect, the heat collected by the panels gets transferred to black rubber tubes with circulating water. With each pass, the liquid gains 10 degrees, passing more than 10 times to reach a target temperature of 120 degrees F to 160 degrees F. Operators can pre-set limits to prevent overheating. The preheated water then heats the storage tank intercepted with cold water.

While the solar panels can't supply 100 percent of the restaurant's hot water, in The Cheesecake Factory's situation, there is carryover from one day to the next, Gerber says. In less sunny parts of the country, this carryover capability comes in handy."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fast Food Restaurant Design Goes Upscale

A newly remodeled Burger King in Glendale. (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times)
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Fast-Food Eateries Cooking Up Fresh Looks

After trying to stay current with health-conscious menus and social media technology, now fast food outlets in the US are trying a visual rebranding by ditching bright colored plastic interiors for upscale furnishings that invite diners to stay and enjoy their meals. A few successful experiments in McDonalds, Burger King, and Panda Express have spearheaded a wider wave of upgrades.

Excerpt: " In a tough economy, picky consumers are being selective about where they spend their cash. Many tired outlets are losing sales to flashier competitors, experts said, forcing them to spruce up or lose out.

Taco Bell is testing eateries, including one in Redwood City, Calif., that glow purple at night to attract the bar crowd. At some McDonald's, customers nosh on dollar-menu items while watching televisions from sofa-like faux leather chairs.

A newly remodeled Burger King in Glendale boasts glossy red walls, matte-black furniture and recessed alcoves, evoking a Las Vegas club. Giant photos of luscious food are framed to look like art. A curved, raised bar faces a flat-screen television tuned to celebrity-focused TMZ.

McDonald's was one of the first to try something different, refurbishing a New York City outlet three years ago with Danish Modern furniture, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, along with tables and outlets for working customers."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Caviar Vending Machines are Latest Mall Luxury

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Caviar Vending Machines Pop Up at LA Malls

You may have seen the "duty free"-style vending machines at top airports that sell such high-end goods as MP3 players and tablet computers?  Los Angeles entrepreneur Kelly Stern has brought that idea to its next step in three LA shopping malls (Westfield Century City, Westfield Topanga, and Burbank Town Center) where you can now purchase truffles, escargot,  and tiny mother of pearl spoons for the machines' main offering, luxurious tins of pure caviar.

Excerpt: "The project is the brainchild of Kelly Stern, who co-owns Beverly Hills Caviar – a gourmet food supplier located in the tony California community.

The business plan: Reach customers in wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the malls who may not have convenient access to caviar and expose everyday shoppers to the delicacy, especially younger ones.

'All my friends and family knew about this for a year-and-a-half and no one wanted to tell me that I was crazy, but I could see it in their eyes,' Stern said.  'I did not know what was going to happen when people saw it.'

Stern shopped around the world to find the right kind of vending machine – it had to keep the caviar cold, have a touch screen, an Internet connection and an attractive display for its gourmet contents. It also had to accept credit cards as well as cash.She ended up buying parts from seven different countries and putting everything together in Los Angeles. Each machine costs about $85,000 – including hardware, software, security and maintenance – and has about $50,000 worth of inventory inside. The caviar is sold in jars and stays fresh for about a year."

 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Burbank Town Center, home to Beverly Hills Caviar vending machines

Monday, December 17, 2012

Streetcars to Roll Again in Downtown LA

A streetcar on Broadway in early 1963.(Electrical Railway Historical Assn.)
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Streetcar Line Called Downtown's Missing Link

After decades of false starts, the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles is finally in full bloom. To enable tourists and local residents to get around better in the downtown core (Civic Center, Music Center, Staples Center, fashion district) urban planners have brought back an old staple, streetcars, which downtown residents have recently approved by a huge margin.

Excerpt: "Voters in downtown Los Angeles this week approved key financing for a $125-million streetcar project that might finally put this theory to the test. The streetcar would run mainly along Broadway, and Hill and Figueroa streets, three of downtown's main arteries, connecting various neighbors, including the old banking district, South Park, Civic Center and the fashion district.

Developers — and some residents — see the streetcar as a missing transportation link.

'If you're in New York, or San Francisco or Portland, you forget about your car. You walk, you take public transportation, and you get a much richer experience,' said Scott Denham, vice president at Evoq Properties, a downtown developer. 'The whole concept of being in L.A. and not having to drive to have a whole Saturday or Sunday to experience downtown… It's really not that far off in reality.'

The streetcar is one of two major transportation infrastructure projects planned for downtown. The other is the so-called regional connector, a $1.3-billion, Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway line that would run beneath 2nd Street, linking trains from Pasadena and East L.A. with the Blue Line from Long Beach and Expo Line from Culver City."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video of the Week: Santa Goes Gangnam Style

Hunter Communications Video of the Week: 

Friday, December 7th, Sherman Oaks Galleria marked the holiday season with their traditional tree lighting ceremony.  But the evening's festivities kicked off in a less-traditional way, as Santa, his band of helpers and eight tiny reindeer left it all on the dance floor, Gangnam style.  Jhon Gonzalez took the part of Santa in this funky, flash-mob-style future holiday classic, directed and brought to you by Hunter Communications.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Retailers Set Off Stampede of Holiday Shopping

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The New York Times

Link to article:
A Holiday Shopping Stampede, but Maybe no Economic Jolt

This year the holiday shopping started early and strong, and petty things like a family holiday be damned.  Black Friday started before the plates were even picked up from the Thanksgiving table, and we have all seen the crowds and mayhem at the nation's malls and big box retailers.  But is it all a bunch of sound and fury signifying almost nothing when it comes to the bottom line for 2012 holiday retail?

Excerpt: "For now, the nation’s retailers are doing their best to infuse the holidays with the spirit of consuming. 'Door-busting' bargains began on Thanksgiving Day instead of on Black Friday, as had been the custom. Online discounts started weeks ago, and Cyber Monday, formerly a one-day event, is morphing into a consumption extravaganza unbound by space or time.

'We’re keeping the Cyber Monday party going all week long,' said on its site on Thursday afternoon. Walmart declared that its site was 'the only place to go' for Cyber Week. 'Shop now while supplies last,' it said. And Target offered rapture: 'Get online-only deals all week. Oh joy!'

Over all, the efforts have yielded a mixed harvest. Some reports suggest that the early shopping has been robust, if not extraordinary. A survey for the National Retail Federation found that 247 million people did some shopping in the four days starting on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 percent from last year. Total spending reached $59.1 billion, up nearly 13 percent.

But a report on Thursday showed that overall sales at 16 retailers — including chains like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Target — increased only 1.6 percent in November for stores open at least a year. Those figures included early holiday sales."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Auto Enthusiast Site Chooses Coolest Logos of all Time

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Best Car Logos of All Time

They are mostly from long-dead brands, but some of them are dazzling in their design, or at least their boldness. A racing car with a tortoise for its coat of arms shield?! Jalopnik chooses the coolest logos, and even opines about the reasons a too cool logo almost dooms the car brand to ultimate failure.

Excerpt: "Now, some classic car emblems are heralded as great by millions of adoring fans, but they're usually pretty boring. Ferrari makes fantastic cars, so you find the cavallino badge everywhere. On flags, grafitti'd onto buildings, tattooed onto people's butt cheeks, all over the place. Just because the cars are cool, though, doesn't mean the logo is anything more than a doodle of a horse in a rectangle. BMW is a blue-and-white circle. Nothing special.

Great car logos can come on really terrible cars. In fact, they come almost exclusively on cars that sucked. Six out of ten car companies on this list are out of business and there's another that's nearly on life support as it is. Our theory is that these emblems were just so cool that the car-buying public couldn't handle them.

Also, since these are specifically car company logos, we did not include emblems specific to a model of car, not a marque. That means we had to leave off things like the Mustang, the dragon/boat thing that was on the Celica, and a bunch of other cool emblems."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Australia Bans Branding and Logos on Cigarette Packs

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Huffington Post UK

Link to article:
Plain Cigarette Packaging Introduced in Australia

Remember when smoking was considered "cool'? Australia has taken the next step to make the habit seem disgusting, and smokers respond to the new bile green packs with hideous images of blackened lungs and rotting teeth by saying their "smokes" no longer taste good.

Excerpt: "Sludge green packaging with gruesome pictures of rotting teeth, eyeballs, blackened lungs and suffering babies will become mandatory for tobacco in Australia on Saturday, as tough new legislation is introduced to help curb smoking.

The move has been heralded by anti-smoking and health groups in the country, and in the UK, with British campaigners urging the government to take similar steps.

According to the Daily Telegraph, smokers have reported saying their cigarettes now taste 'pathetic' and 'sickening'...

In Australia, no branding is allowed on packaging, leaving only the name printed in tiny black font. Shopkeepers have complained they are no longer able to sort the brands easily, or tell which is which unless closely inspected.

Around one billion people smoke worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, but the UK has lower smoking rates than Australia. In Oz, smoking is in decline, with figures around 23% of the population currently smokers, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Among the indigenous population, the rate is much higher, with 51% of men and 49% of women reported to be current daily smokers. Nearly 80% of the world's smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

The Australian government, which has fought numerous, costly lawsuits in order to introduce the measure, says the aim is to deter young people from smoking."

Monday, December 10, 2012

London Flash Mob Promotes "Magic Mike"

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Daily Mail

Link to article:
Oxford Street Shoppers Treated to a Striptease

Holiday season shoppers along Londons famed Oxford Street were recently treated to a sanitized male strip flash mob organized by Lions Gate Pictures.  Promoting the UK DVD release of "Magic Mike", the dancing "strippers" were led by a megaphoned Channing Tatum lookalike who put the boys through their paces.

Excerpt: "There's nothing like a baby-oiled display of masculinity to heat up a cold November day, and Oxford Street shoppers certainly felt the heat thanks to an impromptu flash mob.

Just outside the Oxford Circus underground station, a toned troupe of men surprised onlookers by putting on a traffic-stopping show.

Leading the group was a Channing Tatum lookalike who announced their presence over a megaphone on Monday afternoon.

The saucy performance was courtesy of the film Magic Mike starring People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive Channing Tatum."

There's nothing like a baby-oiled display of masculinity to heat up a cold November day, and Oxford Street shoppers certainly felt the heat thanks to an impromptu flash mob.
Just outside the Oxford Circus underground station, a toned troupe of men surprised onlookers by putting on a traffic-stopping show.
Leading the group was a Channing Tatum lookalike who announced their presence over a megaphone on Monday afternoon.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Youtube User Makes Video Art from LA Metro Data Stream

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
A Day in the Life of LA's Public Transit Via Visualized Data

Part of the data that makes Google Maps able to predict the next bus or train coming to your pinpointed location is from General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), furnished by LA Metro and transit companies around the world.  Now a youtube clip (with admittedly cheesy Muzak-ish soundtrack) uses the swarming dots on a pitch-dark LA region map to make a teeming, living work of transit art on video.

Excerpt: "Did you know that transit agencies around the globe make their data streams available to the public via a Google-developed platform called General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)? Among those are Los Angeles agencies like Metro and Metrolink; they are just two of the hundreds of agencies whose data goes to the GTFS, which keeps tabs on details like train and bus lines, schedules and stop frequency.

A YouTube user took the GTFS data for a 24-hour period and turned them into videos for the various transit agencies. Each stop is a tiny white dot on a broad black expanse; in L.A.'s Metro, though, you can soon see the transit landscape of the city emerge above the blue base of the Pacific, with Downtown a bright hub. A little less blingy is Metrolink, with its commuter trains crisscrossing the county."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grammar Affects Potency of Political Messaging

Hunter Communications recommeded reading from:
American Scientist

Link to article:
Framing Political Messages with Grammar and Metaphor

Another political season ends, and a rather important one.  But along with visuals, strategy and political messages, a new study suggests that the language of political messaging affects its strength.  Even subtle changes in tense and metaphor can have a strong effect on potential voters:  changing a statement from past tense to a past progressive tense opens up a far greater belief in the level of a political sin and the conclusion that it could be insurmountable.

Excerpt: "A few years ago, I began exploring the idea of grammatical framing. In an article with Caitlin Fausey, 'Can Grammar Win Elections?' published in Political Psychology, we explored the consequences of tweaking grammatical information in political messages. We discovered that altering nothing more than grammatical aspect in a message about a political candidate could affect impressions of that candidate’s past actions, and ultimately influence attitudes about whether he would be re-elected. Participants in our study read a passage about a fictitious politician named Mark Johnson. Mark was a Senator who was seeking reelection. The passage described Mark’s educational background, and reported some things he did while he was in office, including an affair with an assistant and hush money from a prominent constituent. Some participants read a sentence about actions framed with past progressive (was VERB+ing): 'Last year, Mark was having an affair with his assistant and was taking money from a prominent constituent.' Others read a sentence about actions framed with simple past (VERB+ed): 'Last year, Mark had an affair with his assistant and took money from a prominent constituent.' Everything else was the same.

After the participants read the passage about Mark Johnson, they answered questions. In analyzing their responses, we discovered differences. Those who read the phrases 'having an affair' and “accepting hush money' were quite confident that the Senator would not be reelected. In contrast, people who read the phrases 'had an affair,' and 'accepted hush money' were less confident. What’s more, when queried about how much hush money they thought could be involved, those who read about 'accepting hush money' gave reliably higher dollar estimates than people who read that Mark 'accepted hush money.' From these results, we concluded that information framed with past progressive caused people to reflect more on the action details in a given time period than did information framed with simple past.

This effect of grammatical aspect is consistent with other research done in my lab, including a study with student collaborators on how people describe car accidents. In this study, to appear in Studies in Language, participants watched six videos of vehicle collisions on a computer screen. For example, in one video, a police car pursues a truck that swerves off the road and crashes into an overpass, and in another, a car sideswipes a van, which then smashes into a truck. After each video, one group of participants was presented with the prompt 'Tell what was happening,' and another was presented with the prompt 'Tell what happened.' Participants’ descriptions were recorded and analyzed. Those who read the past progressive prompt included proportionally more motion verbs in their descriptions, such as 'drive,' as in 'There’s a guy driving a truck,' and 'come,' as in 'Another car came,' than did participants who read the simple past prompt. These same individuals also mentioned more reckless driving phrases, such as 'cut off,' as in 'He tried to cut off the car next to him,' and 'swerve,' as in 'She was swerving.' The results suggest that tweaking grammatical aspect in an open-ended question or prompt can lead to differences in thinking and talking about events.

Using grammatical aspect to frame campaign information, positive or negative, appears to be an effective tool for influencing how people perceive candidates’ past actions. It may also be tweaked to invite inferences about what candidates will do in the future because it influences inferences about how events transpire."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Font of the Month: Google Type

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Google Type Uses Search to Generate Fonts

Strictly speaking it isn't a font, and it is a kind of internet variation on the old "ransom note" cut and paste letters.  But it's a lot of fun, and the way Google Type searches images of the individual letters in your text and combines them into a picture melange of image letters could make it into an interesting display "font" for headlines and online "signage".

Excerpt: "Despite the name, Google Type isn't a real Google product. The site generates fonts based on Google image search, hence the name. You type in words, the site digs through image search and regenerates your text using image versions of each letter.

This is all based on an interesting quirk of Google's image search. If you type in a single letter and search images, Google gives you a lovely collection of image representations for that letter. For example, plug in 'Y,' and you may see the 'Y' from 'Yahoo,' an illustration of a guy with his arms up in a 'Y' shape, and a hand making the hang-loose sign. Any of these could pop up in Google Type.

 Google Type is a project by a group called Internet Club, which seems to consist of Web developers in Brussels, Belgium. The group comes with the mysterious tagline: 'Because Internet gave us so much we decided to give back.'

The font generator comes out looking a lot like a ransom demand. You may even get a bouncing GIF in the mix. Punctuation is pretty sketchy, and you might get a giant dot for a period. That randomness is a big part of the fun, though."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bamboo Art Project to Grow Over LA Freeways

Urban Air replaces billboards with bamboo
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:

Link to article:
Six Questions About LA's Lush Aerial Gardens Project

Artist Stephen Glassman hopes to make LA freeway billboards into lush aerial gardens of bamboo.  His project Urban Air (currently heating up the offerings at Kickstarter) will use existing billboard frames as a sort of postmodern trellis where stands of bamboo will freshen up the view and give weary commuters something to think about.

Excerpt: "1. Why bamboo on a billboard?
Artistically, my work is rooted in bamboo, pun intended. For me it’s like drawing in space, and it feels nearly as gravity free. In the aftermath of L.A.’s earthquakes, fires, and riots in the 1990s, the city commissioned me to create large, expressive, bamboo installations as symbols of resiliency in devastated neighborhood sites. I noticed that although bridges, freeways, and buildings were collapsing, the billboards withstood. Structurally, scientifically and symbolically bamboo is the perfect choice as it has always been admired for its structural durability. It has a very shallow root system – just 24 inches deep, yet can attain heights of up to 40 feet. A bamboo forest is one plant, interconnected by a vast underground horizontal rhizome network. The strength and beauty of any individual culm is only a manifestation of its interconnectedness. In this way, I see bamboo as a model for our 21st century, increasingly interconnected world.

2. Why Los Angeles as a test city for a project like this?
Of course, Los Angeles is a place where people spend an inordinate amount of time driving and in traffic. But when I am in cars I frequently look beyond the traffic to the skyline and the horizon, and my eyes rest on billboards. Los Angeles is also a city of connectors: Engineers, producers, advertising execs, entrepenures and billboard companies — they’re are all here and in a position to really help make this happen."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Buick Considers Changing its Logo

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Detroit Free Press

Link to article:
GM Considers Revamping Buick Logo

The old traditional lineup at GM is gone, no longer does one trade up from Chevrolet to Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and finally Cadillac. But of the remaining GM brands, Buick is doing just fine, thank you, and may be celebrating its renewed youth and vigor with a new updated logo.

Excerpt: "It would be the first redesign for the logo in at least a decade. The badge features three side-by-side shields enclosed in a circle. The logo is currently all chrome, but Reuss hinted that could change, too.

Spokesmen for the Buick brand declined to confirm or dispute Reuss' comments.

Redesigning a brand logo is an extremely sensitive process that can send enthusiasts and longtime customers into a frenzy. But Buick has been repositioning itself as an attractive choice for younger affluent consumers.

'There's people who can look at the badge of a car and know exactly what they are and what time period they're from,' said Jeremy Dimick, curator of collections at Sloan Longway's Alfred P. Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery in Flint.

It's not clear what's fueling the consideration, but industry experts are quick to point out that the Chinese car market is driving Buick strategy. Buick has had a long history in that country and has been perhaps the most important contributor to making GM the largest western automaker in China."