Posts Tagged ‘Noteworthy’

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Written in the clouds.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Written in the clouds. Word clouds are a popular way to visualize tags online. I first noticed word clouds on Flickr, a social networking site for photographers and photography. Flickr word or tag clouds allow you to see the content of any particular photographer’s posted photos. Now there’s a website, Wordle.net , that allows you to paste any word document into a window and’voilá the site translates the text into a word cloud that is surprisingly revealing about the overall content of the document. Above shows what our last issue of Cram looked like.

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Ads on YouTube.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Ads on YouTube.  Have you ever noticed the ads that pop up while you’re trying to watch a two-minute video on YouTube? Although YouTube has made the viewing screen larger, viewers still lose precious real estate to the ads. And, you have to take your mind off what you’re watching to close out the ad window when they give you the option. Isn’t there a better way to catch viewers’ attention without ruining the video?

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Brought to you by the letter F.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Brought to you by the letter F.  A recent study by the Nielson Norman Group found that most users scan websites in an “F” pattern: two horizontal swipes followed by a vertical sweep down the page. This is a very different way of absorbing information than reading print, and additional evidence that your website must be more than just “print online.”

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Four things to know before printing your next job

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Four things to know before printing your next job  If you need to put ink on paper, be sure to consider the following ways to cut costs:

House sheets  Paper accounts for about 30% of the cost of a print job, so it’s a good place to start when considering the cost of a job. Most printers have a “house sheet” that they get at a discount rate because they order it in large quantities. Using a house sheet can save time, money, and potential problems because it is used regularly at the plant and the presses and ink are set up for it.

Final size Plan the final size of your piece to fit as many pages as possible on one press sheet with minimal paper waste. If your printer has a 40″ press, 28″x40″ sheets are available. With an 8.5″x11″ trim size, you can print one 16-page book, two 8-page books, four 4-page books, or eight single- or double-sided pages from a single sheet of paper. If you are designing an oddly sized job, get quotes from several printers—one may be able to do the job more efficiently than another. To eliminate additional mailing costs, avoid designing square or almost square pieces: the postal service charges a considerable per-piece surcharge for square designs because these are not machinable.

Make friends with the post office  Always check with the post office prior to finalizing your design to make sure your piece will mail economically. The post office has a Mailpiece Design Analyst on staff who can help you. Send a pdf of your design for approval and take a paper dummy to the post office to get actual mailing costs. You can find an analyst at this website. You will get the name, phone number, and email address of the person to contact for help.

Digital vs offset  Depending on the quantity, digital printing may be a cost-effective alternative to traditional printing. Digital gives you the added benefit of 4-color printing at no extra cost. Your mailing can be personalized from a database to print individualized copies at a reasonable cost. Use caution, however, when digitally printing stationery items. Currently, only high-end digital presses can print envelopes, and most ink from digital printing cannot be put through a laser printer. Although it’s not currently cost effective to print high quantities digitally, keep checking. This technology is rapidly changing and continually getting better, faster, and cheaper.

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If Gutenberg invented the Internet

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

If Gutenberg invented the Internet  What would our world be like if electronic media had been invented before printing? Just picture it for a moment. All of us are happily tapping away on our computers when a new technology suddenly debuts—ink on paper! How would the tweets and blogs and links read? “Ink on paper is wireless and requires no electricity or power source!” “It’s completely democratic—everyone sees exactly the same font and the same colors, in the same size and format!” “It’s remarkably portable, sensuously tactile, and photos reproduce beautifully. You can even add scents to the ink and smell what you read!”

This fantasy reminds me that we’ve come a long way in the information technology revolution. The advantages to online information are enormous, but have we lost anything along the way? I thought about this recently when I was looking through the book Outskirts, a photographic essay by Todd Hido. The book is an extra-large 12″x18″ format. There is one photo per page, and each photo is reproduced with such gorgeous detail that the effect is almost magical. I realized that the extraordinary power of these photos would be lost on my laptop monitor. This is not the only case where print still outperforms the screen. For example, sometimes it’s faster and easier to flip through the pages of a printed book for information than it is to click through the same book online. Even in the middle of the technology revolution, Gutenberg’s idea still has its place.

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Desperate measures

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Desperate measures  I recently took a flight to California and noticed that the airline had ramped up its profit-making efforts. There was a charge for every service and an ad on every printable surface. I felt like a hostage—strapped in with my seatbelt securely fastened—unable to escape the barrage of attempts to get into my wallet. These desperate revenue-raising measures suggest that air travel is an ailing industry.

When economic times are tough, the best practice is to exude optimism and confidence. Doing so reassures your audience that things are under control and all is well with your institution. Don’t succumb to the temptation to “oversell” your institution. Avoid cluttering your website’s homepage with sunburst graphics displaying your US News rankings next to boxes asking for gifts to the annual fund on top of flashing icons seeking participation in the latest, greatest capital campaign. According to The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Reis and Trout, owning a word in the prospect’s mind is the most powerful concept in marketing. However, you don’t want to own the words “desperate” or “needy.”

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Marketing: Are you the target? You should be.

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Marketing: Are you the target? You should be. For years, we’ve performed SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to profile students and donors, break the market into segments, and concentrate efforts on one or more key segments. For years, it worked just fine. But it’s not working anymore.

Online communities like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have changed today’s marketing landscape. Your audience doesn’t want you to find them. They want to control when and how they find you. They want to bypass your carefully and lovingly crafted marketing messages and get the skinny on you as revealed by students, alumni, and friends on social networking sites. In other words, your goal in marketing is not to target your audience but to become the target.

Here’s how to paint a bull’s eye on your institution:

Observe your online communities and notice the topics that keep members engaged and chatting with each other. Once you’ve learned what they want to discuss, keep the conversation going. Be friendly, honest, and open.

Remember that each community has a different personality and code of conduct:

LinkedIn resembles a business cocktail party. You’re dressed for business, talking about what you do, looking for opportunities to move up the ladder, and trying to find someone to help with business decisions.

Facebook is a bit more casual, like a neighborhood block party. You’re wearing your sandals and t-shirt, corralling the kids and dog, showing off pictures of your family, and talking about vacation and how to improve your lawn.

Twitter is like greeting a friend as you walk down the street on your way to an appointment. You stop to chat for a moment about something he or she should check out online—an article about the basketball team or a new restaurant in town.

As in any networking situation, you want to make yourself or your organization attractive to others. A blend of charm and character mixed with interesting information will keep you in the spotlight.

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Marketing: From the other side of the mailbox.

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Marketing: From the other side of the mailbox. My husband and I have a teenage son and daughter who are a year apart in school. Our mailbox has been on the receiving end of college admissions materials for the past four years. Here’s what worked and what didn’t for our teenagers:

1. If it was from a college they were interested in, they devoured it; if it was not, they didn’t.
2. In the beginning, they looked at it everything. By the beginning of their senior year, they didn’t.
3. If the brochure was different, they looked at it; if it was not, they didn’t.
4. If it came in a plain white #10 envelope, it was tossed out, unopened.
5. If it was colorful and youthful, they looked at it.
6. If it had outstanding photography, they looked at it. Pictures of kids on a campus lawn got ignored.
7. If it was printed on nice stock with embossing or gold foil, it got their attention. My daughter explained that high quality brochures made her feel special, but when I asked her the name of the college, she couldn’t remember.
8. If it came in unusual packaging, they opened it.
9. If they received the same information from the same college time and time again, it was trashed without a glance.
10. Email from most colleges went unread or was ignored. An exception was a valentine sent from the school mascot.
11. If it was from a college they were interested in, they read it.
12. If it was from a college a friend attends or is considering, they considered it.
13. Unsolicited email from other colleges was considered spam.
14. If a college they liked called and left a message, they returned the call. If they weren’t interested and the calls kept coming, they deleted the messages without even listening.

My conclusion? College communications have to be different to get kids’ attention. Youthful, colorful, interesting, unusual, and fun gets noticed. Boring, repetitive, and predictable does not.

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Comic Sans: The red-headed step-child of typography

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Comic Sans: The red-headed step-child of typography I used to belong to an exclusive club of typographic cognoscenti who would roll their eyes knowingly when a silly font like Comic Sans appeared in print or online. I’ve just realized that my exclusive club has exploded in size when I came across this article. Apparently, there’s an entire movement to ban the font from use. I feel vindicated and a bit more hopeful about the future of typography. I look forward to the day when other design crimes, like swooshes in logos or dumb quotes have their day in court.

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Sign of the times

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Sign of the times Have you ever thought about what might become of your online accounts in the event of your (gasp!) death or incapacitation? We’re told not to share our passwords with anyone or write them down anywhere, and websites have begun asking us to change them more frequently. How in the world would anyone be able to access bank accounts and other important websites without the intimate knowledge of passwords we each carry around in our heads?

Now there’s a service called Legacy Locker: “The safe and secure way to pass your online accounts to your friends and loved ones.” Legacy allows you to save your “digital assets” and select beneficiaries for each one. You can also set up “legacy letters,” post-mortem messages that will be sent to your friends and loved ones. It may seem creepy for such a website to exist, but in a digital world, we should consider a digital solution.

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Legislating legibility

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Legislating legibility When Congress recently wrote and passed new credit card legislation, the esteemed lawmakers essentially ruled out the fine print. Provisions in the bill actually set the minimum point size and stipulate that the print on applications and disclosures must be readable. This is great news for the elderly and others with poor eyesight, but did anyone think about putting all those disclosures in layman’s terms so we can actually understand what we’re seeing?

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1.5 million views in just 60 days

Monday, June 1st, 2009

1.5 million views in just 60 days  How did the University of Minnesota garner 1.5 million views of an educational YouTube video in just 60 days? They featured science lessons on the concepts behind Watchmen, the 2009 Warner Bros comic book-based movie. This article features an interview with Elizabeth Giorgi from the news service at UMN Office of University Relations. According to Ms. Giorgi, the University worked with YouTube directly to promote the video, built a relationship with Warner Bros, timed the video’s release to coincide with the movie’s media blitz, and combined educational material with pop culture. Basically, the University has turned viral video marketing into, well, a science.

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Your friendly corporate logo

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Your friendly corporate logo There is a warm and fuzzy trend afoot in the corporate brand world. Now sporting friendlier fonts, cutesy flourishes, and more colors, corporate logos are attempting to appear welcoming to buyers who may be reluctant—especially in this economy—to trust big business. A “kinder, gentler” image is being adopted by Wal-Mart, Kraft Foods, Superfresh grocery stores, and even Blackwater (with a less hostile-sounding name: Xe). It seems as if a herd of purple Barney’s has invaded the corporate design studios making the world of advertising a lot more huggable.

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Extra, Extra!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Extra, Extra! TED, the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference that grew into a “small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading,” makes genius ideas available to the average web surfer. In this video, European newspaper art director Jacek Utko shares his experience redesigning a dying art form. His results have been incredible: not only have his exuberantly-designed front pages won prestigious design awards, but they have also greatly increased subscription rates (up to 100% in Bulgaria). His success stems from using design to change the way readers experience and interact with their papers.

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Amore

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Amore  Domenica’s shot taken in Sicily is the opening spread in the latest issue of UCDA Designer magazine.

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Changing other people’s minds

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Changing other people’s minds Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. The more interesting—and difficult—question for marketers is how to change what other people think and believe. In her TED talk, “How we read each other’s minds,” scientist Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how we can alter the way the brain thinks about other people’s thoughts.

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Cell phone apps for college students

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Cell phone apps for college students  Cell phones can do more for college students than just distract them when they’re supposed to be listening to a lecture or studying for upcoming exams. New apps like Exambusters study cards, graphing calculators, iHomework, foreign language apps, StudentDocket, and more help the studious get organized and prepared.

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How to tweet in higher ed

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

How to tweet in higher ed  Do colleges and universities belong on Twitter? Of course! But not in the way you might think. This article lists ten tips for edu-marketers looking to join the conversation on Twitter. The basic premise of the author’s advice? Be represented by an individual with personality and sincerity who can become a functioning member of the Twitter community.

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Desperately seeking…something

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Desperately seeking…something Seeking: that’s what scientists are calling the insatiable human desire for information. It’s the behavior that makes us love Google, Twitter, text messages, and emails. According to this article in Slate Magazine, the problem with seeking is that our brains are more stimulated by the search than by the findings. That’s why when you sit down at the computer to Google one phrase, you sometimes “wake up” an hour later to find that you’ve gotten completely off track. The more we seek, the less likely we are to find the satisfaction we are looking for. It’s the behavior, not the results of the behavior, that’s turning us on. Maybe it’s better, then, to turn the “Crackberry” off once in a while.

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Pyramid scheme

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Pyramid scheme  Dassault Systèmes, a French software company, spent 5,000 hours creating a 3-D computer simulation of the construction of the Great Pyramid. The animation is interactive and allows the visitor to rotate, zoom in, out, and fly over the site. The result is breathtaking. You’ll need to wait a minute or two to download viewing software, but it is well worth the wait. The simulation visualizes a new and thought-provoking theory on the construction of the pyramid. Read our article about the genius behind the theory in last winter’s issue of Cram.

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New postal regulations for magazine mailings

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

New postal regulations for magazine mailings
The post office will soon be implementing new standards for commercial flat mail. Publications, envelopes, and other materials that measure between 6-1/8″ and 12″ high, 11-1/2 to 15″ in length, and 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick will need to adhere to the altered specifications.

These guidelines will pertain to the way your piece is addressed (point size and spacing) as well as where the address is placed. New facilities and better automation equipment at the post office make it necessary for your address to be in the top half of the piece. This site provides exact instructions on how to meet the new standards. Additionally, there are links at the bottom of the page for specific classes of flat mail.

Don’t get caught having to pay higher postage because you weren’t prepared for the new regulations. The best-kept secret of the post office is the availability of a Mailpiece Design Analyst. To ensure a smooth mailing, we send a pdf of every job to the design analyst at the post office where the piece will be mailed. You can also work with your local analyst as you design your piece. Go here to locate your local Mailpiece Design Analyst.

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Educational programming

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Educational programming
Move over YouTube: There’s a new generation of websites that provide visitors with the latest video lectures. Competitors include Bloggingheads.tv, Meaningoflife.tv, Bigthink.com, Fora.tv, Edge.org, and the online home of the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference. Click here for an article comparing these six sites and outlining their differences.

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Head games

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Head games  Like any other power tool, our brains work best when we keep them sharp. Playing computer games is one way to hone our thinking skills so we stay more alert and ready for action. Studies show that regular game playing improves cognitive powers, manual dexterity, language function, and attention span. So take a coffee break and re-energize your brain so you can better tackle that next creative project. Here are a few fun ways to get started:
Fly Swat
Circle the Cat
Simon

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Just the facts

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Just the facts  The average teen sends 2,272 text messages a month. Dell claims to have made $3 million from Twitter posts since 2007. The mobile device will be the world’s primary connection tool to the Internet in 2020. See more mind-blowing facts about digital media and the implications for marketing in this presentation by educators Scott McLeod, Jeff Brenman, and Karl Fisch. (This version was released in September 2009, but the original came out in 2008.)

Need more stats? Check out the results of the most recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey. The survey gathered data about the daily Internet and cell phone habits of over 2,000 American adults. (Click here if you do not see the video above.)

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Lost and found

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Lost and found  Did you hear about the couple whose GPS-enabled cell phone led them down a snowy forest service road, where they were stuck for three days? Luckily, the same cell phone finally alerted rescue teams to their whereabouts. Just a reminder that sometimes, you should pay more attention to your instincts than your electronic devices. Common sense should have told the pair that the shortest route might not be the safest.

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Considering buying an iPad?

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Considering buying an iPad?  You may want to wait a bit before you acquire yet another gadget. Software programs like Blio allow users to download books and read them on their device of choice, whether it be an iPhone, laptop, desktop, or electronic reader like Kindle. Blio, a free eReader program that will supposedly be available in February, grants access to more than a million electronic books. Publishers like Blio because it preserves the graphics and layout of the original text. Blio also gives users the ability to highlight and annotate text, hear the text read aloud, and more. It also can support embedded multimedia such as video and audio.

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Where in the world is…

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Where in the world is… Rumor has it that starting next month, Facebook may allow users to automatically share their location using location-based technology. When users post a status update, the new technology could share where the user was when he or she wrote it. Question is, should you tell the world where you are? The creators of PleaseRobMe.com don’t think so. They set out to make Internet users aware of how sharing their location could be used against them if they’re not careful.

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A touchy subject

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

A touchy subjectTouch screens are widely available beyond mobile phones. However, when you think about the ergonomics of using a touch computer screen, you’ll begin to understand why it isn’t as popular as its little sibling, the touch-screen phone. It’s one thing to press a button on a phone; it’s quite another to pinpoint a tiny button on a large screen.

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“Glee”-ful videos

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

“Glee”-ful videos We’re not sure if it’s due to the popularity of the network television show “Glee,” but colleges are beginning to release admissions videos set to music with singing and dancing. Amusing, yes. Effective? You be the judge.

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A gold medal in tweeting?

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

A gold medal in tweeting? Collegesurfing.com, which helps prospective students narrow their college search, recently held the “College Olympics” and awarded medals to the institutions that made the most effective use of social media. If you’re not sure how your school would compare, check out the descriptions of each winner to see what you could be doing better. For even more ideas on how to take your institution’s social media pulse, check out pamorama.net’s “100 Ways to Measure Social Media.”

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In the palm of your hand, literally

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

In the palm of your hand, literally A new technology called Skinput will allow phone users to answer calls and perform other functions through hand movements. Sensors in an armband pick up the sounds of a person’s movements and communicate them to a device. The technology will be commercially available in a few years when its accuracy is fine-tuned.

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Virtual reality

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Virtual reality When I was little, playing video and computer games involved only two participants: me and the console (and perhaps a friend to play against, if we had enough controllers). The days of playing games in isolation are long gone though, as the line between virtual life and real life becomes increasingly blurred. Companies are now offering virtual rewards for real-life actions, and real-life rewards for virtual accomplishments. For example, Zynga, which owns popular Facebook games FarmVille, YoVille, and Mafia Wars, recently teamed up with 7-Eleven on a new promotion which rewards FarmVille farmers for shopping at local 7-Elevens. If you buy a 32-oz. Slurpee, for instance, you’re given a code redeemable for a water slide on your FarmVille farm. See what your neighbors think of that!

Similarly, smart phone applications like Foursquare, which use GPS technology to track where you are and “check in” at your favorite destinations, now have real-life perks. If you check in to a given location more times than anyone else in town, you are crowned “Mayor” of that establishment, and many businesses will provide you with freebies such as a cup of coffee or a jump ahead on the waitlist, in return for your loyalty.

This could be a win-win situation. With over 65 million consumers on FarmVille alone, it seems natural that businesses and marketers will follow us to the virtual world. Businesses are always looking for new direct response tactics to get us to try their product. I know when I’m deep into a game, I’ll try just about anything to move to the next level.

On the other hand, there’s something unsettling about paying real money for rewards that exist only in cyberspace.

One thing that is for certain is that as social gaming and smart phone technology grows increasingly intelligent, marketers will continue to experiment with new ways to reach out to us. Which would you prefer, a free FarmVille sheep, a pop-up ad, or piece of junk mail?

Contributed by Theresa and Elizabeth

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Fasten your seatbelt

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Fasten your seatbelt A small budget does not necessarily have to mean limited results. This public service announcement was created with a simple idea and a powerful message. Marketing is all about making an emotional connection with the audience, which this spot illustrates beautifully. Rather than appealing to logic and statistics on seat belts and safety, the commercial cuts right to the chase and exposes what is truly being risked when we forget to buckle up.

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Up there

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Up there There is something truly charming about hand-painted advertisements on brick walls. This short documentary takes a brief look at the people who still create them today. Appreciate it now, for this art form is on the verge of extinction. Most advertisers opt out for the cheaper technology of digital imagery on vast sheets of vinyl.

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Old media, fresh ideas

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Old media, fresh ideas Now that the internet is omnipresent, you likely use less and less paper. . . unless you’re one of these artists! It’s amazing what you can create with this medium. Consider the role of various types of media in the marketing for your institution. When you need to convey a lot of information, the internet is usually the most fitting choice. Sometimes, though, a tangible print piece with high-quality photos will do a better job of catching your audience’s attention.

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Tufts accepts video applications

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Tufts accepts video applications Keeping in pace with your audience is a crucial aspect of resonating with them, and if you are not paying attention to social media you could be left in the dust. Just ask recent applicants to Tufts University, who had the option of submitting a YouTube video as a component of their application. Only about 1 in 15 applicants actually included a clip of themselves, but the fact that this was even an option shows just how mainstream amateur videography has become.

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Photos in your space

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Photos in your space A NYC photographer explores what your living or working space says about you. Todd Selby started out shooting his friends, and posting the results online. Requests came pouring in from creative people—and companies—around the world who wanted “The Selby” to shoot them in their natural habitats as well. Selby released a book earlier this year as well (The Selby is in Your Place). The results are beautiful—and revealing.

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Same as it ever was

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Same as it ever was They say that people never really change, and this blog seems to support that theory. Everyone has family photos from their childhood. Perhaps a reenactment of one of yours is in order?

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Losing our minds to the web

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Losing our minds to the web The Internet may make information more accessible, but is our culture of constant Googling, wikipedia’ing, and tweeting actually making us dumber? This article discusses The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (Norton), a new book by Nicholas Carr. Strangely enough, none of us were able to make it all the way to the end of the article…

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New uses for old objects

Friday, October 29th, 2010

New uses for old objects Two thousand years ago, items that were used for everyday tasks like eating, washing, and writing were unremarkable to those who used them. Now, those items that remain intact are objects of interest and curiosity, displayed in museums for us to examine. Those artifacts help us feel connected to the people who handled them long ago. It’s interesting to see how the value of an object changes once it is no longer needed.

As technology develops, the tools of learning and creativity that were recently a part of everyday life are rapidly becoming antiques. Today’s artists are turning books into collages, typewriter keys into jewelry, and pencils into miniature sculptures. Take a look at the amazing mini-creations one artist has made from old pencil stubs, and the small city this man has made from millions of staples. It’s nice to know that these wonderful tools have found a new purpose in the artwork of these imaginative artists.

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Regulating fake online reviews

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Regulating fake online reviews When you rate a restaurant, bar, brand, or purchase online, you’re not usually required to provide details such as your name and contact information. As a result, there is no real way to verify that the review is from a neutral consumer. False advertising, on the other hand, is relatively easy to regulate. If a company’s ad makes false claims, the company can be punished.

The Federal Trade Commission is starting to crack down on fake endorsements, as described in this blog post. The methodology might not be perfect yet, but at least they’re trying.

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News you can peruse

Friday, October 29th, 2010

News you can peruse The GCF team recently made the trip to DC’s Newseum to find inspiration and to explore the roots of journalism. We were struck not only by the history lessons but also by the beauty of the building itself.

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Vending machines have their say

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Vending machines have their say New vending machines make drink recommendations based on your gender, age, and the weather. What’s next—machines with scales that make food recommendations based on your body-mass index?

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How to not be socially awkward

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

How to not be socially awkward Are you struggling with ways to use social media that seem genuine and useful to your alumni? Check out this article on ten ways other institutions are using Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

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Squirrel away this link

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Squirrel away this link The University & College Designers Association (UCDA) listserve recently buzzed with comments about this Beloit College video featuring talking squirrels. Most were nuts about it, some were not, but everyone had an opinion. More proof that doing something different gets you noticed!

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Personalize your tour

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Personalize your tour One of our interns brought this page from WPI’s website to our attention. She liked it because it allows you to select videos and personalize your online tour to highlight what you are interested in—not just what WPI thinks you want to see.

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Spooky Spokeo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Spooky Spokeo You’ve probably Googled yourself before, but have you checked out your profile on Spokeo.com? The website is a scary mutation of the old people searches that includes info about your relationships, wealth, a satellite image of your address, and more that it has gleaned from various Internet sources. Thankfully, you can delete your name from the site. Here’s how.

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The many layers of Wallpaper

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The many layers of Wallpaper The website for the United Kingdom’s international “designinteriorsfashionartlifestyle” magazine, Wallpaper*, helps us get inspired and stay up on the latest happenings in the world of design.

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Putting the “fun” in functional

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Putting the “fun” in functional Vitra follows a “diligent design process that brings together the company’s engineering excellence with the creative genius of leading international designers.” The results are amazing products that the company features in its own design museum!

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Something to talk about

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Something to talk about We all know that cigarettes can kill, but this ad for an international anti-smoking campaign is a very smart and powerful image that is sure to spark new conversation and reflection.

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Puzzling

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Puzzling For the 25th Anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, the ad above features a funny, unique image portraying just how long it takes to learn the art of “cubing.”

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Is it really hip to be square?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Is it really hip to be square? JCPenney has joined the ranks of companies with a disappointing redesigned logo. As with the failed Gap logo redesign, this one features an awkwardly placed square in relation to the type. Why in the world would another retail company release a logo so similar to one that caused such a controversy that it was withdrawn?

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Lost Generation?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Lost Generation? This clever video literally turns over negative perceptions about the so-called “lost generation.”

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A different kind of filter

Monday, August 1st, 2011

A different kind of filter Wayne Martin Belger created a camera that uses HIV+ blood as a filter through which he takes portraits of those living with AIDS. His “Untouchable” project raises awareness of the global HIV community and the challenges facing those who are infected in developing countries.

NOTEWORTHY

Really update your resume

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Really update your resume If you’re struggling to stand out in a saturated job market, why not add a QR code to your resume? You’re no longer limited to the one-page summary of experience and accomplishments—now you can share a website or video that showcases your personality as well.

NOTEWORTHY

What are you listening to?

Monday, August 1st, 2011

What are you listening to? Have you ever wondered what people are listening to through their headphones, but felt it would be somehow inappropriate to ask? Ty Cullen asked New Yorkers the question and made a YouTube video of the answers. We were fascinated to be able to listen in and could not stop watching. Perhaps colleges could do something similar to help prospective students get a feel for life on campus. How about asking, “what are you studying/reading/discussing?”

NOTEWORTHY

Feeling small?

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Feeling small? A United Kingdom-based artist who calls himself “Slinkachu” makes tiny people and poses them in cities all over the world, taking photographs close up and then far away. The drastic change in perspective reveals, with a sense of humor, how tiny these models really are, and in some cases how misplaced.

NOTEWORTHY

Playing with your food

Monday, October 31st, 2011

You’ll never see your food the same after you view these microscopic images by Caren Alpert.

NOTEWORTHY

Outsmart your inbox

Monday, October 31st, 2011

This email charter consists of agreements that would result in fewer, more to-the-point emails—if everyone who emails you followed the guidelines.

NOTEWORTHY

The scavenger hunt goes high-tech

Monday, January 30th, 2012

The scavenger hunt goes high-tech Colleges have started using SCVNGR as a fun way to engage prospective students and alumni on campus. Players complete tasks, such as scanning a QR code at a particular location, and earn points for each challenge they complete. Some schools are using SCVNGR to give visitors something to do while waiting for a scheduled event or in place of a guided campus tour.

NOTEWORTHY

Pin-up URL

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Pin-up URL A new online community, Pinterest, provides users with a free virtual pinboard where they can save images of things found on the Internet. Users can come back to their pins later, organize pins into categories (known as boards), share with “followers” or their friends on Facebook, and see what others are pinning. Oberlin College, for example, has its own Pinterest, which reflects the culture of its campus community.

NOTEWORTHY

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Mirror, mirror, on the wall The New York Times Company R&D department created a prototype mirror/tablet that helps you incorporate digital information into your daily routine. If made commercially available, the device would allow you to check the weather while you’re brushing your teeth, for example. The mirror responds to voice commands so you can have your hands free. I wonder how many people would actually use a “smart mirror” and how many would resent the intrusion of information into one of the few rest rooms left in the house.

NOTEWORTHY

RFID: Contrived or cutting edge?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

RFID: Contrived or cutting edge? Radio frequency identification (RFID) is another new location-based technology that people can use to share their experiences through social media. Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re visiting a college. You get a wristband embedded with RFID technology, which you can then swipe at various locations around campus, and you automatically update your Facebook status—no computers or smartphones needed. I can’t help but wonder if students would see this as a gimmick. Today’s freshmen are technology savvy and accustomed to marketing tactics. Are harried administrators—who jump on new technology to keep their institutions on the cutting edge—going to be disappointed as users stop allowing themselves to be tracked?

NOTEWORTHY

Tell Me a Story

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Tell me a story Want to engage your admissions, alumni, or donor audiences? Learn how to tell them a good story. People want to imagine themselves on campus, to connect with others, and to be inspired. Here are some pointers to keep in mind as you settle down to write:

1. Have a single message.
2. Write about a single event, not about the time in a person’s life.
3. Be frugal with words.
4. Create a sense of anticipation. Make the reader wonder what’s next.
5. Use words to paint vivid pictures.
6. Change something in the reader’s mind—perhaps a perception, or the direction of the story.
7. Be ruthless in purging cliché and lazy phrasing from your drafts. This helps to avoid flatness of tone.
8. Keep a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well near your desk. Flip through it whenever your words feel clumsy.

Contributed by Brenda

While you’re in the storytelling mode, check out Nancy Duarte’s wonderful Tedx talk on using storytelling to create compelling presentations.

NOTEWORTHY

Predicting Future Tech

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Predicting future tech Tablets, laptops, cloud computing, and natural language interpretation are just a few of the technologies in flux. Is there a way to predict what the future holds for these and other technologies? A London-based trend forecasting firm is focused on just that task. Envisioning Technology conducts research that helps us make better decisions about our future technological needs. Click the infographic above for a full summary of existing tech and future trends.

NOTEWORTHY

Disruptive Wonder

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Disruptive wonder Is paper silent? Are websites flat? Kelli Anderson asks us to explore the answers to these and other questions that just may disrupt your world in very pleasant ways.

NOTEWORTHY

Gold-medal design?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Gold-medal design? The Olympics are coming, and soon we’ll all be admiring or complaining about the controversial 2012 London Olympic logo, shown at left. The Olympic logo controversy might extend to Madrid if it is chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympics. The proposed logo, shown at right, displays the letter “M” and the numeral “20” in script that many read as “20020.” Talk about long-range planning!

NOTEWORTHY

Ricks’s writing rocks

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Rick’s writing rocks Rick Bader, one of our favorite writers and collaborator on numerous GCF projects, earned a spot in a writing contest sponsored by NPR’s All Things Considered. Proving that brevity is still the soul of wit, all submitted stories must be readable in three minutes or less. You can read Rick’s story here. Congrats, Rick!

NOTEWORTHY

Mosser

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The art of moss GCF designer Noah Atkinson doesn’t stop thinking creatively when he leaves the office. Noah is founder and co-designer of the Mosser, a desk-side moss terrarium that has become a bit of an internet sensation. Originally intended as gifts for friends and family, the Mossers grew exponentially in popularity after appearing on various online blogs. We can easily see why. Who wouldn’t want to own a bit of beautifully packaged freshness?







NOTEWORTHY

Anamorphic typography

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Anamorphic typography Graphic designer Thomas Quinn created this optical illusion in a spare room of his parents’ home.

NOTEWORTHY

Welcome to Cram Now

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

public_domain_reading
Our newsletter is evolving! Cram Now has a new format that will replace the old Cram Quarterly so we can publish articles more frequently while giving our readers an opportunity to comment on or share stories. Read Cram Now. Enjoy!

FEEDBACK

Do you have comments, questions, or story ideas that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming issue of the Cram Quarterly? If so, email Brenda or call her at 410-467-4672.

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