Ralph Breaks the Internet: a Graphic Design Perspective

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a new 3-D movie from Disney. The plot is pretty standard Disney fare, but what interested me most about the movie is how the animators envisioned the Internet in physical space.

Briefly, Wreak-It-Ralph and friend Vanellope von Schweetz journey from their video game homeland to the worldwide universe of the Internet on a quest. No more spoilers on the story than this!

Now, consider the design challenge this brief represents and then focus on the biggest part: showing the audience, a mix of kids and adults of various ages and attention spans, the journey and the space that is the Internet, but in physical terms they will find engaging and non-threatening (this is a Disney film, after all). This is a huge and intriguing designer puzzle and it must have been a lot of fun to solve.

No spoilers on how the animators accomplished this feat, but I do have a suggestion for graphic arts business owners and managers and also for people who organize group activities for graphic designers and students: take a group to see the movie and then discuss how well the animators met the design challenges, large and small.

Do the activity seriously, though, as everybody involved has so much to gain from the effort. Don’t just go around the table at a meal or meeting and ask for general comments that take all of three seconds to make.

Instead, make the participants get way down deep into the scope and the details. After all, with animation you can do just about anything, so make the group think about the challenge and how and why the animators made their design decisions and ask what your group members would have done differently.

For people who manage writers and for writing groups, you could do the same thing, but focus on the story challenges and how well the writers met the brief as I’ve sketched it out above, not the design aspects.

If you would like help developing a set of questions to ask or other aspects of such an outing, get in touch and I’d be happy to help. And, if you do take up my suggestion, I would love to hear about it.

Voting Always Matters, So Be a Patriot and Vote, America!

The reasons United States citizens do not vote or even bother to vote are complex and numerous. Yes, some people feel their votes do not make a difference, while others take pride in refusing to take part in what they consider to be a charade of some sort.

And, in some parts of the country the states themselves make it difficult to vote. Take Pennsylvania, for example, just one small example. Pennsylvania refuses to allow people to vote early or to move voting days to the week-end or do anything else to make it easier to vote, such as automatic registration.

By the way, the fact states make it harder to vote than it should be is a clear indication some people are afraid of letting more people vote. Some politicians and manipulators want to create a virtual voting machine that swings elections their way. Letting just anyone who is truly eligible to vote do so would throw a spanner in their works.

Well, none of that matters today. It never did matter. And it won’t matter tomorrow, on the day of the most crucial mid-term elections this country has had in decades. Tomorrow could be, I hope, the beginning of a new, better, brighter era in America.

So, if you are registered to vote, get out and vote tomorrow. Just do it.

If you are not registered to vote, get that job done right away. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s free. And, it’s part of your job as a citizen. You won’t be able to vote tomorrow, but for ever after, you and and you should. Find out more at https://vote.gov.

Remember, people who do not vote should not complain about the kind of government they get as a result. If you are eligible to vote, you should vote. Period. Oh, and make sure to take a picture of your sticker (see above) after you vote and share it around and wear it proudly.


Researchers Develop Memory Aiding Typeface

In the Seybold Report newsletter, we love reporting on typefaces, especially history of type design and new typefaces. I laughed out loud when I learned about this new one (see below), and, of course, we had to share the news with the Seybold Report subscribers in the last issue (18.19) of the newsletter, which published earlier this month.

“Researchers Doctor Janneke Blijlevens and Doctor Jo Peryman from RMIT’s Behavioral Business Lab (Melbourne, Australia) collaborated with the School of Design to produce a typeface specifically designed to enhance memory retention. They dubbed it Sans Forgetica (pun obviously intended) and say the design helps prompt the brain to remember more content.

To download the Sans Serif typeface and learn more please visit http://sansforgetica.rmit. To view an explanatory video and learn even more, please visit https://www.rmit.edu.au/media-objects/multimedia/video/eve/marketing/the-science-of-sans-forgetica-the-font-to-remember.”

To learn more about the Seybold Report newsletter and to subscribe, please visit our corporate Web site: http://www.thejossgroup.com and click on the Newsletters tab. And, we hope you will apply for membership in the community if you are a graphic arts, printing, publishing, or design professional.

Self-Publishing Authors Set Record! More than One Million Books Self-Published in 2017


Self Publishing Book Authors Set Record in 2017

Congratulations to self-publishing book authors for making 2017 a record breaking year in terms of raw output! Bowker has published a study on just how prolific these authors were last year. Here is how the company describes the impressive growth rate:

“The clear message communicated by the 2017 data is self-publishing is still evolving, still growing at a rapid pace, and shows no signs of slowing down. The largest increase was in print books, showing an increase of 38%…Self-publishing grew at a rate of more than 28% in 2017, up from an 8% increase during the prior year. The total number of self-published titles grew from 786,935 to 1,009,188, surpassing the million mark for the first time.”


And, to help answer a question I get asked a lot, “Who should I turn to to help me publish my book myself?”

“CreateSpace, which recently announced it would become one service with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and offer enhanced distribution and other services to former CreateSpace customers, was very strong in 2017 and accounted for the bulk of the increase, growing a robust 50%. Looking ahead, we don’t expect any decline in Print On Demand self-publishing as CreateSpace authors move to the KDP platform. In fact, the three major service providers supporting indie authors, CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu, accounted for over 88% of all self-published print and e-book titles in 2017.”

Although Bowker doesn’t mention IngramContent, we’d be remiss if we did not mention this service, and just the other day we got a press release from Meridian Publishing Network about a new service the company is offering designed to help people start their own small book publishing company.

So, there are a lot of options for publishing your own book (contact me if you want to know more), but I am delighted to see this uptick. I think self-publishing or running a small book publishing company can be a great way to express one’s creativity, business acumen, and maybe make some money, too.

To access the full Bowker study, please click here.

Signal Boosting: Copycat Recruiting Sites Targeting Our Military

Wanted to do a little signal boosting here as this recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) news is important. Apparently, there are incredibly sick and devious people out there who have put together fake job recruiting sites targeting our military!

From the September news brief from the FTC:

Service members understand the serious responsibility of enlisting in the armed forces. But some companies may try to take advantage. If you or a loved one is visiting military recruiting Web sites to research or enlist, don’t get the wrong impression. Double check that the military recruiting sites you land on are official Web sites of the U.S. Armed Forces, not ones in disguise made to collect, and sell, your personal information.

According to a settlement just announced by the FTC,Sunkey Publishing, Inc., Fanmail.com, LLC, and associated companies ran online ads and Web sites like army.com and airforceenlist.com. These sites and ads looked like official military recruiting channels. But they weren’t. The FTC says people were tricked into thinking the information they shared would be used only for recruiting purposes. Instead, the companies sold people’s information to post-secondary schools as marketing leads. Even though these websites said they wouldn’t share people’s personal information. What’s more? The FTC says that Sunkey then used the numbers people shared to call them – pretending to be military reps and pitching post-secondary schools as though the schools were endorsed by the U.S. military. Which they weren’t.

Read the full news post here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/09/copycat-recruiting-sites?utm_source=govdelivery to find out how to spot the fakers and report them.

Facebook Should be Worried About the FTC and Here is Why

Last week several news outlets, including the Washington Post, ran articles saying the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Facebook, and a few days later the FTC officially confirmed the reports. Most of the articles said the FTC is looking into how Facebook has been butchering an agreement the FTC reached with the company back in 2011 regarding Facebook’s mis-use of user data back then. If the FTC concludes Facebook ignored the agreement, it could fine the company tens of thousands of dollars for each incident.

First, though, let me make my position clear. I am not a fan of Facebook and have long consider it a digital blight on the world. I do not and never have had a presence on Facebook as I realized, years and years ago, the main function of  the company and its main source of revenue is gathering and selling information about people using the social media platform. I have been telling people about my reasoned suspicions for years, too.

Mark my words: there is nothing good about Facebook.

I support, completely, the #DeleteFacebook movement.

I am convinced more and more and more information will be coming out in the next few days, weeks, and years about how Facebook has been collecting and selling information about people and also using that information on behalf of nefarious clients to help persuade and yes, even deceive, Facebook users.

We have only glimpsed, so far, the top of the tip of the iceberg on what has been going on with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (CA), and this is only one of Facebook’s clients of this ilk.

Back to the FTC: I believe the FTC will also come to the conclusion Facebook has been involved in deceptive advertising practices, and once it does, I hope the agency takes considerable legal action against Facebook.

In January 2016 we published an article in the Digital Marketing Report newsletter about the FTC’s warning for advertisers and publishers about deceptive online advertising. Did Facebook deliberately provide advertising disguised as content to certain Facebook users on behalf of certain nefarious operators such as CA and perhaps the NRA? I am sure the FTC wants to know the answer to this question!

Here is the lead-in to our article:

The FTC Issues Deceptive Advertising Warning and Native Advertising Guide

On December 22, 2015 the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an enforcement policy statement explaining how the consumer protection principles the FTC has established and enforced for decades apply to different advertising formats—including native ads which look like surrounding non-advertising content. While the FTC statement did not point the finger of blame only at digital advertising, the agency did make sure comments about such advertising were mentioned early and often in the statement.

The agency made it clear in the press release announcing the statement its long-standing policies apply to digital media, “The FTC’s policy applies time-tested truth-in-advertising principles to modern media,”said Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “People browsing the Web, using social media, or watching videos have a right to know if they are seeing editorial content or an ad.”

The same day the FTC released the Enforcement Policy Statement, it issued a much shorter statement entitled Native Advertising: A Guide for Business. This guide, the FTC says, was written and released “to help companies understand, and comply with, the policy statement in the context of native advertising.

The business guidance gives examples of when disclosures are necessary to prevent deception and FTC staff guidance on how to make clear and prominent disclosures within the format of native ads.”

I have placed JPEGs of each page of the article below. This article is relevant and important information regarding a significant line of inquiry the FTC should undertake, if it has not already, regarding Facebook.

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