I developed this application to help evaluate concepts, stories, or messaging against six factors: Simplicity, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotion, Unexpectedness, and Narrative. It produces an estimated “Concept Stickiness” value and fingerprint for qualitative comparison.

I am still working to provide more contextual help and guidance within the utility.

This work is derived from the framework described in Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick” as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s articulation in “The Tipping Point.”

The CSM is a work in progress. Please submit comments or suggestions.

This is a bit of a departure for my normal content on Total Cruft, but I wanted to share it anyway…

If you’re like me, you find a lot of people who list their Twitter accounts on websites, in emails, etc, but there isn’t a link to quickly go to their Twitter feed. So you usually end up manually typing in the Twitter URL into a new window. Not complicated, but if you go through enough people, it gets old.

Well, for you Mac people out there, I put together a free utility that will open up the Twitter feed for any twitter name that you select with your mouse.


Download it here. Then move the “Open Twitter Account” file into your /User/username/Library/Services folder. If the Services folder doesn’t exist, then make one. No biggie.

Now, you can select any text anywhere (in email, on your desktop, whatever), right-click, and you’ll have the “Open Twitter Account” feature.

Let me know if you have any problems.

Client Approval and the Backwards Waterfall diagram

Every step forward you take in a waterfall process, you’ll inevitably end up re-litigating decisions of the past. A designer, for example, must expect clients to renegotiate context and architecture through the designs, even if they may already have been ‘approved.’

It flat-out appears to be human nature. Your client, or anyone for that matter, will try to play by the rules of your process, but they will usually lack enough information to actually give informed approval. Despite this, they will give tempered approval in the interest of time, but also continue to gather more information so they can make up their mind(s) later.

The only time most clients will have a high degree of comfort giving final approval is on launch day when they simply can’t delay any longer.

Abandon all hope: 39 ways to die!

[Updated with new insights]

Growing up, the first taste I had for interactive media was through “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, which ended each scene with a choice that the reader must make. One choice may continue the plot-line, one might take you on a tangent, and the third would lead to certain doom. Each book varied dramatically in complexity and usually boasted on the front cover the vast number of possible endings… of which, most were death or detention.

I loved those books. I loved taking the wrong turn in “The Cave of Time” or outrunning the mummy in… whatever the one with the mummy was called. And last year, I decided to create my own interactive story–as an experiment–using the most narrative-hostile environment I could think of: Twitter. (Skip to the adventure) Read the rest of this entry »

Even as much as Social strategy is the hot topic these days, I still find many people and clients who don’t understand how important simple Social tactics are for any online interactive or communication. I’ve spoken with many clients who mistrust Social engagements, feel they aren’t ready for them, don’t want to put their brand out on a limb to be scrutinized, think it is too risky, too expensive, or too much trouble. Really, Social doesn’t have to be expensive or even expansive, but it should probably be pervasive.

It’s clear that many people think that Social strategy is just restating the obvious and doesn’t require any special attention (I’ve heard the same about Information Architecture). In point of fact, I’ve sat through and given presentations on the infamous social technographics ladder, and the truth is that many people don’t really understand what the fuss is about.

The overarching message most people take home is: People love to comment and share on the internet, so you need to get into “The Conversation” and throw up some “Share This” and “Like” buttons on everything. I happen to think this is a tragically generic response to a complicated challenge which warrants a more tactical approach.

Another way to look at it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Consumer technologies (from the physical to webservice) follow a simple and very predictable cycle, based on the following consumer demands.

  1. Give me what I want.
  2. Give it to me whenever I want it.
  3. Give it to me wherever I want it.
  4. And when I have too much, help me to filter and manage it.

Walkmans truly gave us music wherever we wanted it

They don’t always play out in that order, but I consider these to be the key drivers for the majority of consumer-facing technologies. They are universal and not dictated by price.

Pre-transistor, most technologies were stuck at stage one or two. If you wanted some entertainment, you bought a ticket to a show and drove to the theater. But at least you could pop a record onto your gramophone, allowing you to listen to music whenever you wanted and in your own home. But a gramophone wasn’t particularly portable. We’d have to wait decades for the walkman before we could take our music jogging. Sony was there first, and they reaped the vast treasure for their innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

(Wherein I continue my attempt to resurrect old ideas and notes of mine for discussion, derision, and non-profit.)

Scribbled in my notes: “Scene-sequel storytelling for framing mental models.”

Scene and sequel are powerful tools in storytelling:

From Helium:

“Scene and sequel are two of the most important components of plot, but they also seem to be two of the least understood. If plot were an engine, scene and sequel would be the pistons powering the drive shaft. Writers striving to turbocharge their writing might want to fine-tune their use of scene and sequel.”

In addition to using scene-sequel for writing fiction, I’ve also found it useful for exploring a user’s mental model (how they go about their day, how they react to events, how they use things, etc…). It helps me figure out where my interactive work will fit into and square with their lives and experiences. Scene-sequel, at a high level, looks something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

(Wherein I continue my attempt to resurrect old ideas and notes of mine for discussion, derision, and non-profit.)

Scribbled in my notes: “Crafted interactive experiences should have a dramatic arc.”

There are generally two types of interactive experience: sandbox and crafted. The former provides the means for a user to play unguided and form their own narrative. It is open-ended and generally nonlinear. A crafted experience’s intent, however, is to communicate a story. It can be about a character, a product, history, or fiction. It doesn’t particularly matter. All that matters is that the story is trying to direct you to a conclusion, be it whimsical, commercial, or philanthropic. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve picked this first idea to write on partly because it’s an easy start to the blog, but also because it touches on an important theme with me: it’s okay to not know the answer. It’s more valuable that you can find means of discovery. With that said, here is the scribble I found for today:

From my notes: “Launch a simple mobile user survey first.” Read the rest of this entry »

I am a prolific idea scribbler. I have notebooks filled with ideas for stories, games, interactive principles and interfaces, branding, inventions, online campaigns, psychology, and artificial intelligence. However, my compulsion to learn new things and switch focus to new studies tends to leave a lot of ideas in the margins unfulfilled. In this blog, however, I intend to resurrect and share some of my scribbles with you in the hopes they can do some good rather than languish among the other forgotten items in my basement.

My wife and colleagues tell me I should use scans of my scribbles as much as possible, you know, for that authentic flavor. All I can say is that I will try. My handwriting is pretty illegible and I may want to clean things up a bit for presentation. We’ll see!