Watch, Listen, Read & Play: The Most Inspiring Content from 2015

A curated list of content in practically every form, ideal for any upcoming holiday travel.
firework illustration with stars

One of the best aspects of working in an office as integrated and multidisciplinary as ours is the cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives. From strategists and designers to programmers and producers, no two people think the same way. We asked our eclectic team to share their favorite content from the year. What they came back with made us think, explore, play and laugh. Hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Watch

How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces
There are three primary fears creatives face: the fear of not being good enough, the fear that our work will be irrelevant, and the fear of running out of ideas. In this entertaining and inspiring talk, artist, illustrator and author Christoph Niemann explains how these fears are very real, but that there are solutions we can apply to each.

Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces from 99U on Vimeo.

What That Campaign Logo Is Really Saying: A Design Critique
Inspired by Obama’s 2008 campaign, this year’s candidates have adopted a corporate approach to representing themselves visually — building ownable and distinct brands to attract voters. As designers, it’s been pretty exciting to watch our world commingle with politics. Bloomberg Business brings us one designer’s (entertaining) opinion on the successes and failures of the 2016 campaign logos. Read the full article here.

Listen

A or B
Most marketers are at least somewhat familiar with A/B testing, the comparison of two versions of something – the color on a web page, the headline of an email, the title of an article – to identify which performs better. For digital marketers in particular, A/B testing has become a powerful tool for improving the effectiveness of campaigns (i.e. conversions) in a world where attention spans are shrinking and online competition is expanding.

Whatever your interest or comfort level with A/B testing, it’s worth listening to this recent podcast from Planet Money which gives us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most pervasive and influential examples of this seemingly straightforward methodology.

Exit & Return
Shulem Deen was a 22-year old and ultra-religious, a Hasidic Jewish person, when he bought a computer and signed up for America Online in 1996. Until then he’d never had a real conversation with someone outside his community. This two-part episode series from Reply All tells the story of how the internet ruined his life and how it might save it.

Read

Daily Rituals: A Guided Tour of Writers’ and Artists’ Creative Habits
Hemingway wrote standing, Nabokov on index cards, Twain while puffing cigars, Sitwell in an open coffin. What is the role of habit in the creative process? If we replicate the routines of great minds, would we be able to reverse-engineer their genius? Of course not, but its fun to imagine. This article from Brain Pickings examines some of these famous routines and shows how habit, which may seem like the opposite of creativity, can be just the right kind of static, rules-based activity that sets creativity free.

How Your Brain Understands Visual Language
Or, “why email is still represented by an envelope.”
Ever look at your iPhone and wonder why a 35mm reflex camera stands for digital photography? Or why time is represented by an analog clock? What about why mechanical cogwheels stands for phone settings? This intriguing article from Fast Company explains why these symbolic icons tend to last and how they actually help us understand the changing world around us.

The Untold Design Story of the Final WTC Tower
If all goes as planned, the fourth and final skyscraper at the rebuilt World Trade Center will open for business by the 20th anniversary of September 11. Here is the inside story of that last WTC tower’s design.

Botwards vs Ad-Tech: The Origin Story of Universal Surveillance on the Internet
In a talk from the Fremtidens Internet conference in Copenhagen, Pinboard creator, Maciej Cegłowski, traces the history of “clickfraud,” the practice of using software bots to load, click on, and interact with ads in order to generate fraudulent income for unscrupulous “publishers” who run the bots. In order to defeat the advertisers’ countermeasures, the bots grew incredibly sophisticated — watching videos, filling in forms, and otherwise impersonating legitimate traffic — and so did the countermeasures. Here is the transcription from that talk, called “What Happens Next Will Amaze You.” We promise it won’t disappoint.

Play

Distressed Monkfish
Have a craving for craft beer and artisanal donuts? Sounds like you are due for a trip to Brooklyn. This Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator might do just the trick. Part parody, part reality, all Brooklyn.

Goodbye Flash. Put on your Greensock.
As Flash died slowly, so did a lot of the fun user experience it provided. Now after a decade of standards-compliant, somewhat dull websites, there is hope for the interactive spirit. Get inspired by some of these examples from the new ultra high-performance, professional grade animation for the modern web.

I Scream, You Scream
Need an ice cream fix? Look no further then this ice cream radar from WNYC Data News Team.

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Who Owns the B2B Customer Journey?

The Age-Old Debate
A number of interesting reports came out this year that examine the B2B buyer journey. In one way or another, each weighs in on the seemingly unavoidable tug-of-war between marketing and sales. Who owns the customer journey? Who is more influential in the customer experience?

Depending on which report…

Amid Rapid Consolidation, Has Health Care Lost Its Human Touch?

Today, Pfizer and Allergan announced plans to merge, creating the world’s biggest drug maker by sales and adding to the growing list of inversion deals: American companies moving to a foreign country to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates. That this merger would be the largest inversion ever is fitting at the tail…

Identity Issues: Why Brand Can’t Be Ignored During Corporate Break-Ups

As behemoths are built, so do they separate. Corporate spinoffs are often in the news these days. From Bayer, to HP Enterprise, to DowDupont, many major conglomerates are spinning off divisions in hopes that narrowed focuses will result in easier management—and thus, higher profits. Siemens AG is one of the most prolific dismantlers, carving…