During my research process, I noted down the keywords used to describe some of the typefaces. As I read through the list, the same words kept coming up over and over: friendly, modern, clean, simple, human. It’s like everyone wants something that they can use to define their brand, yet they really just want a slightly different version of what everyone has.
People climb past a 100-meter-high convenience store installed on a cliff in Pingjiang in China’s central Hunan province on April 25, 2018. The store was opened to offer food and water to rock climbers.
Think about how lucky you are next time you walk down your street to buy some bread or milk or wine or whatever. (Source: Dizzying Heights: Vertical Tourism in China)
Provenance unknown; found via Austin Kleon. See also this recent advert/Instagram post by the New York Public Library:
As whales go through their annual cycles of summer binge-eating and winter migrations, the wax in their ears changes from light to dark. These changes manifest as alternating bands, which you can see if you slice through the plugs. Much as with tree rings, you can count the bands to estimate a whale’s age. And you can also analyze them to measure the substances that were coursing through the whale’s body when each band was formed. A whale’s earwax, then, is a chronological chemical biography.
Stephen Trumble and Sascha Usenko from Baylor University have worked out how to read those biographies. And they’ve shown that whale earwax not only reveals the lives of their owners, but the history of the oceans. Hunting, abnormal temperatures, pollutants—it’s all there. If all of humanity’s archives were to disappear, Trumble and Usenko could still reconstruct a pretty decent record of whaling intensity by measuring the stress hormones in the earwax of a few dozen whales.
In the years since India won independence from the British, groups of anthropologists have tried to study them.
But no one has managed to get through. Several times, Mr. Pandit said, the Sentinelese have turned their backs on anthropologists and squatted down, as if they were defecating.
In 2006, two Indian fishermen who accidentally washed up on their shores were killed. When a military chopper flew low over the island, some men fired arrows at it. These days, the Indian authorities aren’t taking any chances. The Navy enforces a 3-mile buffer zone around North Sentinel. But police suspect Mr. Chau went at night with the intention of circumventing the authorities.
It is unknown what the Sentinelese call each other, or whether any other group in the world understands their language. When an expedition brought members of another indigenous tribe to North Sentinel, thinking they might share linguistic similarities, neither side understood one another.
When humans enter the water, the spleen contracts. This releases more red blood cells which in turn has the effect of helping us hold our breath for longer.
How are these two things linked? The Bajau have developed spleens up to 50% bigger than normal, and can hold their breath for a very long time while diving. This isn’t quite evolution, as the article states, but it’s pretty remarkable nonetheless.
These are always hugely interesting but this one is particularly good.
I’ve never been able to play this song very well as a solo guitar piece but the arrangement here—notably the steady, alternating left hand work—might be useful.
Next up will be a squid sloppy joe. Squid is another extremely common animal we find off New England’s shores, but it is rarely available fresh in our fish markets. Like herring, it is often used as bait. What we do eat directly comes to us through a truly bizarre transport system that makes my Tennessee-waylaid FedEx delivery seem downright direct. New England squid is typically caught off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, frozen whole, shipped to China, defrosted, cleaned and ringed, refrozen, and sent back to us as a twice-frozen product.
I started working there in 1998 which—coincidentally, I hope—seems to be the point where the strong, simple and consistent brand identity visible in the first two images started to erode, replaced by more individualistic oddities like the bottom image.
This resonated strongly with me—I’ve worked in several offices where people really wanted the social channels to talk in Innocent-ese or jump on the back of whatever the John Lewis ad was that year or surprise followers with “random acts of kindness” (which of course were neither random nor kind).
It’s a bit gross, horribly transparent once you start to notice it, and of course it works. So it will continue forever.
Social media has made it easier than ever for companies to connect with people. These new, personal bonds between companies and customers feel uncanny—the brands are not real human friends, exactly, but neither are they faceless corporations anymore. Isn’t that the point, though? Branding’s purpose is to get under your skin, to make you remember an otherwise forgettable company or product. When the surprise wanes, that feels a lot less delightful.