On a Tear

Tired of threaded discussions? Have a ripping good time obliterating a curtain of digital fabric instead. CodePen’s Tearable Cloth is anything but terrible.

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Cinematic Chromatics: Color Palettes in Famous Films

It’s family film night in our home this evening. We’re watching Walt Disney’s 1940 masterpiece, Fantasia. The movie is a feast for the eyes, ears, and mind. Watching the action, I’m fascinated by stunning use of color. As such, I’ve been searching for more information about other films and their respective cinematic chromatic catalogues. Here are a few intriguing resources I’ve uncovered:

Old Book Illustrations, New Ideas

Old Book Illustration Blog

The images at Old Book Illustrations Scrapbook Blog are a treat to explore. Poring over this collection of vintage illustrations (mostly wood engravings/woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings) taken from books published between the 1700s through the early 1900s, is an exciting endeavor. One of my favorite pastimes is grabbing an illustration, dropping it into an image-editing program and overlaying colors.

Dapper Digital Images

A tip of the hat to a captivating catalog of eye-catching characters! Ever on the lookout for old pix to play with, I took a few minutes to drop by the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery. I wasn’t disappointed. This treasure trove of ephemera provides visitors free and open access to over 800,000 digitized images. I grabbed the original image of the dapper fellow below, dropped it into an image-editing program, and tinkered with various overlay settings.

Image of a dapper looking fellow in a derby pointing rightward. I added a green tint to the original image.

Crawling Back

I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging.

I know I can do it. I just have to keep at it.

In a way, this experience is somewhat humorous to me. I find it funny that I am having to make myself take what spare minutes I can scavenge out of the day and write. There was a point in my life when composing a few lines for a blog was easy. In fact, at one point (about seven years ago), I was something of a blogging maniac. Of course, back then, I was in a magical place, a Camelot of sorts, where all manner of magical content seemed to appear before me and I had time to write.

These days, I have so many commitments vying for my attention that I feel guilty about stepping away to blog. Even so, I am going to do it. I know that reflecting upon what I am discovering and learning matters. Writing like this is akin to coming back to exercise after an absence from physical activity. Initially, there’s little pleasure in the process but over time that will change.

In addition to blogging again, I am also using of Twitter. As I am reading and re-reading Classroom Instruction That Works : Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd Edition) by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, and Howard Pitler, I am delving deeper into the research cited by the authors and tweeting what I find to be most enlightening. I am hoping that anyone who follows my tweets will benefit as well. Having to condense my thoughts down to 140 character summaries is maddening and, strangely enough, addictive.

Let Me Explain: Why I’m Enjoying Lee LeFever’s Excellent Book

The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFeverAt some point or another, we’ve all been expected to create an explanation to help family, friends, or co-workers understand our ideas. We share facts and our expert knowledge only to be left with clueless or apathetic expressions. What a frustrating experience–ugh! What if we could easily learn to plan, create, package, and deliver explanations that convince others that our ideas are worth caring about? There is a handy solution! People who are picking up Lee LeFever‘s book The Art of Explanation can explain while they have a reason to smile. Want to feel good about delivering powerful explanations? Get this book!

I’ve been poring over The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever and I thoroughly enjoy what I have read so far. The book is excellent! The content is a magnet for the reader’s attention. Mr. LeFever, Chief Explainer at Common Craft, consummately practices what he preaches. Beginning with the preface and continuing through the following pages, the author makes a compelling case for examining and honing our ability to craft powerful explanations. What makes LeFever’s work so engrossing is that he does a masterful job explaining what he suggests we do. In brief, the writer :

  • gets us to acknowledge that better explanations are vitally necessary and serve to improve the world and subsequently our quality of life
  • lets us know why crafting better explanations should matter to everyone
  • creates a number of believable (contextual) narratives that help us see explanations from a new perspective
  • links new ideas about and skills for explanations to situations/concepts we are familiar with
  • helps us discern where (in our explanations) we should focus on explaining why or how
  • summarizes what we have learned and moving us forward to the next steps we need to take

Moving through text, we learn how to differentiate words that are often–and erroneously–used interchangeably with the term explanation (e.g. description, definition, instruction, elaboration, report, and illustration). The author convincingly explains the importance of empathy in crafting and “packaging” effective explanations. LeFever makes the point that meaningful explanations help an intended audience clearly understand why they should care to know more about a given topic. He also helps us understand why we fail to properly explain our ideas and goes on to clarify how we can effectively plan our explanations.

I can’t wait to dive back into this book!

Related resources:

Want to know more about the fellow who is widely credited for inspiring the video explanation industry? Read Lee’s biography.

Intrigued? Buy the book!