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Craving Simplicity
I got my start at (what is now) Weber Shandwick almost 20 years ago working with General Motors on its e-business initiatives, including OnStar. Groundbreaking at the time, OnStar integrated a complex technical system connecting vehicles, cell towers, and emergency response teams. You can imagine the highly complex nature of a consumer product connecting GPS satellite comms, remote diagnostics, and vehicle sensors to emergency medical dispatchers and customer advisor operations. Yet, the interface was surprisingly simple: The same three buttons still present in GM vehicles today.  
 
The sustainability of OnStar’s simple interface in many ways follows what’s known as Occam’s razor
 –  the principle that the simplest solution is always the best. But as the OnStar example shows, sometimes the simplest solutions mask enormous complexity that runs in the background.

Media designers often follow a similar principle, referred to as Saffo’s Law,
 where the easier it is for participants to engage, the more they’ll do so. Think about the how this plays out through tweets, likes, Instagram posts and Emojis that require minimal effort to communicate and connect with each other. 
 
As the world around us gets more complex and attention starved, expect craving for simplicity to become more apparent in the products we buy, media we consume and cultural undercurrents taking shape. This week’s link collection paints a picture of how this is materializing today. 
 
Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick
@cperry248
  
What We're Reading
Content Experience
The Future of Web Design is Less, Not More 
By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, Fast Company 
Last month, Low-Tech Magazine quietly published a completely redesigned site for its technology and energy-focused journalism. The site is solar powered, which means it goes offline when it's cloudy. The guiding premise is simple: Less.
 
 
 
 
 
Media Forensics
The Long, Long History of Long, Long CVS Receipts
By Rachel Sugar, Vox

Receipts aren’t just proof of purchase anymore; they’re a forum for stores to tell you things. Some customers like getting all the information in one place, others are angry about the paper waste, and many have created hilarious memes. 

 
 
 
 
Content Experience
This Mysterious Website Charges You 99 Cents to See Who Else Has Paid 99 Cents
By Sean Wolfe, Business Insider
A new website called Who Paid 99 Cents will show you everyone else who paid 99 cents — after you pay 99 cents. When asked why, creators at Thinko.com said it's just something simple that makes people laugh.
 
 
 
 
 
Platform Dominance
The Transformational Bliss of Borrowing Your Office Clothes
By Sheila Marikar, The New York Times
Though Rent the Runway was originally conceived as a solution for women who didn’t want to invest in party-wear they might use only once, their Unlimited option has become a strategic solution for professional women who want to think about more important matters at work. 
 
 
 
 
Media Forensics
Kanye West's iPhone Passcode is 000000
By Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge 

Simplicity isn't always the best option — If you attempt to change your iPhone password to something like 000000 or 123456, a notification will pop up suggesting you choose something else. But that didn't stop Kanye. 

 
 
 
 
Leadership Instincts
Steve Jobs Followed 7 Unbreakable Laws of Success That Apply to Any Business
By Carmine Gallo, Inc.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," Jobs once said. He believed that you have only so much energy and attention to give to projects. Simplify everything and focus on the gems.

 
 
 
 
Content Experience
Bundle me Harder
By Misha Falcon, Medium

The main idea behind offering a bundle to a consumer is pretty straightforward — if you use several of the company’s products, you can get a discount. The concept is relatively new, but one worth exploring as the near future will see many more experiments and launches in the field.

 
 
 
 
Emerging Technology
A Chinese City Wants to Replace Streetlights With an Artificial Moon
Sarah Emerson, Motherboard

The Chinese city of Chengdu has a whimsical plan for using less electricity. In 2020, it hopes to launch an artificial moon—or illumination satellite—that would complement the actual moon’s brightness to light up the city below, reducing the need for streetlights.

 
 
 
 
Deep Take
The Simple Genius of a Good Graphic
Tommy McCall, Ted
In a talk that's part history lesson, part love letter to graphics, information designer Tommy McCall traces the centuries-long evolution of charts and diagrams -- and shows how complex data can be sculpted into beautiful and simple shapes. "Graphics that help us think faster, or see a book's worth of information on a single page, are the key to unlocking new discoveries," McCall says.
 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © 2018 Weber Shandwick



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